Links for Thursday, April 16, 2020 - SupChina
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Links for Thursday, April 16, 2020

BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:

Large quantities of critical protective gear and other medical goods are sitting in warehouses across China unable to receive necessary official clearances, said some suppliers and brokers.

The policies were instituted this month, and Chinese officials have said they are intended to ensure the quality of exported medical products and to make sure needed goods aren’t being shipped out of China. Instead, they have created bottlenecks at a time of urgent need, according to the suppliers, brokers and the State Department memos.

  • Report on exports from American states to China
    2020 state export report / U.S.-China Business Council
    The council notes in the report’s executive summary:
  • Goods exports to China have fallen to their lowest level since 2011.
  • Services exports to China have plateaued.
  • However, China still managed to be the third-largest market for US goods and services exporters.
  • Exports to China impact nearly all U.S. states in a wide range of industries.
  • Phase One trade commitments could result in a spike in exports.

Residential home prices in China rose in March as pent-up demand after a period of lockdown during the height of the coronavirus supported sales.

New-home prices in 70 major cities, excluding state-subsidized housing, gained 0.13% in March from February, National Bureau of Statistics data released Thursday showed.  

Chinese internet giant ByteDance Inc…said it is not involved in the securities brokerage business after people found they could open stock trading accounts through a new app the company launched ostensibly to provide stock market information.

ByteDance said on Wednesday that the app, which could be translated into “dolphin stock,” is a platform only providing information and linking services. Investors could open stock trading accounts and have access to trading services but only by clicking through links provided by securities companies within the app, it said.

Tencent Holdings Ltd., Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and SoftBank Group Corp. are investing hundreds of millions of dollars in Indian apps that use loopholes in anti-gambling laws — some dating to India’s colonial era — to offer bettors cash prizes, vacations to Macau and new iPhones.

  • …As Tencent also expands in Russia, Middle East  
    Tencent takes Valor game into new arenas in latest overseas foray / Reuters via Channel NewsAsia
    “China’s Tencent Holdings will launch its ‘Arena of Valor’ mobile game in Russia and the Middle East on Thursday, capitalising on a global spike in online gaming as coronavirus lockdowns keep billions of people stuck at home.”
  • Chinese unicorns under pressure
    COVID-19 pressures Chinese unicorns / Caixin
    “[S]ome investors are looking to offload their stakes in China’s bumper crop of $1 billion-plus tech startups as their valuations fall below levels reached in recent funding rounds.”
    After short-selling spree, what’s next for Chinese tech stocks? / TechNode
    “After Luckin touched off a short-selling bonanza, ecommerce and edtech are winning, but what about everyone else?”
  • Graphs show impact of COVID-19 on SMEs
    Andrew Baston on Twitter: “A new survey by the PBC School of Finance at Tsinghua University has some remarkable data on how China’s SMEs fared during the COVID-19 lockdown. The charts are pretty easy to understand even if you don’t read Chinese.”
  • Cosmetics company goes private
    Online cosmetics seller Jumei removes itself from NYSE / Caixin

Online cosmetics retailer Jumei International has put the final touches on a divorce with the New York Stock Exchange, officially ending an unhappy six-year marriage.

Jumei International has completed a merger with Jumei Investment, a wholly-owned subsidiary of its parent company Super ROI Global, in an agreement that was first announced in February, according to a statement published by the Chinese company on Wednesday.

The world’s biggest commercial drone-maker SZ DJI Technology Co. Ltd. has no access to the information collected by the drones it has sold abroad, the company said in response to questions about data security as more countries deploy its products in the battle against the coronavirus pandemic.

China’s national digital currency (DCEP) will be issued to local government employees in the city of Suzhou in May, a local news outlet reported on Thursday.

Citing an official document, China Star Market said [in Chinese] that Suzhou municipal government employees would receive 50% of their May transportation subsidies in DCEP.

One notable consequence of China’s efforts to stimulate economic growth: companies now have a strong incentive to make risky investments.

Record-low interest rates propagated by the People’s Bank of China are creating a quirk in the corporate borrowing system. Yields are so low in the country’s short-term debt market — with one company this month selling bonds as cheaply as 1.74% — that some firms may be issuing debt and using the proceeds to buy high-yielding asset management products, according to BNP Paribas SA and Citic Securities Co.

In February 2020, China’s AI Industry Alliance (AIIA) released a report based on analysis of 500+ use case of AI in combatting coronavirus (collected from submissions by Chinese companies)…

The way to read this report is to take nothing at face value and get beyond the tropes — no, China is not leading on AI because of these 500+ examples, no, AI is not saving the world from coronavirus; the most important technologies seem decidedly “low tech” (e.g. humans with thermometers standing in front of grocery stores, hand sanitizer, masks).

  • China has launched the “National Blockchain and Distributed Accounting Technology Standardization Technical Committee.”
  • Huawei, Tencent, Baidu, Ant Financial and JD.com are among a group of companies and academics on the committee.
  • The aim is likely to set some national standards for the technology.

SCIENCE, HEALTH, AND THE ENVIRONMENT:

As residents of China’s besieged central city of Wuhan began leaving for the first time last week, a Reuters analysis of official statements, data, and testimonials reveals how the coronavirus took hold, spreading to more than 25 areas of the country before the lockdown, some as early as December 2019.

POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:

  • Key European technology firms in the telecommunications and semiconductor space have seen their share price hit amid a broader sell-off in stocks due to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • One analyst said that this could leave European tech companies “vulnerable” to Chinese takeovers.
  • Margrethe Vestager, the European Union’s competition commissioner, suggested that countries should consider taking stakes in companies to fend off the threat of a Chinese takeover.

…Trump’s decision to defund WHO isn’t just petty or reactive — it literally plays into China’s hands. If the U.S. downgrades its participation in the WHO and other U.N. organizations, it will cede even more ground, and influence, to the Chinese—which is what they want.

In part this dominance of Chinese nationals in key U.N. agencies reflects Beijing’s savvy diplomatic maneuvering as a rising power, and its position as the world’s second-largest economy.

Much research about public opinion in China has found strong support for the government, particularly the central government. Yet a recent study published in China Quarterly, a flagship journal of China studies, cautions that these findings might be exaggerated because they don’t take account of high rates of nonresponse to politically sensitive questions, especially among people from marginalized groups.

What does seem clear, though, is that by providing only partial responses to public concerns, the government has prompted some people to ask for more. Some commentary on Chinese social media exudes cynicism about the belated, official response to Dr. Li’s death. “Is that it?” read one post in reaction to the official report blaming Wuhan police officers for reprimanding Dr. Li. The comment attracted around 160 million views.

  • Ministry of State Security gives details on a number of cases linked to top military projects.
  • Agency chief also promises to confront biosecurity risks exposed by the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Final days in China for NYT journalists
    Kicked out of China / NYT (porous paywall)
    “As the coronavirus escalated to a worldwide crisis, China expelled our journalists — and surveilled our correspondents to thwart their reporting before they left.”
  • How did Taiwan act so early on COVID-19?
    Jeremy Huai-Che Chiang on Twitter: “The rather interesting (and miraculous) story of why Taiwan acted on COVID-19 so early.”
  • COVID-19 and racism against Africans
    Nigeria’s priorities / The China Africa Project

One of Nigeria’s most powerful politicians, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, declared on Wednesday that the issue over the maltreatment of Nigerians in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou had been “sorted out between both countries.”

In purely political terms, what would they get if they really pushed the Chinese on the issue and dragged it out over weeks? The Chinese government would probably dig in its heels, and the public would become even more riled up than it already is under the combined pressure of a pandemic and economic recession.

But the businessman, Felly Mwamba, had not anticipated the coronavirus pandemic, during which he would find himself sealed in his home, prohibited from leaving and eyed as a carrier of the disease, simply because he was African.

In Yiwu, a city in Zhejiang Province, Lucky Destiny, a Nigerian jewelry exporter, said that whenever he went outside during the past two weeks, locals would cover their noses or move away. Shopkeepers shooed him away, and people got off buses when he boarded.

  • David Paulk 波大卫 on Twitter: “More on the awful treatment of black people in Guangzhou. I’m still trying to process this part: “China’s foreign ministry said on Monday all foreigners are treated equally. But it also said virus controls on Africans would be lifted.”
  • HarryChenPhD1 on Twitter: “China, Not everyone got the message to lay off African expatriates. Such as this local lady. She didn’t get the memo and was caught on camera laying siege to an African’s home in Guangzhou.”  
  • One new coronavirus case in Hong Kong
    Hong Kong confirms just one new coronavirus case, bringing total to 1,017 / SCMP

Hong Kong reported one new coronavirus case on Thursday, the fifth straight day with a single-digit increase in COVID-19 infections and the lowest figure in more than five weeks, bringing the city’s tally to 1,017.

But according to government sources, officials planned to keep prevention measures as they were for now, with work-from-home arrangements for civil servants expected to remain in place for another week, as would the ban on entertainment and social venues opening.

SOCIETY AND CULTURE:

The alleged sexual assault of a teenager by a prominent lawyer and oil executive [Bào Yùmíng 鲍毓明] in China has sparked calls for the government to do more to address the sexual abuse of children and women, including raising the age of consent from 14…

“If the law sets the age of consent at 14, it tacitly grants sexual autonomy to minors over 14 and implies that they can freely decide to engage in sexual activity,” Zhū Guāngxīng 朱光星, an assistant professor of criminal law at China University of Political Science and Law, wrote in Sixth Tone.

A new [freely downloadable] children’s book follows the story of the late Dr. Lǐ Wénliàng 李文亮, who sounded the alarm on the virus in China before dying from it himself.

[Francesca Cavallo, a New York Times best-selling author known for co-creating the “Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls” series] said she wrote the book in hopes that it could help educate children on the novel coronavirus.

  • Video: Hong Kong’s bamboo scaffolding workers
    Why Hong Kong still uses bamboo to build buildings / Goldthread
    “Think of construction, and you’ll probably imagine scaffolding made of steel or aluminum. But in Hong Kong, the material of choice is bamboo.”
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