A split over Zhao Lijian and his claims, or a shift in messaging?; Xi busy with foreign outreach; Asymptomatic cases

Hi everyone, first a housekeeping note. This week is spring break for our kids, normally I would be on holiday for the week but of course we are all now homebound. I am going to take tomorrow, Tuesday, off but will be back Wednesday. Thanks for your understanding.

Questions about the official statistics abound but it is quite clear that China continues to make progress towards restarting the economy and allowing most people to return to something closer to normalcy than lockdown, including increasing numbers of areas reopening schools.

There are reports however about many asymptomatic cases in Wuhan, and Wuhan’s control measures, while relaxing somewhat, remain stricter than those of other major cities.

There appears to be a shift in the international messaging by PRC diplomats and some media personnel, and much speculation about what it may mean. Cui Tiankai, PRC ambassador to the US, talked with Axios last week and seemed to distance himself from the rumors spread about the origin of the virus by Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Cui’s comments, along with some utterances from other actors, are seen by some as signs of a split within at least parts of the PRC/CCP bureaucracy over whether or not Zhao went too far and has caused an undesirable increase in tension with the US.

Some even believe Zhao himself is taking a more conciliatory line, more panda than wolf warrior, in a tweet earlier today:

And the editor in chief of the Global Times tweeted this about ninety minutes before Zhao’s tweet:

I am skeptical of claims of a meaningful split. One is certainly possible, and no doubt there are people inside the system who understand the damage Zhao is causing, but the evidence is not yet sufficient to support something more significant. Zhao appears popular among much of the Chinese public, and he has clearly answered Xi’s earlier call for more “fighting spirit” from PRC diplomats.

Inside China the Ministry of Propaganda does not appear to be pushing back on the spread of the virus origin and anti-American rumors by Zhao or others in official media and on social media. Would Wang Huning and his propaganda system allow this garbage to remain uncensored if Xi were against it?

Evidence that there is a split and that more reasonable officials are prevailing would include Zhao deleting his twitter account, censorship on domestic PRC platforms of rumors about the virus origin, and especially about a US role, and Zhao being moved to a different job.

A different scenario may be that Zhao has performed meritorious service in the global information struggle by sowing disinformation and doubt domestically and internationally about the origin of the virus and a US role in its creation. In this scenario, the relevant authorities are now adjusting the messaging to pull back from the brink and try to consolidate a desired image of China as the responsible major power and Xi as the responsible global leader who is leading the global fight against the pandemic. And perhaps a shift in tone, internationally at least, may be paving the way for improved and much-needed US-China cooperation.

Please let me know your thoughts in the comments.

For the record, I want to believe there is a meaningful split and Zhao Lijian is in the doghouse, but am just not yet seeing it. I would be happy to be wrong.

Remember, I am off tomorrow, but today’s newsletter may be long enough to keep you busy Tuesday as well…

Thanks for reading.


The Essential Eight

1. Shifting messaging?

Top Chinese official disowns U.S. military lab coronavirus conspiracy - Axios interview with Cui Tiankai

China's ambassador to the United States, Cui Tiankai, told "Axios on HBO" that he stands by his belief that it's "crazy" to spread rumors about the coronavirus originating from a military laboratory in the United States...

Cui called this exact conspiracy theory "crazy" more than a month ago on CBS' "Face the Nation." But that was before the spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Zhao Lijian, began publicly promoting the conspiracy...

Asked whether Cui's Foreign Ministry colleague had any evidence to support the conspiracy theory, Cui replied, with a slight smile, "maybe you could go and ask him."

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang's Regular Press Conference on March 23, 2020

Q: At an interview with AXIOS and HBO, Chinese ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai said that it was “crazy and very harmful for diplomats to speculate about the origins of the coronavirus”. Is it the official position of the Chinese foreign ministry that it’s crazy and very harmful to speculate about the origins of the coronavirus?

A: Recently I have stated China's position repeatedly here on this podium, and I would like to stress that once again.

The origin of COVID-19 is a matter of science that requires scientific and professional assessment. There is a clear consensus by WHO and the international community that a virus should not be linked to specific country, region or ethnic groups and such stigmatization should be rejected.

For quite a while, certain US politicians and senior officials have used the pandemic to defame the Chinese government and people’s efforts to fight COVID-19 and to stigmatize China. We are firmly opposed to that. Facing the pandemic, all countries should work together to tide over the difficulties. Trying to shift blame and shirk responsibility will neither help their epidemic response nor promote international cooperation in this area.

Comment: For those who watch the video and are curious, the poem on the wall behind Cui in the embassy meeting room is Mao Zedong’s poem “Swimming 水调歌头·游泳”

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang's Regular Press Conference on March 23, 2020

Q: At an interview with AXIOS and HBO, Chinese ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai said that it was “crazy and very harmful for diplomats to speculate about the origins of the coronavirus”. Is it the official position of the Chinese foreign ministry that it’s crazy and very harmful to speculate about the origins of the coronavirus?

A: Recently I have stated China's position repeatedly here on this podium, and I would like to stress that once again.

The origin of COVID-19 is a matter of science that requires scientific and professional assessment. There is a clear consensus by WHO and the international community that a virus should not be linked to specific country, region or ethnic groups and such stigmatization should be rejected.

For quite a while, certain US politicians and senior officials have used the pandemic to defame the Chinese government and people’s efforts to fight COVID-19 and to stigmatize China. We are firmly opposed to that. Facing the pandemic, all countries should work together to tide over the difficulties. Trying to shift blame and shirk responsibility will neither help their epidemic response nor promote international cooperation in this area.

驻美国大使崔天凯接受媒体采访实录

The transcript of Amb Cui s interview with Axios is now viral on Chinese internet as those who dislike Zhao see this with hope that Zhao will be restrained, and those Zhao’s fans see this as some kind of a betrayal.

But official media are still attacking the US. Xinhua’s Reference News published "Zhao Lijian, Please Keep Asking the Questions!", which essentially encourages Zhao to spread the theory that the virus originated from the US-赵立坚,请继续发问! - 新华网客户端

面对疫情,人类是一个命运共同体。一个超级大国的应有担当是与国际社会一道抗击疫情、回应国际关切,而不是“鸵鸟”抗疫却以邻为壑、四处“甩锅”。面对美国的污名化策略,一名中国外交部发言人当然有权反击,更有权就国际社会共同关心的问题提出合理质疑。

所以,赵立坚,请继续发问!

美方政治偏见误己害人(钟声)

People’s Daily Zhong Sheng on Monday attacked the Americans for blaming China for the virus outbreak. “As the coronavirus spreads in America, some on the US side are still trying their best to do things that are absolutely bullying and extremely absurd … this is truly evil and pathological smearing.” 

新冠病毒疫情在美国蔓延,美方一些人却依然铆足劲头干着霸蛮无度、荒唐至极的勾当。为了达到把责任推卸给中方的目的,他们刻意散布“政治病毒”,充满种族歧视色彩;他们污称中方分享疫情信息不够公开、透明,恶意编造中国当为美国疫情蔓延负责的谣言,令人不齿;更有甚者,他们无理要求中方赔偿损失,简直就是放辟邪侈、诬赖成性。

必须抵御污名化之毒(钟声)

Similar commentary by Zhong Sheng last Friday said the coronavirus could have started to spread earlier than in China, and the American politicians are now smearing China “out of their dark mindsets”.

And repeats the testimony from the US CDC head that Zhao retweeted with his US Army created it allegations

即便美国疾病控制与预防中心主任罗伯特·雷德菲尔德承认,一些似乎死于流感的美国人在死后的诊断中,被检测出新型冠状病毒呈阳性,并直言“将新冠病毒称为‘中国病毒’是错误的”,那些美国政客依然偏执地捂真相,疯狂地泼脏水。

美方称中国隐瞒疫情,外交部:造谣污蔑、贼喊捉贼

Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang on Monday said it is the US who is spreading disinformation about China, and that China had notified the US and the world about the virus on as early as Jan. 3. “Now the US side tries to blame others … this is both unethical and irresponsible.”

10 questions for the U.S.: Where did the novel coronavirus come from? - CGTN

At the 7th Military World Games (October 18-27, 2019) held in Wuhan, why did the U.S. team (369 members) win ZERO gold medal? Did that even look like a reasonable record for the world's leading military power? Did your government do it on purpose?

Was anyone among the 369 participants ever (mis)diagnosed with influenza? Was it possible they were carriers of the novel coronavirus?

The best thing for the U.S. now is to stop burying its head in the sand and give the 369 people PCT tests to see if they are infected.

Trump Pandemic rages - Global Times

"'Trump Pandemic' is not only vivid but also very accurate," said Li Haidong, a professor of US studies at the China Foreign Affairs University in Beijing, noting that Trump's negligence and inaction caused the disaster. "The Trump administration has an inescapable responsibility for the current global pandemic."..

The widespread criticism from mainstream media and some Democratic politicians toward Trump was driven by the notion that Trump was trying to rally voters by "stirring up populism," said Sun Chenghao, an assistant research fellow at the institute of American studies in the Beijing-based China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations…

In China, officials have also stepped up their efforts to counter the US government's attempts at scapegoating China. On Saturday, Hua Chunying, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, offered her counterpart at the US State Department, Morgan Ortagus, via Twitter a chronicle of China's releasing of information to the US to counter some US officials' criticisms of China. These included a notice on the virus released by Wuhan authorities as early as December 31 and updates to the US authorities since January 3

社评:五问华盛顿,为什么要毁中美团结抗疫

第二,病毒是什么时候和怎样来到人间,这是个科学溯源问题。美方在没有科学定论的情况下,对中国发动舆论攻势,与世卫组织对中国抗疫的评价迥异,倒退一些日子,没人能够意料。美国究竟是出于什么目的这样做呢?真的是像人们猜测的那样,是要推卸美国政府抗疫不力的责任,以此来营造有利于特朗普总统竞选连任的选情吗

‘Let America degenerate on its own’: Scholar implores China to take the high road vs. U.S. - SupChina

The following article, headlined “Chinese diplomatic discourse shouldn’t be self-defeating” (中国外交话语不应自废道义 zhōngguó wàijiāo huàyǔ bù yìng zì fèi dàoyì), was originally published on IPP Review, the official WeChat public account of Hunan University of Technology’s Institute of Public Policy (IPP), on Monday, March 16. The article had 80,000 views a day later. On Wednesday, it was taken down.

The author, Dr. Zhāng Fēng 张锋, is a professor and acting head of Hunan University’s IPP.

Comment: Zhang criticized Zhao Lijian, and then Zhang’s article was deleted.

As world battles virus, Trump battles blame - CGTN

The Trump administration's message as demonstrated in the cable continues to sow a message of division. In times of crisis, a response of global solidarity from a world leader would better serve frontline workers and ordinary people fearing for their health and livelihood.

The US loses scores in global pandemic test - China Military

The COVID-19 pandemic is a global test. As a major world power, the US’ capability of coping with the crisis is not doubted, and much hope is placed on it to join the international efforts against the virus. However, certain US politicians and media, turning a deaf ear to the international call for solidarity and cooperation, adhere to their Cold War mentality of criticizing or opposing everything China proposes. Being led ever farther astray by their narrow nationalism and ideological prejudice, they have lost one score after another in this global test.

First, the US is losing scores in “international morality”. Ever since the pandemic broke out, China has launched an all-out war against it, making immense sacrifices and efforts to buy time for the world to prepare. But Washington has not only laid back with folded arms without heeding the WHO’s call for solidarity, but also faked the gesture of providing aid by paying lip service. Furthermore, US senior officials have wasted no time in smearing the Chinese system at international conferences, advocating the flow-back of American manufacturing jobs because of the epidemic, and doubting the integrity of WHO. Such actions of taking advantage of a country’s adversity are against international morality.

Fauci: Trump's accusation about late COVID-19 reporting not fact-based - CGTN

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government's top infectious disease expert, said U.S. President Donald Trump's accusation that China could have revealed the discovery of the new coronavirus three to four months earlier doesn't comport with facts.

"After he made that statement, I told the appropriate people, it doesn't comport, because two or three months earlier would have been September," he was quoted as saying during a phone interview with Science magazine that was published online https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/03/i-m-going-keep-pushing-anthony-fauci-tries-make-white-house-listen-facts-pandemic on Sunday.

US should put solidarity above geopolitics: Global Times editorial - Global Times

Second, when and how the coronavirus infected people is a question to be answered by science. In the absence of a scientific conclusion, the US has launched a public opinion offensive against China and disregarded the appraisal of WHO on China's epidemic fight efforts. This is beyond expectations. What's the purpose of the US? Is it really, as people assume, an attempt to shirk the responsibility of the US government for its poor handling of the coronavirus epidemic so that favorable condition could be created for President Donald Trump's reelection bid?

Third, the rapidly spreading coronavirus pandemic is destroying the international system and causing humanitarian disasters in many countries. Cooperation between China and the US will inspire the global virus fight while the current split between the two will only further undermine international cooperation. The US is also facing enormous pressure to cope with the epidemic. Looking forward, not a single country could win the fight alone. Why are the US ruling elites so fixated on excluding and suppressing China at this critical juncture and unwilling to put American people's health above geopolitical disputes?

Trump govt’s three big lies hurt Americans - Global Times - Wang Wen

First, the "Chinese virus" lie. Since March 16, Trump and some US government officials have repeatedly used this racist term...

The second big lie is the "China cover-up." ...

The third lie centers on US "donations" to China. The Trump administration said it would offer up to $100 million to assist China and other countries. China has yet to receive a penny from the US government.

The author is professor and executive dean of Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China, and executive director of China-US People-to-People Exchange Research Center. His latest book is Great Power's Long March Road.

3月12日,白宫机密会议室讨论的“中国秘密”,是什么?

One example of the rumors allowed to run rampant inside the PRC Internet, this one on am alleged White House secret meeting about China on how, working with the Five Eyes partnership, to allow the spread of the virus to achieve US goals of decoupling and keeping China down.

到这里,在白宫高度机密的会议室,美国家安全委员会召开的“中国秘密”事项会议,其议题已经比较明晰:

如何利用新冠疫情,运用混合战争理论,打击中国产业供应链优势,遏制其发展,推进美世界岛战略进程…

请不要低估敌人的凶残!太平洋两岸,在新冠疫情来袭后,已加速滑入全面脱钩,放弃幻想,准备战斗吧!

But this is positive - “庆祝美国疫情”击穿文明底线 - 评论 - 新京报网

Editorial from Beijing News criticizing some Chinese for celebrating the virus outbreak in Japan and America. “A disaster is a disaster, no matter upon whom the disaster fall, we have no reason to celebrate.”


2. Foreign outreach

Xi's diplomacy prioritizes solidarity, cooperation - China Daily

President Xi Jinping has used head-of-state diplomacy to call for the building of a community of common health for mankind amid the mounting global public health crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, observers said.

China's experiences on epidemic control and its aid to the contagion-affected countries are boosting the confidence of the international community as it strives to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus, and it helps them cope with the challenges arising from the disease, they said.

Since the start of the outbreak, Xi, as the country's commander-in-chief of the war on the contagion, has stepped up diplomatic efforts to advocate international cooperation on epidemic control as he sees that solidarity and cooperation are the most powerful weapons against the virus.

Through meetings, telephone conversations and correspondence with foreign leaders, Xi has underlined the importance of upholding the community with a shared future for mankind in the face of a global public health crisis...

Yuan Peng, president of the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said that Xi has used his diplomatic agenda to demonstrate that China is a major responsible player in the world in responding to the outbreak.

He added that the outbreak tests the country's ability to deal with international relations while coping with health emergencies.

President Xi Jinping Sends Message of Sympathy to King Felipe VI of Spain

Xi expressed China's firm support to Spain's effort and measures to fight the outbreak. China is ready to share experience as well as diagnostic and therapeutic solutions, and will do what it can to help and support Spain's epidemic response. Mankind is in a community with a shared future; solidarity and cooperation is the only way to overcome this public health challenge. So long as China, Spain and the rest of the international community work together, we will secure the ultimate victory against COVID-19.

President Xi Jinping Sends Message of Sympathy to Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany

In his message, Xi noted that the German government and people of various sectors recently offered sympathies to China and provided support to its epidemic control efforts through various means. In the same spirit, China firmly supports Germany's fight against the outbreak and stands ready to assist, if needed, to the best of its capacity. In the face of public health emergencies, a common challenge to humanity, the most powerful weapon we have is solidarity and cooperation. Believing that we mankind are in a community with a shared future, China will continue to share information and experience with Germany, and strengthen cooperation on containment, treatment and vaccines in the interest of the health and well-being of people in both countries and beyond.

President Xi Sends Message of Sympathy to President Emmanuel Macron of France

Xi noted that as permanent members of the UN Security Council, China and France shoulder the important responsibility of safeguarding the life and security of mankind. China will work with France to advance international cooperation on epidemic control and support the central role of the UN and the WHO in improving global public health governance, with a view to building a community of shared health for mankind.

Xi underscored his commitment to growing China-France relations. He stands ready to work with President Macron to advance epidemic response and bilateral relations in a coordinated way and make sure that the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries emerge even stronger from the COVID-19 outbreak and continue to move forward.

China, Britain agree to support WHO's role in combating COVID-19 - Xinhua

Chinese President Xi Jinping and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke over phone on Monday night and voiced support for the World Health Organization's role in the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Xi says China backs Egypt's fight against COVID-19 - Xinhua

Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Monday night that China supports Egypt's epidemic prevention and control efforts and stands ready to jointly fight the COVID-19 outbreak.

President Xi Jinping Sends Message of Sympathy to President Aleksandar Vučić of Serbia

In his message, Xi underscored the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and Serbia, and the ever-stronger ironclad friendship between the two nations. He expressed deep appreciation for the concrete and strong support the Serbian government and people have extended to China in its all-out battle against the epidemic. In firm support of Serbia's fight against the virus, China will provide assistance of protective gears and medical equipment to Serbia and facilitate its purchase of needed supplies from China. China will also send a medical expert team to Serbia to help achieve more effective containment and protect people's health and well-being.

Comment: And the Serbian president kissed the PRC flag when greeting the PRC support team:

China Focus: Chinese doctors share COVID-19 experiences with global counterparts - Xinhua

At a video conference late Sunday, 13 senior doctors from the Xiangya School of Medicine of Central South University in Changsha, capital of central China's Hunan Province, communicated with the experts from the Yale School of Medicine, the United States.

The COVID-19 diagnosis, the arrangement of fever clinic department and its infection control, staff training, clinical tests, basic research and other aspects were elaborated, with questions raised by Yale experts on epidemic control, therapeutic drugs and patient rehabilitation answered in the conference that lasted nearly three hours.

China urges U.S. to stop politicizing COVID-19 - Xinhua

Calling the U.S. accusations clumsy slander, Geng stressed China has kept the World Health Organization (WHO) and relevant countries and regions, including the United States, updated with its domestic epidemic situation in an open, transparent and responsible manner.

China's efforts have been appreciated by the international community, Geng said, adding that Chinese people have gone all out to fight against COVID-19 in the past two months and won precious time for other countries.

Africa Virus Medical Equipment: Jack Ma Sends Kits, Gear - Bloomberg

The Horn of Africa nation received 5.4 million face masks, more than 1 million testing kits, 40,000 items of protective clothing and 60,000 sets of face shields, China’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Jack Ma’s foundation said in a statement Sunday. More medical supplies are expected over the next few weeks.

Jack Ma Foundation Publishes Handbook to Share COVID-19 Frontline Lessons - Pandaily

The Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Foundation are today sharing some key lessons and experiences from doctors and other medical administrators and staff from the First Affiliated Hospital, Zhejiang University School of Medicine (FAHZU), who were at the frontline of COVID-19 treatment in China, playing a critical role in slowing its spread.

特稿|中国试剂盒出海_财新网_财新网

Caixin reported Chinese medical companies are working around the clock trying to export test kits and other medical supplies to the world. So far at least 11 Chinese companies have won approval to sell to EU, but none have been approved by FDA to sell in the US, because the EU procedure is simpler.

Join hands to battle virus with our South Sudanese brothers - Ministry of Foreign Affairs

On March 18, the video conference for knowledge and experience sharing on COVID-19 prevention and control was hosted by the Chinese Embassy in Juba. The heads and experts from Anhui Provincial Health Commission, Anhui Provincial CDC, the First Affiliated Hospital of Anhui Medical University, Chinese Medical Team to South Sudan, South Sudan's Ministry of Health, and WHO Office in South Sudan were connected together throught internet.

The Chinese Government Sends A Team of Medical Experts on COVID-19 to Cambodia - Ministry of Foreign Affairs

To help Cambodia fight the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chinese government has decided to send a team of medical experts to Cambodia. The team, organized by the National Health Commission, consists of experts selected by the Health Commission of Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region. The team left for Cambodia on March 23.


3. Wuhan

Despite Official Figures, Wuhan Continues to Find New Asymptomatic Covid-19 Cases Daily

Despite official figures reporting few to no new domestic Covid-19 cases on the Chinese mainland in recent days, authorities continue to detect more infections, with those in the city at the heart of the country’s outbreak often amounting to more than a dozen a day, Caixin has learned.

According to a member of the infectious disease prevention and control team in Wuhan, every day the city continues to record “several or more than a dozen asymptomatic infected individuals,” which are people that have tested positive for Covid-19, but do not feel ill and are excluded from published numbers...

The person, who asked not to be named, said that these asymptomatic people are found by tracing the contacts of others who are infected and by screening quarantine workers who are at high risk of infection, as opposed to en masse testing.

“It’s not possible at the moment to tell if transmission has stopped,” the person said.

独家|每天仍检出多例无症状感染者 援鄂疾控工作队暂缓撤离_政经频道_财新网

Caixin reports that China has stopped pulling some officials from disease control and prevention centers out of Wuhan as more “silent carriers” are found. The report said sometime more than a dozen new patients with no symptoms are tested positive a day in the city and the experts are not sure whether the virus transmission have been fully stopped.

武汉市卫生健康委员会 - 市卫生健康委关于市民当前关心的新冠病毒无症状感染者相关问题的答复

Wuhan Health Commission today published a detailed Q&A about asymptotic infected cases, says they are using the 7th Edition of the Diagnosis and Treatment Plan for Novel Coronavirus Pneumonia,, and if someone is asymptomatic and tests positive they will be quarantined for 14 days, if during that period they develop symptoms they will be added to the count of confirmed cases

Bureaucracy can kill like a virus: official - Global Times

recent rumors alleged that some communities in Wuhan had found confirmed cases and that Tongji Hospital had confirmed more than 100 cases of COVID-19, which Wuhan government dismissed on early Sunday.

Ye said it is because there are controversies over whether the criteria for new confirmed cases should include relapses and asymptomatic ones. The government said they are not, but worries have been surfacing regarding whether these cases will infect others. It also showed that people's recognition of the criteria is different. It is impossible for the local government to conceal the cases once they are revealed, and the punishment will be very heavy.

China scrambles to curb rise in imported coronavirus cases, Wuhan eases lockdown - Reuters

in a sign of easing lockdown measures, residents living in and outside Wuhan will be allowed to travel into the city to resume work if they have a green health code issued by the government and normal body temperature, state-media CCTV News reported on Sunday. It cited the city’s epidemic prevention and control command center.

Non-local people stranded in Wuhan can also apply to leave the city after taking an RNA test and receiving a health certificate from the government, the channel said.

记者微信曝光湖北“零增长”背后的惊人真相!悲剧不要再重演!- 焦点与民声网

这个记者难忘的一天,透露出以下几点信息:

1、目前,武汉有些医院已经不愿意接收病人,或者不愿意接收跨区的病人,导致患者无法入院接受检测。原因,是为了保住自己医院的数字。

2、有些出院的病人,回家后再次感染。这样的患者有多少?目前官方没有公布,也没有准确数据。复阳的情况,之前曾经被钟南山等专家多次提起,复阳率一度在14%左右,甚至有些医院的复阳率,达到20%以上。为了数据零增长,复阳率在近一周多,不再被媒体提及。

3、此前有媒体和医生质疑,“零增长”的背后,是为了让大家赶紧复工,是“政治压力下的零增长”。是否真的如此?网友普遍感觉,既然武汉的疫情已经控制下来,但官方对外的口径依然是“形势严峻”。这让网友很困惑:严峻在哪里?有难言之隐不方便说出口?

在上述网友发帖的同时,朋友圈还传来一些不一样的声音。比如下面这两个截图,就说明我们不知道的东西,可能还比较多。

'Wuhan denying virus tests to keep numbers down' - RTHK

Despite claims made by mainland authorities that there have been no new local infections of the coronavirus in Wuhan in the last few days, people there have told RTHK this is simply not the case.

They say patients are being turned away from hospitals without testing to back the official data, which one person described as a "not medical, but political treatment".


4. Outbreak in the rest of the country

CCTV Evening News - 李克强主持召开中央应对新冠肺炎疫情工作领导小组会议 针对疫情变化部署外防输入内防反弹措施 在有效防控疫情同时积极有序推进复工复产_

On Monday Li Keqiang held another meeting at the leading small group to discuss the coronavirus. Li said by now China has “basically stopped” the transmission within the country despite remaining risks of “regional outbreak”. For next step the authorities will focus on preventing the virus from being carried into China.

会议指出,要认真贯彻习近平总书记重要讲话精神,落实中央应对疫情工作领导小组部署,统筹抓好疫情防控和经济社会发展。当前,以武汉为主战场的全国本土疫情传播基本阻断,但零星散发病例和局部暴发疫情风险仍然存在,结合全球疫情大流行形势,要实行“外防输入、内防反弹”防控策略

China sees drop in new coronavirus cases; all of them imported - Reuters

Mainland China on Monday reported a drop in its daily tally of new coronavirus cases, reversing four straight days of increases, as the capital, Beijing, ramped up measures to contain the number of infections arriving from abroad...

China had 39 new confirmed cases on Sunday, the National Health Commission said, down from 46 a day earlier. All the new ones involved travelers arriving from abroad, many of them Chinese students returning home.

Flights to Beijing Diverted to 12 Other Cities Over Imported Coronavirus Concerns - Caixin

The move comes after all arrivals to Beijing, one of China’s top international gateways, were initially required to undergo 14 day quarantines at designated local hotels. As those hotels filled up, the city rolled out a new policy last week requiring many inbound flights to stop first at a handful of other cities to relieve the pressure.

Under the latest policy, China’s aviation authority has designated the 12 airports in Tianjin, Hohhot, Taiyuan, Shanghai’s Pudong New Area, Shijiazhuang, Jinan, Qingdao, Nanjing, Shenyang, Dalian, Zhengzhou and Xi’an to act as first port of entry for all inbound flights destined for Beijing.

China deploys measures to curb imported COVID-19 cases, rebound in indigenous cases - Xinhua

"At present, the spread of domestically transmitted epidemic has been basically blocked, but the risks of sporadic cases and regional outbreaks still exist," said a statement issued after the meeting, urging people to remain clear-headed as the global pandemic situation remains complex and severe.

A two-pronged prevention and control strategy should be implemented by focusing on both the prevention of imported cases and a rebound in indigenous cases so as to secure the hard-won achievements in the fight against COVID-19, according to the meeting.

Tencent rolls out new health tracking code aimed at China's students - Reuters

Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings has rolled out a new tracking app aimed at students who are preparing to return to school, the latest tool in the country's coronavirus combat arsenal as the outbreak shows signs of easing.

Fuxuema, which translates as "school resumption code", allows students to fill out their daily temperatures and obtain a colour-based QR-code, a type of barcode, on their mobile phones that would show their health status, Tencent said in a statement on its social media account late on Friday.

China's Xinjiang reopens all elementary, high schools as epidemic wanes - Xinhua

Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region reopened all elementary and high schools on Monday, the first provincial-level region in the country to do so amid the coronavirus epidemic.

The reopening came after the region had reported no new cases of coronavirus infection for 34 days as of Sunday.

Asymptomatic woman tests positive for COVID19 - Global Times

A woman who came back from the UK and went through Beijing customs with no symptoms was confirmed as having COVID-19 three days later in East China's Shandong Province. It sparked worries about the "cunning" virus as well as about loopholes in screening that could pose a danger despite efforts to control imported cases.

The woman, surnamed Yu, did not declare any symptoms or COVID-19 contact history when she reached Beijing airport on March 17. Yu did not belong to the category of high-risk passengers, Gao Ruifeng, the deputy head of the Beijing Customs, said on Monday at a press conference.

Shanghai downgrades emergency alert level as coronavirus spread subsides - Reuters

from level 1 to level 2

Shanghai requires all international arrivals to undergo nucleic acid testing - China Daily

Shanghai ordered people arriving in the city from other countries to undergo nucleic acid testing (NAT) to screen for coronavirus from Monday, local authorities said.

The new measure will expand a program that previously only applied to those coming from 24 heavily-hit countries, no matter their nationality, according to the municipal government's press conference on Sunday.

China Focus: China ups customs measures as imported cases top 350 - Xinhua

On sea travel, China's guideline on the COVID-19 prevention and control has been adopted by the International Maritime Organization for the international shipping industry.

The guideline covered crew protection, emergency response and case reporting, Yang Xinzhai, a Ministry of Transport official, said at the press conference.

[视频]国新办在武汉举行发布会 介绍中医药防治新冠肺炎情况_CCTV节目官网-CCTV-1_央视网(cctv.com)

State Council Information Office held a press conference Monday in Wuhan to discuss the positive effects of Traditional Chinese Medicine on the virus

TCM treatment effective on over 90 pct of COVID-19 patients on China's mainland: official - Xinhua

A total of 74,187 COVID-19 patients, or 91.5 percent of the total confirmed cases on the Chinese mainland, have received TCM treatment, said Yu Yanhong, Party chief of the National Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine, at a press conference in Wuhan, capital of the hardest-hit province of Hubei

A third of coronavirus cases may be ‘silent carriers’, classified Chinese data suggests | South China Morning Post

More than 43,000 people in China had tested positive for Covid-19 by the end of February but had no immediate symptoms, a condition typically known as asymptomatic, according to the data. They were placed in quarantine and monitored but were not included in the official tally of confirmed cases, which stood at about 80,000 at the time...

A growing number of studies are now questioning the WHO’s earlier statement that asymptomatic transmission was “extremely rare”. A report by the WHO’s international mission after a trip to China estimated that asymptomatic infections accounted for 1 to 3 per cent of cases, according to a European Union paper.

“The number of novel coronavirus (Covid-19) cases worldwide continues to grow, and the gap between reports from China and statistical estimates of incidence based on cases diagnosed outside China indicates that a substantial number of cases are underdiagnosed,” a group of Japanese experts led by Hiroshi Nishiura, an epidemiologist at Hokkaido University, wrote in a letter to the International Journal of Infectious Diseases in February.


5. The Economy

China rolls out measures to further ensure employment against COVID-19 impact - Gov.cn

The State Council, China's cabinet, has released a guideline to expedite the recovery of employment and keep it stable to counter the impact from the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.

The document outlined measures in five aspects, including prioritizing employment, helping migrant workers return to work, expanding job opportunities for college graduates, ensuring social security to those most in need, as well as improving professional training and employment services.

Top iPhone assembler Foxconn secures workers at all plants - Nikkei Asian Review

The company issued a statement Sunday night saying recruitment goals have been reached "ahead of schedule at the plants." This signals progress from early March when Chairman Young Liu told investors that Chinese plants were operating at roughly 50% capacity of normal.

坚守房地产调控底线“纾困不刺激” _ 经济参考网 _ 新华社《经济参考报》官方网站

防风险促平稳 “房住不炒”基调下加速构建长效调控机制

Economic Information Daily makes a point of saying that the basic real estate policy of houses are for living in, not for speculating on will not change in spite of the downturn

Chinese banks pump money into consumer loans | Financial Times $$

An official at the risk management department of a major bank said lenders were participating even if they knew that some loans were unlikely to be repaid. “We have to take part in the operation because the government wants to support the real economy with cheap credit,” said the official, adding: “These loans may go under if the economy continues to weaken.”

用全面辩证长远的眼光看待我国发展

People’s Daily front page commentary on Monday urging people to see China’s economic growth “with a comprehensive, dialectical and long-term perspective”. It insists the Chinese economy has weathered the shock of the coronavirus and is still resilient. “We absolutely have the conditions, the capacity and the confidence to overcome all kinds of risks and challenges, and firmly take the initiative of development.”

Chinese Home Sales Point to Tentative Recovery After Collapse - Bloomberg

Residential transactions in China’s 30 major cities fell more than 99.7% from the day the first case was discovered to a low of just 22 deals on Feb. 8, according to research by Capital Economics and Knight Frank. Still, in the first 17 days of March sales have partially rebounded and are up about 8.5 times on the same period a month earlier, the data show.

Chinese Airlines Have Lost $3.1 Billion This Year - Caixin

insiders say that given massive fixed hangar fees, airlines have little choice but to continue running flights at a reduced rate just to maintain operations and pay their bills.

What Does the Covid-19 Economy Look Like? Chicken Prices Might Hold a Clue. - WSJ $$

The wholesale price of chicken in China fell more than 50% between mid-December and mid-February as the government placed portions of the country in lockdown. Prices have slowly risen in recent weeks as the reported growth rate of new infections has slowed, according to Gro Intelligence, suggesting that demand for agricultural products is starting to bounce back.

The upshot, Ms. Menker said in a note to clients on Monday, is that “China is showing signs of recovery just as large swathes of the U.S. enter lockdown.”

China’s Economy Will Show Recovery in Second Quarter: Central Banker - Caixin

China’s financial markets have withstood these external shocks and are currently stable, and the central bank has plenty of policy room and monetary tools at its disposal to cope with any impact, Chen Yulu, a deputy governor of the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) said at a briefing (link in Chinese) on Sunday. He reiterated that the central bank will ensure reasonable and adequate liquidity in the banking system while also following a prudent monetary policy that will be flexible and appropriate. It will continue to provide low-interest loans to privately owned businesses and small and mid-sized enterprises which are crucial to domestic and global supply chains, he said.

Premier Li presses for upswing of economic development - Gov.cn

Premier Li had a video call with officials in charge of inspecting work and production resumption in Guangdong and Henan provinces, requiring them to tackle problems troubling enterprises.

In the video call, Premier Li also communicated with managers from Guangzhou Automobile Group Co Ltd and Foxconn Technology Group over how many of their employees had returned to work and whether they need national policy support.

Hearing the two companies are facing parts supply shortages because micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises producing them have not fully recovered operations, Premier Li urged related departments to act quickly to facilitate simultaneous work and production resumption among all enterprises, large and small, and allow productive factors to flow freely across various sectors and industries.

China's road, waterway freight volumes shrink amid coronavirus impact - Xinhua

Road freight volume totaled 2.9 billion tonnes for the January-February period, 75.2 percent of the level during the same period last year, according to data from the Ministry of Transport.

In February alone, the reading was 826.38 million tonnes, only half of the amount registered in the same month of 2019.

The ministry said the count did not include data from central China's Hubei Province, which was hit hard by the epidemic.

The country's waterway freight volume fell 14.8 percent year on year to 927.85 million tonnes in the first two month. Total cargo throughput of the country's ports dropped 6 percent to 1.87 billion tonnes, according to the ministry.

Coronavirus-Led Slowdown Tests the Mettle of China’s Shadow Banks - WSJ $$

Since early February, several finance companies and online lending platforms have told investors they can’t produce the returns they previously promised, due to rising distress among businesses they funded.

Some nonbank lenders have stopped selling new investment products to raise funds. One trust company asked its investors to give it more time to return their cash, while a U.S.-listed Chinese internet lender stopped paying interest on short-term loans it earlier took out and extended their duration...

The total loan balance of China’s peer-lending industry sank to a multiyear low of 410 billion yuan at the end of February, down 17% from the end of 2019, according to Wangdaizhijia. Monthly transaction volume fell to about 10 billion yuan in February from 16 billion yuan in January.

127th Canton Fair to be rescheduled - Xinhua

The 127th China Import and Export Fair will not be held on April 15 as scheduled, according to local authorities.

The decision was made due to the current global situation of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), especially the high risk of imported cases, Ma Hua, deputy director of the bureau of commerce of south China's Guangdong Province, told a press conference Monday.


6. US-China

Pence: China offering 'greater degree' of transparency than during previous viral outbreaks | Fox News

"[T]he president has been very clear that it would have been better if we'd known more sooner," Pence told host Mark Levin in an interview airing Sunday.

"But the truth is that compared to previous outbreaks in China, there's been a much greater degree of transparency on this. And we were able to send a team of our health experts in the middle of February to look at the raw data to understand what's been happening in China. And we'll continue to work on on a basis of cooperation."

However, Pence also admitted that Americans can justifiably be angry with the Beijing government for its actions.

White House Pushes U.S. Officials to Criticize China For Coronavirus ‘Cover-Up’ - Daily Beast

As the number of coronavirus cases continues to grow at a rapid pace in the U.S., the White House is launching a communications plan across multiple federal agencies that focuses on accusing Beijing of orchestrating a “cover-up” and creating a global pandemic, according to two U.S. officials and a government cable obtained by The Daily Beast.

The cable, sent to State Department officials Friday, lays out in detail the circumstances on the ground in China, including data on coronavirus cases and deaths, the local business environment and transportation restrictions. But it also issues guidelines for how U.S. officials should answer questions on, or speak about, the coronavirus and the White House’s response in relation to China.

U.S. axed CDC expert job in China months before virus outbreak | | Reuters

Several months before the coronavirus pandemic began, the Trump administration eliminated a key American public health position in Beijing intended to help detect disease outbreaks in China, Reuters has learned.

The American disease expert, a medical epidemiologist embedded in China's disease control agency, left her post in July, according to four sources with knowledge of the issue. The first cases of the new coronavirus may have emerged as early as November, and as cases exploded, the Trump administration in February chastised China for censoring information about the outbreak and keeping U.S. experts from entering the country to help.

The U.S. Needs China’s Masks, as Acrimony Grows - The New York Times

“My job at the White House right now is to help find whatever the American people need and buy it from wherever we can, and if we need to send a plane to go get it, we’ll get that done using the full force of government and private enterprise,” Mr. Navarro said in an interview.

“If China or any other country has some masks, gloves or other products we need for the American people, we welcome that with open arms,” he said. “What we don’t need is some kind of propaganda exercise during a crisis that the actions of the Chinese Communist Party have made far more serious than it otherwise would have been.”

USTR: Response to Coronavirus Crisis | United States Trade Representative

In imposing tariffs on goods from China as part of the Section 301 action, the United States determined to not impose tariffs on certain critical products such as ventilators, oxygen masks, and nubilators.  In addition, over the past year, USTR granted exclusions for a large number of health-related products.  Notably, the imposition of tariffs on certain Chinese imports has not resulted in an overall decline in the availability of needed medical equipment and supplies.  In fact, U.S. imports in 2019 of all critical medical and pharmaceutical products were up over 20 percent since 2017, before Section 301 tariffs were imposed.

Japan-U.S. Foreign Ministers’ Telephone Talk | Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan

1. The two ministers, building on the results of the Japan-U.S. Summit Telephone Talk held on March 13th, exchanged views on the domestic situations and preventive measures taken regarding the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

The US readout of the call refers to the outbreak as the "Wuhan Corona Pandemic". How many US allies are refusing to go along with the US names for the epidemic?

Republican Lawmakers Want Twitter to Ban Chinese Communist Officials over Coronavirus Misinformation

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) and Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) are calling on Twitter to ban Chinese Communist Party officials from the platform over misinformation about the Wuhan Coronavirus.

“By banning Twitter in China, the Chinese Communist Party is keeping its citizens in the dark. By putting propaganda on Twitter, the Chinese Communist Party is lying to the rest of the world,” wrote the GOP legislators, in a letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.

Twitter Says Beijing’s Coronavirus Lies Are Just Fine - DailyBeast

The spokesperson pointed to language on its website, which gives wide latitude to statements from government officials. “Presently,” the company says, “direct interactions with fellow public figures, comments on political issues of the day, or foreign policy saber-rattling on economic or military issues are generally not in violation of the Twitter Rules.”

Spit On, Yelled At, Attacked: Chinese-Americans Fear For Their Safety - The New York Times

As the coronavirus upends American life, Chinese-Americans face a double threat. Not only are they grappling like everyone else with how to avoid the virus itself, they are also contending with growing racism in the form of verbal and physical attacks. Other Asians-Americans — with families from Korea, Vietnam, the Philippines, Myanmar and other places — are facing threats, too, lumped together with Chinese-Americans by a bigotry that does not know the difference.

Washington under fire for labeling coronavirus - China Daily

"The president of the United States, and other White House officials, using the term 'Chinese virus', or 'Kung-Flu', or 'Wuhan virus', we believe is inciting and provoking this anti-Asian sentiment and is really responsible in the rise of these more violent acts," said Cynthia Choi, co-executive director of Chinese for Affirmative Action, a community-based civil rights organization in San Francisco.

"He's refusing to call it by its correct medical name, which is COVID-19, or the coronavirus. He's refusing to do that, even after it was called to his attention that this is harming and endangering the lives of Asian Americans," she added.

China Is Legally Responsible for COVID-19 Damage and Claims Could Be in the Trillions - War on the Rocks

Still, injured states are not without remedy. Barring any prospect for effective litigation, states could resort to self-help. The law of state responsibility permits injured states to take lawful countermeasures against China by suspending their own compliance with obligations owed to China as a means of inducing Beijing to fulfill its responsibilities and debt (Article 49). Countermeasures shall not be disproportionate to the degree of gravity of the wrongful acts and the effects inflicted on injured states (Article 51). The choice of countermeasures that injured states may select is wide open, with only minimal limitations. For example, countermeasures may not involve the threat or use of force or undermine the human rights of China (Article 50). Except for these limitations, however, the United States and other injured states may suspend existing legal obligations or deliberately violate other legal duties owed to China as a means to induce Beijing to fulfill its responsibilities and address the calamitous damages it has inflicted on the world.--

James Kraska is chair and Charles H. Stockton professor of international maritime law in the Stockton Center for International Law at the U.S. Naval War College.

Comment: So will there be calls to confiscate some or all of US Treasuries? Will China decide there is enough risk that could happen that they will try to unload as many of those Treasuries as possible? Trade war, tech war, financial war, information war?

Marines Plan to Retool to Meet China Threat - WSJ $$

The Marine Corps is undertaking its most sweeping transformation in decades, pivoting from a focus on fighting insurgents in the Middle East to developing the ability to hop from island to island in the western Pacific to bottle up the Chinese fleet.

The 10-year plan to revamp the Corps, scheduled to be unveiled this week, follows years of classified U.S. wargames that revealed China’s missile and naval forces to be eroding American military advantages in the region.

“China, in terms of military capability, is the pacing threat,” Gen. David Berger, the Marine Corps commandant, said in an interview. “If we did nothing, we would be passed.”


7. More on the crackdown on US media

Beijing dismisses Chinese news assistants working for U.S. bureaus - Committee to Protect Journalists

On Thursday and Friday, the Beijing Personnel Service Corporation for Diplomatic Missions ordered at least seven Chinese nationals who work as staffers at U.S. news organizations in Beijing to be dismissed from their jobs, according to several journalists in Beijing, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal by the Chinese government. The order included workers for The New York Times and Voice of America, the U.S. Congress-funded broadcaster, as well as two other outlets that could not be immediately identified, according to those journalists.

Beijing revokes work permits for Chinese assistants working for US media organisations | South China Morning Post

Sources familiar with the matter said that two Chinese news assistants at The New York Times and one at The Wall Street Journal were told by the Beijing Service Bureau for Diplomatic Missions on Wednesday that their work permits had been revoked. The permit of a fourth Chinese news assistant, at US broadcaster Voice of America, was also revoked on Wednesday, a source said.

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang's Regular Press Conference on March 20, 2020

Q: Recently the US repeatedly said that the five Chinese media outlets they targeted are propaganda institutions of the CPC under the control of the Chinese government and not truly independent media, while those US media agencies China has taken countermeasures against are true media. Accordingly, they believe there's no reciprocity at all. What's your comment?

A: Such statement by the US side laid bare their deep-seated ideological prejudice.

Beginning from the very first day when China and the US established diplomatic ties, the US knows clearly that China is a socialist country led by the CPC. From the very first day when Chinese media set branch offices in the US, the US is well aware of the nature of the Chinese media. Over four decades have passed, and the leadership of the CPC remains the defining nature of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and the nature of Chinese media remains unchanged.

So why has the US been recently talking about the CPC in every utterance and trying to pit the CPC against the Chinese people? Why are they making an issue out of the nature of Chinese media and taking this as a pretext to oppress Chinese media agencies and seek massive expulsion of Chinese journalists in all but name?

Each country has its unique national conditions, thus different ways for the management and operation of media. What makes the US think it can judge other countries' media based on the benchmark of its own ideology? What makes the US think it can arbitrarily pin labels on Chinese media to stigmatize and oppress them?

China has no intention to change the American political system, and we hope the US will also respect our political system. If the US believes in the superiority of its system and the triumph of western democracy and freedom as it claims, why is it so afraid of the CPC and Chinese media?

We hope the US will reflect upon its behaviors, eliminate its political virus of ideological bias, and stop vilifying the CPC and Chinese media.

China forces out local employees of US news organisations | Financial Times $$

The move strikes “at the heart and soul” of foreign media organisations operating in China, said Jane Perlez, a former Beijing bureau chief of the New York Times who is now at Harvard University.

“Without the researchers’ ability to find Chinese people who know what is going on — like tracking down doctors in Wuhan who spilled the beans on the coronavirus — our coverage would be much weaker,” she said.

村上春树:哪里有人会喜欢孤独,不过是不喜欢失望

A former Chinese news assistant at a foreign news outlet wrote about allowing more Chinese to work in foreign media can help bridge the gap between China and the world, and how this can help China’s image, not undermine it. This appears to be a response to Beijing’s decision to kick out foreign reporters and force the Chinese staffs to resign.

一个外媒记者的来信

Someone who once worked as a foreign correspondent in China wrote an anonymous letter to the Chinese people on WeChat, explaining how the foreign press is not at all trying to smear China, and how having more China correspondents can help to counter the Western bias on China.


8. WHO’s treatment of Taiwan harmed response

Taiwan says WHO failed to act on coronavirus transmission warning | Financial Times $$

Taiwan said its doctors had heard from mainland colleagues that medical staff were getting ill — a sign of human-to-human transmission. Taipei officials said they reported this to both International Health Regulations (IHR), a WHO framework for exchange of epidemic prevention and response data between 196 countries, and Chinese health authorities on December 31.

Taiwanese government officials told the Financial Times the warning was not shared with other countries...

The challenge of managing the relationship extended to negotiations over the wording of a report following a joint mission to China last month...

Chinese health officials also refused to include any reference to avoiding a “second wave” of coronavirus in the report, he said, so they compromised on “a surge” or “resurgence”.

Dale Fisher, an infectious disease specialist at the National University of Singapore, said the team’s Chinese counterparts requested the report not make reference to a “dangerous pathogen” because they said it had a “bioterrorism type suggestion”, so they found a replacement.

Civic Technology Can Help Stop a Pandemic - Foreign Affairs

Despite being treated by the World Health Organization as part of China, and despite having done far broader testing than the United States (meaning the true rate of infection is far less hidden), Taiwan has only one-fifth the rate of known cases in the United States and less than one-tenth the rate in widely praised Singapore...

Taiwan’s success has rested on a fusion of technology, activism, and civic participation. A small but technologically cutting-edge democracy, living in the shadow of the superpower across the strait, Taiwan has in recent years developed one of the world’s most vibrant political cultures by making technology work to democracy’s advantage rather than detriment. This culture of civic technology has proved to be the country’s strongest immune response to the new coronavirus.


Business, Economy and Trade

Private Exporters Report Sales Activity for China and Unknown Destinations | USDA Foreign Agricultural Service March 20, 2020—Private exporters reported to the U.S. Department of Agriculture the following activity:  Export sales of 756,000 metric tons of corn for delivery to China during the 2019/2020 marketing year;  Export sales of 340,000 metric tons of hard red winter wheat for delivery to China during the 2020/2021 marketing year and;

Caixin Editorial: Certainty Is Needed as China Returns to Work Controlling the Covid-19 epidemic is a huge test for China’s governance system. In this test without papers, getting the country back to work is the most important question of all. As the outbreak casts a shadow over global demand, domestic markets will be the bread and butter of businesses seeking a return to work. But when it comes to raising demand at home, stimulus policies have limited effects and there is little room for maneuver. Breakthroughs in systemic reforms are the best hope for fanning this demand, but the window for enacting them is closing.

Falling Pork Prices Set to Take a Slice Out of Inflation in China - Caixin Global Falling pork prices are expected to lead to a slowdown in China’s consumer inflation later this year as hog production gains momentum after the devastating impact of African swine fever. Peng Shaozong, a National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) official, told a press conference last Thursday that prices for this major driver of consumer price index (CPI) growth had already started to decline.

Volvo back to ‘normal’ in China as it shuts EU and US car plants | Financial Times $$ As the Swedish group closed its US plant and became the final carmaker to cease production in Europe, chief executive Hakan Samuelsson said factories and dealerships in China were operating close to pre-shutdown levels.

More than 500 Cinemas Reopen in China as New Virus Cases Near Zero - Caixin As of March 21, a total of 507 cinemas across China had reopened to moviegoers, representing 4.5% of the total cinemas operating in the country, according to statistics released by ticketing agency Maoyan. The reopened cinemas currently have a temporary plan of just screening previous box-office hits.

Coronavirus News: China Factories Work 24/7 to Build Ventilators - Bloomberg “All the ventilator factories in China have reached their maximum capacity, occupied fully by foreign demand,” said Wu Chuanpu, director of supply chain at Vedeng.com, one of the main platforms in China connecting medical equipment suppliers and buyers.

China’s Dollar Bonds Show Trump the Value of Government Backing - Bloomberg Chinese corporate debt is holding up a lot better -- in fact, the premiums on investment-grade dollar bonds out of China are now below those of their American peers. And the Chinese sell-off is only the worst since 2011, not the 2007-09 global financial crisis, as is the case for U.S. high-grade debt.

Yicai Global - China's Evergrande Health Plunges on Alert of Nearly Quadrupled Loss Due to NEV Dreams Shares of Evergrande Health Industry Group have slumped to the lowest in more than a year after the healthcare and new energy vehicles unit of Chinese conglomerate Evergrande Group said that its loss is likely to have widened by almost fourfold last year amid its one-and-a-half-year journey toward churning out its first NEV model that is still not ready

Politics and Law

The Politics of Gratitude | China Media Project - Qian Gang As Chinese face life and death concerns and harbor deep resentment over early missteps in dealing with the epidemic, their nerves are especially sensitive to the way leaders seem so keen on showering themselves with tributes and praise. The evolution of “gratitude” can tell us a great deal about political evolution in China today. It can tell us, we might also say, about the evolution and spread of the political virus that has infected the body of the Chinese Communist Party. Like me, Xi Jinping grew up “drinking red ink.” Since coming to power, he has revived many red terms from the Mao era, including phrases like: “East, south, north and center, Party, government, military, society and education – the Party rules all” (东西南北中,党政军民学,党是领导一切的). But in Xi’s new era, “gratitude,” that black word once associated with feudalism and capitalism, has become a bona fide red political slogan – and this is something entirely new.

China's President Feeling The Pressure From Dissent in Own Party - RFA The letter was shared to WeChat by Chen Ping, founder of Hong Kong-based broadcaster SunTV, according to Deutsche Welle and Radio Taiwan International. Chen wrote in a WeChat post: "I saw it in a WeChat group, and I felt that it was moderate and rational, so I reposted it." "But I don't know who wrote it," he said. "A lot of other people reposted this anonymous letter online." Former Tsinghua University politics lecturer Wu Qiang said the letter comes soon after the disappearance and presumed detention of social media star and property tycoon Ren Zhiqiang. // Comment: Ren’s open letter and his disappearance are far more meaningful politically than the essays from Professor Xu Zhangrun. Ren is a princeling and in the previous Era he was a member of the Beijing establishment, and has, or had very tight ties with Wang Qishan. His apparent detention, the downfall of HNA, and Jiang Chaoliang’s Hubei failure all may bode poorly for Wang.

Translation: “An Urgent Call Regarding the Epidemic” | China Digital Times (CDT) At the height of the novel coronavirus outbreak in China, Zhao Shilin, a retired Minzu University professor and former member of the Central Committee and Deputy Director of the Culture and Arts Commission, issued two public letters to Xi Jinping concerning the government’s response to the outbreak. The first letter, on February 23, stated that the government had “missed the most important ‘golden window’ of time to combat the epidemic—the time around [Chinese] New Year… [resulting] in the epidemic spreading with great ferocity. The costs of this mistake are enormous....

Gong Zheng appointed Shanghai acting mayor - SHINE News Previously, he worked as Party Secretary of Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, and vice head of the government of the province. Before that, he was vice head of China’s General Administration of Customs. Gong was also appointed a vice mayor of Shanghai.

天津市委常委会会议暨市委统一战线工作领导小组会议召开 李鸿忠主持并讲话--新闻报道-人民网 Tianjin Party Secretary Li Hongzhong chairs meeting of the Tianjin United Front Work small leading group, Li's praise for Xi remains consistent in its fulsomeness 加强思想政治引领,特别是要紧密结合这次疫情防控,用好生动的现实教材,讲清楚、讲透彻全国疫情防控取得阶段性重要成果、积极向好态势不断巩固拓展,根源于习近平总书记作为全党核心、人民领袖、军队统帅的亲自部署、科学决策、英明领导

关于群众反映的涉及李文亮医生有关情况调查的通报 - Report on the Investigation Regarding Public Feedback Involving the Circumstances of Dr. Li Wenliang - China Law Translate full translation of the report issued last week

Foreign and Defense Affairs

Combined arms battalion becomes basic combat unit of PLA - China Military The powerful combined arms battalion, each one including almost all types of basic military arms and professions, has now become a basic combat unit of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA), enabling the service to react much more quickly in the fast-paced dynamic of modern warfare, gaining more advantages, experts said on Sunday.

解放军报评论员:把队伍建强 让干部过硬 - 中国军网 PLA Daily commentary on the new rules

China issues code of conduct for military disciplinary inspection officials - China Military The code of conduct, issued by the discipline inspection commission of the Central Military Commission, specifies rules in 13 aspects covering study, work and life in line with the reform of military disciplinary inspection and supervision. The code also bans 52 behaviors in light of potential disciplinary risks.

Chinese warplanes to get new coatings to make them harder to detect | South China Morning Post PLA Daily said the move aimed to give Chinese warplanes a combat advantage as they “will be less likely to be detected by both the naked eye and military radar”. It said the new guidelines would be gradually implemented this year.

No Chinese people means no COVID-19 in Kansas town | The Kansas City Star The chairman of the Riley County Commissioners suggested this week that the global coronavirus pandemic is not a problem locally because unlike in Italy, there are not a lot of Chinese people living in central Kansas, according to two other officials who attended the meeting Wednesday night.

Talk About Your Dangerous Liaisons - Vital Interests Russian media outlets have done their part to bolster Xi’s COVID-19 narrative. The Russian news agency TASS reported today that China is “winning [the] battle against COVID-19,” while “offering assistance to other countries.” TASS trumpeted the aid China has delivered “to Italy, Spain, Poland, the Netherlands and Iraq,” with assistance promised to Serbia as well. China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has similarly highlighted the CCP’s COVID-19 relief assistance to these and other countries.

Hong Kong and Macao

澳门特区行政长官:妥善推进国家安全配套立法_港台来信_澎湃新闻-The Paper The Macau chief executive officer said this year the government will “advance the supporting legislations related to safeguarding the national security

Hong Kong Bans All Non-Resident Arrivals for 14 Days - Bloomberg Hong Kong will ban non-residents from visiting for 14 days and prevent bars from serving alcohol as the city sees a second wave of imported coronavirus cases. The travel measure will take effect starting on midnight Wednesday, the city’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam said in a news conference on Monday. Hong Kong will also halt all airport transit services and impose harsher punishments for quarantine violators, she said.

Taiwan

Scientific channel suspends updates after being criticized for posting incomplete Chinese map - Global Times The producer of a Chinese scientific program apologized on Monday for not including the island of Taiwan in its previous program on YouTube, in response to netizens' mounting criticism that the program did so to butter up foreign viewers. Wu Songlei, producer of Paperclip, which specializes in scientific programs, apologized on his Sina Weibo account. His apology came after many netizens said one of the team's programs, published in 2018, failed to include the island of Taiwan in the Chinese map while the island was shown as part of China on the same program that was broadcast on the domestic channel

Tech and Media

Weibo Confirms 538 Million User Records Leaked, Listed For Sale on Dark Web - Pandaily umors have spread after Wei Xingguo (Yun Shu), CTO of Chinese Internet security company Moresec and former chief of Alibaba’s Security Research Lab posted on Weibo that millions of Weibo users’ data had been leaked on March 19. Wei claimed that his own phone number was leaked through Weibo and had received WeChat friend requests based on “phone number search.”

Xiaomi May Suspend Semiconductor Development - Pandaily Following R&D expenditure estimated to be around 1 billion yuan, the Beijing-based electronics titan’s first S1 processor, developed in collaboration with Beijing Pinecone Electronics, failed to enamor consumers. High power consumption and heat output eventually led to the failure of the Xiaomi 5C smartphone, the first device equipped with the proprietary semiconductor technology. The Surge S1 ended up losing out to competition, including Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 825 and MediaTek’s P20 and P10.

Amid National Lockdown, Livestreamers See More Users, Less Spending - Caixin In the first quarter of 2020, the four Nasdaq-listed Chinese livestreaming platform operators — Momo, Joyy, Douyu and Huya — have all seen more people using their platforms, and for longer. However, at least one of the companies expects its revenue to actually drop.

Energy, Environment, Science and Health

The Trump Administration Drove Him Back to China, Where He Invented a Fast Coronavirus Test — ProPublica A federal crackdown on professors’ undisclosed outside activities is achieving what China has long struggled to do: spur Chinese scientists to return home. In this crisis, it’s costing the U.S. intellectual firepower.