BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:
ByteDance’s value exceeds $100 billion
TikTok owner’s value exceeds $100 billion in private markets / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
Businesses want more government support
Chinese business pleads for more help from Beijing / FT (paywall)
“The pressure for more government support comes ahead of Friday’s National People’s Congress, the country’s annual gathering of lawmakers, where analysts expect more robust measures to be unveiled.”
Court case could prompt bond repricing
Court case threatens to shake up $100 billion in Chinese dollar bonds / FT (paywall)
The bankruptcy of a powerful state conglomerate has threatened to shake up about $100 billion of debt issued by Chinese companies in a development that is being closely watched by investors in the country’s dollar bond markets.
Administrators in the restructuring of Peking University Founder Group, a state-backed technology conglomerate linked to China’s top university, have said they will not recognise about $1.7 billion in so-called keepwell deeds that back its debt…
If a Beijing court rules in favor of the state-backed administrator in the coming weeks, it could prompt a re-pricing in billions of dollars of other keepwell bonds.
Bike safety campaign launched
New rule means China needs nearly 200 million extra bicycle helmets by June 1 / Caixin (paywall)
[U]nder new rules announced last month, from June 1 every time a rider takes to one of the nation’s more than 250 million registered battery-powered bikes, they’ll be required to wear a helmet or risk being fined.
It will be easier said than done. According to research from Guojin Securities, China’s biggest helmet manufacturers can turn out around 2,000 per day, and there’s very little unused capacity. The firm puts China’s demand gap at about 200 million helmets.
China aims to keep the road safe with ‘one helmet, one belt’ / WSJ (paywall)
“China’s government is kicking off a “One Helmet, One Belt” campaign to promote the use of helmets and seat belts. Chinese laws already require motorbike riders to wear helmets and drivers seat belts, but the new push means authorities will enforce the rules vigilantly.”
Ping An Good Doctor switches up its leadership
China’s largest e-healthcare company ditches Alibaba veterans / TechNode
Ping An Good Doctor, China’s largest online healthcare platform, is completely swapping out its senior management. According to reports from Caixin [paywall], the move may foreshadow greater integration between Ping An’s patient- and provider-facing platforms.
Ping An Good Doctor may have the most users of any online healthcare platform in China, but so far it hasn’t turned a profit. Ditching its ex-Alibaba leadership might signal a change from ecommerce-style tactics that have focused mostly on growth.
Chinese robotics firm strikes a U.S. partnership
China’s Geek+ brings warehouse robots to U.S. via Conveyco partnership / TechCrunch
“The partnership will bring Geek+’s autonomous mobile robots, or ARMs, to Conveyco’s clients in retail, ecommerce, omnichannel and logistics across North America.”
“Silicon Valley’s China whisperer”
Meet Connie Chan, Silicon Valley’s ‘China whisperer’ / CNN
“For years, venture capital powerhouse Andreessen Horowitz stood by a steadfast rule: to become a general partner at the firm, you had to be a founder or CEO of a major tech company… But all that changed with Connie Chan.”
Semiconductor technology self-sufficiency
High-tech push boosts China’s chipmakers / WSJ (paywall)
“Chinese semiconductor stocks have soared recently, as investors bet these companies will benefit from Beijing’s quest for high-tech self-reliance.”
我国首台半导体激光隐形晶圆切割机问世 / China Daily
China technology policy expert Adam Segal summarizes in a tweet: “China’s first semiconductor laser invisible wafer cutting machine comes out…built by team of researchers in Zhengzhou”
Xiaomi’s Q1 revenue rises 13.6%
Chinese Apple rival Xiaomi gets first-quarter sales boost as smartphone demand rebounds / CNBC
Majority of SMEs up and running
Over 90% of SMEs in China resume operation: ministry / Xinhua
Weibo Q1 revenue down 19%
Weibo posts stronger user growth even as revenue falls amid pandemic / Caixin
Fitness app Keep gets $1 billion valuation
Tencent-backed Chinese fitness app Keep enters unicorn club / Deal Street Asia via Caixin (paywall)
Nestlé to build new plant-based food facility in China under $100 million investment plan / Reuters
Mobile game boom during lockdown
PUBG and Honor of Kings are April’s highest-earning games / Caixin
China’s debt explained
How big is China’s debt, who owns it and what is next? / SCMP
- The Institute of International Finance (IFF) estimated that China’s total debt hit 317% of gross domestic product (GDP) in the first quarter of 2020.
- In May 2020, the IFF also said the debt owed to China by the rest of the world had risen to more than 6% of global GDP.
SCIENCE, HEALTH, AND THE ENVIRONMENT:
The history of China’s health diplomacy
A brief history of Chinese ‘health diplomacy’ / Sixth Tone
The People’s Republic of China has engaged in “health diplomacy” almost since its founding in 1949. Over the course of the 1950s and ’60s, a still-impoverished China sent a total of 6,500 trained medical personnel on assistance missions to over 40 countries and funded the construction of more than 20 medical institutions around the world.
COVID-19 vaccine and test updates
China leads the worldwide race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine / NPR
“Half of the vaccines that have already gone into clinical trials were discovered by Chinese companies.”
Chinese COVID-19 test kit outstrips alternatives in Dutch study / SCMP
“In laboratory tests, the commercially available reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) kit made by Shenzen-based biotech company BGI Group achieved the lowest limit of detection (LOD) score, suggesting it was more sensitive to the presence of the coronavirus than comparable products.”
Antibody found in SARS patient could help fight COVID-19, U.S. study says / SCMP
“[Antibody] ‘S309’ shown to have a strong ability to bind to and disable the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, researchers at University of Washington School of Medicine say.”
Chinese genetics firm’s testing in Middle East raises new U.S. tensions / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
While the U.S. struggled to come up with enough tests to manage the world’s largest coronavirus outbreak, a Chinese genetics company took less than a month to build testing centers thousands of miles away in the Middle East.
By moving swiftly, Shenzhen-based BGI Group won hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts with traditional U.S. allies including Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Now the U.S. is warning those countries that they may be giving Beijing access to highly prized personal data that will propel economies of the future.
COVID-19 virus may change as it spreads
Coronavirus behaving differently in China’s northeast clusters, expert says / Reuters
“The novel coronavirus is behaving differently in patients in northeast China who have contracted it recently compared with early cases, indicating it is changing as it spreads, a prominent doctor [Qiū Hǎibō 邱海波 of China’s National Health Commission] said.”
China’s new outbreak shows signs the virus could be changing / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
“Patients found in the northern provinces of Jilin and Heilongjiang appear to carry the virus for a longer period of time and take longer to test negative, Qiu Haibo, one of China’s top critical care doctors, told state television on Tuesday.”
Related, and important from The Atlantic: Beware overblown claims of coronavirus strains.
Authorities ask for COVID-19 data to be shared with WHO
China tells journal publishers to share research with WHO’s COVID-19 database / SCMP
China has called for research literature and data to be shared with the World Health Organisation’s international COVID-19 database, in an apparent bid to counter accusations it has not been transparent about the outbreak.
The China Association for Science and Technology, a government-backed organization, asked its members to contribute to the WHO’s collection of data in an open letter on its website on Tuesday.
POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:
Germany sees China as important partner despite strong U.S. investment
China drops out of top three foreign investors in Germany / Reuters
“China last year dropped out of the top three foreign investors in Germany for the first time in more than a decade, official German data seen by Reuters showed on Wednesday, as the Chinese government focuses on boosting the domestic economy…The data showed that the United States remains the largest investor in Germany with 302 projects last year, followed by Britain with 185 and Switzerland with 184.”
In other Germany-related news, a new Pew survey finds that in the Trump-Xi era, “Germans now see their country’s relationship with China as equally important as their relationship with the U.S.”
Anti-China sentiment rises in the U.S.
Anti-China sentiment is on the rise / Politico
Since January, the percentage of U.S. voters who say China is an “enemy” has risen 11 percentage points to 31%, while the percentage of voters who say China is either an ally or a friend has fallen nine points to a combined 23%, a new Politico/Morning Consult poll shows.
Trump continues to blame China for COVID-19, call out Biden
Donald Trump on Twitter: “Some wacko in China just released a statement blaming everybody other than China for the Virus which has now killed hundreds of thousands of people. Please explain to this dope that it was the ‘incompetence of China,’ and nothing else, that did this mass Worldwide killing!”
Trump on China trade deal: ‘I feel differently now about that deal than I did three months ago’ / Fox News
“I feel very differently now about that deal than I did three months ago,” the president said. “We’ll see what happens.”
“It just seems to mean less to me,” Trump explained. “It was very exciting, one of the biggest deals ever made. But once the virus came in, I said, ‘how did they let that happen?’”
“Why did they block it leaving Wuhan into China but they didn’t block it from going to other parts of the world?” he added.
Trump is playing the China card. Who believes him? / NYT (porous paywall)
Susan E. Rice, a former U.S. national security adviser, writes:
For Mr. Trump, attacking former Vice President Joe Biden on China serves three purposes: to dampen turnout among populist Democrats; to deflect blame for his deadly mishandling of the coronavirus for which he takes no “responsibility at all” [porous paywall]; and most cynically, to try to turn his own blatant weakness on China into a political weapon.
Responses to Trump’s WHO threats
China criticizes Trump’s threat to withdraw from WHO / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
Fact-checking Trump’s letter blasting the World Health Organization / Washington Post (porous paywall)
Australian student could be expelled over China criticism
A student criticized China and now his university is threatening to expel him / WSJ (paywall)
Australia’s University of Queensland] “is threatening to expel and take legal action against a student [Drew Pavlou] known for his criticism of Beijing, in a case that has renewed tensions over Chinese influence in higher education.”
David Brophy, an Australian scholar, responds on Twitter: “OK, this is getting a bit out of hand. Vague and arbitrarily enforced codes of conduct are a threat to intellectual freedom for students and staff alike. Drew Pavlou’s said and done things I disagree with, but nothing I’ve seen warrants penalties like this. UQ should drop it.”
China says that missing Panchen Lama is fine
China says Panchen Lama leading ‘normal life’ following disappearance 25 years ago / AFP via Hong Kong Free Press
“A child who disappeared 25 years ago after being appointed as a Tibetan Buddhist leader by the Dalai Lama is now living a ‘normal life’ after graduating from university, China said Tuesday following U.S. calls to reveal his location.”
For context: Tibetans demand China disclose fate of boy taken away in ’95.
Macau bans Tiananmen Square vigil
Macau bans annual Tiananmen massacre vigil citing COVID-19, despite only 1 active case / Hong Kong Free Press
“It is the first time the vigil has been banned in 30 years, according to Macau Business.”
Interview: Ma Jian on China post-virus
Ma Jian: China’s regime is ‘stronger than ever’ / Spectator
An interview with writer Mǎ Jiàn 马建 on China, COVID-19, and how other countries should respond.
Illegal COVID-19 hospital raided in the Philippines
Two arrested in raid at Philippine illegal hospital for Chinese coronavirus patients / SCMP
- Over 200 suspected rapid test kits and a patient were found at the villa in Clark Freeport that had been illegally turned into a seven-bed hospital.
- Police said most of the medical facility’s clients may have come from the large numbers of Chinese nationals working in online gambling outfits.
Xi caught in a hard place on poverty alleviation promises
Millions of jobless in China pose a looming threat to Xi Jinping / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
[Xí Jìnpíng 习近平] now faces a dilemma, [Gù Sù 顾肃, a philosophy and law professor at Nanjing University] said: Ignoring the promise would be equivalent to saying that the Communist Party failed, while proclaiming victory would only rile up a seething middle class that is increasingly venting frustration online.
Hong Kong’s yellow businesses
Hong Kong’s businesses show their pro-democracy colors / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
During the darkest days of the coronavirus crisis in Hong Kong, when restaurants were barely surviving, an appeal went out on social media to save Renee Cheung’s Dose. The restaurant is a “yellow” business, meaning it openly supports Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement. Like-minded diners answered the call — though they weren’t the ones who normally frequent the city’s hip bar district.
U.S. ramps up South China Sea flyovers and calls Chinese movements on India border “disturbing”
U.S. backs India in border tensions with China / The Tribune (India)
“The border dispute is a reminder that Chinese aggression is not always just rhetorical. So whether it is in South China Sea or whether it is along the border with India, we continue to see provocations and disturbing behaviour by China that raises questions how it seeks to use its growing power,’’ said Alice G Wells, U.S. State Department’s top official for Central and South Asia.
- U.S. Air Force ramps up flyovers near China in sign of rising tension and risk of conflict between world powers / SCMP
SOCIETY AND CULTURE:
Disabled man banned from performing
Disabled vagrant barred from performing, accused of tainting city’s image / Sixth Tone
“City management officials in Chongqing have forbidden a man with a disability from giving sidewalk performances because he is ‘tainting the city’s image.’ The incident has again sparked discussion on the role of such personnel, as well as the plight of people with disabilities.”
Obituary: Author Yú Líhuá 於梨華 dies
Yu Lihua, 90, dies; writer spoke to ‘rootless’ Chinese émigrés / NYT (porous paywall)
Jilted lover sends ex-boyfriend onions
Cry hard with a vengeance: Chinese woman sends tonne of onions to ex-boyfriend / SCMP
- ‘I cried for three days, and now it’s your turn!’ woman says in note left with stinging gift.
- Neighbour of ex-boyfriend says community was ‘filled with the strong stench of rotting onions.’
To stay or to go?
A U.S. expat in China weighs the decision of where to shelter in place / New Yorker (porous paywall)
Han Zhang talks to the U.S. expats on how they made the call to leave China amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
Is discrimination causing Asian-American job losses?
Asian-Americans hit hard by job losses in New York, raising questions of racial discrimination / SCMP
In the past six weeks ending May 9, more than 195,000 self-identified Asians — Chinese, Indian, Vietnamese, among others — have filed initial unemployment claims in the state, about 56 times the 3,500 during the same period last year, according to New York State Department of Labour data.
The jump was by far the largest percentage increase compared to any other racial group.
Iconic Hong Kong restaurant closes
The granddaughter of Jimmy’s Kitchen founder recalls Hollywood A-listers and baked Alaska as restaurant closes after 92 years / SCMP