Updates: 17 – 23 May

3 min. read

THE PERSON IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK:

1. Kevin Mayer

Kevin Mayer, formerly head of streaming at Disney, resigned to join as TikTok’s CEO. Bytedance is stepping up its efforts to segregate its international products from HQ’s Chinese operations. Mayer will report directly to Bytedance Founder and CEO Zhang Yiming. (19 May)

COMPANIES YOU SHOULD KNOW:

1. Baidu

Amid rising tension between USA and China, Baidu is considering delisting from NASDAQ and moving to an exchange closer to home to boost its valuation.

2. Luckin Coffee

Luckin Coffee’s stock price plummeted another 40 per cent on Wednesday, following a delisting notice from NASDAQ (21 May).

EVENT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

Two Sessions: Key Highlights

1.       China clocked an annual GDP growth of 6.1% in 2019.

2.       No GDP target set for 2020, the first time in modern Chinese history.

3.       On Taiwan, Premier Li Keqiang dropped the word “peaceful” in front of “reunification”, departing from the standard expression used by Chinese leaders for decades.

4.       China will introduce a new national security act for Hong Kong and will ban any acts that “split the country”, subvert state powers or organize terrorist activities.

Some Widely-Discussed Topics:

1.    Equal assisted opportunities to childbirth

The current Human Assisted Reproductive Technology Regulation issued by the National Health Commission in 2003, which includes freezing of eggs, are denied to single women because of a family planning policy. Existing regulations however, do not prohibit single men from preserving their sperms in sperm banks. Proposals are put forth to expand access to reproductive methods for single women who meet qualifications, and give them equal assisted opportunities to childbirth like men.

2.    Extend paternity leave and have option for shared leave

At present, fathers are given seven to 30 days of paternity leave to undertake responsibilities of child-caring. This naturally puts a lot more pressure on mothers especially after the One-Child Policy was relaxed, where more mothers have to care for two or more children on top of juggling work demands. A phased approach is proposed: first to increase the days of paternity leave, then combining it with pre-maternity and post-maternity leave, to be shared among the parents. Parents should also be allowed to apply up to 365 days more of combined parental childcare leave. For parental leave applied in excess of the stipulated, employers should still pay parents 75 per cent of the salary in order to ease the financial demands of the families.

3.    Abandon “cool-off” period for divorces

All divorce-seeking couples need to go through a 30-day “cool-off” period before coming to a final decision. This rule could be scrapped.

4.    Increase age of consent for sexual activity

The current age of consent for sexual activity in China is 14. A few changes to this are raised:

–          Increase age of consent for sexual activity to 16.

–          Increase to age of 18 in the event that sexual consent is given to a person with guardianship (e.g. guardian, teacher).

5.    Stronger punishments for juvenile crime

Currently, the minimum age of criminal responsibility is 14 in China. For minors aged between 14 to 16, they are only conditionally liable to receiving punishment for eight severe criminal offenses – such as murder, rape, and arson.

There are several calls to put in place stricter measures and revisions to the juvenile justice system especially after two high-prolific murder cases involving a 12-year old and 13-year old. There are also proposals suggesting that parents or guardians should also be liable for gross negligence resulting in delinquent behaviour.

6.    Restrictions on employing sexual offenders

Proposals were submitted to restrict sexual offenders from entering professions in the education sector such as childcare centres. In 2019, The Supreme People’s Procuratorate announced that a national database of child sex offenders will be set up.

7.    Inaugurate a National Hygiene Day

It proposed to inaugurate a “National Hygiene Day” on every 23rd of January, the day that the city of Wuhan came to a complete lockdown.

8.    Encourage Non-Communal Dining

Beijing introduced rules on using serving cutlery at dining venues and having individually-portioned meals. A legislation is needed to mandate non-communal dining as the spread of COVID-19 was largely attributed to communal dining and sharing of food.

9.    More Impactful Ban to Wild Animal Consumption

To further deter people from consuming wild animals, there is a call for the ban to be part of the criminal law.

10.  More Severe Punishment for Violence against Healthcare Professionals

More severe punishments were proposed to be meted out to whoever causes bodily injury or death by doing an act with the intention of causing death to healthcare professionals, on top of the offense of culpable homicide. This is especially important after a man assaulted a doctor in Beijing that left the doctor with nerve damage to one of his hands.

PROPOSALS FROM ENTREPRENEURS:

1.       Pony Ma, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Tencent

Even though Ma will be missing this year’s Two Sessions he pushed for seven ideas for the committees to consider. He suggested the following:

a)       Strengthen the top-down design
b)      Strategize a national-level system for Industrial Internet
c)       Prioritize “New Infrastructure” development
d)      Digital transformation in all industries
e)      Smart Cities
f)       Constant digital innovation
g)      Improve cyber security

Ma also strongly encouraged focus on the breakthroughs in the Industrial Internet, and for China to establish international standards for an Industrial Internet Platform in order to advance domestic digitalization and digital transformation in various industries. He posits that adoption of apps and cloud technology will be the way forward to achieve a truly “contactless” economy.

2.       Robin Li, Co-founder and CEO of Baidu

Li proposed the following:

a)       Accelerate development in international-level AI “New Infrastructure”
b)      Strengthen grooming of talents in AI and its applications
c)       Encourage adoption of autonomous open-source education platforms in all industries
d)      Encourage utilization of intelligent cloud engineering and support open-source platforms in order to achieve industrial intelligence

3.       Zhu Mingyue, Founder and CEO of Zhubajie.com

Zhu was particularly concerned about the lack of talents in areas of digital economy and pointed out higher-education institutions failed to integrate practicality and application into the curriculum. With that, he made three suggestions:

a)       University education should focus on digital economy and training digital capabilities
b)      Key industry players should be involved in the process of cultivating such digital talents
c)       Sichuan and Chongqing should establish a shared service platform for digital talents