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🌍 ByteDance is in the hospital

TikTok’s parent company acquired Amcare Healthcare.

A figure of a man from the shoulders up wearing a face mask, black tshirt, and glasses can be seen in front of the cream-tiled facade of ByteDance headquarters. Above him is a lettered 3D sign with the English name "ByteDance" and Chinese name underneath in a navy blue. To the left is ByteDance's logo, which is four columns of varying lengths and heights in different shades of blue.
Noel Celis / AFP
An employee walks outside the headquarters of ByteDance, the owner of video sharing app TikTok, in Beijing on August 5, 2020.
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Good morning, Quartz readers!


Here’s what you need to know

ByteDance bought a Chinese hospital group. TikTok’s parent company acquired Amcare Healthcare for $1.5 billion—amid a broader trend of tech sector expansion into medical services—though it hasn’t said why, exactly.

China and the UK agreed to restart direct passenger flights. Suspended since late 2020, Chinese airlines will lift off first, with British Airways slated to follow.

India passed an energy conservation bill. The legislation includes minimum renewable energy requirements for corporations and penalties for noncompliance.

London will offer a polio vaccine booster to children. Kids aged one to nine will be eligible under the new program.

China published its first white paper on Taiwan in decades. It provides a blueprint for reunification, according to an analyst. Meanwhile, China ended days of unprecedented military drills but stated “war preparation” is ongoing.

Softbank will slash its stake in Alibaba. The Japanese conglomerate expects to make $34 billion from the sale of around 38% of its most famous investment after reporting a record first quarter loss.

Key commercial waterways in Europe are drying up. Rivers like the Rhine and Danube are evaporating in the heat, threatening $80 billion in trade. That same heat could make olive oil 20-25% more expensive.



What to watch for

After weeks of rumors and speculation, the Hong Kong government has finally announced that mandatory hotel quarantines for inbound travelers will be shortened from three days to seven.

But Hong Kong’s stringent quarantine measures and at-times contradictory covid policies continue to deter tourists and business travelers. Its economy has taken a hit from the travel slowdown, sliding into a recession last month following two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth.

Fitch Ratings predicts the economy will shrink again this year, as zero-covid policies locally and in mainland China continue to weigh on production, trade, and consumption.

However, the easing of quarantine restrictions has already brightened Cathay Pacific’s second-half outlook and sparked a jump in travel searches for outbound tickets. The resumption of flights between China and the UK could also signal a further easing of covid restrictions in the near future.

Image copyright: Mary Hui

The Mouse in the high castle

Walt Disney’s third-quarter earnings had a liberal sprinkling of fairy dust. Theme parks continue to be heroes, but the Mouse may be squeezed along with consumers’ belts due to inflation and recession fears. After all, a week-long Disney vacation “baseline” price for a family of four is $5,731, according to MouseHacking.com.

Theatrically, Disney’s doing fine, with a huge global showing at the box office for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Thor: Love and Thunder. And, unlike with Netflix, streaming is not this earning report’s villain. This quarter, Disney+ reached 152.1 million subscribers—about 5 million more than forecasts guessed. A lower cost, ad-supported tier is expected to help the streaming service become profitable.

A strong slate of content will only help matters, including I Am Groot, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, and The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, all on Disney+, as well as the highly-anticipated Black Panther: Wakanda Forever in cinemas.


US inflation has finally peaked (we think)

US consumer prices didn’t increase at all in July compared to the previous month, coming in much lower than economists’ predictions. Nate DiCamillo explains what could be next, barring any unforeseen circumstances like invasions, factory shutdowns, and massive ships wedged into important canals. It’s been quite a time for the global economy, really.

Image copyright: Nate DiCamillo

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Surprising discoveries

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An ancient Chinese recipe for bronze has finally been deciphered. The translation of two components had been lost in translation.

The American middle class is hungry for cheap eateries. Restaurant chains Applebee’s and IHOP are seeing a growth among patrons earning more than $75,000 a year.

A volcanic island saw its first magma eruptions in 1,000 years. Japanese meteorologists don’t think they’re significant enough to warrant a special report, but Japanese fish disagree.

Chinese studies are now the world’s most cited. The country’s scientific research has overtaken the US’s both in terms of the quantity of papers published, and the number of citations they get.


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