Links for Wednesday, May 13, 2020 - SupChina
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Links for Wednesday, May 13, 2020

BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:

China’s Huawei Technologies Co., barred by the U.S. from buying American technology, has found a lot of workarounds — but is having a hard time replacing Google, on which it has relied for a decade.

Without the search-and-software giant’s apps, smartphone fixtures around the world, the once-relentless march of Huawei’s phones is faltering.

Apple has advised one of its Airpod factories in China to make a major investment in a key supplier as the company moves to create an alternative to its longtime iPhone assembler, Taiwan’s Foxconn, according to a Nikkei Asian Review [porous paywall] report.

The deal would bring Luxshare-ICT, a lesser-known Chinese assembler of Apple’s Airpods, closer to producing iPhones, grabbing share from Foxconn.

The company said in a prospectus filed to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday that it would seek as much as $100 million. But the company could raise that target to over $500 million, said a company source who asked not to be named because the information has not been disclosed.

Chinese video platform Kuaishou has filed a 5 million yuan ($705,000) lawsuit against Douyin, accusing its rival of “piggybacking” on the company’s user base by infringing its trademark.

According to a statement [in Chinese] in the lawsuit, which has been accepted by Beijing’s Haidian District court, Kuaishou claims Douyin used Kuaishou’s name to link to its own product page on 360 Mobile Assistant, a third-party Android app store. The plaintiff accused Douyin — known internationally as TikTok — of infringing Kuaishou’s trademark to display its own product, prompting users to download the rival app even when they searched for Kuaishou.

Now China Vanke, the nation’s third-largest homebuilder, is poised to make an even more unlikely move: into pig farming.

According to job vacancies advertised on its website, Vanke is planning to breed 250,000 pigs a year as it aims to sell pork and other foods in an apparent attempt to weather China’s struggling property market.

China and the European Union are likely to hold their delayed summit early next month via a series of online meetings, sources familiar with the issue said, as Beijing seeks to stabilise its turbulent relationship with Brussels amid ongoing tensions with the United States.

The summit will be Beijing’s first major diplomatic event since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and looks set to come hot on the heels of its annual legislative session, which gets under way on May 22 after a two-month delay…

Leaders and senior officials from the two sides have been in frequent contact in recent months, sharing knowledge about the coronavirus and cooperating on the development of vaccines, as well as accelerating their negotiations of a comprehensive agreement on investment, which began in 2013.

Embattled Chinese beverage chain Luckin Coffee issued [in Chinese] an apology letter to its employees on Tuesday evening for the upheaval following its stunning fraud admission in early April.

Luckin had remained relatively silent about its moves following the April 2 disclosure of fraud to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The apology and appointment of new leadership [co-founder Guō Jǐnyī 郭瑾一 has been appointed acting CEO] on the same day mark a distinct change in leadership style.

Chinese technology giant Tencent has beaten earnings expectations, with sales growing 26% in the first quarter as coronavirus left customers trapped inside with time to spend on its hit games and other entertainment options. The social media and gaming group posted a profit of 28.9 billion yuan ($4.1 billion) on sales of 108 billion yuan [$15.2 billion] for the three-month period, well ahead of the 101 billion yuan [$14.2 billion] forecast by analysts.

China’s regional bosses are ramping up infrastructure spending, falling back on an old remedy to boost economic activity as the coronavirus pandemic curbs consumption and industrial production.

Off-balance-sheet entities are selling bonds to finance projects such as investing in warehouses, expanding underground metro networks, building data centers or renovating shantytowns.

SCIENCE, HEALTH, AND THE ENVIRONMENT:

A Canadian zoo has decided to send two adult giant pandas back to China because the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted essential deliveries of fresh bamboo.

The Calgary Zoo said it previously had bamboo flown in from China directly, but flight cancellations had “removed this option.”

China’s newly installed wind power capacity in the first quarter halved from the same period in 2019 to 2.36 million kilowatts. Meanwhile, installation of solar power plants suffered a 24% year-on-year drop in capacity to 3.95 million kilowatts, data from the National Energy Administration showed on Monday.

POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:

Taiwan’s exclusion from the World Health Organisation (WHO) during the coronavirus pandemic endangered its citizens and undermined global information sharing, a U.S. congressional report said, as pressure mounts for the island to be granted observer status at the health agency’s upcoming forum.

Having failed to win the hearts and minds of the majority of Hongkongers, there is an air of desperation about Beijing’s increasingly repressive tactics. They are counter-productive, destined only to foment the resumption of protests as the threat from COVID-19 eases. They will also almost certainly prompt a wave of emigration and drive international business and media groups into safer jurisdictions, including Taiwan.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhào Lìjiān 赵立坚 announced a significant increase in Chinese government-sponsored COVID-19 medical aid missions in Africa. Zhao revealed on Monday that medical teams and relief supplies will be sent to three African countries in the coming days and weeks…“Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Algeria…”

The U.S. government has been privately pressing the U.K. in bilateral trade talks to make a choice between the U.S. and China.

The U.S. is seeking to insert a clause that would allow it to retreat from parts of the deal if Britain reaches a trade agreement with another country that the U.S. did not approve.

The proposed clause made no mention specifically of China, but is seen by British diplomats in Washington as intended to be a lever to deter closer U.K.-China relations…

The paper [co-authored by former HM Treasury minister Ed Balls] cites an unnamed U.K. government official saying: “The talks could conclude with a political statement that pulls the U.K. towards an anti-China, anti-cooperative view of the world.”

SOCIETY AND CULTURE:

Though heading to parks for an outing on a sunny day is hardly novel, the activity is becoming more visible as strict quarantine and social-distancing rules are relaxed amid declining coronavirus cases. Sales of picnic-related products have soared, with some vendors noting high demand for products such as picnic blankets and tents, according to multiple media reports [in Chinese].

Even though our city has a booming economy, people can be very conservative. I’ve come across many parents…If it’s a son who doesn’t want to stay in school, they’ll beat them into submission. If it’s a girl, a junior high diploma is enough. In their eyes, enrolling a girl in vocational senior high school is a waste of their money. “Skip it if you can manage it” is a common refrain.

A Shanghai martial arts coach has managed to set another Guinness World Record with nunchucks mastery… In his latest Guinness record, 28-year-old year Xiè Déshèng 谢德胜 managed to hit 32 ping pong balls using his nunchaku. He didn’t have to actually return them, just hit them…

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