Links for Friday, May 1, 2020 - SupChina
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Links for Friday, May 1, 2020

BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:

China is to ease its domestic coronavirus travel restrictions by issuing national standards for a COVID-19 health QR code, national authorities announced on Friday.

Eligible citizens who were previously subject to tough quarantine and travel restrictions will be allowed to travel around the country.

Urban unemployment could reach 10% this year, reckons the Economist Intelligence Unit, a sister company of The Economist. And that does not include the tens of millions of migrants who sat out the epidemic in their ancestral villages. Many of them now have no jobs to return to in the cities.

In a study published on April 23, The Economist Intelligence Unit estimates that 22 million more urban workers will lose their jobs this year on top of the five million who became unemployed in the first quarter, while another 250 million could experience wage cuts ranging from 10-50%.

Chinese ventilators that ministers heralded as vital to the NHS’s efforts to tackle COVID-19 were badly built, unsuitable for use in hospitals and potentially dangerous for patients, it has emerged.

All of the devices in a consignment of 250 ventilators that arrived from China on 4 April posed such serious problems that they could not be used and were ditched.

  • President Donald Trump’s executive order this week requiring American meatpacking plants to stay open during the coronavirus pandemic is raising new questions about the United States’ exports of pork to China.
  • The order has highlighted a debate within the White House over whether to limit exports of pork to China, and what the president decides could have major implications for other U.S. exports.
  • Trump told meat company CEOs this week that he is not interested in restricting exports at this time, according to current and former White House officials who requested anonymity to describe a private call.

A popular Chinese world-building game was removed from domestic app stores on Tuesday after struggling to remove erotic content and deter sexual predators.

The issues within Mini World: Block Art — which since its release in the summer of 2017 has been downloaded 50 million times on the Google Play store, and many more times on Chinese app stores — were brought to light on April 2 when a content creator…posted about them on video-sharing site Bilibili.

The new bank set up to take over troubled regional lender Baoshang Bank Co. Ltd. disclosed Thursday the details of its equity structure and senior management team.

A national deposit insurance fund managed by the central bank will be the largest shareholder of the new bank, Mengshang Bank, assuming a 27.5% stake, according to a statement posted on the website of the former Baoshang Bank.

SCIENCE, HEALTH, AND THE ENVIRONMENT:

China is sending a surveying and mapping team to the summit of Mount Everest this month in a bid to end the long-running debate over the precise height of the world’s tallest mountain.

The mission was announced on Wednesday at one of the mountain’s base camps in Tibet, where a team of 53 surveyors has been making technical preparations since March 2. The team will use China’s BeiDou navigation satellite system and Chinese surveying instruments for the project.

The 6.6 gigawatt Hamrawein coal power proposal in Egypt has been shelved because of over-capacity concerns and a growing preference for renewable energy…

The indefinite postponement of the enormous Belt and Road project, which would have been the second largest coal-fired power plant in the world, is a timely warning for other BRI countries planning greater reliance on coal power.

Pakistan and Bangladesh both have serious and growing overcapacity concerns of their own. Yet they intend to continue with new Chinese built and financed coal power plants despite already being financially burdened by power capacity payments as existing plants stand idle.

POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:

A journalist who worked for some of China’s most powerful state newspapers has been jailed for 15 years after being accused of attacking the ruling Communist Party, according to court documents.

Chén Jiérén 陈杰人 was convicted on Thursday of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble, extortion, illegal business operations and bribery”, a court in central Hunan province said in an online statement.

Facing pointed criticism from lawmakers on Thursday, the European Union’s top diplomat denied that Chinese officials had pressured his team to soften language in a recent report on disinformation about the coronavirus pandemic…

The European Union’s senior diplomat, Josep Borrell, acknowledged that Chinese officials had objected to the report, but said such objections are “are the daily bread of diplomacy.”

The Education Department has asked the University of Texas System to provide documentation of its dealings with the Chinese laboratory U.S. officials are investigating as a potential source of the coronavirus pandemic.

The request for records of gifts or contracts from the Wuhan Institute of Virology and its researcher Shí Zhènglì 石正丽, known for her work on bats, is part of a broader department investigation into possible faulty financial disclosures of foreign money by the Texas group of universities.

China’s cabinet has criticised Heilongjiang Province over its handling of imported coronavirus cases in the country’s northeast, saying cluster outbreaks in the region could ruin nationwide efforts to curb the pandemic.

In a harshly worded statement on Friday, the State Council called on local medical institutions to clearly understand the severity of the situation facing China. The cabinet said it required every level of the disease prevention and control system to step up testing and treatment.

Millions of Chinese have been glued to their screens, eagerly anticipating the next installment of a high-stakes action series. There’s a suave protagonist who travels on private jets and stays in fancy hotels, his steely female sidekick, and a cast of dodgy arms dealers and business operators on the make.

It’s not the Chinese equivalent of a James Bond movie, but rather a real-life drama for our coronavirus times: He’s the “Mask Hunter” on a mission to buy specialty fabric to make into face coverings.

  • Warship joined by at least five escort vessels and analysts say the drills were ‘very significant’ to show the strike group wasn’t hit by coronavirus.
  • Latest exercises also seen as putting pressure on Taiwan’s pro-independence forces, with strike group sailing through the strait.

China’s commercial activities in Africa, such as investments, infrastructure projects and bank lending, have long attracted scrutiny and criticism. Critics have accused Beijing of practicing a new form of economic colonialism to gain control of the continent’s valuable natural resources by luring unsuspecting African nations into so-called debt traps.

While this perspective dominates the narrative about Beijing’s economic ties with Africa, it likely exaggerates Chinese strategic foresight and overlooks the pitfalls of China’s big bet on the continent.

[After being denied entry to a 7-Eleven] Darasa posted a video on Facebook on April 23 complaining of this “super racist” treatment. Shortly after, two groups of police officers paid a visit to her hotel. They demanded she delete the video, took dozens of pictures of her, for reasons that were never made clear to her, and began phoning friends who were involved in making the video.

SOCIETY AND CULTURE:

Beijing’s parks and museums including the ancient Forbidden City reopened to the public Friday after being closed for months by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Forbidden City, past home to China’s emperors, is allowing just 5,000 visitors daily, down from 80,000. And parks are allowing people to visit at 30% of the usual capacity.

In the aftermath of the coronavirus outbreak, Chinese authorities are pushing for a “dining table revolution” to change long-held traditions of communal eating…

Authorities have launched an aggressive campaign to convince diners to use designated serving utensils known as gōngkuài (公筷) gōng sháo (公勺), or “public chopsticks” and “public spoon.” Officials are also encouraging the serving of separate portions rather than “family style,” where a group shares several dishes.

  • Poets of 1989
    Tiananmen: Lives of the poets / Asian Cha
    Scholar Gregory Lee takes a look at the lives and work of China’s poets in the aftermath of Tiananmen Square.
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