BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:
Is China pegging the yuan?
Is China re-pegging the yuan to the U.S. dollar to avert a financial crisis? / SCMP
China’s central bank may be re-pegging the yuan’s exchange rate against the U.S. dollar to avert the threat of a financial crisis and create a sense of stability amid the huge economic and financial uncertainties resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, according to analysts.
While the central bank has never publicly admitted that it would peg the yuan to the U.S. dollar, in the current economic and financial environment, Chén Yǔlù 陈雨露, a deputy governor at the PBOC, said late last month that the yuan would fluctuate around the level of 7 yuan “in the future.”
China chases foreign capital…
China chases foreign capital to fend off coronavirus slowdown / WSJ (paywall)
“Beijing helps overseas enterprises resolve supply-chain bottlenecks and restart production to keep investment flowing.”
China plans to make it easier for foreign life insurers to buy domestic firms: sources / Reuters
“China plans to make it easier for foreign life insurers to make controlling acquisitions and large equity investments in domestic peers, five people with knowledge of the matter said, as the country pushes ahead in opening up its financial sector.”
…While bailout package remains MIA
While the world spends on coronavirus bailouts, China holds back / NYT (porous paywall)
The country that famously helped kick-start the world economy after the 2008 global financial crisis with a half-a-trillion-dollar spending splurge has been relatively restrained this time around. While it is helping companies keep workers and pushing its state-run banks to lend more, China has held back from spending on big packages or flooding its financial system with money.
In an odd juxtaposition, the communist country has also mostly refrained from giving money directly to its people…
A growing number of people say China should do more. Prominent economists are calling on Beijing to get the country’s consumers spending again.
Li Ka-shing and Zoom
Hong Kong’s richest man made early Zoom bet that’s now worth $3 billion / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
Li Ka-shing built Hong Kong’s biggest fortune on old-fashioned real estate and infrastructure. It’s a bet on technology that’s paying off in the current crisis.
Li, called “Superman” by his admirers, was an early investor in Zoom Video Communications Inc. and owns about 8.6% of the San Jose-based company, according to regulatory filings. The value of Li’s stake has surged 80% this year to $2.9 billion — the only public holding of his tracked by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index to record a gain.
Hospitality sector slowly picking up
China’s bars and restaurants resume trade, says distiller Diageo / FT (paywall)
“‘In mainland China, we are beginning to see a very slow return of on-trade consumption, as restaurants and bars have started to gradually reopen,’ said [alcoholic beverage giant] Diageo.”
Google approved to operate U.S.-Taiwan cable
Google gets federal OK to operate subsea cable from Taiwan to U.S. as it nears maximum capacity in Asia / CNBC
- The Department of Justice granted a federal clearance for Google to temporarily operate sub-sea level fiber optic connections that runs from the U.S. through Taiwan.
- Google’s request comes as executives tout the company’s ability to manage increased workload demands amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Xiaomi’s e-bike reviewed
I bought Xiaomi’s $261 electric bike from China (and brought it back to the U.S.) / Electrek
“Even though electric bicycle prices in the West are dropping, with many decent e-bikes found in the sub-$1,000 range, China is still king of the inexpensive e-bikes.”
ABB wins State Grid deal
ABB to supply HVDC tech to China’s State Grid / Renewables Now
Switzerland’s ABB has secured several orders to supply advanced high-voltage direct current (HVDC) converter transformers and high-voltage equipment to Chinese state-owned electric utility State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC).
Supply chains threaten ventilator production
Chinese ventilator makers desperate for parts as global demand for machines hits 1 million / SCMP via Politico
“While demand for ventilators and other medical equipment has surged during the coronavirus pandemic, Chinese producers are experiencing shortages of components and running into red tape caused by different quality standards around the world.”
Drone maker to shake up U.S. operations
DJI appears to be making major changes to its U.S. operations / TechNode
The world’s leader in consumer drones, DJI [based in Shenzhen], is making major changes to its U.S. operations, three niche U.S.-publications reported this week citing DJI dealers. Monica Suk, a DJI spokesperson, confirmed that the company is making “organizational changes,” but didn’t comment on reported layoffs nor a change in strategy.
SCIENCE, HEALTH, AND THE ENVIRONMENT:
Second COVID-19 wave “very likely” — expert
Interview: Zhang Wenhong warns of second wave of COVID-19 pandemic / Caixin
An interview with Zhāng Wénhóng 张文宏, director of the infectious diseases department at Huashan Hospital of Fudan University in Shanghai. Zhang cautions that it’s unlikely the outbreak will end this summer and that a second wave after the fall remains “very likely.”
The new problem plaguing Wuhan’s hospitals
Long-staying COVID-19 patients posing a big problem to Wuhan hospital / Straits Times
As coronavirus patients continue to be discharged daily from Wuhan hospitals, the mystery of long-term patients continues to confound doctors at Jinyintan Hospital, in what the hospital’s chief has said is one of its “biggest concerns.”
While most of them are asymptomatic or present mild symptoms, they still continue to test positive for the virus and cannot be discharged, said hospital director Zhāng Dìngyǔ 张定宇. Doctors do not know what to do with them, with the patients’ emotional state adding to their troubles.
Second rocket launch failure
China suffers its second launch failure in less than a month / Ars Technica
The Long March 3B rocket is one of China’s oldest active and most reliable boosters, with more than five dozen successful launches. On Thursday, however, the rocket failed when it attempted to launch an Indonesian telecommunications satellite, Nusantara Dua, from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center.
- See also on SupChina: The quiet, public failure of China’s new Long March rocket.
Podcast: COVID-19 and pangolins
Will coronavirus change the pangolins’ fate? / Chinadialogue
Pangolins are known to do badly in captivity. When seized by border authorities, their rescue can sometimes turn into a death sentence. But when a local NGO in China tried to save a handful of these seized pangolins by releasing them back into the wild, it stirred up a storm of controversy. Why is saving the pangolins such a thorny issue?
Overseas renewables projects struggle to find funding
Chinese firms struggle to fund renewables projects overseas / China Dialogue
“Difficulty in obtaining financing, or sovereign guarantees from host nations, is impacting on the ‘bankability’ of BRI [Belt and Road Initiative] renewables projects, report finds [in Chinese].”
POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:
U.S. intelligence denies prior warning of coronavirus
ABC News: US intelligence warned of China’s spreading contagion in November / CNN
The US military’s National Center for Medical Intelligence (NCMI) compiled a November intelligence report in which “analysts concluded it could be a cataclysmic event,” one of the sources of the NCMI’s report told ABC News.
NCMI denied the existence of the report later Wednesday, saying that “no such NCMI product exists.”
Op-ed from India: China legally responsible for COVID-19
Can China be brought before an international court over COVID pandemic? Yes / The Print (India)
“Consequently, an international court would be permitted not only to award compensation for the economic harm suffered by foreign governments as a result of Chinese (in)action, but also to compel China to enact legislation banning such markets to prevent future pandemics.”
Hong Kong COVID-19 subsidy scheme
Promises of transparency in Hong Kong wage subsidy scheme, amid fears of abuse of Covid-19 relief measure / SCMP
Officials have promised high transparency when Hong Kong employers dip into the government’s HK$80 billion ($10.25 billion) wage subsidy scheme to keep paying some 1.5 million workers through the coronavirus crisis, amid concerns about possible abuse and confusion over details of implementation.
- Carrie Lam unveils Hong Kong’s biggest COVID-19 relief package yet, worth HK$138 billion, to ensure 1.5 million workers still get paid / SCMP
Imported coronavirus cluster leads to lockdown
China tackles coronavirus cluster brought from Russia / Al Jazeera
The Chinese city of Suifenhe entered a lockdown fueled by an influx of infected travellers crossing the border from Russia in recent days.
The province announced a total of 127 imported COVID-19 cases with six patients in severe condition, state news agency Xinhua reported.
Laid-off Chinese employees in U.S. can’t stay, but they can’t go
Chinese workers in the U.S. are losing their visas. But flying home is too expensive / CNN
When H1-B visa holders like Tang lose their jobs they have 60 days to file for a change of status — such as becoming a tourist or student — or find a new employer willing to sponsor their work visa.
If they can’t get a new job or change their status, they have to leave the U.S. — or illegally overstay their visa. If they leave the US after having overstayed for more than 180 days, they could be banned from reentering in future.
“Even if I want to go back now, I can’t get a flight ticket,” she said. Instead, she’s desperately applying to university to get a student visa that will allow her to remain in the US legally.
A chastened Zhao Lijian?
Beijing Diary: Hard-line spokesman Zhao returns with a softer script / Nikkei Asian Review (porous paywall)
Until this week, [Zhào Lìjiān 赵立坚] had not been seen in public since the uproar, prompting speculation that he might have been replaced. But on Tuesday, he hosted his first regular news conference at the Foreign Ministry in about a month. I attended the next day’s briefing to see how he looked and hear what he had to say.
While fielding questions, Zhao frequently stopped to leaf through papers. Even when he started to deliver answers, his eyes would linger on the documents…This was a very different Zhao than the seemingly outspoken man seen before.
SOCIETY AND CULTURE:
Industrial design and COVID-19
From social distancing suits to sterilizing lamps: Six quirky designs for battling Covid-19 / Radii China
[Frank Chou 周宸宸 Zhōu Chénchén] has produced some outlandish results, but the hope is they’ll provide practical solutions for dealing with the novel coronavirus.
With twelve concepts, from color-changing hand sanitizers to bionic pods, some designs may seem far-fetched and futuristic, but many of them are likely to be practically helpful in the long haul.