Links for Tuesday, June 2, 2020

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BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:

The Hong Kong Financial Industry Employees General Union [in Chinese] is seeking to garner support from 100,000 finance employees — nearly one third of the industry’s workforce — by June 12 to start a strike, Chairman Kwok Ka-wing 郭嘉榮 [Guō Jiāróng] said at a press briefing on Monday, without providing a date for planned action.

A new female billionaire has emerged from one of Asia’s most-expensive break-ups.

Dù Wěimín 杜伟民, the chairman of Shenzhen Kangtai Biological Products, transferred 161.3 million shares of the vaccine maker to his ex-wife, Yuán Lìpíng 袁莉萍, according to a May 29 filing, immediately catapulting her into the ranks of the world’s richest. The stock was worth U.S.$3.2 billion as of Monday’s close.

“He’s stuck with a lemon. He gets an empty agreement if he sticks with it, and he gets more actions that create an economic drag and more volatility if he abandons it,” said one person briefed on the administration’s trade deliberations…

The Peterson Institute of International Economics estimates here that during the first quarter, China made only about 40% of the purchases it needed to stay on target for a first-year increase of $77 billion over 2017 levels, implying an extremely steep climb in the second half.

The coronavirus epidemic of early 2020 has cast a brighter spotlight on gig workers, particularly couriers and food delivery people…Though increased recognition from the government and the public are steps in the right direction, without substantive changes to China’s labor laws and broader employment landscape, gig work will become both more expected and more dehumanizing.

SCIENCE, HEALTH, AND THE ENVIRONMENT:

According to a study published Friday in the peer-reviewed journal Science Advances, the team found that the part of the SARS-CoV-2 gene coding for the critical viral structure used to invade human cells was highly similar to that of a pangolin coronavirus.

The rest of SARS-CoV-2, however, was significantly more similar to a bat coronavirus. To the researchers, this suggested that coronaviruses in bats and pangolins might have exchanged their genetic materials at some point via a process called recombination, giving rise to SARS-CoV-2.

A colony of fewer than 300 birds is standing in the way of one of China’s key hydropower dams in a battle between environmentalists and a construction company that has become a spotlight for China’s pledge to conserve its ecology.

A high court in Yunnan Province is to decide on a case that has held up construction of the 270 MW Jiasa River dam in limbo for almost three years on concerns from environmental groups that the reservoir could destroy a key habitat of the endangered Green Peafowl, China’s native version of the dazzlingly plumed birds.

In an energy mix that’ll still heavily feature coal and other fossil fuels, government researchers [in Chinese] have said that nuclear capacity could more than double to 130 gigawatts by 2030. While that would be only about 10% of national power generation, such is China’s heft in energy markets it would still save the amount of carbon that Germany emits annually from burning coal, oil and gas.

POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:

Asked if Washington was considering welcoming Hong Kong people “to come here and bring their entrepreneurial creativity,” Pompeo replied: “We are considering it. I don’t know precisely how it will play out… 

In his Senate address, McConnell said the United States had “a rich heritage of standing as a beacon of light” to refugees from war and communism.

“We should exercise it again for the people of Hong Kong,” he said.

What was meant to be a landmark year for Japan-China relations has turned sour, as the US stand-off with Beijing leaves Prime Minister Shinzo Abe caught in a fight between his country’s biggest trading partner and its sole military ally…

A staunch supporter of Donald Trump, Abe has stood by the US president in recent weeks. And that could pose risks for Japan’s exposure in China…

…a flare up in a territorial dispute between the two Asian powers and Beijing’s move last week to impose new security legislation that could stifle dissent in Hong Kong has helped stoke a resurgence of Japan’s own wariness toward China.

SOCIETY AND CULTURE: