ECONOMY

FirstFT: Chinese media back expanded regulatory crackdown

Chinese politics & policy updates

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A blogger’s tirade endorsed widely by Chinese state media has called for Beijing’s snowballing regulatory overhaul to target the high costs of housing, education and healthcare while also instituting deep reforms to finance and cultural industries.

“This is a transformation from capital-centred to people-centred,” the writer said, adding that those who sought to block the deep reform efforts would be “discarded”.

The commentary, originally published by a popular nationalist blogger, has been shared by China’s biggest state and party-controlled media outlets including Xinhua news agency, the People’s Daily and CCTV television network, indicating the broad degree of state support.

It was published as investors and companies across China braced themselves for the next step in Beijing’s expansive tech crackdown, which has hit the ecommerce, education, fintech, ride-hailing and gaming sectors and raised alleged abuses of laws governing data security, antitrust enforcement and labour and consumer rights.

Thanks for reading FirstFT Asia. Does Beijing’s regulatory crackdown have implications for your industry? Share your thoughts with me at [email protected] — Emily

Five more stories in the news

1. Biden defends Afghanistan exit in White House speech The president launched his most forceful defence yet of the US’s chaotic pullout from the Asian country, a day after the last US troops flew out of Kabul and ended their 20-year military presence there.

  • Go deeper: With the US gone, the Taliban will show its true colours on human rights and its vow to form an “inclusive” government. Follow our latest coverage of Afghanistan on FT.com.

2. Heavily indebted Chinese developer warns of default risk Evergrande has warned it risks defaulting on its debt if it fails to raise cash, as China’s most heavily indebted property developer battles to stave off an unfolding liquidity crisis.

3. Theranos founder’s trial begins Elizabeth Holmes, founder of the blood testing start-up, appeared in court yesterday as jury selection began in one of the largest trials involving alleged fraud in Silicon Valley.

Elizabeth Holmes outside court on Tuesday. Her company Theranos had been hailed as a revolutionary start-up before crumbling as evidence accumulated against the accuracy of its technology © Nic Coury/AP © AFP via Getty Images

4. South Korean law hits Google and Apple’s app stores South Korea has become the first country in the world to attack the lucrative commissions charged by the tech groups’s app stores, after passing a law that will let mobile phone users pay software developers directly for their apps.

5. Hohn calls for Canadian National CEO to resign over rail deal UK hedge fund manager Chris Hohn has demanded that CN abandon its $34bn pursuit of Kansas City Southern, after the US railroad regulator rejected the way the transaction was structured as it held the potential to harm the public interest. 

Coronavirus digest

  • South Korea has proposed a budget for 2022 that would maintain record aggressive fiscal spending to try to deal with the fallout of the pandemic.

  • Experts at the annual Biological Weapons Convention have called for tougher powers to enforce the treaty as the Covid-19 pandemic sharpens global awareness of biological threats.

  • In the US, QR codes are increasingly replacing low-age service staff as the pandemic spurs automation.

  • A shortage of new cars owing to the semiconductor supply crunch is spurring a once-in-a-lifetime boom in the second-hand car market.

Column chart of Year-on-year change (%) showing The pandemic sparked a surge in used car prices

Sign up to our Coronavirus Business Update email for a regular briefing on how the pandemic is affecting markets, global business and our workplaces.

The day ahead

Australia GDP Australian Bureau of Statistics will today release its gross domestic product figures for the second quarter of 2021. A significant contraction in growth is expected as the nation’s economy was likely already slowing before recent coronavirus restrictions went into effect. (Reuters)

Opec+ meeting Opec and its allies are likely to stick to plans to restore output cuts when they meet today. But as jitters around the Covid recovery grow, analysts say the group may have to adjust course before the year is out. More in yesterday’s Energy Source. Sign up here to receive the newsletter in your inbox.

European unemployment figures Eurostat jobless data is be released today along with Italy’s Istat unemployment figures. A full list of economic data being released today is mentioned in our Week Ahead newsletter.

The Financial Times, in partnership with the United Nations Foundation, is delighted to host a strategic preview of the UN General Assembly bringing together diverse and insightful speakers to discuss what to expect, what’s at stake, and why it matters to you. Sign up here to join our event on September 15.

What else we’re reading

Demographics mean the fall in interest rates is far from over In Japan, an ageing population has had an unexpected influence on inflation and wages. While it was thought that a demographic reversal will turn the current era of stagnant prices into a new age of inflation, it has not played out that way in Japan. A new paper explains why.

Joe Biden and Europe are going different ways The US president will lose no votes over the EU’s decision on Monday to restore travel restrictions on Americans. But it is a bad sign, writes Edward Luce. The move was as much about Biden’s unwillingness to match Europe’s opening to US travellers this summer as it is about America’s high Delta variant infection rate.

Universal basic income isn’t the only solution We are at a moment where work is becoming more uncertain. A policy where the state pays out monthly sums without conditions is often pitched as a solution. But a universal basic income would shape the labour market in ways that are hard to predict, writes Sarah O’Connor.

Would you support a universal basic income policy? Tell us in our poll.

Carbon offsets: a licence to pollute or a path to net zero? A nascent but growing trend in the energy sector pairs fossil fuel shipments with carbon offsets — units that organisations buy to compensate for emissions and help their carbon-intensive cargoes appear greener. But critics argue the offsets do not capture as much carbon as they claim.

It’s time for candid conversations at work Different generations will — should — bump up against each other if culture and society are to be living things, writes Stefan Stern. The same is true for companies. But how does that help well-intentioned executives who worry they are going to say the wrong thing about race, gender identity, sexuality, disability or other sensitive issues?

Music

As climate change and Covid raged across the world, and Afghanistan witnessed the biggest US military retreat since Vietnam, a small portion of humankind has spent the summer obsessing over another matter. Would Donda ever be released? After weeks of delays, now finally available for all to hear, Donda is a dud, critic Ludovic Hunter-Tilney says.

Kanye West has released his 10th studio album © Getty Images for Universal Music
Kanye West has released his 10th studio album © Getty Images for Universal Music

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