Listen, dear readers. Did you catch it? We could’ve sworn we heard the tell-tale sound of change in the air. But what, you may ask, does that sound like?
Maybe it was the guttural moans out of Beijing’s tech-centric district of Zhongguancun, made when developers there learned that dozens (nay hundreds) of apps they’d developed for the iPhone had been infected with malware because they hadn’t the patience to download their development tools from Apple directly. But then, it was hardly the first instance of China’s tech industry pursuing speed at the expense of security–which, in the case of Tencent’s WeChat, could entail the personal information of as many as 600 million accounts.
Perhaps, then, it was the hubbub in Hong Kong over Tencent’s CEO selling off some of his shares? Yes, he of the equine appellation Pony Ma appears to have sold off a whopping US$400 million in shares of his own company. Perhaps he needed a pick-me-up after losing merger and acquisitions chief and former Googler Richard Peng, who had spearheaded 90 deals worth around US$19 billion during his seven-year tenure with the e-commerce colossus.
Perhaps it was the obsequious, near-porcine squeal of joy from one George Osborne when word came ’round that the People’s Bank of China planned to issue a yuan bond in London. But frankly we’d expect swine to fly before abject groveling ever really put a foreign dignitary in Beijing’s good graces.
Or could it have been the false laughter and applause out of Washington, where Xi Jinping was touring the town before he hit DC? No doubt American tech execs’ teeth were close to cracking from the force of their forced smiles as they heard promises that their IP and market access would be preserved. Certainly it was a strain for Boeing to rejoice over an apparent US$38 billion in orders from China, given that an unknown chunk of them had already been made before the announcement made during Xi’s visit.
Mayhaps it was the legitimate cheers from the Pearl River Delta, rejoicing at word that HSBC would be adding 4,000 employees in the region as the international bank shifts its focus to China. But no. In the end, dear readers, the sound of change was heard best in the shocked exclamations from employees of Heilongjiang Longmay Mining Holding Group when the company announced it would slash its workforce by 100,000.
No doubt the remaining 140,000 still employed at Longmay are counting their lucky stars. But perhaps they should start looking for work just in case. Change is, after all, the new normal.