Links for Monday, April 13, 2020 - SupChina
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Links for Monday, April 13, 2020

BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:

Chinese home appliance-maker Hisense Group is laying off more than 10,000 people, several employees told Caixin, as the global coronavirus pandemic has disrupted production and reduced demand for its products.

Executives are determined to carry out the redundancies and most departments will be affected, according to one employee in the company’s research department, who said that layoffs may affect as much as 20% of the company’s staff.

  • The virus, known as Decapod iridescent virus 1, has infected about a quarter of the shrimp farms in Guangdong province, the heart of production in China.
  • It is not known to harm humans but can kill shrimp in a matter of days.

Businesses have long relied on a five-tier inverted pyramid called the “hierarchy of controls” to reduce workplace risks to employees, ranging from chemical exposure to physical injury. This framework will also be the basis for companies’ plans to get back to work, occupational safety experts say.

Companies in China have already begun following the hierarchy to restart production. But the process has been expensive and slow, as it is likely to be in the United States. That’s because many of the standard tools for workplace safety are ineffective against a risk like the coronavirus.

China’s largest food-delivery site Meituan has hit back against allegations that it charged onerous commissions to restaurants during the COVID-19 outbreak…

Responding to complaints from a restaurant association [in Chinese] in the southern province of Guangdong, Meituan said its average profit per delivery order was less than 0.2 yuan ($0.03) in the fourth quarter, accounting for just 2% of its revenue.

Chinese electric vehicle maker BYD is supplying face masks to Japan purchased by Softbank, as the country’s manufacturers rush to meet surging overseas demand amid the global spread of COVID-19.

Hit hard by plunging auto sales and core business shutdowns, more automakers are switching to manufacturing face masks.

  • Draft energy law promotes clean power
    New draft law puts clean power at the forefront of China’s energy policy / Caixin (paywall)
    “China has released a draft energy law that prioritizes the use of renewable power sources and aims to set future targets for both its production and its share of the country’s overall energy mix.”
    Trivium comments: “The law is better understood as an institutionalization of existing energy policies. Even in its current form, it won’t dramatically expedite China’s shift away from traditional energy.”

SCIENCE, HEALTH, AND THE ENVIRONMENT:

  • Types A, B and C are all derived from the pathogen first found in bats but have evolved in different ways, according to a report by British and German geneticists.
  • Findings show the virus has become well adapted to human transmission and mutates as it spreads, Chinese epidemiologist says.
  • In the weeks after the city closed its borders on January 23, ‘the number of [COVID-19] cases grew steadily slower and then flattened out’, Berlin researchers say.
  • Similar restrictions had shown to be effective in other countries, like Italy, but behavioral changes were still needed elsewhere in the world, they say.

I’ve been a doctor in an intensive care unit for 12 years, and during that time I’ve dealt with all manner of serious diseases. But stepping into that ward was the most terrifying moment of my life.

Most of these patients should have been in an ICU, not a converted inpatient clinic. That first day, we watched as one of the doctors did their best to save a patient near death. It was no use: The hospital didn’t have enough oxygen left.

At the peak of the crisis, it received over 1,500 outpatient visits a day — five times the usual number… The staffing situation was equally bleak. A lack of warning and a severe shortage of personal protective equipment resulted in many frontline respiratory and critical care staff becoming infected.

  • Mine waste leak in Heilongjiang
    Dangerous tailings leak / Xinhua via Shanghai Daily
    “Molybdenum white metal content in the environment is being monitored after a leakage of mine tailings late last month in northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province, local authorities said yesterday.”

POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:

China will loosen residency rules this year to make it easier for people in rural areas to move to small cities, in an effort to ease labour shortages and boost consumption in an economy jolted by the coronavirus crisis.

China will completely abolish household registration permits for cities with populations of less than 3 million for all out-of-towners, its top economic planner said on Thursday.

Chinese representatives tried to influence German government officials to give positive comments about Beijing’s management of the coronavirus outbreak, Germany’s Die Welt newspaper reported Sunday…

Senior officials and staff at German government ministries were invited “to speak in positive terms about China’s management of the coronavirus,” Die Welt said, citing a confidential foreign ministry document.

The foreign ministry recommended that all German governmental departments reject such approaches, the newspaper added. The ministry has declined to confirm or deny the report.

In addition to Serbia, Beijing has sent medical teams to Cambodia, Iran, Iraq, Laos, Pakistan, Venezuela and Italy, the only G7 nation to join the Belt and Road Initiative and which has been devastated by the coronavirus. Last week, a 12-member Chinese medical team arrived in the Philippines to aid in the fight against the virus…

“We changed our approach, and with the support of Chinese experts, we went for more widespread testing,” said a source close to the Serbian presidency, who was not authorized to speak with media and declined to be named.

The White House launched an extraordinary attack on Voice of America on Friday, saying the federally funded but independent news service had promoted Chinese government propaganda in its reporting about the coronavirus outbreak.

The critique was found on the official White House website, flagging its brief statement with a provocative headline: “Amid a pandemic, Voice of America spends your money to promote foreign propaganda.”

China’s top agency overseeing Hong Kong said lawmakers blocking action by the local legislature were potentially violating their oaths, in a signal that Beijing was losing patience with the months-long legislative logjam.

The Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office urged the city’s Legislative Council in a statement released Monday to end the stalemate and resume normal operations. Opposition lawmakers led by Civic Party member Dennis Kwok [郭榮鏗 Guō Róngkēng] have prevented the body’s agenda-setting House Committee from electing a chairman since October, barring the panel from conducting business, it said.

Hong Kong’s police force is showing signs of attrition with resignations increasing and recruitment declining as the city deals with a coronavirus outbreak after months of sometimes violent anti-government protests.

From June last year, when the city’s protests erupted against a China-backed extradition Bill, to February, a total of 446 police officers quit the force, an increase of 38% from a year earlier.

A little over a year later, as the coronavirus rips across the globe, the abstract threat has become a glaring reality with life-threatening consequences as American officials and consumers haggle with Chinese companies for lifesaving supplies like masks and tests. And Mr. Rubio, a conservative Florida Republican who has introduced a bill that aims to cut off China’s chokehold on the global pharmaceutical supply chain, now has bipartisan support for his effort, including from progressives like Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts.

SOCIETY AND CULTURE:

All those repatriated from Wuhan underwent two weeks of quarantine in the Wirral, and after a brief stint of normality, May-Smith is now back in lockdown, wishing he had stayed put in China.

“Looking at it now, I wish I hadn’t come back,” he said. “I would be coming out of lockdown now, and instead I’m just going into one.”

This is the sound of dὸupί 豆皮 frying, a layering of bean powder and meat. It’s one of the signature dishes of guòzǎo 过早, or passing the morning, the term used in one for eating a medley of morning snacks. Wuhan’s beloved guozao vendors are slowly reopening. Most only do takeout. Others haven’t been allowed outdoor seating, but they’re back.

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