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The Cyberspace Administration of China slammed the internet search giant for not carrying out strict content reviews on some of its news-feed channels. In its lack of oversight, Baidu has “exerted bad influence to the society,” the internet regulator wrote on its WeChat account Wednesday. (Reuters)

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Talking point: Baidu has long dominated the search business in China, but it’s facing a surge in competition for ad dollars and users’ attention from apps like Tencent’s WeChat and ByteDance’s TikTok. The firm evaded a rivalry with Google, which terminated plans to launch a search engine for the Chinese market that would have had to comply with Beijing’s censorship requirements. Baidu said it will suspend some app channels after warnings from the regulator, though it did not specify which ones.

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China filed 58,990 international patent applications in 2019, edging out the U.S., which filed 57,840. The latter country had the most filings every year since the Patent Cooperation Treaty was established in 1978. (The Logic)

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Talking point: China’s rise is part of a broader growth among Asian countries in global patent share. Japan took the third spot, and Asia now accounts for 52.4 per cent of patent applications. Part of the shift comes from corporations, with four of the five most prolific corporate filers—Huawei, Mitsubishi, Samsung and Guang Dong Oppo Mobile Telecommunications—based in Asia. It’s also partly government policy. Beijing subsidizes R&D, and has been encouraging companies to file for patents as it seeks to catch up to the U.S. in technological areas like artificial intelligence and quantum computing. It’s not just Asia that has seen an increase. Canada jumped 12.2 per cent in international patent applications, a greater rate of increase than China’s 10.6 per cent.

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The move, on which President Trump has yet to sign off, is an attempt to blunt China’s initiative to leverage its formidable technological prowess to bolster its military might. The measures would cease the sale of semiconductors, optical materials and other such equipment to Chinese companies—and do away with the so-called “civ” exemption of sales to Chinese non-military entities. (Reuters)

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Talking point: Though U.S. worries about the sale of dual-use technology to China aren’t new, relations between the two countries have been particularly fraught since the COVID-19 pandemic, which originated in Wuhan, and the expulsion of each other’s journalists from both countries.

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Thirty-three firms raised US$7.31 billion in Shanghai in the first quarter. New York-based Nasdaq took second place, with 17 firms raising US$5.13 billion. (Reuters)

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Talking point: This is the first time in almost three years Shanghai has taken the top spot in global IPO rankings. In November 2019, Beijing rolled out new incentives for firms to raise money domestically. These included relaxing profitability requirements and lowering the market cap threshold for internationally incorporated Chinese companies from 200 billion yuan to 100 billion yuan. Shanghai’s Star board for technology startups, which started trading in July, is also fuelling the increase. China’s markets overall have done relatively better than those in the U.S., with the country’s benchmark CSI 300 dropping 9.4 per cent for the year, as of Friday. The S&P 500 fell 21 per cent and Europe’s Stoxx 600 dropped 25 per cent over the same period.

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Beijing is expelling journalists from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, and is asking those three outlets—as well as Time magazine and the Voice of America—to share information about their operations. (The New York Times)

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Talking point: The move is the latest escalation between the two countries, which have been locked in a trade war throughout U.S. President Donald Trump’s term. Earlier this month, Washington restricted the number of Chinese citizens who can work in the U.S. for five state-controlled Chinese news outlets. “Our goal is reciprocity,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said at the time. Beijing is now targeting five outlets, as well. Foreign journalists did some of the most aggressive reporting on COVID-19 in the early days of the outbreak in China. China has blocked online access for years to several of the outlets whose journalists it’s now targeting, as well as a number of major Canadian media outlets—CBC’s website, for example, has been blocked since 2014, and the Toronto Star’s since last June.

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The federal government conducted seven full national security reviews in the 2018–2019 fiscal year, the most since it started releasing data in 2009. Of those, four involved investments from China. (The Globe and Mail)

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Talking point: Last year’s reviews made up about a third of the 22 conducted since 2009, of which 14 involved investments from China. However, a review of an acquisition doesn’t necessarily mean the investment will be blocked. In 2017, for example, the Liberals greenlit Hong Kong-based tech firm O-Net’s acquisition of Canadian firm ITF Technologies following a review. Meanwhile, 32 Chinese investments did not undergo security reviews last year. Canada’s increased scrutiny of Chinese firms comes as tensions remain high between the two countries, with Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou under trial in Vancouver and Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor detained in China.

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Though the World Health Organization (WHO) said the spread of infection was slowing in Wuhan, as well as Beijing and Shanghai, steep increases in cases across countries including Italy, South Korea and Iran are perpetuating uncertainty for the global economy. The S&P 500 dropped more than three per cent Monday and European markets saw their worst day since 2016. (Reuters, The New York Times)

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Talking point: While WHO officials said it’s premature to call the outbreak a pandemic, they said it has the potential to become one. That uncertainty likely has investors keeping a close watch on global supply chains for potential disruptions. Any kinks in the system would be particularly disruptive for tech giants. Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Alphabet—the biggest U.S. tech companies—lost more than US$240 billion in combined value during Monday’s stock selloff. The companies together make up nearly a fifth of the S&P 500. Apple has the most exposure to the Chinese market, and while Facebook and Google are relatively insulated from the country, the dip in their stocks signals broader investor anxiety around how the virus could impact the global economy.

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Others among the new participants, announced following a meeting on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum, include Brazil, Australia and Mexico. Canada and the EU initially agreed to launch the resolution system in July 2019. (Financial Post)

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Talking point: Ottawa’s mechanism is a stopgap while the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) appeals body is out of commission due to the U.S.’s refusal to allow new judges. Canada, the EU and others have been formally working on reforms to the institution since an Ottawa meeting in October 2018. Then-international trade minister Jim Carr said China’s cooperation would be key. Its addition to the interim mechanism could help Canada advance major disputes over agricultural products. In September 2019, Ottawa took the first step in a WTO challenge of Beijing’s canola ban. But U.S. President Donald Trump may yet break the impasse he created, albeit on his terms. Earlier this week, he said WTO director general Roberto Azevêdo would soon visit Washington, D.C. for negotiations on changes.

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U.S. Customs and Border Protection is spearheading an anti-counterfeiting initiative that will subject U.S. warehouses and fulfillment centres to more scrutiny from its agents, even after goods have cleared the border. The Department of Homeland Security will also call for broader laws permitting the government to go after third-party marketplaces trading in fake goods. (The Wall Street Journal)

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Talking point: This muscular pursuit of counterfeit goods comes after a new trade deal with China, and the cancellation of billions of proposed tariffs on Chinese imports. It targets the likes of Amazon and other marketplaces that increasingly host third-party sellers. The new laws will affect Canadian fulfillment centres, as well, which authorities say have long flouted U.S. trade laws by breaking up larger shipments and sending them to American customers duty-free.

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A group of lawmakers from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party want Japan to issue its own coin, in partnership with private firms. (Reuters)

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Talking point: On Tuesday, Japan’s central bank joined six others—including the Bank of Canada—to form a group studying the potential of issuing digital currencies. Japan is moving quite a bit faster than other members of the new group. (Canada, for example, has been studying digital currencies since at least 2013.) However, Japan faces unique threats. China is the farthest along of any country in developing a digital coin; it could challenge the U.S. dollar as a means of international settlement, something Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso said earlier this month would be a “very serious problem.” Japan has been one of the countries speaking out most forcefully on Libra, and has been calling for global cooperation in regulating Facebook’s coin for several months. Today’s move comes as Libra is also losing private-sector support. Earlier this week, the British telecom Vodafone left the Libra Association, the eighth firm to do so.