BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:
Profits plunge for SOEs
China’s centrally owned SOE profits fall nearly 60% in first quarter / Caixin (paywall)
State-owned enterprises (SOEs) administered by China’s national government generated 58.8% less profit than they did in the first quarter of last year, making 130.4 billion yuan ($18.43 billion) in total with 26 of them suffering net losses, said Peng Huagang, spokesperson for the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC). Companies under SASAC in the oil drilling, refining, and airline sectors ran at an overall loss.
Didi invests big in bike sharing
SoftBank, Legend invest $150 million in Didi Chuxing’s bike-sharing unit / The Information (paywall)
China’s ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing has raised $150 million from SoftBank and Legend Capital for its bike-sharing unit, Qingju. This is the first time it has raised money from outside investors for the business, according to people with direct knowledge of the deal.
Media reports in recent days have suggested that Didi raised $1 billion for the bike-sharing unit. But $850 million of that came from Didi itself, which was continuing its previous investment in the unit, the people said.
Chinese ride-hailing platform Didi Chuxing has reportedly secured a $1 billion round of fresh funding for its bike rental business Qingju, as the company seeks to diversify growth in the Chinese mobility market with a target of 100 million daily trips for the next three years. People familiar with the deal told LatePost (in Chinese) that Didi poached part of the investment away from Ant Financial’s Hellobike.
Pinduoduo invests $200 million in appliance retailer
Pinduoduo invests $200 million in retail giant GOME / TechNode
“Pinduoduo announced Sunday a strategic partnership with GOME Retail. The ecommerce upstart is investing $200 million worth of convertible bonds in the household appliance and electronics retailer.”
Bytedance launches Baidu rival
Bytedance quickens search engine push with rebranded wiki / TechNode
“Bytedance has revamped a 15-year-old online encyclopedia site under its own brand, expanding the functionalities of its new search engine as it pushes further into the search market.”
Tmall president affair accusation prompts investigation
Tmall president calls for self-probe after wife’s affair accusation / TechNode
The president of Alibaba’s ecommerce site Tmall [Jiǎng Fán 蒋凡] has asked the company to launch investigations against himself following an affair accusation made by his wife on social media platform Weibo, local newspaper Beijing News [in Chinese] reported Saturday, citing people familiar with the matter.
Huawei growth, 5G expansion stall
Huawei sees delays to 5G as first quarter revenue flatlines because of coronavirus / CNN
Growth at Chinese telecom group Huawei came to an abrupt halt in the first three months of the year as the coronavirus outbreak brought its home country to a near standstill.
The Shenzhen-based firm reported first quarter revenue of 182 billion yuan ($25.7 billion), an increase of just 1.4% compared to the same period a year earlier. That is a huge drop from growth of 39% it reported for the January to March period in 2019.
It also warned of a delay to the rollout of 5G networks in Europe.
Electric vehicle firm’s profit drops 42%
Chinese electric vehicle maker BYD’s profit slumps after subsidy cuts / Reuters
“Chinese electric vehicle maker BYD Co Ltd reported on Tuesday a 42% drop in 2019 profit, saying cuts in government subsidies and emissions rules changes had hit demand in the sector.”
Vegan food at Starbucks
Starbucks brings Beyond Meat and Oatly to China with new plant-based lunch menu / Reuters
SCIENCE, HEALTH, AND THE ENVIRONMENT:
COVID-19 testing kits contaminated
U.S. university stops using Chinese testing kits after some found to be contaminated / Tribune News Service via SCMP
The University of Washington School of Medicine went to extraordinary lengths to airlift tens of thousands of COVID-19 testing kits from China during a nationwide shortage of sampling swabs and the liquid that preserves specimens for diagnostic testing…
UW Medicine has decided to halt, at least temporarily, the use of the testing kits from Lingen Precision Medical Products, after a small percentage of the kits showed signs of contamination.
POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:
Beijing agencies bound by Basic Law — Bar Association
Beijing’s offices have no power to ‘supervise’ Hong Kong matters, says Bar Association / Hong Kong Free Press
The Hong Kong Bar Association has said that Beijing’s agencies in Hong Kong have no power to “supervise” the city’s internal affairs, while pro-democracy lawmakers have demanded clarification from the government on the constitutional status of the liaison office.
In a statement released on Monday, the Bar Association said both the liaison office and the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office (HKMAO) are bound by the Basic Law, including being subjected to the prohibition of interference in the city’s internal affairs as set out in Article 22.
- On SupChina yesterday: Hong Kong rounds up pro-democracy leaders as Beijing asserts power over the city
U.S. ups presence in South China Sea
U.S. warships enter South China Sea hot spot as tensions with China escalate / NYT (porous paywall)
The America, an amphibious assault ship, and the Bunker Hill, a guided missile cruiser, entered contested waters off Malaysia. At the same time, a Chinese government ship in the area has for days been tailing a Malaysian state oil company ship carrying out exploratory drilling. Chinese and Australian warships have also powered into nearby waters, according to the defense experts.
China’s COVID-19 narrative fails to convince Indians
Indians aren’t buying China’s narrative / Atlantic (porous paywall)
“For a majority of Indians, Beijing isn’t part of the solution to the pandemic, but the problem.”
Reporters Without Borders calls out China
A free press in China could have prevented the coronavirus pandemic, media watchdog says / CNN
“Reporters Without Borders (RSF) criticized China for censoring early coverage of the coronavirus outbreak, telling CNN Business that the global pandemic could have been averted or lessened had journalists had more freedom in the country.”
Trump pressured to halt investment in Chinese firms
Exclusive: Trump pressed to halt federal pension investments in China’s ZTE, Hikvision / Reuters
Lawmakers and former officials are making a last-ditch push to persuade the Trump administration to halt plans to invest billions of federal employee retirement dollars in Chinese companies that Washington suspects of human rights abuses or threatening U.S. security, according to sources and documents seen by Reuters.
China, South Korea shoot down claims that Kim Jong-un is ill
U.S. monitors reports of North Korean leader’s illness; South Korea, China doubtful / Reuters
South Korean and Chinese officials and sources familiar with U.S. intelligence on Tuesday cast doubt on reports that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is gravely ill after a cardiovascular procedure even as the White House closely monitored the matter.
Daily NK, a Seoul-based speciality website, reported late on Monday that Kim, who is believed to be about 36, was recovering after undergoing the procedure on April 12. It cited one unnamed source in North Korea.
Belgian espionage case
Belgian judges overturn ban on Chinese professor accused of spying / SCMP
A Chinese professor accused of espionage has won his case against a Belgian order which barred him from the European Union’s visa-free Schengen Area for eight years.
Sòng Xīnníng 宋新宁 had just completed his tenure as head of a Confucius Institute in Brussels when he was accused last year by Belgium’s state security service of conducting espionage activities and his visa was cancelled, effectively denying him entry to 26 European countries.
A judgment handed down by Belgium’s Council for Alien Law Litigation found in Song’s favour on a procedural technicality. It made no ruling on the validity of the espionage claims.
Politburo discusses China’s economic situation
稳中求进 砥砺前行——从“六稳”到“六保”发出的信号 / Xinhua
“Maintain stability while moving forward — the signals sent from the ‘six stabilities’ to the ‘six guarantees.’”
New report locates facilities housing Uyghur children
Geolocating explosive growth in preschools in western China due to ‘re-education’ policies / Tearline
Katherine Pfrommer and Ed Burke of RAND Corporation write:
Twenty facilities that imagery analysis, press and professional journals suggest house Uyghur children have been identified in this first study of geolocating China’s detention infrastructure targeting Uyghurs and other Muslim minority groups.
NGA Tearline: ‘Re-education’ policies fuel explosive growth in preschools in western China / Intelligence.gov
“GEOINT analysis shows steady construction progress at probable Chinese preschool facilities in southern Xinjiang.”
Rian Thum on Twitter: “Glad to see that the US Holocaust Museum’s center for the Prevention of Genocide has added China to its list of 15 country case studies for China’s mass internment of Uyghurs and other Turkic minorities.”
Lawyer barred from returning home
China ‘bars lawyer from going home’ after prison release / Guardian
A prominent Chinese human rights lawyer barred from returning home after his prison release two weeks ago has been prohibited from reuniting with his family after a 14-day quarantine period.
Wáng Quánzhāng’s 王全璋 wife and rights groups fear authorities are using the coronavirus pandemic as a pretext to hold him indefinitely under de facto house arrest.
SOCIETY AND CULTURE:
Victoria’s Secret prompts discussion about beauty standards
Victoria’s Secret China ambassador sparks discussion on changing beauty norms / Sixth Tone
Victoria’s Secret has named actor Zhōu Dōngyǔ 周冬雨 as its newest brand ambassador, prompting discussion in China about whether the American lingerie retailer has lost touch with its image, or whether it is simply aiming to reshape outmoded notions of feminine beauty…
Most of the online chatter over the new partnership has been positive, with many saying they appreciate how Victoria’s Secret is attempting to expand the conventional understanding of “sexy.”
“We should see more diversity,” one Weibo user commented under a related post [in Chinese]. “It’s not just women such as supermodels who can represent underwear…”
Writer Yuan Ling on COVID-19
‘Everyone is isolated’: An interview with Yuan Ling / ChinaFile
Ian Johnson interviews writer Yuán Líng 袁凌 on China’s creative nonfiction scene, religion, isolation, and how we should understand COVID-19.