Links for Friday, May 15, 2020 - SupChina
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Links for Friday, May 15, 2020

BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:

Zoom has suspended free users in China from hosting meetings starting from May 1. Individuals are no longer allowed to purchase its services, said Shanghai Donghan Telecommunications, one of Zoom’s Chinese partners which runs the website [in Chinese] zoom.com.cn.

The Shanghai-based company said it has suspended all new user registrations on the website. Businesses need to contact their sales representatives to buy licenses for the service.

A woman answering a call at Shanghai Donghan’s office said the restrictions on individual registrations are due to “regulatory requirements,” but she refused to give further details.

One of China’s best-performing stocks so far in 2020 is a little-known server maker that last year abruptly joined the same U.S. blacklist that threatens Huawei Technologies Co.’s survival. Investors are betting that Beijing’s rapidly emerging plan to invest trillions in technology will outweigh the Trump administration’s curbs.

Dawning Information Industry Co. has soared 60% since the start of the year, making it the third-best performer year to date on the benchmark CSI 300 index of Shanghai and Shenzhen stocks.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. plans to spend $12 billion building a chip plant in Arizona, a decision designed to allay U.S. national security concerns and shift more high-tech manufacturing to America.

TSMC said Friday it will start construction of its next major fabrication facility in 2021, to be completed by 2024.

China’s economic activity showed some signs of improvement in April as the first country hit by the coronavirus began returning to work, though rising joblessness continued to weigh heavily on consumer spending.

The continued headwinds — apart from a rebound in factory production — could strengthen Beijing policy makers’ resolve to enact more stimulus at the country’s main legislative meeting, set to begin May 22.

How high is the unemployment rate? Taking into account sluggish consumer demand and the lagging services industry, the number of newly unemployed people in China may exceed seventy million, corresponding to a 20.5% unemployment rate.

A Chinese medical devices provider surged 74% in its Hong Kong trading debut on Friday in the best opening performance this year for an initial public offering over $50 million.

Peijia Medical Ltd., which produces replacement heart valve and vascular repair devices, opened at H.K.$26.80 versus its offer price of H.K.$15.36. The company raised $302 million in its IPO and is the latest biotech firm to attract strong investor demand in the financial hub as the coronavirus pandemic spotlights inadequacies in China’s health-care system.

China’s central bank and financial regulators unveiled a sweeping plan to spur cross-border financial services, transactions and investments between Hong Kong, Macau and nine Guangdong provincial cities to develop the so-called Greater Bay Area (GBA) into one of the world’s largest economic regions.

Under the plan, residents of Hong Kong and Macau can buy wealth management products sold by Chinese banks in the region, while the inhabitants of the Guangdong cities can tap financial products sold by the banks in Hong Kong and Macau, according to the announcement by the People’s Bank of China, and the securities, bank and currency regulators.

BYD Co. Ltd. said it will reapply for U.S. regulatory approval for its new N95 masks — and hopes to obtain certification by late May or early June — after federal authorities rejected the electric car giant’s previous application.

BYD, which pivoted to mask-making after the coronavirus hit, needs to obtain certification from the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) by May 31, or it will be forced to pay back the second half of a nearly $500 million down payment from the U.S. state of California that it received as part of a mask supply deal.

Fitch (China) Bohua Credit Ratings Ltd. will be allowed to rate financial institutions participating in China’s interbank market, as well as their securities and structured finance bonds, according to a Thursday statement (link in Chinese) by the National Association of Financial Market Institutional Investors, a self-regulatory body for interbank market players.

  • Tesla faces lawsuits, cuts prices  
    Tesla is facing 10 civil lawsuits in China / TechNode
    “U.S. electric vehicle maker Tesla is facing at least eight civil lawsuits by Chinese individuals and two possible class-action lawsuits over ‘disputes in sales contracts,’ according to information released recently on the Shanghai city court system.”
    Tesla slashes China prices second time in a month / Caixin
    “Tesla Inc. is cutting prices by about 20,000 yuan ($2,818) for the long-range version of its China-built Model 3 electric car, the second price cut in a month in the world’s largest market for electric autos…[to make] up for a consumer rebate that is going away in July.”
    Tesla’s secret batteries aim to rework the math for electric cars and the grid / Reuters
    “Electric car maker Tesla Inc. plans to introduce a new low-cost, long-life battery in its Model 3 sedan in China later this year or early next that it expects will bring the cost of electric vehicles in line with gasoline models, and allow EV batteries to have second and third lives in the electric power grid.”

SCIENCE, HEALTH, AND THE ENVIRONMENT:

Hundreds of universities and charities have set up “psychological hotlines” for people suffering from ailments such as anxiety and depression. Their efforts have enjoyed strong backing from the government, which has issued dozens of directives to guide the mental-health response to the epidemic…

The first psychiatric clinic for COVID-19 survivors, as well as people facing mental health issues related to the pandemic, opened [in Chinese] Thursday in Wuhan, as the central Chinese city attempts to heal the widespread psychological trauma caused by the infectious disease and a monthslong lockdown.

For the official launch Thursday, eight people — most of them elderly — visited the outpatient clinic of Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University seeking consultations. During the citywide lockdown, volunteer counselors manned online channels and 24-hour hotlines. But people less familiar with technology and the internet have been slower to take advantage of such services.

  • Authorities say patients can have lung and heart problems in the longer term — among other consequences.
  • Addition of chronic conditions allows for expanded coverage under national health insurance schemes.

China has a total of five possible vaccines for the coronavirus already in human trials and more will be approved next month, signaling the Asian nation’s rapid progress in the race for immunization.

The five vaccines have been tested on more than 2,000 people in phase II trials which are expected to finish in July, said Zēng Yìxīn 曾益新, vice minister of the National Health Commission, at a press briefing on Friday in Beijing. Phase II is the second of three phases of human trials that medications must go through before being approved for general use.

POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:

  • The Senate passes legislation that would pave the way for targeted sanctions against government officials in China over alleged human rights abuses.
  • While no tally was taken, around two-thirds of the Senate had previously signed onto the bill as cosponsors. It must now go to the House for a vote.

Activists and legal experts have condemned a report by Hong Kong’s police watchdog that found the force’s response to the city’s protests to be justified and within regulations.

The Independent Police Complaints Council’s report, released on Friday, described the protests as the “most challenging public order situation in a generation,” and said allegations of brutality should not be used as a political weapon.

“The protests were accompanied by a scale of lawlessness with a degree of violence and vandalism not seen in Hong Kong since the riots of 1967,” the IPCC report says. “While labelling police action as ‘brutality,’ the protesters seem to disregard their own violence, vandalism and vigilantism.”

The president of the Legislative Council (LegCo) has appointed pro-Beijing lawmaker Chan Kin-por [陳健波 Chén Jiànbō] as presiding member of the House Committee, replacing embattled democrat Dennis Kwok [郭榮鏗 Guō Róngkēng].

Andrew Leung [梁君彥 Liáng Jūnyàn] announced on Friday that he would invoke the Rules of Procedure section 92 to deal with the impasse at the committee, which has been paralyzed for months over its inability to elect a new chairperson and deputy chairperson.

The School of Journalism and Communication at China’s elite Tsinghua University will stop enrolling undergraduates and shift its focus to graduate education beginning this year, Sixth Tone’s sister publication The Paper reported [in Chinese] Friday.

The university announced [in Chinese] on its public account on social app WeChat that the journalism school plans to expand its enrollment quotas for graduate students.

Stricter rules will be placed on participants and journalists for this year’s the “two sessions”, the annual gathering of the country’s legislature and advisory body.

Fewer journalists will be allowed at the event, and those who do enter will be restricted to viewing live-streamed sessions at the media center. Foreign journalists will also have to be tested for COVID-19 in advance.

A Missouri senator [Josh Hawley, Republican] has fired back at a Chinese tabloid [the Global Times] that named him as a potential target of Beijing’s countermeasures — which could hurt politicians and businesses from the U.S. state — over a bill allowing Americans to sue China for missteps during the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto tells Chinese counterpart,  Wáng Yì 王毅, that his country ‘always upholds the one China principle’.
  • Wang also speaks to foreign ministers of Estonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina ahead of World Health Assembly, which starts on Monday.

Replicating this obsession over the ‘One-China principle,’ the Spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy in India, Jī Róng 嵇蓉, today posted a series of tweets urging the Indian media organisations to take a “correct stance” on Taiwan’s participation in the World Health Organisation’s activities.

Desperate amid the pandemic to return to the familiarity and perceived safety of their home country, many overseas Chinese have flooded embassy hotlines, posted irate messages on social media and staged protests abroad in hopes that their government will intervene to solve a situation they blame it for creating.

The Washington, D.C.-based consultancy RWR Advisory published a set of fascinating new charts that detail China’s COVID-19 donation activities over the past couple of months. The firm revealed that although the Chinese government and embassies abroad tend to take credit for donations of PPE and other medical materials used in the fight against COVID-19, it’s companies and Chinese philanthropies who are paying for it.

SOCIETY AND CULTURE:

The case has sparked heated discussion on Chinese social media, with many hailing the trial as a milestone [in Chinese] and expressing hope it will raise public awareness of the difficulties faced by LGBT couples with children.

Thousands of LGBT people have started families in China in recent years, assisted by a growing underground network of surrogacy agencies. Industry insiders tell Sixth Tone there are now dozens of such agencies nationwide, and demand for their services is rapidly rising. In total, around 100,000 children are being raised by LGBT couples in China, estimates Hú Zhìjūn 胡志军, director of PFLAG, the country’s largest LGBT organization.

Female students are less satisfied in relationships. Men are more comfortable with live-in partners. A majority of women at Chinese universities have never masturbated, and one-third have never experienced an orgasm or don’t know what one is.

These are some of the findings from a national survey [in Chinese] on the sex lives of university students — including undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral students — released this week [conducted by the China Family Planning Association, Tsinghua University’s Research Center for Public Health, and China Youth Network].

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