Links for Thursday, July 22, 2021

Notable China news from around the world.

BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:

A multibillion-dollar fine for Didi?
Didi shares drop on report China is planning unprecedented penalties / CNBC
“Shares of Didi fell more than 8%, bringing its month-to-date losses to more than 25%…[after] Bloomberg News reported Chinese regulators are planning a slew of punishments against Didi, including a fine likely bigger than the record $2.8 billion that Alibaba paid earlier this year…The penalties could also include suspension of certain operations, delisting or withdrawal of Didi’s U.S. shares, the report said.”

Volvo to take control of China operations from parent Geely
Volvo is taking fate into its own hands. The Swedish company, which Chinese automaker Geely bought in 2010, has agreed to take full control of its China ventures from Geely, per Bloomberg.

  • The deal will allow Volvo to gain full control over its Chinese operations. It can also boost its valuation ahead of its planned share sale.
  • Volvo could raise around $20 billion in an IPO, Bloomberg reported in March.
  • Context: China is set to remove the 50% joint ownership cap on foreign automakers’ investments for gasoline-powered cars next year, after lifting the limit for electric-vehicle manufacturers in 2018.

China sends military drones to Zhengzhou City
China is sending unmanned aerial vehicles to support relief efforts in flood-ravaged Zhengzhou City, per CGTN.

  • The Wing Loong-2 is China’s flagship military drone, made by state-owned Aviation Industry Corp. of China (AVIC). It has been sold to governments such as Nigeria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Pakistan.
  • Chinese are proud of their military drones, which they claim are “self-developed.” But U.S. analysts say that the Wing Loong-2 bears a striking resemblance to the American Predator drone.

Entrepreneurs worry about overzealous “sweep black” campaign
China’s push to purge organized crime casts shadow over private businesses / WSJ (paywall)

Since its start in 2018, Mr. Xi’s push against organized crime—known as ‘sweep black and eliminate evil’ — has dismantled more than 15,000 criminal groups and detained some 237,000 suspects, including businessmen who allegedly colluded with local officials, according to state media…

Legal scholars and criminal-defense lawyers say local authorities, under pressure to deliver results, sometimes blur the lines between criminal syndicates—which face heavy penalties for severe offenses—and legitimate companies that engaged in illegal behavior.

Drones for cell service during emergencies
China uses drones to restore cell signals in flooded towns / Protocol
“In response to intensive flooding that has killed 12 and damaged infrastructure in China’s central Hunan Province, Chinese authorities did something creative: they launched specialized drones to temporarily restore cell phone signals.”

Chinese logistics firm keeps oil flowing from Iran and Venezuela
China’s CCPC takes center stage in Iran, Venezuela oil trade-sources / Reuters
“The more prominent role of China Concord Petroleum Co, also known as CCPC, and its expansion into trading with Venezuela, have not previously been reported and highlight the limitations of Washington’s system of restrictions, analysts say.”

Evergrande liquidity crisis aftershocks
Evergrande bonds pledged at 53% discount in key China funding market / Bloomberg via Caixin (paywall)
“Holders of Evergrande’s 2023 yuan bond are being forced to accept a 53% discount to pledge the note as collateral in the repo market, according to China Securities Depository and Clearing Corp. data, versus 28% in April. A markdown of around 57% of the bond’s face value was seen in the wake of the developer’s previous liquidity crisis in October.”
Evergrande stock rebounds after loan dispute settled / Caixin (paywall)

Alibaba launches what it calls its “biggest ever recruiting program for fresh graduates”
Alibaba targets fresh graduates to stay competitive in tech market / Caixin
“The Jack Ma-founded giant is offering 113 positions at Alibaba Group and its affiliates, including Ant Group, Cainiao, Alibaba Health Information Technology and Alibaba Pictures. About 45 of the jobs are available to new graduates for the first time.”

SCIENCE, HEALTH, AND ENVIRONMENT:

Non-binding guidelines for overseas enterprise urge greener projects
New guidelines suggest Chinese government wants companies to be greener when investing abroad / China-Africa Project
“Two of the country’s largest ministries, the Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Environment and Ecology, jointly published a set of guidelines [in Chinese] this week that’s purportedly intended to inform Chinese companies seeking to invest overseas on what’s expected.”

Nanjing COVID-19 cluster
China’s Nanjing city starts mass testing, suspends subway line amid new COVID-19 cluster / Reuters
“Nanjing authorities said late on Wednesday it would suspend a subway line linking the airport and a train station, and required another two lines to skip stations located in areas of higher virus risk.”
China’s Nanjing launches citywide nucleic acid testing after airport COVID-19 infections / Xinhua

A step closer to a space plane
China a step closer to developing space plane with test flight hailed as symbol of country’s rise as a ‘space superpower’ / SCMP (paywall)
A new vessel lays “a foundation for the development of a reusable hypersonic space plane.”

China’s forests paid the price for progress
From Inner Mongolia, a stark vision of our environmental sins / Sixth Tone
A film addresses the environmental costs of China’s development.

POLITICS AND FOREIGN AFFAIRS:

A permanent mass incarceration state in Xinjiang?
China can lock up 1 million Muslims in Xinjiang / BuzzFeed News
“The BuzzFeed News analysis found that by the standards outlined in the document, there is space to detain 1,014,883 people across Xinjiang. That figure does not include the more than 100 other prisons and detention centers that were built before 2016 and are likely still in operation.”
“That’s enough space to detain or incarcerate more than 1 in every 25 residents of Xinjiang simultaneously — a figure seven times higher than the criminal detention capacity of the United States, the country with the highest official incarceration rate in the world.”
Room for 10,000: Inside China’s largest detention center / AP

Urumqi No. 3 Detention Center in Dabancheng is “the largest in the country and possibly the world, with a complex that sprawls over 220 acres — making it twice as large as Vatican City.”…

“We’re moving from a police state to a mass incarceration state. Hundreds of thousands of people have disappeared from the population,” [Darren] Byler said…

…despite the claims of officials [that No. 3 was never a re-education center], the evidence shows No. 3 was indeed an internment camp. A Reuters picture of the entrance in September 2018 shows that the facility used to be called the “Urumqi Vocational Skills Education and Training Center.” Publicly available documents collected by Shawn Zhang, a law student in Canada, confirm that a center by the same name was commissioned to be built at the same location in 2017.

Aftermath of Zhengzhou flood, and continuing heavy rain
​​Floods in China leave many searching for loved ones amid outages / NYT (paywall)
“The extreme weather has killed 33 people, displaced 250,000, and caused widespread disruption.”
China flood death toll rises along with questions over infrastructure / WSJ (paywall)
“At least 33 are dead and eight are missing in Henan province, with economic losses estimated at about $190 million so far.”
Zhengzhou Metro releases details of flood tragedy, in hot water over ‘delayed’ statement / Global Times
As disaster strikes, Xi takes the headlines / China Media Project
“Raw and jarring social media accounts of flooding in the city of Zhengzhou contrasted with subdued coverage from official Party-state media. But there was another story between the lines — the complete sidelining of Premier Lǐ Kèqiáng 李克强 as Xi’s ‘important instructions’ were proclaimed.”
Trapped / China Media Project
“Among the many harrowing accounts emerging from the flood in Zhengzhou this week, one story that has gripped Chinese is that of Lu Siwei, an intern at the Freezing Point supplement of China Youth Daily who was trapped for hours with others in a flooded subway tunnel.”
China evacuates tens of thousands as storms spread north / Reuters
Yesterday on SupChina: Tech companies donate a billion yuan as Zhengzhou grapples with flood damage.

Tibetan language now subordinate to Chinese as Xi visits Lhasa
In China, Chinese now tops Tibetan / Human Rights Watch
In Tibet since at least the 1980s, “Tibetan has always been placed above Chinese on all public signboards, notices, and banners…But a team of researchers consulted by Human Rights Watch has compiled scores of photographs from the official Chinese media over the past year that all show a major change: except for older banners, Chinese is now always above the Tibetan.”
Robert Barnett on Twitter: “Another video of Xi Jinping in Lhasa. Sources are now confirming that he is there in Lhasa today, Jul 22 2021.”

Hong Kong arrests speech therapists who published children’s book
Hong Kong police arrest 5 over children’s books deemed ‘seditious’ / NYT (paywall)
Hong Kong Police Force on Twitter: “5 execs of speech therapists’ union “ARRESTED — suspected of conspiring to distribute seditious publications (kids’ storybooks sugarcoating protesters’ unlawful acts+glorifying fugitives fleeing HK etc.) with intent to corrupt the minds of 4 to 7-year-olds. 2 years in jail if convicted!”

Further crackdowns in name of Hong Kong national security
Hong Kong privacy law change will let government block social media / FT (paywall)
“The Hong Kong government will gain powers to restrict local access to the world’s biggest technology platforms under legislation to punish ‘doxing’ offences expected to be passed this year.”
Academics in Hong Kong suffer curbs on their freedoms / Economist (paywall)
HK court denies bail to Apple Daily staff facing national security charges / Reuters
London mayor issues message of support to Hong Kong migrants / AP

Hong Kong anti-protesters jailed for attacks
HK court sentences seven for 2019 attack on protesters at train station / Reuters
“A Hong Kong court on Thursday sentenced seven men to between 3-1/2 and 7 years in prison for their role in a 2019 attack on pro-democracy protesters, reporters and bystanders at a train station at the height of anti-government protests.”

“Operation Fox Hunt” targeted by U.S. Justice Department
Chinese prosecutor, ex-NYPD cop charged with stalking U.S. residents / CNBC
“A prosecutor from China, a former New York City Police Department detective sergeant and seven other people were indicted on charges related to a brazen campaign to stalk and harass U.S. residents in an effort to get one of them to return to China.”
Operation Fox Hunt: How China exports repression using a network of spies hidden in plain sight / ProPublica
“China sends covert teams abroad to bring back people accused — justifiably or not — of financial crimes. One New Jersey family was stalked as part of a global campaign that takes families hostage and pressures immigrants to serve as spies.”

No survivors of Zhuhai tunnel flood
All 14 workers lost in tunnel flood in China confirmed dead / AP
“A brief statement on the Zhuhai city government’s social media site gave no further information about the cause of the July 15 disaster or the deaths.”

Afghanistan security worries
China appoints Afghanistan special envoy as it prepares to play greater role after U.S. troop withdrawal / SCMP (paywall)

SOCIETY AND CULTURE:

The misogyny of men who pay for “virtual companions”
China’s new gaming underclass / Protocol
“They’re called peiwan [陪玩 péi wán], and they act as female companions and therapists to their online male ‘bosses.’”

Surfing in Hainan
Female surfers ride the wave to China’s Hainan island / Economist (paywall)
“For many the sport is a chance for good photo-opportunities. A few turn professional.”

Millennial love for fried chicken, from KFC to K-pop
How fried chicken captured the hearts of Chinese youth / Radii