Editor’s note for Monday, June 8, 2020


Dear Access member,

Three stories for your consideration as signs of the times:

Beijing city authorities are declining to act on calls by Premier Lǐ Kèqiáng 李克强 last week for Chinese cities to encourage the revival of street stalls and informal vending. The aim is to revive the economy, provide income to the unemployed, and allow shopping outdoors rather than in enclosed spaces. This is, of course, a complete reversal of policies in recent years in many cities where street vendors have been banned in the name of modernization or beautification.

But the Beijing Daily, the newspaper of the city’s Communist Party branch, says (in Chinese) that “Beijing has announced that reviving the ‘street stall economy’ is not suitable for Beijing.” The piece goes on to say that when a city’s “‘aorta’ is unobstructed and its ‘capillaries’ are developed, each ‘organ’ can listen to the commands of the ‘brain,’” which makes for a more liveable city.

Tech giant Tencent has launched a credit scoring system, the company announced (in Chinese) last week. The scores will be based on data from the ubiquitous WeChat app and allow Tencent to offer consumer credit services. Caixin says that the “scoring system is very similar to Zhima Credit, also known as Sesame Credit, launched in 2015 by competitor Ant Financial Services Group, an affiliate Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.”

Why now? “‘Now it is just a kind of making up for the deficiency and nothing new. Or it may be (Tencent’s) response to the policy call to encourage consumption after the (coronavirus) epidemic,’ a payment industry analyst told Caixin.”

This isn’t the first time that Tencent has rolled out a credit scoring system: In early 2018, the company attempted to launch “Tencent Credit (腾讯信用 téngxùn xìnyòng),” but the central bank’s credit bureau told Tencent to pull the product just one day after its trial launch.

Will Beijing crack down on foreign journalists in Hong Kong? Reuters reports that a “source with direct knowledge of the matter” said “that if the row with the United States escalates further, Beijing could intervene in the issuance of work visas for foreign journalists in Hong Kong.”

Meanwhile, the Foreign Correspondents Club of Hong Kong has issued a statement expressing “solidarity with journalists in the United States who are facing attacks from both protesters and police while covering the current demonstrations.”

Global attacks on the press are a sad reality. The statement goes on: “The FCC insists that journalists should be allowed to carry out their work without fear of harassment, violence or arrest, whether it is in the streets of Hong Kong, Minneapolis, New York, Los Angeles or elsewhere in the world.”

Our word of the day is go against the tide of history 违背历史潮流 wéibèi lìshǐ cháoliú. For context, see foreign vice-minister Ma’s comments towards the bottom of story 1 below.

Finally, two events you may be interested in:

A digital summit co-organized by Chinese Storytellers, NüVoices, and Young China Watchers is starting this week, and continuing for the next two weeks. The first of the three webinars is organized by NüVoices and takes place on June 11 at 9:00 a.m. EST. Click here to RSVP.

SupChina’s next CEO webinar is also on June 11, at 2:00 p.m. EST. Learn about food security and food business in China from Lorna Davis, a former CEO of Dannon North America and Kraft — click here to sign up, and use the promo code CEOACCESS11 for $10 off.

—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief