US-China tensions, postponed launch, breath freedom

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The top US diplomat told Congress that Hong Kong’s autonomy is over. Secretary of state Mike Pompeo’s action could mean that the city no longer receives special treatment under US laws. Meanwhile, China’s foreign ministry vowed to retaliate for any US action over a Hong Kong security law. At least 360 Hong Kongers were arrested at Wednesday’s protests, and Taiwan promised to help those who relocate from Hong Kong.

Huawei’s CFO lost her bid for freedom in Canadian court. The decision means the hearing for Meng Wanzhou’s extradition to the US, where she is wanted for fraud, can continue. Separately, the Japanese government reportedly plans to ban the use of equipment from Chinese telecoms like Huawei by agencies that handle the public’s private data. and NetEase prepare to raise billions in Hong Kong listings. The city’s stock exchange will reportedly review listings for the Chinese companies Thursday; if approved, their trading debuts are set for mid-June. Alibaba’s Hong Kong stock sale raised $13 billion last November.

New Zealand’s last hospitalized Covid-19 patient headed home. It was also the fifth consecutive day the country reported no new coronavirus cases.

SpaceX and NASA postponed their astronaut launch. The first launch of its kind in nine years was rescheduled for Saturday after harsh weather failed to clear in time for the tightly scheduled liftoff.

China’s trade focus is pivoting

Due to its trade war with the US and the fast growing economies of its southern neighbors, China now trades more with Southeast Asia than it does with Uncle Sam. In the first quarter of 2020, about 14% of Chinese exports were shipped to the US, by far the lowest share in the past 15 years.

The member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) accounted for nearly 16% of Chinese exports in the same time period, the first time on record that the trade bloc accounted for a larger share of exports than the US.

A line chart showing the US's and ASEAN nation's share of Chinese exports from 2006 to 2020. ASEAN's share has grown consistently over the period. The US share had been larger and more constant, but just dropped to below ASEAN.

Among ASEAN countries, Chinese exports have risen most quickly to Vietnam. As its economy industrialized, the country went from importing just $1 billion in goods from China in all of 2001 to over $60 billion in 2019.

Charting spacecraft cost

Image for article titled US-China tensions, postponed launch, breath freedom

One small seat for a human equals one giant leap for humankind—more astronauts that can be sent to space means more experiments and more science. And the relatively low per-seat cost of SpaceX’s crew Dragon spacecraft means that Earthlings could see SpaceX founder Elon Musk’s dream of sending humans to other planets become a reality much faster.

But what about monetizing space as an environment, such as with the reportedly planned film collaboration between SpaceX, NASA, and Tom Cruise? Or SpaceX’s space tourism dealings with Axiom? Despite the relative per-seat cheapness, the astronomical cost involved means that the return on investment would likely be far too low, particularly when the safety risks skyrocket with each additional passenger.

The crewed Dragon launch may have been postponed, but that just means more time for you to get caught up. Quartz’s Tim Fernholz is taking us there for a per-seat cost of free during this exciting time for space enthusiasts. Click the button below to sign up for our Space Business email.👇

For Quartz members

How do you make a hit series during a pandemic?

Studios are figuring out how to start up TV and film production in time to continue the efficient release of content, and Netflix has already resumed filming on shows in Iceland and Sweden. Here’s what a day on the set looks like for actors:

  • Voluntary testing for Covid-19
  • Temperature tests every morning
  • Self-quarantining for 14 days before shooting
  • Isolating with crew for the duration of the two-week shoot
  • Boxed meals instead of buffets
  • Single-use, disposable makeup applicators
  • Visual effects swapped in for some live scenes

It isn’t surprising that Netflix, a business predicated on at-home entertainment, benefited from consumers staying at home. But is a crash inevitable? Pop some popcorn, pause your favorite show, and read our field guide on what’s next for Netflix.

✦ Get access to this field guide and a lot more when you become a Quartz member. (Try a seven-day free trial.) ✦

You asked about bank stability

What keeps all banks from going under when the grace period for not paying rent or house payments finally occurs and people aren’t able to pay? —C.A.P.

For now, the world’s big investment banks are expected to stay modestly profitable despite the virus breakout, according to a report published in April by Moody’s Investors Service. These lenders have been fortified with capital since the financial crisis and many have suspended share repurchases, and they’ve been socking away loan-loss provisions by the billions. But you’re right, it can’t last forever, and everything depends on whether economic conditions start looking up by the end of this year.

Local bank branches, which were already in decline, will have a much tougher time—John Detrixhe, Daniel Wolfe, and Dan Kopf came up with a fascinating, if rather dispiriting, tool to help you determine the likelihood yours will close down by July.

For more from John Detrixhe, you may want to check out the Quartz field guide on how to save the economy (✦). It’s free for Quartz members (and non-members, if you sign up for a 7-day free trial).

✉️ Do you have a burning question about how coronavirus is changing the world?

Surprising discoveries

People in Thailand are ditching Twitter for a crypto social network. A privacy scare and fears of government censorship have prompted an exodus to Minds.

No one is worried about bad breath right now. Hershey’s gum and mint sales are way down.

5, 6, 7, 8, isn’t social distancing great? The choreographer for Broadway’s Mrs. Doubtfire musical has reworked the show to keep actors at a responsible distance from each other.

An app lets Japanese soccer fans cheer (or boo) from a distance. It pipes their remote game reactions into the stadium’s speakers.

Crayola acknowledged that “flesh” comes in different colors. The company developed 24 new crayon colors with a makeup artist to represent a range of skin tones.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, crayon news, and six-feet-apart dance steps to Get the most out of Quartz by downloading our app on iOS or Android and becoming a member. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Dan Kopf, John Detrixhe, Jackie Bischof, Susan Howson, and Liz Webber.