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CHINA: BUSINESS AND TECH, POLITICS, CULTURE

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BUSINESS AND TECH:

More trouble for Didi
Didi Chuxing passenger ‘robbed and killed driver, dumped body under bridge’ / SCMP
“A Didi Chuxing driver has been killed by a passenger during a midnight trip in southern China, police said, in the third murder case involving the ride-hailing firm in the past six months.”
“The victim, surnamed Zhou, was robbed of over 2,000 yuan (about US$290) before being murdered and his body thrown under a bridge in Guizhou Province last week, the state-run Guiyang Evening News reported on Wednesday.”
China's Didi announces reorganization plan to address safety / Reuters
“In a post on its official WeChat account, the company said it would create two positions at the top of its leadership structure — a chief safety officer reporting to Chief Executive Cheng Wei, and a chief information security officer reporting to Chief Technology Officer Bob Zhang.”
Read on SupChina: Didi gets slammed by authorities over ride-sharing safety.Google in China
How the Chinese government is helping Google sell ads in China / The Information (paywall)
“While everyone from Google employees to regulators debate whether Google should relaunch its censored Chinese search engine, the company is continuing to grow its advertising business in China with substantial help from local Chinese governments and Communist Party officials. The officials shower the centers with incentives like free rent, according to government statements and people familiar with the deals, and promote them through elaborate ribbon-cutting ceremonies.”Venture capital outlook
China’s 2018 venture capital binge could turn into a hangover / NYT (porous paywall)
“This year, for the first time, Chinese start-ups raised more cash than their Silicon Valley counterparts, notching up $56 billion in six months. But the excitement may be cooling as the year ends, thanks to tougher regulation and a slowing economy. A shakeout could easily follow.”U.K.-China stock market link
Herbal meds, but no Manchester United: Britain’s stock link to China falls flat / WSJ (paywall)
“The Shanghai-London Stock Connect has been three years in the making, yet its early roster of participants is likely to be limited. Chinese trailblazers could include a midsize brokerage and two traditional-medicine sellers, people familiar with the program say. On the British side, banking giant HSBC Holdings PLC is the only blue chip to confirm even studying the system.”Space exploration — Moon landing on December 8?
China is about to land a spacecraft on the dark side of the moon / MIT Technology Review
“If successful, Chang’e-4 will be the first lunar lander to touch the far side of Earth’s natural satellite… The mission’s launch date hasn't been officially announced, but is rumored to take place in the early hours of December 8 Beijing time, December 7 UTC.”Huawei boxed out in U.K.
BT to strip China's Huawei from core networks, limit 5G access / Reuters
“Britain's BT Group said on Wednesday it was removing Huawei Technologies' equipment from the core of its existing 3G and 4G mobile operations and would not use the Chinese company in central parts of the next network.”India-China trade
After long years of skewed trade, China agrees to import more from India / Economic Times of India
“China is now keen to import pomegranate, grapes, soyameal, fish oil and fish meal from India apart from non-basmati rice and sugar it had decided to buy earlier.”Luxury shopping slowdown?
As China’s economy cools, luxury brands feel the chill / AP
The evidence is anecdotal, other than the fact that this year saw substantially fewer Chinese tourists heading to the U.S. for luxury shopping, but many high-end retailers say that they are seeing a slowdown from Chinese customers.
See also on SupChina: ‘Air mess’ is all right.Xiaomi tops smartwatch market
Briefing: Xiaomi overtakes Apple as top seller of wearable devices / TechNode
“Xiaomi sold more units of smart wearable devices than any other company in the world in the third quarter of 2018, grabbing more than 21% of market share. According to the International Data Corporation, Xiaomi shipped 6.9 million units in Q3, well ahead of US smartphone maker Apple, which sold 4.2 million devices.”Ye Jianming and CEFC China Energy
The rise and fall of a Belt and Road billionaire / CNN
“In the mid-1990s, Ye Jianming had a simple job in a forest, or so his story goes. Twenty years later, he sat atop a $44 billion business empire. Today, he has vanished and, as that empire crumbles, is reportedly under investigation by the Chinese government.”
Read on SupChina: End of a dealmaking spree for CEFC?.
Listen to Sinica: The saga of CEFC and China's push into Central and Eastern Europe.Social insurance laws
China employers face NEW and SEVERE punishment for failing to comply with social insurance laws / China Law Blog
“It is not news that Chinese labor authorities have been cracking down on employers that fail to make social insurance payments for their employees. What is news is that Chinese labor authorities are taking that enforcement to the next level.”Real-time factory output analytics
Saving stitches: Alibaba’s clothing revolution / Sixth Tone
“20 cameras installed in June...constantly film Banzuo’s 600-square-meter manufacturing floor. As the factory workers make clothes, the devices capture their movements and send the footage to a server placed in the factory by Alibaba. The server then uses gesture recognition technology to convert the workers’ movements into data that calculates the amount of clothing items made and sends the data to Alibaba Cloud… According to Alibaba, the 20 clothing factories currently involved in the scheme have cut delivery times by 10 percent.”Ransomware
Hackers among most vulnerable to China’s first WeChat Pay ransomware/ TechNode
“Attacks were first reported on the night of December 1, according to antivirus software provider Huorong Security. The software encrypted important files in .doc, .txt, .jpg, and other formats, and also stole 20,000 passwords and other pieces of data from Taobao and Alipay platform users, among others. The attack affected only PCs, The Paper reports, and a majority of victims were likely illicit software creators or purveyors who often don’t use security software.”Faraday Future in crisis
Faraday Future takes ‘tough decision’ to send more workers on leave / TechNode
“Some 250 more Faraday Future workers may have been placed on furlough, unnamed sources told The Verge. The company says it now has 1,000 workers globally. Before this past October, however, it employed 1,000 people in the US alone.”Communists in tech
What Communists do in China’s tech companies / Inkstone
“In China, nearly all organizations have a party committee. Chinese tech companies, the proud examples of China’s capitalist market reforms, are no exception.”Hotel cleanliness horrors
China’s hotel hygiene horror continues with new scandal / SCMP
“Weeks after some of China’s upmarket hotels were exposed for using the same soiled towels to clean drinking cups and toilets, officials have uncovered another hygiene issue at a mid-price hotel in the country’s northern province of Shanxi. Health officials from the provincial capital of Taiyuan found disinfected towels stored with shoes and half-consumed snacks during an inspection on Tuesday.”Asia finds a date with Tantan
A Tinder clone from China is taking off in the rest of Asia / Tech in Asia
“When a dating app finds success in Asia, there’s a tendency to compare it to Tinder. For Chinese dating app Tantan, though, the comparison isn’t just because of its immense popularity — it really is almost a replica of its American counterpart.”

POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:

Beijing squeezes China-based Twitter users
China steps up nationwide crackdown to silence Twitter users – the unmediated story / China Change
“If you have been with Twitter’s simplified Chinese community long enough, you know it’s nothing new that handles disappear and in some cases the persons behind them go to jail — it’s a freedom tunnel that the Chinese Communist regime is leery of. But over the last few months, and still ongoing, we keep hearing mainland tweeps reporting that they have been summoned by police who ordered them to delete tweets or accounts altogether.”African swine fever
China reports more African swine fever outbreaks in Beijing, Sichuan, Shaanxi / Reuters
“More African swine fever cases have been detected in the capital Beijing as well as in the provinces of Sichuan and Shaanxi, the agricultural ministry said on Wednesday.”Vatican-Beijing deal already going wrong?
China reneges on its deals. The Vatican is learning that the hard way. / The Atlantic
“The suspected arbitrary detention of a Vatican-appointed priest last month has reinforced worries that Beijing won’t ease its pressure on the Church but will instead use the deal to push for even more control.”Anti-corruption campaign
In Chinese corruption cases, who’s taking what? / Sixth Tone
“Despite a raft of ‘little official, big graft’ cases, high-ranking officials are still the ones raking in the big bucks.”
Nearly 350,000 Chinese cadres disciplined during Xi Jinping’s austerity campaign / SCMP
Also see a recent paper by economist Peter Lorentzen: “Personal ties, meritocracy, and China’s anti-corruption campaign.”Panama and Portugal on the Belt and Road
Panama awards China US$1.4 billion to build bridge for Belt and Road Initiative / AFP
“The government of Panama gave a Chinese consortium a US$1.4 billion contract to build a bridge over the Panama Canal, a day after a visit by President Xi Jinping on Tuesday.”
Portugal signs agreement with China on Belt and Road Initiative / SCMP
“On Tuesday, Xi told Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa that China wanted to deepen political and economic ties between the two nations, with Portugal having welcomed Chinese investment, and pushed it to agree to a memorandum of understanding on his transcontinental infrastructure building and financing strategy.”
Also see: A very odd video of Prime Minister Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa accidentally drooling as he met Xi Jinping.Sri Lanka having second thoughts about Belt and Road?
Fears grow over Chinese projects in Sri Lanka / Chinadialogue
“Locals are concerned about environmental impacts, land losses and a lack of public consultation, reports Amantha Perera.”
Read on SupChina Access (free post!): The canary in the Belt and Road coal mine.Taiwan
Embassies use ‘Taiwan’ on their Facebook pages / Taipei Times
“Several of the nation’s embassies and representative offices have updated their Facebook pages, adding ‘Taiwan’ to their names and profile pictures to promote the nation. The name change was advised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”
Chinese asylum seekers still stranded at Taiwan airport / Focus Taiwan
“Two Chinese citizens who applied for political asylum in Taiwan during a transit stop in September have not been allowed to enter the country and are still at the nation's main airport in Taoyuan, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said Wednesday.”
DPP ‘factions’ not turning on Tsai / Taipei Times
Ex-president Ma envisions peaceful, democratic unification with China / Focus TaiwanChina Daily and its links to Australia
How Australians set up Communist China's official propaganda tool / Sydney Morning Herald
“China Daily began publishing in 1981, with the assistance of Australian grants, after a deal between Beijing and the newspaper's publisher David Syme & Co.”Gene-edited babies and fertility problems
China’s HIV and infertility crisis made the gene-edited babies experiment possible / BuzzFeed News
“In China, infertility treatment is hard to come by for parents...one couple of the eight dropped out of He’s experiment. They told the Chinese magazine LifeWeek that He did not tell them that China has guidelines against gene editing. They said they were interested in his offer because they couldn’t afford IVF treatment.”Shark finning
Taiwanese boats accused of killing dolphins for shark finning / Focus Taiwan
“An international environmental group accused five Taiwanese-owned longline fishing boats on Wednesday of illegally killing dolphins to use as bait to catch sharks for shark finning, a practice it said was enabled by Taiwan's lax enforcement of laws.”History of reform and opening up
China’s economic reform: 40 years of change / FT (paywall)
A collection of graphs illustrating how China has changed since the 1970s.South Korean airspace violated?
Seoul voices concerns as more Chinese military aircraft spread their wings in South Korean air defence zone / SCMP
“South Korean authorities said a Chinese plane, possibly a Shaanxi Y-9 electronic warfare and surveillance aircraft, flew into the Korean zone Monday last week without notice. The plane entered near Socotra Rock in the Sea of Japan, or East Sea, at about 11am and flew out and into Japan’s air defense identification zone about 40 minutes later.”Alarm over Beijing’s influence in Australia
Trump's Canberra man Arthur Culvahouse vows vigilance over 'aggressive' China / Australian Financial Review
“Donald Trump's long-overdue pick for ambassador to Canberra has vowed to publicly bell the cat on efforts by an ‘aggressive’ China to drive a wedge between the United States and Australia.”
'My wife is not involved': Darwin Lord Mayor denies conflict of interest over China agreement / Australian ABC
“Darwin Lord Mayor Kon Vatskalis has denied his decision to sign a ‘cooperation agreement’ between Darwin City Council and a Chinese district was in any way related to his wife's historic links to the Chinese Government-run Confucius Institute.”Gaokao manipulation
No marks for Chinese education bosses sacked after exam results public outcry / SCMP
“Two top education officials have been fired while another two are under investigation amid accusations that grades were manipulated in China’s college entrance exams.”

SOCIETY AND CULTURE:

Live streaming and online culture in China
The People’s Republic of Desire: Inside China’s lucrative livestreaming craze / China Film Insider
“The film has gotten a wave of international attention as it races for the Oscar shortlist. The Hollywood Reporter wrote: ‘Reckoning the cost of fame…a revealing examination of contemporary Chinese internet culture.’ The film is also ‘provocative and unsettling as it brings us on a guided tour through the digital marketplace for something resembling human contact,’ commented Variety.”Strange architecture
Magnificent mountain-shaped buildings in Guangxi become new landmarks (in Chinese) / Sina News
Comment from New York Times reporter Chris Buckley on Twitter: "With contemporary Chinese architecture, your first reaction is: Why? Then you remember that the governing idea is: Why the hell not?"

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