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The diplomatic spat over Canada’s arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou has hurt Canada’s bottom line, with exports to China diving nearly 20 per cent in October—the biggest drop since 2012, to the lowest export level in over five years. Yet thanks in part to increased exports to U.S., Canada’s merchandise trade deficit with the world actually narrowed by $100 million to $1.1 billion. (The Logic)

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Talking point: Don’t tell Donald Trump: Canada’s trade surplus with its neighbour hit an 11-year high of $5.5 billion, fuelled by energy and gold. The surplus was also driven in part by the export of fine art valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars; it was sent to New York for sale at a fair, but any unsold works that are returned to Canada will be booked as imports in a subsequent report. And though trade with China plunged in apparent retaliation for Meng’s arrest last year—especially affecting the export of crops like soybeans—relations between the two countries may be thawing; in November, China lifted a four-month ban on Canadian beef and pork.

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The technology is being tested with blood samples collected from Uyghurs and others from mainly Muslim minority groups in the Xinjiang region of western China. Some of the research is conducted in labs run by China’s Ministry of Public Security and is backed by funding from European research institutions. (The New York Times)

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Talking point: The technology, called DNA phenotyping, is also being developed in the U.S. and elsewhere. It’s been used to identify a murder victim in Maryland, as well as a suspect in North Carolina who pleaded guilty to murder. The U.S. cases are examples of its intended use. But ethics experts warn that Chinese authorities could use the technology for its racial profiling and state discrimination efforts against Uyghurs and other minorities. Specifically, the technology could tap into the country’s robust DNA database—the largest in the world—and use the images to reinforce its growing facial recognition systems and ultimately identify, not just criminals, but protestors and dissidents.

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Ziijin will pay $5.50 per share, a 13 per cent increase on Continental’s closing stock price Friday. The deal is subject to approval from Canadian and Chinese regulators. (The Logic)

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Talking point: This sale is significant both for Ottawa-Beijing relations as well as the growing number of deals in Canada’s mining sector. For the former, the deal comes about 18 months after Ottawa blocked the $1.5-billion takeover of Aecon Group by a Chinese firm. On Sunday, newly minted foreign affairs minister François-Philippe Champagne called for a new “framework” for Canada-China relations. The Continental deal will now become part of the delicate talks between the two countries, which are also navigating U.S. pressure on Canada to ban Huawei, Chinese restrictions on Canadian meat and canola producers, as well as the arrest of Canadians in China and Huawei’s CFO in Canada. On the deal side, this offer comes one week after Kirkland Lake bought Detour Gold for $4.9 billion. Also this year, Barrick Gold bought Randgold Resources for about $8 billion and Newmont Mining paid about $13 billion for Goldcorp.

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Regulations now compel Chinese telecom carriers to scan the faces of customers registering new mobile phone services, a move the government said will help reduce fraud. (Reuters)

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Talking point: Millions more Chinese citizens will become data points in the country’s massive facial recognition database, a key part of the government’s surveillance strategy. Already, the country has harnessed AI and big data (not to mention 200 million cameras) to become what has been called the “world’s largest surveillance state”—while also reportedly helping shape the UN’s standards governing facial recognition technology. Next year, the country will fully roll out its mandatory social credit system, through which citizens can be punished for social faux pas like bad driving by having their internet throttled and their children denied access to good schools. The initiatives have led to leaks. The state-run People’s Daily newspaper reported finding sites hawking bundles of facial recognition data of over 5,000 people for $1.89.

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The outgoing Caisse CEO said the rise of economic nationalism has turned countries into competing silos, affecting everything from supply chains and trade to the fight against climate change. (The Canadian Press)

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Talking point: The speech to Montreal’s Canadian Club was a pro-business broadside against the tepid global response to warming temperatures and rising seas. Noting the economically calamitous fires in California fires, Sabia said sustainable economic growth is in the world’s interest. Sabia will leave Quebec’s pension fund manager in February with the institution molded to that worldview; under his leadership, it’s placed an increased emphasis on green infrastructure and pushed to invest beyond Quebec’s borders. Though he will head up the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy next year, the transplanted Quebecer will continue to live in Montreal.

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The broad regulation also compels content providers to flag manipulated news content on the web, and regulates the use of these technologies beyond the news media. (South China Morning Post)

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Talking point: The law is perhaps the clearest sign yet of the worldwide concern over reality-bending audio and video. Such AI-enabled trickery is easily accessible, increasingly lifelike and, thanks to social media, quickly disseminated. In the U.S., researchers are worried about the potentially caustic effects of deepfakes on the 2020 election. The issue isn’t just the audio and videos themselves, but the potential they create for people to delegitimize real content by saying it was faked. This phenomenon, known as the “liar’s dividend,” has already roiled politics in Gabon, Brazil and China, where a popular (and freakishly convincing) face-swapping app remains among the most popular downloads.

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The social media platform, owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, has reinstated New Jersey teen Feroza Aziz’s account, which she said was suspended after she sneaked criticism of China’s detentions of Uyghur Muslims into a purported makeup tutorial. (Bloomberg, Financial Times)

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Talking point: Seventeen-year-old Aziz used eyelash-curling tips to bookend30 seconds of political commentary, telling users to find out “what’s happening in China, how they’re getting concentration camps, throwing innocent Muslims in there.” In a lengthy statement, TikTok said the video was removed for only 50 minutes due to a “human moderation error”, adding that it would be conducting a review of its content-moderation process. U.S. lawmakers have been increasingly concerned about Beijing’s influence over the quickly growing platform, which now claims roughly 1.5 billion global downloads, and over 120 million in the U.S. “TikTok doesn’t limit political content except in extreme cases such as hate speech,” a company spokesperson told the Financial Times.

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Chancellor Angela Merkel said continent-wide regulations regarding the implementation of 5G infrastructure would avoid sending “mixed signals” to China, the largest purveyor of the technology. (Reuters)

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Talking point: Merkel’s diplomacy belies her own difficult position on all things China. As one of Germany’s biggest trading partners, China exerts significant economic sway in Merkel’s backyard. At the same time, she faces a revolt within her own Christian Democratic Union, of which many key members want to ensure parliament has a say in the government’s Huawei policy. By calling for a pan-European approach to Chinese technology, Merkel is trying to quell German privacy concerns—and avoid a patchwork of potentially contradictory laws that would ultimately be “disastrous” for the continent as a whole.

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A group of opposition parties won 347 of the 452 available seats across 18 district councils, while another 45 went to independents. “It is clear that no matter what happens, Hong Kong is a part of China,” said Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who also warned that attempts to “mess up” the region or “damage its prosperity and stability” would not succeed. (South China Morning Post)

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Talking point: Hong Kong district councillors’ powers are limited to local issues. But pro-democracy parties are using their victory to call for chief executive Carrie Lam’s resignation and for the Chinese government to agree to protesters’ demands, which include universal suffrage and an independent investigation into the police response to the demonstrations. Wang’s comments do not indicate Beijing’s stance is softening. Mainland residents may also be getting delayed news on the election’s outcome—state-run agency Xinhua did not publish results, while the messaging app WeChat has reportedly censored and shut down accounts that post pro-protester messages.

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The Beijing-based company may launch its subscription streaming service in countries including India, Indonesia and Brazil as soon as next month. In the U.S., it’s testing a shopping feature on its TikTok app. Even as it tries to diversify its user base beyond its core markets, however, it’s trying to ensure it is identified less with China, reacting to U.S. scrutiny of the company by limiting the amount of Chinese content on TikTok and discussing a stateside rebrand. (The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Reuters)

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Talking point: TikTok is the first Chinese social-media platform—and first from outside the U.S.—to gain major traction in America, where it’s been downloaded by over 100 million people. That represents only about four per cent of TikTok and Douyin users, and it’s operating at a significant loss in in one of the world’s most important markets. But ByteDance is still looking to assuage U.S. regulators’ concerns about its ties to China because the company’s investors see expansion in the country as key to being able to go public, potentially late next year. At US$75 billion, the firm is one of the most valuable startups in the world. Moving into e-commerce and music streaming puts ByteDance into direct competition with many U.S. Big Tech firms, like Instagram and Apple Music, respectively.