Accountability and reparations; Virus origins; More propaganda attacks on Pompeo; BRI debt relief
Reminder: The PRC is off for the official Labor Day 五一 holiday from May 1-5. That means that most likely little will be happening between Thursday afternoon and next Wednesday, so the newsletter will be taking Monday off, barring something big going on. I will still hold the regular open thread on Friday.
We all need a vacation, especially after White House official Larry Kudlow had to deny that the US was considering making China pay for the pandemic by cancelling some of its US Treasury holdings.
The fact that people would even consider that is lunacy. Destroying the US treasury market and crashing the global financial system on top of the pandemic would be a problem.
You might be able to dismiss the talk as bad reporting (for the record I do not think it is) if President Trump himself had not responded to a Reuters question Wednesday by not denying the idea of “debt write-offs”:
Asked whether he was considering the use of tariffs or even debt write-offs for China, Trump would not offer specifics. “There are many things I can do,” he said. “We’re looking for what happened.”...
This newsletter has mentioned before that the idea of “deducting” damages/reparations from the PRC’s UST holdings was an idea that was bubbling up in some dark corners, so it should not be a surprise.
How should we expect the PRC to react to this kind of talk? There are already an increasing number of voices warning of the risks of a “financial war” with the US, and this likely will only make them look prescient. Might Beijing start selling down their UST holdings to reduce their risk? But if they did where would they invest the proceeds?
In a positive development the US Director of National Intelligence has declared that the virus was not manmade or genetically modified - Intelligence Community Statement on Origins of COVID-19 - US Director of National Intelligence
“The entire Intelligence Community has been consistently providing critical support to U.S. policymakers and those responding to the COVID-19 virus, which originated in China. The Intelligence Community also concurs with the wide scientific consensus that the COVID-19 virus was not manmade or genetically modified.
“As we do in all crises, the Community’s experts respond by surging resources and producing critical intelligence on issues vital to U.S. national security. The IC will continue to rigorously examine emerging information and intelligence to determine whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan.”
But the hunt for evidence that it leaked from a lab continues, as do the calls for an independent investigation.
I do not say this lightly, and have resisted writing this for a while, but Americans in China should be thinking through how life there may look if the bottom falls out of the US-China relationship. The six months between now and the US election especially could get dicey. Sorry to be so full of negative energy, I hope somehow the trajectory can change.
Thanks for reading.
The Essential Eight
1. Accountability and reparations
The Republican president, often accused of not acting early enough to prepare the United States for the spread of the virus, said he believed China should have been more active in letting the world know about the coronavirus much sooner.
Asked whether he was considering the use of tariffs or even debt write-offs for China, Trump would not offer specifics. “There are many things I can do,” he said. “We’re looking for what happened.”...
“China will do anything they can to have me lose this race,” said Trump. He said he believes Beijing wants his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, to win the race to ease the pressure Trump has placed on China over trade and other issues.
“They’re constantly using public relations to try to make it like they’re innocent parties,” he said of Chinese officials.
He said the trade deal that he concluded with Chinese President Xi Jinping aimed at reducing chronic U.S. trade deficits with China had been “upset very badly” by the economic fallout from the virus.
A senior Trump administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said on Wednesday that an informal “truce” in the war of words that Trump and Xi essentially agreed to in a phone call in late March now appeared to be over.
Senior officials across multiple government agencies are expected to meet Thursday to begin mapping out a strategy for seeking retaliatory measures against China, two people with knowledge of the meeting said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to disclose the planning. Officials in American intelligence agencies are also involved in the effort.
President Trump has fumed to aides and others in recent days about China, blaming the country for withholding information about the virus, and has discussed enacting dramatic measures that would probably lead to retaliation by Beijing, these people said...
In private, Trump and aides have discussed stripping China of its “sovereign immunity,” aiming to enable the U.S. government or victims to sue China for damages...
Some administration officials have also discussed having the United States cancel part of its debt obligations to China, two people with knowledge of internal conversations said. It was not known if the president has backed this idea. Two senior White House economic officials ruled out the possibility of doing so shortly after this story was published.
The effort matches but goes far beyond an election campaign strategy of blaming Beijing to distract from President Donald Trump's errors in predicting and handling the crisis, which has now killed more than 60,000 Americans.
Multiple sources inside the administration say that there is an appetite to use various tools, including sanctions, canceling US debt obligations and drawing up new trade policies, to make clear to China, and to everyone else, where they feel the responsibility lies.
"We have to get the economy going again, we have to be careful about how we do this," said one administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
"But we will find ways to show the Chinese that their actions are completely reprehensible."
The Washington Post, citing two people with knowledge of internal discussions, reported on Thursday that some administration officials had discussed the idea.
“The full faith and credit of U.S. debt obligations is sacrosanct. Period. Full stop,” White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told Reuters.
“Similarly is the reserve currency status of the U.S. dollar,” Kudlow said. “The story’s completely wrong.”
Co-host Brian Kilmeade asked Kushner about two things: the Australian government's independent investigation into the origins of the virus, and German newspaper Bilds' invoice to China for $160 billion for losses related to Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus....
"he has asked the team to look into very carefully what happened how this got here, and to make sure that he will take whatever actions are necessary to make sure that the people who cause the problems are held accountable for it."
"So, yes," Kushner said.
Reuters: President Trump told Reuters in an interview yesterday that China wants him to lose the election and will do anything they can to make him lose. What is your comment? He also said in the same interview that he's looking into different options in terms of consequences that China may face over its handling of the virus, in response to a question about tariffs and other measures. What's the ministry's comment?
Geng Shuang: Regarding the first question, like we said repeatedly, the presidential election is an internal affair of the US. We are not interested in meddling. In the meantime, we hope the US will stop dragging China in its domestic politics.
On your second question, I've been answering similar questions lately and sharing a detailed time-line of China's efforts on many occasions. One thing is clear: in an open, transparent and responsible spirit, China has contained COVID-19 at home and made important contribution to the global fight, which is fully recognized and highly commended by the international community.
For some time, certain US politicians neglects facts and attempt to shirk their responsibility and hide their incompetence by blaming China. But such attempts, instead of eliminating the progress our people made through arduous efforts, will only expose certain US individuals' malicious intentions and the serious problems inherent in the US.
As for "demanding accountability", like we said many times, the virus is a common enemy to all mankind. China is a victim, not an accomplice. As victims hit by the same COVID-19 virus, we should have the same appeals and cooperate. Certain people in the US should be aware that their enemy is the virus, not China.
An English lecturer in Nankai university is suing the USG for 1.36 trillion USD for spreading that virus to China and calling it the Chinese virus
2. Virus origins
The current and former officials did not say whether Mr. Trump himself, who has shown little regard for the independent judgments of intelligence and law enforcement officials, has pressured the intelligence agencies. But he does want any information supporting the lab theory to set the stage for holding China responsible, according to two people familiar with his thinking.
He has expressed interest in an idea pushed by Michael Pillsbury, an informal China adviser to the White House, that Beijing could be sued for damages, with the United States seeking $10 million for every death. At a news conference this week, Mr. Trump said the administration was discussing a “very substantial” reparations claim against China — an idea that Beijing has already denounced...
Richard Grenell, the acting director of national intelligence, has told his agencies to make a priority of determining the virus’s origin. His office convened a review of intelligence officials on April 7 to see whether the agencies could reach a consensus. The officials determined that at least so far, they could not.
The White House has ordered intelligence agencies to comb through communications intercepts, human source reporting, satellite imagery and other data to establish whether China and the World Health Organization initially hid what they knew about the emerging coronavirus pandemic, current and former U.S. officials familiar with the matter told NBC News.
A specific "tasking" seeking information about the outbreak's early days was sent last week to the National Security Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency, which includes the National Center for Medical Intelligence, an official directly familiar with the matter said. The CIA has received similar instructions, according to current and former officials familiar with the matter.
Le Yucheng: Some say that, for thousands of years, mankind has been battling against all kinds of viruses, but never seems to be able to claim an ultimate victory. Viruses can be really cunning. Their source is a serious and complex matter of science that must be studied by scientists and medical experts. Something strange now is that a few political figures, who supposedly are economists and intelligence people, are giving sensational accounts of the source of COVID-19. It is widely confirmed by experts that COVID-19 is not from labs. But some politicians are so insistent on the assertion of COVID-19 coming from a lab in Wuhan. Don't you think this is preposterous? A joint statement by 27 professional experts published at the Lancet, a world-class medical journal, also reaffirms that COVID-19 has a natural origin, and is not artificially synthesized. We need to listen to experts, rather than politicians. We need to respect science and refrain from resorting to conspiracy theories.
You mentioned international investigation. We are candid, and we are open. We support professional exchanges between scientists, including exchanges for reviewing and summarizing experiences. What we oppose, however, is unfounded charges against China. One should not accuse China first and then run so-called international investigations just to make up the evidence. This is arbitrary investigation based on the presumption of guilt. That is what we firmly oppose. As I said just now, the WHO-led expert group visited Wuhan timely.
During an executive meeting of the party's Central Committee on Feb. 14, Xi urged top leaders to enhance the country's governance capacity for biosafety and to enact "a biosecurity law" at the earliest possible date...
"At first glance, Xi's February order to enact a biosecurity law seems to have come up abruptly," a Chinese political source explained. "That's a big misunderstanding. China has been preparing for it carefully for quite a long time, conscious of how the country was perceived overseas."..
On Oct. 21 last year, well before the first infection acknowledged by the Chinese government, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, China's parliament, received its first report detailing the draft biosecurity law.
China has promised not to punish New Zealand if it joins Australia's international inquiry into the origins of COVID-19, the Foreign Minister says.
Winston Peters says officials at the highest level of China's government have allayed fears that New Zealand's participation in the enquiry would result in consequences for exporters.
3. Attacks on Pompeo keep coming
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is, according to the official Chinese narrative, an “enemy of humankind” practicing “highly venomous” diplomacy. He’s a “super-spreader” of a “political virus.” He’s a “rumor monger” with a “dark mind.”
This past week, the organs of the Chinese state have unleashed surprisingly personal salvos against America’s top diplomat in a manner reminiscent of the way North Korea used to speak about then-national security adviser John Bolton. (He was “human scum,” according to Pyongyang.)
“The bilateral relationship is arguably at its lowest point since 1972,” said Xie Tao, professor of international relations at Beijing University of Foreign Studies.
“I was expecting that this covid-19 would be an opportunity for nonpolitical cooperation . . . but this is making the two countries get into even worse arguments with each other,” Xie said on the “China in the World” podcast this month. “[With these] accusations and conspiracy theories, I feel very bad about the trend of the relationship.”
For four days in a row, CCTV Evening News attacked Pompeo and his “cold war mentality”. This time it said, “Pompeo who tries to coerce the WHO is provoking the whole world.” The commentary said “At this very critical moment when the number of confirmed cases in the US just exceed one million, instead of focusing on saving the lives of American people, Pompeo stands out against the world in his attempts to politically coerce the World Health Organization. It shows his contempt toward the international organization and how he violates the international rules. It also shows his ugly face and hegemony nature in advancing his unilateralism policy.”
The CCTV Evening News wrote on their WeChat account telling people not to miss the fact that they have attacked Pompeo for four days in a row.
some U.S. politicians including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are reacting with inexplicable excitement out of their political motives, totally ignoring the human tragedy happening in their country exacerbated by the spiking death numbers...
Those who tracked Pompeo’s open remarks during the COVID-19 pandemic believe that the proportion of lies in his speeches has broken world record. Scott Ritter, a former U.S. Marine Corps intelligence officer said on news site Russia Today that the U.S. intelligence had been used to support the groundless theory that Iraq housed weapons of mass destruction, and those who have knowledge of this would dread many of Pompeo’s remarks.
Comment: RT, Scott Ritter, Zhong Sheng of People's Daily. A noteworthy convergence
When the world was in need of joint efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, some American politicians, represented by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, have multiplied the means of scapegoating other countries, showing no regard for the health of millions of Americans, impeding international anti-pandemic cooperation...
Instead of upholding the sense of responsibility as a professional diplomat, Pompeo spread political rumors, nothing short of the accomplice of the virus. These American politicians have only damaged their country’s international reputation, rather than making America great again.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Look, the President has done his level best to correct 40 years of appeasement of China. He has said we’re going to have fair and reciprocal trade. He has imposed real costs when they have behaved badly. And that’s important. We need to make sure we do the right thing for the American people, and for an awful long time there was this theory that if we just were nice to China that their system would change and the Chinese Communist Party would begin to behave in ways that were consistent with the things that were of a benefit to America.
We’d love to see the Chinese people be successful. We care about them greatly. But we’ve watched the Chinese Communist Party behave in ways that communist parties do, and I think that’s what you heard the President saying earlier today. We have an obligation to do our best to hold those accountable who have inflicted so much harm, so much damage to the global economy and to the lives of Americans and people all across the world.
We will, for the moment, focus on the things that help keep people safe, and then there will come a time when not only the United States but I think the entire world will come to understand what took place, and I think in the end the Chinese Communist Party will ultimately be held accountable for what they did.
A new, nearly two-minute video that the campaign is set to release on Thursday celebrates Trump’s decisions to ban most travel from China and Europe during the coronavirus outbreak.
The new Trump ad, seen by Reuters ahead of its release, also attacks Biden for earlier remarks that travel bans are not effective against the virus and for calling Trump “xenophobic” and “fear-mongering.”
Besides Pence, many Republicans have refused to show common sense and acknowledge that wearing a mask is necessary, including President Donald Trump, who said that he will not wear a mask, even as more and more Americans have contracted the virus.
Trump should not only know to wear a mask, but also not to drink disinfectant. Last week, Trump improperly suggested that ingesting disinfectants or taking in sunlight could serve as a coronavirus treatment
Wu Qian said that some us politicians try to shift responsibility and "pass the buck" for political purposes and selfish interests. This is extremely selfish and irresponsible. In this regard, China's position is clear: we will never bear the blame.
Wu said the Communist Party of China (CPC) has played a pivotal role in the fight against the epidemic. Under the firm leadership of the CPC central committee, President Xi Jinping, the core of the party, the commander in chief of the armed forces and the People's Leader, personally directed and deployed the plan. The vast majority of the PLA soldiers are communists. The communist party of China comes from the people, takes root among the people, and serves the people. The communist party of China and the Chinese people are closely linked. Any attempt to sow discord between them will never succeed.
Question: So the proper titling for Xi in the PLA now includes "People's Leader"?
Caixin interview with Yan Xuetong - 财新：对话阎学通：疫情、中美关系与世界秩序 “The Epidemic, US-China Relations and the World Order”
Yan Xuetong of Tsinghua university sys the virus outbreak makes both countries less committed to implementing the phase one trade deal; that China must stick to its opening and reform policy, especially opening to countries other than the US; and that the virus may have weakened the US global leadership, but China has no global leadership at all. He again emphasized that the key of the US-China competition is 5G technology, and he made veiled criticism against Zhao Lijian for lacking the “diplomatic elegance” and for hurting China’s interests in his remarks.
Jie Dalei, an associate professor at Peking University, wrote in a new journal article that there is now more and more ideological conflicts in the US-China relations, and it has become an important part of the competition. It said that the US for the first time feels the challenge from China’s ideology and the US now instead of seeking to change China, is getting more “defensive” in this ideological competition. But he concludes that this does not mean the two will inevitably head into a collision as the ideological competition right now remains “defensive” for both sides, which is very different than in the cold war.
Li Zheng, a researcher with the CICIR, a think tank affiliated with China’s ministry of state security, wrote in a recent journal article that, given the US policy, decoupling between the two counties will happen in “technology areas that has great military value”, while American companies, universities and research institutes remain eager to collaborate with China in technology research as they can benefit from such exchanges. Li wrote that the USG’s decoupling policy has not won wide approval from the public and if the two governments can to some extent increase their strategic communication, it is still possible that this competition becomes a healthy one.
China’s ministry of commerce expressed “grave concerns” after the US FCC suggested that it may revoke the licenses of four Chinese telecom companies to operate in the US. The MOFCOM said the move is a discrimination against the Chinese companies and the USG is “abusing the national security concept and using state power to crack down companies legally operating in the US.”
according to a report by the State Department that was provided to Congress in February and obtained by Foreign Policy, the administration is focused broadly on beefing up U.S. nuclear security and “has not yet made a decision regarding whether or how extension of the New START Treaty will be an element of that effort. … This effort must account for changes in the strategic environment, broader concerns regarding Russia’s non-compliance with many of its international obligations and non-adherence to many of its commitments, and the expanding nuclear arsenals of both the Russian Federation and China.”
The guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill steamed near the disputed Spratly Islands on Wednesday, marking the second time the U.S. has sent a warship on a freedom-of-navigation operation in the South China Sea this week, according to the Navy.
The mission challenged restrictions by China, Vietnam and Taiwan, which dispute sovereignty over the Spratly Islands, 7th Fleet spokeswoman Cmdr. Reann Mommsen said in a statement to Stars and Stripes on Thursday. The Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei also lay claim to portions of the islands.
5. The outbreak
Chinese health authority said today that it received reports of four new confirmed Covid-19 cases on the mainland yesterday, all of which were imported cases.
Li Keqiang held a meeting at the Leading Small Group to handle the coronavirus, again warned local governments not to feel relaxed as the virus seems to have been contained. The meeting asked all local governments to “normalize the virus-control work”, not to underreport or delay reporting of any new cases, and learn a lesson from the recent outbreak in Heilongjiang.
All three sets of trials are in some way flawed. Only the Chinese trial has been peer reviewed, and they are the most scientifically rigorous, despite being carried out in the medical equivalent of trench warfare conditions at Covid-19’s ground zero of Hubei. They found the drug did not improve the condition of patients or reduce the amount of virus in their bloodstream, though the researchers said more data were needed to work out if starting treatment earlier would benefit patients.
But that trial was cut short, and recruited only 273 patients of a target 453, leaving their conclusions unreliable, partly because of their high standards for inclusion and partly because China’s coronavirus outbreak was brought under control.
The Boao Forum has cancelled the 2020 meeting
Hainan University said it is investigating Wang Xiaoni, a retired professor at the University after netizens accused her for supporting the writer Fang Fang and posting contents in the past that they said supporting the Hong Kong separatist movement.
This came days after the Hubei University said it will investigate a professor of its for giving “inappropriate remarks” in her WeChat. The netizens were angered that the professor publicly supported the writer Fang Fang in writing and publishing the her diaries that recorded the suffering of Wuhan people. They went over her Weibo posts and reported to authorities that the professor in the past had posted contents that supporting the Hong Kong protesters.
6. BRI debt relief?
Chinese policy advisers and bankers told the Financial Times that Beijing was considering a number of responses, including the suspension of interest payments on loans from the country’s financial institutions. But they also warned against expectations that China would forgive debts outright.
“We understand a lot of countries are looking to renegotiate loan terms,” said a researcher at the China Development Bank, a Chinese “policy bank” that — along with the Export-Import Bank of China — spearheads hundreds of billions of dollars in lending to BRI projects around the world.
“But it takes time to strike a new deal and we cannot even travel abroad right now. The BRI loans are not foreign aid. We need to at least recoup principal and a moderate interest,” said the researcher, who did not want to be named.
7. Africans in China
Darasa had arrived in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong in late February on a business trip to buy children’s shoes to export back home to Uganda. She was quarantined in a hotel at her own expense when she arrived, she said, but then she and other Africans staying there were kicked out...
Darasa posted a video on Facebook on April 23 complaining of this “super racist” treatment. Shortly after, two groups of police officers paid a visit to her hotel. They demanded she delete the video, took dozens of pictures of her, for reasons that were never made clear to her, and began phoning friends who were involved in making the video. A group of four police officers came to give her a “gift” of a face mask, hand sanitizer, and tea bags, but also to deliver a message: “We have to work with [the authorities] — if not, we’ll not be nice,” she recalled an officer telling her...
BuzzFeed News has spoken with multiple Africans in China who were visited by police after sharing videos of harassment or abuse. Ever since these racist incidents made a wave of international headlines early this month, Chinese officials have scrambled to preserve economic and diplomatic ties they had spent years building with African nations. These interviews show that Chinese police are closely monitoring the social media of black people in the country and, in at least one case, apparently infiltrating WhatsApp groups for black foreigners in the country.
The lawmakers unanimously resolved to investigate the validity of all immigration documents of every Chinese person and the expatriate quota of all their businesses in Nigeria to ascertain the number of illegal and undocumented immigrants with the view to repatriating them to China.
8. Foreign work
China firmly supports the Peruvian government and people in their fight against COVID-19 and will continue to offer support and help within its capability, Chinese President Xi Jinping told his Peruvian counterpart, Martin Vizcarra, in a phone conversation on Thursday...
Noting that China highly values the development of its relations with Peru, the Chinese president said China is willing to work together with the country to strengthen bilateral communications, promote innovation in bilateral cooperation, jointly build the Belt and Road and boost continous development of the China-Peru comprehensive strategic partnership so as to mark the 50th anniversary of their diplomatic ties next year with more tangible results.
Xi told Czech President Milos Zeman in a telephone conversation that China is ready to share coronavirus containment information and experience with the Czech side via bilateral channels and the mechanism for cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European countries (CEECs), among others...
Xi also said he is looking forward to meeting with Zeman after the COVID-19 pandemic is over to jointly plan for the future of China's relations with the Czech Republic and the CEECs.
The team, comprising experts from Guangdong province in the field of public health, infectious diseases, emergency treatment, traditional Chinese medicine, respiratory disease and mental health, had also worked in capital Kuala Lumpur and the state of Sarawak.
Armed with documents on control and treatment of COVID-19 in China, the team attended meetings at Malaysia's health ministry, and visited hospitals, labs and medical research institutes, and participated in videoconferences.
All of the devices in a consignment of 250 ventilators that arrived from China on 4 April posed such serious problems that they could not be used and were ditched.
Doctors in NHS hospitals in the West Midlands, among which the ventilators were shared, were so concerned that they wrote to Matt Hancock, the health secretary, warning that they could kill patients.
Australia will support Taiwan's return to the World Health Organisation as an observer four years after it was ousted by Beijing, risking another diplomatic spat.
The position, which follows an appeal from Taiwan's Health Minister, is consistent with Australia's long-held view that Taiwan should be able to participate in practical cooperation at the UN health agency.
Australia's longest serving foreign minister says not since the Cold War has he seen an ambassador behave as "recklessly" as China's ambassador to Australia did this week.
The Federal Government has described Ambassador Jingye Cheng's comments in an interview with the Australian Financial Review as "threats of economic coercion".
This time, a pandemic literally threatens the safety of humankind. It has claimed more than 200,000 lives worldwide and shows no sign of subsiding. Yet this time America, which insists on being treated as the world’s global leader, has demonstrated neither a commitment to solidarity and co-operation, nor a willingness or capacity for global leadership.
What has particularly dismayed the Chinese is a smear campaign against China by some American politicians and high-ranking officials, who try to shift the blame for their own underestimation of the threat, their slow response and the consequences. For me, the blame-game lays bare American ambitions to scapegoat China for its problems. And this, sadly, makes understanding and co-operation very difficult among major countries, if not impossible, at a time when the world needs it most...
Will American hawks see their wish fulfilled: confrontation and a complete decoupling of China and America? Is the world prepared for the consequences, from disruptions to global industry and supply chains, and a reversal of globalisation, to countries having to take sides as the world splinters into opposing blocks? What would that mean for humanity’s post-cold war ambitions to promote peaceful development?
The Chinese Embassy in the Netherlands has contacted the Dutch Foreign Ministry to lodge solemn representations after Guy Wittich, Representative of the Netherlands Trade and Investment Office in Taiwan, announced the simplification of the office's name to the Netherlands Office Taipei. The Chinese embassy has made a request for clarification of the matter...
Chinese netizens irritated by the Netherlands' move called on the Chinese companies to immediately stop exporting medical supplies to the country, and appealed to others to boycott all Dutch products and cancel their travel plans to the country.
Some netizens posted photos of Zheng Chenggong, a military leader in the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) who expelled the Dutch invaders and colonialists from Taiwan in 1662, and commented that "although he was from the Ming dynasty, many of his descendants are still here, just across the Taiwan Straits."
The great practice of fighting against the epidemic in China shows the humanity of sharing our destiny. During the most difficult period of China's epidemic prevention and control, many members of the international community offered sincere help and support. China has always remembered and cherished this friendship…After the outbreak broke out in many parts of the world, China, while overcoming its own difficulties, stepped up efforts to supply the international market with bulk drugs, epidemic prevention materials and daily necessities, and provided assistance within its capacity to countries in need… China's actions demonstrate China's position and spirit, shine the light of the international humanitarian spirit, and are a vivid example of building a community with a Shared future for mankind.
The covid-19 outbreak was a "natural disaster," a sudden attack on humans by an unknown virus. In the face of large-scale infectious diseases, no one can be immune, no country can fight alone, as long as there is a country epidemic, the global epidemic will not end. The war on epidemic prevention and control is a battle between all mankind and the virus. Countries are closely linked in fighting the epidemic. To help others is to help ourselves. Politicizing and labeling the epidemic, shirking responsibility and smearing stigma are not conducive to international cooperation and will only tear the international community apart. In the age of the global village, countries have long Shared a community of Shared future. Such a major public health emergency will not be the last. The international community should foster a sense of community with a Shared future for mankind, work together to meet risks and challenges and build a better planet. This is a profound lesson from the global fight against the epidemic.
Not sure if they got permission from Lego but this is catchy propaganda work:
Business, Economy and Trade
China’s Manufacturing Activity Slumps Again in April, Caixin PMI Shows - Caixin The Caixin China General Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), which gives an independent snapshot of the country’s manufacturing sector, fell to 49.4 in April from 50.1 the previous month, a report released Thursday showed...In February, the reading fell to 40.3, the fastest contraction in the index’s 16-year history as the Chinese economy stalled amid the Covid-19 outbreak. ..Although output continued to recover in April, export orders contracted for a fourth straight month and at a faster pace, with the reading at its weakest since December 2008 during the global financial crisis.
Foreign failure to contain COVID-19 biggest risk to China's economy - Global Times the unabating pandemic in the US, Europe and other major economies has become the biggest threat to China's ongoing economic recovery and the global economy. It highlights what many in China and abroad have been saying for months: the pandemic is a global challenge and no country alone can beat the virus and its economic fallout. Although the contribution of exports to China's economic growth has been declining in recent years, it still accounts for roughly 20 percent of China's GDP growth each year. Globally, trade accounts for a much higher 58 percent of total GDP growth, based on 2017 figures. The WTO has projected that global trade could fall between 13 percent and 32 percent in 2020.
Zhongtai Securities Removes Research Chief After Controversial Report - Caixin Global Li Xunlei, director of the research unit of Zhongtai Securities, was removed from his post and replaced by deputy director Dai Zhifeng, the Shandong-based brokerage said Thursday. Li, who joined Zhongtai in 2017, remains the brokerage’s chief economist.
Debunking foreign accusations of China's unemployment data - Global Times This is one of a multi-part series where the Global Times looks into the severity of unemployment issues in China following the outbreak of COVID-19 and claims from some foreign media that social unrest in China might be imminent. This article focuses on the methodology of China's official data and its accuracy.
Dozens of Banks, Brokerages Pledge to Stop Underwriting Bonds on the Cheap as Defaults Rise - Caixin The National Association of Financial Market Institutional Investors (NAFMII), a central bank-backed body that oversees the interbank market, asked brokerages, banks and other bond underwriters in China to sign the “self-discipline” pact, a person familiar with the matter told Caixin. Under the terms of the pact, the financial companies promise not to price their bond underwriting services below cost when bidding for an issuance, according to a Thursday statement (link in Chinese) released by NAFMII. They also pledge not to engage in any behavior that disrupts fair competition or creates chaos in the market.
Bank of China Told to Probe Doomed Crude Oil Product - Caixin China’s banking regulator demanded that Bank of China (BOC) investigate losses generated by an investment product linked to crude oil prices that may have caused losses totaling 10 billion yuan ($1.4 billion), the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC) told Caixin Thursday
Travel Agency Tuniu Denies Bankruptcy Rumor, Says Instigator Has Apologized - Yicai The Nanjing-based company said that a rumormonger had recently posted fake news about the company’s bankruptcy and liquidation through a WeChat social media group, which had been widely shared to the firm’s detriment. After much effort, the company managed to identity the instigator, who has since issued a letter of apology.
China's Labor Day Holiday May See 67% Fewer People on Flights, CAAC Says - Yicai Some 2.9 million people in China are expected to travel by air during the upcoming five-day Labor Day holiday, which is 67 percent less than a year ago, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China.
Tesla to Cut Model 3 China Price Below USD42,399 for Subsidies - Yicai Tesla will lower the price of its domestically manufactured standard-range Model 3 below the threshold of CNY300,000 (USD42,399) in China to qualify for new energy vehicle subsidies.
China’s Founder Group Owes USD16 Billion to Over 400 Financiers - Yicai Peking University Founder Group, a big Chinese state-owned tech conglomerate undergoing judicial restructuring of its debt mountain, said it owes as much as CNY112.7 billion (USD16 billion) to more than 400 financial institutions, the 21st Century Business Herald reported. CNY102.7 billion of the debt is common/unsecured, while CNY9.9 billion is secured, the Beijing-based group said today at the first creditors’ meeting on its restructuring, at which it disclosed the number of claims as of April 21. Claimants include insurers, trusts, brokerages, mutual funds and private equity funds.
China to launch property investment trusts to spur infrastructure development - Reuters China announced plans on Thursday to create a public market for real estate investment trusts (REITs), aiming to channel personal savings and private capital into infrastructure projects without overstretching already debt-laden local governments.
Lower Revenue, Delays Hinder Return to Normal - Press Center | AmCham China US firms in China say business is gradually returning to normal, but lower revenues and delayed payments are leading to changes in both short-term and long-term strategies. That is according to the results of a third Flash Survey release today by the American Chamber of Commerce in China (“AmCham China”) that evaluates the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on its member companies. With close to 150 companies responding to the survey, these results provide a detailed insight into the ongoing impact on American companies in China, as well as detailing suggested policy responses for both the US and Chinese governments.
COVID-19 and China's Future - OPC Book Night with Dexter Roberts - YouTube On April 23, Dexter “Tiff” Roberts discussed his new book "The Myth of Chinese Capitalism," and why it argues that China’s future is deeply uncertain. OPC Past President William J. Holstein moderated the event.
Commerce Issues Long-Awaited Export Control Rules for China, Russia and Venezuela - Lexology The most significant parts of this new Rule will increase the licensing requirements and due diligence expectations that apply to trade with China, Russia and Venezuela under the U.S. Export Administration Regulations (“EAR”) when “military end users” or “military end uses” are involved. However, in light of the way these terms are defined, industry should note that the impact of this new Rule will extend into many areas of commercial technology and trade with these countries, beyond the defense sector.
Wall Street Still Hungry for China’s Choicest Office Addresses - Bloomberg “Foreign financial tenants are undeterred by the outbreak. We haven’t really seen anyone winding back expansion plans like some other multinational companies,” said Fion Zhang, CBRE Group Inc.’s head of office services in eastern China. “They’re seizing the favorable policies in China, and their appetite for space is growing.”
Credit Suisse ‘Dream’ Client Luckin Coffee Becomes Nightmare - Bloomberg Aside from the deals, the bank has other connections to the retailer. Luckin Chief Financial Officer Reinout Hendrik Schakel worked for eight years as an analyst and investment banker for Credit Suisse in Hong Kong until 2016. And Lu’s daughter Nancy works for Credit Suisse in Hong Kong in a role unrelated to the Luckin account, according to people familiar.
Chinese Coffee Chain’s Scandal Renews U.S. Calls for Oversight - The New York Times “If Chinese companies want access to the U.S. capital markets, they must comply with American laws and regulations for financial transparency and accountability,” said Mr. Rubio, who is pushing a bipartisan bill that would force Chinese companies to abide by federal auditing rules and disclosure requirements.
Politics and Law
[视频]习近平给郑州圆方集团职工回信勉励广大劳动群众 Xi Jinping wrote a reply to the workers at a company in Henan, praising them and all the Chinese workers for their hard work during the virus outbreak and sending them greetings for the international labor day.
求是：习近平：在打好精准脱贫攻坚战座谈会上的讲话 The latest issue of Qiushi published the full text of Xi Jinping’s speech in Febuary 2018 in Chengdu, underscoring the importance of poverty alleviation and the mission to lift all 30 million Chinese out of poverty by the end of 2020. The speech warned that “formalism, bureaucratism, frauds, emotions of impatience and war-weariness still exist” among some local officials and the government should be fully prepared for the challenges ahead.
求是：坚决克服新冠肺炎疫情影响，全力啃下脱贫攻坚硬骨头 Liu Yongfu, head of the poverty alleviation office at the state council, wrote on Qiushi vowing to accomplish the mission given by Xi to lift all Chinese out of poverty by the end of year even though the economy is taking a hit from the virus outbreak. It praised that the poverty alleviation has made great progress under Xi. The number of people in poverty has dropped from 99 million to five million since Xi took power, he wrote, but warned that the five million left are the most difficult as they all live in “deep poverty areas”.
[视频]中办 国办印发《省（自治区、直辖市）污染防治攻坚战成效考核措施》 The CCP Central and State Council issued four criteria to assess the performance of local governments in the “uphill battle” to clear pollution. They will be ranked as “excellent, good, pass and not pass”, and the local party committees, the people’s congress, and the governments will be held accountable for the results. The criteria include, 1/whether the party committee has done its job, 2/the legislation work at the people’s congress and whether it has done enough to supervise the implementation, 3/the environment situation and whether the government has met all its goals of the year, 4/whether the funding has been properly allocated, and 5/whether the public is satisfied with the work.
观察者网：读者出版集团原董事长王永生一审被判14年，罚100万 Wang Yongsheng, former chairman of the state-run company that publishes the well-known magazine Reader’s Digest is sentenced to 14 years in prison in Gansu for taking bribes. He is also fined one million RMB.
观察者网：“网络大V”陈杰人一审被判15年，被处罚金701万 Chen Jieren and “internet big V” is sentenced by a court in Hunan to 15 years in prison for publishing paid posts that “viciously exaggerate certain cases”, and that “attack and vilify staffs in the party, government and judicial authorities.” One of Chen’s associates received four years for the crime.
Online classes exacerbate China’s rural-urban education gap | Financial Times $$ “The gap between urban and rural children may be greater than it was 10 years ago,” Lu Mai, vice-chairman of the China Development Research Foundation, a government-led think-tank, told Life Week magazine. Mr Lu blamed the widening gap on the social and financial capital of urban parents.
Translation: NPCSC’s New Public Health Legislative Plan in Response to COVID-19 – NPC Observer On Wednesday, April 29, the NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) released a special legislative plan in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that is devoted to improving China’s public health legislation. According to an NPCSC spokesperson, the pandemic has exposed the “gaps” in and the “weaknesses” of the current legal scheme
Foreign and Defense Affairs
Family of deceased Czech politician said threats from China caused his sudden death On April 26, the wife and daughter of the former Czech Senate leader Jaroslav Kubera accused the Chinese Embassy in the Czech Republic of causing his death in January. At the center of the whole incident were two letters that were given to Kubera as a warning prior to his scheduled trip to Taiwan. However, experts think this unfortunate incident also reflects the shifting relationship between the Czech Republic, China and Taiwan.
亮剑2020”海洋伏季休渔专项执法行动开展 Coast Guard and the Agriculture Ministry conducted extensive searches of fishing boats in harbors and out to sea during the holidays. Intent is to strengthen control over fishing areas, to include those in the South China Sea.// “亮剑2020”海洋伏季休渔专项执法行动，紧盯伏季休渔形势和任务特点，以港口渔船监管、海上巡航检查、“三无”渔船整治、涉外渔船管控、重点区域执法监管、专项捕捞行为监管等6个方面为重点，综合运用源头管控、船位监控、港内巡查、海上巡航、集中打击等手段，全时管控、全域覆盖，全面加强渔船渔港监控监管，严厉打击各类违法犯罪活动。
China Has No Reason to Make a Deal on Nukes - Bloomberg - Hal Brands China currently has little reason to enter a trilateral agreement on either intercontinental or intermediate-range systems, precisely because it enjoys many of the benefits of arms control with few of the liabilities.
Philippines rejects China's territorial label on island - AP The Department of Foreign Affairs issued a statement objecting to what it called China’s “illegal designation” of Fiery Cross Reef as a regional administrative center in the hotly contested Spratly archipelago.
Top European Union diplomat denies bowing to China pressure - AP During a grilling via videoconference, Borrell said the newspaper had compared the contents of a report meant for internal use within the External Action Service — essentially the EU’s foreign office — with a different document prepared for broader publication on the agency’s website. Borrell acknowledged that China did complain about the report, but he said that kind of objection was “the daily bread” of diplomacy and insisted Beijing had absolutely no influence on thinking inside the EU agency.
Coronavirus: Gatecrashing consul was one of China’s top cyber spies - The Australian The Chinese official Andrew Forrest helped to gatecrash Health Minister Greg Hunt’s press conference was a former top cyber official for Beijing as the Chinese Communist Party waged a hacking war against Western businesses and governments. China’s Victorian consul-general, Long Zhou, was a co-ordinator of cyber affairs at China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where he developed the country’s cyberspace “co-operation” policy, putting a positive spin on Beijing’s global digital incursions.
Covid-19 has caused a major spike in anti-Chinese and anti-Semitic hate speech Exclusive data given to the New Statesman shows that the pandemic has led to an extraordinary increase in hate speech, racism and incitements of violence online.
Hong Kong and Macao
China Takes Harder Line on Hong Kong Amid Coronavirus Protest Lull - WSJ “There is no reason why they would not be pushing hard,” said Steve Tsang, director of the School of Oriental and African Studies China Institute in London. “The main countries that are potentially likely to speak up for Hong Kong are on their knees, and they are all depending on China for PPE,” he said, referring to a global shortage of personal protective equipment needed by medical workers.
Hong Kong Waffles on Foreign Correspondent Visas - Asia Sentinel As an increasingly uneasy Hong Kong has watched mainland officials dramatically erode the territory’s independence over the past month, the government has issued a murky opinion that appears to eat into the autonomy of the international press working in the city. While the decision cites Hong Kong’s authority to maintain a free press and free speech under the basic law granting 50 years of autonomy agreed by China and the United Kingdom prior to the 1997 handover, it endorses China’s action in kicking out foreign correspondents who are now working in Hong Kong, calling a US tit-for-tat expulsion of Chinese news personnel “unwarranted,” and it makes no specific guarantee that they can continue to work from the territory.
中央社：台人任中共黨政軍職，陸委會：裁罰37查處86人 Taipei announced it has punished 37 Taiwan citizens and it is investigating 86 others for working for Chinese state-run or CCP entities. It didn’t say how they were punished. This came after a Taiwanese reporter told Trump in the White House press conference that he is from Taiwan. But he didn’t say he was working for a Chinese state-run TV outlet.
国台办：民进党当局恐吓滥罚在大陆发展台胞不得人心 The state council Taiwan affairs office said in a statement that the move that target Taiwanese working Chinese state-run entities is another move by the DPP administration to intimidate Taiwanese people, and it “strongly opposes” the decision.
DPP intimidation toward Taiwan compatriots on mainland slammed - Xinhua Zhu Fenglian, a spokesperson for the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, said the despicable acts have met and will continue to meet firm opposition from people across the Taiwan Strait...She reiterated the mainland's consistent and active support to cross-Strait exchanges in the film and television sector, adding that Taiwan actors and actresses are welcomed to pursue their dreams on the mainland. What is not allowed is that a small number of people made money on the mainland on the one hand but supported separatist activities advocating "Taiwan independence" on the other hand, she added. The ultimate goal of the DPP authority and a handful of "Taiwan independence" forces dispersing fake news in the film and television sector is to sabotage cross-Strait exchanges and sow discord between people across the Taiwan Strait, she noted. She also warned that the collusion of forces advocating "Taiwan independence" with those advocating "Hong Kong independence" will inevitably deteriorate cross-Strait relations and incur trouble for Taiwan society.
Taiwan Emerging From Pandemic With a Stronger Hand Against China - Bloomberg “I can’t think of another issue with such global resonance that has broken so favorably for Taiwan, and so negatively for the PRC, since perhaps the Tiananmen Square massacre,” said Kharis Templeman, an adviser to the Project on Taiwan in the Indo-Pacific at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.
Tech and Media
TikTok Crosses 2 Billion Downloads After Best Quarter For Any App Ever Social video app TikTok from ByteDance has been downloaded more than 2 billion times globally on the App Store and Google Play, according to Sensor Tower Store Intelligence estimates.
Bytedance Has Launched Its Video-editing App Viamaker Overseas | China Film Insider The Chinese version of Viamaker, or Jianying, has been among the top 10 most-downloaded free apps on Apple’s App Store in China for more than 90 days, according to data from app store intelligence firm Sensor Tower
Wolf Warrior 2 blockbuster filmmaker embroiled in own drama as stock exchange queries financial allegations | South China Morning Post Beijing Jingxi Culture and Tourism, the producer of China’s highest-grossing movie Wolf Warrior 2, is embroiled in a drama of its own making amid allegations of accounting fraud and embezzlement. Events unfolded this week after former vice-chairman Lou Xiaoxi wrote on his microblog that chairman Song Ge and director Zhang Yunlong inflated earnings in 2018 and misappropriated funds in 2016 to cover losses at another unit.
Huawei strikes European chip tie-up as fears rise over US curbs - Nikkei Asian Review Huawei Technologies is working with French-Italian chipmaker STMicroelectronics to co-design mobile and automotive-related chips as it seeks to shield itself from Washington's possible tightening of export restrictions on the Chinese company, two sources familiar with the matter told the Nikkei Asian Review. The new collaboration with STMicro, its longtime sensor chip supplier, is also aimed at accelerating Huawei's autonomous driving development, the sources said.
Society, Arts, Sports, Culture and History
Chinese actor slammed for misogynist views in parenting book - SupChina Chinese actor and filmmaker Guō Tāo 郭涛 has found himself in hot water after a number of sexist and misogynist views from his parenting book published in 2014 resurfaced on Chinese social media, resulting in outrage and speculation about his abusive behavior toward women in real life.