Links for Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Notable China news from around the world.

BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:

Alibaba lets WeChat Pay past its “walls”
Alibaba offers WeChat Pay on some apps at Beijing’s behest / Bloomberg (paywall)
“Alibaba added rival Tencent’s payment system to some of its apps, further widening cracks in the internet giants’ walled-off ecosystems.”
China’s assault on Big Tech’s ‘walled gardens’ / Caixin (paywall)

China’s largest psychiatric hospital to IPO
Kangning Hospital, China’s largest psychiatric hospital, is going public on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, per 36Kr (in Chinese).

  • Kangning Hospital was founded in 1997 by a Wenzhou couple who were frustrated at the lack of access to mental healthcare in China.
  • The hospital began with only four employees, and has now grown to become the largest psychiatric hospital in China, with more than 30 branches and revenues of more than 1 billion yuan ($154 million) a year.

Related: In September, ByteDance led a 200 million yuan funding round for Haoxingqing Clinic (literally, “good mood clinic”) in the largest financing for a mental health startup yet.

The crypto crunch
China crypto investors are buying more as Beijing circles / Bloomberg (paywall)
“Some Chinese cryptocurrency holders remain undeterred even after a further crackdown on their industry roiled markets Friday.”
Cryptocurrency/China: Loophole closure is bad for exchanges / FT (paywall)
“China-focused Huobi cannot expect to offset fully its client losses.”
Shares linked to crypto exchange Huobi slump as mainland users face expulsion / Caixin (paywall)

PBOC pledges protection, and more on the Evergrande fallout
China Evergrande’s wealth management arm faces local government inquiry / Reuters
“The Shenzhen government is investigating a unit of Chinese developer Evergrande, the city’s financial regulator told investors on Monday, in the first sign of an official inquiry into the wealth management crisis at the real estate giant.”
China asking state-backed firms to pick up Evergrande assets / Reuters
“Beijing is prodding government-owned firms and state-backed property developers such as China Vanke to purchase some of embattled Evergrande’s assets, people with knowledge of the matter said.”
PBOC promises to protect consumers as China Evergrande teeters / Reuters
Hong Kong asks banks to report exposure to China Evergrande / Bloomberg (paywall)
Hong Kong banks have limited exposure to stressed Chinese developers / Reuters
In depth: How Evergrande’s founder played the capital markets / Caixin (paywall)

Sunac tries to dodge Evergrande contagion
Sunac isn’t Evergrande—But it is on shaky ground / WSJ (paywall)
“Sunac rode China’s property boom up. Now it could follow it back down.”
Sunac leads rebound in Chinese property stocks / WSJ (paywall)
Chinese developer Sunac seeks to avoid Evergrande contagion / FT (paywall)

Robots for ecommerce deliveries
Pandemic pushes Chinese tech giants to roll out more courier robots / Reuters
“More than a thousand robots are set to join the delivery personnel ranks of Chinese behemoths Alibaba, Meituan, and JD.com over the next year as the pandemic fuels demand for contactless services.”

Boeing and GAMECO to build freighters from old passenger planes
Boeing and GAMECO to set up two 767 freighter conversion lines in China / Reuters
“Airlines and leasing firms have been rushing to permanently convert older passenger jets into freighters since the start of the pandemic, betting on a boom in ecommerce as the value of used planes tumbles.”

Developers pull back after weak Guangzhou land auctions
Weak Guangzhou land auctions show developers pulling back / Caixin (paywall)
“Poor results in land auctions held in southern China’s Guangzhou city show developers pulling back as regulators’ efforts to rein in the real estate sector coincide with an imminent collapse of one of country’s largest developers, China Evergrande Group.”

The silver dollar: WeChat rolls out big fonts and buttons for the elderly
WeChat rolls out elderly ‘Care Mode’ as Tencent answers the call for an internet friendlier to China’s ageing population / SCMP (paywall)
“When ‘Care Mode’ is enabled in WeChat, fonts and buttons are enlarged and the color scheme is changed to make objects easier to see for the visually impaired.”

China’s economy is not “stable” or “sustainable,” as institutions cut China’s growth
East Asia’s economies face slowing growth and rising inequality, World Bank warns / WSJ (paywall)
World Bank lifts China view, slashes Asia outlook on Delta wave / Bloomberg (paywall)
Goldman cuts China’s GDP growth forecast amid energy constraints / Bloomberg (paywall)
China’s housing bubble puts all other housing bubbles to shame / Bloomberg (paywall)

Burned BlackRock wants to play in Chinese markets again
BlackRock says dipping toes back into Chinese equity market / Reuters

Phone companies have so far failed at cars. Can a car company succeed at phones?
Geely chairman’s smartphone project aims for 2023 product launch / Reuters
“A smartphone venture launched by the chairman of Chinese automaker Zhejiang Geely aims to roll out its first phone by 2023 and to sell 3 million units in the first year, according to an internal memo seen by Reuters.”

French and Chinese energy giants join up for electric transport
TotalEnergies, China Three Gorges to form electric mobility venture in China / Reuters
“France’s TotalEnergies said on Tuesday it has signed an agreement with China Three Gorges Corporation to establish a joint venture in electric mobility in China.”

HNA tries to climb out of debt hole
HNA seeks to repay less than half of debt claims sought against airline unit / Caixin (paywall)
“Debt-plagued Chinese conglomerate HNA has disclosed a plan to repay less than half of the billions in debt claims creditors have sought from its airline business, after the unit secured a strategic investor earlier this month as part of its bankruptcy restructuring.”

CIMC to buy Danish Maersk’s refrigerated containers
China’s CIMC to buy Maersk’s cold container business for $1.1bn / Nikkei Asia (paywall)

China’s top brewer looks beyond beers
China’s top brewer extends reach beyond shrinking beer market / Nikkei Asia (paywall)
“As changing consumer tastes threaten to erode China’s beer sales, the nation’s top brewer [CR Beer, which produces best-selling Snow Beer] is rushing to diversify its product lineup, by branching out into traditional liquor and developing non-alcoholic offerings.”

Morgan Stanley China boss steps down
Morgan Stanley’s top female executive in Asia to retire / WSJ (paywall)
Wei Sun Christianson “has been Morgan Stanley’s China CEO since 2006 and its Asia-Pacific co-chief executive since 2011.”
See SupChina Q&A with Christianson in April this year.

SCIENCE, HEALTH, AND ENVIRONMENT:

China unveils drones, rockets, and more at air show
China unveils high-speed drone that can fly for almost 24 hours / Bloomberg (paywall)
“A high-altitude, long-endurance drone that can fly for around 20 hours and reach top speeds of 700 kph (435 mph) was one of the flying gadgets unveiled at Airshow China 2021 in the southern city of Zhuhai on Tuesday.”
China airshow trumpets domestic defense industry’s ascent / Nikkei Asia (paywall)
China plans to unveil drones, moon rocket at air show / AP

China’s rooftops don solar panels
Rooftop solar to roll out on China’s public buildings / Sixth Tone
“The latest county-level trials could boost rooftop solar power generation over the next five years but new business models are needed to make them successful.”

How super-strength graphene tests national security
How ‘wonder material’ graphene became a national security concern / Guardian
“The U.K. and China are racing to develop forms of the super-strength technology that has potential aerospace and weaponry uses.”

Shenzhen’s wandering whale
The life and legacy of a wandering whale / Sixth Tone
“For two months, Shenzhen was captivated by a lonesome Bryde’s whale that had made a coastal bay its home.”

Hong Kong has no autonomy over COVID-19 rules
Hong Kong’s ‘hands are tied’ on COVID-19 rules, top adviser says / Bloomberg (paywall)
“Hong Kong is stuck between China’s zero-tolerance approach to the coronavirus and the west’s reopening, and it has no clear idea how to satisfy Beijing’s demands so cross-border travel can resume, a top adviser to the city’s leader says.”

POLITICS AND FOREIGN AFFAIRS:

American siblings on three-year “exit ban” in China finally allowed to return to the U.S.
American siblings barred from leaving China for 3 years return to U.S. / NYT (paywall)
“Their release coincided with an agreement on Friday that cleared the way for a senior executive of Huawei Technologies, the Chinese telecommunications giant, to return to China.”
China says U.S. pair were legally stopped from leaving country / Bloomberg (paywall)
“China said a three-year prohibition on two American siblings from leaving its borders was legal even though they faced no criminal charges, a stance intended to counter accusations Beijing has used ‘exit bans’ to force people to cooperate.”
China releases two U.S. citizens blocked from leaving since 2018 / WSJ (paywall)
U.S. siblings Victor and Cynthia Liu finally leave China as exit ban is lifted / SCMP (paywall)

Behind Meng Wanzhou’s release
Xi Jinping raised Meng Wanzhou case in talks with Joe Biden / SCMP (paywall)
“China confirmed on Tuesday that Xí Jìnpíng 习近平 demanded the U.S. resolve the saga over Huawei Technologies executive Meng Wanzhou, during a phone call with his U.S. counterpart Joe Biden earlier this month.”
Huawei executive’s return to China: How the deal came off / WSJ (paywall)
“Mèng Wǎnzhōu’s 孟晚舟 shift paved way for U.S. prosecutors to get an acknowledgment of wrongdoing — and for Canada to get two of its citizens out of China.”
Meng Wanzhou’s return clears one roadblock to a reset / SCMP (paywall)

Is China’s push to reduce abortions “forcing pregnancies”?
China’s vow to reduce abortions sparks public worries / NYT (paywall)
“The short mention in a sweeping health plan lacked specifics, but it set off concerns in a country with a history of intrusive reproductive policies.”
“It did not specify how the government would encourage that reduction or whether it would involve restrictions on access to abortions; the plan also promised to increase women’s access to birth control.”
Yesterday on SupChina: China vows to reduce ‘medically unnecessary’ abortions — allegedly for the benefit of women.

China lays out 10-year plan for gender equality
China calls for greater gender equality in work, politics, and home / Sixth Tone
“China’s Cabinet, the State Council, on Monday unveiled the new 10-year plan for the development of women.”

Jihad
A history of the Islamic State’s media warfare against China / Militant Wire
“The Islamic State movement’s media approach towards Beijing has been distinctly bellicose, and the organization has been notably explicit in its criticisms and threats.”

China’s corruption watchdog finds another target
Ex-regulator accused of taking bribes while overseeing state takeover of bank / Caixin (paywall)
Lǐ Guóróng 李国荣, “a former banking regulator in Southwest China’s Sichuan Province, is accused of taking bribes while serving as a senior executive responsible for the takeover of troubled Baoshang Bank, China’s top anti graft agency unveiled on Monday.”

China blasts “dangerous” WTO solar panel ruling
China calls WTO ruling ‘dangerous’ in solar cell row with U.S. / Reuters
“China lambasted a WTO ruling in a row with the United States over Washington’s measures to limit the import of solar panel cells, calling it ‘erroneous and dangerous’ on Monday.”

China-NATO phone call
Don’t be ‘fooled by lies and rumors,’ China tells NATO / SCMP (paywall)
“‘China was not, and will not be, a rival to Nato,’ Foreign Minister Wáng Yì 王毅 tells leader of transatlantic alliance in first-ever call.”
China, NATO officials discuss Afghanistan, regional tensions / AP
Politico journalist Stuart Lau on Twitter: “This is interesting: NATO publishes its statement on the Stoltenberg-Wang call IN CHINESE

AUKUS, the Quad, and allegiances in the Indo-Pacific
AUKUS is the Indo-Pacific pact of the future / WSJ (paywall)
Walter Russell Mead, who wrote an article that the WSJ titled “China is the real sick man of Asia,” which enraged Beijing, proposes that a “bloc that shares technology and coordinates defense policies that includes Japan, India, Taiwan and the AUKUS countries would be a formidable force.”
Japan Premier hopeful charts collision course with China / Bloomberg (paywall)
Taiwan’s new Kuomintang leader keeps party on China-friendly track / Nikkei Asia (paywall)
The Quad countries pledge to promote an Indo-Pacific region that is ‘undaunted by coercion’ / CNBC

Journalist, activist in police custody over “subversion”
Journalist, labor activist under residential surveillance for ‘subversion’: Rights group / RFA
“Feminist journalist Sophia Huang [黄雪琴 Huáng Xuěqín] and fellow activist Wáng Jiānbīng [王坚兵] are in the custody of police in the southern Chinese province of Guangzhou, preventing Huang’s planned departure to study overseas, the Chinese rights group Weiquanwang reported on Monday.”

Beijing eggs on Hong Kong crackdown
China says Hong Kong crackdown ‘must continue’ after vigil organizer disbands / RFA
“Chinese public security minister Zhao Kezhi called on Hong Kong police to keep up their crackdown on ‘radical secessionists,’ according to the Global Times.”

SOCIETY AND CULTURE:

Even jump-roping for kids is competitive
In China, even jump-rope is competitive — so parents pay for lessons / WSJ (paywall)
“Grade-school students nationwide must pass an annual rope-skipping exam, costing children who can’t easily jump and twirl rope at the same time.”

Chinese students make their way back to the U.S.
Chinese students head back to U.S. as COVID-19 entry limits ease / SCMP (paywall)

The high costs of single motherhood: Cross-border babies
A woman’s quest for motherhood. A cross-border trade in babies. / Sixth Tone
“The one-child policy may be gone, but plenty of Chinese women still struggle to shape their families the way they want. As a result, Jin and other people in similar circumstances are pushed into legal gray areas — with repercussions beyond China’s borders.”

Mazu, China’s sea goddess
The woman who became a goddess / Sixth Tone
“It has been said that, ‘wherever there are Chinese people, Mazu can be found.’”

How a tale of a nymph highlights China’s feminine side
The TV show highlighting Chinese culture’s feminine side / Sixth Tone
“Locked in competition with neighboring Shaanxi, the central Henan Province has sought to spotlight the beauty and grace of traditional Chinese culture, instead of its raw power.”