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    Missing in action: China’s defence minister has disappeared

    enSeptember 21, 2023

    Podcast Summary

    • Bank of America offers digital tools for businesses, China's Defense Minister disappearsBank of America provides businesses with exclusive digital tools, China's Defense Minister Li Shang Fu disappears, first Central Military Commission member to be ousted in years, reasons unclear, potential indiscipline or scandal involvement

      The business world continues to evolve, with companies like Bank of America offering exclusive digital tools and solutions to help businesses of all sizes make every move matter. Meanwhile, in global news, the disappearance of China's Defense Minister, Li Shang Fu, has raised eyebrows and left many wondering about potential reasons for his absence, with some reports suggesting he may have been detained for questioning. This marks a significant development, as it would be the first time in several years that someone on the Central Military Commission has been ousted. The reasons for his removal are unclear, but speculation includes possible indiscipline or involvement in a scandal related to China's Rocket Force and its growing military budget. Apple, on the other hand, saw a less eventful iPhone launch this year, with sales potentially facing challenges due to competition from China.

    • Sudden removals of Chinese officials raise questionsFrequent unexplained disappearances of high-ranking Chinese officials, including military commanders and a foreign minister, cast doubt on Xi Jinping's judgment or China's vetting process and may impact morale within the military amid US tensions.

      Over the past few months, several high-ranking Chinese officials, including military commanders and a foreign minister, have been suddenly removed from their posts or have disappeared without official explanation. These individuals were personal appointments by Chinese President Xi Jinping, raising questions about his judgment or the effectiveness of China's vetting process for senior appointments. The frequency of these incidents comes as tensions between China and the United States are escalating, increasing the stakes and potentially damaging morale within the Chinese military. Despite this, there are currently no signs of an organized challenge to Xi Jinping's leadership within China. However, these events do call into question the capacity of the system he oversees to ensure the integrity of senior appointments and may fuel speculation about underlying issues within the Chinese military.

    • China's Political Turmoil Amplifies Concerns About Xi Jinping's EffectivenessPolitical instability within China's PLA and a slowing economy fuel concerns about Xi Jinping's leadership, with critics using the ongoing cabinet reshuffle to undermine his argument for China's superior political system. Global challenges like debt, an aging population, and competition from tech companies add to the complexity.

      The political turmoil within China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) is amplifying concerns about Xi Jinping's ability to govern effectively, particularly among China's elite and critics abroad. This comes at a time when China is facing significant challenges, including a slowing economy, mountains of debt, and an aging population. The ongoing cabinet reshuffle has provided fodder for critics to undermine Xi Jinping's argument that China's political system is superior to Western-style democracy. For example, Rahm Emanuel, the American ambassador to Japan, has made snide remarks about the situation on Twitter. This comes as Apple, a global tech giant, recently launched a new iPhone with minor advancements, but faced a lackluster response from investors. The cause of Apple's stock price drop wasn't due to the iPhone itself, but rather concerns about the global economic environment and potential competition from other tech companies. Both the Chinese political situation and the tech industry serve as reminders of the complex challenges facing the world today.

    • Huawei's 5G capable Mate 60 Pro and potential iPhone ban in China cause concerns for AppleApple faces competition from Huawei's rapid growth in the Chinese market and China's advancement in 5G technology, potentially leading to a drop in Apple's stock price and impacting its suppliers.

      The launch of Huawei's Mate 60 Pro, which is the first Chinese smartphone capable of using 5G networks, and the potential ban on iPhones in China, have created significant concerns for Apple. Huawei's rapid growth in the Chinese market, with a 13% share of smartphone sales, and China's advancement in producing 5G chips, have increased competition for Apple and raised fears of a potential escalation in the tech trade war. This has led to a drop in Apple's stock price, affecting not only the company but also its suppliers, such as Skyworks and Qualcomm. The overall impact on the mobile phone market could be significant, particularly through the supply chain, as the trade war between China and the US continues to unfold.

    • Trade tensions impact tech companies, Royal Enfield's enduring popularityTrade tensions between US and China affect tech companies' acquisitions, while Royal Enfield's classic motorcycles remain popular in India despite challenging road conditions.

      The ongoing trade tensions between the US and China continue to escalate, with potential repercussions for tech companies like Alphabet, Amazon, and Microsoft. Intel's failed attempt to buy an Israeli semiconductor firm due to Chinese regulatory delays is a sign of further potential action from both sides. Meanwhile, the Indian motorcycle brand Royal Enfield stands out as a cultural phenomenon and engineering marvel that has remained largely unchanged since the 1930s. Despite India's challenging road conditions and frequent potholes, Royal Enfield motorcycles continue to be popular due to their versatility, practicality, and iconic status. The brand's commitment to preserving its classic design and sound has made it a beloved symbol of Indian culture.

    • The Royal Enfield Bullet's Enduring Appeal in Indian CultureThe Royal Enfield Bullet, a motorcycle icon in India, sells over 34,000 units monthly, making up 45% of Royal Enfield's sales. Its popularity transcends societal groups and is deeply ingrained in Indian culture, symbolizing a dream for many.

      The Royal Enfield Bullet, despite the availability of newer models, continues to be a staggering hit in India. With sales of over 8,000 units per month for the older model and 26,000 units per month for the Classic variant, the Bullet accounts for approximately 45% of Royal Enfield's total sales. Its popularity transcends commercial success, as it has become deeply ingrained in Indian culture. The Bullet is a symbol that cuts across various societal groups, from law enforcement to gangsters, and is often featured in movies and media. Its allure is such that even those who can only afford more affordable motorcycles aspire to own a Bullet someday. Despite the changing landscape of motorcycles and the passage of time, the Bullet's enduring appeal and ability to adapt have allowed it to thrive for over 90 years. Whether it can continue to captivate audiences for another century remains to be seen, but its remarkable longevity thus far is a testament to its unique place in Indian culture and society.

    • Exciting News for The Economist Podcast Listeners: Economist Podcast Plus is Coming!Listeners can get a year-long subscription to Economist Podcast Plus for a discounted price until October 17th, and the podcast discussed interesting facts like a crocodile's inability to extend its tongue and UnitedHealthcare's short-term health insurance plans.

      The Economist Podcast, featuring insightful discussions on global news and trends, is here to stay. The hosts expressed their excitement about the upcoming Economist Podcast Plus, which will offer exclusive content for subscribers. For those interested, they have until October 17th to get a year-long subscription for a discounted price of $24. Additionally, the conversation touched on some interesting facts. For instance, a crocodile cannot extend its tongue, and UnitedHealthcare offers short-term health insurance plans for people in transition or starting a new business. These plans provide flexible, budget-friendly coverage with access to a nationwide network.

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