We have long believed that Trump, on his way out, would do a deal on the COO of Huawei, who has been stuck in detention in Vancouver for the past two years. The motive? Our cynical view would be that it is Trump collecting favors that he can call in one day, regardless of the interests of the United States, or the legal issues in the case. Sigh. Another 50 days or so of this to go. The details are sparse, but the Department of Justice said they were discussing a resolution of the Meng case, which has also landed two Canadians in tit-for-tat jail. At issue are allegations of US-sanctions busting by Huawei in terms of its dealings with Iran, and Meng, who is the daughter of Huawei’s founder as well as being COO, was detained pending extradition to the United States to stand trial.
Also of note this week has been the furore over a composite image tweeted by a senior Chinese official referencing alleged behavior by Australian troops in Afghanistan. What is perplexing is that while they presumably want a conciliatory expression of regret of some kind from Canberra, the “wolf warrior” pressure gives Australia even less of a way back to the table than it had before. It also sparked statements of support from several other countries. Including the one that we would guess is next in line, the UK. Meanwhile, lots of other countries are watching closely how it plays out. Australia is a test case.
And then there are semi-conductors— the Achilles heel of the China tech industry. The excellent FT had an article today saying that top engineers and execs from US chip design companies are joining Chinese firms, no doubt lured by large sums of money, by which we mean USD, not RMB. Does that solve the problem? We’re not experts, but we guess it’s not that simple.
re the Ant Financial IPO—the word is that it was not the speech in which Jack Ma gave criticizing China’s financial market regulators that caused the Center to cancel what would have been one of the biggest IPOs in history, but rather a sudden realization that Ant Financial as a fintech company needs to be seriously controlled, for much the same “social good” reasons as people in the US talk of the need to rein in Facebook and Google. Perhaps. But we still think our initial reaction was pretty close—that the IPO was pulled to send a clear message to everyone including Jack, that alignment with the Center and its goals is the precondition for any money-making.
Meanwhile, the economy continues to do pretty well, the virus is well under control in China as far as we can tell, and the next question is whether China border guards will recognize Pfizer vaccine shots and the US border guard the Chinese vaccines shots? Or are we locked into 14-day quarantines for the foreseeable future?
Have a warm weekend.