Links for Wednesday, April 8, 2020 - SupChina
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Links for Wednesday, April 8, 2020

BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:

China will set up 46 new integrated pilot zones for cross-border ecommerce, as well as support processing trade with new steps and hold the Canton Fair online to keep foreign trade and investment stable amid the epidemic, according to the State Council’s executive meeting chaired by Premier Lǐ Kèqiáng 李克强 Tuesday.

Figures from the General Administration of Customs showed that the retail sales of China’s cross-border ecommerce businesses reached 186.21 billion yuan (about $26.25 billion) in 2019.

German chip maker Infineon Technologies said Tuesday that it has obtained approval from China’s anti-trust regulator, the State Administration for Market Regulation, for its proposed takeover of American rival Cypress Semiconductor.

Over the past two weeks, at least three Chinese AI startups in China have revealed the results of their latest fundraising rounds, including voice-recognition specialist AISpeech, which said Tuesday that it had raised 410 million yuan ($58 million) in a series E round…

That followed similar announcements by industry peers 4Paradigm and Intellifusion, which last week said they had raised $230 million and 1 billion yuan [$142 million], respectively.

SCIENCE, HEALTH, AND THE ENVIRONMENT:

New research on the first complete pterosaur skeleton discovered in China provides more information on pterosaur phylogeny and sheds light on their living habit during the Cretaceous period more than 100 million years ago.

Dsungaripterus weii, discovered in [the] Wuerhe region in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and made public in 1964, is the first fossilized pterosaur with a nearly complete skeleton found in China.

POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:

  • An estimated 55,000 people left by rail alone on Wednesday, while 100 commercial flights took off for the first time since January 23.
  • Wuhan residents are keen to get their lives back on track, but some are fearful of the ‘silent carriers’ who could start a second wave of infections.

Chinese leaders and many medical experts have held up this city as an example of what can be achieved through extreme efforts to contain the coronavirus.

It’s now becoming clear the battle in Wuhan is far from over — and the human cost much higher than officially acknowledged.

  • Japan to subsidize companies to leave China
    Japan to fund firms to shift production out of China / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
    “Japan has earmarked $2.2 billion of its record economic stimulus package to help its manufacturers shift production out of China as the coronavirus disrupts supply chains between the major trading partners.”
  • Chinese leverage and debt relief in Africa
    Chinese debt relief for Africa / The China Africa Project

Ghana’s Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta did just that on Monday when he became the first high-level African official to call out the Chinese by name for debt relief.

More likely, they’re going to reschedule the loans in such a way that it will relieve African borrowers from their repayment obligations while still allowing the Chinese to retain a certain amount of political leverage with the indebted country.

That leverage is going to be very important for Beijing.

Despite opposition by the Nigerian Medical Association, the visiting 15-member medical team from China will arrive the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, on a chartered Air Peace aircraft on Wednesday (today).

[The Executive Director of China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation] dispelled what he described as the controversy about the team’s visit, stating that “the primary purpose of the team is to provide CECC employees with critical and necessary healthcare.”

The United States on Tuesday tightened rules on Chinese state media organizations as it classified them as foreign missions, decrying what US officials described as Beijing’s growing “propaganda.”

Such efforts are not without criticism: the Committee to Protect Journalists earlier voiced unease over the foreign agent registration, saying the US government should not determine which outlets are propaganda and noting that other governments often try to impose regulations on foreign civil society groups.

The leadership of the Justice Department has put a bull’s-eye on the Chinese government, pushing prosecutors across the country to focus on investigations of Chinese state-backed efforts to steal intellectual property. The work involves investigations into American academics and work with U.S. universities, and department officials say their nationwide undertaking isn’t slowing it down.

The fate of several missing Uyghur academics in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region remains a closely guarded secret, which members of the Uyghur exile community say makes ‘clear’ that they have been detained in the region’s vast network of internment camps.

Today I led letters to Apple, Amazon, Google, and others condemning their use of forced Uyghur labor in China. American companies represent this country in business abroad. It is essential their values are in line with basic human rights.”

The “loyalty dance,” or zhōngzì wǔ (忠字舞), was a collective dance that became prevalent during the Cultural Revolution, at a time when Mao Zedong and his image reigned supreme over all aspects of life in China.

How, in Xi Jinping’s so-called “New Era,” does one dance the loyalty dance?

SOCIETY AND CULTURE:

On January 7, 2015, as the Paris offices of the French satirical publication Charlie Hebdo were being attacked, Chinese photographer Hé Bó 何博 sat at the café in the Louvre, scrolling through social media on his phone. Outside the window the world had been irrevocably shaken, but inside, wholly unaware, people carried on as usual.

Within a few days, Paris held a massive anti-terror march. “But I listened to my family, who told me not to take part,” Hé recalls, “which left me with the same sense of helplessness that I felt during the Wenchuan earthquake of 2008, when I was away from my hometown,” he says. “Maybe this feeling is what led to my obsession with terrorist attacks and other tragedies.

This feeling provided Hé with the direct inspiration for his series Since Then, No One Has Talked with You.

If independent documentary-makers in China are squeezed much harder by the authorities, their plight will soon be a question fit for philosophers. Namely, if a film has no viewers, in what meaningful sense does it exist?

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