The headquarters of the Central Chinese Television (CCTV).
Axel Schmidt | DDP | Getty Images
China’s state-run media outlets have come out in force this week after keeping relatively quiet in the wake of U.S. President Donald Trump’s surprise announcement of tariff increases on Chinese goods.
Whether it’s the mouthpiece of the Communist Party or the national television broadcaster, the latest commentary exudes confidence about China’s ability to stand up to the U.S. That’s in contrast to a more muted press in preceding weeks. In an environment of tight government control of what messages are allowed to surface, the shift can shed light into what Chinese leaders are thinking about the drawn out trade negotiations.
“I expect it was ordered by the top leadership to forward the narrative of the U.S. as bully and China as victim,” said Scott Kennedy, director for the project on Chinese business and political economy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
“Putting the talks in broader normative terms gives (Beijing) leverage — ‘I can’t make big concession because my society will be angry’ — but it also makes it harder for both sides to dispassionately find common ground,” Kennedy added.
The world’s two largest economies have been embroiled in a trade dispute for more than a year. While Trump has focused on the U.S. trade deficit with China, issues include complaints that Beijing has fostered an uneven playing field with the alleged forced transfer of technology and a lack of intellectual property protections.
The two sides appeared close to a deal, until Trump tweeted on Sunday, May 5, Washington time, that tariffs on $200 billion worth of goods imported from China would increase to 25% from 10% that coming Friday. He cited a lack of progress on trade talks, and also threatened 25% tariffs on an additional $325 billion worth of Chinese goods would come “shortly.”
Official Chinese channels were quiet on the development for more than 24 hours until the Ministry of Foreign Affairs held its regular press conference, typically daily at 3 p.m. Beijing time, or 3 a.m. ET, during the work week. Spokesman Geng Shuang said the Chinese delegation was still preparing to travel to the U.S. for consultations on trade, but would not give any details.
When pressed by reporters, Geng said multiple times that they should contact the relevant department, which he did not specify by name.
“The relevant authority, naturally, is the one relevant to the issue. That’s why I will need to refer you to them,” he said, according to an official English-language transcript. A video clip of his non-answer was widely shared on Chinese social media. The Ministry of Commerce did not respond to requests from CNBC and other foreign news outlets for comment.
Only in the next several days did the Commerce Ministry release online statements, one confirming chief trade negotiator Liu He’s travels to the U.S. and another warning of “necessary countermeasures” if the Trump administration raised tariffs. At the ministry’s packed weekly press conference that Thursday, May 9, spokesman Gao Feng said China was prepared to respond to all kinds of outcomes on trade.
Liu He’s Washington visit ended about a day later with only the public acknowledgement that talks would continue. In remarks to Chinese state broadcaster CCTV, Liu emphasized the growth of the Chinese economy and the confidence of the people.
And, as Trump previewed, the U.S. raised tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods last Friday. When asked Monday afternoon in Beijing what China’s response would be, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Geng referred reporters to the Commerce Ministry’s statement and said he would echo a phrase from the U.S. side and “wait and see.”
That night, CCTV’s 7 p.m. prime time news roundup featured a strong statement from announcer Kang Hui that lasted for about a minute and a half.
“Regarding the trade war instigated by the U.S. side, China made its attitude clear early on: Unwilling to fight, but not afraid to fight; must fight when necessary,” he said in Mandarin, according to a CNBC translation. “(If the U.S. wants to) talk, our door is wide open; (if the U.S. wants to fight), we will accompany to the end. Having experienced more than 5,000 years of disturbances, what kind of battle formation have the Chinese people not seen?”
A few hours later, the Ministry of Finance published four lists of U.S. goods set for tariffs ranging from 5% to 25%. The total targeted amount of imports is $60 billion, far less than what the U.S. duties cover, and aren’t set to take effect until June 1. The finance ministry also released a plan for applying for tariff exemptions.
A video of CCTV’s Kang went viral on Chinese social media and state-run outlets ran articles highlighting the popularity of the clip. As of Thursday morning Beijing time, a post on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, showed the video had more than 99 million views.
People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, also released on Tuesday a morale-boosting graphic that called any attempts to bully China “wishful thinking.”
Other articles emphasizing China’s confidence and ability to stand up to the U.S. on trade have run in the last few days in Xinhua, the state-run news agency; and Global Times, the country’s state-owned tabloid.
Andy Mok, non-resident fellow at Beijing-based think tank Center for China and Globalization, pointed to a sentiment that Beijing is trying to emphasize the U.S. is powerless to make the Asian country act against its own interests. “This very clear stance by China is what they need to have the psychological breakthrough,” he said.
“The Chinese side has been very disciplined, ” he said. “After some internal consultation process this is how and when (they’re) going to respond.”
Embark hires Tesla Autopilot perception lead Zeljko Popovic
Embark self-driving truck
Zeljko Popovic, a leader within Tesla’s Autopilot team, is leaving for Embark, the autonomous trucking start-up in San Francisco, according to a person familiar with the move. Embark confirmed the hire.
The departure comes at a critical time, as Tesla is promising its electric vehicles will be capable of operating as “robotaxis” by the end of next year — which is to say, they’d be fully self-driving in normal conditions, without human intervention. Tesla also says it plans to start production of its long-awaited electric semi trucks by the end of 2020.
Popovic, whose background is in robotics, built and ran the perception team for Tesla’s Autopilot division.
According to people familiar with his accomplishments there, Popovic managed the development of highly accurate maps of U.S. highways for Tesla, and created a “sensor fusion system” which combines data from the many cameras, radars and ultrasonic sensors that Tesla vehicles employ. The sensor fusion system enables Autopilot to “see” other cars on the road.
At Tesla’s annual shareholder meeting this week, CEO Elon Musk acknowledged that some Tesla self-driving features still need improvements. “Summon,” which allows a driver to automatically call their car over from wherever it is parked, was supposed to be widely available by now. But at the meeting, Musk said it is still being tweaked.
Founded in 2015, Embark integrates its self-driving systems into Peterbilt semis rather than building its own trucks completely from scratch, and the trucks are generally operated with human supervisors behind the wheel. It now has more than a dozen trucks and 60 employees. Amazon is using self-driving trucks developed by Embark to haul some cargo on the I-10 interstate highway in California, both companies previously acknowledged.
Attrition has been a big issue for Tesla in the last two years as the company has missed some of its production goals and its stock price has swung wildly. Among others, self-driving VP Jim Keller left for Intel, and head engineer Doug Field rejoined Apple to work on that company’s secretive self-driving technology.
Popovic and Tesla did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Nishikori joins Federer, Djokovic as highest-paid tennis players: Forbes
Kei Nishikori of Japan celebrates match point during his men’s singles quarter-final match against Marin Cilic of Croatia on Day Ten of the 2018 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 5, 2018 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.
Elsa | Getty Images Sport | Getty Images
Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Kei Nishikori — when it comes to men’s tennis, these are the top three highest-paid athletes, according to a Forbes ranking.
Some may be surprised that Nishikori bested Rafael Nadal, but the 29-year-old has become quite a superstar in his home country of Japan, where he has a large and adoring fanbase. Crowds have gotten so large at practices, they have caused safety concerns, and prompted him to move to the U.S. for training.
With earnings of $37.3 million, Nishikori, ranked 35th on the Forbes list to Federer’s 5th place ($93.4 million) and Djokovic’s 17th place ($50.6 million). Nadal raked in $35 million to place 37th.
Nishikori stood out at the very beginning, said John Butler, executive director of the Delray Beach Open. Butler remembers when Nishikori won his first ATP title at the Delray Beach Open in 2008.
“Even at that stage when he was relatively a no one in the tennis world, he knew how to step up at the big moments,” said Butler. “He knows how to execute, that’s why he’s been so steady in his climb.”
“Project 45” was Nishikori’s nickname when he was 18, Butler said. The nickname referenced his goal to beat Japanese tennis champion Shuzo Matsuoka’s ranking of #46, which was once the highest world ranking for any Japanese tennis player. But that was before Nishikori blew past that record, joining the world’s top ten.
Nishikori is currently ranked number 7 in singles, but he reached a career high of number 4, making him the first Japanese men’s tennis player to have been ranked in the top 5 for singles.
In 2016, he won a gold medal in the Olympics in Rio, which was the first gold medal for Japan in over 96 years. He also became the first Asian player to reach the men’s Grand Slam final at the 2014 U.S. Open.
One of the reasons Nishikori bested Nadal was his endorsements. Forbes said Nishikori took home $4.3 million in prize money to Nadal’s $9 million, but Nishikori’s $33 million in endorsement, topped Nadal’s $25 million.
Nishikori has been able to make a number of brand deals with sneakers from Nike, noodles from Nissin, a car at Jaguar, and a jet at Japan Airlines named after him. He also has deals with Asahi, NTT, Lixil, and Procter & Gamble.
When it comes to on-court fashion, Nishikori is also well-connected. Uniqlo named Nishikori their global ambassador in 2011 and outfitted him for the 2019 French Open. He also signed a lifetime deal with Wilson in 2015.
Nishikori, who is active on social media, has 1 million followers on Twitter and more than 500,000 on Instagram, where he posts about brand partners like Jaguar.
Butler said Nishikori’s success is especially impressive because he hasn’t allowed his smaller stature to get in the way of competitors who are much taller.
“He’s a fascinating role model and example for young players who aren’t 6’4. He maximizes what he’s good at and he doesn’t have weaknesses,” he said. “He can rip a ball without being Rafael Nadal.”
Broadcom reports Q2 2019 earnings
Hock Tan, chief executive officer of Broadcom
Martin H. Simon | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Shares of chipmaker Broadcom fell more than 7% on Thursday after the company reported lower-than-expected revenue for the second quarter of its 2019 fiscal year, which ended on May 5.
Here are the key numbers:
- Earnings: $5.21 per share, excluding certain items, vs. $5.16 per share as expected by analysts, according to Refinitiv.
- Revenue: $5.52 billion, vs. $5.68 billion as expected by analysts, according to Refinitiv.
Broadcom’s revenue grew 10% year over year in the quarter, according to a statement.
In recent weeks other semiconductor companies have lowered their forecasts following the U.S. government’s efforts to limit Huawei’s ability to purchase products from U.S. companies. Piper Jaffray analysts Harsh Kumar and Matthew Farrell estimated that Huawei represents 3% of Broadcom’s revenue at about $150 million per quarter in a note distributed to clients on May 24. The analysts lowered their full-year earnings and revenue estimates for Broadcom in light of the blacklisting, which was announced in mid-May.
Broadcom lowered its guidance for the full 2019 fiscal year, saying it now expects to achieve $22.50 billion in revenue in that period. The consensus among analysts polled by Refinitiv was $24.31 billion in revenue for the 2019 fiscal year. In the previous quarter Broadcom had guided $24.50 billion in full-year revenue.
“We currently see a broad-based slowdown in the demand environment, which we believe is driven by continued geopolitical uncertainties, as well as the effects of export restrictions on one of our largest customers. As a result, our customers are actively reducing their inventory levels, and we are taking a conservative stance for the rest of the year,” Broadcom CEO Hock Tan was quoted as saying in Thursday’s statement.
Broadcom stock has risen 10% since the beginning of 2019.
Executives will discuss the results with analysts at 5 p.m. Eastern time.
This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.
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