Week in Review: Friday, May 22, 2020

Here are the stories that caught our eye this week:

  • Beijing is set to deliver the death blow to “one country, two systems” as it kicked off its annual series of political meetings with the announcement that it intends to pass new national security laws that will give the Communist Party more control over political activity and freedom of expression in Hong Kong. The announcement follows a depressing week of Hong Kong news that included what many saw as pro-Beijing attacks on its education system and legislature.
  • Beijing lashed out at U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo after he congratulated Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文 Cài Yīngwén) for beginning her second term as Taiwan’s president. While over 90 foreign dignitaries from 41 countries reportedly congratulated Tsai, Zhào Lìjiān 赵立坚 lashed out at Pompeo in particular, accusing him of undermining China’s core interests.
  • Xí Jìnpíng 习近平 appeared to acquiesce to growing international support for an inquiry into COVID-19, telling WHO’s World Health Assembly that China “supports the idea of a comprehensive review of the global response to COVID-19 after it is brought under control.” Xi’s statement contrasts with China’s prior opposition to any international COVID-19 probe, however, we should note that Xi’s remarks indicate the U.S. should also be investigated — and of course, there is zero chance of Beijing letting any international investigator operate with any real independence in China.
  • Xi’s remarks were followed by Donald Trump tweeting out a four-page letter to WHO head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, which blasted the organization over its handling of COVID-19 and took as fact Taiwan’s alleged warning of human-to-human transmission. The letter concluded with Trump threatening to permanently withdraw U.S. funding for the organization.  
  • A cluster of COVID-19 cases with an unknown origin in China’s northeastern Jilin Province has continued to grow, resulting in a strict lockdown in the province’s Shulan City and the expulsion of five more local officials for failing to contain the virus.
  • TikTok has appointed Kevin Mayer as its new CEO. Mayer is known for transforming Disney into a streaming powerhouse and will also be the COO of ByteDance, the Chinese conglomerate that owns TikTok. The announcement comes as TikTok continues to face scrutiny over security concerns from U.S. lawmakers.
  • Luckin Coffee shares took a massive tumble following Nasdaq’s announcement that it will delist the scandal-ridden company. Nasdaq’s announcement was followed by a bill being passed in the U.S. Senate that could see more Chinese firms delisting from U.S. stock exchanges unless they can establish they are not owned or controlled by a foreign government and undergo an audit by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board.
  • Libresse, a Swedish brand of feminine hygiene products, released a new Chinese commercial that has generated a shower of praise on social media for seeking to break down the stigma surrounding menstruation. In the ad, Chinese actress Zhōu Dōngyǔ 周冬雨 implores women to “stop hiding” their periods.
  • More than 70% of sexual offenses against minors are committed by family members or acquaintances, Beijing-based nonprofit, Girl’s Protection, reveals in its three new reports (in Chinese) on sexual offenses against Chinese minors.
  • Tianjin Tianhai of the Chinese Super League (CSL), the country’s top domestic soccer league, has declared bankruptcy and folded. The announcement puts an end to a prolonged saga that includes the team’s jailed owner and a failed emergency takeover, and is COVID-19’s first high-profile sports team casualty in China.