Another standing committee meeting; Infected woman drives from Wuhan to Beijing; More evidence of coverups in Wuhan; Q1 GDP growth 0?

The growth of new cases in Hubei and the rest of China continues to slow according to the official data.

A loyal reader in China suggests that I add one more item to my unmistakable signs the Party thinks victory really is at hand.

  1. Xi visits Wuhan;

  2. The announcement of a date for the “Two Meetings”

  3. Kids go back to school

This reader is correct, as the political risk of sending kids into harm’s way is too high. And until it is safe for kids to go back to school it is hard to see the economy operating at anywhere near normal levels.

The Chinese Internet is in a bit of an uproar after a woman was able to travel from Wuhan to Beijing by car last week, after leaving prison. She is now in Beijing and is confirmed to have the virus. The speculation is she must be somehow very connected, but now that the news has exploded online it has become a political problem and an investigation is underway. There is more on this in item #5, as well as reports from Caixin and Caijing that give more evidence of a coverup in Wuhan at the start of the outbreak.

I will hold another open thread tomorrow morning, this time for paying subscribers only. I’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for reading.

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The Essential Eight

1. Another standing committee meeting

I don't remember so many reports about standing committees in such a compressed period of time.

Xi Focus: Xi chairs leadership meeting on COVID-19 control, makes donation - Xinhua

Xi Jinping,...chaired a meeting of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee on the prevention and control of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Responding to a call of the CPC Central Committee to all Party members, Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, Li Zhanshu, Wang Yang, Wang Huning, Zhao Leji and Han Zheng all made donations to support the COVID-19 prevention and control work.

Addressing the meeting, Xi said the positive trend in preventing and controlling the epidemic is expanding and economic and social development is rapidly recovering, but the situation in Hubei Province and its capital city of Wuhan remains complex and grim, and the risk of a rebound of the epidemic in other regions can not be overlooked...

Prevention and control work in Beijing and other key provincial-level regions should be strengthened to resolutely block any possible source of infection, according to the meeting.

The meeting demanded better protection measures for special venues such as the elderly care, childcare and mental health facilities where vulnerable groups of people are housed in enclosed premises.

Comment: Interesting to see that PBSC specifically mentioned “elderly care” given the Caixin report about deaths in nursing homes in Hubei.

CCTV Evening News on the meeting, no video from inside- 中共中央政治局常务委员会召开会议 分析新冠肺炎疫情形势研究近期防控重点工作 中共中央总书记习近平主持会议 响应党中央对广大党员的号召 习近平李克强栗战书汪洋王沪宁赵乐际韩正

《大国战“疫”》近期出版

The CCP’s propaganda department said it will soon publish a book on China’s efforts to combat the coronavirus, and the book “focus on showing General Secretary Xi Jinping, as a major power leader, his care for the people, his sense of mission and responsibility, his strategic vision and great leadership.” It will be published in six different languages.


2. The outbreak

Mainland China reports 406 new cases of coronavirus on February 25, deaths up by 52 - Reuters

All the new deaths were in Hubei province, the epicentre of the outbreak. Hubei also reported 401 new cases on Feb. 25, down from 499 a day earlier.

Outside Hubei, the number of new mainland China cases fell to 5, down for the fifth consecutive day and the lowest since Jan. 20, when the NHC began publishing nationwide figures.

China Tightens Screening of Travelers, Fearing Reinfection From Abroad - WSJ $$

A number of Chinese municipal governments are imposing stricter health screenings on people entering China and, in some cases, even quarantine measures on those arriving from coronavirus-afflicted countries. These controls come after Beijing waged a concerted campaign urging other governments not to impose restrictions on travel to and from China, saying such measures were out of line with World Health Organization guidance.

Beijing to quarantine people if they visited countries seriously hit by coronavirus - Reuters

China’s capital will quarantine people for 14 days at home or in groups if they have been to countries seriously hit by the coronavirus, the city’s health commission spokesman Gao Xiaojun told a press briefing on Wednesday.

14% of Recovered Covid-19 Patients in Guangdong Tested Positive Again - Caixin

There is no clear conclusion on why it happens and whether such patients could still be infectious, said Song Tie, deputy director of the Guangdong Center of Disease Control And Prevention (Guangdong CDC), at a Tuesday briefing.

Teachers advised to wear masks in class after primary schools reopen - Xinhua

Teachers are advised to wear medical masks in class after primary and middle schools reopen in China as part of the country's novel coronavirus prevention and control efforts, according to a circular issued by authorities.

Jingmen Party chief, mayor sanctioned for reporting incorrect numbers of COVID-19 infection - Global Times

Party chief Zhang Aiguo and city mayor Sun Bing of Jingmen, Hubei Province, have been punished by the provincial Party discipline watchdog on Wednesday, after the city reported minus 107 cases to the daily update feed on confirmed cases of COVID-19 on February 19, showing an obvious numerical error.

Beijing offers free medical, psychological, legal consultation amid epidemic - Xinhua

The experts are renowned specialists in related areas or professors at Beijing's top universities, said Qi Jinli, deputy head of the united front work department of Beijing.

So far the hotline has received over 5,500 phone calls, Qi said, adding that most calls were from people who need help with psychological issues related to the epidemic, with some suffering from insomnia and stress.


3. Economy

Five more Chinese regions lower emergency response level as virus threat recedes - Reuters

The northwestern Chinese regions of Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang, the southwestern province of Sichuan, the northeastern province of Jilin and the southern island of Hainan have all cut their emergency response levels.

Comment: Mother-in-law has been in Hainan, the last few days things have started to loosen up

As China’s Economy Suffers, Xi Faces Pressure to Lift Virus Restrictions - WSJ $$

Businesses executives and some local leaders are becoming more vocal about the need to streamline rules to reopen factories and get workers and supplies moving again in many parts of the country where activity remains at a standstill.

But many local officials fear doing so could risk a resurgence of infections, prolonging the outbreak and putting their jobs on the line. Many privately complain that President Xi Jinping has put them in an impossible position, demanding they keep growth on track while also ensuring the virus doesn’t spread...

“Propaganda can’t move mountains,” wrote Zhang Anyuan, an economist at CFC Financial, a Chinese securities firm, in a Feb. 24 report. Mr. Zhang is among the experts who think first-quarter growth could come in at zero or worse.

“Based on the seriousness of the economic losses in the first quarter, adjusting and downplaying growth targets would be understandable and acceptable to the people,” he said.

张岸元:疫情冲击下的经济、政策与金融市场

Very detailed analysis of the coronavirus’ impact on Chinese economy by former NDRC economist Zhang Anyuan. He believes it will be “extremely difficult” for China to achieve the 5% growth goal for 2020 if there is zero growth in Q1. He also said the capital flight out of China in the past years has been “stunning 触目惊心”. His calculation suggests that since 2015 the capital flight not included in China’s official statistics has totaled nearly one trillion USD. 

The COVID-19 coronavirus and its economic impact (updated 26th Feb.) - Capital Economics

The charts on this page track the spread of the virus in China and its economic impact. Most include daily data, which we are updating every working day. This page also contains links to our latest analysis on the impact of the outbreak in China and around the world.

Comment: Useful charts, and in a note this morning the analysts wrote:

With normal activity taking longer to recover than seemed likely earlier this month, we now think that China's economy will contract outright in year-on-year terms this quarter, for the first time since at least the 1990. The leadership appears to be readying significant stimulus which should restore employment and output by the third quarter, but the hit to output during the first half of the year will still result in much slower annual growth

北京日报:全国中小企业的复工率目前只有30%左右

China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said in a presser yesterday that the small- and mid-sized companies in China so far have resumed only 30% of their business.

China ups measures to support catering, accommodation sectors amid epidemic - Xinhua

As the epidemic has had a great impact on the sectors, the value-added tax will be waived from their revenues, Xian Guoyi, an official with the MOC told a press conference Wednesday.

In the meantime, enterprises in the hardest-hit Hubei Province will be exempted from pension, unemployment and work-related injury insurance premiums from February to June this year with a 5-percent electricity price cut, while the payment of the housing accumulation fund will be deferred, Xian said.

Caixin: Companies Jump on Coronavirus Bandwagon With $8 Billion of Bond Sales

Chinese companies have wasted no time taking advantage of a “green channel” created to fast-track bond sales by businesses needing money to fund operations related to the Covid-19 epidemic or who are suffering liquidity pressure stemming from the coronavirus outbreak...

A closer look at the details in the bond prospectuses suggests many companies are taking advantage of the “green channel” to get quicker access to cash and at a lower cost...

Of the total amount raised, only 22.4% on average is being used to directly support prevention and control activities, with the bulk of the money earmarked for paying down existing debt or supplementing working capital, according to Caixin calculations based on data from Wind Information

独家|不是谁都能拿专项再贷款!煤炭、城投等48家企业出局

Citing sources, Caixin reported that to prevent moral hazard, the central government had named 48 companies, mostly state-owned enterprises in industries with overcapacity, who will be denied access to the preferential loans issued for “anti-virus” purpose. The article mentioned that some of these companies had tried to get these cheap loans by pretending to produce things like disinfectant and masks.

China’s Virus-Hit Airlines Are Showing Signs of Recovery - Bloomberg

Scheduled airline capacity within China is up more than 25% -- by 1.3 million seats -- week-on-week thanks to a rebound in domestic capacity, according to OAG Aviation Worldwide. Air China Ltd. appears the most optimistic as it has added back 306,000 seats, almost double its capacity from the previous week, analyst John Grant wrote

Coronavirus: China’s legal system ‘will be more lenient’ on private sector | South China Morning Post

“If the law allows more lenient measures, [we] should try not to use forceful measures that would limit their personal freedom and property rights,” Zhang Shuyuan, vice-president of the Supreme People’s Court, said during a Wednesday press conference in Beijing.

Apple iPhone maker Foxconn taps famed scientist as coronavirus advisor - CNBC

Now Foxconn has tapped his expertise in respiratory diseases to serve as a consultant for the firm’s prevention and rehabilitation efforts. In a statement on Tuesday, Foxconn said Zhong Nanshan will give advice and guidance to the company.

Air Canada cancels China flights until April amid coronavirus outbreak | News

After announcing last month it was temporarily suspending all direct flights to Beijing and Shanghai until February 29 amidst growing concern surrounding coronavirus, Air Canada said on Tuesday it has extended that timeline until April 10 – a move it said is reflective of “reduced market demand.”

Big unknowns for millions as they return to work in China’s economic powerhouse | South China Morning Post

Feng Huiqiang, a senior official from provincial health commission of Guangdong, said: “We want to tell people from high-risk areas that they should not rush to return to Guangdong. If they must come back, then they should first stay under quarantine for 14 days. All conferences and sporting activities should be cancelled to prevent people from gathering.

“Everyone should follow the guidelines – apart from going to work, don’t go out, don’t gather, don’t dine together, don’t eat wild animals. And don’t be over optimistic.”

Coronavirus, trade war a ‘double whammy’ for foreign firms in China, EU chamber boss says | South China Morning Post

After more than 19 months of uncertainty and difficulties caused by the US-China trade war, the signing of an interim deal to end the conflict on January 15 gave many foreign firms reason to be optimistic. But their hopes were short-lived as the virus outbreak delivered a painful “double whammy”, said Paul Sives, chairman of the southwest branch of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China...

“Some member companies have already moved certain production lines to factories they have elsewhere in the world, to supply the goods that they cannot supply from China,” Sives said.


4. Will the propaganda and censorship work?

Coronavirus: China tries to contain outbreak of freedom of speech, closing critics’ WeChat accounts | South China Morning Post

Qin Qianhong, a law professor from Wuhan University, a top-ranking institution in the city that has been the epicentre of the outbreak, said his WeChat account had been disabled since last Wednesday.

He said it could be because he raised concerns in his WeChat posts over the extreme lockdown measures imposed on the Hubei provincial capital, and questioned state media reports that praised the sacrifices of Wuhan residents.

The Story of Jiangshanjiao (江山娇) – Elephant Room: Make China Relatable

12 hours, that was how long I lived, from the moment I was launched on the Chinese Internet to the moment I vanished, along with my younger brother Hongqiman. Our short lifespan was something no one expected; we were born to be something great, something iconic. We were made to be stars, or more accurately, to be idols. We were going to be huge hits; people, especially China’s young generation of patriotic netizens, were going to love us.

We had absolutely all the right elements to be loved, or at least, that was what our creator, the Communist Youth League believed. China’s young generation loved the League, which had been known for its agility in catching up with the latest internet trends. On Weibo, my creator had almost 13 million followers, and even a cute nickname, Tuantuan (团团)...

But the public reception of our launch took a completely unexpected direction: the League’s Weibo account was flooded with negative comments. People hated us, or more accurately, they hated the fact that the Youth League tried to idolize its own image by creating us. As it turned out, the strategy of personifying a party organization for political purposes didn’t work as well as my smart creator had planned...

You see what I am trying to say here? People have noticed. By February 17th, the day of my debut, the Chinese people, at least those who use social media, had been fed up with many of the government’s conducts. They had noticed the authority’s sneaky little tricks in managing this national crisis; the corruption, the irresponsibilities, the inefficiencies, all laid bare like never before thanks to the internet.

Coronavirus Weakens China’s Powerful Propaganda Machine - The New York Times

“Even if I say that I don’t trust the government, what could I do?” Ms. Lu said. “It seems there’s nothing I can do.”

There’s no scientific way to gauge public sentiment in China. But hers is probably a widely shared attitude, and one that the Chinese government wants to nurture.

To get there, Beijing has intensified internet censorship in the past few weeks. Social media accounts have been deleted or suspended. Starting Saturday, online platforms will be subject to new regulations that could ensure even tighter limits.

Turning on the Kitsch | China Media Project

In yesterday’s People’s Daily we can find a consummate piece of kitsch propaganda given position of prominence right below the masthead. The article, “Heroic City, Heroic People,” is an emotional hymn dedicated to front-line medical workers, officials and ordinary people. But the real objective of the article is to underscore the Chinese Communist Party as the enabler of miraculous human feats.

Comment: The mask has been ripped off in previous disasters too. Will the outcome be any different this time when it comes to political activism, or will more people just become more cynical and want to emigrate?


5. Wuhan governance failings continuing

财新:北京新怡家园确诊案例来自武汉, 系刑满释放22日回京

A Beijing coronavirus patient is causing a huge scandal. She arrived in Beijing from Wuhan on Feb 22. Caixin reports she made it out of Wuhan despite the lockdown because she was newly released from prison and her family drove her all the way back to their apartment in Beijing. Rumors are swirling that she must have some powerful connections to make it through all the checkpoints between Wuhan and Beijing, and because she lives in a residential area who apartments cost 120,000 RMB per square meter. There has been a massive social media uproar and now there is an official investigation.

胡锡进: 希望武汉官方和监狱管理机构及时对此事做出说明

Global Times editor-in-chief Hu Xijin demands an explanation from the Wuhan authorities on why the woman was able to make it out of Wuhan and came all the way to Beijing, so not to undermine the public’s confidence in Wuhan’s ability to control the virus spread.

How did COVID-19 patient leave Wuhan for Beijing? - Global Times

A confirmed COVID-19 patient returned from Wuhan on Saturday to Beijing, leading to questions over the management of the Wuhan government again two days after it issued a traffic easing policy but retracted it hours later.

Such questions against Wuhan government have lurked on Chinese social media for days, as the central government repeated that channels to and out of Wuhan must be strictly controlled to win the battle against the epidemic.

The woman, surnamed Huang, was found on Monday in a residential community in Dongcheng district. She came to Beijing from Wuhan on Saturday and underwent inspection right after her arrival, as she had been suffering intermittent fevers and throat pain since February 18 in Wuhan, said the Beijing Center for Diseases Prevention and Control on Wednesday.

澎湃新闻:湖北多地继续严控离鄂通道

ThePaper reported that local governments in Hubei have ramped up the measures to make sure no one can leave the province. Those temporary entry-exit permits issued earlier have been rescinded. 

Officials in China's Wuhan Deny Reports of Elderly Care Home Fever Deaths - RFA

Cutting-edge news website Caixin said in a recent report that 11 elderly people had died at the Wuhan Social Welfare Institute from "fevers and respiratory failure."

A statement on the official website of the Wuhan municipal cyberspace administration denied the report.

Caixin then doubled down and published the names and dates of all of the deaths after a local official threatened to pursue the organization for rumor-mongering, a crime carrying a maximum jail sentence of seven years in China.

独家|新冠病毒基因测序溯源:警报是何时拉响的

Caixin reported that as many as nine virus samples had been examined by Chinese labs in late December and early January, and the labs had notified the authorities about the new virus. But somehow the government failed to act soon enough, and the Hubei officials tried to block the release of test results.

回望2019年12月底至今年1月初的那几天,原本应是决定无数人命运的关键时刻。但彼时,公众对这种病毒日后会引发的后果还浑然不知。一位基因测序公司人士透露,2020年1月1日,他接到湖北省卫健委一位官员电话,通知他武汉如有新冠肺炎的病例样本送检,不能再检;已有的病例样本必须销毁,不能对外透露样本信息,不能对外发布相关论文和相关数据,“如果你们在日后检测到了,一定要向我们报告”。

财经:追问卫健委第二批专家:为何没发现“人传人”?

One member of the second expert group sent from Beijing in early January to investigate the coronavirus in Wuhan told Caijing magazine they didn’t find enough evidence of human-to-human transmission because the Wuhan Health Commission was hiding the truth from them. The expert group once told the Chinese public the disease is “preventable and controllable”.

《财经》:为什么会出现这种情况?

专家:他们根本不合作,这是最主要的问题。比如医务人员感染的事,你哪怕报一个医务人员感染,我们也就意识到它有传染性。

《财经》:既然有怀疑,为什么没有直接向当地的政府或者医院发问?

专家:当时我们讨论的时候,我们让他如实报。卫健委的领导当场就说了,他说,“你们是不是怀疑我瞒报啊?”他公开反问我们,专家组的都在场。他都这么说了我们还能说什么? 

《财经》:听到这句话,专家组心里是什么感觉?

专家:你不应该找我们,你应该找找那个领导层去了解。现在这个卫健委的人已经被免职了。(注:2月10日,湖北省委常委会决定:免去张晋的湖北省卫生健康委员会党组书记职务;免去刘英姿的湖北省卫生健康委员会主任职务;上述两职务,由新到任的湖北省委常委王贺胜兼任。)


6. Medical workers on the frontline

Wuhan nurses' plea for international medics to help fight coronavirus | The Guardian

Yingchun Zeng, of the Guangzhou Medical hospital, and Yan Zhen, of the Sun Yet-sen Memorial hospital, also in Guangzhou, published a letter in the medical journal the Lancet on Monday describing mental and physical exhaustion and severe supply shortages on the frontlines of the outbreak...

The virus has claimed more than 2,715 lives and infected at least 80,000 people. On Monday, China’s National Health Commission said more than 3,200 health workers had contracted Covid-19, about 90% of those cases in Hubei province. According to tallies of deaths reported in the Chinese media, at least 22 health workers have died from the virus.

The letter - Chinese medical staff request international medical assistance in fighting against COVID-19 - The Lancet Global Health

In addition to the physical exhaustion, we are also suffering psychologically. While we are professional nurses, we are also human. Like everyone else, we feel helplessness, anxiety, and fear. Experienced nurses occasionally find the time to comfort colleagues and try to relieve our anxiety. But even experienced nurses may also cry, possibly because we do not know how long we need to stay here and we are the highest-risk group for COVID-19 infection. So far 1716 Chinese staff [Note: Over 3000 now] have been infected with COVID-19 and nine of them have unfortunately passed away. Due to an extreme shortage of health-care professionals in Wuhan, 14 000 nurses from across China have voluntarily come to Wuhan to support local medical health-care professionals. But we need much more help. We are asking nurses and medical staff from countries around the world to come to China now, to help us in this battle.

广东援助湖北武汉医疗队:请柳叶刀撤销文章 澄清事实并道歉

The Guangdong medical team in Wuhan soon issued a statement through Southern Metropolis Daily saying the two authors are not part of their team and the article is a “outright misrepresentation”. But this statement has been deleted.

Shaved Heads, Adult Diapers: Life as a Nurse in the Coronavirus Outbreak - The New York Times

The most difficult moment for Ms. Zhang came when her superiors — almost all men — told her and her female colleagues that they “lacked the spirit of devotion” and discipline after they sought help getting pads and tampons.

Coronavirus: China not sharing data on medical personnel cases, WHO says - The Washington Post

“We received disaggregated information at intervals, though not details about health care workers,” said Tarik Jasaravic, a spokesperson for the Geneva-based organization.

The comment, in a Saturday email to The Post, was one of the first instances that the U.N. health agency has directly addressed shortcomings in China’s reporting or handling of the coronavirus crisis.

陈一新抗疫这一招的背后寓意是什么?-中国长安网

Chen Yixin convenes meeting of alumnae of Wuhan universities and Hubei business representatives to ask them to make donations to help front line medical workers

CCTV Evening News on the meeting, no video from inside the meeting

Comment: I don't remember so many reports about standing committees in such a compressed period of time .


7. New Hong Kong budget

Spotlight: HKSAR government's new budget unveils 15-bln-USD measures to ride out economic difficulties - Xinhua

Financial Secretary Paul Chan said in his speech on the 2020-2021 budget that 2019 was "an unsettling year fraught with obstacles" for Hong Kong, while the spread of COVID-19 in 2020 "has dealt a severe blow to economic activities and sentiment in Hong Kong."

Chan said Hong Kong's economy contracted by 1.2 percent in 2019, and he forecast full-year growth of between minus 1.5 percent and 0.5 percent in 2020...

Chan also announced a payment of 10,000 Hong Kong dollars to each Hong Kong permanent residents aged 18 or above, with a view to encouraging and boosting local consumption on the one hand, and relieving people's financial burden on the other. This measure is expected to benefit about 7 million people.

Hong Kong budget: HK$2.7 billion jobs outlay largely aimed at training programmes, employer subsidies | South China Morning Post

Hong Kong’s newest budget has set aside HK$2.7 billion (US$347 million) to bolster efforts to create and retain jobs amid the economic downturn, with HK$200 million of the amount aimed at the city’s struggling construction sector...

The lion’s share of the employee support portion of the budget – HK$2.5 billion – will go toward bolstering existing vocational, innovative and generic skills-training programs for the unemployed and underemployed.

Hong Kong police to ramp up manpower by more than 7 per cent with 2,500 new posts in ‘biggest boost since 1997’ | South China Morning Post

Hong Kong’s police force will ramp up manpower by more than 7 per cent in its biggest boost in decades, with an extra 2,500 posts to cope with operational needs, according to force insiders citing the latest budget address.

The figures also showed that police overtime pay and other allowances in the 2019-20 financial year soared to HK$2.5 billion (US$321 million), 10 times the original estimate of HK$256 million.


8. US-China

WIPO, world don’t need US bullying and interference - Global Times

Next week, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) will hold an election for its next director general. This was supposed to be a serious but standard matter handled in line with existing regulations and procedures of the agency. But the US, as it has done many times before, is seeking to interfere in the election and bend the agency's 191 other members to its political will and put its economic interests over those of others.

After China nominated Wang Binying, who has risen through the ranks to be deputy director general in her 28-year career at the agency, to be the next director general, Washington apparently became paranoid and launched an extensive campaign against Wang's nomination. ..

That brings us to the ulterior motives behind the US campaign against Wang's nomination: preserving its fading dominance in trade and technology through political gambits. The US has waged trade wars with not just China but also major economies in Europe and beyond. The US has also put up barriers to disrupt global cooperation in technology.

Comment: It will be hugely embarrassing for the US if Wang become the director-general.

Break with China? Top Trump aide eyes an opening with coronavirus - POLITICO

Peter Navarro, the leading China critic in the Trump administration, is seizing the moment.

The White House’s director of trade and manufacturing policy and the administration’s other China hawks are pushing to use the coronavirus crisis to press U.S. companies to end their dependence on foreign suppliers...

Navarro also has written memos on the coronavirus that he's circulated to other White House officials, according to an administration official and an official from the National Security Council.

The renewed focus on America First for medical manufacturing is a sign of what could become a broader push as multinational companies face the prospect of crippled supply chains as the virus shutters factories around the globe.

Chinese naval fleet wraps up far sea exercise deep in Pacific Ocean - China Military

A far sea joint training fleet of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy returned to base after sailing 14,000 nautical miles and crossing the International Date Line deep into the Pacific Ocean for the first time, a move that challenges US hegemony in the open waters and will become increasingly frequent in the future, experts said on Wednesday.

US sanction on Chinese firms rebuked as 'long-arm jurisdiction' - Global Times

The manager of a high-tech Chinese company sanctioned by the US for "helping" Iran's missile program denied on Wednesday that his company sells products to Iranian entities while Chinese observers believed that the US latest move shows  Washington has never restrained from bullying practices as it imposed"long-arm jurisdiction"to sanction Chinese firms and exercised hegemonism as China is fighting arduously against the COVID-19 outbreak.

China firmly opposes Pompeo's groundless accusation of COVID-19 control: spokesperson - Xinhua

"Since Mr. Pompeo talks about freedom of speech so much, would he care to explain why he cursed at an NPR journalist? Why was the journalist denied press credentials to travel with him? Is that Mr. Pompeo's definition of 'freedom of speech'? I think it's typical discourse monopoly and double standards," said a Foreign Ministry spokesperson.

China urges U.S. to stop interfering in China's internal affairs under pretext of religion - Xinhua

Spokesperson Zhao Lijian made the remarks at a press conference when responding to a question on the words of Sam Brownback, the U.S. ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom, slandering China's measures regarding Muslims.

Certain people in the United States have repeatedly made wanton accusations and rumors, attempting to undermine China's ethnic harmony and interfere in China's internal affairs under the pretext of religious freedom, Zhao said. "We firmly oppose that."

China says Wall Street Journal ‘admitted its mistake’ over ‘sick man of Asia’ headline | South China Morning Post

Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian questioned the paper’s political motives and said it had yet to hold any individuals responsible for the headline, “China is the Real Sick Man of Asia”, on a February 3 column about the novel coronavirus outbreak...

“The Wall Street Journal has already admitted its mistake and engaged in self-reflection, so why did Pompeo ignore international public opinion and continuously cheer for this paper, and criticise the Chinese side?” Zhao said.

“This makes one wonder, is The Wall Street Journal an agent for the US state department?”

不容种族歧视者胡说(钟声)

In Wednesday’s People’s Daily Zhong Sheng weighs in on the WSJ's headline. The propaganda organs are really flogging this hard


Business, Economy and Trade

Yicai Global - China-led Consortium to Operate Pakistan's First Metro Line Guangzhou Metro Group said it has formed a consortium with two other companies and the trio will take over the operation and maintenance of the Orange Line Metro service, Pakistan's first-ever mass rapid urban transit, for an eight-year term.

Out of Stock: Coronavirus in China Threatens Amazon Sellers - WSJ $ Thousands of Amazon.com Inc. sellers who built their businesses using China’s cheap and efficient manufacturers are on the spot as the coronavirus shuts factories there. Sellers say Amazon’s ranking algorithm demotes products that are out of stock. To avoid that painful fate, many are raising prices to slow sales, and attempting to shift production to other countries.

BYD electric bus deal one of the biggest for US · TechNode Shenzhen-based BYD will deliver a total of 130 all-electric buses to Los Angeles as part of the city’s initiative to convert its entire public bus fleet to zero-emission vehicles by the start of the 2028 Summer Olympics, the company said in a statement sent to TechNode on Monday. Two of four BYD buses from an earlier deal had already been delivered.

Politics and Law

CPC to recruit new members at epidemic-fighting frontline - Xinhua The move will encourage frontline personnel to win the battle with firm faith, tenacity and confidence, according to a circular issued by the Organization Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC). Qualified applicants, including medical workers, policemen, community workers, and primary-level cadres and the masses, who make outstanding contributions, can be admitted as probationary Party members after being consented by the Party branch concerned and approved by the Party committee at the next level up, according to the circular.

“学习强国”发起“宅家看武汉 全国看武汉”活动 The “Study Xi Strong Nation” app set up live stream cameras in different parts of Wuhan so people can watch what’s going on in the city.

教育部:高校思政课教师评职称实行师德等问题一票否决 The ministry of education issued a notice demanding universities and colleges hire enough number of teachers on “Ideology and Politics”, and these teachers must go through reviews that make sure they don’t have “significant problems” in their ideological, political beliefs and their ethics.

Masked faces pose no trouble to AI algos - China Daily Huang Lei, vice-president of the company, said Hanwang Tech took just a month to develop the upgraded version. "We have rich experience in overseas markets for more than 10 years. In certain areas such as Africa and the Middle East, we have products that can recognize facial characteristics when the skin color or big beards pose difficulties," he said.

Shenzhen issues blacklist, whitelist on animal consumption amid Covid-19 - Global Times The city issued a draft regulation on wild animal consumption as well as a blacklist and an edible whitelist of what animals can be consumed on Tuesday to give guidance to local people on eating wild animals, which is quite popular in the province. Diners and restaurants violating the regulations can be fined up to 20,000 yuan ($2,800) to 200,000 yuan respectively and people raising forbidden wild animals for the purpose of providing food will be fined a maximum of 20 times the value of the commodity, the draft said. Credit scores will also be affected for those violating the regulations.

Educating Chinese Judges for New Challenges in the New Era | Supreme People's Court Monitor One of the many documents issued late last year in the rush for year-end accomplishments (成就)is the Supreme People’s Court’s (SPC’s) latest Five Year Court Training Plan Outline for 2019-2023 (New Training Plan Outline) (2019—2023年全国法院教育培训规划).  The question this blogpost will explore is what is new and what has changed in the post-19th Party Congress New Era.

Dear Chairman Xi, It’s Time for You to Go - Xu Zhiyong | ChinaFile This is the second letter that Xu Zhiyong addressed to Xi Jinping. In the first, published when Xi Jinping came to power in November 2012, the author expressed hope that Xi would not only continue the country’s economic reforms but that he would also guide China towards substantive political change. Seven years later, Xu’s hopes, and his tone, have changed markedly. Now, for the sake of the country, its people, and even history itself, the author appeals to Xi Jinping to step down. // "January 2020, written while on the run". Xu has since been arrested

Foreign and Defense Affairs

China to Russia: End discriminatory coronavirus measures against Chinese - Reuters China’s embassy in Russia has demanded authorities in Moscow end what it said are discriminatory anti-coronavirus measures against Chinese nationals, saying they are damaging relations and alarming Chinese residents of the Russian capital.

Chinese embassy raps ex-Singapore diplomat Bilahari Kausikan for ‘smearing’ China’s political system | South China Morning Post Bilahari Kausikan, who retired as permanent secretary of the Singapore Foreign Affairs Ministry in 2013, described China’s handling of the crisis as a consequence of its Leninist value system, where a vanguard party has absolute control of state and society.

PLA offers free life insurance for medics fighting COVID-19 - China Military In coordination with relevant financial institutions, the Joint Logistic Support Force (JLSF) under China’s Central Military Commission (CMC) will provide free life insurance for the military medical personnel fighting in the frontline of COVID-19 prevention and control.

China kidnapped Gui Minhai. Now it wants to lock him away. - The Washington Post Editorial Mr. Gui’s case is a particularly shocking example of the Xi regime’s attempts to intervene in other countries, a campaign that has included pressuring critical academics at Western universities, demanding that U.S. airlines and the National Basketball Association toe Beijing’s line on Hong Kong and pulling the visas of three China-based Wall Street Journal reporters because of a headline on an opinion column. If the West bends to this kind of coercion, Mr. Xi will have succeeded in exporting his authoritarianism. That’s why it’s essential that other democratic governments, including the Trump administration, join Sweden in demanding freedom for Mr. Gui.

U.N. rights boss expected in China, including restive Xinjiang region, this year: envoy - Reuters “We are looking forward to the visit of the High Commissioner, Mrs. Bachelet, to China including to Xinjiang this year, and we are working closely with her office on detailed arrangements for her visit,”

Why Has China Given Shelter To A Rebel Leader From India’s Northeast? – The Diplomat Some have speculated that ULFA chief Parash Baruah lives in and operates from Ruili in China’s southwestern province of Yunnan. He is one of the most wanted men in both India and neighboring Bangladesh, where he has been awarded a death sentence along with other politicians and government officials for their role in the infamous Chittagong Arms Haul.

Steve Bannon’s Use of Private Jet Linked to Chinese Businessman Could Violate Campaign Finance Law — ProPublica Former Donald Trump campaign CEO and chief strategist Steve Bannon used a private jet apparently owned by a wealthy Chinese businessman [Miles Kwok/Guo Wengui] to fly to events to promote Republican congressional candidates in 2018.

Connecting the Blue Dots | Center for Strategic and International Studies - On the Blue Dot Network (BDN) Ultimately, the most strategic response to the BRI isn’t to compete against it on China’s terms but to offer an appealing economic vision that reflects U.S. interests and values. To date, the Trump administration has relied mainly on adversarial tools of economic statecraft: tariffs, sanctions, and backing out of multilateral agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Paris Agreement. The BDN is a welcome shift to a more positive approach

A former Boeing manager suspected of spying for China says that he, like Carter Page, was the victim of a flawed national security investigation - The Washington Post A former Boeing manager suspected of spying for China is charging that a secret government warrant to search his house for evidence was riddled with errors, raising fresh concerns about the classified process used to carry out national security investigations. The Justice Department in 2014 obtained a secret warrant seeking evidence that Keith Gartenlaub facilitated the theft of material on Boeing’s C-17 military transport plane...“I believe the FBI made unsubstantiated allegations to prove that I was an agent of a foreign power just because my wife is a Chinese American and I have family in China,” he said.

China’s Increasing Engagement with Africa | ChinaPower Project Podcast This episode explores China’s key interests and investments in Africa, as well as how China-Africa relations are likely to evolve in the future. Our guest, Dr. Joshua Eisenman, breaks down the political and economic toolkit China is using to achieve its core interests in Africa. Dr. Eisenman offers his insights on the impact of US engagement on China-Africa ties, as well as analyzes the feasibility of African countries following China’s development model.

New violation exposes Chinese TV to automatic loss of license in the UK | Safeguard Defenders The information presented below accompanies the open letter we sent Ofcom. It lays out evidence that since 2018, CGTN has been violating fundamental parts of UK law governing TV broadcasting for license-holders by being unequivocally controlled and also arguably owned by the Chinese Communist Party. In essence, both the substantive law (the Broadcasting Act of 1990), as well as operational guidelines by Ofcom itself, are entirely clear, and offer no exceptions to the following rule: no TV broadcaster may be granted or retain a license if they are owned or controlled by a political body.

Hong Kong and Macao

Coronavirus: Hong Kong schools to remain closed until after Easter but university entrance exams set to go ahead as planned in March | South China Morning Post School classes will remain suspended until April 20 at earliest but education chief says university entrance exams will go ahead as planned from March 27

Taiwan

For Hong Kong refugees, new life in Taiwan means traversing a legal twilight zone - The Washington Post Since protests erupted in June, hundreds of Hong Kongers have sought refuge in Taiwan, a self-governed democracy over which China asserts sovereignty. Most have entered legally, but a minority have used smugglers to reach Taiwan by boat. And although Taiwan has temporarily barred entry to most Hong Kongers amid the coronavirus outbreak, many in Hong Kong view the island as a place to resettle should their political strife worsen.

Tech and Media

Beloved Huawei draws rare fury in China for disputed map | South China Morning Post Richard Yu, Huawei’s consumer business chief, was explaining the company’s effort to protect customer privacy when the screen behind him showed various locations of its data centers. China’s silhouette left out some disputed geographic areas, such as Aksai Chin,  much of which is administered by China but claimed by India. The absence was quickly picked up by eagle-eyed netizens.

Weimob Down for Days Due to Malicious Internal Attack - Caixin The biggest cloud-based marketing provider on Tencent’s ubiquitous social media and payment platform WeChat has been partially offline for days due to a malicious attack by one of its employees.

China’s Handset Shipments Plummet Nearly 40% in January - Caixin In the first month of 2020, mobile phone shipments in China nosedived by 38.9% year-on-year to 20.8 million units, according to statistics from the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT), a research institute under the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT).

Huawei places more chip orders with China fabs - Digitimes Huawei has placed more chip orders with fabs in China, including TSMC's 12-inch wafer plant in Nanjing and SMIC's facilities, over the past half year, according to industry sources.

Highlights of the day: Xiaomi reportedly cutting chip orders - Digitimes Xiaomi reportedly cutting back IC orders: In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak that have disrupted business as well as consumer activities, China-based smartphone vendor Xiaomi has been cutting back orders to its IC suppliers in Taiwan, with fellow vendors Oppo and Vivo likely to follow suit, according to sources from Taiwan-based IC suppliers.

Local Governments Assist Filmmakers Stricken by Covid-19 | China Film Insider The Beijing and Jiangsu actions take different approaches, the former targeting regulation while the latter aims at financial assistance. Both proposals were announced on Wednesday, nearly a month after many of China’s cinemas closed down during what should have been one of their busiest periods during the Lunar New Year holiday.

Opinion | Why Doesn’t the U.S. Have Its Own Huawei? - POLITICO How Washington made its own bed on global competitiveness, and how it can get out.

China’s Changing Climate for Import Games – Niko Of 185 foreign games granted licenses in the 12 months of 2019, merely 17 were from the United States down from 81 in 2017. In 2018, with only 3 months of licensing, the US and Japan each had 15 licenses. However, in 2019 Japan got 63. Notably there were 1,385 domestic games licensed in 2019 – nearly 8x the number of foreign titles. In 2019 there was a declaration to stop licensing low quality and copycat games, which comprised many of the licenses in the years before the hiatus, so we expect that 2017 will maintain its status as the peak year and expect future years will be lower.

Society, Arts, Sports, Culture and History

The Sleeping Giant: how Chinese posters pushed products and propaganda | AThe Guardian The exhibition, curated by Steffi Duarte, details how foreign companies expanded into the Chinese market, how Mao Zedong used socialist realism to get through to Chinese citizens and the latest wave of Chinese design.

Energy, Environment, Science and Health

Why Does the Smog Strike Beijing Even When the City is Closed Down? - Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air Industry surveys found that blast furnace operating rates were the same as at the same time last year. Coal power plant operating rates were down by about one third – but this does not always mean lower pollutant emissions, as emission control performance suffers when plants are running at low load.

Education

Harvard Library adds Devotion, the game removed from Steam for insulting Xi Jinping | South China Morning Post The title from Taiwanese developer Red Candle Games was added to the collection of Harvard-Yenching Library