Links for Monday, May 18, 2020 - SupChina
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Links for Monday, May 18, 2020

BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:

China will likely spend about $205 billion this year on projects ranging from 5G networks to power grid enhancements to rail upgrades as it tries to revive its economy after the coronavirus pandemic, according to BloombergNEF.

Those sectors are among seven that China has identified as “new infrastructure,” which it wants to prioritize in its recovery, BNEF said in a report Friday [paywall].

In its first official reaction to last Friday’s announcement by the Department of Commerce of the planned new restrictions, Huawei called Washington’s decision “arbitrary and pernicious”. While the company said it was too early to define the consequences of the U.S.’s planned stricter export controls for its business, it indicated that Washington’s move would deal a heavy blow. “We will now work hard to figure out how to survive,” said Guō Píng 郭平, rotating chairman, at Huawei’s annual analyst conference. “Survival is the keyword for us now.”

Describing the move as the destruction of “global manufacturing, supply and value chains”, the Chinese foreign ministry said on Saturday that Beijing would “firmly uphold Chinese firms’ legitimate and legal rights and interests”.

China will impose a massive 80% tariff on Australian barley imports from tomorrow, saying the product has been imported against trade rules.

The import tax will remain in place for five years, and is expected to wipe out Australian sales into the lucrative market.

Typically, at least half of Australia’s barley exports would be bound for China…

[Trade Minister Simon] Birmingham said in a statement following the news: “Australia is deeply disappointed with China’s decision to impose duties on Australian barley.

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and other Chinese technology companies appear set to join Hong Kong’s main stock benchmark, after the compilers of the city’s flagship Hang Seng index revamped their inclusion rules.

The changes will permit shares with unequal voting rights or primary listings elsewhere to join the 50-year-old index, making Alibaba and others such as Xiaomi Corp. and Meituan Dianping eligible for entry.

On Sunday night, Nio founder and CEO, William Li [Lǐ Bīn 李斌], appeared on the livestream of Wāng Hán 汪涵, a famous TV personality, in front of 20 million people. As part of the sponsored appearance, Li introduced  Wang to Nio’s ES6 SUV during his 40 minutes. Over 5,000 people signed up for a test drive and 320 made car orders with non-refundable deposits, the company said Monday.

  • The Tencent founder [Pony Ma or Mǎ Huāténg 马化腾] is expected to submit in absentia a range of proposals to the National People’s Congress.
  • Those include suggestions involving the industrial internet, financial technology and medical services.

SCIENCE, HEALTH, AND THE ENVIRONMENT:

Shí Zhēnglí 石正丽, the Chinese virologist whose work has been the subject of controversial theories about the origin of the novel coronavirus, has published new research into SARS-related pathogens and their animal hosts…

The research, which has not been peer-reviewed, said that the bat carried many coronaviruses with a high degree of genetic diversity, particularly in the spike protein, which suggested they had evolved over time to aid their transmission.

  • Breeders of species such as snakes, rats and civets will be paid to hand over their animals and start rearing domestic animals instead
  • Central government announced ban in February and Hunan has become the first area to introduce a provincewide compensation scheme.

It is almost certain, Salzberg [Steven Salzberg, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Computational Biology] told me, that trafficking in a bat-derived concoction, passed off as a traditional Chinese medicinal remedy, is directly responsible for the SARS-CoV-2 disaster.

It arrived in China only last year, but already it threatens over 16.5 million acres of corn and wheat farmland. As of Feb. 10, the fall armyworm’s range in China was 90 times larger than during the same period the previous year.

On Feb. 20, at the height of the country’s COVID-19 outbreak, China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs announced a contingency plan for dealing with the fall armyworm infestation. The plan called on agriculture officials to “plan early, warn early, prepare early, prevent early.”

POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:

Chinese Ambassador to Israel Dù Wěi 杜伟 was found dead in his Herzliya home on Sunday morning, a Foreign Ministry official said. Police were investigating at his home.

The Chinese Embassy said it could not confirm the reports.

There were no signs of violence, leading investigators to believe that Wei died from a heart attack, Army Radio reported. Other sources close to the investigation claim he died of cardiac arrest.

Tibet’s self-declared government-in-exile marked the 25th anniversary of the disappearance of a boy named as Tibetan Buddhism’s second highest figure by calling on China on Sunday to account for his whereabouts.

The Tibetan parliament in northern India, known as the Kashag, said the boy named the 11th Panchen Lama who was taken away at age 6 along with his family in 1995 continued to be recognized as the sole legitimate holder of his title.

Chinese President Xí Jìnpíng 习近平 and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin have pledged to maintain a united front in fighting the disease, holding three phone conversations since March.

But some observers believe Russia is moving closer to the United States, and note Putin has spoken to Donald Trump six times in the same period.

[Republican Ben] Sasse delivered the online speech to students at his former school, Fremont high in Nebraska, on Saturday. During the speech he suggested that the students would remember their senior years at their future reunions as “that time when China started a big global pandemic that created the worst public health crisis in over a century and brought the economy to its knees and we had to stay home and everybody was hoarding toilet paper”.

Hackers have reportedly targeted the office of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen 蔡英文 [Cài Yīngwén], days before the inauguration for her second term in office, in an incident that highlights the security threat facing the island’s government amid growing tensions with mainland China.

The fact that this body [the “National Patriotic Health Campaign Commission”] has gone unnoticed shows that we need to understand the Chinese “government” and wider political system, including its many policy making and implementing bodies, if we are to fully understand its response to the coronavirus, inform policy making internationally, and enable crucial collaboration.

While China is developing these capabilities with an eye on the United States, the impact of these capabilities will be felt also in the Indo-Pacific. Given the economic, social and security stakes involved, India must devote more attention to China’s growing space capabilities and address some of the vulnerabilities and gaps.

Hard-liners are calling on Beijing to be more defiant, emboldened by the Trump administration’s efforts to blame China for the mounting death toll in the United States. Moderates are warning that Beijing’s strident responses could backfire, isolating the country when it most needs export markets and diplomatic partners to revive its economy and regain international credibility.

  • The limits of Xi’s Maoist propaganda?
    Carl Minzner in a thread on Twitter: “(8/x) China’s top leader, steeped in promoting a 不忘初心 [bú wàng chūxīn]/’back to our roots’ message in terms of reviving Party dominance, visits Shaanxi and *doesn’t* make a pilgrimage to Maoist shrine of Yan’an? Why? Felt to me like there is still an open question of ‘how far do we go?’”
  • How does the Mediterranean see China?
    ChinaMed on Twitter: “The new issue of the ChinaMed Observer is out! COVID-19 continues dominating the debate on China’s role in and relations with the wider Mediterranean region. Below the main points!”
    See the issue’s April 2020 China media analysis and its Mediterranean media analysis.
  • Reviewing the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act
    Julian Ku notes on Twitter: “The operative provisions of the new version of the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act passed yesterday have some odd differences with the original bill passed back in December.”
    Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020 / U.S. Congress
  • Debt and Africa
    What happens when it all falls apart? / China Africa Project
    “Yet those same governments that moved with such efficiency to give themselves trillions can’t seem to find a way to quickly facilitate $100 billion (mere pennies by today’s standards) for debt relief in Africa.”

SOCIETY AND CULTURE:

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