Good evening. Last week, our cover story focused on Temu, the U.S.-based sister company of Pinduoduo that has given even Shein a run for its money. But what about the original king of China’s e-commerce market? In part two of our look at the e-commerce war, our cover story this week looks at Alibaba and why it is relying on a little-known part of its business for its overseas comeback. Elsewhere, we have an interactive infographic on China’s most serious extreme weather events last year; an interview with Ernest Scheyder on the war below for critical minerals; a follow-up piece on the G42 controversy, and an op-ed about how U.S. export controls risk emboldening Beijing. If you’re not already a paid subscriber to The Wire, please sign up here.
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Eclipsed overseas by younger e-commerce rivals, Alibaba is relying on a little-known part of its business for its comeback. Cainiao, which focuses on the nitty-gritty of getting packages to customers, is the world’s largest cross-border delivery firm, surpassing both DHL and FedEx by freight volume. Now it has filed for an initial public offering in Hong Kong, and as Eliot Chen reports, it might help Alibaba to take on Shein and Temu.
Besides the human cost, natural disasters are causing ever more damage to China’s economy. This week’s interactive infographic takes a look at the most serious extreme weather events that occurred in China in 2023.
Ernest Scheyder is a senior correspondent at Reuters, where he reports on the clean energy transition and critical minerals. Those topics form the subject of his new book, The War Below: Lithium, Copper, and the Global Battle to Power our Lives, in which he travels around the U.S. and beyond to illustrate the issues around mining and producing the rare earths and other minerals that are vital to products from electric vehicles to smartphones. In this week’s Q&A with Andrew Peaple, he talks about the trade-offs involved in sourcing the minerals needed to power the clean energy transition, and how the U.S. fell behind China in producing vital resources.
Illustration by Lauren Crow
Katrina Northrop follows up on the G42 controversy, and reports on the broader debate it represents: How should Washington regulate emerging AI technology, and how far should the government go to ensure that firms from adversaries like China can’t catch up with leading American companies like OpenAI?
Rather than restricting access to militarily useful technologies, U.S. export control officials and their failed policies risk emboldening Beijing, Steve Coonen argues in this week’s op-ed.
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