Beijing cases; China CDC questions; Propaganda and censorship

The general trend in China’s fight against COVID-19 remains positive according to official data and pronouncements, but the authorities are clearly getting quite concerned about pockets of cases in Beijing proper. (see item#3 below)

There is also an interesting circular blame game going on about what the China CDC knew and when various levels of that bureaucracy knew it. The bottom line is that it appears plenty of people who were in position to do something knew about the outbreak very early on, and for a variety of reasons missed the early window. (see item#4 below)

The stock market declines ex-China over the last three days raise an interesting question about US-China coordination in the event of a real financial crisis. The US and China worked relatively well together to work through the 2008 financial crisis, but could they do the same now given the state of the US-China relationship?

This morning I started an open thread for paying subscribers, seeded with six questions. The responses are terrific, there are so many wonderful and smart people in the Sinocism community and I want to find ways to involve you even more in the newsletter. The thread is still open and I encourage you to take a look if you have not already.

Earlier this week I joined Ben Thompson on a podcast for subscribers to his excellent Stratechery Newsletter. It is a must-read if you are interested in global technology trends. Among the topics we discussed were China and COVID-19. Here are some of the excerpts from a much longer discussion:

Ben Thompson: One question that someone posed to me very early on in this, I think certainly after the Wuhan lockdown, was if this coronavirus is sort of China’s Chernobyl, and I immediately dismissed it out of hand. I’ve seen so many people say that China’s doomed, the end is impending. And they’ve been saying that for decades now. And yes, maybe at some point they’ll be right, but it’ll be the proverbial dead clock. In this case though, is there some reason to believe that there has been some sort of fundamental shaking of the broader population’s confidence in the government? Or is that probably reading too much into it with a Western mindset?

BB: There is a lot of anger about how the beginnings of this outbreak were handled and how there were the eight folks including at least one doctor who died who were reprimanded for posting in a WeChat group for medical professionals at the end of December that there was something like SARS going around Wuhan. And then obviously there was a bit of a coverup, there was a period where no new cases were announced, people went about their daily lives in Wuhan when other people in the Chinese system were aware that this virus was a real problem. And so there’s a lot of anger about how it was handled at the beginning.

What you’re seeing though, where I think it’s not the Chernobyl moment, is that actually the PRC and the CCP are still a highly functioning system and Xi Jinping and the Communist party have spent decades learning the lessons of the fall of the Soviet union and specifically, Xi has one quote from a few years ago where when he analyzes why the Soviet union fell and Gorbachev failed, was that no one was man enough to stand up. So I think what we’re seeing now is the the propaganda is in overdrive. The entire system, every sort of facet or component of the CCP in the PRC system has been mobilized. And, they clearly have made, I think, a lot of progress against this virus. Even yesterday, Xi Jinping held a teleconference for 170,000 cadres and made it very clear that the battle’s not won yet, but they’re making progress.

But I do think what we’re going to see out of this is there are a lot of people who are pretty pissed off. There are people, especially when the doctor, Dr. Li Wenliang, died who were pissed off, but the propaganda organs, security services, they’re all going to be working in concert to, on the one hand, spin this as this great and glorious victory for the superior system of Chinese socialism under the leadership of Chairman Xi or General Secretary Xi, and at the same time, the security services will use whatever course of measures necessary to silence and clean up anybody who would sort of try and argue with that narrative. And so I think that in many ways it could have been a Chernobyl moment, but I think the odds are that the CCP is actually going to pass it unlike what happened in the Soviet Union. Early on, I said this looked like an existential crisis. And I think, you can survive an existential crisis. I think this is the biggest crisis that the party has faced in many decades. But I think there’s a reasonably good chance that they’ll be able to come out of this declaring victory and, and being able to convincingly declare that victory both using effective propaganda and what they call public opinion management and control as well as bringing to bear whatever needs to be brought to bear on the coercive side.

The reality is if this virus really takes root in South Korea, Japan, or on other countries, a couple months from now, we may look back and especially in China and people say, “Hey, you know what, actually we did a pretty good job.” Right? And so it’s just this thing spreads globally. It actually benefits the party.

BT: I was going to ask you this next, my next question. To what extent is China, not that they would ever admit this, but basically rooting for a massive outbreak in the West just in part so that it makes the Chinese response relatively speaking, look better?

BB: That may be the case, but the problem with that is if it really is a massive outbreak in major economies like Japan, South Korea, the EU, the U.S. then China gets hit on the economic side. There are two things that the party is dealing with right now in terms of trying to manage this outbreak. One is actually controlling the spread of the virus, two is making sure that the economy doesn’t have a heart attack. Right now the economy has been shut down for several weeks longer than normal, so they need to get the economy restarted, and they need as much help as they can get from their overseas trading partners. So while there may be some people inside the system or some trolls out there who are rooting for this to spread in the West, that would actually be a disaster for China too.

BT:That’s a good point. I’m curious, does this virus and the fact it’s now characterize broadly speaking as the China virus deepen animosity between China and the U.S. and hasten this decoupling or separation that a lot of folks are clamoring for?

BB: I think there are certain areas where it has deepened animosity. I think the the official Chinese line is very aggressively anti-American about how the U.S. pulled out first or second and enacted a travel ban. They pulled out their entire diplomatic staff from Wuhan early on, but at the same time it’s interesting because Russia has done that now, and Russia’s actively hunting down Chinese people in Russia, and nary a peep from the propaganda organs in the foreign ministry complaining about Russia. So in some ways I think we’re back to the classic playbook where in a crisis the CCP loves to blame the Americans.

In terms of the decoupling, there has been a big push in a lot of quarters in the U.S., certainly in D.C. where I am now, for decoupling. In middle of January we had the signing of the phase one trade deal and it looked like that the momentum for decoupling had dampened a bit. I think this outbreak though will bring that momentum back in a much more kind of non-ideological or non-political way, because when you look at the reliance of the U.S. for example, on drug ingredients for pharmaceuticals, or the tech supply chain, and you can go down the list, where if it ends up being that the economic standstill in China continues for another few weeks, you do really start to see significant supply chain effects globally. That I think will help or will cause companies to take even more seriously the idea that they need to diversify their supply chains out of China, even though it’s extremely expensive and extremely difficult and extremely hard to find a replacement in other countries for certain types of supply chains.

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


The Essential Eight

1. The outbreak

Yicai Global - China Reports 433 New Confirmed Cases of Novel Coronavirus Infection, 29 New Deaths

Chinese health authorities said today that it received reports of 433 new confirmed cases of novel coronavirus infection and 29 deaths yesterday from 31 provincial-level regions and the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps.

Among the deaths, 26 were in Hubei province, and one in Beijing, Heilongjiang province, Henan province, respectively, according to the China's National Health Commission.

Hubei reported 409 new confirmed cases yesterday.

Number of new coronavirus cases reported in South Korea tops China for first time | South China Morning Post

The number of daily coronavirus infections in South Korea has exceeded those in China for the first time, with 505 new cases on reported on Thursday compared with 433.

Expert: Epidemic's end may come by end-April - China Daily

"That indicates people will be able to return to their normal work and companies resume normal operations and production by the end of April," Zhong Nanshan, an academician at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said at a news conference in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province, on Thursday morning...

Bill: This next bit is interesting. Does he have any evidence to support what would be certainly be a useful origin story for the CCP?

Zhong added that though the first case of novel coronavirus pneumonia was reported in China, its source may not come from the country.

Three military-led hospitals in coronavirus-hit Wuhan increase capacity to 2,900 beds - Xinhua

Three designated hospitals where military medics are tasked with treating patients of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus outbreak, have increased their total capacity to around 2,900 beds

In Depth: Covid-19 Outbreak Tests Medical Supply Chains - Caixin

Producing such items was a challenge by itself, not only due to labor shortages but also because such products are often made of highly specialized materials. Once products were made, getting them into the province was another major issue due to travel restrictions installed to contain the spread of the disease. Other issues also cropped up, such as counterfeiting and price manipulation.

经济观察报:【独家】北京知名连锁药店康佰馨公司董事长涉嫌大量销售假3M口罩 多人被捕

Economic Observer reports that the chairman and 21 other people at the famous pharmacy chain in Kang Baixin had been arrested and charged in Beijing for selling shoddy masks and jacking up the price. Hillhouse Capital Group owns 51% shares of the company.

新华:今年中考、高考如何因“疫”调整?

The ministry of education said it is assessing the impact of the virus and will decide later whether to put off the college entrance exam. So far most provinces, Hubei included, have not delayed the high school entrance exam or the college entrance exam, which are usually in May or June.

南方都市报:男子发表辱骂钟南山言论被行拘15日

Southern Metropolis Daily reported that the Guangdong Procuratorate had worked on 44 cases on crimes related to the virus. Among them, a man was detained for 15 days for insulting the epidemiologist Zhong Nanshan.

财新:湖北404名民辅警感染新冠肺炎 4人因感染身故

Hubei public security department said a total of 404 police have contracted the coronavirus. There are currently about 120,000 police on duty in Hubei

湖北潜江:主动报告且首次确诊新冠肺炎,奖励10000元

Qianjiang City in Hubei is offering a 10,000 RMB reward to new coronavirus patients if they report themselves to the authorities.


2. Economy

China's central bank to ensure ample liquidity through targeted RRR cuts - Reuters

The central bank will as far as possible reduce the impact of the epidemic so that economic goals for this year can still be achieved, Liu Guoqiang, vice governor of People’s Bank of China (PBOC), told a news conference in Beijing.

“We’ll further release the long-term liquidity via multiple open market operations,” Liu said, “And make targeted RRR cuts in appropriate time for banks that meet the requirement of releasing inclusive loans and serve the smaller firms.”

Key measures set to shore up economy - China Daily

Economists expect imminent accommodative measures to include the central bank further reducing the amount of cash that commercial lenders must put aside as reserves, offering more targeted relending to commercial banks and channeling more affordable funds into manufacturing, agricultural and trade sectors by boosting the role of State-owned policy banks.

China Blocks Access to Cheap Epidemic Loans for 48 Firms - Caixin

Some coal mining enterprises, for example, claimed to have started producing disinfectant and got themselves on the national list, a move questioned by at least one banker. “You have to ask yourself how much disinfectant could be accounted for in the total production capacity or in the total sales of a coal company?” a source working at a large bank asked.

China's railways see passenger trips rising amid work resumption - Xinhua

Since Feb. 20, the number of railway passenger trips has picked up with an average daily increase of 60,000, according to the company...

Meanwhile, a total 199,000 workers had resumed work at 2,817 construction sites of 90 key railway projects directly managed by the CSR.

China's top container ports unclog backlog as virus curbs ease - Reuters

Executives from U.S. poultry processor Sanderson Farms Inc (SAFM.O) said on an earnings call on Thursday that operations at China’s ports were slowly getting back to normal and most of its shipments have been delivered

Starbucks reopens China cafes after closures due to coronavirus - CNBC

CEO Kevin Johnson wrote in a letter to employees on Thursday that the company has 85% of its stores open across China, including its Reserve Roastery in Shanghai. Starbucks has roughly 4,300 cafes in the Asian country, which is its second-largest market

U.S. Companies in China Reveal Significant Negative Impact from COVID-19 - Member - News | AmCham China

ual before April 30, while close to one-fifth say 2020 revenue will decline more than 50% if the epidemic extends through the end of August.

In terms of economic outlook, nearly one-third of respondents expect a return to normal business operations by the end of March, while 12% project delays to extend through the summer. Meanwhile, more than half of respondents say it is too soon to determine the estimated cost of delays, though about 10% report they are losing at least half a million RMB per day.

EU firms ‘get another wake-up call’ about China and call for it to reform, as coronavirus hits profits | South China Morning Post

Nearly half of the European businesses operating in China expect a drop in revenue of more than 20 per cent because of the coronavirus outbreak, and see it as another wake-up call to rely less on China after its trade war with the US, a survey suggests.

The outbreak has hit foreign businesses severely, disrupting manufacturing and threatening to alter investment sentiment on China in the long run, according to a joint survey by the German Chamber of Commerce in China and the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China.

Chaguan - Covid-19 is teaching hard lessons about China-only supply chains | Chaguan | The Economist

Joerg Wuttke, the president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, says China’s dominance in sectors like pharmaceuticals and pesticides is a topic of concern when he visits officials in Berlin, Brussels and elsewhere. It does not help that China has shown itself willing to use trade to bully other countries during political disputes, as when it denied the export of rare earths to Japan in 2012. He does not expect firms to leave China altogether, because it drives global growth in so many sectors. But Mr Wuttke expects the epidemic to intensify European discussions about industrial policy. “The globalisation of putting everything where production is the most efficient, that is over.”

Chinese Businesses Optimistic During Coronavirus, Says Alibaba Research Unit | Alizila.com

In a survey of MSMEs, more than 66% of the nearly 24,000 respondents expressed optimism about business opportunities for the remainder of the year, despite short-term setbacks such as declines in orders and customers, delivery delays and tight cash flows caused by the outbreak. Some 14% said they even expect to see rapid increases in sales or profit, while 11% expected little impact to their business activities compared to last year.

Dim Sums: Rural China Economics and Policy: China Rice Procurement Ordered to Resume

Chinese officials have ordered state-owned companies to resume purchase of rice from farmers in northeastern provinces as they juggle the priorities of coronavirus prevention and forestalling a rice-marketing disaster.

Sinograin, the Chinese government's grain reserve corporation, says purchase of rice is about 20 days behind schedule in the northeastern provinces due to the coronavirus epidemic. Sinograin promises to place no limit on buying rice that meets quality standards.

新华:国家发改委下达57亿元文化旅游领域中央预算内投资

NDRC said the central government will allocate from its budget 5.7 billion RMB to invest in culture and tourism industry to make sure it survives the shock of the virus.  


3. Beijing cases

It is of the utmost political importance to keep Beijing safe from a large outbreak. The recent surge in cases in the capital means Party Secretary Cai Qi is under immense pressure and so expect the government to take extremely draconian measures if it looks like things are not under control. Fortunately the number of cases is still small but compared to other areas other than Hubei, and especially compared to Shanghai, the Beijing municipal government looks like it has mismanaged the response.

Protecting Beijing critical in China’s COVID-19 battle - Global Times

Beijing is facing mounting pressure in efforts to contain the novel coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19) as new confirmed infections surged due to imported cases of infection and cluster outbreaks.

Officials from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC) confirmed Thursday that the authorities put the capital on top priority of its epidemic prevention and control work, with measures benchmarking those adopted in epicenter Hubei and execution even more rigorous and decisive. ..

Beijing also issued a notice to all the local companies and organizations to ensure "zero infection," which is also a major political task related to the evaluation of local officials' performance, analysts said.

"The new infection cluster in Beijing showed that the head of the work unit hasn't strictly implemented control measures and managed its staff members," Zhu Sheng, vice head of Chaoyang district, was quoted as saying in media reports on Thursday...

Some residents and social workers in Beijing also suggested setting up checkpoints at highways or conducting a full-scale screening at communities where foreigners such as South Koreans and Japanese live, given the situation has been worsening in neighboring countries.

北京:当前湖北地区人员一律不得返京 _中国经济网——国家经济门户

Beijing blocks anyone in Hubei from returning to Beijing, in the wake of the infected released prisoner

China Launches Probe After Infected Ex-Con Travels From Wuhan to Beijing - Caixin

The patient, an elderly woman surnamed Huang, arrived in the Chinese capital in the early hours of Saturday following her release from Wuhan Women’s Prison, which has been ravaged by the ongoing Covid-19 epidemic. She was able to leave the central Chinese city despite showing flu-like symptoms and having to navigate stringent transportation restrictions designed to prevent the disease from spreading.

The case not only raises questions about the effectiveness of China’s citywide quarantines, but also marks the second time in a week that its opaque prison system has come under scrutiny for its handling of the epidemic.

北京发布“防止超市人员聚集”紧急通知-千龙网·中国首都网

Beijing issues rule that every shopper in a supermarket needs 2 square meters of space around them to prevent possible virus transmission

10 new Beijing NCP cases were close contacts - ECNS

The original patient, surnamed Sun, was a cleaner at an institution where the other 10 patients were working. Before the onset, all 11 people were living in the dormitory of the institution or working at the property management office beside the dormitory.

According to the Beijing Center for Diseases Prevention and Control, the source of Sun's infection was traced to a person Sun had close contact with from Handan, Hebei province.

The outbreak at the institution has identified 178 people having had close contact, and the municipal and district centers for disease control and prevention have conducted comprehensive disinfection work at the institution and implemented comprehensive measures such as health monitoring.

政事儿:1人传染10人,在京某事业单位发生聚集性疫情

Comment: I am hearing that the 10 cases are all cleaners at the “National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Team/Coordination Center of China”, a body affiliated with the Cyber Administration that is in charge of maintaining China’s Great Fire Wall.

Beijing reopens cinemas amid epidemic - Xinhua

The notice said cinemas are required to sell non-adjacent tickets in every other row in the early stage of reopening to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. The audience should have their information registered at the ticket office beforehand.

新华:北京警方侦办27起涉“疫”网络谣言案件,依法查处27人

27 people are detained or punished by Beijing police for fabricating rumors about the coronavirus, reported Xinhua.


4. Debate over the role of the Chinese CDC

Loopholes revealed in virus response system - Global Times

At the Thursday's press briefing, Zhong [Nanshan] also noted that in China, the CDC system is just a "technical department" with limited standing when he mentioned the shortcomings exposed amid the outbreak. And the CDC should be given more authority and its importance should be further highlighted.

Standing at the frontline of alarming the public on possible major public health crises, CDC, as an affiliate of the National Health Commission (NHC), should do research and offer advice, but ultimately it is not a policymaking organ in China, unlike the top and regional health commissions, according to analysts. And it is urgent to figure out how the CDC could play a bigger role in public health matters or have "a bigger say" in alerting the Chinese people about potential epidemic risks and sending out warnings instead of only focusing on doing research or publishing papers in medical journals…

A Beijing-based public health expert told the Global Times on Thursday that CDC experts in Wuhan failed to judge the situation beforehand and offer an accurate advice on prevention and control measures when there was already evidence of strong infectiousness and human transmissions. 

"Though these experts studied the virus samples, they lack epidemiological investigations and understanding to detect the situation at the early stage of the outbreak," the expert said.

The situation is in line with some media reports suggesting that central and regional health commissions - important government organs in releasing critical information to the public - are not usually chaired by officials with a medical background. But those officials usually play a major role in the decision-making process, the expert said.   

击鼓传锅进行时

This article went viral on WeChat before being censored. It recaps how, in the past month, the local government in Wuhan, the local CDC and central CDC have been giving different narratives to the media, in a bid to shift the blame to the other for the failure to notifying public earlier about the coronavirus. The bottom line is many people blew the whistle in late December and early Jan. The Wuhan CDC knew about it, the virus labs in Guangzhou and Shanghai knew about it, the central CDC knew about it but just no one told the public about it

卫健委官网上有篇特别的文章,值得技术分析

China’s CDC website published an article with the publishing date as Jan 14, claiming that the CDC had a meeting that day to discuss policies to control the coronavirus. The meeting claims that the transmission method of the new virus is still unknown, and the authorities should watch closely it closely. It suggested Wuhan cancel all major events and do not let people with fever symptoms leave the city. But Jan 14 is a week before the CDC finally told the public how serious the virus is and before the lockdown of Wuhan is. Some tech-savvy bloggers said according to the codes and url of the website, this article dated Jan 14 appeared to be put online in February. It suggests the CDC may be trying to shift the blame here as the angry public questions who the hell hid the truth in early days. This post that challenged the CDC has been censored.

高福领导的CDC为何遭遇信任危机?_中国经济网——国家经济门户

“Why the CDC led by Gao Fu is having such a trust crisis?” The feature story by China Newsweek said the China CDC, unlike its counterpart in the US, is weak in power and short in budget. The CDC is essentially sidelined in the government as people forget about SARS. The CDC can only “advise” the government what to do and the local CDCs are filled with people who have no background in health issues, let alone expertise.

This Caixin article has now been censored - 独家|新冠病毒基因测序溯源:警报是何时拉响的

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

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


5. Propaganda and censorship

A Fairy Tale Ending | China Media Project

ow do you ensure a story has a fairy tale ending? You write the ending yourself of course. In recent days, official state media in China have celebrated the publication of A Battle Against Epidemic: China Combatting Covid-19 in 2020, a book that compiles writing by official state media to paint a portrait of leadership resolve in the face of a major challenge.

So it seems that while we all wait to see how the Covid-19 fares in the rest of the world, the verdict is already out on the epidemic as a major show of resolve on the part of the Chinese Communist Party. The story has already been written.

According to the Xinhua News Agency release on the book, it “collectively reflects General Secretary Xi Jinping’s commitment to the people, his sense of mission, his far-reaching strategic vision and outstanding leadership as the leader of a major power.”

This is a narrative being pushed insistently in the People’s Daily and other Party-state media in recent days. The idea that the Chinese Communist Party, despite all evidence to the contrary, and despite the broad undercurrent of popular anger on Chinese social media, has faced the epidemic with great wisdom and effectiveness from the start.

Docuseries Profiles People at the Heart of the COVID-19 Crisis - SixthTone

As China continues to battle COVID-19, television crews are stepping in to document the lives of the common people at the center of the epidemic, with a new documentary series called “In Wuhan” premiering Wednesday on streaming site Bilibili.

Co-produced by Bilibili, state broadcaster China Central Television, and production crew FigureVideo, the documentary is slated to air weekly online, with eight episodes focusing on different groups of people based in the epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Comment: But some stories do not mesh with the propaganda narrative and so are disappearing

Hospitals Say Lancet Article’s Authors Weren’t Frontline Medics - SixthTone

In response to an article titled “Chinese medical staff request international medical assistance in fighting against COVID-19,” published in the influential British medical journal The Lancet, the emergency medical team dispatched from Guangdong to Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, issued a statement Wednesday saying the two authors, who claimed to be among the first medics from the southern province to arrive at the front lines, were never part of the team and the information in the article is false.

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

On Feb 26, 2020, we were informed by the authors of this Correspondence1 that the account described therein was not a first-hand account, as the authors had claimed, and that they wished to withdraw the piece. We have therefore taken the decision to retract this Correspondence.

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

Former CCTV host says China should apologise to world for coronavirus ‘mess’ | South China Morning Post

Qiu Menghuang posted the suggestion to Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, on February 20, prompting many users to leave messages criticising him before Qiu scrubbed all posts from his account.

“Even though the stereotype of ‘sick man of Asia’ has been shattered for over a century, can we be more gentle and apologetic in our tone, humbly put on some face masks and give a bow to the world and say ‘sorry for the mess’?” he wrote in the now-deleted post.

State Broadcaster-Turned-Citizen Journalist Incommunicado in Virus-Hit Wuhan - RFA

Li Zehua, who had quit his state-approved job at the behemoth broadcaster to dedicate himself to telling the truth about the epidemic via YouTube, went suddenly off air for the last time on Wednesday after reporting being followed.


6. US-China

Axios AM - 2. Behind the scenes

President Trump has warned HHS Secretary Alex Azar, along with other officials, not to criticize China's response to the virus.

"They have enough problems without you going out and saying they’re not doing enough," Trump said to Azar recently, a source familiar with their conversation tells Axios' Jonathan Swan.

U.S. Won’t Loosen Restrictions on Travelers From China, Trump Says - Caixin

The administration will only consider loosening the travel restrictions “when we are at a point where we don’t have a problem,” Trump said in response to a question from Caixin.

“We’re not going to loosen the travel restriction — that’s what saved us,” he said. “Had I not made a decision very early on not to take people from a certain area, we wouldn’t be talking this way. We’d be talking about many more people who would’ve been infected,” he said.

Hua Chunying lodges complaint over Pompeo's accusations - China Daily

Hua Chunying, director-general of the Foreign Ministry's information department, met with a senior official from the US embassy in China on Wednesday to lodge serious representations over US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's groundless accusations against China.

Citing China fears, Rubio urges CFIUS review of AT&T media deal - Axios

In the Feb. 26 letter addressed to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Attorney General Bill Barr, Rubio urged a review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) of AT&T's pending sale of its $1.1 billion stake in Central European Media Enterprises (CME Group) to PPF Group, the Czech firm....

In the letter, Rubio wrote that PPF and its CEO, Petr Kellner, "have a record of acting as China's proxies inside the Czech Republic."

The letter (PDF)

人民日报:美国在中国抗击疫情中表现如何?(国际论坛)

Page 3 People’s Daily article continued to criticize the US government for smearing China during the coronavirus outbreak and not actually delivering the 100 million USD aid it promised. But the article also praised the US companies, NGO, and Universities for their support to China. “The virus is like a mirror. It allows us again see the great friendship between Chinese and American people, and also allows us to see clearly the deeds of some American politicians who tried to hit [China] when [China] is in difficulty, and they only wish there will be more chaos.”


7. Battle over leadership World Intellectual Property Organization

Wang Binying and the Opportunity within the WIPO Crisis | China IPR - Intellectual Property Developments in China

The vote for WIPO Director General will be made in early March.  The Chinese candidate, Madame Wang Binying, is known to many in the foreign IP community in China, IP diplomats, and others.  She is currently a Deputy Director General at WIPO and is consider a front-runner for the position. Ms. Wang’s candidacy has elicited considerable opposition from many in the United States,  much of it ill-informed, but some of it raising legitimate concerns.  The Chinese media has responded in kind and accused the US of “bullying.”...

For me, Ms. Wang’s candidacy is clouded – but not precluded – by the long shadow cast by Francis Gurry on WIPO’s relationship with China, not by any necessary risk of “IP theft”, which is a term I abjure. I will discuss that issue later in this blog.

One concern is easily dismissed: Ms. Wang is eminently technically qualified to lead WIPO, as even some of her harshest critics note.

Don’t Let China Oversee World Intellectual Property Organization - Bloomberg OpEd by James Pooley

I used to run the patent system at WIPO. We deployed state-of-the-art security to protect our computer systems and worked in a separate, carefully guarded facility. But one person always held the key: the director general, who exercises control over every aspect of WIPO’s operations. That includes direct command of the IT department, which can override privacy and security controls.

Now consider that the leading candidate to win the post is Binying Wang, a deputy director general who joined WIPO in 1992 from the China Trademark Service. Wang is certainly well qualified. What’s problematic is the influence that China could wield over her tenure.

China says US is trying to block its candidate in race for UN’s intellectual property agency | South China Morning Post

Chen Xu, China’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, told reporters on Wednesday that Washington had turned the director general election on March 5 and 6 into a “political game” by rallying opposition to Beijing’s runner, Wang Binyang.

“The United States has no candidate of its own, yet it tries every means to block Ms Wang Binyang and even makes this venture its top diplomatic agenda,” Chen said.

“It is sad that the United States has gone so far as to warn some medium and small countries not to vote for China, or they will face consequences such as weakened relations with the United States or losing their World Bank and IMF loans.”

China Seeks to Lead the U.N.'s Intellectual Property Organization, WIPO - Foreign Policy 11.2019

a victory by Beijing would place a Chinese national at the head of five of the U.N.’s 15 specialized agencies. Chinese nationals currently lead the International Telecommunication Union, the International Civil Aviation Organization, the U.N. Industrial Development Organization, and the Food and Agriculture Organization.

No other country, including the United States, has more than one of its own nationals in a leadership position in a specialized U.N. agency.

Comment: I expect Ms. Wang will win.


8. Australia-China

Coronavirus Impact Hits Australia, Most China-Reliant Economy - Bloomberg

The coronavirus hit has exposed the extraordinary depth of Australia’s economic dependence on China and fueled questions over whether the nation is too reliant on the Asian behemoth...

Australia is the most China-reliant economy in the developed world, with about a third of its exports going there. Chinese nationals making up roughly 38% of its foreign students and 15% of its tourists...

“We have the world’s second-largest economy, the world’s engine of global growth, effectively in shutdown. It’s only a matter of time before this starts impacting on short-term corporate profitability,” said Pearce, CIO at the A$85 billion pension fund. “I’m astounded at how complacent the market has been.”

Question: But can Australia really diversify way from China without a huge hit to its economy?

Australian campuses offer cash, discounts to China students - AP

Australian universities are offering Chinese students stranded in their homeland travel money and discounted tuition and the largest campus delayed the start of the academic year, trying to keep their lucrative enrollments amid a viral outbreak.

Australia’s ban on travel from mainland China will not be lifted before classes begin at most universities next week, the government said Thursday.

The pitfalls of pragmatism in Australian strategic policy | The Strategist - Euan Graham

Australia’s roustabout China policy debate is intense and polarising, but largely exogenously framed. Beyond former prime minister Tony Abbott’s celebrated ‘fear and greed’ aphorism, not a lot of thought seems to be directed at why some Australians—and here I’m excluding those solely in it for the money—appear willing to resign themselves to falling within China’s orbit.

Theirs may be the more durable wisdom for all I know. But it leads me to wonder whether a predisposition towards fatalism and pragmatism may be cultural in origin—a trait shaped by Australia’s geographic isolation and colonial past.

National Foundation for Australia-China Relations advisory board members | Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Minister for Women

The board brings together eminent Australians with demonstrated expertise in business, academia, government, media, the arts and science, to advise the Foundation on ways to deepen cooperation with China.

United States and Australia Make Progress on Improving Critical Mineral Security - United States Department of State

The working group developed options for a joint action plan to improve critical mineral security and ensure future competitiveness of U.S. and Australian minerals industries, as agreed by President Trump and Prime Minister Morrison in Washington in September 2019. The working group agreed to reconvene in the coming months to advance specific steps to secure supplies of critical minerals.


Business, Economy and Trade

Daimler Slims Down China Venture in Global Cost Saving - Caixin Beijing Benz has terminated a number of management positions, mainly middle- and senior-level managers involving expatriate employees from Germany, a company source said on condition of anonymity. Some of the German managers have been transferred back to headquarters in Germany, the source said.

China’s cabinet makers lose US anti-dumping case as trade tensions remain despite phase one deal | South China Morning Post The US Department of Commerce said it had determined that Chinese firms had sold wooden cabinets and vanities at “less than fair value in the United States at rates ranging from 4.37 per cent to 262.18 per cent”, according to a notice published on the website of International Trade Institution on Monday.

Draft Version of Online Lending Law Proposes One Year, 300,000 Yuan Limits on Credit for Individuals – China Banking News The draft ver­sion of Chi­na’s “Com­mer­cial Bank In­ter­net Loan Pro­vi­sional Reg­u­la­tory Mea­sures” (商业银行互联网贷款管理暂行办法) out­lines tight re­stric­tions on the ex­ten­sion of credit by con­ven­tional lenders via on­line chan­nels.

Politics and Law

Xi Jinping has buried the truth about coronavirus | Ma Jian | Opinion | The Guardian The state media have posted photographs of pregnant nurses in hazmat suits serving on the frontline; there are masked patients in another field hospital being awarded party membership on their deathbeds, joyfully raising their fists in the air as they pledge undying loyalty to Xi. To anyone with a conscience, these sad individuals look like victims of an inhumane cult. That it is believed these snapshots could promote “positive energy” reveals the moral abyss into which totalitarianism has sunk the nation.

王岐山会见塞尔维亚第一副总理兼外长_CCTV CCTV Evening News - Wang Qishan meets Serbian Deputy PM, makes first appearance in propaganda since before Lunar New Year's Day,

Foreign and Defense Affairs

China Focus: Xi says China, Mongolia help each other in face of difficulties - Xinhua Hailing Battulga as the first foreign head of state to visit China since the outbreak, Xi said the special visit by Battulga to express consolations and support to China fully embodies the high attention he pays to the China-Mongolia ties and the profound friendship between the two peoples.

央视新闻:蒙古国总统向中国赠送30000只羊 The Mongolia president gifted China 30,000 sheep during his meeting with Xi Jinping. He didn’t actually bring the sheep. He brought a certificate for the sheep and gave it for Xi. 

新华:杨洁篪将访问日本并举行新一轮中日高级别政治对话 China’s ministry of finance announced that Yang Jiechi, director of the office at central foreign affairs commission will visit Japan on Friday for the China-Japan High-level Political Dialogue.

Confucius Institute at University of Arizona closing | tucson.com he Confucius Institute at the University of Arizona is closing on July 31 amid unspecified “changes in federal laws and policy,” the university says.

J-15 aircraft carrier-based fighter jet gets new anti-corrosion paint - China Military The latest batch of China's J-15 aircraft carrier-based fighter jet is getting new, green priming paint instead of the previous yellow one. Reports speculate it is a new anti-corrosion material that can enhance the aircraft's capabilities.

Chinese envoy criticizes untruthful accusations on Xinjiang at UN human rights session - Xinhua The accusers have defied facts, being either unaware of or unwilling to admit the truth about the human rights situation in China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, said Liu Hua, special representative for human rights of the Chinese Foreign Ministry. Even worse, some have employed human rights as a policy tool to smear and discredit China, Liu said, criticizing them for practicing double standards in regard to the counter-terrorism and de-radicalization measures China has lawfully taken in Xinjiang.

Conflict prevention in the South China Sea depends on China abiding by the existing rules of navigation | South China Morning Post the Chinese navy does not use CUES in the South China Sea. There are two possible reasons for this – one, orders have been given to Chinese navy ships not to use CUES or, two, ship personnel aboard Chinese warships do not receive adequate training in how to properly use CUES. Regardless, China is not abiding by the multilateral and bilateral agreements aimed at maximising safety at sea.

EU critical of China on Swedish dissident publisher - EU Observer The EU has joined Sweden in urging China to give consular access to a dissident book publisher, Gui Minhai, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Tuesday (25 February). But, unlike Sweden, the EU did not call for his release and it issued its statement at the lowest level possible.

How China uses national identity as a weapon | Financial Times - Yuan Yang $$ When I was waiting for my journalism visa to be processed, a police officer asked me — and the Chinese-American journalist in the queue behind me — where in China we were born. This is a discomforting question for foreign journalists with Chinese heritage. If we were Chinese citizens, we would be barred from working for foreign media. Beijing’s attitude towards ethnically Chinese foreign nationals, like Mr Gui, makes us wonder whether the state sees itself as the governor of ethnic Chinese people wherever they may be, rather than a state constrained by international law and diplomatic protocol. // Comment: Yes, it does see itself as the governor of ethnic Chinese people wherever they may be

U.S. General Links Chinese Hypersonic Glider To Nuclear Program | Aviation Week Network “Among the novel weapon systems China is testing is an intercontinental-range hypersonic glide vehicle—similar to the Russian Avangard—which is designed to fly at high speeds and low altitudes, complicating our ability to provide precise warning,” O’Shaughnessy said in written testimony submitted to the Senate Armed Services Committee on Feb. 13. The acknowledgment by the head of the North American Aerospace Defense Command that China is actively testing a nuclear intercontinental-range HGV took many nuclear and defense analysts by surprise.

Global Affairs warns Trudeau government about perils of deepening ties with China - The Globe and Mail In a transition briefing note for François-Philippe Champagne, who became Foreign Affairs Minister in November, officials of the Global Affairs Department caution the government that while Canada has for a long time seen China as primarily an economic opportunity, it must now consider the risks of deepening ties. "While Canada has long framed its China policy through the lens of economic opportunity, it now needs to take account of Beijing's long-term strategic challenge to Canada's interests and values,” the briefing note says.

Hong Kong and Macao

Budget 2020: anger as Hongkongers abroad to get cash handout, while recent immigrants miss out | South China Morning Post Hong Kong’s finance minister has defended eligibility rules for a HK$10,000 cash handout he announced on Wednesday, as residents criticised the exclusion of new immigrants while Hongkongers who have left the city stand to benefit.

Tech and Media

Toyota Leads New Funding Round for Chinese Self-Driving Startup - Caixin The fresh funds, of which $400 million came from Toyota, has almost doubled the startup’s valuation to $3 billion from a year ago. Toyota teamed up with Pony.ai in August to conduct self-driving tests on public roads in China.

Conclusions - Testing a Chinese x86 CPU: A Deep Dive into Zen-based Hygon Dhyana Processors In 2016, through a series of joint ventures and created companies, AMD licensed the design of its first generation Zen x86 processors to be sold into China. The goal of this was two-fold: China wanted a ‘home grown’ solution for high-performance x86 compute, and AMD at the time needed a cash injection. The outcome of this web of businesses was the Hygon Dhyana range of processors, which ranged from commercial to server use. Due to the Zen 1 design on which it was based, it has been assumed that the performance was in line with Ryzen 1000 and Naples EPYC, and no-one in the west has publicly tested the hardware. Thanks to a collaboration with our friend Wendell Wilson over at YouTube channel Level1Techs, we now have the first full review of the Hygon CPUs....Overall these Hygon CPUs offered China an alternative to the Intel market, and arguably something faster than they might have been able to purchase through import restrictions.

Shanghai to enforce real-name registration on subway · TechNode The southern city of Shenzhen and eastern China’s Ningbo rolled out similar systems last week, which in some cases apply to buses and taxis. The system in these cities is developed by gaming and social media giant Tencent.

Society, Arts, Sports, Culture and History

Google Translate adds five languages - Google Blog including Uyghur

Energy, Environment, Science and Health

National campaign aims to get wild animals off the table - Global Times Market supervision departments have so far inspected 4.6 million business venues and monitored 1.4 million e-commerce platforms urging them to withdraw, delete and block relevant information on wildlife. About 11,000 business operators were asked to shut down.

Chinese city of Shenzhen to ban eating cats and dogs as part of moves to stop spread of coronavirus | South China Morning Post The draft includes a “white list” of nine types of the only permitted meats, but the government has not said when it will vote on the measures The list includes pork, beef and chicken along with rabbits, fish and seafood. But it excludes pets such as cats and dogs, as well as other popular dishes in southern China like snakes, turtles and frogs.

The Moon’s farside shallow subsurface structure unveiled by Chang’E-4 Lunar Penetrating Radar | Science Advances The CE-4 LPR images provide clear information about the structure of the subsurface, which is primarily made of low-loss, highly porous, granular materials with embedded boulders of different sizes; the images also indicate that the top of the mare basal layer should be deeper than 40 m. These results represent the first high-resolution image of a lunar ejecta sequence ever produced and the first direct measurement of its thickness and internal architecture.

China’s BGI says it can sequence a genome for just $100 - MIT Technology Review Using technology originally acquired in the US, the Chinese gene-giant BGI Group says it will make genome sequencing cheaper than ever, breaking the $100 barrier for the first time.