BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:
Online education platform raises big $$
Tencent-backed Yuanfudao near to close new fundraising at $7.5 billion valuation — sources / Reuters
“Chinese online education platform Yuanfudao, which is backed by tech giant Tencent Holdings, is close to completing a financing round that would value it at around $7.5 billion, two people familiar with the matter said.”
Smart speaker shipments to grow 10% in 2020 — report
China will ship more smart speakers in 2020 despite coronavirus disruption / Abacus
Smart speaker shipments in China are projected to grow 9.8% in 2020, according to a new report by IDC [in Chinese]. The estimated growth comes despite a sharp drop in shipments in the first quarter because of the coronavirus pandemic that upended supply chains and lowered consumer demand.
Volvo “close to pre-shutdown levels” in China
Volvo back to ‘normal’ in China as it shuts E.U. and U.S. car plants / FT (paywall)
“As the Swedish group closed its U.S. plant and became the final carmaker to cease production in Europe, chief executive Hakan Samuelsson said factories and dealerships in China were operating close to pre-shutdown levels.”
Apple not out of the woods yet
Apple’s supply chain woes linger even as China recovers / Caixin
Apple kept its business rolling through the coronavirus pandemic this week by launching a new iPad Pro and two new Macs. But that doesn’t mean its supply chain is in the clear.
Deliveries of the new products will begin arriving on doorsteps next week. However, production of those devices likely started in early January, before the worst effects of China’s virus lockdown in February, according to people familiar with Apple’s supply chain.
With a fresh round of supplier factory closures enforced by Malaysia, and the virus disrupting operations in much of the rest of the world, the iPhone maker’s supply chain has not fully recovered yet.
Baidu wins self-driving car bid in Chongqing
Baidu is building everything Chongqing needs for self-driving cars / TechNode
“Yongchuan district in Chongqing has offered a 52.8 million yuan ($7.5 million) contract to Baidu to develop cloud data centers for self-driving car testing on city roads, the government said in an announcement (in Chinese) released Tuesday.”
SCIENCE, HEALTH, AND THE ENVIRONMENT:
Wuhan’s COVID-19 death rate 1.4% — study
Coronavirus death rate in Wuhan is lower than previously thought, study finds / NYT (porous paywall)
A new study reports that people who became sick from the coronavirus in the Chinese city where the outbreak began likely had a lower death rate than previously thought.
The study, published Thursday in the journal Nature Medicine, calculated that people with coronavirus symptoms in Wuhan, China, had a 1.4 percent likelihood of dying. Some previous estimates have ranged from 2 percent to 3.4 percent.
Infants more susceptible to COVID-19 than older children
Older children less vulnerable to COVID-19 than infants, toddlers: study / Caixin
Younger children are more likely to suffer severe symptoms than older ones after contracting COVID-19, according to a new study, as it added to a growing body of research showing that children suffer from the disease less severely than adults…
While the virus more broadly is less severe in children than adults, it can be more troublesome for small children, especially infants. The data showed that children less than 1 who got the disease suffered severe to critical symptoms 10.6% of the time. The ratio went down after that, to 7.3% for children ages 1 to 5, to just 3% for those 16 and older.
POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:
Medical supplies are stuck in China
When will more masks arrive? Medical supplies are stuck in China / Bloomberg (paywall)
Michael Einhorn’s Chinese suppliers of masks and surgical gowns have finally restarted production. His challenge now is to find cargo space to get them to his U.S. customers fast enough.
Einhorn says some of his Chinese suppliers have only begun ramping up production in recent days as factories came back online. The company is paying as much as $4,000 for a small pallet to be flown on commercial freight carriers such as DHL Worldwide Express, but it has been told products won’t get to the U.S. for as long as 10 days because of limited space.
What does COVID-19 mean for Belt and Road?
What the COVID-19 pandemic may mean for China’s Belt and Road Initiative / Council on Foreign Relations
Kirk Lancaster, Michael Rubin, and Mira Rapp-Hooper write:
China’s COVID-19 response all but halted the Belt and Road Initiative in its tracks. Work ceased along the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, Cambodia’s Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone came to standstill, and projects across Indonesia, Myanmar, and Malaysia became stuck in holding patterns. A freeze on the flow of Chinese labor is a significant factor in these disruptions, with thousands of Chinese workers unable to return to their country of work…
The longer that Chinese workers are unable to return to projects overseas, the longer the projects will languish incomplete, and some may be abandoned altogether.
Opinion: What kind of international consequences should China face for COVID-19?
When will the Chinese government be held accountable for the spread of coronavirus? / Macleans
While Western governments must maintain their focus on addressing the immediate outbreak, we cannot allow the Chinese government to confuse and reframe our understanding of this pandemic and to manipulate the eventual reckoning that must occur once the threat ebbs.
The cost to overcome this pandemic crisis will be steep, regardless of the physical toll it imposes on our nation. In the coming months, Canada will have to work with our allies to assess the Chinese government’s responsibility and ensure that they are held to account where appropriate. This should include compensation for economic losses by Canadian workers, businesses and our government, and economic sanctions against any Chinese officials deemed negligent in failing to stop the outbreak in China.
Replacement of the mayor of Shanghai
Shanghai set to endorse Gong Zheng as its new mayor / SCMP
Gōng Zhèng 龚正 will replace Yīng Yǒng 应勇, who was appointed party boss of Hubei last month following a leadership reshuffle in the central China province sparked by a public outcry over the poor handling of the coronavirus outbreak, which is now a global health crisis that has killed more than 8,800 people around the world.
SOCIETY AND CULTURE:
Life in Shanghai after the coronavirus
China gets a glimpse of life on the other side of coronavirus / The Guardian
At 44KW, a nightclub in Shanghai, life almost feels normal again. Bartenders mix cocktails for patrons leaning against the bar. Groups sit close together without face masks on, talking and sipping their drinks. A young woman pulls down her mask and speaks into her phone as she livestreams to her followers. A DJ plays disco under a neon sign saying “Dance me to the end of love” while a few venture out to the dance floor.
“It is likely that cases will rise once China eases its control measures. This means they will have to maintain vigilance for a surge of new cases and decide how to respond,” said Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University in the US.