BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:
Xiaomi to resume India production by June
Xiaomi says it will restart India production by June / Caixin
“Chinese electronics giant Xiaomi is seeking to bring its production lines in India — its biggest market after China — back online by June, after they were shut due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
MYbank SMEs loans surge
Jack Ma’s online bank $282 billion lending plans during pandemic test algorithm decision making / Bloomberg via Caixin
“MYbank is now on track to issue a record 2 trillion yuan ($282 billion) of new loans to small- and medium-sized companies this year, up nearly 18% from 2019. ‘In face of the virus outbreak, we have not lowered our business targets,’ Jīn Xiǎolóng 金小龙, the firm’s president, said in an interview.”
Chipmaker eyes Shanghai listing…
Chinese semiconductor firm SMIC eyes Shanghai high-tech board listing / Caixin
Hong Kong-listed Chinese chipmaker Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. (SMIC) said Tuesday its board of directors has approved plans for a listing on Shanghai’s Nasdaq-like high-tech STAR market, making it the latest Chinese tech company to “return” to mainland public capital markets for fresh funds.
China chipmaker’s $3 billion listing a hedge against U.S. curbs / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
“Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. is planning a Shanghai share sale that could fetch billions of dollars for a Chinese chipmaker Beijing’s counting on to help reduce reliance on U.S. technology.”
…While chip developer raises $119 million
China’s ASR Microelectronics snags $119 million at over $1.6 billion valuation / Deal Street Asia via Caixin (paywall)
“Chinese consumer electronics chips developer ASR Microelectronics has garnered $119 million in a Series D+ round of financing to reach a valuation of over $1.6 billion.”
Tutoring company accused of fraud reports big profits
Scandal-Hit online educator GSX reports dramatic profit growth in Q1 / Caixin
Scandal-tainted Chinese online tutoring company GSX Techedu has reported staggering growth in both net revenue and net profit in the first quarter of 2020, as the coronavirus pandemic increased demand for remote learning.
In the first three months of this year, GSX more than tripled its net revenue to 1.3 billion yuan ($183 million), compared with the same period last year, according to the company’s earnings report released Wednesday. Its net profits for the quarter also ballooned, increasing 336.6% year-on year, to 148 million yuan [$21 million].
U.S. to allow companies to work with Huawei on 5G standards…
U.S. drafts rule to allow Huawei and U.S. firms to work together on 5G standards: sources / Reuters
The U.S. Department of Commerce is close to signing off on a new rule that allows U.S. companies to work with China’s Huawei Technologies on setting standards for next generation 5G networks, people familiar with the matter said.
Engineers in some U.S. technology companies stopped engaging with Huawei to develop standards after the Commerce Department blacklisted the company last year.
…As 5G leads to further scrutiny in Europe
China tech faces double compliance challenge in Europe / TechNode
Despite commercial successes, Chinese companies must still deal with regulator perceptions of being weak on cybersecurity and privacy. 5G has further complicated matters by placing added scrutiny on these Chinese firms. Accordingly, Chinese tech firms have to comply with two different rigorous — and still developing — regulatory regimes.
Livestreaming generates big sales
Can livestreaming save China’s economy? / BBC
In a provincial-wide campaign to revive the economy, senior officials in Hubei province…are turning themselves into online streaming celebrities…
And the result? Chinese media reports [in Chinese] say that on the first day of the campaign — 8 April — these livestreaming sales across the province garnered 17.9 million yuan ($2.5 million). They sold nearly 300,000 items in nine hours.
Online push helps Shanghai shopping festival pull in U.S.$2.2 billion of sales in first 24 hours / SCMP
“Shanghai’s two-month Double Five shopping festival got off to a strong start on Monday evening, with online and offline sales exceeding 15.6 billion yuan (U.S.$2.2 billion) in its first 24 hours, local media outlets reported.”
U.S.-China standoff is investors’ top concern
Investors’ no. 1 concern is a U.S.-China political face-off, says economist / CNBC
“[P]olitical risks and U.S.-China trade tensions ‘look like something that will pick up,’ Zhang [Zhāng Zhìwēi 张智威, president of Pinpoint Asset Management] said. ‘That’s probably the number one concern in the market when we talk to investors and sell-side analysts.’”
Tourism down 60% from last year
China tourism revenue drops nearly 60% in first major holiday since coronavirus outbreak / CNBC
- During the Labor Day holiday that ran from May 1 to May 5 this year, China recorded 115 million tourist trips domestically, bringing in tourism revenue of 47.56 billion yuan ($6.79 billion), according to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
- That’s a 59.58% drop from the 117.67 billion yuan [$17 billion] recorded for last year’s Labor Day holiday, which was one day shorter, running from May 1 to May 4, according to figures disclosed by the ministry.
Volkswagen sees a quick recovery
VW hails speed of car sales recovery in China / FT (paywall)
“Volkswagen says demand for its cars in China is almost as high as it was this time last year [suffering just a 2% fall in sales in April], underlining the speed of the recovery in the brand’s most profitable market.”
JPMorgan scores new logistics deal
JPMorgan strikes logistics deal in China as ecommerce takes off / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
JPMorgan Global Alternatives will partner with Shanghai-based logistics real estate investor New Ease to invest in properties across China, according to a statement Wednesday. The initial portfolio consists of logistics facilities worth around $600 million in cities including Shanghai, Nanjing and Suzhou.
Electric vehicle maker catching up with Tesla rival
Chinese EV makers Nio and Lixiang deliveries double in April / TechNode
“Lixiang, a Chinese electric vehicle maker little known outside the country, is quickly catching up to other domestic EV startups by delivering more than 2,600 cars in April, a finish just several hundred units fewer than another Tesla’s challenger, Nio.”
Shanghai Disneyland to reopen
Shanghai Disneyland to reopen but Mickey Mouse to keep his distance / SCMP
- Most rides and attractions will be back in action from Monday, but social distancing means there’ll be no night-time parades or selfies with the cartoon stars.
- Disney CEO says visitor numbers will initially be kept below the 30% cap set by China’s central government.
Pizza Hut, KFC to expand
Yum China keeps bets on dine-in, sticks to expansion plans after virus / Reuters
“Yum China is betting that Chinese consumers will still choose to dine-in in the aftermath of the coronavirus crisis and plans to open more Pizza Hut and KFC outlets in China’s smaller cities in the coming months, its chief executive said.”
SCIENCE, HEALTH, AND THE ENVIRONMENT:
There is probably just one “strain” of COVID-19 virus
Beware overblown claims of coronavirus strains / The Atlantic
Ed Yong writes, contra a recent LA Times article with a sensationalist headline: “There’s no clear evidence that the pandemic virus has evolved into significantly different forms — and there probably won’t be for months.”
Is China’s energy storage sector in crisis?
China’s energy storage boom falters / Chinadialogue
[S]talling reform, shifting policy and a slowing economy had put the sector in crisis even before the coronavirus pandemic struck. “It’s gotten very difficult to do energy storage,” says Paul Man, general manager of Anxin, an energy storage company, which is part of the Golden Concord energy conglomerate that owns the Suzhou solar panel factory. “If government policy doesn’t change, energy storage won’t be doable in China.”
COVID-19 virus began spreading globally in 2019 — research
Coronavirus quickly spread around the world starting late last year, new genetic analysis shows / CNN
“A new genetic analysis of the virus that causes COVID-19 taken from more than 7,600 patients around the world shows it has been circulating in people since late last year, and must have spread extremely quickly after the first infection.”
Licorice compound may treat COVID-19 — study
Compound in licorice extract has potential to treat coronavirus, Chinese study finds / SCMP
A compound found in licorice extract that is used in traditional Chinese medicine has shown potential as an antiviral to treat the new coronavirus, according to an initial study by researchers in Beijing.
Chinese licorice, a flowering plant that is native to Asia, contains a compound called liquiritin, which the team said was found to prevent rapid replication of the new virus strain in monkey cells.
Taiwan COVID-19 vaccine shows promise
COVID-19 vaccine candidate shows promising results in early testing / Focus Taiwan
“Taiwan’s Adimmune Corporation said Wednesday that it has developed a COVID-19 vaccine candidate that has shown promising results in tests on lab rodents, and that it plans to begin human trials in the second half of this year.”
POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:
Are livestreaming platforms banning foreign hosts?
Chinese livestreaming apps are shutting down active streams with foreign hosts / PingWest
Chinese livestreaming apps are reportedly banning channels that feature foreigners on active streams, according to multiple users on the platforms.
AriaAndBrandon, a duo of beauty and lifestyle vloggers, posted on Weibo that one of their streams on livestreaming and ecommerce app Xiaohongshu on May 4 was shut down due to the new rules. The couple, currently residing in Melbourne, Australia, features a Chinese female and an Australian male.
Trump presses E.U. to back COVID-19 investigation…
U.S. pushes E.U. to back inquiry into China’s handling of coronavirus / WSJ (paywall)
The Trump administration is pressing the European Union to support an international inquiry into China’s handling of the new coronavirus, including the origins of the pandemic, as Brussels seeks to avoid taking sides in an increasingly bitter battle between Beijing and Washington over responsibility for the crisis.
- Trump officials try to enlist foreign allies in pressure campaign against China over coronavirus response / CNN
The President himself has scaled up his conversations with foreign counterparts over the past three weeks, and has raised China with dozens of foreign leaders, one person familiar with those conversations said. While many traditional U.S. allies remain wary of ratcheting up tensions with China, in speaking with Trump, some European leaders have expressed concern at how China handled the crisis, according to the person.
…As ambassador to the U.S. calls for an end to the blame game
Chinese ambassador Cui Tiankai: Blaming China will not end this pandemic / Washington Post (porous paywall)
Cuī Tiānkǎi 崔天凯, China’s ambassador to the U.S., writes:
Blaming China will not end this pandemic. On the contrary, the mind-set risks decoupling China and the United States and hurting our efforts to fight the disease, our coordination to reignite the global economy, our ability to conquer other challenges and our prospects of a better future. The United States would not emerge as a winner from this scenario.
- Chinese ambassador to Washington Cuī Tiānkǎi 崔天凯 says relationship should be based on more than economics and trade, in CCTV interview.
- Wuhan was ‘first victim’ of the pandemic and China should not be held responsible, he adds.
Russia calls out U.S. for pushing Wuhan lab conspiracy…
Russia stands by China and tells U.S. it must ‘deliver proof’ over virus allegations / CNBC
The U.S. is wrong to accuse China of being responsible for the coronavirus outbreak without providing proof, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman said, in the latest sign of a pivot away from Washington and towards Beijing.
As the debate over the origins of COVID-19 continues, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told CNBC that Russia couldn’t “show any solidarity” with China-bashing statements from the U.S., and stressed the importance of Moscow’s relationship with Beijing.
…As top U.S. general admits virus unlikely to be man-made
Top U.S. general: ‘We don’t know’ if coronavirus emerged from Chinese lab / Reuters
“The top U.S. general said on Tuesday it was still unknown whether the coronavirus emerged from a wet market in China, a laboratory or some other location, but reaffirmed the U.S. view that it was probably not man-made.”
Op-ed: No winners will emerge from U.S.-China ideological battle
The pandemic bodes ill for both American and Chinese power / Foreign Affairs (porous paywall)
Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd writes:
Yet despite the best efforts of ideological warriors in Beijing and Washington, the uncomfortable truth is that China and the United States are both likely to emerge from this crisis significantly diminished. Neither a new Pax Sinica nor a renewed Pax Americana will rise from the ruins. Rather, both powers will be weakened, at home and abroad. And the result will be a continued slow but steady drift toward international anarchy across everything from international security to trade to pandemic management. With nobody directing traffic, various forms of rampant nationalism are taking the place of order and cooperation. The chaotic nature of national and global responses to the pandemic thus stands as a warning of what could come on an even broader scale…
It may not yet be Cold War 2.0, but it is starting to look like Cold War 1.5.
China criticizes Nigeria’s audit of the immigration status of Chinese nationals
The Chinese Embassy’s response to representative Benjamin Kalu’s motion to check the immigration status of Chinese nationals in Nigeria / China-Africa Project (porous paywall)
Shortly after Representative Kalu introduced his motion in the Nigerian House of Representatives, the Chinese embassy responded with a short statement, published only in Chinese, on the embassy website.
The embassy framed its objection against the motion around “media reports” rather than directly taking on the Nigerian legislature or Representative Kalu himself.
- Context: Nigeria’s unprecedented censure of China.
China hits back at U.K. politicians
China says U.K. criticism risks poisoning relationship / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
China’s Ambassador to the U.K., Liú Xiǎomíng 刘晓明, said British politicians who have called for a reset of ties between the two nations risk poisoning the relationship.
Anti-China rhetoric is in danger of undermining international solidarity in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, he said in a webinar on Tuesday.
Taiwan to remain closed to foreigners
Taiwan keeps its borders shut despite virus success / FT (paywall)
“Taiwan’s borders will remain sealed to foreigners as it prepares to loosen some restrictions on key economic activity, with officials indicating travel will only return to normal when a vaccine is found.”
U.S. continues push to allow Taiwan to participate in WHO
U.S. courts Chinese anger by stepping up push for Taiwan to take part in World Health Organisation / SCMP
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage around the world, the U.S. has promoted the island’s “incredible expertise” in battling the disease and rallied its allies — including Japan, Canada, Australia and the European Union — to support Taiwan’s participation in the global health body.
U.S. to boost missile investment
Special report: U.S. rearms to nullify China’s missile supremacy / Reuters
The United States has largely stood by in recent decades as China dramatically expanded its military firepower. Now, having shed the constraints of a Cold War-era arms control treaty, the Trump administration is planning to deploy long-range, ground-launched cruise missiles in the Asia-Pacific region.
U.S. tariff concerns surge
American concern about tariffs hits new record high / Axios
“Concern about President Trump’s tariffs on U.S. imports of Chinese goods hit its highest level on record in April, as the coronavirus pandemic caused more Americans to fear their impact on household finances, according to the latest survey from CivicScience.”
Could China cut its U.S. debt holdings?
China could cut U.S. debt holdings in response to White House COVID-19 compensation threats, analysts say / SCMP
- U.S. news reports suggest White House officials have already considered the idea of cancelling all or part of the U.S.$1.1 trillion debt owed to China.
- In response to the debate over the highly unlikely ‘nuclear option’, China could cut its holdings as the U.S. ramps up borrowing to pay coronavirus-related costs.
China undermining Eurasian democracy — report
Chinese undermining democratic institutions in Central Europe, Eurasia: report / Radio Free Asia
China’s foreign policy has increasingly weakened democratic institutions in at least 20 countries throughout Central Europe and Central Asia, weakening oversight and bolstering the power of authoritarian leaders, a new U.S. think tank report said Wednesday.
“While China’s international engagement is often less directly confrontational … it nevertheless has an insidious effect on the development and functioning of democratic institutions in the region,” Washington-based Freedom House said in its Nations in Transit 2020, an annual report on democratic governance in 29 countries spanning Central Europe, the Balkans, and Eurasia.
SOCIETY AND CULTURE:
Murder of a Chinese researcher in the U.S.
Professor researching COVID-19 was killed in an apparent murder-suicide, officials say / CNN
A University of Pittsburgh professor [identified as Bing Liu] on the verge of making “very significant findings” researching COVID-19, according to the university, was shot and killed in an apparent murder-suicide over the weekend, police said…
Police believe the men knew each other, but say there is “zero indication that there was targeting due to his (Liu) being Chinese,” according to Detective Sgt. Brian Kohlhepp.
Coronavirus researcher Bing Liu killed in murder-suicide near Pittsburgh / Washington Post
“Ross Township Detective Brian Kohlhepp told WTAE that police don’t believe the relationship between the two men had anything to do with Liu’s research on the coronavirus.”
Pitt researcher who was studying coronavirus was victim in Ross murder-suicide / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“Ross police believe that Mr. Liu was shot by another man — identified later by the Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office as Hao Gu, 46, of Pittsburgh — who then got into his car parked about 100 yards away on Charlemagne Circle and killed himself.”
Police: Pitt researcher’s slaying didn’t involve his COVID-19 work / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The slaying of a University of Pittsburgh medical school COVID-19 researcher killed Saturday in his Ross home resulted from what police Wednesday called a “lengthy dispute regarding an intimate partner.”…
Ross police did not reveal additional details about the dispute between victim Bing Liu and his suspected killer, Hao Gu.
Mr. Liu, 37, a native of China, was shot multiple times and found by his wife inside their townhouse on Elm Court.
Police believe that Mr. Gu, 46, of Franklin Park, fatally shot Mr. Liu, then got in his car parked nearby and killed himself…
Sgt. Kohlhepp said the case had been forwarded to federal authorities.
“Due to the fact that the individuals involved are not United States citizens and in accordance with long-standing protocol, our review has been forwarded to federal authorities,” Sgt. Kohlhepp said.
- Department mourns the passing of Dr. Bing Liu / Computational & Systems Biology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
Olympic swimmer appeals suspension
Champion Olympic swimmer Sun Yang appeals eight-year suspension / Caixin
Controversial Chinese swimmer Sūn Yáng 孙杨 has appealed an eight-year suspension from the sport resulting from a confrontation with anti-doping officers over blood samples, Swimming World magazine reported.
Lawyers for the 28-year-old Olympic gold medalist filed an appeal April 29 to the Swiss Federal Tribunal (SFT) regarding a February 28 Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruling, which sided against Sun in favor of the World Anti-Doping Agency, the magazine reported.
Gay academics opt for sham marriages
Pass-fail: China’s closeted academics on the choice to act straight / Sixth Tone
Researcher Cui Le writes:
In the course of my research into homosexuality in Chinese academia, I interviewed 40 gay male Chinese university teachers. Some of them had entered into “sham marriages” with unwitting heterosexual women, others were involved in so-called marriages of convenience with lesbian women, and at least one had chosen to quietly marry his partner overseas.
Wuhan students go back to school
Students return to school in Wuhan for first time in more than three months / Shanghaiist
“Senior students at 121 high schools and vocational schools [in Wuhan] returned to campus on Wednesday for the first time in more than three months. They will now have to prepare to take China’s grueling college entrance exam.”