Fortune’s Good Fortune
FORTUNE is in the news this morning; this orphan has finally found a happy home. Thai businessman Chatchaval Jiaravanon has agreed to pay $150 million to purchase the title from Meredith, and has asked me to run it. I had dinner with “Chat” last night in Hong Kong, and couldn’t be more pleased with his vision for our future. He believes in our mission, supports our editorial independence, and wants to invest to make FORTUNE grow and prosper around the world.
The mission is to make business better, by providing quality information and analysis as well as access to the best minds in business. At a time when technology is forcing every company to rethink the fundamentals of everything they do, we can provide the advice and inspiration they need to move forward. And at a time when capitalism is under attack, we can highlight best practices and build a community of business leaders who are dedicated to better serving the needs of society. It’s both an exciting and an uncertain moment in the history of business, and FORTUNE has a role to play in lighting the path forward.
So watch this space. We’ve got big things in the works for the future, and we hope CEO Daily readers will come along for the ride.
By the way, tomorrow is Singles Day in China – 11/11 – an Alibaba-created sales event that has become the world’s largest online shopping day. I’ve used up Clay Chandler’s normal Sino Saturday spot this morning but have asked him to give us a report Monday on this year’s extravaganza. Meanwhile, news summaries below remain China-focused as usual.
Enjoy the weekend!
Politics and Policy
A warmer winter. Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan attended the Bloomberg New Economy Forum this week, which had moved to Singapore from its original location in Beijing. At the forum, Wang called for the U.S. to “abandon the Cold War mentality” and pledged to push for a “mutually acceptable” resolution to the Trade War. At the same event, former Secretary of State and veteran of Sino-U.S. relations Henry Kissinger advised the feuding nations to be frank about their ‘red lines’ in order to avert falling into a Thucydides Trap. On Thursday in Beijing, Kissinger met with Xi to discuss the same issue. Caixin
Call that a fund? Late last month, the Australian state of Victoria signed a memorandum of understanding with the Chinese ambassador to support the Belt and Road Initiative, becoming the only Australian state to do so. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has criticised the Victorian government’s independent action as Australia has grown increasingly wary of China. This year Canberra has blocked Huawei from domestic infrastructure problems, passed a law targeting Chinese spies, and bolstered military ties with pacific islands. Now Canberra has launched a $2.8 billion fund to counter the BRI, stating, "This is our patch of the world”. Reuters
The score on security. A National Security Agency official said that China has likely violated an Obama-era pact to reduce cyber espionage. The 2015 agreement has dramatically reduced the amount of cyber interference coming out of China, but NSA official Rob Joyce says China is clearly still “beyond the bounds” of the accord. Yesterday, Mike Pompeo and Jim Mattis met with their Chinese counterparts to hold talks on security, concluding a meeting originally billed for October, which was cancelled abruptly. Wall Street Journal
Trade and Economy
A matter of import. On Monday Xi Jinping delivered the opening address at a six-day import expo in Shanghai, designed to position China as a major buyer of the world’s goods. “Openness has become a trademark of China,” was one of Xi’s more dubious claims. Notably absent from the event were leaders of China’s largest trading partners, such as Germany and the U.S. The latter didn’t even send an official delegation. New York Times
Bean counters. Chinese imports of U.S. soybeans are down 94% from last year. The legume was one of the first products hit by tariffs in the Trade War and there’s concern that Chinese demand will never return to pre-tariff levels. Chinese pig farmers, who import the beans for feed, have put their hogs on low-soy diets, bringing the chow more in-line with international standards. Meanwhile soybean imports from other nations have also picked up. New York Times
Downward spiral. Li Yang, the head of a state-backed think tank has warned that China is heading towards a long-term “downward spiral” as the economy’s three primary growth engines – investment, export and consumption – all slow. GDP rose 6.5% in the third quarter, its slowest quarterly rate in almost a decade. Li warned during a speech to the Chinese Institutional Investors Summit, “We need to pay extremely close attention” to the data. Australian Financial Review
In Case You Missed It
Washington unnerved by China’s ‘military-civil fusion’ Financial Times
Innovation and Tech
China’s internet forum lags. China’s annual World Internet Forum has lost some lustre. Held annually since 2014, this year there was a noticeable dearth of western tech talent, and a decline in local tech heroes. Last year Tim Cook and Sundar Pinchai were among the keynote speakers. This year the only Western tech exec to deliver an address was Qualcomm’s Steve Mollenkopft. Even Xi Jinping gave it a miss, sending a letter instead (which was apparently very well received). Bloomberg
Drones take off. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles were the highlight of the Zhuhai Air Show this week. There are over 350 private firms making drones in China. Because Beijing expects the military to pick up any excess capacity that might develop, many manufacturers are designing adaptable drones that can serve both commercial and defence purposes – delivering parcels or bombs as necessary. Financial Times
Artificial news. Xinhua debuted an English language, robotic news anchor on Wednesday, powered by AI from Chinese search engine Sogou. The synthetic journalist, a likeness of real-life anchor Zhang Zhao, delivered a two-minute round up of the news in impressive, but not perfect, English (Jack Ma was renamed “Jack Massachusetts” for one). Xinhua claims the AI-anchors will help free up manpower and be used to generate videos on breaking news. Frankly it won’t hurt the state-owned news agency to have reporters that can be programmed to toe Party lines either. Sixth Tone