Links for Monday, September 14, 2020

Notable China news from around the web.

WORTH THINKING ABOUT

Pieces of news or analysis that caught our eye:

Does Ant Group share facial recognition data with its business partners? Caixin reports on a “slip of the tongue” by famous tech investor Kai-Fu Lee (李开复 Lǐ Kāifù):

In the speech delivered at a tech forum in Beijing on Saturday, Lee — chairman and chief executive of Sinovation Ventures — shared his experience of how he managed to facilitate the development of a facial recognition startup called Megvii Technology Ltd. in which Sinovation is an investor.

Lee said his company had played a role in helping Megvii to seek early-stage partners including Ant Group Co. Ltd. and selfie app operator Meitu Inc., and that Megvii had collected facial data from these partners for industry analysis…

Following Lee’s comment, Ant Group put out a statement the same day saying the company had never been in touch with Lee and had never passed Ant Group’s users’ facial data to Megvii. Meitu released a similar response, while Megvii also said it wouldn’t request user data from business partners.

Lee released a statement later apologizing to the three companies, saying he had made “a slip of the tongue.”

Ant Group is set to soon go public in Hong Kong and Shanghai, in what could be one of the largest IPOs ever. For more, see:

Will Guō Wénguì 郭文贵 be accused of fraud? The Washington Post is the latest outlet to look into the connections between the exiled Chinese billionaire and former White House strategist Steve Bannon, who himself was arrested on Guo’s yacht last month for wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Per the Washington Post:

…there are now signs that federal investigators are scrutinizing Guo’s financial activities in the United States and GTV Media Group, a social media company that Guo said raised $300 million from investors, according to people familiar with the investigation.

Some of those investors now say they think they were defrauded by the company and have been interviewed repeatedly by the FBI in recent months, according to three people with knowledge of the case. The Wall Street Journal first reported the existence of the inquiry.

MORE NEWS FROM AROUND THE WORLD

BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:

SCIENCE, HEALTH, AND THE ENVIRONMENT:

POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:

SOCIETY AND CULTURE:

  • 195 million K-12 students back to in-person classes
    How China brought nearly 200 million students back to school / NYT (porous paywall)
    “While the Communist Party has adopted many of the same sanitation and distancing procedures used elsewhere, it has rolled them out with a characteristic all-out, command-and-control approach that brooks no dissent. It has mobilized battalions of local officials and party cadres to inspect classrooms, deployed apps and other technology to monitor students and staff, and restricted their movements. It has even told parents to stay away for fear of spreading germs.”
  • Chinese-American violinist accused of “racist comments against the Chinese people”
    A violinist lost his seat and his job. He blames China. / NYT (porous paywall)
    Yi-Wen Jiang (蔣逸文 Jiǎng Yìwén) has been a U.S. citizen for over two decades, and held an artist-in-residence position at Montclair State University in New Jersey until earlier this year, when a WeChat message he sent was construed in China as calling Chinese people pigs.
  • Palace Museum exhibit through November 15
    Gallery: Forbidden City turns 600 / Caixin
  • Confrontation with city management official in Chongqing
    Attack on Chongqing ‘Chengguan’ was self-defense, police say / Sixth Tone