From China chatting with the GCC to anti-war protests erupting in Russia – Here’s your September 22 news briefing

From China chatting with the GCC to anti-war protests erupting in Russia – Here’s your September 22 news briefing
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi meets counterparts from Gulf Cooperation Council countries on the sidelines of the 77th session of the UN General Assembly in New York on Monday. Photo: Xinhua

To start off, we’re looking into:

China and the GCC talk energy and security

China has a longstanding history of cooperation with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. In fact, China is the GCC’s largest trading partner. Since 2004, the two have been negotiating a free trade negotiation with some stops and starts over various disagreements, and the bloc is a major part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

On Monday, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with the foreign ministers of the GCC at the UN General Assembly in New York to talk about relations, food and energy. He thanked the bloc for its support on issues related to Taiwan, Xinjiang, Hong Kong and human rights – all areas of ongoing tensions between China and the West. For his part, Wang pledged China’s support in defending against interference in the GCC’s internal affairs and backing its efforts toward integration.

Looking to the future, the two discussed continuing their partnership to ensure food and energy security and improve supply chains.

Can YouTube beat TikTok?

YouTube Shorts
FILE PHOTO: A YouTube logo seen at the YouTube Space LA in Playa Del Rey, Los Angeles, California, United States October 21, 2015. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo

In September 2020, Google-owned YouTube launched its Shorts feature to compete with the TikTok user explosion. TikTok has over a billion monthly active users, and other social media platforms (like YouTube) are trying to catch up with it. This has been a difficult shift, with Shorts costing YouTube a quarter-billion dollars in revenue this year. Shorts are different from regular YouTube videos because they are limited to 60 seconds, vertically presented and show up in a scrolling format (kind of exactly like TikTok). So, these videos are notoriously difficult to monetize.

On Tuesday morning, YouTube leaders laid out new plans for monetization tools and industry partnerships with the Shorts feature. The platform will introduce advertising on Shorts and give creators 45% of the revenue. The YouTube Partner Program is a system where creators earn profit from ad revenue, and creators who get 10 million views within 90 days can apply for membership. As it’s rolled out, this new plan may offer a more sustainable appeal than TikTok’s static creator fund.

Anti-war protests pop up in Russia

Russia protests
Russian law enforcement officers detain men during an unsanctioned rally, after opposition activists called for street protests against the mobilisation of reservists ordered by President Vladimir Putin, in Moscow, Russia September 21, 2022. REUTERS/REUTERS PHOTOGRAPHER

Russia is in a pretty bad slump right now. The country has been dealing with significant hits to its economy from sanctions by the West; a couple of weeks ago, it lost a lot of territory due to a highly successful military campaign by Ukraine in the north; and the war is being criticized by everyone from India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi to US President Joe Biden.

And now, on top of that, the country is dealing with unrest at home. On Wednesday, more than 1,300 people were arrested for protesting in Russia (a number still going up), mainly in the capital city of Moscow and St. Petersburg. The protesters have been recorded chanting “No to war,” and similar protests are breaking out elsewhere, including in front of the Russian embassy in Warsaw, Poland.

The protests are in response to a speech by President Vladimir Putin in which he said it would be going into a “partial mobilization.”

To end, we’ll look into:

Is TikTok the new Google?

You’ve probably had that annoying experience where you went to Google to find a local restaurant for dinner, and it just wasn’t helpful. Maybe it doesn’t do a good job differentiating between similar names (how am I supposed to remember if the place my friend recommended was called “Yummy Noodle” or “Tasty Noodle”?), or maybe it just wasn’t taking your interests into account (shouldn’t Google know by now that the local pizza place isn’t great for the lactose intolerant?).

Well, it turns out that young people have, for some things, abandoned Google in favor of the new boss in town – TikTok.

Yep, for everything from restaurant recommendations and attraction reviews to home-cooked recipes and workout ideas, young people are using TikTok and its curated algorithm to make it work for them by giving them the best possible suggestions.

By comparison, the Google algorithm has a hard time figuring out the quality of that kind of content going through its search engine, meaning that you end up with those notoriously long preambles to what should be a simple recipe on a blog post. (Sharon, I don’t need to know about your trip to Bordeaux to learn how to make French onion soup.)

And that’s all great when TikTok is telling you how to grill chicken or do burpees, but what about when it comes to more serious topics, like getting the best quality Hong Kong-based geopolitical and business news and analysis? Well, it turns out that Google (or TMS) is your better friend there.

See, a recent study showed that when someone looks up a news story on TikTok, they’re likely to get hit with either misinformation or disinformation – it makes up about 20% of the top searches, according to the study.

But Google, on the other hand, does a better job of weighting things like factuality in its search results, so it pushes those to the top, so fewer of the top results are likely to have mis- or disinformation.

So, if you’re looking for a nice bowl of pho in your area, then TikTok can be your best friend. On the other hand, if you’re looking for the best news on, say, China’s talks with the GCC, you should probably Google it. Or better yet, just stick to TMS, where we hand-filter the noise for you.

In other news …

📉Stocks: MSCI’s global gauge of stocks is down 1.47% to 2,516.59.

📰Some specifics:

  • S&P 500 dropped 1.71% to 3,789.93.
  • Nasdaq Composite slid 1.79% to 11,220.19.
  • Dow Jones is down 1.70% to 30,183.78.
  • Hang Seng Index dropped 1.79% to 18,444.62.

🧠Some quick factors to bear in mind:

  • The Fed issued its Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) statement today, and it’s raising interest rates by 75 basis points, as expected. It said it expects its so-called terminal rate to reach 4.6% by the end of 2023 to keep fighting inflation.
  • European businesses could start leaving China due to COVID controls isolating the country, according to the president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, which released its annual China position paper yesterday. And, it’s looking like authorities are unlikely to remove the zero-COVID policy.
  • Oil refiners in China could be getting ready to boost fuel exports in the government’s efforts to help the economy.

👄Some comments and chatter:

  • “The Committee seeks to achieve maximum employment and inflation at the rate of 2 percent over the longer run. In support of these goals, the Committee decided to raise the target range for the federal funds rate to 3 to 3-1/4 percent and anticipates that ongoing increases in the target range will be appropriate,” The Fed said in a statement.
  • “While there are still ‘a select group of high-profile multinational companies ready to make billion dollar splashes,’ the trend of declining FDI is unlikely to reverse while European executives are heavily restricted from travelling to and from China to develop potential greenfield projects,” the EU Chamber of Commerce’s position paper on China said.

🛢Oil: Oil prices fell following the Fed’s announcement of rate hikes, as it could reduce economic activity. Brent crude slid 0.9% lower to US$89.83 a barrel, and US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude fell 1.2% to US$82.94.

👛Bitcoin: At the time of writing, Bitcoin was down 2.77%, settling at US$18,354.30.

🤖Turkey sells battle-tested drones to UAE: This month, a Turkish defense firm has sold the UAE 20 armed drones. It could sell even more as the former rivals begin to mend diplomatic ties. Now, the UAE and Saudi Arabia want to protect themselves from a growing security threat posed by Iran.

📄Crimes against humanity in Venezuela: The UN has found that Venezuelan intelligence agencies and officials are committing “crimes against humanity" in efforts to silence dissent. The report said the government is guilty of torture, sexual violence and/or other cruel and inhuman treatment of victims.

🔥Man self-immolates to protest Shinzo Abe’s funeral: An elderly Japanese man set himself on fire to protest former Japanese PM Shinzo Abe’s state funeral. He’s been taken to a hospital in Tokyo, and the police who extinguished the fire were injured and taken to the hospital, too.

🚢US and Canadian warships sail through Taiwan Strait: Tuesday, US and Canadian warships sailed through the Taiwan Strait following President Joe Biden’s remarks that the US would defend Taiwan if it was attacked by China. This is the second time a US Navy warship went through the Strait in about three weeks.

🐳Rescue underway for beached whales: About 230 beached whales are stranded on Tasmania’s west coast. But, a rescue mission has begun to save those still alive, which is estimated to be more than half. We’re hoping for the best and wishing the rescue team luck!

🤢FDA warns against NyQuil chicken: In the US, the Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning against eating “NyQuil chicken," which is chicken cooked in NyQuil, a nighttime cold and flu syrup. This warning had to be issued after social media users publicized years-old content of people frying chicken in NyQuil and flipping it with a hair flat-iron. We are begging everyone not to do this.

🐶Blind dog rescued: In California, firefighters rescued a 13-year-old blind dog that had fallen into a hole at a construction site. The dog, named Cesar, has been returned to his owner a little dusty but unharmed. Faith in humanity restored.

Written and put together by Jake Shropshire, Vanessa Wolosz, Christine Dulion and Krystal Lai