Links for Monday, May 11, 2020 - SupChina
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Links for Monday, May 11, 2020

BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:

The value of newly announced Chinese direct investment projects into the U.S. fell to just $200 million in the first quarter of this year, down from an average of $2 billion per quarter in 2019, according to a report by research firm Rhodium Group and the National Committee on United States-China Relations, a non-governmental organisation. The fall comes after Chinese direct investment in the U.S. dropped to the lowest level since 2009 last year.

Sales of Tesla’s Model 3 sedan in China fell over 64% in April compared with the previous month, despite a recovery in the electric car market, according to data from an industry body released on Monday.

Nutrition Ltd. said it has reached an agreement in principle with U.S. authorities to resolve bribery investigations into its business activities in China.

Herbalife will likely pay about $123 million in penalties to resolve probes by the U.S. Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission, the Los Angeles-based multilevel-marketing company said in a quarterly report to investors Thursday.

The probes, which the company previously disclosed, focus on Herbalife’s external affairs expenditures in China and its compliance with the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

[Moutai’s] shares — the priciest [porous paywall] in China at about 1,323 yuan ($187) apiece — have added almost $60 billion in market value since its March 19 low. Moutai is by far the biggest contributor to gains on the Shanghai Composite Index since then, driving about a fifth of the benchmark’s 7.1% move. The shares have closed at a fresh record in eight of the past 11 trading days, and they’re also at an all-time high relative to MSCI Inc.’s index of global stocks.

An indicator of China’s coal demand surged almost one-third above last year as hotter-than-usual weather and factories rushing to make up for lost orders boosted power demand.

Coal use by coastal power plants at five major utilities rose for an eighth straight day to 577,100 tons as of Monday, more than 30% higher than the same period last year and the most since January 12, data from China Coal Transport and Distribution Association showed.

Japanese gaming giant Sony suspended services for its Chinese Playstation Store on Sunday for “system security reasons.”

China is stepping up regulations on foreign games. The suspension follows orders from authorities to remove listings for physical copies of a popular Nintendo game from ecommerce platform Taobao, and to close an Apple App Store “loophole” that allowed foreign game developers to bypass China’s gaming license system.

  • Chinese banks extended 1.7 trillion yuan (U.S.$240 billion) in new loans in April, down from March but beating analyst expectations.
  • Broad M2 money supply in April grew 11.1% from a year earlier, while outstanding yuan loans grew 13.1% from a year earlier.

China’s banking regulator is seeking public opinion on a new guideline for banks’ Internet loans, a move to tighten scrutiny of the segment by improving risk management and enhancing consumer protection.

Consumer loan credit should be capped at 200,000 yuan ($28,272) per borrower, the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission said on its website Saturday. For loans where the principal is repaid all at once when the loan comes due, the credit period shouldn’t exceed one year, the commission said.

SCIENCE, HEALTH, AND THE ENVIRONMENT:

A middle school in eastern China has instituted a weight-loss program for students returning to campus after spending months at home due to COVID-19, but experts say the well-intentioned initiative could do physical and psychological harm.

According to a report [in Chinese] Thursday by China News Service, Huai’an Shuguang Bilingual School in Jiangsu province is aiming to improve students’ physical fitness by making them run for at least 100 minutes each day, after school administrators determined that many of the children had gained weight while under home isolation.

China will reform its disease prevention and control system to address weaknesses exposed by the coronavirus outbreak, a senior health official [Lǐ Bīn 李斌, the vice-minister of the China National Health Commission] has said…

The commission intends to build a “centralised and efficient” chain of command, and modernise the disease prevention and control system, he said.

The commission also aims to make better use of data, artificial intelligence and cloud computing to better trace and analyse viruses and distribute resources.

Lauren Gardner, an associate engineering professor at Johns Hopkins University, was sitting in a school coffee shop with two graduate students in January, chatting about their work on measles, Dengue fever and the Zika virus, when conversation turned to an emerging coronavirus in China.

The students, both from China, wanted to track it, and Dr. Gardner, who researches how transportation systems propagate the spread of disease, was game.

Leading officials at the Wuhan Institute of Virology have insisted they adhere to strict security standards following claims the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 originated from the lab

“We have adopted a series of measures to ensure no virus can leave our lab,” Yuán Zhìmíng 袁志明, director of Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory, told Science and Technology Daily on Sunday.

POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:

Dozens of Indian and Chinese soldiers have exchanged physical blows in a clash on the shared border, Indian media report.

Seven Chinese and four Indian troops were injured, an army official reportedly said, near the Naku La sector in the border state of Sikkim.

CGTN Africa wants everyone to know that African women can deliver babies in Guangzhou. It’s a rather odd story for an international news channel to run but this is clearly a piece of propaganda intended to offset a recent viral video that enraged huge numbers of people. The video showed how an African woman was barred from entering a hospital in Guangzhou for an appointment.

At the level of African governments, I think the damage is short term and manageable.

The far more important question for China is Guangzhou’s impact on African publics and with people-to-people interaction. Guangzhou builds on a history of ill-advised Chinese advertisements and TV programs that played badly in Africa. Nor is there any guarantee Guangzhou is the last time something like this might happen. Consequently, at the level of the African public, I think serious damage has been done based on social media information and media coverage in the free press in some African countries.

Countries in Europe and Asia are forging new bonds on issues like public health and trade, planning for a future built on what they see as the pandemic’s biggest lessons: that the risks of China’s authoritarian government can no longer be denied, and that the United States cannot be relied on to lead when it’s struggling to keep people alive and working, and its foreign policy is increasingly “America first.”

Twitter pushed back on an assertion from the U.S. State Department Friday that it was “highly probable” that the Chinese government coordinated networks of Twitter accounts to disseminate disinformation related to the coronavirus outbreak, saying their initial review of the accounts in question does not support the government’s claims.

The F.B.I. and the Department of Homeland Security are preparing to issue a warning that China’s most skilled hackers and spies are working to steal American research in the crash effort to develop vaccines and treatments for the coronavirus…

A draft of the forthcoming public warning, which officials say is likely to be issued in the days to come, says China is seeking “valuable intellectual property and public health data through illicit means related to vaccines, treatments and testing.”

Ekpar Asat came to the United States for the State Department’s most prestigious program for foreign citizens. Chinese security officers detained him weeks after he returned home…

“When the United States organizes these programs and brings over these people, we have to protect them after the fact so these programs can be successful,” said Rayhan Asat, whose brother, Ekpar, has been imprisoned in China.

Freed human rights lawyer Wáng Quánzhāng 王全璋 is seeking to challenge the Chinese courts over his conviction for state subversion.

Wang was swept up in an unprecedented crackdown against lawyers and activists across the nation in 2015…

He was released on April 5 after serving a 4½-year sentence, but even then he was prevented from seeing his wife and son until later that month.

A constitutional scholar has been taken away by China’s authorities after writing an open letter to representatives of the country’s legislature, criticising the government’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak and calling for freedom of speech.

Zhāng Xuězhōng 张雪忠 was removed from his Shanghai home on Sunday night, according to multiple sources. His letter, posted on WeChat on Saturday and addressed to deputies of the National People’s Congress (NPC), was widely circulated online as China prepares to convene its most important parliamentary sessions in less than two weeks’ time.

  • Pyongyang has not officially recorded any cases of disease, but Xí Jìnpíng 习近平 tells his counterpart that Beijing is ready to help contain the spread of COVID-19.
  • North Korean leader’s failure to appear at major political event last month sparked a flurry of rumours about his health and whereabouts.

Scott Morrison says he would be “extremely disappointed” if China’s plan to impose tariffs on Australian barley imports were connected to the broader diplomatic dispute over an investigation into the coronavirus pandemic…

China’s commerce ministry is proposing to impose tariffs on barley imported from Australia after an 18-month investigation into claims the industry was “dumping” the product at a lower price than at home.

Around 230 people were arrested on Sunday, including a pro-democracy lawmaker, as police faced accusations of brutality during a protest dispersal operation in Mong Kok…

Over 100 riot police officers suddenly rush the crowd at Sai Yeung Choi Street in Mong Kok, ordering them to disperse.

  • Carrie Lam blames Hong Kong education system for fuelling protests / Guardian
    “Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing leader, Carrie Lam, has vowed to overhaul the city’s education system, saying its liberal studies curriculum helped to fuel last year’s violent pro-democracy protests.”
  • …As Macau bans Tiananmen photo exhibit  
    Macau bans annual Tiananmen Massacre photo exhibition / Hong Kong Free Press
    “Macau has banned an annual photographic exhibition on the 1989 Tiananmen Massacre. The Democratic Development Union’s open-air exhibition has taken place unhindered for two decades. However, the Municipal Affairs Bureau withdrew its authorisation for the 2020 show last week.”

SOCIETY AND CULTURE:

A video of a woman masturbating in an IKEA store in China has gone viral among Chinese social media users.

In the video, a woman is filmed while fondling herself within an IKEA store while regular customers are shopping in the background. The video is rumored to have been filmed at the store’s Guangzhou location.

  • The Global Times on Twitter: “IKEAChina firmly opposes the filming of pornography at its store and has filed a report with local police, the company said on Sat in a statement responding to a pornographic video spreading online and vowing to provide a healthy shopping experience & environment for consumers.”
  • Student volunteers dispatch PPE around the world  
    Chinese students share the love and the PPE around the world / SCMP

A Chinese social media group set up to provide personal protective equipment to hospitals in Wuhan has switched focus in line with the spread of the deadly coronavirus and is now reaching out to those in need around the world.

FightforWuhan was the idea of 17-year-old high school student Yihe Chang and 19 other young people. It was launched on January 23, the same day the central China city at the epicentre of the health crisis was plunged into total lockdown.

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