G-20; Long line at Wuhan funeral home; China shutting its doors to prevent imported cases

To prevent the increase in new cases coming from overseas China is taking steps towards effectively closing its borders. China “has decided to temporarily suspend the entry into China by foreign nationals holding visas or residence permits still valid to the time of this announcement, effective from 0 a.m., 28 march 2020” and is also dramatically limiting the ability of PRC citizens overseas to return home by restricting domestic airlines to one flight to each country per week “while foreign aviation companies should keep only one air route to China and there should be no more than one flight every week”. More details in item 4 below.

The US and China appear to have been able to make nice long enough to get through the virtual G-20 meeting and agree on the meeting’s joint statement. But things are not going so well at the UN Security Council, where disputes between the two are reportedly bogging down efforts to agree to a joint declaration. More details in items 1 & 2.

Caixin has a very sad report on people lining up at a Wuhan funeral home to pick up the ashes of their loved ones. Read it and weep, and wonder what the true death toll has been. More in item 3.

Thanks for reading.

The Essential Eight

1. G-20

Xi Jinping urges tariff reduction at G20 amid potential recession - CGTN

"I want to call on all G20 members to take collective actions – cutting tariffs, removing barriers, and facilitating the unfettered flow of trade," President Xi said via the video conference of the G20 Extraordinary Virtual Leaders' Summit on COVID-19.

"Together, we can send a strong signal and restore confidence for global economic recovery."

The coronavirus outbreak, first reported in central China's Wuhan City last December, has fast spread across the globe within months. Strict control measures including travel restrictions and quarantine rules carried out by various nations have disrupted economic activities and threatened the world's economy...

President Xi urged the countries to leverage and coordinate their macro-level policies to counter the negative impacts on the world economy.

Those would include "strong and effective fiscal and monetary policies," and more coordinated financial regulation to maintain stable chains of global industrial and supply, according to the Chinese president...

"All must work together to build a strongest global network of control and treatment that the world has ever seen," President Xi stressed.

"This is a virus that respects no borders," he said.

The president mentioned in his speech that China has set up its online COVID-19 knowledge center open to all countries.

Official text of Xi's comments - 习近平在二十国集团领导人应对新冠肺炎特别峰会上发表重要讲话--时政--人民网

Full text of Xi's remarks at Extraordinary G20 Leaders' Summit - Xinhua

Xi says China to contribute to a stable world economy - Xinhua

Xi Jinping said Thursday that China will contribute to a stable world economy by continuing to advance reform and opening-up, widen market access, improve the business environment and expand imports and outbound investment...

China will increase its supply of active pharmaceutical ingredients, daily necessities, and anti-epidemic and other supplies to the international market, Xi told the summit.

China will also continue to pursue a proactive fiscal policy and prudent monetary policy, he said.

Xi calls on int'l community to strengthen confidence, act with unity on COVID-19 - Xinhua

Xi made the remarks in Beijing while attending the G20 Extraordinary Virtual Leaders' Summit on COVID-19 via video link.

"We must comprehensively step up international cooperation and foster greater synergy so that humanity as one could win the battle against such a major infectious disease," Xi said.

G20 Leaders’ Summit - statement on COVID-19: 26 March 2020

The G20 is committed to do whatever it takes to overcome the pandemic, along with the World Health Organization (WHO), International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank Group (WBG), United Nations (UN), and other international organizations, working within their existing mandates. We are determined to spare no effort, both individually and collectively, to:

  • Protect lives.

  • Safeguard people’s jobs and incomes.

  • Restore confidence, preserve financial stability, revive growth and recover stronger.

  • Minimize disruptions to trade and global supply chains.

  • Provide help to all countries in need of assistance.

  • Coordinate on public health and financial measures.

  • Fighting the Pandemic

2. UN talks not going too well

U.S. insisting that the U.N. call out Chinese origins of coronavirus -NBC News

Talks among U.N. Security Council nations over a joint declaration or resolution on the coronavirus have stalled over U.S. insistence that it explicitly state that the virus originated in Wuhan, China, as well as exactly when it started there. China's diplomats are enraged according to the diplomats, even as they seek to put their own language into the statement praising China's efforts to contain the virus…

the U.S., in various drafts and edits circulated among the countries, sought to insert references to "the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Wuhan, Hubei province in the People's Republic of China (PRC) in November 2019." The PRC is China's formal name.

Another U.S. draft encouraged the U.N. to build on lessons learned in the past, "especially from the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV) coronavirus outbreak originating in Guangdong Province in the PRC in 2011."

Those demands have hit a wall with China, a veto-wielding member of the Security Council, whose diplomats accused the U.S. of "irresponsible practices" in a blistering email to other nations' diplomats this week obtained by NBC News.

"We are astonished by the choice of the United States to use this opportunity for politicizing the outbreak and blaming China, which we strongly oppose," China's mission to the U.N. wrote.

G-7 failed to agree on statement after U.S. insisted on calling coronavirus outbreak ‘Wuhan virus’ - The Washington Post

One European official, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive negotiations, said there were multiple disagreements among the G-7 members Wednesday but acknowledged “Wuhan virus” posed the most significant obstacle. Besides viewing the term as inappropriate, some officials noted that experts could not say with absolute certainty that the virus came from Wuhan until further research is conducted.

U.S., China Trade Blame for Coronavirus, Hampering Global Economy Rescue - WSJ

“How do you cooperate when you hear the president of the United States referring to the epidemic as the ‘Chinese virus’ all day long,” said a Beijing government adviser. A senior U.S. administration official countered that China’s attempts to cast suspicion that the virus originated in the U.S. “are dangerous, counterproductive to relief efforts and something we’re watching closely.”..

On Thursday, Mr. Trump and Mr. Xi participated in a videoconference of leaders of the Group-of-20 large economies, whose members pledged to spend more than $5 trillion to help the global economy. While China and the U.S. supported that goal, the two leaders didn’t address each other directly, said people familiar with the meeting. Instead, the various participants generally read prepared remarks and then approved the joint statement...

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell has consulted with People’s Bank of China Governor Yi Gang, officials in both countries say.

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang's Regular Press Conference on March 26, 2020

Reuters: President Trump yesterday made comments about the WHO being biased in favor of China. Does China have a response?

Geng Shuang: Since the outbreak of COVID-19, WHO, as the most authoritative and professional institution in global public health security, has made tremendous efforts to coordinate worldwide response and cooperation. Its work has been recognized and commended by the international community. China supports it in continuing to play an important role in this global fight against the pandemic.

Chinese FM slams Pompeo’s ‘evil intentions’ to stir up dispute, smear China - Global Times

Pompeo went against the global consensus of recognizing China's efforts in combating COVID-19, smeared China's efforts and stigmatized China in an attempt to divert the attention of Americans and shift the blame to China, which exposed his extremely evil intentions, Geng Shuang, spokesperson of Chinese Foreign Ministry, said at Thursday's media briefing.

Geng's remarks came after Pompeo at the Group of Seven (G7) meeting once again referred to the novel coronavirus as "Wuhan virus" and accused China of launching an "intentional disinformation campaign."

"Facing a global COVID-19 pandemic and an aggravating situation in the US, the US politician, who does not devote himself to the domestic battle against the virus and international cooperation on the battle, repeatedly stirred up political disputes and sabotaged global cooperation. Does he have any morality?" Geng said.

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang's Regular Press Conference on March 26, 2020

3. The outbreak

China still under pressure to prevent COVID-19 spread: official - Xinhua

Long-term prevention and control preparations should be made, said Mi Feng with the National Health Commission at a press conference.

By the end of Wednesday, a total of 541 imported cases have been reported, Mi said.

No new domestically transmitted cases were reported Wednesday, Mi said, noting that a total of 25 provincial-level regions and the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps are clear of COVID-19 cases.

武汉开放骨灰领取 汉口殡仪馆逝者亲属排起长队_政经频道_财新网

Such a heart-wrenching story. Caixin interviewed people waiting outside a Wuhan funeral home on the first day the government allowed people to come and collect the remains of their family members. 2531 people in Wuhan died of the virus, according to official data.





Some of the accompanying Caixin photos are head-scratching

This one shows stacks of urn boxes (empty I think), 3500 in total, at just one funeral home. Wuhan has eight funeral homes according to Caixin. Yes I know people died of other causes than Covid-19, but Caixin presenting in this way is interesting:

This one shows a truck that can carry up to 2500 urn boxes, and the drives said it wa his second delivery in two days.

我是今天上午10点左右到汉口殡仪馆的,大门... 来自沙丘2046 - 微博

This Weibo post from outside one of the funeral houses says plainclothes are everywhere to stop people taking pictures


Lockdown lifted, but exodus from Chinese city hindered by new coronavirus test rule - Reuters

Residents of China’s Xianning city eager to travel after a two-month lockdown faced an unexpected hurdle only hours after the borders were opened — they needed to pass a new rapid detection test to show they didn’t have the coronavirus.

Beijing to tighten rules against uncivilized behaviors amid COVID-19 epidemic - Global Times

The draft requested residents to cover their mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing in public places and wear a mask when suffering from influenza and other infectious respiratory diseases, while patients with infectious diseases must honestly report their conditions, take the required tests and undergo quarantine and other medical measures.

Covid-19 Leaves Scars On The Spirit, Too - Caixin

One of the many things we don’t know about Covid-19 is whether it leaves people with lifelong ailments. I’m now about 18 kilograms lighter than when I went into the hospital, can’t breathe as freely as before, and often feel as though my windpipe and throat are blocked. We also don’t know if people who have recovered from the disease can catch it again.

【武漢肺炎】「武漢肺炎」被消失!網爆官媒改舊聞 網民嘲:不僅改國內史,更改國外史 | 即時 | 兩岸 | 20200326

Apple Daily reported that both Xinhua and Global Times used the term “Wuhan virus” in their earlier reporting of the coronavirus, and now they are quietly fixing these articles after China accused Pompeo for racism because he insisted using the term “Wuhan virus”.

胡雪梅:我今天向国家卫健委提出了10件信息公开申请 | CND刊物和论坛

Hu Xuemei, a professor of law East China Normal University, has submitted FOIA-similar requests asking the Chinese government to explain who exactly covered up the early news about the coronavirus.

Beijing demands nucleic acid testing for all fever clinic patients - Xinhua

Beijing has asked all fever clinics citywide to conduct nucleic acid testing (NAT) for patients with fever, according to the leading group of Beijing's COVID-19 epidemic control.

The Chinese capital also demanded all arrivals from overseas and those who visit the city after arriving through other Chinese ports within 14 days to undergo concentrated quarantine and NAT starting from Wednesday as the number of imported COVID-19 cases continues to increase.

First lesson on school reopening day: How to ensure safety amid a pandemic? - CGTN

As of Monday, over 10 provinces and regions across the country have announced dates and arrangements for starting the new semester, most of which put graduating middle and high school students at priority.

Among them, Qinghai, Guizhou and Xinjiang have already resumed classes for a majority of students, while the rest have scheduled to reopen schools in late March or early April, including southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region and Yunnan Province.

7000+ character page 1 People's Daily commentary by "Ren Zhong Ping 任仲平" on the successful fight against the virus, praising the Party for its strong leadership, the people and medics for their sacrifice, and China’s s political system for its power to mobilize resources, and how overcoming adversity makes the nation stronger and how basically nothing can stop China- 风雨无阻向前进 - "Trials and hardships can't stop our progress"



Coming from the hardships and trekking in the wind and frost, we are no strangers to difficulties and challenges, and we are no stranger to success and victory-we have the confidence, ability, and confidence to win the final battle of epidemic prevention and control. To win, we have the confidence, ability, and confidence to win the battle against poverty and achieve a well-off society as scheduled. No matter what kind of wind and rain, it cannot stop the progress of the Chinese people and the Chinese nation!

Wuhan will prevail! Hubei will prevail! China will prevail!

How to spot the issues that really matter to China’s Communist Party | South China Morning Post

What does it mean when I see the byline Ren Zhongping, and who is the actual writer?
The byline is a signal that the commentary is important. Because of this, the editorials written under the pseudonym are actually the work of a team of reporters, editors and managers from different departments.

The team usually has about 10 people and often changes, but it is led by a top editor. The former head of People’s Daily, Zhang Yannong, lead the task force during his tenure at the paper.

4,000-plus military medics to continue supporting Wuhan anti-virus battle - Xinhua

Ren Guoqiang, a Defense Ministry spokesman, made the remarks at a press conference Thursday.

The military medics who came to help Wuhan will remain committed to supporting local authorities in fighting coronavirus, treating patients and carrying out scientific research, Ren said.

China's military medical experts have wasted no time stepping up drug and vaccine research as well as virus source tracing to aid the country's anti-virus battle, the spokesman said.

“If the Chinese press were free, the coronavirus might not be a pandemic,” argues RSF | RSF

In an analysis published on March 13th, researchers from the University of Southampton suggest that the number of cases of coronavirus in China could have been reduced by 86% if the first measures, which were taken on January 20th, had been implemented two weeks earlier. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) demonstrates, based on the events in the early days of the crisis, that without the control and censorship imposed by the authorities, the Chinese media would have informed the public much earlier of the seriousness of the epidemic, saving thousands of lives and possibly avoiding the current pandemic.

ChinaTalk: Sinocism's Bill Bishop on the Politics of Coronavirus - Lawfare

We start off talking about what China's response to coronavirus has taught us about the CCP, and then go into the deeper forces behind why the Chinese government has started to blame America for creating the virus. We also touch on China-Taiwan relations, the role Sinocim plays in agenda-setting as well as binegable Chinese T.V.

Comment: Transcript

4. China shutting its doors to prevent imported cases

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China National Immigration Administration Announcement on the Temporary Suspension of Entry by Foreign Nationals Holding Valid Chinese Visas or Residence Permits

In view of the rapid spread of COVID-19 across the world, China has decided to temporarily suspend the entry into China by foreign nationals holding visas or residence permits still valid to the time of this announcement, effective from 0 a.m., 28 march 2020. Entry by foreign nationals with APEC Business Travel Cards will be suspended as well. Policies including port visas, 24/72/144-hour visa-free transit policy, Hainan 30-day visa-free policy, 15-day visa-free policy specified for foreign cruise-group-tour through Shanghai Port, Guangdong 144-hour visa-free policy specified for foreign tour groups from Hong Kong or Macao SAR, and Guangxi 15-day visa-free policy specified for foreign tour groups of ASEAN countries will also be temporarily suspended. Entry with diplomatic, service, courtesy or C visas will not be affected. Foreign nationals coming to China for necessary economic, trade, scientific or technological activities or out of emergency humanitarian needs may apply for visas at Chinese embassies or consulates. Entry by foreign nationals with visas issued after this announcement will not be affected.

The suspension is a temporary measure that China is compelled to take in light of the outbreak situation and the practices of other countries. China will stay in close touch with all sides and properly handle personnel exchanges with the rest of the world under the special circumstances. The above-mentioned measures will be calibrated in light of the evolving situation and announced accordingly.

China bars foreigners amid concerns of second virus wave | Financial Times $$

Beijing told a group of global health officials this week that it had been forced to rethink policies after the moderation of its lockdown triggered an influx of overseas travellers who may be carrying the virus, according to Anthony Fauci, a member of the White House’s coronavirus task force. 

“Our Chinese colleagues are very concerned,” said Mr Fauci, who said the fears were raised on a call organised by the World Health Organization. “They have very, very few [new] cases, but what they’re starting to see as they’re relaxing the constraints on travel, that they’re getting imported cases.”

The MoFA announcement - 外交部、国家移民管理局:28日起暂停持有效中国签证 居留许可的外国人入境

China to cut international flights to curb imported COVID-19 cases - Xinhua

All domestic airlines were allowed to operate only one flight to each country per week, while foreign aviation companies should keep only one air route to China and there should be no more than one flight every week for each of the air route to China, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) said in a circular that will be effective from March 29.

The administration also instructed all airlines to file applications of flight plans in advance as requested by the circular.

Stricter measures will also be taken to curb the spread of the virus on flights arriving or leaving the country and ensure that passenger load factor is lower than 75 percent, the CAAC said, adding that it might further slash international flights if necessary.

Comment: The PRC looks to be blocking almost all overseas PRC citizens from returning by limiting the number of flights, without having to explicitly say that the Motherland does not want you.

The CAAC circular - 民航局:外国每家航空公司经营至我国的航线只能保留1条

China to step up prevention of epidemic rebound, imported COVID-19 cases - Xinhua

A leading group of China's COVID-19 response on Thursday stressed measures to prevent the rebound of the epidemic within the country and called for stepping up prevention of imported cases by land and water.

The group, led by Premier Li Keqiang, called for comprehensive and scientific study and judgment on both domestic and overseas epidemic situation development, stressing that the complexity and severity of the epidemic situations should be fully recognized and should not be taken lightly...

The meeting stressed preventing a rebound of the epidemic domestically, adding that once a case is found, measures should be exercised immediately over the people and places where the virus may be transmitted.

Noting the rapid growth of the epidemic overseas, the meeting called for stricter management on people entering the country and continuous efforts to further prevent importing and exporting the virus at airports.

The meeting also urged to strengthen cooperation with neighboring countries and border control to battle the outbreak.

Full quarantine for inbound travelers urged - Global Times

Following the example of Beijing, the Shanghai government announced Thursday afternoon that all people from abroad who enter the city have to undergo 14-day quarantine observation from Thursday after a woman travelled from the US to Kunming, Southwest China’s Yunan Province via Shanghai and didn’t go into quarantine upon entering the country. She was later confirmed to have been infected with the coronavirus.

UK top source of imported COVID-19 cases in China - Global Times

Ninety percent of the total 541 imported COVID-19 cases in China hold Chinese passports, and 40 percent of them are overseas students, Luo Zhaohui, vice foreign minister of China, said at a press conference on Thursday in Beijing.

5. Foreign work

China Virus I Beijing seeks India’s affirmation on not using ‘China virus’ to describe Covid-19 | India News

It might stigmatise China and will be detrimental to international cooperation, argued state councillor and foreign minister Wang Yi during a telephone conversation with External Affairs Minister (EAM) S Jaishankar.

Russia thanks 'real friend' Jack Ma for gift of a million masks - Reuters

Calling Ma “a real friend”, the ministry said in a statement that the co-founder of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba had spoken by telephone to Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and told him how touched he had been by Moscow’s own help for China.

With U.S. hit by virus, China courts Latin America with medical diplomacy - Reuters

As Argentina was scrambling to introduce emergency measures to insulate its ailing economy from the coronavirus last week, the Chinese ambassador paid a visit to the home of President Alberto Fernandez to discuss an offer.


In a letter to the WHO chief Xi Jinping praised the organization for its efforts to control the virus outbreak and said China will firmly support the WHO’s leading role in fighting this global pandemic. This is a reply to WHO’s earlier letter praising China.

合作的阳光驱散疫情的阴霾 - 新华社客户端

Latest propaganda video from Xinhua urging the world to work together.


Italian foreign minister told CCTV in an interview that signing that Belt and Road MOU with China, though mocked by many in the West, is saving lives in Italy because China is providing aid to the country in a time of dire need. “Now (we) should admit, it is exactly this investment in friendship, enable Italy to save lives.” He said.

Spanish capital ditches ‘unreliable’ Chinese coronavirus test kits | South China Morning Post

On Thursday, the Chinese embassy in Spain clarified through its Twitter account that the Bioeasy test kits had not been approved by China’s National Medical Products Administration and said they were not included in the medical supplies sent by the Chinese government to Spain...

The embassy’s message appeared to be an effort to calm Spanish officials, who announced on Wednesday that they have placed an €432 million (US$468 million) order for Chinese medical equipment and supplies including 550 million face masks, 5.5 million testing kits and 950 ventilators.

The order has still not been shipped out of China, and none of the testing kits were made by Bioeasy, the embassy said.

China's military continues to step up int'l cooperation against coronavirus - Xinhua

Noting the rapidly spreading of the epidemic in multiple places and countries, Ren Guoqiang, spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense, said China, who is still fighting against the outbreak within borders, is willing to help countries and organizations as much as it can.

Medical supplies including nucleic acid testing kits, protective clothing and masks were sent by Chinese military to Iran for epidemic control on March 19, said Ren.

On March 24, medical professionals dispatched by Chinese military, carrying supplies and equipment, arrived in Cambodia to offer a hand against the outbreak

Let the power of solidarity spread - People's Daily Online

A growing number of countries have seen the value of friendship in China’s pursuit for greater love and common interests, and realized that solidarity and cooperation are the sharpest weapon to prevail over this rampant disease that concerns all.

“China has set a good example for the international community by lending a helping hand to other epidemic-hit countries in a timely manner,” said Russian President Vladimir Putin.

An official of Bosnia and Herzegovina noted that a friend in need is a friend indeed, adding that China’s generous donation reflected the sincere friendship between the two countries.

Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teodoro Lopez Locsin lauded China for being a global model in the fight against the coronavirus. He called for countries around the world to "start working together to help each other", instead of blaming each other.

Mankind is a community with a shared future, and combating the epidemic through cooperation is a joint responsibility for all players in the international arena. The world should carry on concerted efforts and fight to the last until the epidemic is terminated in every single country around the globe.

Let cooperation dispel dark clouds of coronavirus - People's Daily "He Yin"

the weakness of the global health governance system mirrored by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pneumonia has heightened the urgency of improving global public health governance...

The coronavirus has brought about tough challenges to the human race. To deal with the unknown and huge challenges and mitigate the wide-ranging influence of the epidemic, mankind needs to work together to beat the virus with faith and bravery. We should believe that as long as countries of the world act to hold the principle of a community with a shared future, and cooperate with each other, we’ll surely dispel the clouds of the virus with cooperation and safeguard people’s right to life.

China offers anti-virus assistance to 89 countries - Xinhua

China has provided assistance to 89 countries and four international organizations to fight against the novel coronavirus, the China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA) said Thursday.

A new round of aid implementation programs is currently being prepared, Deng Boqing, deputy head of the CIDCA, said at a press conference held in Beijing.

"China's anti-virus external assistance is the most intensive and wide-ranging emergency humanitarian operation since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949," Deng said.

Spotlight: As China recovers from COVID-19 blow, Chinese rush to Europe's rescue - Xinhua

From the Meuse River to the Dinaric Alps, from Rica to Piraeus, increasing numbers of Chinese enterprises and residents stand side by side with local authorities and frontline health workers, mainly by providing much-needed medical protective gears to help attenuate the sanitary shockwave in their second homeland, now the epicenter of the pandemic.

On Monday morning, dozens of boxes containing 50,000 medical masks dispatched from Changsha in south-central China were handed over to Bedburg city officials in eastern Germany. Written on the boxes was a German proverb, which translates as "mountains and valleys don't come together, but humans do."

The donation came from the Sany Group, a leading Chinese construction machinery manufacturer whose European headquarters is in Bedburg. The masks are destined for hospitals in Bedburg and Essen, both in North Rhine-Westphalia, the state with the largest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany.

How China Built a Twitter Propaganda Machine Then Let It Loose on Coronavirus — ProPublica

ProPublica’s research tracked how the government-linked influence accounts that had targeted political dissidents and the Hong Kong protests turned their focus to the coronavirus outbreak. During the height of the epidemic in China, many of them became cheerleaders for the government, calling on citizens to unite in support of efforts to fight the epidemic and urging them to “dispel online rumors.”

With the epidemic spreading across the world, these accounts have sought to promote the Chinese government’s image abroad and shore up its support at home. One typical recent tweet in Chinese proclaimed: “We were not scared during the outbreak because our country was our rearguard. Many disease-fighting warriors were thrust to the front lines. Even more volunteers helped in seemingly trivial yet important ways.”..

The evidence linking the influence network to OneSight, the Beijing-based internet marketing company connected to the Chinese government, is circumstantial. In 2019, a handful of fake boosting accounts within the network we identified promoted OneSight’s own social media marketing posts with likes. The data released by Twitter in September 2019 also included a number of posts connected to OneSight’s Twitter account. Our review of the data we collected found no other similar company benefiting from similar boosting.

Beijing twisted my words on coronavirus’s Italian origin, says scientist Giuseppe Remuzzi | World | The Times

In an interview he gave last week, Professor Remuzzi said that local doctors had reported seeing strange symptoms in older people as far back as November.

He told the American news organisation NPR: “It means that the virus was circulating at least in Lombardy before we were aware of this outbreak occurring in China.”

His comments were seized upon in China as the country sought to deflect blame away from itself, especially over its cover-up in the early stages of the virus outbreak.

Professor Remuzzi insisted that his words had been taken out of context.

“There is no doubt that the virus is Chinese,” he told old Il Foglio, an Italian newspaper. “This is a textbook example, to be taught in universities, on how scientific information can be manipulated for propaganda reasons.”

Meanwhile, Zhao Lijian keeps trolling:

6. US-China

China to resume U.S. LPG imports as Beijing waives trade-war tariff: sources - Reuters

China has begun buying U.S. liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) again after a hiatus of nearly 20 months as Beijing waived punitive tariffs to boost imports of U.S. goods as part of the Sino-U.S. Phase 1 trade deal, industry sources said.

China's January-February soybean imports from U.S. rise as truce cargoes arrive - Reuters

China’s soybean imports from the United States in the first two months of the year rose sixfold from the same period last year, customs data showed on Wednesday, as cargoes booked during a trade truce between the countries arrived.

Department of Commerce Extends Public Comment Period for Input on Huawei Temporary General License Extensions | U.S. Department of Commerce

The Department has received requests from industry to allow for additional comments, and is granting this request in support of robust consideration of future extensions of the TGL.

Secretary Michael R. Pompeo With Hugh Hewitt of The Hugh Hewitt Show - United States Department of State

QUESTION: I wish to play for your Dr. Fauci on CNN last night, a quick clip, cut number 23: “Italy got hit very badly because they had a large number of importations from China by Chinese tourists.” Do you agree with that, Secretary Pompeo?

SECRETARY POMPEO: I do. That’s factually accurate. I think if I heard the clip right, that was Italy he was referring to.


SECRETARY POMPEO: That’s also the case in Iran that there were many flights between China and Iran, and we think that there are, in fact, many nations that had their outbreak begin with transit from China. And it’s important to know, too, it was the case at the onset of this there were countries that wanted to close their doors to Chinese travel, to the Chinese, and the Chinese Government pushed back against them, asking them to keep their airports open in an effort to protect China from the stigma that might be attached with having transportation closed down.

Exclusive: U.S. slashed CDC staff inside China prior to coronavirus outbreak - Reuters

The Trump administration cut staff by more than two-thirds at a key U.S. public health agency operating inside China, as part of a larger rollback of U.S.-funded health and science experts on the ground there leading up to the coronavirus outbreak, Reuters has learned....

The CDC’s China headcount has shrunk to around 14 staffers, down from approximately 47 people since President Donald Trump took office in January 2017, the documents show. The four people, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the losses included epidemiologists and other health professionals.

The material reviewed by Reuters shows a breakdown of how many American and local Chinese employees were assigned there. The documents are the CDC’s own descriptions of its headcount, which it posts online. Reuters was able to search past copies of the material to confirm the decline described by the four people.

“The CDC office in Beijing is a shell of its former self,” said one of the people, a U.S. official who worked in China at the time of the drawdown.

Separately, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the global relief program which had a role in helping China monitor and respond to outbreaks, also shut their Beijing offices on Trump’s watch.

China urges U.S. to stop provocative, dangerous acts - Xinhua

Spokesperson Ren Guoqiang made the remarks while commenting on the operations of the U.S. Navy P-8A reconnaissance aircraft on Feb. 17, which ignored multiple warnings of the Chinese side and approached a Chinese navy fleet conducting routine drills on the high seas.

The reconnaissance lasted for over four hours, and the aircraft's minimum distance to the Chinese fleet was only about 400 meters, Ren said, calling the operations extremely "unprofessional and unsafe."

Comment: If the US has video they should release it

U.S. plays dangerous game, China says, after warship sails through Taiwan Strait : Reuters

Anthony Junco, a spokesman for the U.S. Seventh Fleet, said the guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell conducted “a routine Taiwan Strait transit” on March 25, in line with international law.

“The ship’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” he added. “The U.S. Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows.”

7. The economy

China implementing $344 billion of mainly fiscal measures in coronavirus fight - Reuters

The money already spent includes 1 trillion yuan ($141 billion) in tax reductions, as well as liquidity released through targeted tools, Wang Xiaolong, director-general of international economic affairs at the ministry, told reporters.

Job Openings in China Fall Over 30% Amid Coronavirus - Caixin

A joint project between Peking University’s Guanghua School of Management and Zhaopin, one of China’s largest hiring platforms, the survey covered about 1 million companies in China across all economic sectors. While the results have not yet been officially published, survey organizer Lu Hai, a professor at Peking University, discussed the findings in an online seminar held Wednesday to discuss the coronavirus’s economic impact.

China's factories reopen, only to fire workers as virus shreds global trade - Reuters

Early in the outbreak, China imposed tough travel restrictions and factory suspensions to curb the spread of the virus, squeezing labor supplies and sending exporters scrambling to fulfill orders.

Now, the reverse is happening - overseas orders are being scrapped as the pandemic ravages the economies of China’s trading partners.

“The unprecedented shutdown of normal economic activity across Europe, the U.S. and a growing number of emerging markets is certain to cause a dramatic contraction in Chinese exports, probably in the range of a 20-45% year-on-year drop in the second quarter,” said Thomas Gatley, senior analyst at research firm Gavekal Dragonomics.

商务部:餐饮企业复工率达80% 餐饮消费比2月最低点回升30%_财新网_财新网

Ministry of Commerce says the food and beverage industry is 80% back to work, and that business has rebounded 30% from the February lows

Yicai Global - Chinese Eye Short Trips for April's Tomb-Sweeping Holiday as Virus Worries Subside

Bookings for railway and tourist attraction tickets, and most of them to places within the same province, more than doubled in the week ended March 23 from a week earlier, data that Alibaba Group Holding's online travel agency Fliggy released yesterday shows. Meanwhile, hotel bookings jumped by 30 percent from a month ago. The Qingming Festival is celebrated from April 4 to April 6.

8. Hong Kong

Hong Kong pro-democracy district councillor Cheng Lai-king arrested for 'sedition' | AFP

Hong Kong police Thursday arrested an opposition politician under a colonial-era sedition law for allegedly sharing the identity of an officer who fired a baton round that blinded a journalist during protests last year.

Police said they arrested 60-year-old Cheng Lai-king on suspicion of “action with seditious intention”.

Ming Pao row: If we learn anything from the virus outbreak, it should be the importance of free speech | Hong Kong Free Press HKFP

On March 18, Mingpao published an opinion piece entitled “This pandemic originated in Wuhan, the lessons of seventeen years ago have been completely forgotten.” The authors Dr. Kwok-Yung Yuen and Dr. David Lung are unrivalled experts in their field. Dr. Yuen is a microbiologist whose SARS study group discovered the role of the coronavirus in the SARS epidemic in early 2003. Dr. Lung is also a microbiologist who has recently published on the detection of COVID-19 via saliva samples...

the authors point out that China’s state-sponsored conspiracy theory tracing the origins of the virus the United States is completely baseless..

Yuen and Lung’s article produced a storm of angry controversy on Chinese social media. Within a day, the authors had publicly retracted their piece. Yuen and Lung did not explain what pressures led them to this decision, but anyone who cares about increasingly fragile academic freedoms in Hong Kong should be deeply concerned by such developments.

As noted in the 3.22 newsletter:

Two Hong Kong microbiologists wrote an open in MingPao saying the epidemic originated in Wuhan and criticized China for forgetting the lesson of SARS and continuing to eat wild animals. The article said if China continued to blame the US for origin of the virus, and not to learn its lesson, sooner or later there will be another SARS. - 龍振邦、袁國勇:大流行緣起武漢, 十七年教訓盡忘


Hours later they requested to withdraw the article, because “there are errors in some of the words used” … and they “had no intention to get involved with politics” 「追求科學真理, 無意捲入政治」 龍振邦袁國勇撤回文章

Business, Economy and Trade

Wanda Sports Is Said to Near Deal to Sell Ironman to Advance - Bloomberg The transaction could value Ironman at more than $700 million, they said.

China Needs Bigger Government - Foreign Affairs - Brad Setser the pressure China puts on the global economy actually also stems from the opposite problem—namely, the limited role of its government. Far from a behemoth, the Chinese state appears relatively small in its provision of social welfare to its citizens. It may claim to be communist and to embrace the ideological legacy of Karl Marx, but the government offers relatively little support to many workers. It maintains one of the world’s most regressive tax systems while also offering relatively modest social benefits. Thanks in part to these realities, China now is one of the most unequal societies in the world. Its economic behavior on the international stage stems in large part from this domestic reality.

China’s Larger Than Usual Oil Stockpile Gets Even Larger as Prices Plummet - Caixin Since March 7, the day after talks between oil-producers cartel OPEC and Russia collapsed and prices began to plummet, Chinese ports have added around 1.5 million tons of commercial crude oil to their stockpile, data from energy information provider OilChem China showed. That represents an increase of about 5%, bringing the total to 29.45 million tons

Coronavirus gives an unexpected boost to Kenyan fishermen | Reuters On the shore of Lake Victoria, Kenyan fishermen are benefiting from a fall in cheap imports from China, as well as wary customers - fearing coronavirus - turning away from Chinese fish.

Politics and Law

China unveils guideline on strengthening hardworking spirit education among students - Gov.cnThe Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council have unveiled a guideline on strengthening education on the hardworking spirit among students in universities, secondary and primary schools in the new era. Stressing full understanding of the new requirements for strengthening such education to cultivate the younger generation to join the socialist cause, the guideline called for teaching the students to respect working and training scientific spirit for them. Students should acquire basic working capability for livelihood and individual development, and form good working habits through such education, said the guideline.

中共中央 国务院关于全面加强新时代大中小学劳动教育的意见_中央有关文件_中国政府网为构建德智体美劳全面培养的教育体系,现就加强新时代大中小学劳动教育提出如下意见。

我国劳动教育的前世今生 _光明网 - 教育部职业技术教育中心研究所副所长、研究员 曾天山

What do young Chinese think about social credit? It's complicated | Mercator Institute for China Studies China’s emerging social credit system should be understood not as a single unified system but as a package or policy framework combining many different policies. Results of our student survey at three Chinese universities between December 2018 and April 2019 suggest that no easy conclusions about broad-based approval of such policies can be drawn

Chinese city launches whistle-blowing mobile app to eliminate wildlife crimes - Xinhua Residents can submit anonymous reports on the illegal hunting and trading of wild animals, and wildlife consumption on their phones with detailed locations, descriptions and photos or video clips, according to the Hangzhou municipal people's procuratorate, which developed the mobile app with Alipay, one of China's most popular online payment service providers headquartered in Hangzhou.

Foreign and Defense Affairs

On Russia-China Border, Selective Memory of Massacre Works for Both Sides - The New York Times The crime scene is a riverbank from which Russian Cossacks drove thousands of Chinese to their death by drowning in the Amur River 120 years ago. On a nearby hill stand a bronze memorial statue and a concrete Orthodox cross.

China Accuses Professor at Japanese University of Espionage - AP A Chinese citizen who was working as a professor in Japan has been detained in China for alleged espionage and has confessed to spying and other unspecified wrongdoing, Beijing's foreign ministry said Thursday. Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said the case against Yuan Keqin was backed up by “clear fact and conclusive evidence" and has been transferred to prosecutors.

Coronavirus Crisis: Talking the Pandemic's Effects on Asian Geopolitics with Evan Medeiros | Center for Strategic and International Studies Will China emerge from the crisis in a stronger position regionally and globally? How does the coronavirus impact arguments for so-called "decoupling?" What has the crisis revealed about different models of government across Asia?

Will the coronavirus break China-Russia relations? - China-Russia Report In the early days of the coronavirus crisis, Putin banned Chinese nationals from entering the country, for three reasons. First, banning Chinese nationals from entering the country lowered the risk of transmission to Russia. Second, Putin likely anticipated that some Russians would commit ugly, racist acts against Chinese individuals, with potentially seismic diplomatic implications. Third, Putin sought to shift blame for any outbreak from China to Europe. The authorities have been more open about publishing results for Europe-related cases than China-related cases.

StarTimes offers free access to over 100 channels on its platform | Nextv News As the coronavirus epidemic spreads across Africa, WHO advises people to stay at home and avoid unnecessary exits. In this context, StarTimes has decided to make available to all Africans and free of charge more than 100 local and international channels on its StarTimes ON streaming application.


Taiwan anger over China military drills during virus outbreak - AFP "As the world grapples with the severity of the COVID19 pandemic, China's military manoeuvres around Taiwan have continued unabated," President Tsai Ing-wen said in a tweet late Tuesday accompanied by pictures of her visiting troops. "Whether it's national defence or preventing the spread of disease, our armed forces remain as vigilant as ever," she added.

Tech and Media

Yicai Global - Alibaba's New Taobao App Takes On Pinduoduo, Tops China's Free Downloads A new app from Alibaba Group offers consumers more value for money through a direct factory order and delivery system. Officially released today, Taobao Special Offer throws down the gauntlet to rival Pinduoduo and is the most popular free download on Apple's App Store in China.

Energy, Environment, Science and Health

Beijing mulls setting up police offices in hospitals- Xinhua Beijing's legislature has started deliberating a draft regulation on ensuring the security of hospitals after a spate of assaults on doctors sparked public outrage. If passed, the regulation will require large hospitals to set up police offices and introduce security checks to prevent any dangerous objects being taken into hospitals.

Peking U research team 'deletes' memories in rats - China Daily Yi Ming, a researcher in the experiment and co-author of the paper, said that the success would provide new thought in curing refractory pathological memories, such as chronic pain and addiction. The memory of negative emotions is of great significance for survival, but such memory would become a burden when it cannot be forgotten, which might cause pathological diseases, such as post-traumatic stress syndrome, Yi said.