BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:
China’s finance minister calls for stronger fiscal policy…
China needs more active fiscal policy as pressure on economy increasing: People’s Daily / Reuters
China needs more active fiscal policy as pressure on its economy is still increasing, according to an article by Finance Minister Liú Kūn 刘昆 published in the official People’s Daily on Thursday.
The comments come amid growing market expectations that the government may announce a substantial new stimulus package soon to help businesses and households hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak.
…As local governments issue consumption vouchers
China issues almost $3 billion in consumption vouchers, but experts urge caution / Caixin (paywall)
“Many local governments have issued digital consumption vouchers [in Chinese] via the country’s dominant mobile payment platforms to boost the coronavirus-hit economy, but experts say this is unlikely to become a regularly used policy tool.”
Trump not talking to Xi
Trump says he doesn’t want to talk to Xi as China tensions rise / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
Asked in a Fox Business Network interview whether he had spoken to [Xí Jìnpíng 习近平] recently, Trump said that they have “a very good relationship” but “right now, I don’t want to speak to him. I don’t want to speak to him.”
Unprompted, he said that “we could cut off the whole relationship. If we did, what would happen? You’d save $500 billion,” an inaccurate reference to the volume of trade between the countries.
China’s Brazilian soybean imports threaten U.S. trade commitments
China’s pigs gobble up Brazilian soybeans / Caixin (paywall)
“China, the world’s largest soybean importer, purchased about three quarters of Brazil’s soybean exports in March, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported (link in Chinese), citing data from the Brazilian National Association of Grain Exporters.”
China’s record Brazil soyabean imports impede U.S. trade target / FT (paywall)
Brazil’s soyabean shipments to China hit a monthly record of more than 9 million tonnes in April, casting doubt on whether Beijing can meet the first-year targets of its trade deal with Washington.
…In January’s U.S.-China phase one trade agreement Beijing pledged to buy at least $80 billion of U.S. agricultural products over two years, including $36.5 billion in 2020 — $12.5 billion more than it spent in 2017. But so far China has bought just over $3 billion, said the American Farm Bureau Federation, which represents U.S. farmers.
Will the China-Australia trade spat escalate?
Trade spat erupts as Australia pokes China / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
China’s embassy in Canberra warned its citizens might be offended by Australia’s behavior and choose to travel to alternative destinations and send their children to universities in other countries — threatening Australia’s two key service exports. China also opened an anti-dumping probe into barley exports [porous paywall] that could see it implement 80% tariffs, while meat imports [porous paywall] from four Australian processing plants have been suspended…
So far there’s been no mention of the gloves-are-off option: Australia’s exports of iron ore, coal and natural gas that account for more than 60% of exports to China. There’s probably good reason for that. If China opts to stimulate its economy, shutting out Australian supply of minerals and energy could send prices soaring.
Chipmaker’s profits surge
Chinese contract chipmaker SMIC more than quadruples net profit in first quarter / Caixin
Chinese chip foundry company Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. (SMIC) posted triple-digit growth in net profits… During the January-March period, the contract chipmaker’s net profits amounted to $64.2 million, representing a year-on-year growth of 422.8%, according to the company’s earnings report released Wednesday.
Slump in creation of unicorns
China unicorn creation falls to six-year low as investors play it safe / Reuters
China’s rate of creating unicorns has dropped to a six-year low as venture capital funds shy away from early-stage funding while the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak batters portfolio investments.
Only four Chinese startups have reached unicorn status — valued at $1 billion or above — as of May 13, the lowest number for the same period since 2014, showed data from PitchBook.
Insurance sector sufficiently solvent
China’s insurance sector maintains adequate solvency in Q1 despite pressure / Xinhua
“China’s insurance sector has reported adequate solvency in the first quarter (Q1) of this year despite increased operation pressure, the country’s banking and insurance regulator said.”
SCIENCE, HEALTH, AND THE ENVIRONMENT:
Ancient Chinese may have kept domesticated hares — study
What happened to Neolithic China’s farmers? Bad hare days / Haaretz (porous paywall)
When did the hare join the pantheon of animals we cherish rather than just hunt and eat — and where? It seems our admiration for the humble hare arose around the dawn of civilization…
We cannot be sure how the prehistoric northern Chinese felt about the hare, but a new study reveals that some sort of relationship had developed between hare and human by 5,000 years ago. It may even be that the Neolithic villagers in Yangjiesha, a Neolithic site on a plateau in northern China, were keeping hares captive.
POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:
Xi chairs epidemic response meeting
Xi chairs leadership meeting on regular epidemic response, industrial and supply chains / Xinhua
“‘We must never allow our hard-earned previous achievements on epidemic control to be made in vain,’ Xi stressed. ‘We must ensure the victory in the battle against extreme poverty and the completion of the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects.’”
Also see Xinhua’s Chinese version of the meeting readout.
Sichuan’s poverty alleviation program
Relocated villagers leave poverty on clifftop / Xinhua
“Some 18,000 impoverished residents from 92 villages moved to their new homes at a newly-built community at the county seat [of Zhaojue] this week, the largest poverty alleviation relocation project in Sichuan.”
Chinese scholar issues warning over “Wolf Warrior” diplomacy…
Chinese advisers tell ‘Wolf Warrior’ diplomats to tone it down / SCMP
Leading Chinese scholars and foreign policy advisers have taken aim at the country’s “Wolf Warrior” diplomats and state media, saying their efforts to defend Beijing’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic are backfiring…
“The aim is to promote the Chinese political system as superior, and to project the image of China as a world leader in combating a global health crisis,” Shí Yīnhóng 时殷弘, an international relations professor at Renmin University of China, said during an online seminar arranged by the college on Friday.
“But the problem is, [these efforts] have failed to recognise the complexities that have emerged on the global stage during the pandemic, and they are being done too hastily, too soon and too loudly in tone, so there is a huge gap between what is intended and what is achieved,” he said.
…As Canadian report warns of increasingly threatening diplomat behavior
China ramps up bullying and intimidation tactics in Canada: report / The Globe and Mail (Canada)
Chinese diplomats and supporters of the Communist Party of China are increasingly resorting to “threats, bullying and harassment” to intimidate and silence activists in Canada, including those raising concerns about democracy and civil rights in Hong Kong and Beijing’s mistreatment of Uyghurs, Tibetans and Falun Gong practitioners, a new report says.
A coalition of human-rights groups led by Amnesty International Canada says a timid response by Ottawa to this foreign interference is exacerbating the problem. “Chinese state actors have almost certainly become emboldened by the inadequate responses of Canadian officials,” the coalition writes.
China’s foreign policy as seen in the People’s Daily
Great (power) expectations: Charting the evolution of Chinese foreign policy / Macro Polo
Neil Thomas charts recent developments in China’s foreign policy by analyzing Chinese Communist Party discourse in the People’s Daily.
Neil Thomas summarizes on Twitter: “A Chinese foreign policy concept closely linked to Xí Jìnpíng 习近平 is the controversial idea of a ‘China Solution’ for global problems, but its prominence is declining, perhaps showing more muted ambitions given pushback, trade war & COVID-19.”
Webinar scrapped over Huawei sponsorship controversy
Journalist group scraps coronavirus panel after flak over Huawei sponsorship / WSJ (paywall)
An effort by Huawei Technologies Co. to dip its toe into the stormy waters of a U.S. political debate backfired after organizers canceled a star-studded online panel sponsored by the Chinese company to discuss the coronavirus and its impact on minority communities.
The webinar, organized by the National Association of Black Journalists, was titled “The Rise of Misinformation,” and had billed musician and entrepreneur will.i.am and CNN host Van Jones among panelists set to address the issue of false information about the pandemic.
U.S. sends warships to Malaysian coast
U.S. sends warships to support Malaysia in South China Sea amid China pressure / WSJ (paywall)
“The U.S. has sent three naval ships on patrols near oil-and-gas operations off Malaysia’s coast in recent days, a show of support for the Southeast Asian nation whose offshore explorations in the South China Sea have faced pressure from China.”
Prisoners of faith forced to make goods for foreign markets / Bitter Winter
A member of The Church of Almighty God (CAG) — the single most persecuted religious movement in China — in her 30s now, was sentenced to five years in prison in 2014. Accused of “using a xié jiào [邪教] organization to undermine law enforcement” just for her belief, she served the time in a women’s prison in northwestern China.
The woman remembered that a guard told her soon after she arrived that the prison workshop she was in charge of provided high output and was often given increased production tasks.
SOCIETY AND CULTURE:
Will Indonesia’s wildlife markets follow in China’s footsteps?
Where bats are still on the menu, if no longer the best seller / NYT (porous paywall)
“Indonesia’s wildlife markets are ‘like a cafeteria for animal pathogens,’ but they have resisted efforts to close even as China has shut its own markets over coronavirus fears.”
Video of teacher encouraging students to praise her sparks anger
Kindergarten teacher teaches her students to gush over pop idol Wang Junkai / Shanghaiist
The video soon became one of the hottest topics of the week on Weibo, sparking outrage [in Chinese] from many netizens who argued that kindergarten teachers ought to be instilling better values in children than pop idol worship.