China Balloon

Some weather balloonWhat PR hubris. How could they think they could get away with it?

The State Dept. reports the Chinese balloon that was shot down by a F-22 fighter jet carried “multiple antennas to include an array likely capable of collecting and geolocating communications.”

It was part of a program that sent spy balloons over 40 countries, according to US intelligence.

It’s hard to believe that China’s leader Xi Jinping would approve such a risky surveillance scheme when the country is trying to patch up its relations with the West in a bid to fire up its economy for the post-Covid era.

If he did give the nod, the world is in in trouble. What other risky moves lie ahead? Could it be an invasion of Taiwan?

Congress today unanimously passed a resolution “condemning the Chinese Communist Party’s use of a high-altitude surveillance balloon over US territory as a brazen violation of US sovereignty.”

Relations between the US and China are so low, it’s only a matter of time before the Congress dusts off the pejorative term “Red China” when referring to the People’s Republic of China.

HSBC sides with PRC. A UK parliamentary report charges that the banking giant is complicit in human rights abuses against Hong Kong residents who fled the city due to China’s crackdown on civil rights and freedom of expression.

More than 88K people have fled Hong Kong since 2021 and have been granted British residency.

The China-installed government in Hong Kong refused to acknowledge the UK visas and ordered a denial of pension payout to those who escaped the city.

HSBC says it was just following orders. “Like all banks, we have to obey the laws, and the instructions of the regulators, in every territory—including Hong Kong, in which we operate,” it said in a statement.

The bank claims to have “an enduring commitment to Hong Kong, its people, and communities. It is where we were founded nearly 160 years ago.”

There is now a big black stain on HSBC's reputation and its commitment to Hong Kongers.

Take a bow, Nelson. Trian Management Fund chief Nelson Peltz has called off his proxy fight against Walt Disney Co. because "Comeback Kid" CEO Bob Iger caved by unveiling a restructuring plan that will slash the jobs of 7,000 people, cut costs by $5.5B and restore the dividend by the end of the year.

“Management at Disney now plans to do everything that we wanted them to do,” a trimphant Peltz told CNBC on Feb. 9.

That not quite right. Trian’s “Restore the Magic” campaign also called for a CEO succession plan within two years.

Iger, 71, returned to the helm in November after the ouster of Bob Chapek.

Who is he grooming for the top job?

Pomposity unlimited… New York Times CEO Meredith Kopit Levien says “2022 was the first full year of executing our strategy to become the essential subscription for every English-speaking person seeking to understand and engage with the world.”

The company reported an 11.3 percent boost in revenues to $2.3B but net income nosedived 21 percent to $173.9M.

Perhaps, Levien needs to expand her sights in order to boost profitability. She should publish French, Spanish and Hindi language versions of the NYT.

Mandarin Chinese is not in the cards at the moment because of censorship by China’s government.