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SITUATION REPORTDec 28, 2020 | 20:33 GMT
China: Regulators Reportedly Want Ant Group to Refocus on Payment Products
The People’s Bank of China issued a statement on Dec. 27 criticizing the governance and certain business practices of Ant Group, the financial unit of the e-commerce giant Alibaba, following a recent meeting between bank officials, Chinese financial regulators and company representatives. China’s regulators reportedly want Ant Group to focus its efforts on payments while reducing its efforts on lending, wealth management products and other financial products that it has begun offering in recent years.
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AssessmentsOct 15, 2020 | 16:08 GMT
A close-up view shows the Alipay logo in Ant Group’s office in Shanghai, China, on Aug. 28, 2020.
The U.S. Sets Its Eyes on Chinese Fintech Companies
The U.S. government will likely increase restrictions on the use of Chinese payment systems in the United States, but any decisions regarding broader action on Chinese data acquisition is unlikely ahead of the U.S. election in November. On Sept. 30, senior Trump administration officials reportedly discussed imposing new restrictions on WeChat Pay and Alipay -- the two payment apps owned by the Chinese fintech giants Tencent and Ant Group, respectively. Some White House officials have advocated for wider restrictions that could affect the use of the payment apps outside the United States as part of the administration’s push to limit China’s overall access to the U.S. market due to national security concerns. But any initial U.S. restrictions will likely be limited to WeChat Pay and Alipay’s specific use in the United States and its access to U.S. technology in order to limit the risk of provoking Chinese retaliation and/or self-inflicted
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SnapshotsAug 18, 2020 | 14:46 GMT
The U.S. Broadens Its Tech Battle With China
The United States' move to expand export controls against Huawei’s cloud-computing affiliates indicates its pressure campaign against Chinese telecommunications and internet companies is evolving to include a wider spectrum of information technologies. On Aug. 17, the U.S. Commerce Department added a total of 38 new Huawei affiliates to its entity list, which increases U.S. export controls. The added companies include 22 of Huawei’s cloud-computing subsidiaries, such as Huawei Cloud Computing Technology and Huawei Cloud France, as well as several of its OpenLab units that promote research and development collaboration overseas. 
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SnapshotsAug 7, 2020 | 20:48 GMT
With Tech Bans and Hong Kong Sanctions, Trump Hits China With a One-Two Punch
In the United States' pressure campaign against China, President Donald Trump's threshold for action is decreasing and his tolerance for risk of blowback to U.S. economic interests appears to be rising -- a trend confirmed by the White House's move to both restrict transactions by U.S. entities with China's TikTok and WeChat apps, as well as impose sanctions against Chinese and Hong Kong officials involved in the Hong Kong crisis. Such blowback includes the impact of U.S. restrictions on U.S. businesses in China, as well as the threat of Chinese retaliation. Although both of these moves are part of a long-term bipartisan trend towards greater confrontation with China, U.S. President Donald Trump's electoral challenges will lead to an increasingly volatile dynamic ahead of the November vote, even as he tries to walk the line of preserving, at least in name, the U.S.-China trade deal as a key campaign promise. 
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AssessmentsFeb 7, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
An employee sits in the showroom of an Apple store in Beijing after it closed for the day on Feb. 1, 2020.
The Coronavirus Spreads Fears of a Shutdown in China's Tech Sector
Without question, the new coronavirus has taken a toll on China and many other places in the world, infecting at least 30,600 people and killing 633 as of Feb. 7. But only now, as the Lunar New Year holiday draws to a close, is Beijing preparing to assess just how much economic damage the coronavirus outbreak has wrought, especially as China is central to the global electronics and information technology sector. Ultimately, the breadth of the impact depends on how far the virus spreads beyond its current location. Hubei province and its capital, Wuhan, are not critical nodes for the vast majority of China's electronics sector. But neighboring provinces, including Shaanxi, Henan and Jiangxi, are home to cities that are prominent in the global technology sector, while the provinces with the second and third most confirmed cases so far, Zhejiang and Guangdong, are arguably China's two most critical areas for tech.
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On GeopoliticsNov 1, 2019 | 09:30 GMT
The national flags of China and the United States.
By Mixing Tech and Human Rights Sanctions on China, the White House Crosses the Rubicon
Conspicuously absent from an emerging China-U.S. trade truce is the outstanding issue of U.S. export restrictions against Huawei. The omission reveals an uncomfortable and growing reality for U.S. tech firms: Politically convenient trade truces will come and go, but the strategic competition between the United States and China is deepening. Technology is a fundamental component of this broader rivalry, which also makes it a radioactive element in the trade talks and a prime target for China hawks advocating a decoupling of the U.S. and Chinese economies. At this stage of the competition, national security, human rights and sovereignty are getting mashed together along with American public attitudes on how to contend with China when it comes to shaping U.S. policy. As a result, the political room to negotiate on an issue like Huawei is narrowing by the day, driving a more hard-line U.S. policy toward China overall.
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Partner PerspectivesAug 16, 2019 | 10:00 GMT
Beyond 5G networks like the one Huawei is helping build in Cambodia with partner Smart Axiata, Chinese companies are aggressively building cloud computing and ecommerce businesses to serve markets in Southeast Asia.
Follow the Digital Silk Road
China’s tech prowess offers business opportunities – but also security concerns – for Southeast Asian nations. So how will the United States respond?
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AssessmentsJun 7, 2019 | 06:19 GMT
This picture taken on Feb. 20, 2019, shows job seekers looking at employment postings at a recruitment fair in Qingdao in China's eastern Shandong province.
Beijing Makes a Push To Keep China Working at All Costs
One of the principal tools at the disposal of Chinese leaders to preserve social stability and bolster political capital is (and always has always been) employment. But their ability to fulfill the ideal of near-universal employment in China has diminished over the past few months under the strains of a cooling economy and the challenges brought by a trade war with the United States. In the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis, when tens of million low-end manufacturing workers lost their jobs as exports suffered, Chinese authorities led an intense effort to diversify the economy by building up the service sector and inland industrial bases. With few other policy paths available to hedge against social disruption, Beijing turned to expansive monetary and fiscal stimulus to soften the unemployment picture, but that strategy exacted a high price. Debt soared, financial and real estate bubbles swelled, and local governments, swimming in red
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On GeopoliticsApr 25, 2019 | 09:00 GMT
A telecommunications antenna tower stands tall against a blank sky.
The Age of Splinternet: The Inevitable Fracturing of the Internet
In 2001, a young Jeff Bezos -- whose Amazon had yet to turn a quarterly profit -- said in an interview, "I very much believe the internet is indeed all it is cracked up to be." Now, 18 years later, the emphasis should be placed on how "cracked up" the Internet could become. The concept of a "splinternet" or the "balkanization of the Internet" -- in which the global internet would be carved up into smaller internets due to rules and regulations -- has existed for years. But we're now barreling toward a point where concept will become reality.
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AssessmentsJan 2, 2019 | 09:30 GMT
Data Privacy and AI Ethics Stepped to the Fore in 2018
Data privacy took center stage in 2018. The European Union's General Data Protection Regulation went into effect, numerous Silicon Valley executives testified before Congress following Facebook's fall from grace and the tech race between China and the United States kicked into full gear. As artificial intelligence and the data sets that ground it become more and more ubiquitous, countries and regions will work to define standards and ethics surrounding not only personal data privacy but other uses of data and artificial intelligence as well.
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AssessmentsSep 14, 2018 | 09:00 GMT
A container ship is docked at the Mexican port of Lazaro Cardenas in Michoacan state on April 4, 2017.
Can Blockchain Technology Bring Smooth Seas to Global Shipping?
There are a handful of technologies that, if widely adopted, have the potential to revolutionize how the world works. Distributed ledger technology is one such invention, and shipping is an industry that would obviously benefit from adopting blockchain and other distributed ledger technologies. Given shipping's struggles and its vulnerability to geopolitical risk, creating a transparent, distributed ledger that would remove middlemen and increase efficiencies could help the industry evolve and improve economically. To reap the benefits, however, the constraints of widespread adoption must be overcome. This challenge highlights a broader struggle to influence global standards across many emerging technologies, a struggle that often pits the United States (more broadly the West) against China. The use of blockchain in global shipping is no different.
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