Links for Tuesday, April 7, 2020

BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:

Goldman Sachs said it would seize and sell Luckin Coffee shares from the chairman of the scandal-hit chain after he defaulted on the terms of a $518m margin loan…

Goldman on Monday said it was seizing the shares as collateral on the margin loan facility to Luckin chairman Lù Zhèngyào 陆正耀. It would then convert them into American depositary shares and sell them to recoup losses on behalf of a syndicate of lenders.

The syndicate of lenders also included Credit Suisse, Morgan Stanley and Barclays, two people familiar with the situation told the FT… After the value of shares and ADS fell sharply again on Monday, the stake claimed by Goldman would be worth about $350m, implying a loss of about $168m.

Beijing-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) said on Tuesday it had approved its first emergency assistance loan of 2.485 billion yuan ($352 million) to China in order to help in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

The money will fund the provision of emergency supplies and improvements to public health infrastructure in Beijing, where AIIB is headquartered, and Chongqing, a megacity in southwestern China, the bank said in a statement.

3M has agreed to import millions of protective masks for U.S. health-care workers after falling into a dispute with the Trump administration about shortages of the critical protective wear, President Trump and the company said Monday.

3M, based in Minnesota, said it will import 166.5 million masks over the next three months, mostly from its factory in China.

The scramble for face masks has created a “madhouse” atmosphere among Chinese manufacturers, who are making huge profits as customers around the world fight to be the first in line.

Producers of masks and respirators are demanding to be paid in full before the products leave their factories and are supplying whoever can pay the most and pay fastest, according to Michael Crotty, a textile broker based in Shanghai.

State-owned China Three Gorges Renewables Group is seeking to raise 25 billion yuan ($3.5 billion) in what could be one of the country’s biggest initial public offerings this year.

The company plans to sell as many as 8.57 billion shares in Shanghai, according to a prospectus posted on the website of the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC). The assets to be listed are mainly domestic solar and wind farms, as well as small hydro power plants, with a total capacity of almost 10 gigawatts.

  • U.S. allows GE to sell engines to China
    U.S. grants GE license to sell engines for China’s new airplane / Reuters
    “The Trump administration on Tuesday granted a license to General Electric Co. to supply engines for China’s new COMAC C919 passenger jet, a spokeswoman for the company said.”
  • Q1 tech sector investments dropped 31%
    China tech investments sank 31% in Q1 / TechNode
    “Venture capital investments into China’s tech sector declined 31.3% year on year in the first quarter as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak hitting its already-shrinking venture market, according to a recent report.”

SCIENCE, HEALTH, AND THE ENVIRONMENT:

Researchers in Shanghai hope to determine whether some recovered coronavirus patients have a higher risk of reinfection after finding surprisingly low levels of COVID-19 antibodies in a number of people discharged from hospital.

A team from Fudan University analyzed blood samples from 175 patients discharged from the Shanghai Public Health Clinical Centre and found that nearly a third had unexpectedly low levels of antibodies.

In some cases, antibodies could not be detected at all.

POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:

Central and Eastern European countries have become increasingly dissatisfied with the economic results of their “17+1” initiative with China, according to a report released on Tuesday.

The report by the China Observers in Central and Eastern Europe…found that all 17 European countries in the initiative had seen their trade deficit with China increase since the group was established in 2012.

It came as it was confirmed that this month’s planned 17+1 summit between Chinese President Xí Jìnpíng 习近平 and leaders from the European nations has been postponed because of the coronavirus.

Chinese agencies and diplomatic missions have been targeted by hackers through their virtual private network (VPN) servers in a coordinated cyber espionage campaign, at a time when many governments and global organisations are more vulnerable than ever to security breaches due to remote working arrangements amid the pandemic, according to a report by a leading Chinese cybersecurity provider [Qihoo 360].

China was recently selected to join the UN Human Rights Council Consultative Group of five states tasked with screening initial applications and making recommendations for independent United Nations experts, who are normally appointed for six-year terms.

In response to the decision, UHRP Executive Director Omer Kanat said: “It is laughable that a state like China will play any role at all in selecting experts investigating human rights for the UN. The Chinese government is committing crimes against humanity as we speak. What are the chances that the Chinese representative will agree to have truly independent monitors in these roles?”

  • Following the sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat, Washington calls on Beijing to ‘stop exploiting’ the pandemic to pursue its claims in the region.
  • State department spokesman says U.S. is ‘seriously concerned’ by reports of the incident.

China has demanded an explanation from Brazil after the far-right government’s education minister linked the coronavirus pandemic to Beijing’s “plan for world domination”, in a tweet imitating a Chinese accent.

China’s embassy in Brazil condemned Weintraub’s “absurd and despicable” tweet, calling it “highly racist”. “The Chinese government expects an official explanation from Brazil,” tweeted ambassador Yang Wanming.

When coronavirus-tracking apps were rolled out by local authorities in Beijing a couple of months ago, I was cautious, wary of what an opaque algorithm might do with my data. Now I count myself lucky to use them; in a country where anti-foreigner sentiment is rising, the app has helped me to deal with the bigger danger of human bias.

There’s no doubt that the tremendous backlash against the plan to send an 18-person Chinese medical team to Nigeria is catching Beijing off guard. [P]oliticians, doctors, journalists, and others have all voiced their strenuous opposition. It’s the same on social media where thousands have registered their unfiltered anger over what they perceive as an insult to Nigeria’s national pride.

A close reading of the arguments among Nigerian stakeholders about the whether the country needs Chinese medical assistance reveals many issues that are specific to Nigeria. Nigerian doctors are truly world-renowned. That is not the case in other African countries.

  • The city extends its ban on arrivals after most cases over past two weeks have come from overseas.
  • Only six of 24 newly infected are local transmissions, but all are linked to entertainment venues already closed.

How did Taiwan do it? “Aggressive action,” says Dr. Jason Wang, the former project manager for Taiwan’s National Health Insurance Reform Task-force. He is now the director of the Center for Policy, Outcomes and Prevention and associate professor of pediatrics and medicine at Stanford University.

  • Taipei Urbanism on Twitter: “Bill Gates calls Taiwan an exemplary country for its response to COVID-19 in a recent interview.”

SOCIETY AND CULTURE:

A former Shanghai-based employee of Aldi is suing the German supermarket chain for firing her after she tried to report her supervisor, a foreign national, for repeated sexual harassment.

Aldi who requested her resignation and offered 20,000 yuan ($2,800) in unspecified compensation.

Shortly after midnight on March 25, novelist-turned-celebrity blogger Fāng Fāng 方方 published the final episode of her Wuhan lockdown diary, called a “battlefield diary” by some. The 64-year-old has been a writer most of her career, but never expected to become one of the nation’s most-read bloggers in late January, when she started writing a diary from the epicenter of an outbreak that would go on to become a pandemic.

The popular Badaling section of the Great Wall reopened on March 24, after being closed for two months due to the coronavirus outbreak. That very same day, a visitor was reportedly caught on camera defacing the historic site with a key.

In response, the Great Wall Office [will add] misbehaving tourists…to a blacklist that will be announced to the public regularly to “increase awareness and apply pressure with public opinion.”