Another standing committee meeting; Propaganda narratives; Political meetings go online

Apologies, no commentary up top today, there is some in several of the Essential Eight items.

Thanks for reading.

1. Xi chairs another Politburo Standing Committee meeting

Xi chairs leadership meeting on controlling COVID-19, stabilizing economy - Xinhua |

Xi made an important speech at Wednesday's meeting of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee.

After the whole country's arduous efforts, a positive trend has emerged as the epidemic prevention and control situation has seen steady improvement and the resumption of the order of work and life has been accelerating, Xi said.

He called for speeding up the establishment of an economic and social order compatible with the epidemic prevention and control, urging efforts to consolidate and expand the hard-won positive trend, bring the country's economic and social development back to the normal track at an early date, and create conditions for securing a decisive victory in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and eradicating poverty...

While the task of containing the epidemic remains arduous and onerous in Hubei and Wuhan, the risk of an outbreak is rising in other regions as more people move around and crowds gather, Xi said, demanding no relaxation in the epidemic response preparedness.

Noting that China should play its part as a major and responsible country, Xi required more international cooperation on epidemic prevention and control.

Xi demanded targeted and solid measures to push for work resumption to minimize the loss caused by the outbreak.

Comment: The readout also reiterated the need to ensure it does not spread in Beijing.

中共中央政治局常务委员会召开会议 研究当前新冠肺炎疫情防控和稳定经济社会运行重点工作 中共中央总书记习近平主持会议_CCTV

The report on the PBSC meeting was the Top 5+ minutes of the Wednesday CCTV Evening News, no video from inside the meeting, that report showing the standing committee meeting in progress January 25 was clearly quite exceptional.

Xi Focus-Timeline: Xi leads China to fight COVID-19 with sci-tech - Xinhua

Since the outbreak, he has made a series of instructions on advancing related scientific research.

The following is a timeline of the instructions that have been made public

2. The outbreak

Coronavirus Spread in China Slows Drastically But Doubt Remains - Bloomberg

On Tuesday, China reported 119 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus, the lowest number in almost six weeks and the fewest since the national government started releasing data on Jan. 21. Of those, 115 cases were in Hubei province

Over 6,700 inbound passengers show possible virus symptoms - People's Daily Online

China customs have found 6,728 inbound passengers who showed symptoms of possible novel coronavirus infections by the end of Tuesday, with 75 later confirmed as having infections, General Administration of Customs said on Wednesday.

Shanghai clarifies quarantine policies for foreign arrivals - SHINE News

All people who have lived or traveled in coronavirus affected countries such as South Korea, Italy, Iran and Japan in the 14 days prior to their arrival in Shanghai must undergo 14-day quarantine at home or in designated places for medical observation, city officials said at a press conference on Wednesday

Interview with the leader of the World Health Organization team that visited China Dr. Bruce Aylward—Inside China’s All-Out War on the Coronavirus - The New York Times

Dr. Aylward, who has 30 years experience in fighting polio, Ebola and other global health emergencies, detailed in an interview with The New York Times how he thinks the campaign against the virus should be run...

I didn’t see anything that suggested manipulation of numbers. A rapidly escalating outbreak has plateaued, and come down faster than would have been expected. Back of the envelope, it’s hundreds of thousands of people in China that did not get Covid-19 because of this aggressive response...

We went to Sichuan, which is vast but rural. They’d rolled out 5G. We were in the capital, at an emergency center with huge screens. They had a problem understanding one cluster. On one screen, they got the county headquarters. Still didn’t solve it.

So they got the field team. Here’s this poor team leader 500 kilometers away, and he gets a video call on his phone, and it’s the governor...

They’re mobilized, like in a war, and it’s fear of the virus that was driving them. They really saw themselves as on the front lines of protecting the rest of China. And the world.

Coronavirus 2019 continues to spread. - The Washington Post

With a new infectious disease outbreak originating in China, WHO may have decided that the best way to get the Chinese government to cooperate with it is by playing “good cop” — praising China’s efforts and thanking Beijing for its cooperation as a way of keeping it on board and engaged with WHO. Rather than highlighting China’s lack of information sharing, WHO officials may have calculated that “naming and shaming” would be unlikely to produce a better outcome in this case.

Sealed doors and ‘positive energy’: COVID-19 in Xinjiang - SupChina

According to a directive issued by state authorities in Kashgar on January 26, Xinjiang has mobilized the “million police enter ten million homes” (百万警进千万家 bǎiwàn jǐng jìn qiānwàn jiā) campaign that was used as part of the “becoming family” program. That program used home visits to monitor, assess, and reeducate Uyghurs and Kazakhs throughout the region. In response to COVID-19, local neighborhood watch units were to “organize the auxiliary police to visit each household to ensure its safety, carefully implement grid management and blanket survey measures, and conduct comprehensive investigations of personnel with exposure history in Wuhan” throughout the region.

Personal Perspective On Coronavirus: Reflections From An Angry Wuhan Resident : Goats and Soda : NPR

As residents of Wuhan, China, my family and I are living in hell...

I kept telling myself that my hard work would reward me in my personal life. And to protect myself, I decided to shut up, to be silent about politics — even when I saw people treated unfairly by the government. I thought that if I followed that path, I would be secure, I would be one of the fortunate ones.

Now I realize that this is an illusion. A secure life is not an option with a political system that does not give us freedom to speak out and that does not communicate with us truthfully

Key lab being built to control future diseases - China Daily

Huazhong University of Science and Technology, in Wuhan, capital of Hubei province, is building a national key lab on the research of zoonosis, or animal diseases that are communicable to humans, to better prevent and control such diseases in the future, Li Yuanyuan, president of the university, said on Monday.

China stresses care for frontline community workers in COVID-19 battle - Xinhua

A leading group of China's COVID-19 response has issued a circular to strengthen care for frontline community workers in the anti-coronavirus battle.

An appropriate amount of subsidies will be given to frontline community workers while ensuring their current pay levels, read the circular [中央应对新冠肺炎疫情工作领导小组印发通知:全面落实疫情防控一线城乡社区工作者关心关爱措施_滚动新闻_中国政府网].

COVID-19 less severe than SARS, but more contagious: Chinese expert - Xinhua

The mortality rate of COVID-19 in Hubei Province, the hardest-hit region, is about 3 percent to 4 percent, and less than 1 percent outside the province, said Cao Bin, a respiratory disease expert, at a press conference, adding that both are lower than that of SARS, which is around 10 percent.

Bad tech nearly sent me to coronavirus quarantine | Financial Times $$

When I spoke to a salesperson for the infrared thermometers — in this instance from Xiaomi, the Chinese tech giant that rose to profit on the back of their cheap but slick smartphones and smart home appliances — they told me that the thermometers don’t work properly below temperatures of 10C. In Beijing’s below-freezing winter, that made them useless outdoors.

3. Propaganda narratives

An emerging narrative is that there is no proof the virus originated in China, keying off recent remarks by Dr. Zhong Nanshan. Zhao Lijian made this point at the latest press conference.

Zhao’s comments - 外交部:新冠病毒源头尚不确定 坚决反对地域污名化语言 - 国内 - 新京报网

First, no conclusion has been reached yet on the source of the virus, as relevant tracing work is still underway. The WHO has said many times that what we are experiencing now is a global phenomenon with its source still undetermined, and we should focus on containing it and avoid stigmatizing language toward certain places. The name COVID-19 was chosen by the WHO for the purpose of making no connections between the virus and certain places or countries. Dr. Zhong Nanshan, respiratory specialist and member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said that the epidemic was first reported in China but was not necessarily originated in China.


Second, we should all say no to "information virus" and "political virus". By calling it "China virus" and thus suggesting its origin without any supporting facts or evidence, some media clearly want China to take the blame and their ulterior motives are laid bare. The epidemic is a global challenge. The right move should be working together to fight it, which means no place for rumors and prejudice. What we need is science, reason and cooperation. Reasonable people will use science and cooperation to drive out ignorance and prejudice.


Virus Origin: Zhang Wenhong Disagreed That Coronavirus Originated Outside China – Chinascope

Zhang Wenhong is the Director of the Department of Infectious Diseases, Huashan Hospital, at Fudan University, Shanghai. He was tasked with leading the medical expert team to fight the novel coronavirus in Shanghai. Many Shanghainese call him, “Daddy Zhang” for his outspokenness and the care he has for people.

On February 28, 2020, China Daily, a state-controlled newspaper that publishes both Chinese and English versions, interviewed Zhang. In the interview, when responding to a question regarding claims that the virus was imported from elsewhere, Zhang said that he believed the virus originated in Wuhan. Zhang argued, “If that was the case (that the virus was imported), we should have seen patients emerging from different regions in the country around the same time rather than seeing their concentration in Wuhan.”

Sina republished the article from China Daily, which contains the Chinese following the English translation.

However, most of the Chinese media that reported Zhang’s disagreement saw that his comments were taken down afterwards.

An analysis of Zhong’s comments saying he did not mean that the virus originated outside of China. So far this article has not been deleted - 记者大人:“疫情发源于哪里”,钟南山到底是怎么说的?媒体,能不能学点语用学

第一, 钟南山这里不在于发布有关“疫情发源于何处”的新研究结论,而是在回答对于疫情发展,自己的团队与国际权威学者之间到底谁更准确; 第二, 他第一句说的是“发源在中国”; 第三, 他作为科学家,为了严谨起见,马上就修正为更为精确的的表述“出现在中国”,而对于到底“发源在何处”不做肯定的论断。

Another key narrative is that “we have been fighting so hard not just to save China but to save the world as well”

Diplomat cites shared future amid outbreak - China Daily

In a speech on Monday at the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London, Chinese Ambassador to the United Kingdom Liu Xiaoming said: "We have been open, transparent and responsible in tackling the virus because we believe in a community with a shared future for mankind."

Liu said that since the outbreak of the coronavirus, China has engaged in global cooperation and shared information in a timely manner with the world, including sharing the genetic sequence of the virus and enhancing cooperation on vaccine development...

Ambassador Zhang Jun, China's permanent representative to the United Nations, said on Monday at the UN headquarters in New York that China's fight against the outbreak has made good progress, the number of new cases in China is declining and medical research has achieved encouraging initial results.

"COVID-19 is a common challenge facing all of humanity. China is fighting not just for itself, but also for the world," he said.

Equality indispensable to defeating coronavirus - People's Daily Online

Equal treatment is a way to practice justice. Since the outbreak of the epidemic, China, always being committed to the building of a community with a shared future for mankind, has shared information with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the international society, actively responded to the concerns of each party and enhanced international cooperation in an open, transparent and responsible manner to prevent the global spread of the COVID-19 epidemic. The country is implementing the most thorough, strict and complete measures to win valuable time for the world to defeat the virus...

The light of equality is indispensable to defeating the epidemic. Only by safeguarding justice and adhering to humanity can the world achieve victory and keep creating a bright future for mankind.

China honors commitment to global anti-coronavirus cooperation: FM spokesperson - Xinhua

Zhao said China had been closely following the development of the COVID-19 epidemic around the world, with the determination to boost international cooperation, and the vision of a community with a shared future for humanity.

The Foreign Ministry and the National Health Commission jointly held a video conference on Tuesday with health experts from Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Armenia, Turkmenistan and the secretariat of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

Experts from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention and Peking University First Hospital shared with the attendees China's experience in the prevention, control and treatment of COVID-19.

And of course the coming victory is due to the superiority of the CCP system

CPC most important source of confidence for Chinese people - People's Daily Online

China's battle against the epidemic showed that the CPC, as China’s ruling party, is by far the political party with the strongest governance capability in human history that truly cares about the national interests of the country and the Chinese people.

If the epidemic happened in the United States, such as Chicago, would the country close down severely affected areas? Would the government mobilize resources to quickly build two major hospitals for the city? Would the government ask people to postpone their work?..

We should also be vigilant against anti-China forces in Hong Kong and Taiwan, as well as foreign countries, which have fanned hostility between the Chinese government and the people in any way that they can.

In the face of the epidemic, intellectuals should stay rational and confident, so that the people can remain calm amid the panic and see a ray of hope in the darkness.

I expect a forthcoming narrative to support Xi finally getting the full “People’s Leader Xi Jinping” as the commander in chief of the victorious People’s War on the epidemic. See the March 2 newsletter for progress in Xi’s march towards the “People’s Leader” appellation.

4. Economic impact

China's services activity plunges as virus wipes sales - Caixin PMI - Reuters

The Caixin/Markit services purchasing managers’ index (PMI) almost halved last month to just 26.5 from 51.8 in January. It was the first drop below the 50-point margin that separates growth from contraction on a monthly basis for the first time since the survey began almost 15 years ago in late 2005...

Demand shrank the most at home, but new orders from overseas also fell sharply from the previous month. Export demand fell the most since the sub-index started in September 2014.

Services companies shed jobs for the first time in nearly a year-and-a-half with the employment sub-index hitting its lowest ever. At the same time, some firms are struggling to recruit staff due to travel restrictions.

Coronavirus: Fed rate cut has ‘opened the window’ for China to pursue more aggressive economic policy | South China Morning Post

A front-page editorial in the China Securities Journal, a state newspaper, on Wednesday said the “window has opened” for the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) to join the United States, Australia and Malaysia in cutting rates.

“It is a relatively good choice [for China] to adjust policy rates amid a wave of rate cuts by major central banks,” read the article, published by the official Xinhua news agency.

Yicai Global - China's Central Bank Rejects Easing Property Market Controls to Boost Economy

Financial policies governing the property market will remain consistent and stable and will not be relaxed to give a short-term stimulus to China's economy, the central bank said today.

To help businesses pull through the coronavirus epidemic, financial institutions should give greater priority to support the recovery and development of the real economy, step up credit supply and reduce lending costs, the People's Bank of China said in a statement.



Foxconn reportedly dangles US$1,000 bonus for new workers as it resumes production | South China Morning Post

New employees can receive 3,000 yuan after clocking 60 days of work and another 4,000 yuan after 90 days, according to a video report by financial newspaper National Business Daily on Sunday. The Post reported last year that the monthly income of workers of the factory was between 2,000 and 3,000 yuan, based on interviews with more than two dozen workers.


CCTV puts together a short video "Go! Returning to work"

Yicai Global - Covid-19 Is Keeping More Than Half of Chinese SMEs Closed, Ministry Says

Some 55 percent of Chinese small and medium-sized enterprises have not resumed work by March 2 after the Chinese New Year holiday was extended to avoid Covid-19 from spreading, according to a ministry.

Some of those that have restarted operations are facing difficulties in returning to normal, Xin Guobin, vice minister at the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, said in a statement released today, without specifying which sectors are under such pressure.

Lights Are On but No One’s Working: How Local Governments Are Faking Coronavirus Recovery - Caixin

As new coronavirus cases in China slowed in recent weeks, local governments in less-affected regions pushed companies and factories to return to work, typically by assigning concrete targets to district officials. Company insiders and local civil servants told Caixin that, under pressure to fulfill quotas they could not otherwise meet, they deftly cooked the books.

Leaving lights and air conditioners on all day long in empty offices, turning on manufacturing equipment, faking staff rosters and even coaching factory workers to lie to inspectors are just some of the ways they helped manufacture flashy statistics on the resumption of business for local governments to report up the chain...

a civil servant in one district of the provincial capital, Hangzhou, told Caixin that from Saturday plants were instructed to leave their industrial equipment idling for the whole day, while offices were told to keep computers and air-conditioners running, when Beijing began checking the resumption rate by examining power consumption figures

China's passenger car sales fall 80% in February on coronavirus epidemic - Reuters

Passenger car retail sales in China, the world’s biggest auto market, fell 80% in February because of the coronavirus epidemic, one of the country’s industry associations said on Wednesday.

China rolls out cash support to domestic, foreign airlines amid coronavirus outbreak - Reuters

For every available seat kilometre, Beijing will award 0.0176 yuan ($0.0025) for routes that are shared by multiple carriers and 0.0528 yuan for routes that are only operated by one carrier, the Civil Aviation Administration of China said in a statement on its website.

Coronavirus: clock ticking for China to stop foreign firms fleeing country, report says | South China Morning Post

Labour-intensive textile production, hi-tech electronics and pollution-heavy industries like metal smelting could be the first to leave if the government failed to contain the spread of the deadly virus by the end of the month, the experts said in a report published on Monday in the Bulletin of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Pollution Data Shows China’s Uneven Economic Virus Recovery - Bloomberg

Though the measure of nitrogen dioxide in China’s atmosphere has risen nearly 50% from Feb. 17, it’s still roughly 20% below the equivalent period last year, according an analysis from the Helsinki-based Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air, which used satellite data from NASA.

Beijing to shore up bookstores impacted by COVID-19 outbreak - Xinhua

The measures were taken after a survey of 248 brick-and-mortar bookstores in Beijing found 48.4 percent of them were at risk of bankruptcy within one to three months.

Provincial Pension Funds Face New Squeeze as Government Waives Contributions - Caixin

“(Authorities) will ensure that pensions are paid in full and on time to retired people,” Fu Jinling, the head of the social security department at the ministry said when asked about the risks to Hubei’s ability to pay its pensioners.

He acknowledged that the temporary exemptions on social security contributions announced by the central government in February would have an impact on Hubei’s pension fund, estimating the policy would cut the fund’s income by about 22 billion yuan in 2020. But he pointed out that Hubei’s pension fund had amassed a cumulative surplus of 100 billion by the end of 2019, suggesting the impact was controllable.

5. US-China

Singaporean named to head intellectual property agency - AP

Daren Tang, the CEO of Singapore’s intellectual property office, won a crucial nomination to become the next director-general of the World Intellectual Property Organization over China’s Wang Binyang, a WIPO veteran.

WIPO’s “coordination committee” handed Tang a 55-28 victory in a final round of voting that began Wednesday with five candidates vying to replace the agency’s outgoing chief, Francis Gurry of Australia.

The fight over the post has pit the United States against China’s candidate. WIPO’s general assembly has final say in May, but it has never rejected a committee nominee since the agency was created in 1967.

Comment: This is quite the success for the US government. Just a couple of weeks ago one senior administration official told me they thought there was a good chance the PRC’s candidate would win.

Washington mounts campaign to counter Chinese influence at UN | Financial Times $$

A senior Trump administration official told the Financial Times that China’s own campaign to rally support for Ms Wang to become director-general “reflects its broader strategy to increase its influence in international organisations and to gain control over the United Nation’s standards-setting bodies”.

The official added: “Beijing’s efforts are aimed at reshaping the international system to accommodate its political and economic interests.” 

Coronavirus outbreak fans the flames of US-China decoupling debate in Washington | South China Morning Post

At an event in Washington on Friday, Florida senator Rick Scott used the term “Communist China” 25 times in a 10-minute speech pushing the idea that the coronavirus epidemic should be used as a wedge to prise apart the US-China relationship.

“I think there is going to be more decoupling, as we’re seeing with the coronavirus. I think people are saying to themselves, are we too dependent on a country that acts as an adversary? And I think that is going to cause some people to rethink their supply chains,” Scott told a crowd gathered at the Hudson Institute, a think tank.

“Communist China just does not want to join the community of nations, so much as it wants to rule it. The result, whether we want to admit it or not, is there is a new Cold War.”..

In the Democratic debate in South Carolina last week, former vice-president Joe Biden called President Xi a “thug”, while Bernie Sanders, currently leading in the polls, called the Chinese Communist Party a “real dictatorship”...

“Regardless of who’s in the White House, we’re concerned that the positive constructive relationship of the past is now something that will only exist in the past,” said Jake Parker, senior vice-president at the US-China Business Council

Comment: Yup, expect today is the best day in US-China relations for the next several years, to paraphrase a PRC reader

6. More on media reciprocity

Question: When will the next shoe drop from Beijing? I am hearing of at least a couple of outlets who will have visas revoked, nothing confirmed yet.

China condemns U.S. political oppression against Chinese media in the country - Xinhua

The U.S. side has been escalating the oppression against Chinese journalists from listing the Chinese media as "foreign agents" to designating them as "foreign missions" and now to capping the number of their Chinese employees, which means de-facto "expulsion" in a limited time, Zhao [Lijian] said.

"Because of their mounting oppression, Chinese journalists' normal reporting activities, the reputation of the Chinese media and normal people-to-people exchanges between the two sides have been gravely damaged," said Zhao.

While priding itself on freedom of press, the United States now disrupts and obstructs the Chinese media doing their job, Zhao said. "Such a two-faced behavior exposed its hypocrisy in so-called freedom of press, nothing short of double standards and bullying."

When asked to comment on the U.S. announcement that the purpose of such measures is to seek "reciprocity," Zhao said China has never instituted any caps on the number of offices and employees of U.S. media in China. "It is their own choice to make on how many people they want to send here, not a result of China's restriction."…

"The United States is guilty of foul play first. We will simply do what we have to do."

Media Expulsions Don't Help U.S. Journalists in China - Steven Butler - Foreign Policy

We might have real leverage on trade issues; not so much on media visas. And the timing—when the world needs a free flow of accurate information in the midst of a global crisis—that could not be worse. There’s no easy solution. What hasn’t been tried is a global coordinated and principled push for China to behave, executed by governments that understand the critical importance of press freedom.

Butler is the Asia program coordinator at the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Comment: If the US wants to really get Beijing’s attention it would end CGTN broadcasts/cable carriage deals, China Daily inserts & People’s Daily Overseas edition distribution in the US. That is what Beijing really cares about, not the number of journalists here. And this threat, if made credibly and perhaps in concert with other countries whose reporters have been booted from China, might be the best chance at stopping the tit for tat expulsion cycle. Shutting down Beijing’s ability to disseminate its propaganda inside the US disrupts key CCP propaganda goals and so threatening that might change behavior. I am not sure though what the legal authorities would be, and certainly there would need to be a debate about freedom of expression/press.

7. Indigenous chipmaking

Another article, this time from Caixin, that examines the challenges the PRC is having in building its own chipmaking industry in its quest to take back control of core technologies.

In Depth: Coronavirus Just the Latest Hurdle to Local Government’s Chipmaking Dreams - Caixin

even before the virus struck, cities across China were finding that their pockets were simply not deep enough to build a competitive chipmaking industry from scratch, despite stretching their budgets to the breaking point...

China’s coronavirus woes will eventually pass. Analysts say there will be no shortage of resources pumped into chipmaking industry by Beijing to get it back on its feet. But those with intimate knowledge of the key strategic sector say a more coordinated national strategy is needed to make the dream of chip self-reliance a reality, in part by preventing local governments from competing with each other for the same slice of the pie.

Though the chipmaking sector has gained added significance since the U.S. began placing major Chinese tech firms on an export blacklist early last year, Beijing began encouraging its development as far back as 2000, issuing a set of national guidelines in 2014.

Since then, over 50 large-scale semiconductor projects have sprung up nationwide, with total pledged investment reaching 1.7 trillion yuan ($248 billion) according to Caixin’s calculations.

8. Political meetings go online

The recent 170,000 cadre meeting could be an interesting for holding the delayed “Two Meetings” online

Using Cloud-Based Solutions, the Chinese Authorities Aren't Letting Epidemic Interfere With Political, Judicial and Financial Affairs- PingWest

Xuexi Qiangguo, an app released by the party's publicity department in January 2019, has video conferencing feature in it. Public servants and employees of state-owned enterprises, etc, especially those who are party members, were ordered to download the software and use its various features daily. The app's iOS version once surpassed hit social media apps such as WeChat and TikTok on App Store in China.

During the epidemic, governments across the country issued intra- and inter-city traffic restrictions and ordered people to avoid contact. Multiple grass-roots party organizations and governments are reportedly using the app for online video meetings...

In Hubei province, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak, court trials have gone online to prevent the gathering of people. A judge presiding over a civil court in a Hubei city told PingWest that in February, she and her colleagues had tried cases online, including divorce, traffic accidents, and labor disputes. The judge wishes to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the matter.

Business, Economy and Trade

Nine Chinese Provinces Outline Total Investment of 24 Trillion Yuan in 2020, Yunnan’s Outlay Equal to Twice its GDP – China Banking News Data from Na­tional Busi­ness Daily in­di­cates that six out of 15 provinces analysed are plan­ning to­tal in­vest­ment in ma­jor in­fra­struc­ture pro­jects worth over 500 bil­lion yuan in 2020 alone, in­clud­ing Henan, Guang­dong, Sichuan, Jiangsu, Fu­jian and Shaanxi.

Oyo is cutting 60% of its China staff · TechNode Indian hotel chain Oyo is planning to lay off 60% of its workforce in China as it struggles to contend with a number of setbacks, the most recent being the deadly Covid-19 virus which has immobilized the country for weeks.

Chinese Tesla owners file complaints over outdated Model 3 hardware · TechNode Dozens of Tesla customers have reportedly filed complaints to a Chinese consumer watchdog after discovering older-generation hardware in their domestically made Model 3 rather than the highly anticipated HW3 self-driving computer.

Offshore ownership of Chinese bonds breaks new high - Reuters International investors owned more than 1.95 trillion yuan ($281.39 billion) of Chinese bonds last month, numbers released by China Central Depository and Clearing Co (CCDC) on Tuesday evening showed. That marked a monthly uptick of 3.4%, the fastest since last November.

Yicai Global - Thermometer Prices Jump Five-Fold in China as Demand Swells Previously available for under CNY100 (USD14), the thermometers are now selling for over CNY500 each. The price of key components, such as thermal chips and micro-controller units, has risen and so has the cost of labor as many workers have yet to return to the cities amid continuing travel restrictions.

Lego Commits to China Expansion as Revenue Climbs - WSJ $$ Chief Executive Niels Christiansen said it was too early to tell how the coronavirus would affect demand. Some of Lego’s stores in China remain closed but most are open. The company has reopened its factory in the Zhejiang Province, its only one in China, which produces products for most of Asia.

Politics and Law

查清了!山东任城监狱疫情事件真相-中国长安网 11 people put under investigation for the outbreak at the Rencheng prison in Shandong 调查组认为,任城监狱原领导班子没有把习近平总书记重要指示和党中央决策部署落实到行动上,官僚主义、形式主义严重,对监狱防控工作特殊性、复杂性、敏感性认识不足,思想麻痹、管理松懈,致使干警职工带病入监、疫情迅速扩散。

人民要论:以辩证思维统筹疫情防控和经济社会发展--理论-人民网 The Ministry of Education's Xi Thought Research Center writes in People's Daily about the need to use dialectical thought to take an overall coordinated approach to fighting the epidemic and achieving the economic and social development goals

Foreign and Defense Affairs

AGAINST THE GRAIN: SAND DREDGING IN NORTH KOREA — C4ADS Using satellite imagery and Automatic Identification System (AIS) data, C4ADS tracked hundreds of vessels we suspect were dredging sand in Haeju Bay before transporting it to China. This sand extraction from North Korea to China violates United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 2397 (2017). More than that, the activity in Haeju demonstrates scale, and a level of sophistication unlike other known cases of North Korean sanctions evasion at sea, providing renewed evidence of the DPRK’s evolving abilities to coordinate and execute complex operations with facilitators abroad.

China Readies Deal With Washington’s Closest Latin American Ally - Bloomberg China is preparing to sign a deal to strengthen its ties with Colombia as its companies pour billions into rail projects, mines and other investments in the country. The governments are finalizing an agreement that would include elements of China’s massive infrastructure program known as the Belt and Road Initiative, according to Lan Hu, China’s Ambassador to Bogota.

Chinese Search-and-Rescue Vessel Moves to Fiery Cross Reef - RFA A Chinese rescue ship has started operating in and around Fiery Cross Reef, a land feature disputed between China, Taiwan, the Philippines, and Vietnam in the South China Sea, Radio Free Asia has learned.

Vietnamese boats increasingly intruding into Chinese waters for espionage: report - Global Times A total of 311 Vietnamese fishing boats intruded into Chinese internal waters, territorial waters and exclusive economic zones in South China in February for the purpose of illegal fishing and spying, according to a report conducted by the South China Sea Strategic Situation Probing Initiative (SCSPI), a think tank at Peking University.

2 Chinese men plead guilty to photographing US Navy base - ABC News Court records show Jielun Zhang and Yuhao Wang, both 24, pleaded guilty in federal court in Key West to a single count of illegally photographing a U.S. defense installation.

Resolution Honoring Dr. Li Wenliang Passes Senate | Tom Cotton | U.S. Senator for Arkansas The U.S. Senate passed a resolution honoring Dr. Li Wenliang, the Chinese doctor who first identified the severity of the coronavirus outbreak in China late last year and sought to warn the government about the potentially devastating impact of the disease. Dr. Li succumbed to the coronavirus on February 7, 2020. The resolution also calls for transparency and cooperation from the government of the People's Republic of China and the Communist Party of China.

U.S. Senators Push Investment Scrutiny of Allies Using Huawei - Bloomberg Certain allies -- the U.K., Australia and Canada -- are exempted from the investment screenings, but the proposed bill would end that exclusion for countries that install Chinese information and communications technology including for 5G and future networks. In January U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson decided that Huawei could have a partial role in its next-generation broadband networks.

Tech and Media

Virus Quarantines in China Spur Tencent, NetEase Gaming Surge - Bloomberg via Yahoo For Mahjong and Game For Peace, two of Tencent’s most popular titles, daily active users increased 109% and 44%, respectively, in the two months through February, according to App Store data from mobile app researcher Apptopia Inc. Other Tencent games including Honor of Kings, Happy Poker, and QQ Speed have also seen usage increases of more than 20% over the two-month period.

Society, Arts, Sports, Culture and History

With Mass Team Ouster, China Stumbles on Rush to Soccer Success - SixthTone On Feb. 8, Meng Yongqiang, the outspoken owner of the third-tier team Baoding Yingli Yitong F.C., posted a list of reasons why lower-tier soccer was on the brink of collapsing in China to his Weibo microblog. Calling out the prevalence of money soccer, he said that small clubs were poorly managed, but their investors insisted on pouring cash into them out of sentimentality and the vain expectation of government support.

Chinese local governments — hoping to benefit from the prestige of hosting a successful team — have been willing to offer land rights, financial support, and subsidies to companies that invest in them, explains Sina soccer journalist Li Siming. But their help can dissipate in the event of government leadership changes, or if the local sports department doesn’t have the money on hand, he tells Sixth Tone.