Steaming + more news

20 minutes estimated reading time


Luxury Stores Across the US Hit By Mass Heists in the Same Week – Robb Report – this sounds like a classic example of steaming. Steaming is a British phrase describing the phenomenon of shoplifting, when a large group of (usually youths) enter a store en masse and engage in shoplifting. Steaming puts a strain on shop security, it often causes panic in the store and creates so many suspects for the police to chase down. For the shoplifters steaming reduces the individual risk of getting caught. In large department stores, steaming becomes easier because of the number of exits. There are usually enough people involved to push past hastily set up security checkpoints during steaming. Young people are particularly attracted to steaming for a couple of reasons:

  • Low risk, high reward
  • Low impact of criminal penalties for many depending on their age
  • Peer pressure from other older members organising the steaming group

When I was in secondary school, we had a trip to Paris. A good number of peers one day engaged in steaming. They managed to make off to a large amount of Lacoste and Sergio Tachini sports clothing which was popular in Merseyside at the time. Steaming was also a central part of football casual culture. Much of the sportswear back in the 1980s were fenced goods. Criminal gangs followed European football games and practiced steaming in the lead up to a match at major department stores across France, Spain and Italy. The items were then sold on to groups of football fans back home through informal networks. What surprised me about this group doing the steaming was the nature of their crime. They were steaming boutiques, which have less entrances and exits than department stores. Boutiques often have queues of people to get in and security on the doors that would be bad for practicing steaming.

So what went wrong with store security to prevent steaming? Has steaming been facilitated by a cut back in security for cost cutting purposes? If so, will insurance companies honour losses incurred through these steaming attacks?


Prestige beauty: Inside Unilever’s growth engine | Vogue BusinessDana Kreutzer, project lead for beauty and personal care at US research firm Kline, says the acquisition “demonstrates the company’s focus on expanding its portfolio to include more digitally-led brands and clinical-grade skin care, which is a fast-moving segment in the skincare space”.


Prudent to file ‘loss of state-owned assets’ allegations despite public discontent against Lenovo continues – Global Times – so the Chinese state is lionising the wolf culture of Huawei


‘A Man of Determination’: This Glowing Profile Tells Us How Xi Jinping Wants to Be Seen“A man of determination and action, a man of profound thoughts and feelings, a man who inherited a legacy but dares to innovate, and a man who has forward-looking vision and is committed to working tirelessly.”

Opinion | We Spent a Year Investigating What the Chinese Army Is Buying. Here’s What We Learned. – POLITICOthe Chinese military is “intelligentizing” warfare by purchasing AI systems for all manner of applications, including autonomous vehicles, intelligence analysis, decision support, electronic warfare and cyber operations. At the same time, we found reason to be skeptical of the most ominous predictions about China’s efforts to fully automate warfare through “doomsday”-like weapons. Perhaps most importantly for U.S. policymakers, our investigation into the PLA’s buying habits shows how Chinese progress in military AI is being driven, in part, by access to American technology and capital. Our report highlights the critical role U.S. companies play in supplying China with data, software and funding. This points to serious shortcomings in the U.S. export control system, which wasn’t built to screen the high volume of technology transfer and capital flows into China, and which struggles to distinguish between military and civilian purchasers. Even as the United States attempts to decouple supply chains from China when it comes to American goods, it also needs to consider new strategies to prevent American know-how from inadvertently powering China’s technological advancements

China’s answer to Aukus alliance? More rhetoric, more intimidation tactics and more weapons | South China Morning PostA core strategy, say military experts, is to raise the cost of US defence of Taiwan by consolidating the Chinese grip over contested South China Sea islands Despite Beijing’s criticism of new or revived American coalitions, its own belligerence has played a big role in moving Western and Asian allies closer together

In the Russian Arctic, China treads on thinning ice | China Dialogues
In order to reach its goal of becoming a ‘polar great power’ China will need to lessen its dependence on Russian support and expand its economic and political ties with other Arctic states. This may present Arctic states with an opportunity to set limits on China’s regional influence, but the benefits of any such limitation must be measured against the importance of giving China a stake in the fight against climate change. In the traditionally calm waters of the Arctic, China’s ‘Arctic Policy White Paper’ made much of a splash when it was first released in 2018. The paper showed, as was argued at the time by politicians and pundits, that Beijing would seek to establish itself as a new Arctic power, and in the process deprive the eight Arctic states of their control over the region’s abundant natural resources

Solomon Islands PM Manasseh Sogavare faces calls to resign over China diplomatic ties | South China Morning PostThe protest began peacefully, but schools and businesses were shut by the afternoon as crowds tried to enter parliament demanding PM Manasseh Sogavare step down. Protesters were angry about lack of promised development and the Solomons government’s 2019 decision to cut ties with Taiwan and establish a formal relationship with China – the big question is what will China do to keep Sogavare or his party in power and maintain the status quo?

China backs UN pledge to ban (its own) social scoring – POLITICO – China and agreements…..

Secret Chinese Port Project in Persian Gulf Rattles U.S. Relations With U.A.E. – WSJU.S. intelligence agencies learned this spring that China was secretly building what they suspected was a military facility at a port in the United Arab Emirates, one of the U.S.’s closest Mideast allies, according to people familiar with the matter

Is the China-Europe Express becoming a political weapon in the hands of China? | RailFreight.comChina launched the Belt and Road initiative with the purpose to enhance Eurasian transport links. It includes Chinese cities, transit countries through Asia and European destinations. Understandably, such a vast investment from the Chinese side, including involvement in other countries’ economies, could constitute a political and economic hazard. Maja Bakran Marcich, the Deputy Director-General for Mobility and Transport at the European Commission, had warned some months ago that good synergies between Europe and China should be characterised by mutual respect and control over the power relations. 

It seems that when Marcich was saying that, she had a similar situation in mind. The New Silk Road is a crucial and fast-developing part of the global supply chain, putting rail freight at the forefront of transportation. However, it looks like it has the possibility of becoming a dangerous card on the table of diplomatic and political games. Should China have the liberty of just cancelling Eurasian train services in the name of political disputes? And shouldn’t the New Silk Road focus only on transportation purposes?

Chinese doctors query Beijing’s Covid contact tracing policy | Financial Times – the way that the Chinese government is going about it fits in with the concept of struggle in Stalinist thought. That the struggle is not only done but seen to be done. The doctors challenge therefore represents a much more profound dissonant voice against the CPC than the content in the article suggests. For this reason alone, they’ll likely spend some time down at the local public security office sitting in a tiger chair and agreeing to sign a document apologising. They will also have earned a huge black mark on their credit score at the very least.

Kevin Rudd: “China views the UK as weaker after Brexit” – New Statesmanthree core ideological undercurrents that form Beijing’s economic and foreign policy. First, China’s domineering relationship with its neighbours is shaped by its perception that it sits atop a regional hierarchy rooted in its imperial past. Second, the Chinese Communist Party’s Marxist-Leninism results in the dual conclusions that China’s time has come and the struggle between reactionary and progressive forces places China in opposition to the United States. The third undercurrent is national reunification with Taiwan – what Rudd describes as the central organising principle of China’s plans for East Asia first and then globally. Hence China’s work in the Antarctic and inserting itself as an Artic power without any semblance of claims.

China Is Jihadis’ New TargetIn early October, an Islamic State-Khorasan bomber killed nearly 50 people at a mosque in Kunduz, Afghanistan. That the militant group claimed responsibility for the attack wasn’t surprising, but, in a worrying new twist for Beijing, it also decided to link the massacre to China: The group said that the bomber was Uyghur and that the attack was aimed at punishing the Taliban for their close cooperation with China despite its actions against Uyghurs in Xinjiang. China was long seen as a secondary target by international terrorist organizations. Groups like al Qaeda and the Islamic State were so focused on targeting the United States, the West more generally, or their local adversaries that they rarely raised their weapons toward China, even though they may have wanted to due to, for example, China’s mistreatment of Uyghur Muslims. But in Kunduz, this narrative was brought brutally to a close. China can now consider itself a clear target. – probably more worrying for China is the risk that this kind of action will pose to them in other geographies like the Middle East and Africa and along the parts of the belt and road that go through restive muslim majority regions of the former Soviet Union

Consumer behaviour

For Chinese Men, Starting a Family Now Comes at a Price | Sixth Tone – interesting economic data behind it

Why Is Gen Z Acting Like Boomers Right Now? – Gen Z’s frantic, chain email-flavored TikToks prove naivety and gullibility is ageless. Not surprising given the younger cohorts in the resistor segment of COVID regulation compliance that research by Kings College London found last year.

Chinese parents find new ways to give their children an edge | Financial Timesparents have been seeking new ways to give their children an edge in the cut-throat university entrance examinations. Instead of signing up for foreign language classes, barred by the regulations, parents instead opt for non-core curriculum subjects like art, which are taught in English, says Ekaterina Kologrivaya, co-founder of Edtech Expand, a Beijing-based consulting start-up. Many of the large tutoring companies have closed their physical classrooms, transferring online to save costs. But Beijing barred local firms from hiring tutors located overseas, driving up demand for the depleted number of foreign teachers in China, unable to get into the country due to strict border controls. This has pushed up the prices of classes taught by foreigners, including debate classes, another crafty way for students to master prized English skills while abiding by the new rules


Lying Flat and the measure of all costs | Financial Times 

Is China’s catch-up growth over? – by Noah Smith – NoahpinionBut all things come to an end. Every other spurt of rapid development has eventually slowed to the stately pace of a mature economy. There are basically two reasons this happens. First, as you build more physical capital — more buildings, roads, railways, machine tools, vehicles — the added output of each new piece of capital goes down, while the upkeep costs just keep rising. This is the basis of the famous Solow growth model, and we’ve seen this happen again and again to fast-developing countries. The second reason rapid growth peters out is that it’s easier to copy existing technologies from other countries than to invent new ones yourself. The real question is when this slowdown happens. Japan’s history provides an interesting example here. Here’s a graph of Japan’s income per capita (at purchasing power parity) as a fraction of America’s: You can see that Japan’s catch-up (at least, post-WW2) really happened in two phases. There was rapid catch-up until the early 1970s, then a few years where catch-up paused, then a resumption of catch-up at a slower pace for about 15 more years. After the bursting of the country’s famous land bubble, its economy actually lost ground to the U.S. (rapid population aging was also a big part of this), and settled in at around 75% of U.S. levels (fairly standard for a medium-sized developed country). Economists have found that this pattern is very typical. In a pair of famous papers in 2012 and 2013, Barry Eichengreen, Donghyun Park and Kwanho Shin found that fast-growing countries tend to slow down when they reach a certain income level – peak China


The ‘Tesla-financial complex’: how carmaker gained influence over the markets | Financial Timesthe real importance and wider footprint of what might be called the “Tesla-financial complex” far outstrips the company’s market capitalisation. This is thanks to a vast, tangled web of dependent investment vehicles, corporate emulators and an enormous associated derivatives market of unparalleled breadth, depth and hyperactivity. Combined, these factors mean Tesla’s influence over the ebb and flow of the stock market is far greater than even its size would imply. It may even be historically unrivalled in its wider impact, some analysts say – is there a market squeeze opportunity? The parallels with Porsche in this regard are striking

Wall Street and the Chinese military industrial complex | Financial Times


Unilever bags €4.5 billion deal with CVC for tea unit | RTÉ – similar to what happened with the Family Brands ‘yellow fats’ business

Monster Beverage (MNST) Considers Deal With Constellation (STZ) – Bloomberg – this is an odd choice given that Coca-Cola is a major shareholder and would be the ideal partner for Monster Beverage distribution needs?


Top EU China critic: German companies act as “lobbyists” for Beijing – Axios – not surprising. The car companies, Duetsche Bank and T-Systems seems to have swayed Germany on authoritarian regimes including China. The Green Party running foreign policy is likely to see this change

Hong Kong

MPs table plans to permit children of Hong Kong BNO citizens to apply for UK visas –

Middle-aged Hongkongers among sharp increase of students heading to Canada, hoping to emigrate | South China Morning Post 

Rush to buy an extra smartphone for contact-tracing app shows typical Hong Kong ingenuity – but pursuit of privacy is doomed to fail | South China Morning Post – If they want to be truly invisible to the authorities, or whoever they suspect is keeping taps on them, they’d better give up their modern existence altogether. Every single electronic device we own or use nowadays, whether mobile, desk- or homebound, is capable of accessing our data and tracking our movements, lifestyles, moods, conversations and everything we are doing or not doing, even when we are asleep.

Former boss of British engineer suing Hong Kong company for discrimination admits calling him a ‘gweilo’, but says using foreigner would have sounded odd | South China Morning Post – The former boss of a British engineer who has accused his ex-employer of discrimination has admitted using the Cantonese slang “gweilo”, but said it was odd to call them foreigners in Hong Kong’s dialect. Lai Chiu-nam told the District Court on Monday that the slang term – which translates as “ghost man” – was a colloquialism he used to describe white people in the city, such as the plaintiff, Francis William Haden.

China seeks to tighten cyber scrutiny for companies in Hong Kong IPOs | Financial Times – stamps on the wind pipe of Hong Kong based IPOs

記者 梁嘉麗 is creating News features | Patreon – grassroots Hong Kong journalism


 Close Reading of the QAnon Shaman’s Conspiracy Manifesto ‹ Literary Hub the legitimate skepticism inspired by historical events like the assassination of JFK (and the Warren report’s open-and-shut verdict on it) has mutated into a toxic skepticism that is not only hostile to government institutions but has turned on gatekeepers like the press, scientists, and medical authorities, provoking an epistemological duel to the death over facts and alt-facts, truth and truthiness. The effect of these attacks and counterattacks is “mutually assured disqualification,” Bratich argued, in a 2017 lecture, punning on the Cold War doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction. And the effect of that is what could be called epistemological vertigo—the pervasive sense of not knowing how to sort fact from falsehood; of being unmoored from the truth. It’s what makes so many grab onto the reassuringly black-and-white theology of conspiracism. And it is a theology, Manichean in its cosmic struggle between good and evil, apocalyptic in its conviction that we’re living in the end times. “There is a war on humanity, there is a war on religion, there is a war on human assembly,” said Naomi Wolf, on Fox News Primetime. “Big Tech wants to drive everyone indoors and dissolve the bonds between people.” – interesting, though the writer shows their own belief in conspiracy theories


Daimler Truck and ZF advance fuel cell technology | EE News Automotive 

Carbon Counter/EVs: cleaner electricity makes a big difference to emissions | Financial Times In the UK, US and Germany such vehicles offer large emission reductions of 76 per cent, 60 per cent and 49 per cent respectively when run on the typical mix of power sources in mains electricity. Germany’s poor performance reflects its exposure to dirty lignite and coal as fuels. Hydroelectric-dependent countries such as Norway do strikingly better. However, a much smaller reduction in emissions occurs in China, at less than a fifth. China has the biggest market for plug-in cars. Fully electric vehicles accounted for 9 per cent of its entire market in the first half of this year, more than double the figure for 2019. Every year it adds more solar power capacity than any other nation. But as of November 2020, two-thirds of China’s electricity came from coal-fired generation, says the IEA. China’s huge appetite for coal means it plans to add almost a fifth to its coal-powered generation capacity of more than 1,000GW.

Chinese hypersonic weapon fired missile over South China Sea | Financial Times

Nuclear fusion: why the race to harness the power of the sun just sped up | Financial Times


Hijacking the mainstream: CCP influence agencies and their operations in Italian parliamentary and local politics – Sinopsis 


Ageism Is a Growing Problem for Korea – The Chosun Ilbo (English Edition)


Virgil Abloh and NIGO in Their Tailoring Time Machine

Dior’s explanation fails to convince Chinese netizens over controversial photo of spooky Asian woman – Global Times 

Chinese HNWs flock to the UK | International Adviser – jurisdiction for securing assets (from the Chinese state)


Disney CEO: We’re Ready for a Metaverse Future – The Hollywood Reporter“Our efforts to date are merely a prologue to a time when we’ll be able to connect the physical and digital worlds even more closely, allowing for storytelling without boundaries in our own Disney metaverse, and we look forward to creating unparalleled opportunities for consumers to experience everything Disney has to offer across our products and platforms, wherever the consumer may be.”


How plagiarism helps explain Facebook’s youth problem – by Casey Newton – Platformer – what Jimmy Tarbuck and Max Bygraves were to comedy routines, Facebook seems to be to memes. Recycling memes that have been successful on other platforms like TikTok, Twitter, Tumblr or YouTube


‘Daily torture’: Pro-democracy retail chain Chickeeduck to exit Hong Kong in 2022 citing pressure, threats – Hong Kong Free Press HKFP – interesting move on Hong Kong retail


Hackers Targeted Apple Devices in Hong Kong for Widespread Attack | WIRED – I’m calling it. It was China

Pangu Team purportedly jailbreaks iPhone 13 Pro remotely at TianfuCup 2021 

Facebook Papers: Chinese state-linked hackers targeting Cambodian opposition — Radio Free AsiaA hacker collective with suspected ties to Chinese intelligence has engaged in “consistent and long-term targeting” of officials from the Cambodia National Rescue Party, an internal investigation by Facebook found

Mainland Firms’ Hong Kong Listings Could Face National Security Reviews as China Releases Draft Data Management Rules – Caixin Global 

In Moscow’s Technological Advances, a ‘Double-Edged Sword’ – The New York Times

UK wants more secure products as ‘Hack Friday’ sales get under way | Financial Times – of course the catch will be in the enforcement of the PSTI Bill, Amazon will continue to selling lots of cheap Chinese insecure products like they have been doing for the past decade

Hostile states will be ‘greatest risk’ to 5G network | Ireland | The Times – guess ireland is going to be regretting that Huawei infrastructure


Behind China’s great crypto exodus to Singapore – Protocol

Singapore roars: could Asia’s ‘lion city’ be an alternative Hong Kong? | Financial Times


EXCLUSIVE Didi prepares to relaunch apps in China, anticipates data probe will end soon -sources | Reuters 

Stevens TechPulse Report | Stevens Institute of Technology – on AI


Taiwan hits back after Paul Keating says its status ‘not a vital Australian interest’ | The Guardian – it would be interesting to see what China connections Keating has

Web of no web

Unity is buying Peter Jackson’s Weta Digital for over $1.6B | TechCrunch