Another standing committee meeting on the outbreak; Economic impact

There are still no indications the new coronavirus outbreak is under control. The latest official figures via Caixin are:

17,332 confirmed cases in China;

361 deaths in China;

21,558 suspected cases in China;

153 confirmed cases overseas in 23 countries;

1 confirmed death overseas

Xi chaired a Politburo Standing Committee (PBSC) meeting Monday to discuss the virus, the second publicized PBSC meeting on the virus in nine days, though unlike the official CCTV report January 25th meeting, Monday’s broadcast did not include video from inside the meeting (see item 1 below for more details).

I am at a loss for what to write today, I am in awe of the journalists, Chinese and foreign, who have gone to the front lines to cover this story, and deeply worried for friends and in-laws who are still in China.

This is a long issue, I recommend you click on the headline at the top of the email to read it in your browser. Thanks for reading.


The Essential Eight

1. The outbreak

Xi chairs leadership meeting on epidemic control - Xinhua

The Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee on Monday held a meeting on the prevention and control of pneumonia epidemic caused by the novel coronavirus.

On behalf of the CPC Central Committee, Xi expressed respect to those fighting on the front line of the battle against the epidemic and extended greetings to patients and their families.

Xi said since the start of the outbreak the CPC Central Committee has attached great importance to the issue and led efforts from all sectors to push the prevention and control work into full swing.

Xi stressed the importance of securing success in that cause. The outcome of the epidemic prevention and control directly affects people's lives and health, the overall economic and social stability and the country's opening-up, he added.

Xi pointed out that the most crucial task for the moment is to execute the arrangements to the details and called for prompt and resolute actions in containing the spread of the epidemic.

Party committees and governments at all levels should firmly follow the unified command, coordination and arrangement of the CPC Central Committee, Xi said, urging strict enforcement of orders and prohibitions...

The need to safeguard economic and social order is emphasized, as well as the promotion of public education and communication.

Party committees and governments of all levels were urged to achieve the targets of economic and social development this year and fully support production resumption by enterprises while bringing the epidemic under control.

中共中央政治局常务委员会召开会议 研究加强新型冠状病毒感染的肺炎疫情防控工作 中共中央总书记习近平主持会议_CCTV

The top 13.5 minutes on Monday CCTV evening news on the politburo standing committee meeting on the virus...among the many things the meeting calls for is increased internet control "加强网络媒体管控"

The report concludes with:

会议强调,这次疫情是对我国治理体系和能力的一次大考,我们一定要总结经验、吸取教训。要针对这次疫情应对中暴露出来的短板和不足,健全国家应急管理体系,提高处理急难险重任务能力。

The meeting stressed that this outbreak is a major test of China's governance system and capacity, and we must summarize experience and draw lessons. We should address the shortcomings and shortcomings in the response to the outbreak, improve the national emergency management system, and improve our ability to handle urgent, difficult, dangerous and heavy tasks.

Xi Focus: Commanding China's fight against novel coronavirus outbreak - Xinhua

Commanding this fight is President Xi Jinping...

Under Xi's leadership, China has taken unprecedented measures to contain the outbreak, pooling national medical personnel and supplies to the hardest hit regions, building new hospitals, extending the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday, postponing the opening dates for schools and businesses, and imposing travel restrictions.

The nation is currently experiencing a peak period of confirmed cases. With prevention and control measures in place, the number of future infections will be significantly reduced, said Li Lanjuan, a renowned Chinese epidemiologist.

关注疫情防控 | 武汉,别忘了严防死守是你的强项 - Taoran Notes on 2.2

Author reminds the people of Wuhan of their strength, brings up the 1998 Yangtze River floods in which 16 Party members in Wuhan signed a declaration swearing to defend a key river sluice with their lives to prevent the city from being overrun. They succeeded

Chinese authorities stress greater medical supplies support to key regions in epidemic battle - Xinhua

Authorities in some provinces were urged to flexibly arrange their work for the epidemic battle and step up efforts to prevent and control the novel coronavirus outbreak and ensure market supply, said an official statement issued after a Sunday meeting of the leading group of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee on the prevention and control of the novel coronavirus outbreak...

Mask production full speed ahead - Global Times

In Wuhan, the most severely affected region in Hubei, the mask consumption rate is much higher than it is in the rest of China. Doctors and nurses - totaling about 100,000 across the city - need to change their masks every four to six hours, meaning a total of 400,000 N95 masks are needed each day.

As of midnight on Saturday, domestic firms had delivered 117,000 protective suits, 131,000 N95 masks and 110,000 protective goggles in total to Hubei, data showed.

Coronavirus: China shifts responsibility over medical supplies amid mask shortage, rising death toll | South China Morning Post

China’s economic planning agency has taken over responsibility for supplying facial masks after shortages were reported among health workers

The foreign ministry on Monday said China ‘urgently needs’ protective medical equipment as the death toll from the coronavirus continues to grow

Fury in China as footage appears to show officials taking doctors' face masks | World news | The Guardian

A video posted by Beijing News on Sunday appeared to show government workers taking some of those donated supplies. A statement from the Wuhan government said that personnel attending a meeting on emergency supplies on Saturday had “received masks and other related protective supplies” from China’s Red Cross, which is overseeing donations.

陶然笔记评武汉红会争议:这里的份量,望有人多掂量下_新浪财经_新浪网 - Taoran Notes on 2.1 discusses the Red Cross controversy

不管有什么理由,医疗防护物资如果没法出现在治病救人最需要的地方,那就不是合情合理的调配,甚至可能是错配。

如果因此而伤了人心,必将给疫情防控带来难以估计的破坏

Whatever the reason, it is not a sensible deployment, or even a mismatch, of medical protection if it is not available where it is most needed.

If it hurts people, it will cause untold damage to the prevention and control of the epidemic

China’s private sector business capital on lockdown as coronavirus takes its toll | South China Morning Post

Authorities in the east China city of Wenzhou have closed roads and ordered people to stay home as number of confirmed cases hits 265

About 180,000 people from the city work in Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, and may have carried infection when they returned home for the Lunar New Year holiday..

have imposed strict restrictions on people’s movements, allowing only one resident per household to go out every two days to buy necessities.

最高死刑!黑龙江高院严打涉疫情防控相关刑事犯罪 - 国内 - 新京报网

To crack down on virus-related “crimes”, the People’s Supreme Court in Heilongjang province issued a notice to warn the public that spreading rumors about the virus could receive death penalty on the grounds of “endangering public security”, and those found guilty of making “subversive” or exaggerated comments could receive 15 years.

PLA steps up to assist transport of essentials - China Military

The PLA established a transport support team of 260 soliders and 130 trucks on Sunday, tasking it with assisting local logistic companies in Wuhan to transport daily necessities such as vegetables, according to a statement published by the military on Monday.

Superfast hospital in Wuhan ready - People's Daily Online

Medical personnel from the People's Liberation Army will take over the new Huoshenshan Hospital, with a total of 1,400 expected to start receiving and treating patients on Monday.

A second special hospital for the treatment of the novel coronavirus — Leishenshan Hospital — is under construction in Wuhan. It is expected to be completed on Wednesday and start receiving patients the following day.

The military assistance was approved by President Xi Jinping

火神山医院今天开张!我们去病房看了看……-中国长安网

scenes from inside the Huoshenshan hospital. are those bars on the windows?

钟南山院士、李兰娟院士等专家为下一步临床救治工作提出建议 _中国经济网——国家经济门户

Zhong Nanshan and Li Lanjuan recommend putting people with even light symptoms into concentrated quarantine areas. Seeing this from other reports as well, do not be surprised if they start taking over hotels and dorms to house these patients

Coronavirus suspects in Wuhan ordered to go to quarantine zones | South China Morning Post

Anyone who refuses to relocate will be forcibly moved by the police, city government says as number of new cases continues to rise sharply

Coronavirus: scientists identify possible new mode of transmission in human faeces | South China Morning Post

北京市委市政府致信全市人民 - 综合 - 新京报网

Beijing Municipal Party Committee Beijing CCP wrote a letter to all Beijingers warning about the upcoming return of workers after new year holiday, telling them to stay at home if possible, telling those who just returned to the city to go into “self-isolation”, ordering the neighborhood committee to ensure everything suspicious will be reported to the upper authorities. “No single mistake is allowed,” it said.

Beijing issues public letter to foreigners amid novel coronavirus outbreak - Xinhua

A public letter was released to foreigners in the Chinese capital city Beijing on Friday, offering a list of 101 hospitals for the treatment of fever and 20 hospitals designated for treating novel coronavirus infections...

Authorities have issued similar public letters to foreigners in China in a number of provinces and cities. These letters remind foreigners to enhance self-protection and avoid crowded places or group activities.

A cluster of novel coronavirus cases confirmed in Beijing hospital - Xinhua

A cluster of novel coronavirus cases have been confirmed in the Fuxing Hospital of the Capital Medical University in Beijing, according to a press conference on Monday.

The nine confirmed cases, including five medical workers and four hospitalized patients in the ICU of the hospital's department of cardiology, have been sent to a designated hospital for treatment

Comment: Beijing Party Secretary also inspected parts of the city, must be under extreme pressure to protect the capital.

Shanghai reports 10 new coronavirus cases, including 7-month-old baby - SHINE News

人民战“疫”党旗飘扬--专题报道--人民网

People's Daily has a new special section on the people's battle against the virus and having the Party flag fly at the frontline. The propagandists play on battle "战役 zhan4yi4" with “战疫 zhan4yi4 where this yi is the character for epidemic"...

Dim Sums: Rural China Economics and Policy: Officials Wary of Food Supply Crisis Amid Epidemic

Chinese officials are working to avert a food supply crisis in the midst of the coronavirus epidemic that has closed down transportation, kept workers at home, and idled production plants. News media have been ordered to report plentiful food reserves and normal functioning of markets to head off panic-buying.

China reports outbreak of deadly bird flu among chickens in Hunan province, close to coronavirus epicentre of Wuhan | South China Morning Post

No human cases of the Hunan H5N1 virus have been reported.

Fringe laboratory leak theory debunked - China Daily

A scientist from the Wuhan Institute of Virology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences has debunked a recent conspiracy theory that claimed the novel coronavirus was manufactured and escaped from the institute's most advanced biocontainment facility.

Shi Zhengli, a researcher from the institute, said on social media on Sunday that the virus was the result of "nature punishing the uncivilized habits and customs of humans", and she is willing to "bet my life that it has nothing to do with the lab".

Hundreds of Officials in Second Most Infected City Punished for Mishandling Virus Outbreak - Caixin

Huanggang, the second most populated city in the virus-hit province of Hubei, has had a total of 337 party officials, including six county-level principals, punished for their incorrect handling of the coronavirus outbreak, the city’s mayor said Saturday.
The sweeping action came two days after the head of Huanggang Health Commission, Tang Zhihong, was dismissed on Thursday after she was filmed by China’s state broadcaster, showing her unable to answer an inspection team’s questions about the numbers of hospital beds and patients in the city.

Huanggang worried to be next Wuhan - Global Times

Some Chinese experts told the Global Times that the unpredictable crisis is deemed as a full-scale test of China's local and grass-roots governance. "Politics cannot influence the virus. If the local government takes inadequate measures in virus containment, the negative effects will soon emerge," Liu Yuanju, a research fellow at the Shanghai Institute of Finance and Law, told the Global Times.

It also reflected some grassroots government's deep-rooted formalism and lack of overall coordination, said Liu, citing cases where local governments ordered traffic closures and retracted the decision hours later. "They were afraid they will be reprimanded if they didn't take any action; but after they made the decision, they found it wasn't not feasible in some ways."

Cocktail of flu, HIV drugs appears to help fight coronavirus: Thai doctors - Reuters

The drug treatment includes a mixture of anti-HIV drugs lopinavir and ritonavir, in combination with flu drug oseltamivir in large doses.

China starts clinical trials for new antiviral drug to treat coronavirus | South China Morning Post

The experimental antiviral drug, Remdesivir, developed by US-based Gilead Sciences, is aimed at infectious diseases such Ebola and Sars. It was given to the first US patient last week – a 35-year-old man whose condition appeared to improve within a day.

TCM-cured patients of novel coronavirus infection discharged from hospital - Xinhua

Eight patients infected with novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) pneumonia have been cured by traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) or a combination of TCM and Western medicine in Jinyintan Hospital in Wuhan, epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak.

Positive, confident attitude, best immunity amid epidemic: official - Xinhua

"We must be confident that the current measures of preventing and controlling the outbreak will work effectively, and we must believe in ourselves and our immunity," said Wang Bin, an official with the National Health Commission (NHC) at a press briefing Monday.

Caijing on deaths not captured in the official statistics - 统计数字之外的人:他们死于“普通肺炎”?_财经


2. The initial response and front-line reporting

Caixin Editorial: Epidemic Prevention and Control Must Be Completely Transparent

we are still suffering the severe consequences of earlier mismanagement. These painful lessons need to be systematically summarized after the crisis has passed. However, delayed disclosure of the epidemic was undoubtedly the first error. Such information should not be obfuscated with vagueness, but instead disclosed with complete openness and transparency.

The evolution of this epidemic is a testament to the importance of transparency. After the outbreak, local governments and health departments were slow to warn the public. Disclosure of key information, such as the number of infections and how the disease was transmitted, was delayed or vague, with critical information such as the possibility of “person to person” transmission only confirmed on Jan. 20 by academician Zhong Nanshan.

In Depth: How Wuhan Lost the Fight to Contain the Coronavirus - Caixin

Li Yunhua, a radiologist at the Hubei Xinhua Hospital in Wuhan, said he first heard of some patients with SARS-like symptoms in his hospital Dec. 30. That night, Li received messages from an online chat group of doctor colleagues in several Wuhan hospitals who warned of a new epidemic emerging in the city.

But the next day, Li said he felt a little relieved when the Wuhan health authority issued a public statement saying there were 27 confirmed pneumonia cases with no sign of human-to-human transmission. No medical worker had been infected, according to the statement...

The following day, Wuhan police said eight people were punished for spreading rumors online, and the government reassured the public that there was “no obvious human-to-human infection,” or “cases of medical staff being infected.”

What Li witnessed was arguably the most significant whistleblowing case in China’s medical history...

Caixin interviews with several doctors from different hospitals in Wuhan found the same decree – the test results of medical staff cannot be disclosed. If a test came out positive, the person would be notified by phone.

It is still not clear who gave the order to the hospitals to hide the fact that medical staff were infected.

封面报道|37位记者四万字全景调查:新冠病毒何以至此?_财新周刊频道_财新网

Entire issue of Caixin cover package on the virus, 40,000 characters, 137 reporters

As coronavirus spread in critical early weeks, Chinese officials failed to raise the alarm - The Washington Post

An analysis of those early weeks — from official statements, leaked accounts from Chinese medical professionals, newly released scientific data and interviews with public health officials and infectious disease experts — reveals potential missteps by China’s overburdened public health officials.

As New Coronavirus Spread, China’s Old Habits Delayed Fight - The New York Times

A reconstruction of the crucial seven weeks between the appearance of the first symptoms in early December and the government’s decision to lock down the city, based on two dozen interviews with Wuhan residents, doctors and officials, on government statements and on Chinese media reports, points to decisions that delayed a concerted public health offensive.

Coronavirus Pummels Wuhan, a City Short of Supplies and Overwhelmed - The New York Times

Expressing exasperation, doctors say there is a shortage of testing kits and other medical supplies, and it is not clear why more are not available. The ban on transportation means some residents have to walk for hours to get to hospitals — if they are well enough to make the journey. Layers of bureaucracy stand between residents and help. And the long lines outside hospitals for testing and treatment suggest that the outbreak is spreading far beyond the official count of cases.

Wuhan: a tale of immune system failure and social strength | Chublic Opinion

If anything, Wuhan bankrupted the meritocracy myth for many people who once believed that the country was largely run by no-nonsense, result-oriented technocrats. Wuhan Red Cross Association reminded them how incompatible the country’s bureaucratic apparatus was to a lively society that was intrinsically good at practical problem-solving. Not only did the state and its organs unhelpful in such problem-solving, they were actively thwarting it. For a generation that grew up after the SARS outbreak, that experience was eye-opening, especially when they found that their self-organized fan clubs for idols were more efficient in delivering aid to the frontline than government bodies. It was no surprise that some of them wondered openly (and naively) if more accountable government officials could be generated through televised competitions just like their idols.

As this blog is being written, there is still no sign of the outbreak being under control. Hundreds have lost their lives and diagnosed cases are over ten thousand, while not a single senior official has been held accountable for the epidemic. There is a permeating sense of loss, for the diseased, but also for an era marked by its warmth and possibilities. As Li Haipeng wrote of the spring of 2003: “Officials at that time did not have to hide their personalities and could demonstrate their human side… From the outside, you could see the bureaucracy thinking, planning, maybe infighting, but almost certainly taking actions. You could feel that they at least had one consensus: that the society’s cries deserve a response.”

Dispatches From Hubei: Two Weeks Between Life and Death - Chinarrative

In this special edition, Hubei resident Chen Yong* recounts his battle to save his wife from pneumonia. She died on Jan. 21...

The couple had a small business in Huanggang, a city where the death toll from the coronavirus is second only to neighboring Wuhan, the provincial capital.

The Wuhan Pneumonia Patient Trapped Between Despair and Hope - SixthTone

Ten days after Zhang Chi first went to the hospital with a high fever and lung infection, he has yet to receive a conclusive diagnosis.

They Shut Down the City – China Channel

A dispatch from quarantined Wuhan during the coronavirus epidemic – Xiaoyu Lu, trans. Allen Young

A Viral New Year – China Channel - Lauren Teixeira in Chengdu

My travels through a China in lockdown | Financial Times $$

FT correspondent Yuan Yang charts the impact of the coronavirus on friends, family and daily life


3. Economic impact

Virus fears wipe $393 billion off China's stock market despite government support moves - Reuters

A nearly 8% plunge on the Shanghai composite index was its biggest daily fall in more than four years. The Chinese yuan blew past the 7-per-dollar mark and Shanghai-traded commodities from palm oil to copper hit their maximum down limits.

Coronavirus Outbreak Sends Chinese Markets Lower After Holiday Break - WSJ $$

brokers were told by the regulator to suspend their securities lending businesses, meaning clients can’t borrow shares, according to two mainland-based hedge-fund investors. Such a measure means investors can’t bet on market falls by short selling, or selling borrowed stock with the aim of buying it back later at a lower price.

One brokerage described the halt in short selling as part of the “political task” of stabilizing the market, according to a screenshot of a memo that investors said originated from Orient Securities Co. An Orient spokeswoman declined to comment...

In addition, China’s top economic planner said on Monday the virus’s impact would be temporary and wouldn’t alter the positive long-run outlook. In a front-page editorial [中国股市:风物长宜放眼量], the state-owned China Securities Journal urged investors to maintain hope, saying authorities had acted swiftly to offset pressure on the economy.

Coronavirus: More of China extend shutdown, accounting for 80% of GDP - CNBC

As of Monday morning, at least 24 provinces, municipalities and other regions in China have told businesses not to resume work before Feb. 10 at the earliest. That’s according to publicly available statements from the governments.

Last year, those parts of China accounted for more than 80% of national GDP, and 90% of exports, according to CNBC calculations of data accessed through Wind Information.

China Considers Lowering 2020 Growth Expectations on Virus - Bloomberg

Chinese officials are evaluating whether the target for economic growth this year should be softened as part of a broader review of how the government’s plans will be affected by the deadly virus outbreak, according to people familiar with the matter.

China Oil Demand Has Plunged 20% Because of the Virus Lockdown - Bloomberg

Chinese oil demand has dropped by about three million barrels a day, or 20% of total consumption, as the coronavirus squeezes the economy, according to people with inside knowledge of the country’s energy industry...

Chinese and Western oil executives, speaking on condition of anonymity because they aren’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly, said the decline was measured against normal levels for this time of year. It’s a measure of the current drop in demand, rather than the average loss since the crisis started, which would be smaller.

Saudis Weigh Large Oil Cuts in Response to Coronavirus - WSJ $$

Under one scenario, Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s kingpin, would lead a collective reduction of 500,000 barrels a day that would stand until the crisis is over, cartel officials said.

Another option being considered would involve a temporary cut of 1 million barrels a day by the Saudis to jolt oil markets, the officials said.

Coronavirus could be ‘death blow’ for many of China’s small manufacturers if not under control by April | South China Morning Post

Liu Kaiming, head of the Institute of Contemporary Observation, which studies working conditions in hundreds of factories across China, warned that the uncertainty created by the coronavirus outbreak could be a “death blow” for many manufacturing firms.

“If the epidemic can be controlled by the end of February, the impact on the manufacturing industry will be manageable,” he said.

“If in early March they still see that the [virus] situation has not been brought under control, they are likely to turn to other countries to place orders.”

企业面临复工与抗疫两难,专家建议继续延假,慎用2倍工资

a survey conducted by China’s Academy of Social Science suggests only 68% of the Chinese companies can afford to have a one- or two-week holiday extension. If the virus outbreak cannot be controlled soon enough, these small firms, which employ 80% of the workers in China, risk bankruptcy

SARS Stung the Global Economy. The Coronavirus Is a Greater Menace. - The New York Times

The trade war waged by the Trump administration has prompted a partial decoupling of the United States and China, the two largest economies on earth. Multinational companies that have used factories in China to make their wares have sought to avoid American tariffs by shifting production to other countries — especially Vietnam. The coronavirus might accelerate that trend, at least for a time, should global companies find themselves locked out of China.

Virus threatens U.S. companies’ supply of Chinese-made parts and materials - The Washington Post

trans-Pacific airfreight shipments will be limited for at least two months even if Chinese factories return to normal operations before then. (Fed­Ex says that for now it is continuing its flights.) Some U.S. companies are drafting contingency plans for supply disruptions that linger into April or May, according to Craig Allen, president of the U.S.-China Business Council.

Coronavirus wreaks havoc on tech supply chain | Financial Times $$

“The coronavirus creates a more uncertain environment than the trade war . . . and the scale of the impact is bigger than Sars,” said Gary Cheung, a director at Haitong Securities in Hong Kong specialising in industrial technology.

Coronavirus Outbreak May Slash Smartphone Shipments by One-Third - Caixin

Research firm Strategy Analytics didn’t offer a specific figure for its projection. But it put China’s smartphone shipments for the first quarter of 2019 at 89 million units, meaning it expects China to ship around 62 million units for the first quarter of this year.

Huawei, Chinese chip makers keep factories humming despite virus outbreak - Reuters

Yangtze Memory Technologies Co Ltd (YMTC), a state-backed maker of flash memory chips based in Wuhan - the city where the virus outbreak began - confirmed that it had not ceased production.

Extensions Possible for New Asset Management Rule Compliance: Regulator - Caixin

Financial institutions that find it hard to bring their large volume of asset management products into compliance by the original date may receive “appropriate” grace periods, Cao Yu, vice chairman of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC) said Saturday. He made the comments at a briefing where financial regulators announced steps to support the economy in the face of the coronavirus outbreak.

Macao: Coronavirus turns China's gambling mecca into a ghost town - CNN

According to the Macao government, January tourism figures plunged 87% compared to the previous year, even though the busiest holiday of the year -- Lunar New Year -- fell in that period.

Companies in Beijing to resume work on Feb 10 due to virus fight - government newspaper - Reuters

Beijing said on Friday that companies in the Chinese capital will postpone reopening until Feb. 10 in order to help prevent the spread of a new coronavirus, government newspaper Beijing Daily reported.

China Indefinitely Halts Production Nationwide As Virus Spreads – Variety

Over the weekend, the producers’ and actors’ associations of the China Federation of Radio and TV Associations co-issued a notice declaring that all film and TV production companies, crews and actors are to suspend film and TV drama shoots until the unspecified time when the period of heightened virus prevention has passed. Those who don’t stop production will be held “responsible,” it said, without providing further detail.


4. Travel restrictions

WHO chief says widespread travel bans not needed to beat China virus - Reuters

World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday there was no need for measures that “unnecessarily interfere with international travel and trade” in trying to halt the spread of a coronavirus that has killed 361 people in China.

Chinese embassy apologizes for comparing border closure to Holocaust - The Jerusalem Post

"This is reminiscent of World War II, the Holocaust, the darkest days of human history," said the embassy during a press conference on Sunday. "Millions of Jews were murdered and many were banned from entering countries. Some countries opened their gates, one of them was China."

Quieter Response to Coronavirus in Countries Where China Holds Sway - The New York Times

Top officials in Southeast Asia have played down the threat of the virus and shied away from travel bans. Some have even pushed supposed remedies not supported by science.

Russia to start evacuating citizens from Wuhan, stops passenger trains to China - Reuters

Russia plans to start evacuating its citizens on Monday from Wuhan, the epicentre of an epidemic in central China, and has suspended direct passenger trains to the country where the death toll from a coronavirus has increased to 361.

Coronavirus: At least three cases among 4,000 passengers on China-Vietnam cruise, doctor says | South China Morning Post

Cruise ship containing more than 4,000 passengers sailed on January 19 for five nights, before ferrying new passengers to Hong Kong

Central American countries limit entry from China to fight coronavirus - Reuters

Guatemala and El Salvador have announced blanket restrictions on people who have recently been in China. Costa Rican officials said they will monitor transit points such as airports, but for now will allow Chinese travelers to enter the country.

Lufthansa extends flight suspension to Beijing and Shanghai until Feb 29 - Reuters

Coronavirus: UAE suspends all China flights, except Beijing, from February 5 | Uae – Gulf News

Chinese citizens, other nationalities living in China barred from flying to India - Times of India

Turkmenistan Airlines suspends air link with Beijing over virus outbreak - Reuters

Wuhan virus: SIA to suspend additional flights between Singapore and China - The Straits Times

Japan to Quarantine Cruise Ship on Which Virus Patient Sailed | Reuters

Myanmar turns back China Southern flight over coronavirus fears: government spokesman - Reuters

Coronavirus Travel Restrictions: Here Are the Airlines, Countries - Bloomberg


5. US-China

China accuses U.S. of whipping up panic over virus as stocks tumble - Reuters

Washington has “unceasingly manufactured and spread panic”, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters, noting that the WHO had advised against trade and travel curbs.

“It is precisely developed countries like the United States with strong epidemic prevention capabilities and facilities that have taken the lead in imposing excessive restrictions contrary to WHO recommendations,” she added, saying countries should make reasonable, calm and science-based judgements.

Trump says U.S. has 'shut down' coronavirus threat; China shuns U.S. help - Reuters

“We can’t have thousands of people coming in who may have this problem - the coronavirus,” Trump told Fox during a short interview broadcast on Sunday. He said U.S. officials had offered China “tremendous help” in dealing with the epidemic.

Trump’s national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, in a separate interview, said China had been more open about the coronavirus than it has been in previous crises but had not yet accepted U.S. offers of assistance.

Commentary: Taking advantage of others' difficulties will never make U.S. great - Xinhua

Taking advantage of other people's difficulties is the last thing we need in state-to-state relations. The U.S. moves are certainly not a gesture of goodwill.

China blasts US for no help in virus fight - Global Times

Chinese government officials and observers on Monday blasted the US for not offering any concrete help to China to fight the ongoing novel coronavirus outbreak, but instead overreacted to the epidemic and created chaos by being the first country to withdraw its consular staff from Wuhan, a move which analysts called immoral but not surprising...

Responding to the delay of a second US' flight to Wuhan to evacuate US nationals, Hua said that the US government should arrange flights per the slot availability at the Wuhan airport that is busy accepting supplies for the city's battle against the novel coronavirus.

Ni Feng, deputy director of the Institute of American Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Monday that these moves from the US authorities are not surprising, as the US government sees China as its most formidable opponent, and views the coronavirus epidemic as an opportunity to gain leverage in containing China's development.

美国爆发致命流感!已有1万人死亡 感染人数超1900万-慈溪新闻网

Hey look over here...Chinese media reporting tens of thousands in the US are dying of the flu, and comparing it with the coronavirus death toll in China

China-U.S. Trade Deal: Viral Outbreak Clouds Import Prospects - Bloomberg

Chinese officials are hoping the U.S. will agree to some flexibility on pledges in their phase-one trade deal, people familiar with the situation said, as Beijing tries to contain a health crisis that threatens to slow domestic growth with repercussions around the world.


6. Taiwan

Shut out of WHO, Taiwan faces flight bans, delays in virus updates - Reuters

Shut out of the World Health Organization, Taiwan faces a dual problem in battling the threat of a new coronavirus: it is being included as a high-risk area as part of China but is unable to get epidemic information firsthand...

It has only 10 coronavirus cases compared with more than 17,000 in China, but the WHO is lumping it together with China.

Virus Fears: Joseph Wu slams WHO for treating Taiwan as PRC - Taipei Times

Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) yesterday blasted the WHO for treating Taiwan as part of China in the fight against the new coronavirus, adding that some WHO officials live in a “parallel universe.”

China says communication with Taiwan on coronavirus has been good - Reuters

China told the World Health Organization on Monday that it had shared full information about the coronavirus with authorities in Taiwan, where there are 10 confirmed cases, and that outbreak communication had been “smooth” across the straits.

China’s ambassador Li Song was speaking at the WHO’s Executive Board in Geneva, which opened a six-day session, after Eswatini, formerly Swaziland, took to the floor to object to Taiwan’s 23 million people not having their own representative to participate in debates.

Taiwan politician’s visit to Washington risks enraging China | Financial Times

In a trip that will probably enrage Beijing, Lai Ching-te flew to the US on Sunday night to attend the National Prayer Breakfast, his office said on Monday. The annual political event is attended by business and political elites and features an address by the US president...

Shelley Rigger, a Taiwan expert at Davidson College, said allowing Mr Lai to visit Washington was a risky move that could destabilise relations between Taiwan and Beijing as well as between China and the US.

“It bears a strong resemblance to when Donald Trump took Tsai Ing-wen’s congratulatory call as president-elect. Beijing will react as strongly as they think they can get away with,” she said. “They have paranoia about Lai in particular and see him as an independence fundamentalist.”

Comment: He is not yet the vice president so not sure it counts as the "highest-level visit by a politician" since 1979, but do not expect Beijing to see the difference.


7. Hong Kong

Coronavirus: Hong Kong faces escalated medical strike despite government move to expand border closures | South China Morning Post

Hong Kong’s embattled leader has buckled under intense public and political pressure to announce a further closure of the city’s borders with mainland China to keep out the coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, but still stopping short of the total shutdown demanded by public hospital workers who vowed to escalate a strike they began on Monday.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor on Monday said all border crossings would be closed, except for the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, Shenzhen Bay Port and the international airport, even as the city confirmed its first case of human-to-human coronavirus infection.

Hong Kong Tightens Border as Medical Workers Call for Shutdown - The New York Times

After talks with a Hospital Authority official Monday evening, the union announced it would continue its strike.

“Our discussions have fallen apart,” Winnie Yu, the chairwoman of the union, said as she announced the start of the strike’s second phase. Members, including doctors and nurses who handle emergency services, have pledged not to go to work on Tuesday and to continue the strike for the rest of the week if the government does not meet their demands.

In Hong Kong, coronavirus outbreak sparks panic and fresh fury toward the government - The Washington Post

The fear is existential for this densely populated city of 7 million, where about 300 died and more than 1,000 were infected in the severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, epidemic of 2003. The coronavirus threat comes as public trust in authorities has collapsed amid the political turmoil, contributing to panic and a rush for supplies.


8. Campaign for new head of the UN’s World Intellectual Property Organization

Horse trading and arm twisting as US battles China over leadership of UN intellectual property agency | South China Morning Post

A scrum is heating up behind diplomatic doors as US and European opposition mounts to a Chinese national heading the UN agency overseeing intellectual property.

The jockeying centers on the World Intellectual Property Organisation (Wipo), a Geneva-based agency with a large discretionary budget and outsize role in global patents and trademarks.

Officially, there are 10 candidates vying for the post of director general. But the real contest is between China’s Wang Binying, Wipo’s current deputy director general, and Singaporean Daren Tang, who heads a satellite Wipo office in Singapore, insiders say...

The leadership jockeying also highlights China’s growing global footprint. A Wang victory would give Beijing five top spots at specialised UN agencies – Washington, which contributes far more to the UN budget, has four – expanding its ability to project China’s world view.


Business, Economy and Trade

China’s Once-Hot Peer-to-Peer Lending Business Is Withering - WSJ $$ Mr. Tu, of Super Credit, is one of many founders trying to convince authorities that his business hasn’t engaged in any illegal fundraising. As authorities reined in the industry, he said Super Credit began trying to match loans and investments one-for-one, so maturities on both sides were perfectly aligned. However, that meant telling investors they wouldn’t be able to get their money back so quickly. Some got angry and complained to Beijing police, who began investigating him last summer. Mr. Tu is an American citizen, a status he says has afforded him slightly better official treatment. But he’s still stuck in legal limbo and he believes he can’t leave the country without arousing further suspicion.

Politics and Law

Response to virus shows strength of Party system - Global Times It is not yet time to say exactly what role primary-level Party organizations have played in the current fight against the epidemic. However, this may be a good chance for some foreigners and foreign media to learn more about China. As China is fighting the epidemic, some Western media are badmouthing and blackening the Chinese system. We hope that they can see the efficient operations of China's primary-level Party organizations. This will help them understand China more objectively and comprehensively.

CPC organizational departments urged to better perform duties in fighting virus - Xinhua Chen, a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and head of the Organization Department of the CPC Central Committee, made the remarks at a teleconference on the work of the Party's organizational departments in the epidemic control...The CPC's enormous political and organizational advantages and close contact with the people should be translated into the advantages in curbing the epidemic, Chen said.

CPC unveils rules for handling reports, accusations Party committees (leading Party members groups) at all levels should strengthen the unified leadership of the Party over disciplinary inspection and supervision, open up channels for reporting and charging, and create a favorable environment for oversight by Party members and the people, according to a circular released by the general office. Meanwhile, efforts should be made to seriously investigate and deal with false accusations and frame-ups 中共中央办公厅印发《纪检监察机关处理检举控告工作规则》

Xi Jinping's Quotes Replace Holy Images in Catholic Churches - Bitter Winter Churches refusing to join the Patriotic Catholic Association are repurposed for cultural or propaganda centers, as congregation members are driven away.

Foreign and Defense Affairs

Raytheon engineer arrested for taking US missile defense secrets to China — Quartz While he was out of the country, Sun connected to Raytheon’s internal network on the laptop. He sent an email on Jan. 7, suddenly announcing he was quitting his job after 10 years in order to study and work overseas. When Sun returned to the United States a week later, he told Raytheon security officials that he had only visited Singapore and the Philippines during his travels. But inconsistent stories about his itinerary led Sun to confess that he traveled to China with the laptop...Court documents reviewed by Quartz refer to Sun possessing classified files related to several different air defense systems designed by Raytheon for the US military and sold to American allies and proxies around the world.

American universities are a soft target for China's spies, say U.S. intelligence officials Robert Daly, who directs the Wilson Center's Kissinger Institute on China and the United States, says concerns about broad brush suspicions are valid. But it's too simplistic, he said, to dismiss the government's approach to Chinese espionage as a product of racism.

Russia, China use 'digital war' to undermine democracies, EU says | CBC News Russia and China are waging a "digital war" with fake news and disinformation to undermine democracy in Europe, and the European Union must develop tools to fight back, a top EU official said Thursday. European Commission Vice-President Vera Jourova, who leads efforts to preserve democratic principles across the bloc, said the two countries have "weaponized information" and won't back down until Europe stands up to them.

New CMSI China Maritime Report: “China’s Dreadnought? The PLA Navy’s Type 055 Cruiser and Its Implications for the Future Maritime Security Environment” | Andrew S. Erickson The advent of the Type 055 cruiser firmly places the PLAN among the world’s very top naval services. This study, which draws upon a unique set of Chinese-language writings, offers the first comprehensive look at this new, large surface combatant. It reveals a ship that has a stealthy design, along with a potent and seemingly well-integrated sensor suite.

Sonny Bill Williams condemns China over Uighur Muslim treatment | World News | Sky News Rugby star Sonny Bill Williams has spoken publicly for the first time about China's treatment of its minority Uighur Muslim community, telling Sky News he is "only embarrassed I don't speak up enough". The New Zealander has recently become the highest paid rugby star in history in either code after signing for transatlantic rugby league side Toronto Wolfpack in a deal believed to be worth £5m over two years

Safety prioritized for aircraft carrier, fighter jet developers amid virus outbreak - Global Times Chinese armaments companies have postponed planned work in order to concentrate on controlling the risk of spreading the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), including those building the country's new aircraft carrier and fighter jets, as well as those in Wuhan, Hubei Province, the epicenter of the virus outbreak.

WA apologises after China embarrassed over Taiwan dance performance at State Theatre Centre - WA Today WA's taxpayer-owned State Theatre Centre has apologised to the Chinese government after it allowed a Taiwanese performing arts group to hire its facilities. According to the Perth Theatre Trust, the state government body which manages the theatre, the Chinese consul in WA was embarrassed when "a flag was raised that did not align with the Commonwealth's one-China policy" at a performance of the Taiwanese Acrobatic Troupe.

Tech and Media

Steam just hit its highest player count of all time | PCGamesN Steam: Valve’s games platform just broke its own record for concurrent users, with 18.8 million players online at the same time. // Surge from China?

Society, Arts, Sports, Culture and History

A Billion Homes: How a Small Town Family’s Tale Captivated China’s ‘Cultured Youth’ - SixthTone Lu Qingyi discusses ‘Four Springs,’ his award-winning documentary charting the fortunes of his own family across multiple Lunar New Year holidays.