Links for Wednesday, June 3, 2020

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BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:

China is planning to channel much of its stimulus funding directly to cash-strapped city and county governments [rather than provincial governments, who typically distribute funds to local governments in their jurisdictions] to help revive the economy, a move that highlights the long-standing tax and spending problems between Beijing and local governments.

Beijing will create a special central transfer mechanism to direct 2 trillion yuan ($281.2 billion) — 1 trillion yuan from the central government budget and 1 trillion yuan in special off-budget treasury bonds — to local governments to provide them with working capital.

The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) and the Ministry of Finance have set up a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to channel as much as 440 billion yuan ($62 billion) of funds to regional banks so that they can provide new loans or roll over maturing loans to small businesses, including those impacted by the Covid-19 outbreak, Deputy Governor Pān Gōngshèng 潘功胜 said (in Chinese) at a briefing on Tuesday to explain what the central bank described as two “new monetary policy tools” announced the previous day.

The Beijing Internet Court ruled against iQiyi on Tuesday after the Chinese streaming giant charged additional fees to premium customers for complete access to an advance screening of a television drama, domestic media reported [in Chinese].

The court ordered [in Chinese] the company to pay 1,500 yuan ($210) in legal fees, in accordance with the plaintiff’s demands, and added that the company had “harmed the interests” of the premium subscriber.

China kicked off a REIT trial [paywall] in late April that will initially focus around pooling capital to fund infrastructure projects like highways and airports. If successful, the program may be expanded to include traditional real estate, exposing individual investors to a market Goldman Sachs Group Inc. estimates could one day be worth as much as $3 trillion.

China’s central bank has announced the second batch (link in Chinese) of fintech projects to be included in a pilot program for trialing new regulations in the capital Beijing that aims to encourage innovation in the financial technology industry…

In the second batch, the central bank is set to introduce 11 new projects in businesses such as banking, insurance and online payments.

SCIENCE, HEALTH, AND THE ENVIRONMENT:

Data from the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (Crea) shows concentrations of fine particles (PM2.5) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) across China are now at the same levels as one year earlier. At the height of the country’s coronavirus response in early March, NO2 levels were down by 38% from 2019 and levels of PM2.5 were down by 34%.        

POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:

“[Queensland University chancellor] Varghese has boasted he has the experience to handle the complexity of the university’s China relationship given his background as a senior Australian diplomat.

“Instead, the university is now seen around Australia and the world as bending the knee to Beijing, rather than just dealing with a badly behaved undergraduate.”

SOCIETY AND CULTURE: