Cautious optimism; Propaganda and censorship; Gui Minhai; Will the US expel PRC journalists?

Cautious optimism is growing that China has passed the worst of the epidemic, based at least on the official data. It is hard to know how much the positive energy is real as opposed to generated as part of the increasingly urgent push to restart the economy.

The positive energy efforts are coupled with increasingly aggressive support policies for businesses. The government needs to get cash flowing again in the economy very soon.

I am still sticking with what I wrote last week - Watch what the officials do, not what they say. Two unmistakable signs the Party thinks victory really is at hand will be:

  1. Xi visits Wuhan;

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

The virus is spreading globally and while outbreaks that damage the economies of major PRC trading partners would be bad for China, there is propaganda value for the CCP in being able to point to poor responses in other nations as further evidence of the superiority of the PRC’s system. Yes, I know that is cynical, sadly.

Sunday’s 170,000 cadres conference really was remarkable. Technology makes it easy for Xi to talk to 170,000 or more cadres, and he may be able to break through bureaucratic dysfunction by speaking to them directly, but will he now have to convene something like this every time he wants something important to get done? If you are an official will you decide it is safer to wait until you can hear from the people’s leader directly? And if Xi thinks convening this large a meeting is useful why wouldn’t he also start delivering daily video instructions to every Party member through the “Study Xi” app? Mao might be jealous…

Thanks for reading.


The Essential Eight

1. The outbreak

Drop in New Coronavirus Cases in China Offers Hope That Its Outbreak Is Ebbing - WSJ

Adding to the optimism, Chinese authorities on Tuesday reported just three new coronavirus deaths outside Hubei on the previous day.

“The risk of virus spreading widely in China has passed,” Hu Xijin, the editor in chief of the Communist Party publication the Global Times wrote on Twitter late Monday. “Wuhan is still in lockdown while new infection cases are steadily decreasing, even disappearing, in other areas.”

China promotes differentiated measures to curb epidemic - Xinhua

A circular, issued by the State Council's joint prevention and control mechanism, called for precise health monitoring of residents according to different risk levels.

The risk levels should be judged from people's travel and living records, health status and contact with epidemic cases, it explained.

People of high infectious risk should stay quarantined in designated hospitals, and medium-risk personnel should quarantine themselves at home, said the circular, adding that people of low risk could resume work if their temperature is normal.

Chinese provinces, regions lower coronavirus response - Xinhua

The eastern province of Jiangxi said that starting Tuesday, the emergency level will be lowered in 40 counties, cities and districts with low risks of infection.

In south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, authorities lowered the local emergency response from first-level to third-level at 8 p.m. Monday.

The emergency responses also turned to the third level from the first level starting on Monday in the southwestern provinces of Yunnan and Guizhou.

陈一新督导湖北监狱系统打好防疫保卫战-中国长安网

Chen Yixin visits the Hubei Administration of Prisons to ensure they are doing what they need to to prevent an outbreak in the prison system

湖北监狱系统罪犯确诊病例增至323人,超20名相关人员获处分

A total of 323 Hubei prisoners have been confirmed infected with the virus by Monday. The prisoners have been sent to hospitals for treatment, and a new field hospital will be built specifically for the prisoners. 20 officials have been disciplined.

Chinese universities to remain closed until effective control of epidemic - Xinhua

Opening dates of the new semester for colleges and universities should be, in principle, no earlier than the effective control of the novel coronavirus outbreak, China's Ministry of Education said Monday.

Antiviral drug Remdesivir gains three patents in China: official - Xinhua

The American pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences has applied for eight patents on the drug, three of which have been approved and the other five are being reviewed, said He Zhimin, deputy director of the National Intellectual Property Administration at a press conference

Guangzhou Family Cluster Appears to Experience Extra-Long Covid-19 Incubation - Caixin

Authorities in Guangzhou’s Liwan district announced (link in Chinese) over the weekend that several members of the family of six tested positive for Covid-19 following a near month-long quarantine after traveling to the city from the epicenter of the epidemic.

Coronavirus: Wuhan to quarantine all cured patients for 14 days after some test positive again | South China Morning Post

Decision follows several instances in which recovered patients were found to be still carrying the virus and able to infect others

On Empty Streets: Life as a Wuhan Deliveryman

Lao Ji is the alias of a Wuhan-based delivery driver.

China achieves notable results in blocking COVID-19 human-to-human transmission: China-WHO expert team - Xinhua

China has also played a critical role in protecting the international community, buying precious time for countries to adopt active prevention and control measures and providing them with worthwhile experience, the team said...

China is taking prudent, phased and orderly steps to gradually restore order in social, economic, education and healthcare sectors, it said, adding that other countries should swiftly reassess the measures taken toward China.

China probably saved hundreds of thousands of coronavirus cases-WHO - Reuters

Bruce Aylward, speaking at a joint press briefing with officials from China's National Health Commission (NHC), said multiple data sources supported the general downward trend in the number infections being reported by the commission despite some statistical issues observed in recent weeks.

WHO calls China's antivirus effort 'aggressive, agile' - China Daily

Liang Wannian, chief of the National Health Commission's institutional reform department and head of the Chinese expert panel, said one key understanding shared by all experts is that in Wuhan, the explosive growth of new infections is effectively curbed. But with over 400 new confirmed cases each day, containment measures must be maintained, with a focus on timely diagnosis and treatment, he added.

Coronavirus: secretive South Korean church linked to outbreak held meetings in Wuhan until December | South China Morning Post

Around 200 Shincheonji Church of Jesus members continued to meet in the Chinese city amid rumours of virus, but ‘no one took [claims] seriously’ at first

Chinese cities quarantine travellers from South Korea amid spike in coronavirus cases | South China Morning Post

From Weihai in the east to Yanbian in the northeast, authorities take measures including isolating people on arrival and closing tourist sites

中方是否会对日韩采取禁止人员入境等措施?外交部回应

China’s foreign ministry wouldn’t say whether it will limit or ban the entry of Japanese and South Koreans as the virus spread in the two countries. Spokesperson Zhao Lijian said only that China is willing to work with them to take “appropriate and necessary measures” to prevent international transmission. 

China fall in coronavirus cases undermined by questionable data | Financial Times $$

“Over the last week the virus has become politicised, with Xi Jinping stepping back centre stage,” said Rodney Jones, a veteran Asia watcher at Wigram Capital Advisors. “The dilemma for local governments is that high infection rates would now be seen as directly undermining Xi.”

Bruce Aylward, head of the World Health Organization’s foreign experts’ mission to China, acknowledged questions had been raised over the statistics. But, speaking on Monday at a press conference organised by the NHC, he added: “The decline that we see is real.”

Exclusive: Cluster of Death Found at Wuhan Nursing Home Near Seafood Market - Caixin

At least 19 people, mostly seniors, died in a social welfare facility in Wuhan located just one block away from the seafood market where the deadly Covid-19 outbreak is suspected to have originated, even though the local government acknowledged only one death from the virus.
As of last Thursday, 11 seniors died from respiratory failure after recurrent fevers, a nurse at Wuhan Social Welfare Institute told Caixin. She said the facility’s infirmary didn’t have Covid-19 testing capability and many medical workers have had fever symptoms.

‘I Felt Like Crying’: Coronavirus Shakes China’s Expecting Mothers - The New York Times

Pregnant women describe a lonely, sometimes terrifying experience navigating the country’s overburdened health care system during the outbreak.

Harvard scientists to collaborate with those in China on $115 million coronavirus effort - The Boston Globe

Dozens of prominent scientists from Massachusetts universities, hospitals, and biotechs are expected to converge Monday on Harvard Medical School for a four-hour closed-door meeting to brainstorm potential ways to treat and prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.

The gathering is an outgrowth of a newly announced $115 million collaboration between Harvard scientists and researchers in China who are battling the disease..

Harvard announced a five-year collaboration on Monday between scientists from its medical school and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health with the Guangzhou Institute of Respiratory Disease. The director of the institute is Zhong Nanshan..

The collaboration will be bankrolled by China Evergrande Group, a Fortune Global 500 real estate company in China. The giant company helped finance the Evergrande Center for Immunologic Diseases, a joint program of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School

[视频]中组部印发通知,要求各级党组织做好党员自愿捐款指导服务工作

The CCP Organization Department issued a notice telling all levels of party cells to organize “volunteer donations” among party members. The money will be used to compensate medics, cadres and police that work on virus control issues, as well as the family of those who died of the virus.

北京发布2月24日新冠肺炎新发病例活动过的小区或场所

Beijing confirmed another case of coronavirus, and the patient’s address-北京市朝阳区裕民路甲3号-made public by state media suggests he or she works the “National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Team/Coordination Center of China”, a body affiliated with the Cyber Administration some said is the main organization running China’s Great Fire Wall. It is unclear if the building has been closed off and how many there have been quarantined.


2. Economic impact

China to introduce strong financial measures to help smaller firms tide over difficulties - Xinhua

China will roll out a set of strong financial policies, including encouraging financial institutions to provisionally defer loan payments and increasing lending at concessional rates for micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, as part of effort to help them overcome temporary difficulties.

These decisions were made on Tuesday at the State Council's executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang...

For eligible micro-, small- and medium-sized firms, including household businesses, with temporary liquidity difficulty, financial institutions will be encouraged to provisionally defer their loan principal repayments. Their interest payments can be deferred to June 30, with penalty interest payments exempted. This policy shall apply to all types of businesses in Hubei Province...

It was decided at the meeting that the re-lending and re-discount quota will be increased by 500 billion yuan (about 71.2 billion U.S. dollars), with the bulk channeled to small and medium-sized banks to increase their credit support to micro-, small- and medium-sized businesses....

State-owned large banks are urged to increase the balance of their inclusive loans to micro and small businesses by no less than 30 percent year-on-year in the first half of this year. Policy banks will add a 350-billion-yuan special credit quota to be issued to micro-, small- and medium-sized firms at preferential rates. Guidance will be given to financial institutions to issue more low-interest loans targeting household businesses.

State Council unveils new measures to mitigate coronavirus impact on Chinese economy - Xinhua

The State Council, China's cabinet, on Tuesday unveiled a string of measures to facilitate the employment of college graduates and rural migrant workers, offer financial support to micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises and solve the difficulties of self-employed persons to reduce the impact of the coronavirus epidemic on the economy.

Millions Who Power ‘China’s Workshop’ Have Yet to Return, Mobile Data Shows - Caixin

An analysis of roaming usage patterns from Guangdong-registered mobile accounts showed that through Sunday some 10 million people were waiting to return to the wealthy province in South China, officials announced at a Tuesday briefing. That included 1.7 million people from Hubei province

Coronavirus: China introduces targeted coronavirus controls for each county | South China Morning Post

China will impose coronavirus controls on a county-by-county basis rather than introducing provincewide restrictions to encourage resumption of work and production.

The National Development and Reform Commission said that with the exception of those in Hubei province and Beijing, each county would be classified as either a low, medium or high-risk area, depending on conditions in each locality.

There’s a Record Stash of Steel in China as Demand Slammed - Bloomberg

The holdings -- which show big seasonal swings and normally peak in March -- jumped 14% to 10.8 million tons last week, the highest ever, according to Beijing Custeel E-Commerce Co. Inventories more than doubled since mid-January. Last year, China’s mills made almost 1 billion tons of steel in total.


3. Is Spring planting at risk?

The leadership seems very concerned.

Update: Xi stresses agricultural development for epidemic control, economic and social growth - Xinhua

President Xi Jinping has stressed the need to prioritize issues concerning agriculture, rural areas and farmers and improve weak links in order to provide strong support for winning the war to prevent and control the epidemic, as well as attaining objectives and targets set for economic and social development of the whole year.

"The more risks and challenges we face, the more we need to stabilize agriculture and ensure the safety of grain and major non-staple foods," Xi...made the remarks in a recent instruction on spring farming in the country....

Premier Li Keqiang, also a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, urged local departments to earnestly implement Xi Jinping's instructions to coordinate epidemic control with economic and social development while facilitating spring farming preparations.

The above instructions were delivered to the national teleconference on spring farming held Tuesday in Beijing, which was attended by Vice Premier Hu Chunhua.

习近平对全国春季农业生产工作作出重要指示-新华网

China’s Farmers Worried as COVID-19 Stifles Domestic Agriculture - SixthTone

Roads into villages have been blocked with barricades, and poultry and livestock markets remain shuttered. Xinfadi, the largest farmer’s market in Beijing, said in its latest weekly report that only 13 slaughterhouses in four northern provinces have resumed operations because so few workers have returned from their hometowns after the Lunar New Year holiday.

“The epidemic has created a situation where people can’t move and products can’t circulate,” Yang Jinghua, a researcher at the Beijing-based Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, told Sixth Tone.


4. Strengthening propaganda work and censorship

China’s Virus Censorship and Propaganda Draw Backlash - WSJ $$

Suspicion is running high that the government isn’t revealing the full extent of the epidemic. “I can’t really believe the official data showing large declines” in new Covid-19 cases outside of Hubei province, a Weibo user wrote, referring to the region in central China where the epidemic first emerged. “Because large numbers of new cases are political lapses, whereas smaller numbers of new cases are political achievements.”

The Communist Party’s propaganda apparatus kicked into high gear after Mr. Xi on Feb. 3 ordered that “publicity and opinion work must be strengthened.”

Protecting the Truth About the Coronavirus in China | The Nation - Shen Lu

According to a project that aggregates open-source projects related to the outbreak, more than 10,000 people have contributed to efforts on GitHub to inform the public and document this period of history.

In the past, the Communist Party has succeeded in manipulating the collective memory by winnowing out evidence of sensitive events. This archival work is a collective effort to avoid another national amnesia; it’s a decentralized battle of the Chinese people against the government’s attempts to crush their rights and freedoms. I’ve not seen anything like it in my lifetime.

GitHub - 2020 Memories of the COVID-19 outbreak in China: News reports

China Is Censoring Coronavirus Stories. These Citizens Are Fighting Back. - The New York Times

Information about the coronavirus outbreak is not immune from Chinese censors. But more and more citizens are dodging censorship by creating a digital archive of deleted posts. They told us how.

Here's How China Is Hunting Down Coronavirus Critics - VICE

Left, who asked not to be identified by his full Chinese name, said he first received a warning message from WeChat administrators. Then he began receiving strangely specific messages that appeared to come from four of his friends on WeChat, all asking him for his location, what hotel he was staying at in San Francisco, what his room number was, and what his U.S. phone number was.


5. 10 years for Swedish bookseller Gui Minhai

China jails Hong Kong bookseller Gui Minhai for 10 years | South China Morning Post

A Chinese court has convicted Hong Kong bookseller Gui Minhai for “illegally providing intelligence for overseas entities”, almost five years after he was first detained.

Gui was sentenced to 10 years and deprivation of political rights for five years by a Chinese court on Monday. A statement by the Intermediate People’s Court of Ningbo said Gui would not appeal at the end of the trial.

Gui, a Swedish national, ran Causeway Bay Books in Hong Kong – an outlet known for selling gossipy titles about Chinese Communist Party officials. He was one of five booksellers who disappeared in 2015. The Monday court statement also said Gui “agreed to restore his Chinese citizenship” in 2018, a move which Beijing could use to deny him consular assistance from European diplomats.

Comment: he "voluntarily" restored his PRC nationality...so no one who has left China is safe, they can render you back and then reinstate your citizenship

The court announcement - 宁波市中级人民法院 新闻广角 桂敏海为境外非法提供情报案一审宣判

桂敏海,男,汉族,1964年5月5日出生,原籍中国宁波,1996年加入瑞典国籍,2018年经其本人申请依法恢复中国国籍

In China, Books That Make Money, and Enemies - The New York Times 2016

Since October, five associates of Mighty Current Media, which distributes the two books about the Xi family, have disappeared. One associate, a British citizen, was last seen in Hong Kong on Dec. 30, and the Chinese police confirmed weeks later that he was on the mainland.

The publisher and co-owner of Mighty Current, Gui Minhai, a Swedish citizen, also vanished. He reappeared three months later on state-run Chinese television, claiming that he had voluntarily abandoned his life at a resort condominium in Thailand and returned to the mainland to face punishment for a fatal 2003 drunken driving accident.

Comment: So is his conviction for “illegally providing intelligence overseas” confirmation that his books contained accurate information?

Sweden summons Chinese ambassador to demand release of Gui Minhai - Reuters

“We have summoned China’s ambassador to our cabinet secretary and again demanded the release of, and consular access to, our citizen,” a foreign ministry spokesman told Reuters.

Swedish cities cut China links after increase in tension | Financial Times $$

Swedish politicians at local and national level have been shocked by the increasingly aggressive rhetoric China has used against the country over Gui Minhai, a Hong Kong book publisher and Swedish citizen who has now been sentenced after being held on charges of “endangering national security”.

Shotgun diplomacy - How Sweden copes with Chinese bullying | Europe | The Economist

A rapprochement looks improbable, and it is hard to imagine Ambassador Gui helping to achieve one. He is described by Swedes who have met him as an old-school party apparatchik, less polished than some of his foreign-ministry colleagues. A Russian-speaker with little English whose previous post was in Moscow, he was an odd choice for Stockholm. Meeting with Swedish sinologists at his residence not long after his arrival in 2017, Mr Gui said he had no idea why he was sent there. He then offered a toast in Chinese over a glass of grain alcohol. “To Gui Minhai’s victim!” he declared, an apparent reference to the car accident for which the bookseller was nominally jailed, and emptied his tumbler. His appalled guests did not join him


6. How will the US to respond to the expulsion of reporters?

U.S. Mulls Ousting Chinese Reporters After Americans Barred - Bloomberg

There’s an intense debate over how severely to respond to the expulsions last week. Some advocate ordering dozens -- and perhaps hundreds -- of Chinese reporters to leave, while others say that’s not legally possible or in keeping with American values on freedom of the press, according to several of the officials.

Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are among those arguing for a more moderate approach, especially as the U.S. needs to work with China in stemming the coronavirus outbreak, one person familiar with the discussions said...

Chinese outlets, almost all of them controlled by the government, have more than 500 reporters in the U.S., some administration officials believe. There are so many that the U.S. doesn’t track them all. By contrast, China currently lets about 75 American journalists live and work there

Trump Administration Considers Punishing Chinese News Organizations - The New York Times

Those actions could be partly aimed at limiting Chinese intelligence collection efforts in the United States by expelling journalists who have contact with intelligence agencies, people familiar with the discussions said...

Among the administration’s concerns is a belief that, unlike American journalists, some of the Chinese journalists working for state-run news organizations in the United States are filing reports, at least part of the time, for Chinese intelligence agencies, according to people familiar with the matter.

They said many of the Chinese journalists suspected of having those ties occupied a hybrid role, with some accredited journalists possibly serving as full-time intelligence operatives.

社评:在记者问题上,奉劝华盛顿别走太远了

Global Times threatens that China might retaliate at the US journalists in China if the White House expel Chinese journalists. "If the US side wants to make it a big deal, China has no reason to be scared. China has reporters in the US, and the US also has reporters in China too. Washington must know, every measure they take to harass the Chinese reporters would only increase the relevant risks to their reporters in China. That's only the simply logic of the world." The editorial also mentioned that over the past two years, at least nine Chinese state media reporters have been denied journalist visa to the US.

Comment: Among the most creative suggestions I've heard so far that avoid the "are we compromising our principles" issue:

  1. Expel some executives of PRC/CCP media outlets operating in the US, rather than reporters;

  2. Expel the US-based relatives of senior propaganda department officials;

  3. Set up a 中国贪官在美资产举报系统 system for people to report on assets of corrupt PRC officials in US

The latter two moves would be much harder for Beijing to publicize and denounce internally, and in fact a lot of people in China would be very supportive, though number three at least would likely be unworkable.


7. More on the 170,000 cadre meeting

Central govt’s concern for people sets example for local officials - Global Times

In his speech, President Xi echoed the concerns of the people from Hubei Province to the whole country. Some people have been worried that some local authorities will "deceive" the central government by only reporting the good news, but through this speech, we can clearly see that the central government is fully aware of and in control of the situation at the forefront of the fight against the epidemic.

In addition to the public channels of information, journalists working at frontline in Hubei also reported a great deal through internal channels. It seems that those information has been sent very effectively to the central government. What's happening in the grass roots, the heroic performance of the various teams fighting against the epidemic, the serious problems and the institutional shortcomings in the process have not escaped the notice of the central government. Information channel is unobstructed between Zhongnanhai and grassroots society...

Despite lessons of SARS in 2003, a bigger public health emergency still happened. It can only be explained that officials in some places have failed to put the interests of the people first. They have failed the trust of the Party and the trust of the people.

The greatest instruction from the central government is to serve the people. Pay more attention to what the people are thinking and talk about. Don't run against the public opinion at any time. Lip service to loyalty does not count. It is the greatest loyalty of an official to fulfill their responsibility of governance and rally the people more firmly around the CPC Central Committee.

学习小组:习近平严厉批评这样的干部“表现很差”!

The Study Xi Group WeChat account gave more details of Xi’s recent speech on the coronavirus and said he “harshly criticized” local officials who are irresponsible in their jobs and failed to execute the party central’s policies as they are because of laziness, red tapes and their fear of the virus.

人民日报: 坚决把思想和行动统一到党中央决策部署上来

People’s Daily front page commentary repeated Xi’s Sunday speech telling the cadres not to relax in controlling the coronavirus, while at the same time try their best to restart the economy.

[视频]习近平《在统筹推进新冠肺炎疫情防控和经济社会发展工作部署会议上的讲话》单行本出版

Xi’s speech to the 170,000 cadres on Sunday is now in print and for sale in bookstores.

Have coronavirus cases peaked? - The Washington Post - Dali Yang

This sentinel system for infectious diseases helped China tackle various outbreaks — including H1N1, avian flu and malaria. Successive China CDC directors have taken great pride in this system. In a March 2019 interview, Gao Fu, the China CDC director general, said he was “very confident that the SARS incident will not recur. This is due to our country’s well-built infectious disease surveillance network; we can block the virus when it appears.”..

According to Feng Zijian, deputy director general of the China CDC, the direct reporting system was “not activated that expeditiously.”...

Two separate sources reveal that Gao himself was the real sentinel of the coronavirus outbreak. In the evening of Dec. 30, Gao Fu noticed from scanning group-chats that the WHC had just issued two internal notices on atypical pneumonia cases. Alarmed that such information had not been submitted to the national reporting system, he called the Wuhan CDC head and learned that the number of cases was well above the threshold for reporting. Troubled by what he heard — and didn’t hear — Gao immediately alerted the National Health Commission (NHC) leadership. The following day, Dec. 31, the NHC dispatched a national team of experts to Wuhan to investigate.

财经:传染病网络直报系统投资了7.3亿,为何失灵了28天?

Caijing magazine reported that, the epidemic-direct-reporting-system built after SARS, which costs the government 730 million RMB, (104 million USD) failed to work in the early days of coronavirus outbreak because no one in the local hospitals knew how this thing works. 


8. Witch hunt brewing at Calpers?

How Chinese Espionage Fears Ensnared Calpers Top Money Man - Bloomberg

His name is Ben Meng. And there was his face, imposed over a waving American flag, as Tucker Carlson, the network’s conservative 8 p.m. host, listened to grave warnings about just where Meng’s loyalties might lie...

The explosive allegations center around a three-year stint that Meng did from 2015 helping oversee China’s $3 trillion in currency reserves. During that time, he was deputy CIO of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, or SAFE.

Meng was hired for his job at the Chinese fund via a government recruitment plan known as the Thousand Talents Program.

Suddenly Meng, a U.S. citizen who’d grown up in China, has been swept up in the debate over immigration, national security and the politics of who gets to be a “real American.” Last week, a Republican lawmaker took to the prime-time TV show and accused the man who oversees California’s $400 billion state pension fund of being a tool for the Chinese government, funneling American money into Chinese hands.

Now, Calpers is fighting back and rallying some of Wall Street’s biggest names to quell the charge. Even in a time of heightened scrutiny over U.S. investments in China, the targeting of Meng, they say, goes too far.


Business, Economy and Trade

Yicai Global - Shortages May Strike China's Luxury Car Market After Epidemic as Output Stalls The epidemic has led to a dearth of car parts. Hubei province, the disease's epicenter, is home to many parts suppliers for international brands including London-based Delphi Auto Parts, Paris-based Valeo and Michigan-based Visteon. Many of these factories have yet to reopen for business.

Research into China’s sovereign digital currency is delayed amid epidemic - Global Times But the launch will probably go ahead as planned as the country's central bank has the technological base, resources and abundant talent to catch up with the process, they noted.  The pilot run of the Digital Currency Electronic Payment (DCEP) will be carried out as scheduled this year, although central bank officials are still discussing the application scenarios under which the DCEP could circulate as genuine cash, sources said.

Four Things to Know About China’s $670 Billion Government Guidance Funds - Caixin Lower profile than the industrial subsidies under China’s Made in China 2025 initiative, government guidance funds are widely seen as a “secret weapon” for the country to fulfil the same ambitions, but they may not be as powerful as they appear. Some of the funds are meant to serve an important role supporting the initiative, an ambitious 10-year strategy to transform the country into a global high-tech manufacturing powerhouse.

Nio reaches strategic investment deal with Hefei government · TechNode Nio has yet to reveal the details of the funding agreement, but the government expects the investment will exceed RMB 10 billion ($1.4 billion), making the company “an EV major” and enabling annual output of RMB 100 billion in revenue over the next five years.

Comptoirs de France Launches Crowdfund as F&B Industry Brought to Its Knees | the Beijinger Comptoirs de France, which was established in China in 2006, derives approximately half of their usual revenue directly from hotels and airlines, two other industries that have also been staggered by the coronavirus, while the rest comes from business in their 12 cafés and bakeries. Now, they are only earning approximately 16 percent of their usual revenue.

走出孤岛, 保卫书店丨坚持了 15 年的单向求众筹续命 90% of bookstores across China are in shutdown because of the coronavirus, a survey by the CCP propaganda department said. The department had asked local governments to provide support to those bookstores in need. Most of these bookstores were already short in cash and this virus outbreak could finally push them to bankruptcy. One-Way-Street, a famous bookstore chain, over the weekend asked the readers to raise funds for its operation. 

Politics and Law

What Ails the People’s Daily? | China Media Project - Qian Gang For whatever reason, this has not been possible. “The General Secretary Came to My Home” has dominated 14 front pages of the People’s Daily in just over a month since January 25, with its tone triumphant and pleasant at turns, conveying a fulsome sense of happiness and gain. The tone deafness of the series is really quite incredible, treating Xi Jinping’s every step as a miracle. Do the editors not understand that these choices will actually have an adverse impact on the image of the CCP and the image of Xi Jinping? Are they, to a fault, true believers? Are they simply confused?

Foreign and Defense Affairs

Just in: Xi says China makes positive contributions to global public health security - Xinhua Upholding the spirit of a community with a shared future for mankind, China has not only been doing its best to protect the lives and health of its own people, but made positive contributions to safeguarding global public health security, Chinese President Xi Jinping said Tuesday in a phone call with Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan

China ‘resisting calling off’ EU summit in March as coronavirus threatens delay | South China Morning Post A European diplomatic source said that discussions about postponing the summit were under way, but that China was trying hard to hold it as planned and would try to allocate the resources needed to organise it. It is most likely that the summit will not take place on March 31 but China “never wants to be the one” to announce it is cancelling, the source said.

Serbian FM to visit China - Xinhua Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic, who is also first deputy prime minister of the country, will pay an official visit to China from Wednesday to Thursday

Y-20 aircraft tanker's variant to debut soon, AEW variant to follow: Air Force officer - China Military China's long-expected aerial tanker variant of the domestically developed Y-20 large transport aircraft will make its debut to the general public soon, and an aerial early warning (AEW) variant is also under development, making the Y-20 and its variants the pillars of the Chinese Air Force's strategic capabilities

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian's Regular Press Conference on February 25, 2020 Q: The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is going to elect its director-general in Geneva next Wednesday. The organization's current Deputy Director General Wang Binying was nominated by China as its candidate. Reports say that the US is trying every means to obstruct her election..as witnessed by the world, in order to oppress China, the US is doing all it can to pressure other countries to give up their support for the Chinese candidate under the slogan of "Anyone But Chinese". They've even tried to threaten and blackmail those countries by cutting aids and other disgraceful means. As China is making all-out efforts to fight the COVID-19 epidemic, the US colludes with some other countries to sabotage the Chinese candidate's election. It is morally unacceptable to take advantage of others' difficulties...Western countries, including the US, believe it is important to prioritize competence and the female gender in the election of international organizations. I wonder, why the US never hesitates to tear off its cloak of hypocrisy and abandon its principles and standards when it comes to China?

Shenyang resumes production of carrier-borne J-15 fighters | Jane's 360 Images released on 21 February in an announcement by the Shenyang Aircraft Company (SAC), a subsidiary of the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), indicate that the manufacturer has resumed production of its carrier-borne J-15 multirole fighter aircraft.

The Missing Link in China’s Economic Ambitions in Latin America – The Diplomat corporate missteps by Chinese firms are driving local opposition in a number of host countries. Left unaddressed, these miscalculations could compromise the viability of Chinese investments and Beijing’s vision of win-win outcomes in the United States’ strategic backyard.

China in the Middle East: Part Six | Center for Strategic and International Studies In the sixth and final episode of our podcast miniseries, China in the Middle East, Jon Alterman looks at the future of China in the Middle East with Nadège Rolland and Deborah Lehr. They discuss the community of common destiny, political warfare, and opportunities for private company growth in the region.

Discovering Twitter - China finds a use abroad for Twitter, a medium it fears at home | China | The Economist Two academics who study the Chinese foreign ministry’s use of social media, Zhao Alexandre Huang and Rui Wang, found only 17 Chinese diplomatic Twitter accounts in October 2018. Now they count more than 80. They are being used to promote the heroic work of China’s doctors and nurses and relay messages of support from Western leaders. “No winter lasts forever, every spring is sure to follow,” said China’s foreign ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, on February 14th in her first ever tweet. They also go on the offensive. “You speak in such a way that you look like part of the virus and you will be eradicated just like virus. Shame on you,” said Zha Liyou, China’s consul-general in Kolkata, India, in a tweet on February 16th aimed at a critic of China’s handling of the outbreak.

Global China: Great powers - Brookings the papers in this installment of the Brookings Foreign Policy project “Global China: Assessing China’s Growing Role in the World” explore China’s ties with the great powers — notably the United States, Europe, Japan, India, and Russia — as well as the implications of those relationships for the United States and international order.

Hong Kong and Macao

National security law drive launched in HK - Global Times An online signature drive to push for national security legislation - passing Article 23 of the Basic Law - in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) began on Sunday, with the initiator saying there is an urgent need for the city to pass the law because separatists and anti-government forces are using the epidemic to harm the security of the country, the stability of the city, and public health. Hong Kong pro-establishment lawmaker Junius Ho Kwan-yiu, the initiator of the signature drive, told the Global Times on Monday that "the virus and the separatism of Hong Kong are threatening the HKSAR. If we still allow the anti-government and separatist forces to harm the city like last year and let them take further control of the Legislative Council after the election scheduled in September, that would be too late."

Hong Kong is poised for another real estate crisis as falling home prices drive more mortgage borrowers into negative equity | South China Morning Post The price index for used homes in Hong Kong dipped 1.7 per cent to 378.5 in December, according to the Rating and Valuation Department, the biggest monthly decline since last September’s 1.8 per cent drop when sentiments in the city were hit by anti-government protests.

Tech and Media

Apple, TikTok decline to testify at second congressional hearing probing tech’s ties to China - The Washington Post Apple and TikTok each have declined a request to testify at a March congressional hearing that would have probed their relationships with China, a move that threatens to ratchet up tensions with federal lawmakers who see Beijing as a privacy and security threat.

Apple asks game makers to submit license for Chinese market· TechNode Apple has sent a notice to developers requiring them to submit license numbers for paid games or games offering in-app purchases before Jun. 30 if they want to distribute in mainland China, according to a report from AppInChina, a mobile service company that helps foreign apps enter the country.

Apple may be forced to disclose censorship requests from China | The Guardian The motion, set to be voted on by the company’s investors on Wednesday, was prompted by numerous allegations of Apple kowtowing to Beijing and blocking apps from being used by Chinese customers.

Ep. 61: Getting educated on China K-12 tutoring edtech - TechBuzz China Episode 61 of Tech Buzz China is on K-12 edtech entrepreneurs, who are seeing their businesses grow instead of shrink in the wake of the coronavirus. Co-hosts Rui Ma and Ying-Ying Lu discuss top trends and the key players before the virus hit, and how they are responding now.

Alibaba acquires Beijing-based intelligent catering management startup Keruyun Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed. But Chinese online publication All Weather TMT reported in January 2020 that Alibaba Local Life Service paid 800 million yuan ($114 million) to proceed with the deal. Alibaba Local Life Service was created in October 2018 through the merger of its online food delivery platform Ele.me and local food & lifestyle service Koubei amid increased competition with rival Meituan-Dianping.

Energy, Environment, Science and Health

China’s scientists face major changes in how their work is judged … and coronavirus anger may be partly to blame | South China Morning Post Those who are on the government payroll will no longer be judged on the number of papers published in journals listed under the Science Citation Index (SCI), one of the main international benchmarks. Instead, a new appraisal system is likely to come into force after July which, guidelines suggest, will reward scientists for innovation, their contributions to society or the economy or for moving outside the Western scientific mainstream.

Coronavirus closures reveal vast scale of China’s secretive wildlife farm industry | The Guardian early 20,000 wildlife farms raising species including peacocks, civet cats, porcupines, ostriches, wild geese and boar have been shut down across China in the wake of the coronavirus, in a move that has exposed the hitherto unknown size of the industry.

Jobs and Events

Job Opportunities | U.S.- CHINA | ECONOMIC and SECURITY REVIEW COMMISSION Director, Congressional Affairs & Communications
Research Assistant, Economics and Trade