Threads is giving Taiwanese users a safe space to talk about politics

3. The US government is considering cutting the so-called de minimis exemption from import duties, which makes it cheap for Temu and Shein to send packages to the US. But lots of US companies also benefit from the exemption now. (The Information $)

4. The Chinese commerce minister will visit Europe soon to plead his country’s case amid the European Commission’s investigation into Chinese electric vehicles. (Reuters $)

5. After three years of unsuccessful competition with WhatsApp, ByteDance’s messaging app designed for the African market finally shut down last month. (Rest of World)

6. The rapid progress of AI makes it seem less necessary to learn a foreign language. But there are still things AI loses in translation. (The Atlantic $)

7. This is the incredible story of a Chinese man who takes his piano to play outdoors at places of public grief: in front of the covid quarantine barriers in Wuhan, at the epicenter of an earthquake, on a river that submerged villages. And he plays the same song—the only song he knows, composed by the Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto. (NPR)

Lost in translation

With Netflix’s March release of The Three Body Problem, a series adapted from the global hit sci-fi novel by Chinese author Liu Cixin, Western audiences are also learning about a movie-like real-life drama behind the adaptation. In 2021, the Chinese publication Caixin first investigated the mysterious death of Lin Qi, a successful businessman who bought the movie rights to the book. In 2017, he hired Xu Yao, a prominent attorney, to work on legal affairs and government relations.

In December 2020, Lin died after he was poisoned by a mysterious mix of toxins. According to Caixin, Xu is a fan of the TV series Breaking Bad and had his own plant in Shanghai where he made poisons. He would order hundreds of different toxins through the dark web, mix them, and use them on pets to experiment. A week before Lin’s death, Xu gave him a bottle of pills that were supposedly prebiotics, but he had replaced them with poison. 

Xu was arrested soon after Lin died, and he was sentenced to death on March 22 this year.

One more thing

Taobao, China’s leading e-commerce platform, announced it’s experimenting with delivering packages by rockets. Yes, rockets. Made by a Chinese startup, Taobao’s pilot rockets will be able to deliver something as big as a car or a truck, and the rockets can be reused for the next delivery. To be honest, I still can’t believe this wasn’t an April Fool’s joke.