BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:
Beijing promises SOE reform, better foreign access to markets
China pledges to ease market access, deepen SOE reform / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
China’s central government promised to deepen reforms at state-owned firms and ease access for foreign companies as the country prepares for its annual parliamentary sessions.
Beijing said it would allow foreign companies to participate in more sectors and lower tariffs to expand imports of goods and services as part of a sweeping document [in Chinese] on improving the country’s “socialist market economy,” issued by the Central Committee of the ruling Communist Party as well as the State Council and published by the official Xinhua news agency.
The government also pledged to push forward the opening up of its oil and gas pipeline network and liberalize natural gas prices at the appropriate time. The proposal reiterated the need to deepen interest rate reform, while steadily promoting the internationalization of the yuan.
Mark Zuckerberg issues warning over Chinese internet censorship
Zuckerberg urges the West to counter China’s ‘dangerous’ approach to internet regulation / CNBC
“The Facebook CEO said he worried about other countries looking to replicate the Chinese model, which he labeled ‘really dangerous.’”
Will trade tensions deter U.S. firms from China?
Neither coronavirus nor trade tensions can stop U.S. companies’ push into China / WSJ (paywall)
“Businesses are betting that the country’s long-term growth potential outweighs the mounting case against expansion.”
Apple to make new headphones in Vietnam in shift from China / The Information (paywall)
“Apple has tapped factories in Vietnam to make its own forthcoming over-ear headphones, a new phase in its effort to diversify manufacturing away from China amid political and trade tensions between Washington and Beijing, The Information has learned.”
China reliant on Australian resources
China’s reliance on Australian commodities set to rise in post-virus recovery / FT (paywall)
“Natural resources could become valuable tools of stimulus with expected boom in infrastructure spending.”
Increase in purchases of U.S. agricultural products
China ramping up purchases of U.S. farm goods / WSJ (paywall)
China has significantly stepped up purchases of U.S. agriculture products in the past two months, according to U.S. officials, even as purchases in other sectors fall short of expectations under the first phase U.S.-China trade deal.
In the 10 weeks ended May 7, gross sales of U.S. corn and pork were up around eight times and cotton sales were three times higher than they were in the same period in 2017, before the start of the U.S.-China trade war.
Didi hires van drivers
Didi hires van drivers for their imminent push into logistics / TechNode
“Didi Chuxing, China’s largest ride-hailing company, is hiring van drivers in two provincial capitals [Hangzhou and Chengdu] as part of its early push into logistics. This is the latest move into more general mobility services like home delivery and public transit.”
“China’s Warren Buffett” and his electronics empire
The enigmatic tycoon guiding Oppo, Vivo, and Pinduoduo / Tech in Asia (paywall)
In the early 2000s, BBK Electronics Corporation was at the brink of falling apart as its mainstay audiovisual business dwindled. Under the leadership of founder Duàn Yǒngpíng 段永平, the Chinese consumer electronics firm pivoted to smartphones.
This led BBK through a long, dramatic restructuring that resulted in the creation of Oppo and Vivo, which would become two of the world’s best-selling smartphone brands a decade later.
While the two phonemakers now operate autonomously, their histories are closely intertwined with BBK and Duan is still widely regarded as the man behind their rise.
Chip maker halts new Huawei orders
TSMC halts new Huawei orders after U.S. tightens restrictions / Nikkei Asian Review (porous paywall)
“Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., the world’s biggest contract chipmaker, has halted new orders from Huawei Technologies in response to tighter U.S. export controls aimed at further limiting the Chinese company’s access to crucial chip supplies, multiple sources told the Nikkei Asian Review.”
Speech recognition software and surveillance
How a Chinese AI giant made chatting — and surveillance — easy / Wired (porous paywall)
“Alexa can tell you the weather. Siri knows a few jokes. In China, voice-computing company iFlytek built similar smart assistants beloved by users. But its tech is also helping the government listen in.”
Solar power on the Shanghai Stock Exchange
Jinko Power shares hit upper limit in domestic debut / Caixin (paywall)
U.S. sanctions against Shanghai Saint Logistics Limited
U.S. blacklists Chinese logistics firm over business with Iranian airline / Reuters
Earnings and funding announcements
Baidu first-quarter revenue drops 7%, offset by iQiyi growth / Caixin
Chinese fitness app raises $80 million on the rise of home workouts / TechNode
TikTok parent ByteDance leads $6 million round in financial AI startup Lingxi / TechCrunch
SCIENCE, HEALTH, AND THE ENVIRONMENT:
Community key for Wuhan medical workers overcoming depression
What Wuhan’s frontline medical workers can teach the world about the COVID-19 mental health battle / SCMP
- The war against COVID-19 has left many Chinese health care workers suffering from depression, anxiety, insomnia and distress.
- Support from coworkers and the wider community provided a lifeline during the darkest of times.
Fosun founder expects approval of COVID-19 vaccine trial soon
Chinese billionaire expects coronavirus vaccine trials at home soon / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
“The billionaire founder of Fosun Group [Guō Guǎngchāng 郭广昌] expects to soon win approvals for testing a vaccine against the new coronavirus in his home country China, a day after President Xí Jìnpíng 习近平 promised to make any protective shot universally available.”
Drug may offer temporary COVID-19 immunity
Scientists in China believe new drug can stop coronavirus pandemic ‘without vaccine’ / AFP via Straits Times
“A drug being tested by scientists at China’s prestigious Peking University could not only shorten the recovery time for those infected, but even offer short-term immunity from the virus, researchers say.”
Mass testing in Wuhan on May 18
China’s Wuhan conducts 467,847 COVID-19 tests, says health authority / Reuters
EY says U.S. better for renewable energy investment
U.S. overtakes China as most attractive country for renewables investment: research / Reuters
POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:
What to look out for at the National People’s Congress
Three things to watch at China’s upcoming NPC / MacroPolo
“[T]hree issues are worth noting: unemployment target [rather than an economic growth target], budget allocation [specifically, the trade-off between growth and jobs], and longer term initiatives [such as digital infrastructure planning].”
China’s delayed parliament to focus on reviving virus-hit economy / Reuters
While China remains wary of a second wave of infections, Xi is likely to be lauded for leading the “war against the virus” and achieving “decisive results”, according to language in a summary of last week’s politburo meeting…
Government economists expect fiscal stimulus measures to be announced amounting to 5 trillion to 6 trillion yuan, or 5%-6% of gross domestic product (GDP), along with more policy easing by the central bank.
Wikipedia blocked in all languages
Wikipedia blocked in China in all languages / BBC
“The country had previously banned the Chinese language version of the site, but the block has now been expanded.”
How will China respond to calls to forgive debt?
Poor countries borrowed billions from China. They can’t pay it back. / NYT (porous paywall)
As the coronavirus spread around the globe, Pakistan’s foreign minister called his counterpart in Beijing last month with an urgent request: The country’s economy was nose-diving, and the government needed to restructure billions of dollars of Chinese loans.
Similar requests have come flooding in to Beijing from Kyrgyzstan, Sri Lanka and a number of African nations, asking to restructure, delay repayments or forgive tens of billions of dollars of loans coming due this year…
China faces difficult choices. If it restructures or forgives these loans, that could strain its financial system and infuriate the Chinese people, who are suffering under their own slowdown. But if China demands repayment when many countries are already angry with Beijing over its handling of the pandemic, its quest for global clout could be at risk.
China may agree to delay, not forgive, $150 billion Africa debt / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
“China, Africa’s largest bilateral creditor, is likely to agree to delay but not forgive its $152 billion of loans, an approach at odds with prior forbearance plans from groups including the Paris Club, according to a top Johns Hopkins University researcher.”
U.S. wary of Israeli universities’ ties to China
U.S. scrutiny of Israel’s China ties expands to universities / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
“Israeli academics’ ties with China are on the U.S.’s radar, according to two people familiar with the matter, adding new pressure on its Middle Eastern ally to cool relations with Beijing.”
Australia denies it’s in a trade war with China as relations slide
China considers more economic pain for Australia on virus spat / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
China is considering targeting more Australian exports including wine and dairy, according to people familiar with the matter, in what would be a dramatic deterioration in ties as the key trading partners spar over the coronavirus outbreak.
Chinese officials have drawn up a list of potential goods also including seafood, oatmeal and fruit that could be subject to stricter quality checks, anti-dumping probes, tariffs or customs delays, the people said, asking not to be identified as the discussions are private. State media could also encourage consumer boycotts, they said, adding a final decision on the measures had not been made.
Australia hits back at ‘provocative’ and ‘cheap’ Chinese embassy comments on COVID-19 inquiry / Guardian
“Australian trade minister says he would not engage in cheap politicking over COVID-19, and will not put in place retaliatory measures.”
Australia threatens China with WTO challenge over barley tariffs / FT (paywall)
Australia rules out trade war retaliation with China despite barley tariff escalation / SCMP
“Australia has ruled out retaliating for China’s tariff of over 80% placed on its exports of barley, insisting that the two countries have not entered into a trade war.”
China and India deploy more troops to the Tibetan border
China and India muscle up after border dispute but diplomatic channels open / SCMP
“China and India have deployed additional troops to their border near Tibet following a renewed conflict [on May 5 in which four Indian and seven Chinese soldiers were injured], despite both parties insisting that diplomatic channels remain open.”
Chinese troops resort to aggressive posturing in Ladakh, North Sikkim: Sources / Times of India
Residents breaking lockdown orders to be punished
Chinese city threatens to prosecute people who break quarantine as coronavirus continues to spread / SCMP
“In a statement published on Tuesday, the police in Shulan, a city of 700,000 people in Jilin province, said those who failed to follow the stay-at-home orders or tried to hide respiratory illness-related symptoms would be subject to administrative or criminal sanctions.”
No Tiananmen vigil in Hong Kong and other updates
China’s Hong Kong chief steps down from top political advisory post / SCMP
Xià Bǎolóng 夏宝龙 [Beijing’s top official on Hong Kong affairs] stepped down as secretary general of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference’s national committee, state media reported on Tuesday. He will be replaced by Lǐ Bīn 李斌, the former chief of the National Health Commission…
By stepping down from the advisory body, Xia is widely expected to focus on managing Hong Kong affairs.
Hong Kong blocks Tiananmen Square vigil with gathering ban / Guardian
“Hong Kong has in effect banned an annual vigil for the Tiananmen Square massacre by extending its physical distancing measures for another 14 days.”
Hong Kong leader defends ‘proper’ process behind controversial national anthem bill / Hong Kong Free Press
Chief Executive Carrie Lam [林鄭月娥 Lín Zhèng Yuè’é] has rejected criticism over plans to press ahead with the second reading of a controversial national anthem bill, saying it was in accordance with legislative procedures.
At a press briefing before the Executive Council meeting on Tuesday, Lam said it was entirely incorrect to say the government was pushing for the bill to be passed urgently. The proposed law — which seeks to criminalise “misuse” and distortion of March of the Volunteers — is set to resume its Second Reading debate in the Legislative Council next Wednesday.
- Antony Dapiran on Twitter: “Political censorship of satirical program Headliner: because if there’s one thing dictators can’t stand, it’s being laughed at. You can read more about Headliner (+ Eng translations of some segments) in @chinaheritage here & here.”
SOCIETY AND CULTURE:
Wuhan, during and after lockdown
The stories of four Wuhanese who had different experiences during the city’s lockdown are told in this New York Times story (porous paywall): Hope, fear and grief: Wuhan after the lockdown ends.
- The SCMP also has a view into the city’s current psyche: ‘Still fearful’: Wuhan struggles to recover after coronavirus lockdown.
- ChinaFile has a collection of photojournalism from Wuhan that is worth a look: ‘A letter to my friend under quarantine in Wuhan’.
Man reunited with family 32 years after being kidnapped
Chinese man abducted as toddler 32 years ago reunited with parents / Guardian
A Chinese man who was stolen from his family as a toddler has been reunited with his parents after 32 years.
Máo Yín 毛寅 was snatched in 1988 when he was walking home from nursery with his father, aged just two and half. His parents finally embraced him again on Monday afternoon, in the western city of Xi’an, where he was born.
After Mao vanished, his mother Lǐ Jìngzhī 李静芝 quit her job and launched a decades-long search for her son, that included sending out over 100,000 flyers, and appearing on numerous television shows.
Bribery case at UCLA
Chinese parent in U.S. college admissions scandal fined $250,000 / Reuters