Q3 Special: How about a space tour?


A 20-year war ends, and a leader steps down

Major developments around the world happened in the third quarter, as diplomatic crises were resolved, leaders stepped down, and wars ended. 

🐿️: Your friendly Squirry diplomat is here to remind you of what happened!

#1 The end of a 20-year war ✈️

US troops flew out of Afghanistan on September 1st, 2021, formally ending the war in Afghanistan – the longest war in US history.

  • Who was fighting? the US and its allies (including UK, Canada, AU, Germany, etc.) 🆚 Taliban (an Islamic military organization)
  • Why did they start? The Taliban-led government in Afghanistan refused to hand over Osama Bin Laden (the mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist attacks), and the US retaliated.

A costly war 😔 US forces lost 2,400 American lives in the war, and spent around USD 1 tln in the 20 years it was in Afghanistan. The Taliban formed a new government soon after the US left, and its impacts are still felt today.

#2 A diplomatic crisis, resolved 🤝

China and Canada said “welcome home” to their citizens, as the crisis over the Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou was resolved on September 25th,

  • A 3-year issue 🤦 In 2018, Meng was detained in Canada at the request of the US  over alleged fraud. China promptly detained two Canadians but denied they were linked to the Meng case.
  • Eventually, Canada released Meng back to China, following the US’s withdrawal of the extradition request. 

#3 A new era for Germany 🇩🇪
After being Germany’s leader for 16 years, Angela Merkel is finally saying “goodbye” 👋 as she announced she would step down on September 29th, with her successor coming into power in December.

  • A golden age for Germany Merkel was credited with many achievements, with Germany’s GDP rising at 2x the speed vs other EU countries.
  • She was praised for her actions during the financial crisis in 2008 and was considered by some to be the “de facto” leader of the EU.

What will she do now? 📖 An autobiography maybe? Some said Merkel plans to write a book explaining her important political decisions.



What a tough quarter for Chinese companies

It was truly a tough quarter for Chinese companies – why? Chinese regulators began their crackdown on many industries at this time. From tech, video games, property… let’s go into them one by one.

#1 Education sector crushed

In July, the private tutoring sector in China was banned from taking foreign investment, going public, or even making a profit. 

  • Education should be equal 📘 The government was concerned poorer children were at a disadvantage, and that private tutoring was putting a financial strain on parents.

Education stocks like TAL Education and New Oriental were crushed by the changes, and both stocks have fallen around 87% in the past year. 📉

#2 One of the largest tech IPO, delisted

The Chinese ride-hailing giant 🚗 Didi ran into serious trouble in July, only a few days after it went public… on national and data security grounds.

  • Chinese regulators told Didi that it had to  ① get out of the app store. ② and could not acquire any more new users until the investigation was finished. 

We’ll delist then 👋 It’s had a roller-coaster ride since, and in November, Didi made plans to delist from the US stock market and will list in Hong Kong instead.

#3 Alipay split in two?

Alipay was another app ordered to change – the super payment app used by 70% of China’s population was ordered to split itself up into multiple different apps.

  • You have too much power 🚫 Regulators believed Alipay had too much power and decided to break it up to reduce its monopoly in the payment world. 

#4 Less gaming for us

Video games 🎮 were next on the crack-down list, as China posted extremely harsh rules in November, making sure under 18-year-olds can only play up to 3 hours per week. 

  • Why so harsh? The government wants to tackle rising game addiction in the younger generation – it criticized the local game industry before, calling it an “electronic drug 💊”

Share prices of Chinese game companies all fell after the announcement, with Netease falling 6% and Tencent falling nearly 2%.

#5 The Evergrande crisis 🏢

Also this quarter, the world’s most indebted property developer China Evergrande owed USD 300 bln to banks… that’s almost equivalent to Singapore’s GDP 🇸🇬 (more info on this here). 

  • The crisis began in September but continued on till December when Evergrande finally defaulted on its debts.

🐿️: Chinese firms have lost over USD 1 tln in value from the crackdown this year…  Do you think the tech giants are glad the year is over 🤣?



An anti-big tech quarter?

In the midst of the Chinese crackdown, there was also an anti-big tech crackdown happening as well 🙃 as governments across the world were getting quite tired of Google + Apple’s dominance 📵

Tired of Apple and Google?

Yep. It started in S.Korea. 🇰🇷 on August 27th, the S.Korean government proposed a law against Apple + Google’s control over the app store – called the “anti-Google law”.

  • Apple tax? 🍎 If you try to buy an app or make a membership subscription on the iPhone, Apple takes 30% of the money you spend as commission – Developers only get 70%.
  • The US 🇺🇸, Europe 🇪🇺, and India 🇮🇳 were also in.

Under pressure across the world, Apple finally gave in – and will allow some apps to link to their own websites for payment and bypass its “tax”. These include media + reader apps – magazines, newspapers, books, audio, music, video.

  • How? 🧐 They can add a button, linking directly to their own websites to continue payment.

+ Btw…. The Apple tax also played a part in concluding the famous Epic v. Apple lawsuit, when a judge ruled App developers must have a way to bypass the Apple tax.


I’ll see you in space!

This was also the quarter Jeff Bezos said “goodbye” officially to Amazon. In July, Bezos formally stepped down from his role as Amazon CEO.

  • Why did he resign? It seems he wanted to go to space! Bezos wanted more time to focus on his spaceship company, Blue Origin 🚀.

#1 Did Blue Origin go to space?

Yes, they did! It wasn’t long before the company made history…👨‍🚀 Jeff Bezos flew to space on July 20th, bringing with him the youngest and oldest (at the time) people to ever go to space. 

  • Time for the space race. Most people saw this as the beginning of the private space race, as Bezos joined fellow billionaires Elon Musk and Richard Branson who have all made aerospace companies.

That wasn’t the only record-breaking spaceflight this quarter, as in September SpaceX launched an all-tourist mission into orbit. 

#2 An all-tourist space mission by SpaceX

The four people flying into space had no professional spaceflight experience, and only had around 6 months of training before they blasted off.

    • Not to worry though, as the controls during launch and landing were completely automated. 
  • For a good cause 👍 The flight was called “Inspiration4”, meant to inspire future space adventures – it was also part of a USD 200 mln fundraiser for St. Jude Children’s Hospital

The crew spent 3 days in space conducting experiments to understand the impact that flying in space has on the human body, before safely landing 

Want to stream it too? 💻 Netflix also released a documentary on the launch – called “Countdown: Inspiration4 Mission to Space”. Have you watched it?



A spectator-less Olympics, and Netflix’s biggest hit

This year’s summer Olympics 🏃 was probably an experience we’ll never see again. Why? Because there were no spectators in attendance. In fact, some didn’t even want the Olympics to begin. 

The Olympics nearly didn’t start

Even before the official start of the Olympics, over 70 Covid cases were detected at Olympic Village – where the athletes stay. Local residents were afraid the cases would spread from the Olympic Village into the local community.

    • Many advertisers withdrew their Olympic ads due to bad public opinions + low exposure.
  • We don’t want it to start 🙎 A poll showed that 55% of Japanese citizens did not want the Olympics to begin.

Despite a rocky start, the Olympics continued relatively smoothly – Japan even used the symbol for “gold” as their word/character of the year to honor the Olympics this year. The US came in first with the most medals with China second, and Japan going third. 

Squid Game took over the world

In September, Squid Game was a smash hit when it came out, becoming Netflix’s biggest and most successful show ever.

  • Netflix was happy 😀 The company added over 4 mln subscribers thanks to Squid Game, as new subscribers flooded in to watch the TV show – more than 140 mln households watched it.
  • It wasn’t all good news, as a S.Korean internet service provider sued Netflix for increased traffic and maintenance costs after the TV show caused traffic to surge.

Google agreed. Searches on Google for “honeycomb toffee ☂️” and “red light green light 🚦” (both things in the show) hit record highs in September.

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