BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:
Online sales resume business as usual
China’s online retail sales getting back to normal / Caixin (paywall)
“China’s online retail sector returned to business as usual in March, with livestreaming ecommerce leading the trend and online sales of physical goods growing faster than in the same period last year, the Ministry of Commerce said at a press briefing (link in Chinese) on Thursday.”
Calls for direct payments to businesses a “long shot”
China urged to ‘think outside the box’ to help businesses struggling for survival / SCMP
There are growing calls for China to provide direct financial support to small private sector businesses as many are struggling for survival due to the economic damage caused by the coronavirus outbreak…
But it is still seen as a long shot that China will grant direct payments to companies given the huge cost of such a programme and the complexity of administering it.
Bytedance ordered to remove remote office app
China orders TikTok owner Bytedance to remove work-from-home app / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
“Chinese regulators ordered ByteDance Inc. to temporarily suspend downloads of its nascent Slack-style office app after discovering content from banned sites like Facebook and Twitter, dealing a blow to the startup’s broader internet ambitions.”
Huawei sued by former employees
Huawei employees sue company after police detention / FT (paywall)
Two former Huawei employees [who were arrested in December 2018 after internal disputes at Huawei] are trying to file legal complaints against the company in a case that exposes the allegedly close relationship between the world’s biggest telecoms equipment company and the Chinese police.
The cases are a rare example of employees launching complaints against one of China’s “national champions” after serving time in police detention.
Brick and mortar Suning to launch app
Suning is launching a Pinduoduo clone in May / TechNode
“Chinese omnichannel retailer Suning.com is reportedly planning to launch a new shopping app targeting bargain-seeking consumers by the end of May, taking aim at ecommerce upstart Pinduoduo.”
U.K. parliament warned not to use Zoom
U.K. government told not to use Zoom because of China fears / Guardian
“Government and parliament were told by the intelligence agencies last week not to use the videoconferencing service Zoom for confidential business, due to fears it could be vulnerable to Chinese surveillance.”
The firm behind China’s blockchain expansion
Meet Red Date, the little-known tech firm behind China’s big blockchain vision / CoinDesk
“Initially I thought blockchain, especially distributed ledger technology [DLT], had no commercial value because it was too expensive,” said Yifan He [何亦凡 Hé Yìfán], CEO of Beijing Red Date Technology. “Then I realized we can actually build a multi-framework platform to reduce the cost for everyone.”
That realization is a core idea of the Blockchain-based Service Network (BSN), a government-supported initiative scheduled to open for global commercial use Saturday. As the only one of the three original founding companies with a specialized software background, Red Date initiated the project and has been spearheading the network’s technical design.
What will post-COVID-19 healthcare look like?
Chinese health care in the post-pandemic world / WSJ (paywall)
China has near-universal health insurance and the world’s most powerful surveillance state, yet it still failed to contain the initial spread of the new coronavirus in Wuhan. The disaster is bound to prompt some soul searching.
Two trends look likely to gain steam: the rapid expansion of commercial health insurance and burgeoning online healthcare services.
Tesla hikes prices after subsidies cut
Tesla’s China-made Model 3 prices rise after EV subsidies cut / Reuters
“U.S. electric vehicle maker Tesla Inc’s prices for two China-made model 3 variants rose after authorities cut subsidies [by 10%] in the world’s biggest auto market.”
U.S. chains part of digital currency trial
China digital currency: McDonalds, Starbucks part of trial program / CNBC
- China has rolled out a digital currency trial in Xiong’an, an area southwest of Beijing in the Hebei province, according to state-backed media reports.
- McDonald’s, Starbucks and Subway are the only three American firms among 19 companies participating in the trial.
SCIENCE, HEALTH, AND THE ENVIRONMENT:
Strict quarantine measures
Chinese regions extend quarantine periods up to 35 days / Caixin
Beijing authorities now require those who complete 14 days of centralized quarantine to isolate at home for seven more days.
Meanwhile, Heilongjiang province, which has been dealing with imported cases from Russia, has increased the isolation requirement to 35 days for Mudanjiang residents who come back to the city from Russia through the Suifenhe land border crossing. A prefecture in Jilin province and the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region added two additional weeks of mandatory home isolation to the original two weeks of centralized quarantine.
Study on “promising” COVID-19 drug released and withdrawn
Data on Gilead’s remdesivir show no benefit for coronavirus patients / STAT
The antiviral medicine remdesivir from Gilead Sciences failed to speed the improvement of patients with COVID-19 or prevent them from dying, according to results from a long-awaited clinical trial conducted in China. Gilead, however, said the data suggest a “potential benefit.”
A summary of the study results was inadvertently posted to the website of the World Health Organization and seen by STAT on Thursday, but then removed.
- Gilead Sciences statement on report about remdesivir in China / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
We regret that the WHO prematurely posted information regarding the study, which has since been removed…the study results are inconclusive, though trends in the data suggest a potential benefit for remdesivir, particularly among patients treated early in disease.
Coal power plant construction gets a boost
China fires up coal power plant construction / Caixin (paywall)
“China approved nearly 10 gigawatts (GW) of new coal-fired power generation capacity in this year’s first quarter, roughly equal to the amount approved for all of last year, amid a broader scramble to jumpstart an economy hobbled by the COVID-19 epidemic.”
Wuhan lab hacked
Wuhan lab at center of conspiracy theory targeted by hackers / SCMP
- Staff email addresses and login credentials reportedly leaked and circulated online, but it’s not clear who was behind it.
- WHO, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and U.S. CDC among those hit by the cyberattacks.
Vaccine for “emergency use” may be ready by September — CDC head
China CDC director says coronavirus vaccine may be ready by September for emergencies / Shanaghaiist
“Maybe by September, we might have a vaccine to be used for emergency,” CDC director Gāo Fú 高福 told CGTN on Thursday.
“For example, if we have some emergency outbreak again, [even if a] vaccine is still under phase two or phase three clinical trials, it can be used for some special groups. For example, health care workers.”
Canada reports 1 million faulty masks
Canada says 1 million K95 masks from China unfit for COVID-19 fight / Politico via SCMP
“Canada’s public health authority says around one million KN95 respirators acquired from China have failed to meet federal COVID-19 standards for use by frontline health professionals.”
Guangdong’s COVID-19 response worked — study
Guangdong’s coronavirus success shows an outbreak can be controlled, study finds / SCMP
“New analysis of coronavirus genomes from Guangdong has revealed that mass testing and intervention measures such as travel restrictions were effective at containing the COVID-19 outbreak in China’s most populous province.”
COVID-19 cases could be four times official count — study
China’s virus cases could have been four times official tally / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
Coronavirus cases in China may have been four times higher than officially reported numbers, according to a study published in the Lancet medical journal.
Infections would have been 232,000 in China as of February 20 if the calculation of cases confirmed by “clinical diagnosis” had been applied throughout the outbreak, the Lancet reported. That compares to the 55,508 cases announced at the time by the country’s National Health Commission, according to the report.
Mars mission named
China reveals name of Mars mission, which will take place in ‘coming months’ / CNN
China’s space agency revealed the name of its first Mars exploration mission on Friday, and said the mission is on track to take place “in the coming months.”
The mission has been named “Tianwen 1,” [天问一号 tiān wèn yī hào] the China National Space Administration (CNSA) said in a statement on Friday, following the naming of the country’s planetary exploration program “Tianwen,” meaning “quest for heavenly truth.”
POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:
China closes Myanmar border
China closes border crossing with Myanmar amid fighting / AP via NYT (porous paywall)
China closed a border crossing with Myanmar on Friday after fighting in that nation spilled into a Chinese province and damaged buildings.
State broadcaster CCTV said vehicles, a school and other buildings in Yunnan province were damaged by bullets, artillery fire and flames from an exploding gas station in Myanmar. CCTV reported no deaths or injuries in the Chinese town of Jiegao, but the situation inside Myanmar was unclear.
Surveillance of Uyghurs
Amid its COVID-19 crisis, China was still hacking Uyghurs’ iPhones / Wired
“From as early as December of last year and continuing through March, Chinese hackers used so-called ‘watering hole’ attacks to plant malware on the iPhones of Uyghurs, according to new findings from the security firm Volexity.”
Swedish city cuts ties with Shanghai
Gothenburg axes twin city agreement with Shanghai as Sweden closes all Confucius Institutes / Hong Kong Free Press
“Sweden’s second-largest city [Gothenburg] has ended its twin-city agreement with Shanghai, according to local media. The move comes as the Scandanavian country closed all of China’s state-run language and cultural institutes.”
E.U. accuses China of spreading disinformation
Malicious forces creating ‘perfect storm’ of coronavirus disinformation / Guardian
A report published by the E.U. on Friday accused Russia and China of targeting European citizens, including Britons, during the pandemic, and provided a range of examples.
Echoing other experts, the bloc’s foreign affairs wing, the European external action service, said there had been a “proliferation” during the month of April.
“Despite their potentially grave impact on public health, official and state-backed sources from various governments, including Russia and — to a lesser extent — China, have continued to widely target conspiracy narratives and disinformation both at public audiences in the E.U. and the wider neighbourhood,” the report sad.
Republicans continue to call for China to foot COVID-19 bill
Leading Republicans want to send China the bill for coronavirus pandemic’s costs / Washington Post (porous paywall)
“Key lawmakers want President Trump to cancel the $1 trillion-plus U.S. debt to China and to push companies to relocate their medical product supply chains to the United States.”
New U.S. health department spokesperson tweeted racist comments…
Chinese people “suck blood out of rabid bats,” tweeted Trump’s new health department spokesman / Shanghaiist
“Sure, millions of Chinese suck the blood out of rabid bats as an appetizer and eat the ass out of anteaters but some foreigner snuck in a bottle of the good stuff. That’s it,” Michael Caputo tweeted on March 12…
…As an anti-China “firebrand” is nominated for senior Pentagon role
For a top Pentagon post, Trump chooses a Fox firebrand who is anti-Muslim, anti-China — and pro-Trump / Washington Post (porous paywall)
Now, Trump is reportedly nominating retired Army Brig. Gen. Anthony J. Tata — a Fox News regular — as Rood’s successor [as undersecretary of defense for policy]. It’s impossible to imagine Mattis signing off on this choice for the Defense Department’s No. 3 job…
Tata is also militantly anti-China: He recently said on Fox News that China’s initial attempt to cover up the coronavirus was “tantamount to detonating a nuclear bomb accidentally and killing 150,000 people.”
U.S. aims to counter China in Arctic
U.S. plans to reopen Greenland consulate to counteract China, Russia influence in the Arctic region / SCMP
The U.S.’ plan to reopen a consulate in Greenland is part of American efforts to check the presence of China and Russia in the Arctic, a government official said.
The reopening of the consulate in the self-governing territory of Denmark and U.S.$12 million funding for mining and renewable energy projects in the area represent Washington’s efforts to increase engagement with “Western Arctic states” and a matter of “good old-fashioned diplomatic statecraft”, a senior U.S. State Department official told reporters in Washington on Wednesday.
Kiribati president loses majority after ditching Taiwan
Pro-China Kiribati president loses majority over switch from Taiwan / Guardian
“China’s diplomatic ambitions in the Pacific suffered a setback on Wednesday when the party that switched recognition from Taiwan to China last year lost its majority in parliament over its handling of the move.”
China reports no new COVID-19 deaths
Coronavirus updates: U.S. death toll surpasses 50,000 / ABC News
“China reported no new deaths from the novel coronavirus for the ninth consecutive day on Friday. There were also only six new cases of COVID-19, two of which were brought into the country from overseas, according to China’s National Health Commission.”
Elites facilitate shipment of Chinese medical gear
Frantic for coronavirus gear, Americans in need turn to China’s elite / NYT (porous paywall)
U.S. hospitals and state officials face desperate shortages of the masks, ventilators and other gear they need to fight the coronavirus…
Now some of China’s elite — and others with big stakes in keeping the U.S.-China relationship alive — are stepping in to help.
An ad hoc network of companies, wealthy individuals, academics and former diplomats has emerged to help the United States get the Chinese-made goods it needs to save patients and protect front-line workers — and, perhaps, help polish China’s dented image along the way.
Saudi’s shifting China impressions
China and COVID-19 in Saudi media / War on the Rocks
“China is the only country that has performed well in dealing with this crisis,” declared Saudi-owned broadcaster Al-Arabiya in a March review of China’s COVID-19 efforts. While nominally independent, the station — reportedly taken over by the Saudi the royal court in 2014 — tends to reflect [porous paywall] official Saudi views. These views can change, however. In an April segment that covered mounting criticisms of Beijing, presenter Rufaydah Yassin commented that “it appears that China’s efforts to market its successes with regard to the coronavirus have not yet panned out.”
SOCIETY AND CULTURE:
Wuhan residents take advantage of stimulus coupons…
Wuhan residents grab WeChat coupons worth $4.2 million in 9 minutes / TechNode
Residents of Wuhan grabbed 30 million yuan ($4.2 million) worth of WeChat coupons in 9 minutes on Sunday, WeChat developers said in a blog post. The coupons generated transactions worth 13 times their value on the first day of usage. The vouchers are offered by the local government as well as individual merchants through WeChat Pay. Users get the vouchers via lucky draw through a WeChat mini-program.
…But many Wuhan businesses remain closed
Wuhan’s lockdown is over. Its economic pain is just beginning. / Sixth Tone
“Weeks after the city eased its virus-control policies, thousands of businesses remain shuttered. Many may never restart production.”
Disgraced swimmer uninvited from training session
Chinese Swimming Association says Sun Yang is no longer invited to Olympic training / Shanghaiist
Sūn Yáng 孙杨, a three-time Olympic gold medalist, was handed an eight-year competition ban in February by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) for a drug test gone awry at his home in September 2018.
Despite this ruling, Sun was still invited to participate in a three-month training camp, from April to June, in his home province of Zhejiang, according to an official notice published by the Beijing Youth Daily on Wednesday.
After the notice went viral, the Chinese Swimming Association (CSA) declared [in Chinese] that Sun’s invitation to Olympic training was actually void because of the competition ban which he is reportedly in the process of appealing.
Teachers prepare to go back to school
A thread by Tanner Brown on Twitter: “At a restaurant in W. China. This woman is having a 100-decibel mass call with primary school-kid parents, explaining the complicated rules for restarting in-room classes. She’s very prepared, professional, and efficient. Here are some of the rules:”