To start off, we’re looking into:
Xi’s CCP Congress speech
Occurring only twice a decade, China’s Communist Party Congress is a pretty big deal when it comes to choosing the country’s future leaders. And this year’s, in particular, is important for a few reasons.
Kicking off the congress, Xi gave his speech on Sunday. It was two hours long, but he made a few key points. He addressed challenges China has dealt with – the COVID pandemic, dissent in Hong Kong and tension with Taiwan – and said that China is overcoming these under his administration. Regarding foreign policy, Xi highlighted how China is becoming more influential, rivaling the West. He also gave attention to how the country is modernizing and doing it differently – with the Chinese model of development based on maintaining leadership and achieving “common prosperity." Xi also underscored the country’s climate goals and working toward carbon neutrality.
What’s up with the Van Gogh soup throwers?
Climate activism groups have sprouted up all over the world as the climate crisis has become more intense and received more news coverage. To get the world’s attention, though, climate protesters have gotten creative. And, over the past few months, activists in the UK have been gluing themselves (literally) to the frames of famous paintings in museums. It’s worth noting that some British museums (like the British Museum and Science Museum) have received sponsorship money from oil companies.
On Friday, two members of the climate activism group Just Stop Oil threw tomato soup all over Vincent Van Gogh’s iconic “Sunflowers" painting in London’s National Gallery. The painting itself is covered by glass, so no damage to it was actually done. After souping the painting, the activists then each glued a hand to the wall and revealed their “Just Stop Oil" shirts. One of the protesters posed the question: “What is worth more, art or life?"
Beyond Meat announces layoffs
You’ve probably noticed and/or heard how inflation is making things more expensive worldwide. So, to save a buck, people are generally choosing not to spend their extra money on plant-based meats when they go to the grocery store.
As a result, Beyond Meat, a plant-based meat company, plans to lay off about 200 employees (almost 20% of its workforce) to compensate for declining sales. It also said that retailers have been canceling or delaying promotions with the company, which is another sign this problem is one of consumer interest. This caused shares to plummet, and they hit a 52-week low of US$12.76 earlier last week.
So far, it looks like the cuts are coming in the R&D side of things, though it’s also losing its chief growth officer in North America, and there are some CFO swaps happening. The COO left too, but that probably has more to do with the fact that he bit a guy’s nose at a football game than anything else.
This news briefing was brought to by Hong Kong FinTech Week 2022
Hong Kong’s 7th annual FinTech Week is quickly approaching, set to take place from October 31 to November 4, led by Invest Hong Kong and organized by FINNOVASIA.
Hong Kong FinTech Week (HKFTW) is a pretty huge deal in the city. The convention offers a platform for international fintech companies, startups and stakeholders looking to scale up their business to rub shoulders with the fintech community from Hong Kong and around the world.
To end, we’ll look into:
Is the blockchain going for gold?
Gold is a pretty weird asset. On the one hand, it isn’t used up like oil or grains, so it doesn’t deal with the same supply issues you see in those industries. This is because once gold is mined, it just stays in the world, whether it’s in an electronic device or in jewelry, it just stays. This means the whole supply/demand system doesn’t work quite the same for this precious metal. The supply of gold will only go up even if demand goes down. But at the same time, it doesn’t work like a fiat currency either (or, at least, it hasn’t for quite some time). And considering how old it is as a valuable commodity, a lot of the systems for trading gold are just as ancient.
But, the head of the World Gold Council, former investment banker David Tait, has a plan to modernize the gold market. First, he wants to create a blockchain database to keep tabs on all of the gold in the world. The idea here is that you’d have better transparency from mining to refining to banks, so the likelihood of fraud goes down, and the integrity of the material stays strong.
Then, once you have that database, you can make tokens that correspond to gold around the world. So, instead of buying a gold bar that exists physically in a vault in London, you could buy a token that corresponds to its value without dealing with the complications of handling physical gold. This makes it way easier (and cheaper) to trade the precious metal.
The idea has critics, though. Some people point out that the whole point of buying the metal is that there’s a solid gold bar somewhere that you own, and if you’re buying a token, you don’t have an easy way to correlate the physical thing with the token. On top of that, you need to get all the major players on board, from Wall Street to London to Hong Kong.
But ultimately, people in the industry acknowledge the shortcomings of how gold is traded now. It isn’t that no one wants to change – it’s just that it will be a messy process.
In other news …
📄UN claims of rapes in Ukraine by Russian soldiers: On Thursday, UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict Pramila Patten told AFP that there are indications of rape and sexual assault being used as a Russian military strategy in Ukraine – including Russian soldiers being equipped with Viagra to carry out assaults. Patten claims that the UN has verified “more than a hundred cases" since the beginning of the war last February.
🆘The US and Canada are sending help to Haiti: The Haitian government has been petitioning for international help as a gang blocks a fuel terminal, preventing resources from getting to hospitals and other places for about a month now. On Saturday, the US and Canada sent armored vehicles and other supplies to bolster police efforts in fighting these gangs. They may end up sending over troops in the future.
🔥Iran’s prison fire: At Evin prison in Iran, a major fire killed four prisoners and injured 61 (although some say that number is higher). It’s not clear how the fire started. The prison is known for holding political prisoners, many of whom have been sent there recently due to anti-government demonstrations across the country after the death of Mahsa Amini.
💥Turkey’s coal mine explosion: On Friday, an explosion inside a Turkish coal mine trapped dozens of people. Forty-one people were killed, and 11 were hospitalized with injuries. Emergency crews worked throughout the night trying to find survivors.
💸The UK’s economic damage control: After less than two months in office, UK chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng was fired by PM Liz Truss on Friday. Kwarteng’s infamous mini-budget, released in September, has been super controversial and caused massive economic and political issues. His replacement, Jeremy Hunt, has promised to win back the UK’s economic credibility.
🤷♂️Musk says “The hell with it": After publicly saying that he can’t keep funding his internet provider Starlink in Ukraine, Elon Musk has now completely backtracked. He’s said “the hell with it," and seems to have genuinely changed his mind about continuing to fund the project without government help.
✈Hong Kong’s airport is bustling: After getting rid of major COVID restrictions for travelers, Hong Kong International Airport’s September traffic has increased by 133% from this time last year.
🎤BTS has their last concert: On Saturday, K-pop group BTS – aka the world’s biggest act – performed their first concert since June, when they announced a hiatus to start later this year. The free concert was in Busan to promote the city’s bid as a candidate to host the 2030 World Expo. This was their last planned concert.
🍞Lifesize Pan Solo: A US baker in California has created a 6-foot (1.8 meters) bread sculpture of the “Star Wars" character Han Solo after being frozen in carbonite in “The Empire Strikes Back." The co-owners of One House Bakery spent weeks using wood and two types of dough to build the sculpture.