Links for Tuesday, May 19, 2020 - SupChina
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Links for Tuesday, May 19, 2020

BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:

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.

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.

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.

SCIENCE, HEALTH, AND THE ENVIRONMENT:

  • 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.

POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:

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.

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 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.

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.

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:

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.

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