Links for Tuesday, May 5, 2020 - SupChina
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Links for Tuesday, May 5, 2020

BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:

Two sizeable IPOs from Chinese firms are due to price at the end of this week: Biotech company Peijia Medical Ltd. is looking to raise $302 million, while property-management firm Central China New Life Ltd. could raise as much as $279 million. The city hasn’t had a week with IPOs worth more than $500 million in total since early January, when a flurry of them went through.

Thousands of Bank of China Ltd. (BoC) customers who suffered heavy losses after last month’s collapse in oil prices torpedoed an investment they bought from the lender may get a partial bailout after a cabinet-level regulator publicly called for strengthened risk controls on financial products linked to international commodities.

Clients who put up to 10 million yuan ($1.4 million) into the bank’s Yuan You Bao, or Crude Oil Treasure, product may be able to get back 20% of their original investment, sources with knowledge of the matter told Caixin.

So far, China has signaled that it will not launch a massive stimulus aimed at energy-intensive projects as it did during the global financial crisis, which will help to check emissions. And even as energy consumption is all but guaranteed to rise as the economy rebounds, Beijing is not abandoning its focus on developing new energy industries.

Recessions nonetheless have a way of reordering priorities, and new energy industries in particular could feel the pinch as they have long relied on generous state support.

  • Governments act to limit Chinese acquisitions  
    Countries move to shield companies from foreign acquisition, especially by China / SCMP
    “Countries around the world are erecting barriers to fend off expected efforts by foreign corporate acquirers, particularly China, to scoop up strategically important assets that have lost value during the coronavirus pandemic.”
  • China Eastern now world’s biggest airline
    Chinese airline topples Southwest to become world’s biggest / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
    “China Eastern Airlines Corp. overtook Southwest Airlines Co. as the world’s biggest airline by number of seats after the U.S. carrier grounded many of its flights, according to OAG Aviation Worldwide.”

SCIENCE, HEALTH, AND THE ENVIRONMENT:

Flying without astronauts on a demonstration flight in Earth orbit, a test model of a next-generation Chinese crew capsule lifted off Tuesday on top of a heavy-lift Long March 5B rocket, the same launcher configuration that will loft segments of China’s planned space station.

The 176-foot-tall (53.7-meter) Long March 5B rocket lit its 10 main engines and climbed into space at approximately 1000 GMT (6 a.m. EDT; 6 p.m. Beijing time) from the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center on Hainan Island in southern China.

Dedicated isolation facilities are key to ending the coronavirus pandemic, according to health experts in Singapore and London who compared home and government quarantine methods…

The results suggested that home-based quarantine reduced an infected person’s contact with other people by 50% in the home and 75% in the community, whereas institution-based isolation reduced contact by 75% in the household and 90% in the community.

POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:

A fortune made at a secretive hedge fund led by Robert Mercer — one of Donald Trump’s biggest donors — appears to be fueling a push for a confrontation with China across a number of connected media properties.

A tax document not intended for public disclosure reveals that a branch of the Epoch Media Group — a conservative media empire controlled by Falun Gong, a Chinese spiritual movement with a stated goal of destroying the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) — received over $900,000 from and was formerly led by one of Mercer’s longtime employees, Huayi Zhang, at the hedge fund Renaissance Technologies.

Now, with the economy in a coronavirus-induced coma, Trump’s team is working to instead make the 2020 race a referendum on who will be tougher on China — Trump or Joe Biden. In recent days, Trump’s campaign has even dubbed the president’s likely Democrat opponent “Beijing Biden.”

The message appears to be resonating. John Fredericks, the Virginia talk radio host and Trump supporter, said his callers, many out of work in rural areas, trust Trump to retaliate against China.

The editor-in-chief of The Lancet has said it is “not helpful” and “unfair” to blame China for being the source of the COVID-19 pandemic in an interview with Chinese state media.

Richard Horton said the international community should instead work with the Chinese authorities in dealing with the outbreak.

The near-daily bomb-throwing between Washington and Beijing — the world’s two biggest economies — has alarmed national security experts who fear a new “Cold War” is brewing between the two superpowers at a moment of global crisis.

“This is such a dangerous dynamic for the world,” said Rachel Esplin Odell, a China expert with the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, which advocates restraint in U.S. military policy.

“Both governments are trying to profit domestically off the other’s failures,” she said, fighting fire with fire as the world burns.

The European Union has called for a worldwide investigation into the origins and spread of COVID-19 in a move its foreign policy chief described as “standing aside from the battlefield between China and the US.”

The E.U. said the bloc and its 27 member states would co-sponsor a draft resolution calling for an “independent review” into the novel coronavirus that causes the disease when the World Health Assembly convenes for a virtual meeting on May 18.

  • In [an] online event featuring world leaders, Beijing offers no additional financial pledges and does not promise to make any successful vaccine a common public good.
  • Chinese ambassador to the E.U. Zhāng Míng 张明, the lowest-level representative to participate, asked the world to stop the ‘blame games.’

A global alliance responded to calls to fight the coronavirus pandemic on Monday, as world leaders pledged some $8 billion to develop vaccines and treatments to fight COVID-19. The cavalcade of donors did not include the U.S., which did not participate despite being a major contributor to global health initiatives.

Several African governments have protested the treatment of African migrants in Guangzhou, but Nigeria is emerging as the epicentre of a diplomatic crisis in China-Africa relations.

The motion tabled in the country’s House of Representatives, aimed at investigating the immigration compliance of each Chinese company and individual in the country, is only one aspect of the reaction. As we show below, the diplomatic spat is also coinciding with crackdowns on other alleged instances of Chinese misconduct, for example illegal mining.

I watched what unfolded in Guangzhou with a multilayered discomfort, that familiar progression of powerlessness, vulnerability, and complicity. First, a secondhand anxiety and firsthand shame at how blatant and unapologetic these acts of racism were. Second, a knot of dread: knowing that the tragedies unfolding in Guangzhou would inevitably manifest, through the zero-sum logic of identity politics, as a backlash against Chinese people living in Kenya.

[Mandy] Luo was effectively orphaned in suburban Seattle at the age of 16 because of Chinese laws that give authorities broad discretion to block both Chinese and foreign nationals from leaving the country.

Critics say the practice reeks of hostage-taking and collective punishment, in violation of international law. They also warn it lays bare China’s will to exert influence, not just over Chinese citizens in China, but also against permanent residents and citizens of other countries.

Police in Ukraine have launched an investigation into a birth center suspected of harboring an illegal cross-border child-trafficking ring that smuggled surrogate babies into China.

Officials in the Eastern European nation suspect the privately operated Kiev center of recruiting Ukrainian surrogate mothers for Chinese clients and then forging marriage and identity documents to smuggle infants into China, according to a report (link in Ukrainian) of a raid on the center published April 25 on the official Ukrainian police website.

  • ASEAN standing guard in South China Sea
    South China Sea neighbours uneasy as Beijing expands enforcement actions / SCMP
    “Southeast Asian nations are increasingly uneasy about their giant neighbour China as Beijing moves beyond island-building and military activities to administrative and law enforcement measures to solidify its claims in the South China Sea.”

SOCIETY AND CULTURE:

Eight months before he killed himself, Zhāng Shǒuchéng 张首晟 was giving a presentation about quantum computing, artificial intelligence, and blockchain encryption to a room full of Google employees. Dressed in a navy blue blazer, the theoretical physicist and Stanford University professor was engaging and confident as he used the Dan Brown novel Angels and Demons to help explain Paul Dirac’s 1928 theory of antimatter.

[T]he pandemic dealt a second blow to a population already devastated by six months of violent unrest — and now, experts warn it could culminate in a mental health crisis.

…In a survey by Hong Kong University between March and April, more than 40% of respondents showed symptoms of anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or any combination of the three.

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