Links for Thursday, May 14, 2020 - SupChina
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Links for Thursday, May 14, 2020

BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

SCIENCE, HEALTH, AND THE ENVIRONMENT:

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:

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.

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.

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.

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:

[A] video [in Chinese] showing a kindergarten teacher instructing her students to sing the praises of a Chinese pop idol [Wáng Jùnkǎi 王俊凯] and herself has recently stirred up online anger in China…

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.

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