Links for Friday, May 22, 2020

BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:

Industrial output in April grew by a better-than-expected 3.9% — a marked difference from the collapse of 13.5% in the first two months of this year as massive lockdowns were imposed.

There’s also a swathe of other data that has been surprisingly strong – pointing to what economists like to call a V-shaped recovery — a sharp, drastic initial fall — followed by a quick rebound in economic activity.

“We will work with the United States to implement the phase one China-U.S. economic and trade agreement,” Premier Lǐ Kèqiáng 李克强 told an annual gathering of lawmakers in Beijing on Friday. “China will continue to boost economic and trade cooperation with other countries to deliver mutual benefits.”

Huawei Technologies is seeking help from rival mobile-chip makers to withstand a U.S. clampdown aimed at crippling the Chinese company, sources familiar with the matter told the Nikkei Asian Review.

Huawei is in talks with MediaTek, the world’s second-largest mobile chip developer after Qualcomm of the U.S., and UNISOC, China’s second-largest mobile chip designer after Huawei’s HiSilicon Technologies unit, to buy more chips as alternatives to keep its consumer electronics business afloat, the sources said.

SCIENCE, HEALTH, AND THE ENVIRONMENT:

A group of 77 Nobel laureates has asked for an investigation into the cancellation of a federal grant to EcoHealth Alliance, a group that researches bat coronaviruses in China.

The pre-eminent scientists characterized the explanation for the decision by the National Institutes of Health as “preposterous.” The agency said the investigation into the sources of pandemics did not fit “with program goals and agency priorities.”

The Nobel recipients said the grant was canceled “just a few days after President Trump responded to a question from a reporter who erroneously claimed that the grant awarded millions of dollars to investigators in Wuhan.” President Trump said the grant would be ended immediately.

  • Authorities to investigate delivery waste control
    China’s war on urban waste has a new foe: delivery packaging / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
    “The country’s top economic planning agency said it will ‘look into measures for controlling the pollution created by express delivery packaging and the problem of excessive packaging’ in a report delivered Friday at the annual National People’s Congress.”
  • Wuhan bans eating wildlife
    Carol Yin summarizes on Twitter: “Wuhan government sent out a notice on the total ban of eating wildlife today. Also mentioned are the strict ban on trading wildlife and the strict management of breeding wildlife (breeding for food is also prohibited).”

POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:

China’s authoritarian rulers are presenting themselves as a viable rival to democracy and have played the U.K. economically, Stephen Kinnock, Labour’s foreign policy spokesman on China, has said.

In a significant hardening of the party’s stance towards China, he also described David Cameron’s golden era of engagement with China as “an abject failure”, adding the UK has been naive about China’s intentions.

  • The rise of a Foreign Ministry hawk
    In China-U.S. showdown, Beijing’s steely propagandist sharpens her attack / Washington Post (porous paywall)
    “Her [Huá Chūnyíng 华春莹] promotion last summer to the Foreign Ministry’s information department chief made her only the second woman to hold the post and reflected a broader ascendancy of policy hawks in Beijing.”
    Eva Dou on Twitter: “It’s rare that I get to write about two female Chinese officials. Here I track the trajectories of China’s foreign ministry spin chief Hua Chunying and her only female predecessor, Kung Peng [龚澎 Gōng Péng], in the 30s-60s.”
  • What does COVID-19 mean for the Belt and Road?
    Coronavirus strikes China’s Belt and Road Initiative / LA Times (porous paywall)

No major contracts have been canceled due to the pandemic, and the initiative is too important to Xi to be shelved. But seven years after the Chinese leader unveiled his vision of a modern Silk Road connecting continents, the future of travel and trade is uncertain. Analysts say the most ambitious international building spree since the Marshall Plan could be scaled down and refocused toward safer investments.

SOCIETY AND CULTURE:

  • Is China’s CDC warning against senior travel ageist?
    How ageist policies leave seniors vulnerable to COVID-19 / Sixth Tone
    “COVID-19 was 60% more fatal to men than women, yet it’s hard to imagine public health professionals ordering all men to stay indoors for their own safety.”