China

Regional News • Asia • China
Billionaire Alibaba founder Jack Ma makes first public appearance in three months
Jack Ma
Jack Ma Credit: JD Lasica (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Jack Ma, the Chinese billionaire internet entrepreneur suspected missing, has made his first public appearance in three months. The short speech is Ma’s first public appearance since October 24 when he made a speech at the Shanghai finance forum. In the speech, Ma criticised Chinese financial regulation and called for reform.

Ma's low profile since, which included pulling out of his own show African Business Heroes, led to speculation that he was "missing."

Climate & Environment
Research: Chilli makes solar cells more effective
Research: Chilli makes solar cells more effective
Credit: unsplash.com / Possessed Photography

The plant substance capsaicin makes chilies hot and it makes solar cells more effective, as scientists from Sweden and China have now discovered: capsaicin is said to minimize power loss and make solar cells more resistant to water. They have processed capsaicin in a perovskite solar cell.

This type of solar cell is seen as the hope for a new generation of photovoltaic systems. They are easy to manufacture with inexpensive materials. Adding the chili ingredient increased the solar cell's efficiency from 19.1 to nearly 22 percent.

Regional News • World
Independent review panel criticises China and WHO for acting too slowly on Covid-19
Temperature monitoring area at Beijing Capital International Airport, 31/03/2020
Temperature monitoring area at Beijing Capital International Airport, 31/03/2020 Credit: N509FZ, via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response has criticised China and the World Health Organization for not having acted fast enough to avert catastrophe during the early stages of the Covid-19 outbreak. The Switzerland-based panel added that there was "potential for early signs to have been acted on more rapidly" in China at the start of the crisis.

"What is clear to the panel is that public health measures could have been applied more forcefully by local and national health authorities in China in January (2020)," the report said.

Regional News • World
WHO team blocked from entering China to study origins of Covid-19
WHO team blocked from entering China to study origins of Covid-19
Credit: Yann Forget (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)

A World Health Organization (WHO) team was denied entry to China to study the origions of Covid-19 in Wuhan, citing a lack of visa clearances.

"I have been assured that China is speeding up the internal procedure for the earliest possible deployment," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters on Tuesday, adding that he was "very disappointed" that China had not yet finalized the permissions for the team's arrivals "given that two members had already begun their journeys and others were not able to travel at the last minute".

Regional News • Americas • United States
Trump claims Covid-19 number of the "China Virus is far exaggerated", US Surgeon General contradicts claim
Trump claims Covid-19 number of the "China Virus is far exaggerated", US Surgeon General contradicts claim
Credit: @realDonaldTrump via twitter

After President Donald Trump claimed Sunday that the number of Covid-19 infections and deaths of the "China Virus is far exaggerated" because of the CDC's "ridiculous method of determination", US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams responded that there was "no reason to doubt" the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's statistics.

"From a public health perspective, I have no reason to doubt those numbers," Adams said in an interview with CNN. "And I think people need to be very aware that it's not just about the deaths, as we talked about earlier. It's about the hospitalizations, the capacity. These cases are having an impact in an array of ways and people need to understand there's a finish line in sight, but we've got to keep running toward it."

Business • Health Care
Chinese Covid-19 vaccine shows efficacy of 79 per cent
Chinese Covid-19 vaccine shows efficacy of 79 per cent
Credit: Ashley Winkler for Pendect

Pharmaceutical company Sinopharm is the first manufacturer in China to announce details of the efficacy of its Corona vaccine. The company said that the vaccine is expected to provide more than 79 percent protection against Covid-19 (79.34 percent).

The release of the data is an important step toward final approval of the vaccine, doses of which have already been secured by countries outside China.

Regional News • Asia • China
Sinopharm Coronavirus vaccine approved in China

The Coronavirus vaccine from state-owned Sinopharm was approved by China’s health authorities, s promising to provide the general public with free vaccination. China plans to vaccinate 50 million people with the Sinopharm vaccine before February's Lunar New Year celebrations.

"Vaccine is a public good by its nature, and the price may vary based on the scale of use, but an important premise is that it will be provided to the public for free," Zeng Yixin, vice-minister of China's National Health Commission said.

Regional News • World
EU and China strengthen economic cooperation
EU and China strengthen economic cooperation
Credit: unsplash.com / Guillaume Périgois

China and the EU have reached a political agreement in principle on a new investment agreement. Among other things, the agreement is intended to improve market access for European companies in China and ensure fairer competitive conditions. The agreement had been under negotiation since 2013. Most recently, China had made concessions on the contentious issue of labor rights. The communist leadership has promised to make "lasting and sustained efforts" to ratify two conventions of the International Labor Organization (ILO) against forced labor. As the world's most populous country with some 1.4 billion people, China is an important trade and economic partner for the EU. Last year, goods worth an average of 1.5 billion euros were traded daily between the two economic areas.

Business • Markets
China pushes Alibaba founder Jack Ma to break up his fintech empire
Jack Ma
Jack Ma Credit: JD Lasica (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0)

Chinese regulators want Jack Ma's Ant Group to go back to its digital payment roots, stating Ant's corporate governance was "not sound". The Ant Group started as Alipay, which became China’s largest digital payment platform, though it eventually expanded to offer investment and savings accounts and lending, insurance and wealth management services.

The latest salvo in Beijing's battle against Ma - who had been feted as China's greatest modern-day entrepreneur until he started speaking out against strict regulations - wiped 8% off the value of Alibaba's share price in Hong Kong trading on Monday.

In November, Chinese regulators blocked Ant’s $37 billion IPO just two days before dealing was due to begin in Shanghai and Hong Kong.

Health
More Than 1.1 Million People Have Been Vaccinated Globally
More Than 1.1 Million People Have Been Vaccinated Globally
Credit: Ashles Winkler for Pendect

The first Covid-19 shots have been given to more than 1.1 million people in four countries. Other countries have gotten a head start on vaccinations. China and Russia authorized their own shots in July and August, before they’d been fully tested. Since then, they’ve vaccinated hundreds of thousands of people.

Regional News • Asia • China
China to vaccinate 50m people in high-priority group by Lunar New Year
China to vaccinate 50m people in high-priority group by Lunar New Year
Credit: Illustration by Ashley Winkler for Pendect (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Reuters is reporting that China plans to vaccinate 50 million people by the Lunar New Year in mid-February, with the Sichuan province starting the vaccination roll-out by early January. High-priority groups will receive the Covid-19 vaccination by Chinese firms Sinopharm and Sinovac Biotech Ltd first, these include health workers, police officers, firefighters, customs officers, cargo handlers, transport and logistics workers.

Regional News • Asia • China
Report: Hundreds of Thousands of Uyghurs Forcibly Used in Cotton Harvesting
Report: Hundreds of Thousands of Uyghurs Forcibly Used in Cotton Harvesting
Credit: unsplash.com / Trisha Downing

Hundreds of thousands of members of ethnic minorities are being forced to work in cotton fields in China's Xinjiang province, according to a report. In 2018, at least 570,000 people were reportedly forced to harvest cotton in three Uyghur-majority regions in Xinjiang as part of a government forced labor program, the Center For Global Policy report said Monday, citing government documents.

Transportation • Air Transportation & Traffic, Flying
Cabin crew asked to wear nappies to "reduce virus risk"
Cabin crew asked to wear nappies to "reduce virus risk"
Credit: unsplash/@ewxy

The Chinese aviation regulator has sparked some controversy today by requesting that cabin crew wear disposable nappies, and refrain from using onboard toilets to reduce the risk of catching COVID-19.

This advice has been published in a new guideline book for airlines under 'personal protective equipment'.

The regulator was quick to point out that this requirement is only for flights into high COVID-19 areas; where infection exceeds 500 per 1 million people.

Technology • Smartphones, Hardware & Gadgets
Gionee convicted of installing malware on over 20 million smartphones
Gionee convicted of installing malware on over 20 million smartphones
Credit: Maurizio Pesce from Milan, Italia, / via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Gionee, a Chinese manufacturer of low-cost smartphones, has been found guilty by the Chinese courts of installing malware on more than 20 million devices it sold between December 2018 and October 2019.

According to the report, the company used a subsidiary to plant a "Trojan horse" to carry ads without the users' permission.

Technology • Internet & Web
Second judge says Trump has no legal basis for a TikTok ban
Second judge says Trump has no legal basis for a TikTok ban
Credit: Ashles Winkler for Pendect

Federal Judge Carl Nichols has decided that the U.S. Department of Commerce has no sufficient legal basis for prohibiting ByteDance, the Chinese parent company of TikTok, from holding infrastructure and data for the operation of the social media application in the United States.

The Trump administration used as a basis for its action a 1977 law granting the U.S. president broad emergency powers in the event of extraordinary dangers from abroad. However, this provision expressly prohibits the president from restricting the import and export of information or information material or personal communications. TikTok clearly falls into this category, Judge Nichols now stressed.

Regional News • Asia
Indonesia receives 1.2m Covid-19 vaccine doses from China's Sinovac Biotech Ltd.
Indonesia receives 1.2m Covid-19 vaccine doses from China's Sinovac Biotech Ltd.
Credit: Illustration by Ashley Winkler for Pendect

Indonesia has received its first shipment of China's Sinovac Biotech Ltd.'s Covid-19 vaccine on Sunday, so Indonesia's President Joko Widodo, while the country's food and drug agency have yet to evaluate the vaccine. Indonesia received 1.2 million doses in a first shipment but is set to receive another 1.8 million doses by January.

Regional News • Asia
Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong sentenced to prison
Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong sentenced to prison
Credit: Honcques Laus / via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons CC0 Waiver)

Joshua Wong has been sentenced to thirteen and a half months in prison, and the co-defendants Agnes Chow and Ivan Lam have been sentenced to ten and seven months in prison, respectively. This was decided by a court in Hong Kong's Kowloon district. The prosecution had accused the three of having participated in an unauthorized demonstration last year against the growing influence of the Chinese leadership in Hong Kong.

Health
Covid-19 may have been in US weeks earlier than initially thought, study finds
Covid-19 may have been in US weeks earlier than initially thought, study finds
Credit: unsplash/Louis Reed

Covid-19 may have been present in the United States weeks earlier than scientists and public health officials previously thought and before the first cases were publicly reported in China, a new study suggests.

The first Covid-19 case was officially confirmed on January 21 in the state of Washington, a patient who recently had returned from Wuhan. Scientists from the US CDC have published their research in the peer-reviewed medical journal 'Clinical Infectious Diseases, suggesting that "SARS-CoV-2 infections may have been present in the U.S. in December 2019, earlier than previously recognized." Their conclusion was based off routine blood samples collected by the Red Cross between December 13 and January 17, 2019, from residents of nine states.

Regional News • Asia • China
Four Chinese doctors sentenced to prison for organ harvesting

Four doctors have been sentenced to prison for illegally harvesting organs from deceased patients. According to the court documents, the doctors and two additional accomplices made the families of the donors sign fake organ donation consent forms and then extracted the organs of the deceased person.

Under Chinese law, organ donation is only permitted under the supervision of the Red Cross Society of China (RCSC). The medical professionals have been jailed for between 10 and 28 months.

Regional News • Americas • United States
Chinese President Xi Jinping congratulated Joe Biden on election as U.S. president
President Xi Jinping
President Xi Jinping Credit: Global Panorama (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

The Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a message on Wednesday to congratulate Joe Biden on being elected U.S. president.