Catch up with China
1. The Wagner Group bought two high-resolution observation satellites from a Chinese firm in 2022, allowing the Russian mercenaries to access surveillance images for its campaigns in Ukraine and Africa. (AFP)
2. In meetings with the Biden administration, American chip companies have pushed back on further chip restrictions, warning that they could derail plans to build new semiconductor factories in the US. (New York Times $)
3. Chinese chip manufacturer SMIC made $1.5 billion in revenue from American semiconductor-design companies in 2022—a fifth of its overall sales—despite being blacklisted by the US government. (Wall Street Journal $)
- The US Commerce Department added 42 more Chinese companies to its export blacklist on Friday, saying they aided Russia in the war in Ukraine. (South China Morning Post $)
4. For Chinese EV startup Nio, selling one car means losing $35,000. But government backing allows companies like Nio to withstand such losses and keep growing. (New York Times $)
5. Chinese ultra-fast-fashion company Shein appointed a former SoftBank Group executive as its vice chairman. He’s tasked with diversifying the company’s supply chain beyond China. (Wall Street Journal $)
6. A Hong Kong man was sentenced to four months in prison for importing “seditious” children’s books that portrayed the city’s democracy supporters as sheep defending their village from wolves. (The Straits Times)
Lost in translation
Since China softened its zero-covid policies almost a year ago, many Chinese companies that offer PCR test products have been forced to evolve. One company, however, has made the indecipherable decision to enter the market for precooked meals.
According to the Chinese publication Lanjing Caijing, Shenzhen Nuclear Gene Technology, a company with more than 30 testing labs across China, was at the center of a controversy last year after it was repeatedly fined by local governments for fabricating test results and not adhering to technical standards. Then in May, the company incorporated a subsidiary called Wuhan Nuclear Agriculture Technology, which now works on producing frozen meals based on rice.
The only connection between PCR tests and precooked meals is that both have been extremely trendy businesses. In recent years, the popularity of precooked food—often complicated, time-consuming dishes like grilled whole fish—has risen significantly in China among young people who don’t like to cook. The domestic market is around $58 billion now, and it’s predicted to grow to $148 billion by 2026. But people are also questioning whether it’s acceptable for restaurants to take a shortcut by turning to precooked food packages instead of developing their own recipes.
One more thing
A new study by Chinese researchers analyzed the relationship between a stock fund’s performance and the fund manager’s “facial attractiveness.” And yes, the paper actually includes a few examples of real manager faces that were given low scores by a deep-learning model for “facial beauty prediction.” Yikes. Oh, and their conclusion? “Funds with facial[ly] unattractive managers outperform funds with attractive managers by over 2% per annum.”
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