Another standing committee meeting; "Political virus" in Hong Kong; Premier Li says "policy response is appropriate"
One of those days where I am not feeling like I have anything insightful to add.
Thanks for reading.
The Essential Eight
1. Another standing committee meeting
The meeting of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee heard a report from the central guiding group for novel coronavirus prevention and control.
The guiding group, under the firm leadership of the CPC Central Committee and with the great support of the people across the country, fought side by side with people in Hubei Province and its capital city Wuhan, Xi said.
Xi said that the group had spared no effort to curb the spread of the virus and worked hard to build a strong first line of defense, making important contributions to winning the people's war against the epidemic.
He said the spread of the virus overseas has not been effectively curbed yet and cluster cases were reported in a few areas in China, posing considerable uncertainty to the epidemic control.
The epidemic prevention and control measures in Hubei should not be relaxed, Xi said.
The CPC Central Committee has decided to dispatch a liaison group to better support the follow-up epidemic prevention and control work in Hubei and Wuhan, Xi said.
Xi again praised the “central guiding group” that returned from Wuhan a week ago for its great work and said being able to stem the virus spread shows “China’s power, China’s spirit and China’s efficiency.” He warned that Hubei government must not relax and should “normalize” all the measures to monitor and prevent a new outbreak, so “not to ruin the previous success”.
2. More on Xi’s Xi’an Jiaotong University speech
Xi’s most interesting visit of the inspection tour was to Xi’an Jiaotong University, where he toured a museum, met with retired cadres, and gave a short, seemingly impromptu speech (translation and link to video below). While this may seem mundane, the brief visit was insightful and important for analysts with a keen interest in the CCP’s dogma and self-perception. Xi’s speech revealed the intention to connect the Party’s early challenges with today’s, focusing the nation on a renewed sense of struggle, toward external threats, and toward achieving China’s national rejuvenation goals of realizing a “moderately prosperous society” despite the massive social and economic setbacks of the pandemic...
Xi’s speech emphasized the University’s loyalty to the Party, even to follow a command as impractical as uprooting itself from Shanghai to the frontier city of Xi’an almost 1,000 miles away. As Xi notes in his speech, “The Party wanted something and they just did it.” Xi’an Jiaotong University’s history is therefore an allegory for Communist China’s earliest days of nation-building and struggle for domestic development and against hegemony by the US and Soviet Union. Xi Jinping’s visit evoked all those symbols and made the visit a masterclass in Party-building.
The article includes a full translation of Xi's comments.
Here is the video of Xi, which I previously discussed in the April 29 newsletter:
3. Virus origins
For weeks the Australian government had been growing concerned about the Trump administration’s promotion of the theory that experiments on bats at a Wuhan laboratory had unleashed COVID-19. This week that anxiety peaked...
"We can’t repeat the mistakes of the past. The WMDs fiasco was not that long ago," one former security official said, referring to the incorrect intelligence claims of huge Iraqi weapon stockpiles that formed the basis for the Iraq War in 2003.
It is impossible to pinpoint the exact moment concerns within local security and intelligence circles morphed into genuine anxiety, but an April 14 article in The Washington Post is regarded by some as a turning point. The article quoted leaked diplomatic cables detailing how US officials had in March 2018 raised concerns about the Wuhan Institute of Virology "conducting risky studies on coronaviruses from bats". Shortly afterwards President Donald Trump began raising the "lab theory" during his press briefings.
A majority of the 17 agencies that provide and analyze intelligence for the U.S. government believe the pandemic started after the virus was leaked from the Wuhan lab, according to a person familiar with the matter. The agencies, the person said, point to circumstantial evidence that includes “open source” information, meaning publicly available research, including from scientists at the lab, as well as information from other researchers studying the origin of the virus.
Others familiar with the intelligence, however, describe more pronounced divisions among and within the agencies, which often look at the same set of facts but come to different interpretations. Two people familiar with the intelligence said the case for any possible origin is largely circumstantial since the U.S. has very little information from the ground to back up the lab-escape theory or any other...
both the president and his top diplomat have focused less on well-documented missteps and evasions, and instead are highlighting the largely unproven theory of the virus’s escape from the Wuhan lab.
The decision could be rooted in polling data the president’s team has been examining as they seek to rehabilitate his standing before November’s election. In an Economist/YouGov survey from last week, 45% of Americans believe the coronavirus was created in a laboratory -- including two-thirds of Republican voters.
“There must be something evil behind the abnormality. How much longer do the American politicians want to hide the truth from the world?” CCTV commentary on the Evening News on Wednesday said the US is hiding the truth about its virus outbreak and us going after scientists that suggest the outbreak may have started much earlier in the US than the official claim.
“People have seen clearly now, that the politicians in Washington have repeatedly concealed the epidemic information and tried to muddle the waters. The purpose of this is to cover up their incompetence and the fact that they did nothing to control the virus. As the truth being deliberately hidden and distorted, the United States has been slow to target the true enemy of the virus. Faced with the innocent lives that have passed away, shouldn’t the American politicians who only focus on self-interest should be held accountable?”
“Enormous evidence? Then show us,” Ms. Hua said. “Mr. Pompeo cannot present any evidence because he hasn’t gotten any. I think this matter should be handled by scientists and professionals instead of politicians,” she told reporters in a daily briefing.
Pompeo started a briefing Wednesday by laying out a timeline of the Chinese government’s actions, saying that it had silenced doctors’ early warnings about the virus. He repeated the U.S. allegation that it’s still refusing to share virus samples or details about the start of the pandemic and on “patient zero,” the first victim. And he said other countries are starting to see it the U.S. way...
Pompeo brought up the Wuhan lab only when asked and wasn’t nearly so definitive, saying, “The intelligence community’s still figuring out precisely where this virus began.” Pressed later, he denied there was any inconsistency between his statements.
His full comments.
He was not happy with a BBC reporter's question about the lab:
“There is discussion with our counterparts in China for a further mission, which would be more academic in focus, and really focus on looking at what happened at the beginning in terms of exposures with different animals,” Van Kerkhove said.
He told Sweden's TT news agency: 'There wasn't any spread [of infection] outside Wuhan until we saw it in Europe later.
'But I think that you could find individual cases among Wuhan travellers who were there in November to December last year. That doesn't sound at all strange, but rather very natural.'
The mayor of Belleville is making a startling yet uncorroborated claim that he contracted the coronavirus in New Jersey in November, two months before the first confirmed U.S. case in Washington State.
Xinhua and several state media outlets played up the news that the mayor of Belleville said he may have contracted the virus last November, earlier than the outbreak in Wuhan.
A U.S. mayor claims he had COVID-19 last November, over one month before China reported its initial cases. If this was really the case, how did he get it and from where? How long ago did the virus start spreading in the U.S.? In this episode of Getting to the Point, CGTN anchor Liu Xin asks the big question!
Guancha reposted this article by Palm Beach Post that said Florida has 171 coronavirus patients in January, and none of them travelled to China.
China's state media has raised the volume on its criticism of U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, accusing him of spewing poison, spreading lies and turning his back on humanity for his comments about the coronavirus pandemic...
This kind of vicious attack on a single American official has not occurred since before U.S. President Richard Nixon made his historic visit to the communist state in 1972 to normalize relations.
"This is not normal," one Chinese scholar said in astonishment. "A foreign ministers meeting between the U.S. and China will be impossible for the foreseeable future."..
As if to take a cue from the party and the government, prominent political commentators have launched a volley of attacks on Pompeo via the internet, including one that said: "We condemn the fatso to death." They have not been subject to deletion by Chinese censorship authorities.
7th in the recent series of People's Daily Zhong Sheng attacks on "some US politicians" - "Finger-pointing is blatant "political blackmail" - spreading rumors about "China's fight against the epidemic" goes against international justice" - 人民日报署名文章：诿过推责是赤裸裸的“政治讹诈”——造谣中伤“中国抗疫”有悖国际正义（七）-新华网
There is no denying that the first known case of covid-19 was reported in Wuhan. But this means only that Wuhan was the first victim of the virus. To ask a victim for compensation is simply ridiculous
Comment: interesting approach, Wuhan as the “first victim”
The foreign ministry said by May 1st, China has exported to the US more than 5.3 billion masks, 330 million pairs of surgical gloves, 38.85 million haphazard suits, 5.98 million googles and 7500 ventilators.
A new speech by Colonel Dai Xu of the PLA National Defense University is circulated on WeChat. Dai a long time hawk, expected the US-China relations continue to worsen and said China didn’t expect the US will be so anti-China and so united.
“The general feeling in China is that the United States does not want China to stand up as a global power,” said Wang Jisi, president of Peking University’s Institute of International and Strategic Studies, in an online forum of U.S. and Chinese experts last month…
In a recent phone call with The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Trump said he won in 2016 in part by blasting the U.S. political establishment for being outsmarted by China, rather than by attacking Chinese leaders directly. That approach, he said, helped pressure Beijing to sign the partial trade deal in January.
Mr. Trump said he is furious with China over the pandemic and the death it has brought. “It could have been stopped,” he said about the contagion. What he wants Mr. Xi to do, he said, “is what we’re doing—looking into the origins of it.”...
The State Department this year instructed all U.S. embassies around the world to form working groups to monitor China’s expanding influence and report back to help formulate counterstrategies, according to a person familiar with the effort.
The Pentagon intends to arm its Marines with versions of the Tomahawk cruise missile now carried on U.S. warships, according to the White House budget requests for 2021 and Congressional testimony in March of senior U.S. military commanders. It is also accelerating deliveries of its first new long-range anti-ship missiles in decades...
The U.S. moves are aimed at countering China’s overwhelming advantage in land-based cruise and ballistic missiles. The Pentagon also intends to dial back China’s lead in what strategists refer to as the “range war.” The People’s Liberation Army (PLA), China’s military, has built up a huge force of missiles that mostly outrange those of the U.S. and its regional allies, according to senior U.S. commanders and strategic advisers to the Pentagon, who have been warning that China holds a clear advantage in these weapons.
And, in a radical shift in tactics, the Marines will join forces with the U.S. Navy in attacking an enemy’s warships. Small and mobile units of U.S. Marines armed with anti-ship missiles will become ship killers.
"I view China as the greatest threat actor right now," Ratcliffe, a Republican congressman from Texas, told the Senate Intelligence Committee.
"Look with respect to COVID-19 and the role China plays; the race to 5G; cybersecurity issues: all roads lead to China," he told the panel.
Today, the top Republicans from seven different House committees — led by Oversight Ranking Member Jim Jordan (R-OH) — sent a letter to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos asking for information about the Chinese Communist Party’s investment in American colleges and universities to further its strategic and propaganda goals.
"Mr. Pottinger is wrong. The nature of the May Fourth movement is not what he called 'populism.' It was a patriotic revolutionary movement against imperialism and feudalism," Hua Chunying, spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said at Wednesday's media briefing...
Mr. Pottinger forgot that the cause of the May Fourth movement was the backroom deals among foreign powers over their privileges in Chinese territory after World War I, and the Chinese people will never accept humiliation, Hua said.
"If anyone in Washington wants to pass the buck onto and bully China over the coronavirus outbreak, the 1.4 billion Chinese will not accept it, and doctor Li Wenliang's soul will not accept it," Hua said.
She urged US officials to have a better understanding of China's history and mind their own affairs.
In Congress, the desire to confront China has been accompanied by anxiety that the country could emerge as an even stronger strategic and economic rival following the pandemic. Some lawmakers are hoping that some measures could be considered alongside a new round of fiscal stimulus, which is expected to make its way through Congress this month.
“There’s huge appetite to legislate on China,” said one Republican congressional aide. “The pandemic has put China on the map, and a lot of people have been talking about how do we hold China accountable,” the aide said.
President Trump should stop talking about China and act. First-quarter trade numbers show his “phase one” deal is a non-starter for 2020, not to mention dwarfed by COVID. The president’s elevation of selling more to China above everything else has frozen his administration and the congressional leadership of both parties. Those serious about changing the US-China relationship have many other options.
The US just reported March goods exports to China — the first full month where phase one applies — as 25 percent lower than March 2019. The reason seems obvious, but China claimed its March imports were basically flat. The US fell far short when it should have outperformed China’s other partners.
China News quoted Xiaoping Zhang, Greater China Regional Director for the U.S. Soybean Export Council, in saying that China is implementing the phase one trade deal and China bought 1.1 million tons of soybean from mid-March to mid-April.
The U.S. Department of Commerce is close to signing off on a new rule that would allow U.S. companies to work with China’s Huawei Technologies on setting standards for next generation 5G networks, people familiar with the matter said.
There is much to criticize about Chinese behavior. Beijing’s response to COVID-19 is just one among many reasons. Measured and intelligent steps can be taken to shore up U.S. interests and build coalitions to respond smartly to Beijing’s propaganda and aggressive claims. However, a crusade to make China pay, no matter how appealing politically, would backfire badly. Consciously blowing up a relationship already under great strain would be worse than irresponsible. It could become the trigger for a new cold war or worse.
In this episode of Intelligence Matters, host Michael Morell speaks with Chris Johnson, Senior Fellow at the Center for Strategic & International Studies and former senior China analyst at the Central Intelligence Agency, about China's internal handling of COVID-19, its subsequent messaging efforts, and the current state of U.S.-China relations. Johnson explains how Xi Jinping's leadership has affected both the domestic and diplomatic responses by Beijing to the outbreak. He also explains some of the likely near-term economic consequences of the pandemic. Johnson and Morell evaluate the state of the relationship between China and the U.S., as well as its likely trajectory.
America seems to be on the verge of declaring cold war on China, while simultaneously weakening its own ability to wage such a conflict. Across the ideological spectrum, U.S. hostility to China has surged just as financial fallout of the pandemic threatens to harm the U.S. defense budget for years to come.
The U.S. may thus be entering a period like the beginning of the original Cold War, when it decided to confront the Soviet Union on a shoestring. The U.S. ultimately won that Cold War, of course, but that analogy should be less comforting than it first seems because it reminds us that a cash-strapped approach to competition can be an extremely risky one.
"Their M.O. is always the same," she said. "Dangle promises of huge financial support or profits as long as everyone looks the other way on their horrendous human rights and economic record." As a result, China has grown in "wealth, power and prestige."
"They made the cynical calculation that high-powered Westerners would take short-term payoffs in exchange for freedom and independence; they'd sacrifice the latter," Ingraham said. "Well, they were right, sadly."
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, joined "Tucker Carlson Tonight" Tuesday to discuss a bill he drafted that would prevent the Pentagon from cooperating with movie studios who censor their productions to appease Chinese authorities.
A new poll conducted by the Young American’s Foundation revealed that the majority of high school students believe that China poses a threat to the United States. Just 20 percent of high schoolers view China as America’s ally. College students, on the other hand, are much friendlier to China, with only 39 percent considering China a Threat to the U.S., and almost half blaming America for the Chinese virus pandemic.
A useful historical reminder:
5. The economy
China will introduce and further improve policies to keep employment stable and ensure people's livelihood, the State Council's executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang decided on Wednesday..
The Wednesday meeting took stock of the strong and targeted policy measures that government departments across the country have introduced over the recent months. These measures, 90 in total covering eight areas, were designed to advance the resumption of work and production and tide companies over difficulties....
"The support policies introduced earlier are adequate. In other words, our policy response is appropriate in its intensity and prompt in timing," Li said.
It was agreed at the meeting that the above measures are paying off. Production is steadily returning to the usual capacity, the difficulties facing businesses are easing, and life and work are getting back to normal.
"Early on, as work and production was not fully resumed, it may be difficult for certain policies to be delivered right away," Li said, "It will still take some time for industries and the market to recover, and there is also the factor of the impact from the global economic situation. These should inform our decisions on the next-step policies."
Readout of the meeting - 李克强主持召开国务院常务会议--新闻报道-人民网
What may instead be unveiled at the upcoming National People’s Congress later this month is a description of the goal for gross domestic product growth, one of the people said. Last year the target was a range of between 6% and 6.5%. A final decision hasn’t been made on how to characterize the target, the people said, who asked not to be identified discussing confidential policy deliberations.
During this year’s five-day holiday, the number of domestic trips was down 41% to 115 million and the amount of tourist spending plunged 60% to 47.6 billion yuan ($6.7 billion), compared with the shorter holiday period in 2019, according to data (link in Chinese) from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
During this year’s Labor Day holiday, average daily tourism spending was just a third of last year’s, according to Caixin calculations based on government data.
Liu Shangxi, president of the Chinese Academy of Fiscal Sciences, a finance ministry-affiliated think tank, kicked off the debate after he recently proposed issuing 5 trillion yuan (US$700.5 billion) in special Treasury bonds to help stabilise the economy...
For defenders of central bank independence, Liu’s idea risks opening a Pandora’s Box in China.
Former PBOC deputy governor Wu Xiaoling said there must be constraints on government expenditure to ensure the efficiency of fiscal spending.
“Budget deficits can be enlarged during times of economic crisis, but [we] must balance saving the economy with fiscal discipline,” she said in comments posted to the website of the China Wealth Management 50 Forum on Wednesday.
Central China's Hubei Province launched 464 new projects with an average investment of more than 100 million yuan (about 14.16 million U.S. dollars) in April, according to local authorities.
The province, once hardest hit by the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), has launched a total of 979 projects between the Spring Festival, which fell on Jan. 25, and April 30, covering transportation infrastructure, environmental protection and other fields.
A national campaign to boost the employment and entrepreneurship of Chinese university graduates will be launched from May to August, according to the Ministry of Education (MOE) on Wednesday.
During the campaign, jointly implemented by the MOE and five other departments and units, measures including expanding enrollment for higher education and creating more jobs at the grassroots level will be carried out.
The ministry has arranged to expand postgraduate enrollment by nearly 190,000 this year. In addition, over 400,000 graduates will be recruited as teachers of kindergartens, primary and secondary schools.
many restrictions remain in place at such attractions, including limits to tourist numbers, and requirements for people to wear face masks and often book visits in advance.
Disney is taking similar steps at its Shanghai theme park, which normally has capacity to host about 80,000 visitors per day. The government has requested the park initially cap the number of daily visitors at about 30% of capacity, or around 24,000 per day
China’s rebound from the Covid-19 epidemic has so far been better than expected and economic growth in the second half of the year will continue to gradually improve to “more or less the potential growth rate,” central bank Governor Yi Gang said [video of Yi Gang speaking April 17, in English], although he cautioned that much will depend on how the rest of the world recovers.
Speaking at an online roundtable organized by Caixin on April 17, Yi said that throughout the outbreak of the virus, China’s strategy was to make safeguarding lives the top priority, which inevitably had a significant impact on the economy. Macroeconomic policy was focused on stabilizing employment and the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) played its role by supporting companies, especially small and midsized enterprises, and trying to help them in terms of cash flow...
Yi said he would like to see the tech companies provide more competition for traditional banks. “[T]hey make better services, they use big data, they can control nonperforming loans and they know more information about their clients,” he told the roundtable. “That’s also a hint to commercial banks to improve their services.”..
In terms of making it easier for foreign companies to access China’s markets, Yi said, “[W]e are going to continue to work on the barriers and to remove the red tapes on China’s domestic equity and fixed-income market and make it basically open to the entire world.”
6. The outbreak
29 COVID-19 patients are currently receiving treatment in local hospitals, the authorities said.
Beijing government sats still not OK for people in the city to play soccer, volleyball or basketball
Nucleic acid tests have covered all patients confirmed or suspected to be infected with the virus, their close contacts and patients with fever, as well as newly admitted inpatients, Zhao said, noting that the province will further increase its detection capacity to ensure the reopening of schools and resumption of work.
Heilongjiang reported no newly confirmed COVID-19 cases Tuesday. The province had reported a total of 558 locally transmitted confirmed COVID-19 cases and 386 imported cases by Tuesday.
Chinese youngsters in the global coronavirus epicenter of Wuhan filed back to class on Wednesday, wearing masks and walking in single file past thermal scanners. Senior school students in 121 institutions were back in front of chalk boards and digital displays for the first time since their city — the ground zero of the coronavirus pandemic — shut down in January.
American pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly & Co. set up a partnership with Chinese drugmaker Shanghai Junshi Biosciences Co. to jointly develop new antibody therapies for Covid-19, the disease that has sickened 3.6 million people worldwide.
7. Hong Kong
China’s Hong Kong affairs office warned on Wednesday that the city will never be calm unless “black-clad violent protesters” were all removed, describing them as a “political virus” that seeks independence from Beijing...
The Hong Kong and Macau Affairs office warned that China’s central government will not sit idly by “with this recklessly demented force in place” and that China’s central government has the greatest responsibility in maintaining order and safeguarding national security.
“The scorched-earth action of the black-clad violent protesters is a political virus in Hong Kong society and a big enemy to ‘one-country-two-systems’,” the office said in a statement on Wednesday.
Comment: The term "political virus 政治病毒" seems to be gaining traction. See the April 28 newsletter - "Political virus"; Australia-China tensions; Anger at Pompeo; 900m China Internet users; Two meetings
A couple of quick items, and then I’ll take a handful of questions. First, I mentioned Hong Kong last week. Right now we are delaying our report to Congress that will assess Hong Kong’s autonomy, to allow us to account for any additional actions that Beijing may be contemplating in the run-up to the National People’s Congress that would further undermine the people of Hong Kong’s autonomy as promised by China when they entered the agreement with the people of Hong Kong.
Comment: Specifically there are concerns that the NPC may do something around Article 23. Not sure what they can do, but no harm in delaying until the NPC to see what may or not happen.
Hong Kong’s police chief effectively declared war on Apple Daily on Tuesday, accusing it of running a targeted campaign against him, and revealing that the tabloid-style newspaper was being investigated for alleged fraud and land-lease violations.
Police commissioner Chris Tang Ping-keung told lawmakers that the newspaper, which accused him and some senior officers of violating housing rules in recent reports, escalated its attack on the force after its founder, media tycoon Jimmy Lai Chee-ying, was arrested over his participation in illegal anti-government protests last year.
The most influential annual prize for US journalists has once again showed the double standards and bias of mainstream Western media, and it has lost its reputation among the Chinese public, as the 2020 Pulitzer Prize Winner in Breaking News Photography was awarded to Reuters, which delivered extremely one-sided information about the Hong Kong turmoil in 2019.
The awarded works from Reuters include photos on the violent conflict between the rioters and Hong Kong Police. But they only put up the ones that make rioters look like victims and show the moments of police law enforcement looking violent. Even if there were a few photos which showed the illegal activities of the protesters, such as attacking ordinary people, the captions still tried to imply the victims were not innocent since they were "pro-China" or "pro-Beijing."
No commercial property transactions in the first quarter involved a buyer from mainland China, the first time that's happened since 2009, according to CBRE Group Inc., which tracks deals over HK$77 million (S$14 million). It's in stark contrast to a few years ago when Chinese investors were snapping up offices and retail space for eye-popping prices.
Comment: Waiting for politically driven bargains over the next few months?
According to advance estimates released on Monday, gross domestic product (GDP) contracted on an annual basis for the third straight quarter, the deepest for a single quarter since records began in 1974, and worse than the previous low point of 8.3 per cent in the third quarter of 1998 during the Asian financial crisis.
8. Foreign work
The world initially met the crisis in an uncoordinated fashion. It is now clear that the only way out of it is together. And that is also true of the many other areas in which the world needs the cooperation of Europe and China, such as climate action, peace and security, sustainable development and upholding the multilateral global order. The EU and China can push forward all of these and more, together.
The authors are the EU ambassador to China and the ambassadors to China of the 27 EU member states. The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily.
This from a Buzzfeed reporter, quite embarrassing, and revelatory:
China is ready to continue helping Uzbekistan fight the COVID-19 pandemic, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Tuesday in a telephone conversation with his Uzbek counterpart Abdulaziz Kamilov...
For his part, Kamilov said the Chinese people, who have demonstrated unprecedented unity and great perseverance in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, can withstand any difficult test, adding that China's experience and achievements against COVID-19 have set an example for all countries around the globe.
Kamilov expressed his country's gratitude for China's selfless help, saying that Chinese medical experts have played an important role in Uzbekistan's combat against COVID-19.
Chinese Ambassador to Singapore Hong Xiaoyong handed over the donation to Singapore's Senior Minister of State of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Transport Lam Pin Min at a ceremony here Tuesday.
The Chinese government and the Red Cross Society of China have contributed 500,000 surgical masks, 100,000 KN95 masks and 20,000 N95 masks to Singapore's national stockpile to assist in the Singapore government's efforts to manage the deadly virus.
The medical supplies were handed over to the Minister of State for Mashonaland West Province Mary Mliswa by the Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe Guo Shaochun at a ceremony in Harare.
Goods donated include 12,000 face masks, and 1,000 protective suits.
Speaking at the handover ceremony, Guo said the donations are a symbol of the friendship and the fraternity between Zimbabwe and China.
People’s Daily praised the Chinese tech companies like Tencent, Alibaba and Huawei for providing both the software and hardware that help foreign countries and the UN to do teleconference, online courses and online medical diagnosis.
Australia says its purchase of 10 million coronavirus test kits from Chinese genomics company BGI will not risk patient privacy, as researchers hope for greater price competition in a biotech market dominated by a U.S rival.
The deal was struck even as relations between Australia and China have been strained by Australia's call for a global enquiry into the coronavirus outbreak
Chinese assistance to help Tanzania combat COVID-19 is timely and useful, and the African country will continue to cooperate with Beijing in the virus fight at the bilateral and multilateral levels, Tanzanian Ambassador to China Mbelwa Kairuki recently said in a written interview with China Daily.
Given the soaring global demand for medical supplies and the capacity of Tanzania's health system, the delivery of personal protective equipment and ventilators from China is highly appreciated, he said.
In a heart-wrenching move, the U.S. federal government recently ordered 100,000 new body bags for what it feared the "worst-case" scenario as the coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage through the United States.
The situation in what is now the world's epicenter for the pandemic has already become utterly calamitous, with over 1.2 million infections and more than 70,000 deaths so far. The latest body bag order suggests a possible turn for the worse.
Few across the globe could predict such chaos for the world's sole superpower. The word "botched" is widely used by western media in describing Washington's response to the pandemic.
Negligence in the nascent days of the outbreak by the decision-makers in Washington is considered one of the major causes.
The U.K. government is undergoing a "mindset change" with regard to Beijing "not least because of the attitude, the conduct of China throughout COVID-19," said Tobias Ellwood, who chairs of the defense committee in the House of Commons, in a video call with POLITICO.
He added that China had been "less than transparent, in denial about how this started in the first place [and] not a country that we should be cozying up to to do long-term security deals with ... I do think that the COVID-19 experience, and China's clandestine conduct here, will help sharpen opinion."
As of April 30, Health Canada had ordered 1.8 billion units of PPE, from masks to gloves to gowns. Of the 36 devices approved so far under the order, 34 are manufacturers in China, including Wuhan Orient Honest International Trade Co., Shandong Zhushi Pharmaceutical Group Co., and Peek-a-Boo! I A See U!.
China wants the world to focus on its success in eradicating the virus domestically and its international distribution of masks and medical equipment, rather than its cover-up of the initial outbreak. But its belligerent approach to foreign affairs is betraying its self-styled image as a tightly controlled technocratic state, which, having wondrously lifted millions out of poverty and crushed a novel coronavirus, is about to wield its power, with unstoppable effectiveness, on a global level. The lesson from these ill-advised Wolf Warriors is that the Communist Party is prone to miscalculations and self-harm. Beijing is willing to turn potential partners into rivals, but it will not necessarily outsmart them.
Comment: For all the talk about "wolf warrior" diplomats, i worry more about the "wolf warrior" officers in the PLA. They may be in a position to do much more harm
Business, Economy and Trade
Foxconn Rebuffs Rumors of Mass Layoffs, Unpaid Leave - Yicai Hon Hai Precision Industry, a major maker of iPhones, has dismissed hearsay that it is laying off large numbers of staff and forcing others to take four months’ unpaid leave because of a drop in sales of Apple’s smartphones amid the coronavirus pandemic, The Beijing News reported today.
Virus Blame Game Fuels Exodus From Two Big ETFs Focused on China - Bloomberg Traders pulled a record $193 million from KraneShares CSI China Internet Fund on Tuesday, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The $2.1 billion ETF, ticker KWEB, has giants such as Tencent and Alibaba among its top holdings. Meanwhile, BlackRock’s $3.8 billion iShares China Large-Cap exchange-traded fund, or FXI, saw its biggest drawdown since July.
Alibaba Acquires Majority Stake in Singapore's AXA Tower - PingWest Alibaba Singapore, a unit of Alibaba, will purchase the stake in the 50-floor Axa Tower in downturn Singapore from a consortium of investors led by Singapore-listed Perennial Real Estate Holdings. The property deals worth USD1.68 billion, which is the biggest commercial deal in Asian city-state since 2017.
China's Kweichow Moutai Hits All-Time High of USD183.40 - Yicai market value climbed by 2.7 percent to CNY1.63 trillion (USD229.9 billion) with its equity price reaching CNY1,300
Yicai - China UnionPay Transactions Jumped Over Labor Day Holiday as Spending Picks Up Almost 8 percent more transactions were made each day over the five-day holiday just ended than during the Qingming tomb sweeping festival and 16 percent more than over the non-holiday weekends last month, according to data released by the Shanghai-based financial services provider today. The total tally reached CNY1.57 trillion (USD221 billion) over the five days, it added.
China to build another 46 integrated pilot zones for cross-border e-commerce As required by the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council, the new zones should adhere to new development concepts and draw experience from existing zones to drive industrial upgrading and transformation, boost brand building, and propel cross-border e-commerce across the board.
Vibrations won’t affect safety, durability of China's first large suspension bridge: experts - Global Times Authorities in Guangzhou, South China's Guangdong Province, are carrying out a thorough check into a local sea bridge due to apparent abnormal shaking of the bridge over two days. While many netizens are horrified by the shaking, experts explained the phenomenon to ease the public concerns, saying that it would not affect the security and durability of the bridge.
Financial institutions to keep tabs on risks of products - China Daily "The Financial Stability and Development Committee stressed that financial institutions should have greater risk awareness when they are designing products and better control risks during the process of transactions, which is the necessary outcome of intensified risks and rising uncertainty in the current global financial market," said Zeng Gang, deputy director-general of the National Institution for Finance and Development. "The committee also required financial institutions to better protect consumers by fully disclosing product information in a timely manner, fulfilling their contractual obligations, and selling products to the right investors whose risk tolerance matches the level of product risk," he said.
Chinese Chip Giant Prepares to Build Its War Chest During U.S.-China Tech Battle - WSJ $$ SMIC said in a regulatory filing late Tuesday that its board approved a plan to sell up to 1.69 billion new shares—representing about a quarter of the company—in a listing on the Science and Technology Innovation Board, the Shanghai Stock Exchange’s fledging Nasdaq-style venue.
Testing firm-level data quality in China against Benford’s Law - ScienceDirect The authenticity of China’s economic data has long been questioned. We use a new statistical method, Benford’s test, to evaluate data quality of the Chinese Industrial Census (CIC). We show that the method is effective to uncover data irregularities. Based on predicted industrial output by variables that are less manipulatable, such as employment and electricity, we further demonstrate that firms of different ownership types display different behavior in terms of the direction of data manipulation. We find no conclusive evidence of data manipulation by state-owned enterprises (SOEs), whereas private firms tend to under-report performance
U.S. Broker Tightens Margin Trading on Chinese Stocks After Scandals - Caixin Interactive Brokers LLC, which operates an electronic trading platform for a range of securities including stocks, bonds, and futures, told clients last week that some accounts holding concentrated positions of China-domiciled companies with a small market capitalization will be subject to higher margin requirements.
World Bank debars China power company for fraud | The FCPA Blog LEEEC failed to disclose a conflict of interest and misrepresented its past contract experience, which is a fraudulent practice, the World Bank said. The $210 million World Bank-funded project was designed to increase the capacity and improve the reliability of the electricity transmission and distribution system in Lusaka, Zambia.
China Wealth Fund’s Head of Multi-Asset Group Resigns - Bloomberg Wallace Yu has resigned as head of the multi-asset group at China’s $941 billion sovereign wealth fund, according to people with knowledge of the matter, joining a string of senior executive departures in recent years.
Top Financial Committee Locks In on Trading Risks, Financial Fraud - Caixin The top Chinese financial regulatory body urged institutions to strengthen risk controls on investment products linked to international commodities and pledged “zero tolerance” for financial fraud following market turmoil surrounding a state bank and a high-flying New York-listed startup. The Financial Stability and Development Committee (FSDC), a cabinet-level body under the State Council established in 2017 to oversee various agencies supervising the financial sector, for the first time emphasized financial risks associated with international commodity markets at a Monday meeting chaired by Vice Premier Liu He.
Exclusive: Bank of China Mulls Payout to Investors Who Lost on Risky Oil Bets - Caixin Clients who put up to 10 million yuan ($1.4 million) into the bank’s Yuan You Bao, or Crude Oil Treasure, product may be able to get back 20% of their original investment, sources with knowledge of the matter told Caixin. That would cover most of the 60,000 investors who bought the risky product that allowed them to speculate on changes in the price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures. However those who stumped up more than 10 million yuan, believed to total fewer than 100 customers, will get nothing and will have to bear the entire loss themselves, the sources said.
Politics and Law
锻造公安铁军 护航平安中国 - 《 人民日报 》（ 2020年05月06日 01 版） 如今，智慧警务让服务更“聪明”。在上海，“智慧公安”建设依托“互联网+公安政务服务”，将公安数十项公共服务事项和全部行政审批事项接入网上政务大厅，在线办理群众预约、申报、查询等事宜。在广东，通过实施智慧新警务战略，借助“互联网+”、大数据、人工智能等技术，打造了综合服务大厅、“网上服务中心+微信”、24小时自助服务区等多元一体的现代公安服务体系，用科技打通服务群众“最后一公里”。// Article on front page of the Wednesday People’s Daily praised the Ministry of Public Security for their great achievements in the past year and their loyalty to Xi Jinping and the party. Among other things it said China has busted more than 2900 mafia organizations and cracked more than 350,000 criminal cases in the anti-mafia campaign. The article also said, as part of the efforts to learn from Xi’s “Fengqiao experience”, the police force has done a good job in deploying more officers to the villages and grassroots levels. Currently there are 772,000 police officers stationed in villages across China. And they are improving their technical capabilities.
曝習近平最新三大「摻沙子」操盤手(組圖)|習近平 | 王小洪 | 賀榮 | 唐一軍 | 評析 | 看中國网 4月24日，官方宣布免去王小洪北京市公安局局長職務，這是為準備接管已臨退休的趙克志的公安部部長職務做準備。一旦王小洪正式上位，習在政法系統「摻沙子」策略成功大半，下一步可能就是要動政法委...這個賀榮，是名女官員，此前並未引起注意。她在4月29日被中共全國人大常委會任命為最高法院副院長。 // Wang Xiaohong is no longer chief of the Beijing Public Security Bureau. Is this paving the way for him to replace Zhao Kezhi as Minister of Public Security? This report also says to pay attention to He Rong. In April she was moved from deputy Party Secretary of Shaanxi to be executive vice president of the Supreme People's Court, speculates these are part of Xi's moves to finally take full control of the Politics and Law System in the runup to the 20th Party Congress.
广东省委统战部副部长黄强接受审查调查————执纪审查——中央纪委国家监委网站 Huang Qiang, former deputy director of the Guangdong provincial United Front Work Department, is under investigation
Boarding Preschools For Uyghur Children ‘Clearly a Step Towards a Policy of Assimilation’: Expert - RFA Recently, an official notice circulated by the government education authority in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), stating that all preschools in Hotan (in Chinese, Hetian) prefecture’s Qaraqash (Moyu) county are to be converted into boarding schools, has spread widely on WeChat and other social media platforms in China. According to the directive, guardians are required to drop children off at the schools on Monday morning and are not permitted to pick them up until Saturday. The notice has prompted concerned discussion among Uyghur-language accounts and groups on social media, including Uyghurs in the diaspora. While RFA’s Uyghur Service was able to confirm the authenticity of the order with a government employee in Qaraqash, it was not immediately clear whether the new policy is effective across the XUAR or only within the county.
China Jails Hubei Bank Clerk For Critical Social Media Posts - RFA Liu Yanli was sentenced to four years' imprisonment by the Dongbao District People's Court in Hubei's Jingmen city, which found her guilty of "picking quarrels and stirring up trouble," a public order charge frequently used to target peaceful critics of the regime. Liu, a 45-year-old former bank clerk, was accused of criticizing the ruling party and Chinese leaders, "maliciously speculating on hot topics in current affairs," based on social media posts from four years ago, her sister told RFA in a recent interview.
紧紧围绕“六稳”“六保”跟进监督保障落实 为完成全面小康目标任务提供坚强保证————头条——中央纪委国家监委网站 “四个意识”、“四个自信”、“两个维护”的伟力，对整个党和国家的重要性，越是在关键时候，越能够充分彰显，纪检监察机关承担着“两个维护”的特殊使命和重大责任，既要带头做到“两个维护”，又要结合职责督促推动全党切实把增强“四个意识”、坚定“四个自信”、做到“两个维护”落到行动上，这是严明政治纪律政治规矩的核心要求；政治监督是历史的，也是现实的、具体的，主要任务是维护党章和其他党内法规、检查党的路线方针政策和决议执行情况等，实践要求是党中央重大决策部署到哪里、监督检查就跟进到哪里，纪检监察机关现阶段履行监督职责、加强政治监督包括巡视监督，就是要不断对标对表党中央重大决策部署，该跟进的跟进、该加强的加强 // CCDI on the political tasks around the 6 stabilities and the 6 ensures
Foreign and Defense Affairs
China Coast Guard Increases Presence at Scarborough Shoal - RFA The China Coast Guard deployed three ships to the Scarborough Shoal on Tuesday, days after China announced a ban on fishing there and at other disputed parts of the South China Sea, ship-tracking software shows.
China's Marine Corps to operate in all terrains around globe to serve nation - Global Times The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy Marine Corps is striving to become a multidimensional force that operates beyond oceans and fights in all terrains around the world to serve as a fast-reacting force to protect China's growing overseas interests, in addition to the conventional task of conducting amphibious landing missions, like securing islands and reefs close to the mainland, potentially including those in the South China Sea and the island of Taiwan, experts said on Wednesday.
赵启正：新闻发言人的使命与智慧_观点频道_财新网 Zhao Qizheng, former director of the State Council Information Office, writing in the latest issue of 《新闻战线》"News Battlefront", and reprinted by Caixin, on what makes a good spokesperson...this article is seen by some as a indirect criticism of Zhao Lijian if not also his boss Hua Chunying...certainly lots of grumbling abut Zhao et al in some quarters, but does not look like the leader who matters is unhappy with the performances
Democracies need alliances to secure vital supply chains | The Strategist - Charles Edel Before the pandemic, there was increasing talk in Canberra, Washington and elsewhere about the need to diversify supply chains, build better economic resilience among democratic nations, and tighten coordination among allies to enable them to resist China’s state-led economic and political coercion. This discussion had only recently begun gaining steam, but it has now burst into public view because the debate is no longer theoretical. Developed countries like Australia and the United States now realise that they are dependent on China not just for education and tourism dollars, but also for the production of essential items such as healthcare equipment and pharmaceuticals.
Stop maltreating Africans in China! Opinion — The Guardian Nigeria News – Nigeria and World News only an Africa-China cooperation based on mutual respect and the principle of reciprocity can strengthen global peace and prosperity. But Africans should not be held responsible if such a worthy purpose flounders on the rocks of disdain and mistreatment of Africans by Chinese citizens. Respect begets respect.
Kenya starts linking Chinese-built modern railway to older line in central region - Xinhua The plan involves about 240 kilometers, linking the old meter gauge railway line from the Nanyuki town to the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) in the capital Nairobi. "The rehabilitation of the old railway line is in the final stages. It should be operational by June 2020," said Phillip Mainga, the managing director of the Kenya Railways Corporation.
Will Huawei turn out to be a paper tiger? - The Washington Post - David Ignatius Kurt Campbell, the chief Asia strategist during the Obama administration, who now heads a consulting firm, explains: “As in the past — with the supposed ‘missile gap’ between us and the Soviets in the 1950s and the supposedly unstoppable Japanese economy in the ’80s — we have ‘10-footed’ Huawei. The company is not the nimble dynamo depicted in the media.”..But every technology gets disrupted eventually, and experts say that’s going to happen to 5G. A new approach known as O-RAN (which stands for Open Radio Access Networks) will someday replace Huawei’s hardware with software-driven networks that will be faster, safer and more secure. Backing this approach is an alliance of 23 major telecom companies, including AT&T and Verizon.//Isn’t O-RAN years away, so by the time it is ready Huawei will already be embedded in many systems?
Hong Kong and Macao
《南早》管理層迫簽協議放無薪假 員工促延遲「死線」承諾補償損失未獲回應 ｜ 即時 ｜ 要聞 ｜ 20200505 Apple Daily reports says South China Morning Post has told its journalists to to sign on to a "voluntary" pay cut program, or otherwise there will be job cuts. That does not sound "voluntary"... And apparently the SCMP is going to put the paywall back up. Interesting moves by Alibaba, keeping the SCMP well-funded should be a drop in the bucket for Baba.
Tech and Media
No Singin’ the Blues Here: Band Changes Lyrics for State TV | Sixth Tone During a music festival broadcast on Hunan TV to commemorate Youth Day on May 4, viewers noticed that some of the lyrics to New Pants’ 2016 hit single “Do You Want to Dance?” had been changed to strike a more harmonious chord. In the modified version of the song, lyrics about sadness, loneliness, and cold-heartedness were replaced with references to happiness, liveliness, and romance.
Evernote China's Spin-Off Squatted Notion's Trademark: Record- PingWest Yinxiang (印象笔记), a Chinese note taking app that spun off of Evernote's Chinese business in 2018, was found to have squatted trademarks of Notion Labs, the San Francisco-based startup behind popular collaboration software Notion. According to Qichacha, a Chinese enterprise information platform, Beijing Yinxiang Biji Technologies Co. Ltd filed, in two classes, a total of 4 registrations of trademarks that visually resemble Notion's logo
The Hedge Fund Man Behind Pro-Trump Media’s New War on China - The Daily Beast A fortune made at a secretive hedge fund led by Robert Mercer — one of Donald Trump’s biggest donors — appears to be fueling a push for a confrontation with China across a number of connected media properties. A tax document not intended for public disclosure reveals that a branch of the Epoch Media Group — a conservative media empire controlled by Falun Gong, a Chinese spiritual movement with a stated goal of destroying the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) — received over $900,000 from and was formerly led by one of Mercer’s longtime employees, Huayi Zhang, at the hedge fund Renaissance Technologies.
Tencent-owned e-book platform facing writer backlash The uproar over e-book publisher China Literature is the latest dispute against Chinese tech giants facing increasing accusations of forcing exploitative rules on its partners by leveraging market monopolies
Zoom’s “Genuine Oversight”, Zoom’s Strengths and Weaknesses, Virality Versus Network Effects – Stratechery by Ben Thompson $$ The issue is what happens if the Chinese government were to ever come knocking, asking Zoom or some number of its employees to insert a vulnerability or a back door? It is very hard to argue that Zoom’s stringent review practices and strict oversight would prevent that from happening, given that those things don’t exist. And, unfortunately, if Zoom would prefer to silently edit material information in a blog post, it is very hard to believe that Zoom would volunteer information about government interference. China is a huge strength for Zoom — I suspect the company’s operations there are related to its ability to move fast, all with lower costs than its peers — but it also is a significant weakness. Zoom admits in its 10-K that even the perception of China being a security issue is a risk factor, and the company’s mistakes and lack of transparency are contributing to making that risk a reality.
Navigating a New Chapter for Zoom - Zoom Blog - Zoom CEO Recently, questions have also been raised about Zoom and China. At first, this seemed to stem from a temporary misconfiguration in our global data center routing that we fixed. But outside of that isolated incident, in the past few weeks, we have seen disheartening rumors and misinformation cropping up. I would like to set the record straight here.
Zoom Adds Board Member H.R. McMaster and Head of Global Public Policy and Government Relations Jonathan Kallmer to Leadership Team - Zoom Blog Zoom announced today that it has appointed Lieutenant General Herbert Raymond “H.R.” McMaster as an independent director on Zoom’s Board of Directors, effective May 6, 2020, and hired Jonathan “Josh” Kallmer as its Head of Global Public Policy and Government Relations, effective May 26, 2020. McMaster was the 26th assistant to the president for National Security Affairs. He served as a commissioned officer in the United States Army for 34 years before retiring as a Lieutenant General in June 2018.
Death of a Quantum Man - The Wire China - Shen Lu on Zhang Shoucheng The Wire has found no evidence that Zhang or Danhua did anything illegal, but in the days after his death a swirl of theories formed online. The most extreme claimed that the Chinese government had murdered Zhang to prevent the FBI from discovering the full extent of Chinese espionage. Or that the CIA murdered him to send a message to China. None of these theories were backed up by evidence and in a statement to The Wire, the Zhang family has said he was not being investigated by U.S. authorities at the time of his death. And yet for many online commentators, things just didn’t add up. If he wasn’t guilty of something, why would someone as charming, celebrated, and successful as Zhang take his life? In his suicide note, Zhang wrote, “Extreme depression insomnia just like 2015, can’t carry on anymore,” according to the San Francisco Medical Examiner report, which The Wire obtained.
Society, Arts, Sports, Culture and History
Li Hui Dead: Rising Chinese Art Star Dies of Illness at 43 – ARTnews.com Li Hui, an artist whose grandiose installations filled with lasers and lights earned him significant attention in the Chinese art scene, has died at 43. A release from the Donum Estate in California, which owns work by Li, said that he died of an illness.
Energy, Environment, Science and Health
Chinese surveyors set out to measure height of Mount Qomolangma - Xinhua Since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, Chinese surveyors have conducted six rounds of scaled measurement and scientific research on Mount Qomolangma and released the height of the peak twice in 1975 and 2005, which was 8,848.13 meters and 8,844.43 meters respectively
Rural and Agricultural Issues
China Focus: Farmers reap gains in livestream boom - Xinhua In late March, Taobao launched a project to cultivate 200,000 farmer livestreamers in cooperation with local agricultural and commercial bureaux. The sales volume of agricultural products is estimated to reach about 15 billion yuan via livestreaming this year.