Links for Thursday, April 30, 2020 - SupChina
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Links for Thursday, April 30, 2020

BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:

ExxonMobil broke ground on a $10 billion petrochemical plant in the southern province of Guangdong on April 22 after government officials pushed for the project to go ahead as planned. Vice Premier Hán Zhèng 韩正 officiated a ceremony from Beijing, with representatives of the oil giant participating from Dallas and Huizhou via a live stream — a sign of the times and a reminder that some social-distancing measures remain in place across China.

A report by CINNO Research showed [in Chinese] that while the absolute number of smartphone chips HiSilicon shipped in the first quarter of 2020 stayed relatively flat compared to the same period the year earlier — 22.21 million smartphone chips compared to 22.17 million in 2019 — its market share grew from 24.3% to 43.9%. These figures meant it overtook previous market leader Qualcomm.

Investors in China are counting on more stimulus from Beijing as the catalyst that will put a charge in the country’s languishing financial markets.

That’s down to expectations the government will announce additional measures to boost consumption and investment at the key annual meetings of the country’s top legislature next month, which will also map out economic targets.

China’s first official data for April suggest the economy has split into two tracks, with a domestic rebound undercut by weak overseas demand.

The official manufacturing purchasing managers’ index slipped to 50.8 from 52 a month earlier, according to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics on Thursday. New export orders plunged to 33.5 and a separate indicator more focused on smaller export-orientated firms returned to contraction.

By contrast, services and construction both rose further into expansion, taking the non-manufacturing PMI to 53.2.

As hospitals and governments around the world furiously search for medical ventilators to help treat COVID-19 patients, some have been drawn to the large number of merchants in China offering to sell the lifesaving machines. One account on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter and the country’s most popular microblogging site, is offering 1,000 of Beijing Aeonmed Co.’s VG70 ventilators for sale. But the listing is far from a find.

When Chinese electric-car maker NIO sealed a 7 billion yuan ($1 billion) deal with a group of state investors Wednesday, the company wasted no time spreading the word to potential buyers.

Many consumers, while admiring NIO’s vehicle models, have been on the fence about making a purchase, as they feared the Nasdaq-listed auto startup might go out of business, which would make future maintenance and battery charging difficult, if not impossible.

The one-time darling has now imploded spectacularly in an accounting fraud that has roiled China, a cautionary tale that has renewed a push [porous paywall] in the United States to cut Chinese companies off from Wall Street…

“If Chinese companies want access to the U.S. capital markets, they must comply with American laws and regulations for financial transparency and accountability,” said Mr. Rubio, who is pushing a bipartisan bill that would force Chinese companies to abide by federal auditing rules and disclosure requirements.

The so-called “fast-track” entry, which takes effect Friday, will simplify entry procedures for business travelers between the two countries, according to a statement from the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs. South Korean business staff will be able to travel to 10 Chinese regions, including Chongqing, Shanghai, and Tianjin, after going through “minimized” health screening and quarantine measures, it said.

SCIENCE, HEALTH, AND THE ENVIRONMENT:

Jiuzhaigou National Nature Reserve is one of China’s most popular tourist attractions, drawing more than five million visitors per year to the sparsely populated mountains of north-western Sichuan. The reserve has been home to farmer-herders for thousands of years, but to conserve the biodiversity and scenic quality of the reserve, park policies prohibit residents from farming, herding and wood cutting.

Is this the right approach? Recent research by geologists, ecologists, archaeologists and social anthropologists suggests otherwise: long-term human habitation has preserved and enhanced biodiversity while stopping human subsistence activities has diminished it.

POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:

A newly-minted international consortium of lawyers created to fight for the rights of China’s minority Uyghur population says Canada risks its reputation as a human rights champion if it allows telecommunications giant Huawei into the country’s 5G system.

Michael Polak, a British human rights lawyer and chair of Lawyers for Uyghur Rights…said a report by an Australian think tank in March detailing human rights abuses of Uyghurs and Huawei’s involvement in monitoring them raises an ethical question for Ottawa.

China has received a wave of applications for debt relief from crisis-hit countries included in the “Belt and Road Initiative” as coronavirus strains the world’s biggest development programme. Chinese policy advisers and bankers told the Financial Times that Beijing was considering a number of responses, including the suspension of interest payments on loans from the country’s financial institutions. But they also warned against expectations that China would forgive debts outright.

The Chinese military called the United States a “troublemaker” in the disputed South China Sea on Thursday, stressing that China was on “high alert” to safeguard its interests in the contested waters.

The two powers, already mired in a dispute over the handling of the coronavirus pandemic, have engaged in tense stand-offs over the South China Sea, with two back-to-back operations by the US to challenge China’s expansive claims in the region in the last few days.

An American EP-3E electronic warfare and reconnaissance aircraft flew southwest of Taiwan Thursday afternoon, the 13th time a U.S. military aircraft has appeared in that area in April, according to a military air movement tracker…

Su Tzu-yun [蘇紫雲 Sū Zǐyún], an analyst at the government-funded Institute for National Defense and Security Research, speculated that U.S. reconnaissance aircraft were in the area to check on the movements of Chinese People’s Liberation Army submarines.

Senior figures in the Trump administration have put pressure on U.S. intelligence agencies to provide evidence to support claims that the coronavirus outbreak originated in state-run laboratories in China, a report in the New York Times claims [porous paywall]…

For many Protestants in China, the printed materials distributed by state-run Three-Self churches or the Two National Christian Councils do not fulfill their spiritual needs, so they often turned to other channels. But when the sales of Bibles and other religious materials were banned on the internet on March 30, 2018, believers not only lost access to uncensored books but their online purchases years ago were also investigated by the government.

SOCIETY AND CULTURE:

[D]espite historical and recent racial tensions across the country, the Chinese of Chattanooga have also put down roots and thrived, and continue to be proud to call this Southern city home.

The first Chinese came to Chattanooga in the 1840s and 1850s as railroad workers, mostly from southern Chinese provinces like Guangdong.  

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