BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:
U.S.-China decoupling possible, but most U.S. firms plan to stick it out
Pandemic makes U.S.-China economic breakup more likely, U.S. businesses in China say / WSJ (paywall)
“In March, 44% of 25 large U.S. companies surveyed said decoupling would be impossible, down from 66% in October, the American Chamber of Commerce in China and the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai said.”
Most U.S. firms have no plans to leave China due to coronavirus: survey / Reuters
“Most U.S. firms in China currently have no plans to relocate production to other parts of the country or abroad due to the coronavirus, but there is less certainty about the long term due to growing worries over U.S.-China decoupling, a survey showed.”
Aluminum smelters halt production
China’s aluminum producers forced to shut down as prices plummet / Caixin (paywall)
“China’s aluminum industry has seen prices plunge due to weak demand amid the Covid-19 pandemic, pushing smelters to suspend production.”
AI company launches virtual makeovers
Who needs real makeup? Megvii AI gives consumers virtual makeovers / Caixin
“The tool, named FaceStyle, is able to show makeup effects after scanning users’ faces, the program’s product manager Wu Lingling said [in Chinese] during a live-streamed launch event held on Wednesday.”
Taiwan chipmaker draws big profits but loses Huawei
TSMC Q1 profit leaps on telecom, high-performance computing chips / Caixin
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (TSMC), the world’s top contract chipmaker, saw its profit nearly double in the first quarter, as strong demand for telecom and high-end computing chips helped it defy a coronavirus-induced downturn seen in many other sectors.
In the three months through March, TSMC’s net profit jumped 90.6% year-on-year to NT$117 billion ($3.89 billion), beating market expectation for a NT$108 billion profit [$3.59 billion], according to the company’s earnings report released on Thursday.
The Shenzhen-based telecommunications company is moving its chip production towards Shanghai-based Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC) from Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd (TSMC), said a report by Reuters, citing sources familiar with the matter.
China stockpiles cheap oil
China guzzles up oil to seize on low prices / Caixin
“The country had stored 31.5 million tons of crude as of Wednesday, up 8.63% from the inventory level a month ago.”
Tencent game to enter 67 new markets
Tencent takes its marquee game on its biggest global push in years / Bloomberg via Caixin
The Chinese internet giant introduced “Arena of Valor” to 67 new markets on top of an existing 82, sharply expanding its footprint by launching in emerging markets. It hopes to draw new players to one of its longest-running and most profitable franchises, known in its home country as “Honor of Kings,” just as millions of people sheltering in place ignite online activity of all stripes.
Tesla factory reopens, registrations jump
Tesla China registrations soar as Shanghai plant resumes output / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
“Tesla’s 11,280 registrations of locally built vehicles last month represents a fivefold jump from February, according to data from state-backed China Automotive Information Net.”
China approves $6.9 billion AI computing acquisition
China green-lights major Nvidia deal as U.S., E.U. scramble to protect tech from China / TechNode
As E.U. and U.S. authorities are trying to protect their most valued assets from Chinese money, China made what could be a goodwill gesture: The country’s antitrust regulator approved the acquisition of Israeli Mellanox Technologies by California-based Nvidia for $6.9 billion. The deal is expected to boost Nvidia’s edge in artificial intelligence computing.
…Analysts speculate that there could be multiple reasons behind the approval: an attempt to defuse tensions, a sign that China doesn’t plan to fight every single battle, or that they simply don’t care.
Antibody test fiasco in the U.K.
U.K. paid $20 million for new coronavirus tests. They didn’t work. / NYT (porous paywall)
“The two Chinese companies offering the antibody tests, AllTest Biotech and Wondfo Biotech, both said their products met the health, safety and environmental standards set by the European Union… After quietly admitting last week that the testing had in fact proven unsuccessful, health officials are now defending the purchase as prudent planning and valuable experience.”
Chinese-backed tech firm to remain in the U.K.
Exclusive: Chinese-backed owners commit to U.K. HQ for Imagination Tech — source / Reuters
The Chinese-backed owners of Imagination Technologies told the British government on Friday the chip designer would remain headquartered in the United Kingdom, a source with knowledge of the matter said…
Imagination Technologies, once a jewel in Britain’s technological crown, was bought by Canyon Bridge in 2017.
COVID-19 detection glasses could be used in the U.S.
Chinese startup Rokid pitches COVID-19 detection glasses in U.S. / TechCrunch
Thermal imaging wearables used in China to detect COVID-19 symptoms could soon be deployed in the U.S.
SCIENCE, HEALTH, AND THE ENVIRONMENT:
How digital tracing works
How digital contact tracing slowed COVID-19 in East Asia / Harvard Business Review
The most effective deployment of technology for tracking individuals’ infection status, movements, and contacts hinges on three critical conditions that might each present difficult dilemmas for Western democracies: The adoption of the needed technologies (whether they are just strongly encouraged or made mandatory); a digital infrastructure enabled and activated by the government; and seamless data sharing between government and business that may afford few privacy protections.
Drawing on the experience of countries that are effectively using technology for contact tracing, the first step — and a requirement — is to encourage, or, better yet, mandate, the installation of tracking apps on phones.
POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:
Hostility toward Beijing will increase — former Sinopec chairman
China oil titan warns of gathering ‘black swan’ risks for Beijing after pandemic / SCMP
- Fù Chéngyù 傅成玉, the former chairman of China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), says hostility towards Beijing will increase after the coronavirus.
- U.S. will try to ‘thwart China’s rise’ and economic fallout from COVID-19 will be worse than the global financial crisis, says Fu.
Trump supporters launch #BeijingBiden campaign
A new front in the presidential campaign, as President Trump seeks to divert anger at China against Joe Biden / Washington Post
“A super PAC supporting Trump on Thursday announced a weeks-long $10 million ad campaign in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania — three states key to the November election — that attempts to brand Biden as soft on China.”
How should the U.K. deal with China after the crisis?
No ‘business as usual’ with China after coronavirus, U.K. says / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said it could no longer be “business as usual” with China when the coronavirus pandemic is over, the latest sign of hardening attitudes toward Beijing as the crisis drags on.
“There’s no doubt we can’t have business as usual after this crisis,” Raab said. “We’ll have to ask the hard questions about how it came about and how it could have been stopped earlier.”
U.S. military might get more money for Pacific deterrence
Congress seeks to confront China with $6 billion in new defense spending / Foreign Policy (porous paywall)
Amid rising U.S.-China tensions over the coronavirus pandemic, a bill introduced in Congress on Thursday would seek to create for the first time a dedicated defense fund to boost deterrence against China in the Pacific, allocating more than $6 billion for air and missile defense systems and new military construction in partner countries.
Taiwan’s successful coronavirus containment continues
Taiwan records no new COVID-19 cases for third time this week / Focus Taiwan
Taiwan reported no new daily confirmed cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus for a second consecutive day Friday and also for the third time this week, keeping the total number of those infected in the country at 395, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said that day.
Foreign visitors in Taiwan granted second 30-day visa extension / Focus Taiwan
Context on SupChina: Taiwan gains influence as it successfully contains COVID-19.
WHO criticism and support
WHO ‘regrets’ Trump’s decision to withhold funding, says focus is on saving lives in coronavirus pandemic / CNBC
‘We have lost faith’: Republicans urge Trump to withhold WHO funding until chief quits / AFP via Hong Kong Free Press
Congressional Republicans on Thursday urged President Donald Trump to condition US funding for the World Health Organization on the resignation of its chief over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Seventeen Republicans on the House Foreign Affairs Committee said they had “lost faith” in Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’s WHO leadership, even as they stressed the organization is vital to tackling the world’s health problems.
Europeans give WHO qualified backing amid growing wariness over China’s transparency / SCMP
“Although dismissive of US President Donald Trump’s decision to stop funding the United Nations health body, few European leaders question [Trump’s] claims that the WHO was ‘China-centric’ and leaned too heavily on Beijing’s assertions at the initial stage of the coronavirus outbreak.”
Tanner Brown on Twitter: “For the world’s second-largest economy, China sure gets bang for its buck with relatively meager WHO contributions”
Major Czech media agency acquired by China
Filip Jirouš on Twitter: “The Chinese state has just acquired major stake in the largest private Czech media agency through its consolidation agency CITIC (中信). This means that one of the main media players in CZ is now the Chinese Party-state.”
Bild chief responds to P.R.C. embassy’s attack
Bill Bishop on Twitter: “Germany’s biggest newspaper Bild’s editor in chief responds to the prc embassy’s recent attack w editorial blaming Xi for the virus “You are endangering the whole world”
Bild chief writes to China’s head of state “You are endangering the whole world” / Bild (German)
1.You govern by surveillance You wouldn’t be President without surveillance. You can monitor everything, every one of your citizens, but you refuse to monitor the highly disease-prone animal markets in your country. You shut down every critical newspaper or website, but not the stalls where bat soup is sold. You are not only monitoring your people, you are endangering them — and with them the whole world.
Your message tells me that I would not do justice to the “traditional friendship of our peoples.” I suppose you consider it a great “friendship” if you now generously send masks around the world. I do not call it friendship, but smiling imperialism. You want to strengthen China through a plague that originated in China. I don’t believe that you personally can save your power by doing so. I believe that Corona will be the end of you politically, sooner or later.
Xi Jinping thought on COVID-19
Following Xi Jinping thought on diplomacy to build a community with a shared future for mankind through international cooperation against COVID-19 / Ministry of Foreign Affairs of People’s Republic of China
Sales of Chinese fish in Nairobi
James Smart on Twitter: “It’s been a record low FOUR weeks on sales of CHINESE fish in the markets. Traders say customers are SCARED of the fish and they are preferring fish from LAKE VICTORIA, in its absence, fish farms from KENYA.”
South China Sea updates and info
Chinese and Malaysian ships in South China Sea standoff / Reuters
“A Malaysian security source said the Haiyang Dizhi 8 was flanked at one point on Friday by more than 10 Chinese vessels, including those belonging to maritime militia and the coast guard. That source also mentioned the Vietnamese vessel.”
South China Sea features / Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative
“Explore information about the South China Sea’s disputed rocks, reefs, and submerged shoals. The features can be filtered based on occupying country, classification as a rock/island, low tide elevation, or submerged feature, or both.”
COVID-19 laws in Hong Kong
Explainer: After months of protests, is Hong Kong selectively enforcing Covid-19 laws? / Hong Kong Free Press
“Pro-protest businesses say they are repeatedly targeted, while officials have allegedly turned a blind eye to breaches by pro-government figures.”
SOCIETY AND CULTURE:
Anti-mainlander sentiment in Hong Kong
A coronavirus betrayal: Even friends shun mainland protesters in Hong Kong / Reuters
Hong Kong’s Equal Opportunities Commission said it has received around 600 complaints and enquiries related to discrimination against mainlanders or Mandarin speakers since the outbreak began, compared with “very few” before.
More than 100 restaurants have warned against mainland or Mandarin-speaking patrons. One hair salon said it would only cut “Hong Kongers’ hair.”
Chinese in coronavirus-stricken Russia
Fearing virus, some Chinese in Russia self-isolate, many go home / Reuters
The worsening outbreak in Russia has forced the roughly 150,000 Chinese citizens living there to decide between sheltering in place or trying to cross back into China, where the coronavirus has been curtailed by drastic containment measures.
Thousands have opted to return home, including 2,443 at Suifenhe, bringing a wave of infections with them that forced authorities to close the border this month and put the city into virtual lockdown. Shutters were closed and doors bolted on most shops on Thursday.
NBA China looks for a new CEO
NBA China says CEO Derek Chang leaving in May / AP via Washington Post
“NBA China is looking for a new CEO after the league announced Thursday that Derek Chang is leaving May 15.”
Massive soccer stadium under construction in Guangzhou
Guangzhou Evergrande’s spectacular new stadium will be the largest football arena in the world / Radii China
“Construction has commenced on 8-time Chinese Super League (CSL) champions Guangzhou Evergrande F.C.’s new stadium. The project, which comes as a result of China’s push to promote football within the country, is scheduled for completion in 2022.”