BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:
Consumer inflation slows
Chinese inflation slows as virus hurts demand and oil slumps / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
China’s consumer inflation slowed to the weakest pace since October last month as food and oil prices moderated and shutdowns to beat the coronavirus kept demand depressed.
The consumer price index rose 4.3% in March from a year earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics said Friday. That compares to the median estimate of a 4.9% increase. Factory-gate prices declined 1.5%, versus a forecast 1.1% drop.
Stricter checks for medical export products
China tightens customs checks for medical equipment exports / WSJ (paywall)
“China will subject ventilators, surgical masks and other medical equipment to more stringent customs checks before exporting them, after recipient countries questioned the quality of much-needed personal protective equipment made in the country.”
China expands export checks on medical products to tighten quality control / SCMP
March loans exceed expectations
China March loans surge to $405 billion as coronavirus stimulus kicks in / Reuters
“New bank lending in China rose sharply to 2.85 trillion yuan ($405 billion) in March, with total social financing hitting a record, as the central bank pumped in more liquidity and cut funding costs to support the coronavirus-ravaged economy.”
China’s $1 trillion loan bubble is bursting as consumers flinch amid pandemic / SCMP
- Fueled by a shift toward leveraged spending, China’s consumer finance expanded 10-fold in the past decade.
- Lenders now face a wave of delinquencies as businesses fold and job losses hit repayment ability.
Air cargo supply chains crippled
China tackles air cargo woes amid pandemic / People’s Daily
Domestic-and foreign-owned international cargo flights in China are expected to hit 4,445 this week, over three times higher than the 1,014 flights made before the outbreak, said Sūn Sháohuá 孙韶华, deputy head of the Civil Aviation Administration of China’s operations and monitoring center.
However, with air passenger services dwindling worldwide due to the outbreak, the volume of cargo carried by passenger planes, which accounted for about half the air cargo, has continued to plummet, resulting in a global decline in air cargo capacity.
Smartphones delivered to your door
Apple, Huawei smartphones delivered to your door in China / CNBC
- Smartphone makers in China including Huawei and Apple are turning to super-fast deliveries and trade-ins at the door of customers…
- Even though infection numbers have declined sharply from the peak in China, analysts warned that consumers are still cautious about going outside and so quick deliveries could be a way to reach them.
Hedge funds get bullish
China’s hedge funds were building cash war chests in March / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
As the coronavirus began to take its economic toll on the U.S. and Europe last month, hedge funds in China were busy boosting their war chests.
The nation’s hedge funds registered 2,733 new products in March, more than double February, according to data compiled by Shenzhen PaiPaiWang Investment & Management Co.
Pro online gaming now one of China’s most highly paid jobs
Online gaming companies have the highest pay in China tech / Abacus
Online gaming professionals are only behind bankers and money managers when it comes to the most highly-paid jobs in China, according to a recent report.
Workers at online gaming companies pocket an average of 10,940 yuan (U.S.$1,548) per month, according to a report released by China’s top recruitment platform Zhaopin.com, which covered job postings in 38 Chinese cities in the past quarter.
Game banned after users support Hong Kong, share sensitive information
Nintendo game pulled from Chinese platforms after Hong Kong protest / Reuters
A Nintendo Switch video game [“Animal Crossing: New Horizons”, a social simulator in which players can decorate their own island and invite others to visit] has been pulled off China’s grey market ecommerce platforms, Reuters’ checks show, after Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong [黃之鋒 Huáng Zhīfēng] used the game to protest against Beijing’s rule of the Chinese territory…
Joshua Wong, a Hong Kong democracy activist, took his protests to the game last week and on Twitter posted a screenshot of his island decorated with a banner saying: “Free Hong Kong, revolution now.”
Joshua Wong responded on Twitter: “Oh no, Xí Jìnpíng 习近平 banned Animal Crossing in China (apparently because I play it), and these angry gamers are blaming me everywhere instead of blaming their own government lol 🤨🎮🎮.”
China bans sales of Animal Crossing as feature likely triggers censorship / PingWest
The ban likely came after gamers were found using a pattern creation feature of Animal Crossing to draw up and share materials that are generally sensitive on the Chinese internet, including political slogans and portraits of senior leaders. Overseas players were also found to have been engaging in politically motivated activities in the game, which came with a high degree of freedom.
Beijing subway has mask-detecting surveillance
Beijing’s subways can tell if you’re not wearing a mask / TechNode
“The Beijing metro system is piloting carriages equipped with cameras that can identify passengers that don’t wear face masks, state-owned Xinhua news agency reported today.”
SCIENCE, HEALTH, AND THE ENVIRONMENT:
How many COVID-19 vaccine trials are underway?
The COVID-19 vaccine development landscape / Nature
As of 8 April 2020, the global COVID-19 vaccine R&D [research and development] landscape includes 115 vaccine candidates, of which 78 are confirmed as active and 37 are unconfirmed (development status cannot be determined from publicly available or proprietary information sources). Of the 78 confirmed active projects, 73 are currently at exploratory or preclinical stages. The most advanced candidates have recently moved into clinical development… Numerous other vaccine developers have indicated plans to initiate human testing in 2020.
China’s vaccine volunteers
Coronavirus vaccine trials: Chinese volunteer in Wuhan tells his story / SCMP
“I felt excited and proud of myself…I didn’t feel afraid at all. In my mind, it’s already a successful vaccine.”
Potential COVID-19 inhibitors
Academia Sinica team identifies potential COVID-19 inhibitors / Focus Taiwan
Taiwan’s Academia Sinica said Friday that it has screened out protease inhibitors of the COVID-19 coronavirus, which could eventually lead to the development of targeted drugs to stop the virus from replicating itself in patients’ bodies.
It said that animal and human tests are required before the inhibitors can be turned into anti-COVID-19 drugs, but said finding potential inhibitors in such a short time demonstrates Taiwan’s ability to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Testing continues in Wuhan
China’s Wuhan to keep testing residents as coronavirus lockdown eases / Reuters
VIDEO: QuickTake by Bloomberg on Twitter: “Cities in China like Beijing are requiring coronavirus test results from people before they leave Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus.”
POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:
Xenophobic ad from the Trump campaign
New Trump attack ad falsely suggests former Washington governor is Chinese / NYT (porous paywall)
“A new attack ad by President Trump’s re-election campaign portraying former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. as soft on China includes an image of an Asian-American former governor of Washington State [Gary Locke] that appears to falsely suggest he is Chinese.”
U.S.-China medical cooperation
As U.S., China clash over coronavirus, their doctors quietly join forces / WSJ (paywall)
The U.S. and China are at each other’s throats, bickering over the origins of the coronavirus and bashing each other’s handling of the crisis.
Behind the scenes, hundreds of doctors and scientists in the U.S. and China have been using online platforms to hold virtual meetings, trading notes on how best to treat patients and procure needed supplies.
U.S. had “raw intelligence” of public health trouble in Wuhan in November
U.S. spy agencies collected raw intelligence hinting at public health crisis in Wuhan, China, in November / NBC
On Wednesday night, the Defense Department disputed an ABC News report that an “intelligence report” had warned about the coronavirus in November…
But the current and former officials told NBC News that while no formal assessment was produced in November — and hence no “intelligence product,” in the jargon of the spy agencies — there was intelligence that caught the attention of public health analysts and fueled formal assessments that were written in December. That material and other information, including some from news and social media reports, ultimately found its way into President Donald Trump’s intelligence briefing book in January. It is unknown whether he read the information.
Germany pans Chinese and American responses to COVID-19
Germany′s Maas: Trump coronavirus response took ′too long′ / Deutsche Welle
In an interview with the German news magazine Der Spiegel, [German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas] said that Germany and the EU could not look to Washington or Beijing as models in their handling of the crisis.
“China took very authoritarian measures, while in the US, the virus was played down for a long time,” said Maas. “These are two extremes, neither of which can be a model for Europe.”
Mask shortage in New Zealand
New Zealanders ‘caught short after masks sent to China’ / Stuff (New Zealand)
While the New Zealand Ministry of Health have a stockpile of masks and other PPE which they say is sufficient for our hospitals, ordinary New Zealanders and non-health workers have missed out on access to masks which are normally available in our pharmacies and hardware stores, because our public supplies were bought up in bulk and sent out to China in an organised effort by Chinese Communist Party Government proxy groups, as well as by profiteers who are now selling New Zealand-origin masks on Taobao, and also by a few well-meaning individuals who wanted to support family and friends in China.
“Taiwanese” apologize to WHO
Samson Ellis on Twitter: “Taiwan’s investigation bureau is highlighting how Chinese Internet users are trying to distort the debate by claiming to be Taiwanese and apologizing for the racist attacks against WHO’s Tedros…all using the same the exact same wording.”
First signs of unrest in Wuhan
Sense Hofstede on Twitter: “Dozens of small shop owners protested outside one of Wuhan’s biggest shopping malls to demand a cut in rent, in one of the first signs of unrest since authorities lifted a lockdown at the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak.”
Tighter supervision on workplaces
Xi stresses tighter supervision of workplace safety as businesses resume / Xinhua
As the country is resuming work and production, it is necessary to strengthen monitoring and law enforcement of production safety in a differentiated manner and better implement the responsibilities of enterprise entities, said Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, in an instruction.
Reaction to racism against Africans
China reacts to racism claims against Africans / The Citizen (Tanzania)
Social media footage and photos posted recently showed Africans stranded at public places with their belongings with claims that these had been evicted from apartments and hotels, hence rendering them homeless.
The evictions were allegedly committed by Chinese local authorities over claims that Africans were importing the coronavirus into the country.
In its statement yesterday, China’s Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesperson Zhào Lìjiān 赵立坚 said: “Since the COVID-19 outbreak, China and African countries have been supporting each other in fighting the pandemic.
African countries’ Ambassadors to China today April 9, 2020, are expected to hold an emergency meeting with China’s Foreign Affairs Minister to discuss ways to end the ongoing human rights violations and forced evictions facing Africans living in China, The Citizen understands.
SOCIETY AND CULTURE:
Wuhan’s new mourning rules
The new rules for coronavirus mourners in Wuhan have angered many residents / NPR
“More than two months after he watched his father die of the new coronavirus, Zhang Hai has yet to bury him. The 50-year-old Wuhan native wants to pay his last respects alone — but that’s now against government rules.”
Life in Chengdu
A current pulse check on Chengdu, China in the COVID-19 era / The World Underground
John Yingling writes: “This is a meandering, overdue re-cap of my last year and a half in Chengdu, China. If it seems a bit all over the place, well, that’s where things are at. My favorite venue in neighboring Chongqing, NUTS Club, briefly opened their doors for a few days, only to be shut down once again.”
Lunch breaks are like “taking exams”
Schools in China are reopening, but will lunch breaks ever be the same again? / What’s on Weibo
As most schools across China are opening their doors again, social media users are sharing photos of what school life looks like in the post-COVID-19 outbreak era this week.
Some videos and images that are circulating on Weibo and Wechat show somewhat dystopian images of the post-COVID-19 school life at primary and (senior) high schools — students eating while standing outside in straight lines, or pupils wearing face masks taking turns to eat their lunch (supposedly to reduce the chances of contagion via respiratory droplets…
One other school in Jiangsu’s Huai’an has put dividers on all lunch tables to separate students while having their lunch break.
“It feels like taking exams,” some commenters write about the new lunch break policies.