Posts

moon

NASA’s Chief Expresses Concern Over China Seizing Real Estate On The Moon 

NASA administrator Bill Nelson recently spoke to Yahoo Finance regarding the modern day space race, and how China is set to beat the United States in their bids to get back on the moon. 

One of the reasons Nelson is so worried is because China is already preparing a series of missions to go to the moon. This week, China is planning to launch a robotic spacecraft to the side of the moon facing away from Earth. 

Embed from Getty Images

The spacecraft, named Chang’e-6, will launch in what will be the first of three missions that are set to take place over the next four years. These missions could lead to China setting up a manned base on the moon’s south pole, where it is also suspected to have water. 

Nelson said that these plans show China’s lead in the modern space race. 

“I think it’s not beyond the pale that China would suddenly say, ‘We are here. You stay out.’ That would be very unfortunate — to take what has gone on on planet Earth for years, grabbing territory, and saying it’s mine and people fighting over it.”

The US has also pushed back on its Artemis program, which has the goal of bringing astronauts back into lunar orbit for the first time in 50 years. 

The program was delayed to test equipment and troubleshoot a handful of technical difficulties that they experienced during its first mission, according to Quartz. Now, NASA is expecting to launch the Artemis program and land astronauts near the south pole of the Moon by September 2026. The specific launch will be a part of the Artemis III mission.

Embed from Getty Images

Nelson once told reporters that he has concerns that China will claim the water sources on the moon, “as they have done with the Spratly Islands.” The Spratly Islands are an archipelago in the South China Sea that has seen a lot of political disputes between several of its surrounding nations, according to reports

“When you combine [China’s] history of their politics on Planet Earth, we just need to be careful that a celestial body such as the moon, such as Mars, is open for all, and it doesn’t become a territorial grabbing. That’s what we want to avoid,” Nelson told Yahoo Finance

China is currently planning to have a crewed moon landing by 2030, according to the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA), who announced the goal last year. 

Nelson stated that the US would “preserve those potential reserves for the international community.” The water could potentially be used for rocket fuel. 

NASA and the Department of State introduced the Artemis Accords in 2020, which guarantees cooperation and collaboration between nations regarding the information and resources utilized for future lunar missions. 39 countries have signed the accords, however, China is not one of them.

lunar

China Reports Record Breaking Holiday Travel Rates For Lunar New Year 

China has reported a record breaking increase in travel and spending during this year’s Lunar New Year holiday season, which could mean great things for the world’s second largest economy.

ceg

Real Estate Developer China Evergrande Ordered By Hong Kong To Liquidate 

A Hong Kong court has ordered the world’s most heavily indebted real estate developer, China Evergrande, to undergo liquidation after the company failed to restructure the $300 billion it owed to banks and bondholders.

coast guard

Philippines Officials Accuse Chinese Coastguard Of Intentionally Colliding With Vessels

This Monday, officials from the Philippines accused the Chinese coastguard of “intentionally” colliding with their vessels that were on a resupply mission in a part of the South China Sea, according to reports from Reuters

Both China and the Philippine’s blamed each other for the collisions, with the most serious one being this past Sunday; no one was harmed luckily.

China stated that the Philippine boats “bumped dangerously with Chinese fishing vessels” and coastguard vessels. On Monday, China’s embassy in Manila stated that they “called on the Philippines government to stop causing trouble and provocation at sea and to stop smearing China’s reputation with groundless attacks,” according to Reuters.  

On the Philippine’s end, officials from their coastguard, foreign ministry, defense ministry, national security council, and armed forces have condemned the Chinese coast guard for their actions and handling of the collisions. 

Embed from Getty Images

US national security adviser Jake Sullivan told his Philippine counterpart, Eduardo Ano, that they have the US’s support, emphasizing that they too believed China’s actions were “dangerous and unlawful.”

Gilberto Teodoro, the Philippines Defense Secretary, stated in a news conference that “Chinese Coast Guard and maritime militia vessels, in blatant violation of international law, harassed and intentionally hit [Manila’s supply boat and coastguard].” 

“This is a serious escalation of the illegal activities conducted by the Chinese government in the West Philippine Sea in complete disregard of any norm or convention of international law,” Teodoro said.

Teodoro also emphasized “the support of our allies and like-minded nations such as the United States, Japan, Australia, Germany, Canada, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and European Union in condemning China’s aggression and expansionist actions.”

sale

What’s Happening With Governor DeSantis’ Ban On Chinese Homeownership In Florida?

In May, Republican Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida signed a bipartisan law, SB 264, which banned certain Chinese nationals from buying property within the state as a means of avoiding “the malign influence of the Chinese Communist Party in the state of Florida.” 

According to reports from NBC, a group of Chinese immigrants that are backed by the American Civil Liberties Union and additional civil rights groups, have been working to invalidate the new law, and the Justice Department even backed their effort in an official court filing this summer. The Justice Department stated that the law is unconstitutional, however, a judge ruled against that challenge back in August and settled with an appeal. 

Many workers within the real estate industry have stated their disdain for the law, claiming that it’s ambiguous and is fueling a major risk for discrimination against Chinese buyers. According to the law, sellers who violate the restrictions knowingly could face up to $1,000 in fines and one year in prison while Chinese nationals who buy property in Florida face up to 5 years in prison and even higher fines. 

Embed from Getty Images

Khalid Muneer of the Greater Orlando chapter of the Asian American Realtors Association recently spoke to the media regarding the discriminations and difficulties this law created. 

“Are we supposed to be FBI agents investigating people and asking them all kinds of questions?”

A veteran Florida real estate agent, Frank Lin, told the media that his business has been cut in half due to the fact that he has to turn down clients to comply with the law. 

Additionally, Chinese nationals who already own property in Florida “are required by the new law to register with the state’s Commerce Department, but they don’t even have a form yet or place or website, so that’s confusing everyone. Failure to register by 2024 could trigger fines of up to $1,000 a day,” Lin said

According to a Florida Commerce Department spokesperson, “a hearing is set for this week over a proposed rule on the registration requirement, the agency is dedicated to implementing SB 264 as outlined in law.” 

Muneer spoke further on the discriminations that this law has created and the potential hostility it could create. 

Embed from Getty Images

“If somebody comes in and is Asian-looking, you’re automatically going to start asking questions about where you’re from, which never used to happen.”

Many Asian American community members are viewing the Florida law as resembling xenophobic “alien land laws” of the early 20th century, which were later deemed unconstitutional. 

The restrictions of the law cover both commercial and residential properties and apply to all Chinese nationals who aren’t US citizens or permanent residents and/or already owning property in China. 

“If somebody comes in and is Asian-looking, you’re automatically going to start asking questions about where you’re from, which never used to happen,” said Khalid Muneer, founder of Jupiter Properties in Central Florida and president of the Greater Orlando chapter of the Asian American Realtors Association.

“Is this racism? Is this stereotyping? We are very well aware of the fact that we can have issues. We can be accused of discrimination. Some of [my] associates with heavily Chinese or Venezuelan clientele have seen a major, major drop in business,” Muneer said.

Embed from Getty Images

In recent months, some of the realtors are afraid to deal with [Chinese nationals] because they are looking at getting prosecuted for ‘not doing their job.’ But then again, are we supposed to be FBI agents investigating people and asking them all kinds of questions?” Muneer continued

“The law is upending peoples’ lives.”

Florida in general receives about 23% of all foreign buyers throughout the US, the highest percentage of any state, according to the National Association of Realtors. 

NBC reported that five percent of Florida’s closed sales were to foreign buyers, according to a separate report from Florida Realtors. However, the bulk of Florida’s foreign buyers are Latin American, at 46%, and Canadian, at 24%. Among Chinese buyers, California is the most popular destination, drawing 33% of Chinese buyers to Florida’s 16%.”

“When you get a situation like this, where your main cash buyers are not allowed to buy, it does start hurting the market as well as sales agents who will depend on those sales for their living,” Muneer stated. 

Gregory Burge, an economist, said “ownership bans like Florida’s don’t make a lot of sense from an economic standpoint. Top talent coming from these nations would certainly involve families wanting to retain their citizenship in their home countries, and then facing the barrier of buying in Florida under the new law,” he said. “That could act as a negative factor for slowing economic growth.”

wall

Great Wall Of China Damaged By Workers Using Excavator 

Two individuals have been arrested in northern China after they allegedly damaged a section of the Great Wall using an excavator to create a huge gap in the ancient structure, local police said in an online statement

A 38-year-old man and a 55-year-old woman, who were construction workers, were supposedly trying to create a shortcut in order to save time going around the world. The police stated that the structure was “severely damaged.”

Embed from Getty Images

“It had been one of the existing complete border walls and beacon towers with important protection and research value,” the county police department said.

China’s northwest Youyu County police responded to reports on August 24th of a gap that had been dug into the structure known as the 32nd Great Wall, a section that’s been standing since the Ming Dynasty. 

“Excavators were used to excavate the original gap of the ancient Great Wall into a large gap, so that the excavator could pass through the gap, which caused irreversible damage to the integrity of the Ming Great Wall and the safety of cultural relics,” the police statement said

The authorities detained the two suspects pending further investigation. The oldest portions of the Great Wall were created more than 2,000 years ago.

The structure is also listed as an UNESCO World Heritage site and is known as one of the greatest creations of ancient human engineering. 

Embed from Getty Images

About 30% of China’s Great Wall has disappeared in recent years due to climate challenges and “reckless human activities,” including stealing bricks to build houses. This damage has eroded the already old structure, causing long term damage. 

The investigation regarding the two construction workers is currently underway, ideally, this news will deter future individuals and groups from messing with the Great Wall and maintain its beauty that makes it such a historical landmark in our world’s story. 

To avoid damage to the Great Wall, in recent years authorities have implemented multiple measures to deter individuals from damaging the structure. 

For example, in April 2020 the Badaling Great Wall tourism site near the capital city of Beijing implemented new regulations that allows them to blacklist tourists and give them administrative penalties depending on their specific infraction. 

In May 2021, two foreign tourists were banned from the Great Wall after ignoring a “no crossing sign” on an undeveloped section of the monument and climbing onto the restricted area, according to reports. In August, another tourist was detained and fined for using a hairpin to carve on the wall.

phone

China Looking To Limit Phone Time For Minors To Two Hours A Day 

China is proposing new measures that would limit that amount of time minors spend on their phones as a part of their initiative to curb internet addiction and “cultivate good morality and socialist values,” according to reports

The proposal came from the Cyberspace Administration of China, the nation’s top internet regulator. The proposal requires all mobile devices, apps, and app stores to have a built in “minor mode” that would limit daily screen time for kids and teens to a maximum of two hours a day, depending on the specific age group. 

Embed from Getty Images

These restrictions, if approved, will add onto current measures that were passed as a part of Beijing’s effort to limit screen time among kids and reduce their “exposure to undesirable information,” according to CNN.

The proposal’s rules will be open for public discussion until September 2nd. If it were to pass, kids and teens using devices on minor mode will have all of their applications close automatically once their time limits are up. Also, no one under the age of 18 will be able to access their screens from 10 pm to 6 am. 

Children under the age of eight will be able to use their phones for only 40 minutes a day while kids between the ages of eight and 16 will get an hour. Teenagers between the ages of 16 and 18 will be allotted two hours. 

Embed from Getty Images

After using their devices for 30 minutes, all age groups will receive a reminder to rest. The Cyberspace Administration also thinks “mobile internet service providers should actively create content that disseminates core socialist values  and forges a sense of community of the Chinese nation,” according to the draft.

Certain educational services as well as emergency services will not be impacted by the time limits. 

According to CNN, parents are on board with the proposal. “I think it’s good. On the one hand, it can protect their vision as many young kids cannot stop themselves while watching something they like. On the other hand, it’s easier for us parents to control our kids’ screen time. Most importantly the content under the minor mode is more positive and healthy,” one parent said. 

According to the China Internet Network Information Center, China has one of the world’s largest internet user bases, with about 1.07 billion users out of a population of 1.4 billion. One in five users were 19 years old or younger, as of December 2022. 

development

Real Estate Developer Evergrande’s Bankruptcy Could Lead To Housing Crisis In China 

Evergrande was known for decades as one of China’s most successful real estate developers, however, as China’s economy struggled within the past few years, the developer acquired debt, leading to their bankruptcy in the US. 

The demand for housing in China was so strong that builders would pre-sell apartment units before they completed construction. Shifts in policies in China within the last two years have also left property developers without a lot of money, leading to a lot of risky financial decisions. 

Embed from Getty Images

In 2021, the central government tried to curb excessive borrowing to slow the rise of home prices, which led to the removal of funding for property developers. Evergrande acquired $300 billion in liabilities, which it wasn’t able to pay, leading to market panic. 

Building and construction was then suspended for dozens of projects, leading to many buyers who pre-purchased housing with no new home and a mountain of debt. 

Evergrande filed for Chapter 15 bankruptcy last Thursday, which is a way for foreign companies to utilize US bankruptcy laws to restructure their debt, which takes time and Evergrande has around $19 billion in offshore debts.

The next step for the developer will be to restructure those billions of dollars in offshore debts which could have a major impact on the financial system in China. 

Embed from Getty Images

Other large builders and developers in China have also been struggling to cope with the now low demand for housing.

China’s property and housing market accounts for around 30% of the nation’s economic activity, as well as two-thirds of general household wealth. 

The “zero Covid” strategy in China has also hindered its economic growth, leaving many potential buyers skeptical when it comes to buying new homes and investing in real estate in general. Unemployment levels are also on the rise while property values fall. 

Beijing has worked to increase demand for housing and provide cash for developers in need, however, it’s not nearly enough, and state-funded bailouts seem to be on a massive decline in general. 

“We must maintain historic patience and insist on making steady, step-by-step progress,” President Xi Jinping said in a recent speech.

shopping

China To Relax Their Internal Migration Rules To Kickstart Their Economy 

China is moving to relax its rules on internal migration to make it easier for people to settle into smaller cities in an attempt to increase their ailing economy and provide growth, according to a government announcement this week. 

The ministry of public security (MPS) announced plans to lower the standard for receiving an urban hukou, their household registration. Beijing, specifically, wants local governments to cancel hukou restrictions in cities that have less than 3 million people, as well as relax the restrictions for cities with 3-5 million residents, according to the MPS.

Embed from Getty Images

Cities with a larger population, more than 5 million people, will also be encouraged to relax their hukou quotas, to ideally allow more people to receive the highly prized urban registration documents. 

China’s national development and reform commission, which oversees economic and social policy, first announced these plans back in 2019, however, it’s not clear how many cities have actually adopted the rules. 

One of the main goals of relaxing these registrations is to encourage rural migrants to move into cities to aid the urban economy. One-third of the total working population in China, around 292 million people, are rural migrants that are working in China’s growing metropolitans.

However, these population groups don’t have proper access to public education, healthcare, and other social benefits, leading many of them to leave their families and return to villages themselves. Without urban hukou, many rural migrants are forced to pay more for social services, and are even banned from buying property in the city. 

Embed from Getty Images

The hukou system also deters migrants from spending money and moving into cities long-term, which economists in China claim have impacted its growth. 

“To the extent that there is a spare capacity of workers in the rural areas to draw upon and go and work in the urban areas, easing the registration requirements may help at the margins … but I don’t think it’s really going to alleviate labor supply problems,” said George Magnus, a research associate at the University of Oxford’s center in China. 

In the second quarter of 2023, when compared to 2022, China’s economy grew by 6.3%, which was below expectations, and marked a .8% increase in the first three months of the year. 

Part of this decrease is due to the decreasing workforce in China. The number of individuals working who are aged 16 to 59 declined by more than 40 million between 2019 and 2022. 

The US Government Is Still Threatening To Ban TikTok

TikTok told the media this week that US federal officers are demanding that the Chinese Owners of the app sell their stake in the social media app, or they risk facing a US ban of the app due to security concerns.