To start off, we’re looking into:
Lee’s SCMP interview
Throughout the pandemic, Hong Kong has kept some of the strictest COVID rules in the world as it keeps to its dynamic zero COVID strategy. This stance has led to a mass exodus of expats as well as backlash from the business community, with many saying that the city would lose its international edge if it didn’t loosen its regulations. Since the end of the fifth wave, a travel ban on non-residents that are fully vaxxed was lifted last month, but all travelers still need to hotel quarantine for seven days.
Now in an interview with SCMP, incoming leader John Lee has said that he will try to make it easier to travel to Hong Kong without creating extra risk for mainland China, the border opening that remains the city’s priority. No specifics on how both would be achieved were mentioned, but a source familiar with the situation said there could be some closed-loop system whereby the traveler has a purpose for entering the region.
Australia’s mining industry probe
A report released on Thursday by the government of Western Australia has brought to light some horrific and dark corners of the nation’s multibillion-dollar mining industry, where workers are often sent to remote pockets of the country to work on mining projects for weeks on end. After a number of women went to the police with sexual assault claims at major Western Australian mines, a year-long investigation was launched, which found that the industry has failed to protect its women. The companies named included mining giants like BHP, Fortescue and Rio Tinto. All three confirmed that they had fired people over harassment complaints.
One woman facing an investigation after a near-miss incident was told by her supervisor that he would make the investigation go away if she had sex with him. Another woman was told she would have to get on her knees if she wanted a permanent position. And yet another woman was knocked unconscious only to wake and find her jeans and underwear around her ankles. Countless women were also harassed with provocative photo requests.
FDA bans Juul products
The FDA in the US is cracking down on vaping companies, with Juul being the most visibly in the regulatory arm’s crosshairs. Most recently, it ordered all of Juul’s e-cigarettes off the market, claiming that the company had failed to provide proof that its products were safe for people of any age.
This is notable because, in the past, the FDA cracked down on Juul for selling fruity and sweet-flavored vape cartridges, arguing that this marketing was aimed at minors. This has been part of a broader crackdown on vape companies – not just Juul – for marketing and selling to minors and kids.
But this time around, the focus was on how the product is generally harmful, including that it possibly causes DNA damage and that a chemical in some vaping products has been linked to severe lung damage, particularly in young people.
Some say this move by the FDA is a good one, while others say getting rid of Juul will only cause nicotine-addicted people to turn to other products in the crowded market.
To end, we’ll look into:
Chinese streamers need qualifications to talk about professional topics
Have you ever BS’d your way through a conversation so well that 10 minutes in, you realize you’re still talking and have no idea what you’re talking about? Well, according to the Chinese government, online influencers don’t have the liberty to do that anymore.
According to China’s State Administration of Radio and Television and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, content that requires a “higher professional level” (think medicine or law) will require credentials to be discussed. What this means is that influencers, including video game livestreamers and celebrities, will need to show their credentials to livestreaming platforms. Then, it will be up to those platforms to review them.
This is another step in a long line of Beijing’s efforts to crack down on China’s biggest tech companies like Tencent and Alibaba and clean up the trendy livestreaming industry. Over the past year and a half, the country has put in a number of new regulations on tech and streaming, such as banning children under 16 from watching livestreams after 10 p.m. and preventing kids from buying virtual gifts for their favorite streamers.
The two agencies laid out a general “code of conduct” for streamers, which includes preventing them from using Deepfake technology to tamper with party or state leaders and showing excessive food waste or excessively luxurious lifestyles, and it prohibits content that could be considered sexually suggestive or provocative.
So here’s a pretty simple translation: stay in your lane, streamers.
In other news …
📈Stocks, oil and Bitcoin: Recession concerns are still at the forefront of investors’ minds, but stocks in the global market rose on Thursday. But Clifford Bennett, chief economist at ACY Securities, said that while the daily percentage changes sound somewhat significant, “this is a relativity game, and on that basis, the rallies have remained modest to say the least. In the background, the true fundamental outlook continues to deteriorate."
🛢Oil prices ended lower, with Brent crude falling US$1.69 to US$110.05 a barrel and WTO crude futures dropping US$1.92 to US$104.27 per barrel. Meanwhile, sources have said that OPEC+ members will probably stick to an accelerated oil output plan in August to tame oil prices and inflation.
💰Bitcoin is at US$20,692.
🔫US gun laws: The Supreme Court found that a New York law that says residents need to prove “proper cause" to carry concealed firearms in public was unconstitutional. Biden said the decision was “deeply" disappointing.
🏃♂️Finland and Sweden in NATO: NATO’s head Jens Stoltenberg said that he aims to get Finland and Sweden into the security group “as soon as possible," even though Turkey is fighting the move. But, there are no specifics in terms of timelines.
🚀The ruble: Russia’s ruble reached its strongest level since May 2015. The central bank is now actively trying to bring it down, afraid that exports will become less competitive. This is because of its record oil and gas revenue, strict capital controls and the fact that the country can’t import much because of sanctions.
👟Nike’s Russia exit: Nike has decided to leave Russia, saying, “Our priority is to ensure we are fully supporting our employees while we responsibly scale down our operations over the coming months."
🐟Taiwan’s grouper fish ban: Taiwan has threatened to take China to the World Trade Organization after Beijing said it had found banned chemicals in Taiwan’s grouper fish, therefore suspending imports of the product. China accounts for around 90% of Taiwan’s exported grouper fish products. This also comes after China suspended pineapples and some apples from Taiwan last year. Relations between the two are at the lowest in decades.
🕵️♂️Capitol riot: The January 6 panel created to probe the US Capitol riot showed evidence of how Trump tried to use the Justice Department to overturn the 2020 election results.
🏎Tesla factories: Elon Musk has said that the Tesla factories in Texas and Berlin are losing billions of dollars at the moment because supply chain issues are making it harder for the company to sell things. For example, some of the tools needed to make some vehicles are stuck at a port in China because of COVID flare-ups and lockdowns.
📽A Top Gun success: “Top Gun: Maverick" is on track to cross the US$1 billion box office mark after passing US$900 million in ticket sales worldwide earlier this week.
✂Netflix’s job cut: Netflix has announced that it’ll cut 300 more jobs in its second round of layoffs, saying, “While we continue to invest significantly in the business, we made these adjustments so that our costs are growing in line with our slower revenue growth."
💹TikTok’s supremacy: Three years ago, TikTok started accepting ads on its app. Last year, that monetization strategy brought in US$4 billion. Chinese news outlet LatePost reported that the company is on track to reach US$12 billion this year – making it bigger than Twitter and Snapchat combined.