Harbin outbreak; Oil traders blow up; Online struggle sessions
A growing outbreak in Harbin and other parts of Heilongjiang looks increasingly dire. It is another reminder, if we needed one, of how hard it is to control the spread of the virus, and of what a fantasy it is that any country can “reopen for business” without huge investments in testing, contact tracing and all sorts of other measures and equipment.
Beijing may be the most locked-down city outside of Heilongjiang now, even though the municipal government announced they have now gone six days with no new cases. Expectations are rising that the “Two Meetings” will finally convene in Beijing in the next several weeks, but nothing is confirmed.
Xi is still on his inspection tour in Shaanxi, today he was in Xian, and spent part of his time looking at food.
To follow up on yesterday’s comment, one of the things I am struggling with is how to wade through the escalating information war, while watching what sure looks like the impending collision between the US and China. Seek truth from facts, wherever they may lead…
Thanks for reading.
The Essential Eight
1. The outbreak
Li Keqiang held meeting at the leading small group on coronavirus after a new outbreak in Heilongjiang, again warning local governments “must not hide” about the situation. Separately, the meeting said as preventing virus becomes the new normal, China should increase its testing capacity and “conduct large scale nucleic acid testing and anti-body testing”.
The government said on Tuesday China added 30 confirmed cases of the virus, 23 of whom came from neighboring countries connected with China by land. Now the country has a total of 1005 confirmed cases and 991 asymptomatic patients who are under medical surveillance.
By Tuesday, Heilongjiang reported 537 local confirmed cases, including 470 discharged from hospital. Besides Harbin, the city of Mudanjiang has two current confirmed cases.
“Prevention measures have been more strict recently, and people from Mudanjiang or Harbin will not be allowed to come into our town,” said a civil servant surnamed Zhang, who lives in Mishan town on the eastern edge of Heilongjiang.
Officials in Harbin, Heilongjiang's provincial capital, which is home to some 10 million people, have banned entry to residential compounds to non-locals and vehicles registered elsewhere...
Anyone arriving in Harbin from overseas will be place in 28 days of quarantine with mandatory testing, while residential compounds with confirmed and asymptomatic cases will be locked down for 14 days, the government said...
Only patients who take normal CT scans, nucleic acid tests and antibody tests for COVID-19 can be admitted to hospitals, the Harbin Health Commission required, after two local hospitals became the source of clustered infections and the infection chain continued to expand as of press time.
A total of 28 people on Air China flight CA910 from Moscow to the northwestern Chinese city of Xi’an returned positive tests after landing Monday morning...
A Russia-based Chinese national with knowledge of the flight, who requested anonymity because he was sharing certain passengers’ personal details, told Caixin that many travelers on the flight were Chinese goods traders working in Moscow’s Lyublino and Sadovod markets.
Deputy head of Harbin CDC told CCTV in an interview that misdiagnosis by a doctor and the lack of special ward for suspected patients in the hospital led to the new outbreak in the city.
Beijing reports 0 new cases for the 6th day in a row. The Two Meetings can not be far away
Students in graduating classes in junior and senior high schools in Guangdong are scheduled to return to school on April 27...
All local governments in Guangdong are demanded to purchase and prepare masks for teachers and students to use for 14 days. Temperature measuring equipment, disinfectant, wash-free hand sanitizer, and other epidemic prevention materials must be provided to schools.
Chinese doctors in Wuhan, where the virus first emerged in December, say a growing number of cases in which people recover from the virus, but continue to test positive without showing symptoms, is one of their biggest challenges as the country moves into a new phase of its containment battle.
Those patients all tested negative for the virus at some point after recovering, but then tested positive again, some up to 70 days later, the doctors said. Many have done so over 50-60 days...
China has not published precise figures for how many patients fall into this category. But disclosures by Chinese hospitals to Reuters, as well as in other media reports, indicate there are at least dozens of such cases.
Li Zehua was one of three Chinese journalists who had been reporting from the front lines in Wuhan during some of the worst weeks of the epidemic. He was last seen on 26 February after posting a video in which he was chased by a white SUV and an hours-long live-stream that ended when several agents entered his apartment.
he provincial epidemic prevention and control authorities said that students in the final year of senior high schools in Hubei will restart classes on May 6.
Most of the discharged COVID-19 patients retesting positive in nucleic acid tests showed no obvious symptoms, and very few saw their symptoms worsen, a health expert said Tuesday.
"Discharged patients who retest positive are required to be quarantined at designated hospitals for medical observation since they might be infectious," said Wang Guiqiang, an infectious disease expert with the Peking University First Hospital, at a press conference.
2. The economy
China will forgo its original economic growth target for 2020, believed to have been around 6 per cent, and instead pursue a much lower goal after the national economy contracted 6.8 per cent in the first quarter, according to Chinese economists and researchers.
China’s new gross domestic product (GDP) target – if there is one at all – will be significantly lower than the one agreed to at the end of last year, but never officially announced, as Beijing is now more worried about stabilising unemployment rather than expanding the economy due to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, they said...
The tone of the announcement after Friday’s meeting of the Politburo, the gathering of the party’s top leadership chaired by President Xi Jinping on the same day the economic contraction was confirmed, marked a subtle change from previous gatherings. The new focus on jobs, food supply and social stability contained no reference at all to an economic growth rate, sending a signal that Beijing no longer regards a target for the headline growth rate as a priority.
People’s Daily front page commentary repeated the orders from the politburo meeting last week to “firmly implement the strategy to expand domestic demand” as export shrinks amid the coronavirus outbreak. The strategy, which includes a wide range of policies to stir consumption, increase investment and help small companies, will “fully unleash our country’s domestic demand potential as a super large market … and minimize the loss and impact on external environment caused by the virus.”
CCTV commentary on Wednesday vowing that China will “user stronger macroeconomic policy to offset impact of the coronavirus”, and that China’s “accurate trickle irrigation” stimulus will be different from the flood-like quantitative easing in the West.
Second day in a row that the CCTV Evening News leads with a report titled “Going forward against difficulties, pursuing innovative development”. It listed the efforts by local governments and companies striving to bring the economic engine back to normal despite hit by the virus.
“These two measures are a concrete implementation of the spirit of the Politburo meeting on 17 April,” said Tang Jianwei (唐建伟), a researcher from the Bank of Communications Financial Research Centre.
“Increasing the assessment weighting will spur the branches of commercial banks to be more active in financial inclusion operations.
“Small and medium-sized banks are a mainstay force for supporting micro and small-enterprises, and adjustment to the provision coverage ratio will increase service capability.”
“The impact on small and medium-sized banks from the current outbreak situation has been obvious,” China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission vice-chairman Cao Yu said on Wednesday. “As you may see again and again this year, the reform and restructuring of small and medium-sized banks will be more vigorous.”
Not only is China confronting a sharp contraction in global demand that will damage its export sector, it has to also deal with the thornier challenge of reviving domestic demand. That hinges on the private sector...
when it comes to supporting the private sector, despite recent signals and pledges from the State Council, Beijing will be unable to support the private sector to the extent needed to bolster growth. For one, the central government has too many policy challenges to juggle. It is also concerned that unbridled stimulus will generate moral hazard and lead to more speculative investments. To the extent that policy support for private firms will be inadequate, that means the vast majority of Chinese firms will continue to suffer from a cash crunch and some will face bankruptcies.
To revitalize the economy, China is going to speed up the development of "new infrastructure," especially in the smart city sectors, said the National Development and Reform Commission...
A Hubei government official, who works for a local smart city project, told PingWest that some cities hire experts to build their own technology stacks, while most would partner with tech giants like Huawei, Tencent, and Alibaba. In fact, smart cities are being vigorously promoted across China as a political task, according to the official, "we will do whatever it takes to get this work done."
After allowing banks to take a more lenient approach on how they classify bad debt, regulators in Beijing on Wednesday revealed the industry’s non-performing loan ratio nudged up just 0.06 percentage point to 2.04% at the end of March. The increase was held at bay as lenders agreed to let small businesses defer payments on 880 billion yuan in debt and rolled over another 576.8 billion yuan, according to the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission.
China has allowed 200 employees from South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co Ltd to enter the country to work on an expansion of the firm’s NAND memory chip factory, the company said on Wednesday.
3. Community management and the modernization of municipal social governance
Life under strict lockdown in Wuhan, where the first cases of the deadly new coronavirus were reported, was a reminder of the past for its elderly residents.
One of them, 75-year-old Jiang Hong, said the last three months had been just like life in the Mao Zedong era.
“It’s déjà vu really – a throwback to the 1960s when we lived in the people’s communes and everything was taken care of but you didn’t have much choice,” the retiree said.
But in 2020, she said officials used smartphones instead of loudhailers to get their message across. And people no longer relied on the food coupons widely used in China in the ’60s to buy essentials.
Like many elderly residents, Jiang had to learn to use social media app WeChat to adapt to her “new collective life”. All the residents in her community “cell” are connected through a WeChat group where they receive government messages and make payments online. These cells make up a grid-based neighbourhood monitoring and management system that exists across China...
According to independent political analyst Chen Daoyin, the model is “a modern version of the centralised autocratic controls that have been in place in China since the Qing dynasty”.
He said it brought together the household registration system and network of neighbourhood committees that were introduced soon after the founding of communist China in 1949 – and internet technology had taken it further.
As I wrote in the April 9 newsletter:
The top Xi Jinping news in the last 24 hours is a letter he wrote to community workers in Wuhan praising them for their work in battling the epidemic. According to the Xinhua report there are “more than 4 million community workers…in around 650,000 urban and rural communities” who have mobilized to help fight the outbreak. They have been key to allowing people to shelter in place, get food and other supplies delivered, and enforcing quarantines and social distancing...
In the fight against the virus these community workers look to have been quite a force for good.
As the COVID-19 battle slowly recedes, will this mobilization also relax? Or are we seeing the strengthening of the old-school neighborhood watch committees and reinvigorated grassroots Party work combined with grid management, pervasive technology and the Fengqiao Experience model 2.0 to achieve the “modernization of municipal social governance 市域社会治理现代化” we have been hearing so much about, especially since the Fourth Plenum?
As this newsletter discussed yesterday, worries about unemployment and underemployment are growing due to the collapse in global demand. Given that stability maintenance is always a priority, and may become even more challenging over the next few months, why wouldn’t this reinvigorated community mobilization become the new normal, in a kind of a back to future way?
One other point I have been trying to emphasize is that watching how China is slowly coming out of the worst of the outbreak makes me wonder how the US can reopen for business in the next few weeks, as more and more people seem to think is possible. The US has been behind the curve in preparing for the pandemic, and frankly it is hard to see how it will be ahead of the curve in reopening the economy. I hope I am wrong.
Beijing’s envoy to Washington accused senior US politicians on Tuesday of ignoring scientific expertise in favour of pursuing “groundless accusations”, after US President Donald Trump said over the weekend that Beijing may be “knowingly responsible” for the coronavirus outbreak.
“So little attention is paid to the views of the scientists,” Ambassador Cui Tiankai, appearing on a webcast event organised by Bloomberg News, said of the US.
“And some politicians are so preoccupied in their efforts for stigmatisation, for groundless accusations.”
O'Brien said China "controls" the WHO, and said the administration's investigation is intended to uncover how.
"We spend almost half a billion dollars with the WHO," he told Inskeep. "China, which controls the WHO, unfortunately — the WHO has become a bit of a propaganda tool for the Chinese — spends about $40 million. At least that's what they spend with the organization openly. How they may spend other money to influence the organization — that's something we're investigating very carefully."
“Even after the [Chinese Communist party] did notify the WHO of the coronavirus outbreak, China didn’t share all of the information it had,” Mr Pompeo told reporters on Wednesday, referring to Beijing’s December 31 notification to the World Health Organization of a cluster of pneumonia cases.
“Instead it covered up how dangerous the disease is. It didn’t report sustained human-to-human transmission for a month until it was in every province inside of China, it censored those who tried to warn the world in order to halt the testing of new samples, and it destroyed existing samples,” he said.
In Beijing, foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang also said China’s response was not under the jurisdiction of U.S. courts, adding that it had provided updates on the outbreak to the United States since Jan. 3.
“Such abuse of litigation is not conducive to the epidemic response at home in the United States and also runs counter to international cooperation,” Geng told a daily briefing on Wednesday, speaking about Missouri’s move.
Question: There is some talk that because the suit also names the CCP, a political party not a government, that sovereign immunity does not apply. And validity to that? And which law firm with the PRC hire to file to get this dismissed?
TASS News Agency: Attorney General Eric Schmitt of the State of Missouri filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the Chinese government in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri over the coronavirus, alleging that Chinese officials are "responsible for the enormous death, suffering, and economic losses they inflicted on the world, including Missourians". Does the Chinese Foreign Ministry have any comments on this allegation?
Geng Shuang: This kind of "lawsuit" has no factual or legal basis. It only invites ridicule.
Since the outbreak began, the Chinese government has been nothing but open, transparent and responsible in timely informing the WHO and relevant countries and regions including the US of pandemic-related information. We have shared the genome sequence of the virus, actively responded to the concerns of all parties and strengthened cooperation with the international community. Recently, we used a timeline to detail our exchange of information with the US. Since January 3, China has been regularly updating all countries including the US on the latest development of the situation. The US has unfettered access to information and date from China. China has made significant contributions to the global fight against the pandemic. The international community bears witness to and highly commends this.
Such lawsuit is nothing short of frivolous litigation which defies the basic theory of the law. Based on the principle of sovereign equality prescribed by international law, US courts have no jurisdiction over the sovereign actions taken by Chinese governments of all levels in response to the epidemic.
Such frivolous litigation will not help the US with its epidemic response, nor will it contribute to the global cooperation in this regard. The right course of action for the US side is to dismiss this abusive lawsuit.
A lawyer who previously filed a lawsuit against US government agencies over suspected intentionally spreading misinformation over the COVID-19 told the Global Times that both the US Consulate General Wuhan and a court in Wuhan, Hubei Province, have received his lawsuit.
Liang Xuguang, a lawyer based in Wuhan, told the Global Times in a video that both the US Embassy in China and Wuhan Intermediate People's Court had received his lawsuit filed against four US defendants – the US federal government, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the US Department of Defense, and the United States Military Sports Council – for potentially hiding the truth around the earlier outbreak of coronavirus in the US that brought damages to the Chinese people.
Question: So should we expect Geng Shuang to denounce this lawsuit too as “Such lawsuit is nothing short of frivolous litigation which defies the basic theory of the law”?
American officials were alarmed by fake text messages and social media posts that said President Trump was locking down the country. Experts see a convergence with Russian tactics...
The officials interviewed for this article work in six different agencies. They included both career civil servants and political appointees, and some have spent many years analyzing China..
Two American officials stressed they did not believe Chinese operatives created the lockdown messages, but rather amplified existing ones.
Meng Weizhan, an assistant research fellow at Fudan University, wrote on the WeChat account of “D&C Think” that China needs to win over the liberals in the US to fix this relationship. He suggests that dealing with the conservatives means China needs to make major compromises on its political system but dealing with the more China-friendly liberals means China can take advantage of their false hope on human rights and democracy, just as China did in the 1990s, which Meng said gave China an important “window period of strategic opportunity”. In this article Meng listed most American China hands, especially those signed that “China is not an enemy” open letter, as “liberals” or “American leftists”. The “D&C Think Tank” is a Beijing based think tank founded by one of the “democratic parties”, so essentially part of the United Front Department.
I therefore sought clarification from a U.S. company, Flightspin. They looked into the question of flights from Wuhan and concluded that it was very unlikely indeed that any flights had gone from Wuhan to Western cities after January 23. The Flightstats data I had used had omitted the fact that the flights recorded as having landed in San Francisco and Moscow after January 23 had in fact not departed from Wuhan. It appears that China Southern decided to operate the same flights, with the same flight numbers, but without making their usual stop in Wuhan.
Comment: It appears the claim that China allowed international flights to leave after January 23, as a way to spread the virus around the world, is BS.
A different era - Susan Rice on How China Helped Battle Ebola (2014) - YouTube
In this new video series, Carnegie’s Evan Feigenbaum talks in detail to six senior American decisionmakers who led the coordination with Beijing on some of the toughest—and indeed, some of the scariest—transnational problems the world has faced over the last two decades.
Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng Wednesday in Beijing attended an online commencement of enabling projects for ExxonMobil Huizhou Project...
The ExxonMobil Huizhou Project is the first large-scale petrochemical project built by a wholly-owned U.S. company in China. The project, with a total investment of about 10 billion U.S. dollars, will mainly include a 1.6 million tonne-per-year ethylene cracker
Wednesday CCTV Evening News on Han's attendance -韩正出席埃克森美孚广东惠州乙烯项目“云开工”仪式_CCTV
5. Virus origin
The US Secretary of State pinpointed multiple labs in China that would need to be examined by the world.
“These labs in China, not just the WIV, there are multiple labs that where the Chinese Communist Party is working on various levels of pathogens,” Mr Pompeo told The National. “It is important that there would be a global effort that those people working with dangerous substances have the capability to prevent accidental release.”
He reiterated that the virus originated in China and slammed the government there for suggesting “through their disinformation campaigns that it began in Europe or brought by US soldiers.”..
Now, he stressed, that several world leaders including the US and Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel want an investigation into the origin of the virus. “Those labs are still open, the world is not being permitted to go into these labs to evaluate their security and capacity…to prevent accidental release,” Mr Pompeo said.
Australia sought support for an international inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic in calls with U.S. President Donald Trump and major powers, but France and Britain said now was the time to fight the virus, not to apportion blame.
“Don’t play this ridiculous game that goes against science,” Zhong Sheng of People’s Daily wrote in a page 3 commentary Wednesday, attacking “certain US politicians” and Fox News for suggesting that the virus may have been leaked from a Wuhan lab. “Anyone with a sense of justice can see through this ugly show that gives no regard to facts and sciences. We must stay alert against these tactics that politicize science, spread conspiracy theory and smear others at such a critical moment for the world to combat the virus. They are essentially attempts to undermine the international solidarity and to disrupt the cooperation, which will bring nothing but more harm.”
Citing an article from the website “Grayzone”, Guancha said the smearing about the virus originated from a Chinese lab is the same tactic the Americans used on Iraq, blaming it for the nonexistent WMD.
Scientists and experts still lack necessary data to determine the nature of the novel coronavirus, and any groundless allegations about its artificial origin are unacceptable, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday.
This evidence is circumstantial, to be sure, but it all points toward the Wuhan labs. Thanks to the Chinese coverup, we may never have direct, conclusive evidence—intelligence rarely works that way—but Americans justifiably can use common sense to follow the inherent logic of events to their likely conclusion.
Mr. Cotton, a Republican, is a U.S. senator from Arkansas.
Xinhua online commentary: shirking responsibilities and shifting the blame onto others will put us all in greater danger. This online commentary criticized Fox News for spreading rumors of Wuhan virology institution being the origin of the COVID-19 virus. “This is just another political comedy show by American politicians and media to find themselves a scapegoat for the current chaos.”
6. Foreign work
World Health Organisation investigators would be given the same powers as weapons inspectors to forcibly enter a country under an Australian government plan to avoid a repeat of the COVID-19 global pandemic.
The move to overhaul the world health body comes as Australia will on Thursday call for an international review of wildlife markets, which the government says pose a "big risk" to human health and food production.
According to a tweet by the Chinese Ambassador to Malawi Liu Hongyang, the embassy will donate PPE to Kamuzu Central, Mzuzu Central and Queens Elizabeth Central Hospitals in the next few days.
Wednesday Evening CCTV News on all the praise and gratitude China has received from overseas for its aid in the Covid-19 fight
The statement was made by the AU Commission Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat, who commended Jack Ma for the third batch of massive medical equipment donation in support of the 55-member pan African bloc and the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) efforts in containing the spread of COVID-19 across the African continent.
"I thanked him for the donations of supplies to the AU Commission. This includes 4.6 million masks, 500,000 test kits, 200,000 personal protective equipments (PPEs), as well as 300 ventilators," Mahamat said after holding a phone call with Jack Ma on the latest medical supplies donation.
CCTV: On April 17, Jack Ma sat down with News 1+1 for an interview. When asked how to respond to criticism on his donations to foreign countries, he said that probably in any country, 99 percent are good people and 1 percent are brain-damaged, and if we focus too much on the 1 percent and lose sight of the 99 percent, it would be too sad. What is your comment? And could you update us on the assistance China has offered to the world?
Geng Shuang: Mr. Jack Ma was being very candid and straightforward. As a foreign ministry spokesperson, I'd like to say that in the face of major disasters and plagues, selfishness, hatred or acrimony is never the right choice. It is good conscience, mutual assistance and gratitude that gives us strength.
We will never forget the sincere help and strong support we received from the international community after the outbreak of COVID-19. Despite the high pressure of guarding against domestic resurgence and imported cases, China has been offering assistance to others as its ability permits.
According to statistics on hand, the Chinese government has provided or is providing urgently-needed medical supplies to more than 150 countries and international organizations. We are also facilitating other countries' commercial purchase in China. At the same time, many Chinese enterprises, civil organizations and localities including the Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Foundation have also been extending a helping hand to foreign countries.
China foreign minister, Wang Yi talked with Turkey foreign minister Çavuşoğlu on mutual understanding and support; Wang Yi said, China has sent multiple batches of prevention and control equipment to Turkey and will continue to do so.
In India, which this month marked 70 years of diplomatic relations with Beijing, anti-China sentiment has soared. Many Indians fault the country for allowing the virus’s spread, and references to the “Wuhan virus” and “China virus” have become commonplace.
Chinese manufacturers Guangzhou Wondfo Biotech and Zhuhai Livzon Diagnostics supplied these testing kits and are now being investigated by the Indian Council of Medical Research, according to media reports.
The batch of masks, which was acquired from the Chinese firm Garry Galaxy, was supposed to alleviate the shortage of PPE in Spain. But on Friday it became clear that the material was defective, after having been in use for 10 days – the material was distributed during Easter week, something that further complicates determining who had been using it.
China is calling for the end of "political tricks" to smear or stigmatize the country, said Chinese Ambassador to Italy Li Junhua in an interview with Italian magazine Scenari Internazionali.
The actions also harm global join efforts to combat the pandemic, said Chinese envoy on Tuesday.
When asked why Russians are discriminated in China and targeted by authorities during the virus outbreak, the Chinese ambassador to Russia told the Komsomolskaya Pravda that China has been treating foreigners fairly and some of the limits and restriction measures are necessary to prevent the new outbreak.
China's Covid diplomacy dispatching facemasks and respirators overseas is being hailed as the ultimate soft power play. But is this really soft power? To answer this question, we're joined by the man who coined the term, Joseph Nye, the former dean of Harvard Kennedy School of Government as well as Bates Gill, professor in the Department of Security Studies at Macquarie University, and Natasha Kassam, a research fellow in the Diplomacy and Public Opinion Program at the Lowy Institute.
Recently, some people with hidden agenda are playing up and exploiting the "situation of Africans in Guangzhou" to slander China as "discriminating Africans", and even label China as "engaging in racism", so as to discredit China-Africa cooperation. We have also noticed that some people even use local social media by circulation self-made video clips of “ no title, no time, no source, no verification”, to incite anti-China sentiments and damage China-South Africa and China-Africa friendship. We should remain highly vigilant of this dangerous development.
As a matter of fact, there is no such a thing as the so-called “discrimination against Africans in Guangdong Province”. The relevant reports were hyping up and exaggerating what actually happened. The video clips, some of which are many years old, are more like sensational gimmicks to attract public attention. The Chinese government’s position is firm, clear-cut and consistent, i.e. all foreign nationals in China are treated as equals. China rejects any differential treatment to them, and has zero tolerance for discrimination in any form. All the African friends are received in an unbiased, impartial, cordial and friendly manner in China.
“Over these months China has lost Europe,” said Reinhard Buetikofer, a German Green party lawmaker who chairs the European Parliament’s delegation for relations with China. He cited concerns from China’s “truth management” in the early stages of the virus to an “extremely aggressive” stance by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing and “hard line propaganda” that champions the superiority of Communist Party rule over democracy.
Comment: Seems premature to conclude this when the pandemic is far from ove
Senior Tory MPs and peers, from both wings of the party, including Chris Patten, the last governor of Hong Kong, and former leader Iain Duncan Smith, have told the Financial Times the government must now look to “reorientate” Sino-British relations.
Rightwing Conservatives in particular have long been sceptical about the communist state’s growing influence in the UK, epitomised by the deep unease over the role of Huawei, the Chinese telecom equipment maker, in the 5G cellular network...
“The pressure from our MPs and the public to punish China is huge. They are going to be blamed for the worst effects of this pandemic and we will have to shift our foreign policy to be more aligned to [US president Donald] Trump’s,” one senior Conservative MP said.
While the U.S. leadership in Latin America is being called into question, Beijing is positioning itself to carry the mantle.
Mr. Abel Deng, CEO of Huawei Technologies (Thailand) Co., Ltd., adds, “Telecommunications operators rapidly set up a specific 5G network dedicated to COVID-19 treatment hospitals to relief network congestion and guarantee quality of medical care service. Huawei, as a leading organization in technology and a good enterprise citizenship in Thailand, aims to enhance capabilities of Thai medical staff, by providing the AI solution from HUAWEI CLOUD and HUAWEI 5G technology, which will help with diagnosis, operation and cooperation within Siriraj Hospital. This will be the commencing point of using digital technology thoroughly in the Thai public health sector, also the cloud technology will improve the quality of medical service into the new level.”
“We can see that this is a good opportunity for us to let people know that Taiwan is a good global citizen,” Taiwan’s vice president, Chen Chien-jen, said this week in an interview in Taipei. “We have to fight for our participation.” Image
7. Online struggle sessions
With fear comes a crushing sense of powerlessness, particularly during this weird time as a tragic pandemic threatens every human’s life. This is a time when we are supposed to be most united as a species, yet what we see is sweeping nationalism and discrimination that are dividing us more profoundly. In China, the misery of COVID-19 along with an increasing hatred toward the U.S has together cultivated a wave of spontaneous (fueled by media demagoguery and censorship of course) patriotism that seems to be the fiercest over the past two decades. Today, to destroy a person’s reputation no longer requires the door-knock from the authority; as long as there is the internet (which records everything) and the patriotic Red Guards (which is everywhere on today’s Chinese internet), everyone could be trailed and to be accused of a crime (and liberal folks like us are particularly guilty. Look at these two women! They even write a blog for foreigners!).
We’d probably not be able to break free from our fear and powerlessness for a while given the current political situation, but to be trapped by those feelings and to stay silent is also not a satisfying option. So, after much encouragement to each other and to ourselves, the two of us finally worked up the nerves to write this piece...
In China’s 5000-year history, there were once a lot of ancient philosophical thoughts that we believe set the high moral standards of our nation. “Listen to both sides you will be enlightened, heed only one side you will be benighted.” (兼听则明，偏信则暗). “Treat others the way you like to be treated” (己所不欲,勿施于人) and many more. Sadly, during this global pandemic, a defensive, intolerant tone now marks most of the domestic public discussion. Today, everything is wrong except patriotism, and everyone could be wrong as long as they have an “incorrect” opinion.
Using the West’s transparency and free flow of information, state media outlets chronicled how badly others have managed the crisis. Their message: Those countries should copy China’s model. For good measure, the propaganda machine revved up its attacks on anybody who dared to question the government’s handling of the pandemic.
For many people in China, the push is working. Wielding a mix of lies and partial truths, some young people are waging online attacks against individuals and countries that contradict their belief in China’s superior response.
Comment: On the attacks on writer and Wuhan diarist Fang Fang
after Harper Collins announced plans to publish it in English, tens of thousands of online users descended on her Weibo account, saying she was a traitor for supporting the enemy’s narrative.
In a commentary, Hu Xijin, the Global Times editor, wrote that Fang Fang’s diary would be used by political forces abroad and that the Chinese people might have to “pay the price for Fang Fang’s fame in the West.”
The online backlash has been so severe, Fang Fang wrote on Weibo, that it reminds her of the Cultural Revolution, the decade of political violence and chaos that she saw as a child. The only comfort, she wrote, is that “this type of Cultural Revolution is only conducted in cyberspace.”
In a statement written by his lawyer, Chinese pianist Lang Lang denied the accusation that he has American citizenship or any foreign citizenship, after netizens attacked when "USA" appeared on the screen during video of his and his wife Gina's performance during the" One World: Together At Home" online concert
当地时间4月18日，由上百位全球顶级艺人共同参与的线上特别慈善音乐会“One World: Together At Home”举行，音乐会旨在向抗击新型肺炎第一线的工作人员致敬，并为全球新冠肺炎抗疫行动筹集善款。
The five-minute film was a joint effort by PaperClip, a group which produces educational films, and the WWF. It showed how farming for livestock and soybean is destroying forests in the Amazon region, in an attempt to encourage consumers to choose products certified sustainable. But linking the purchase of meat, eggs and milk by Chinese shoppers with deforestation sparked accusations that it was “insulting China”...
The video was provocatively titled How to Quickly Destroy the World’s Forests. It was first challenged on Bilibili.com, a video streaming site popular with young Chinese people, where Paperclip is well-known as a producer of science and technology content. A video Paperclip published on 2 February, Everything You Need to Know About the Coronavirus, provided detailed and accurate information on the epidemic and was watched over 100 million times
8. Oil crash pain
China's regulatory authorities have told the nation’s banks to look into any risks from their oil-related products and submit reports, Yicai Global learned today, after crude oil prices turned negative this week for the first time in history.
BoC has suspended clients from opening new positions on its Yuanyou Bao product, which is underpinned by domestic and overseas crude oil futures, citing current market risks, the bank said in a statement. It will still allow clients to close positions...
Investors trade the Yuanyou Bao products through margin deposit accounts at the BoC, in which the investors deposit certain cash to cover the cost of the products. Under the bank’s rules, when deposit are less than 20% of the value of the products, the bank could force investors to sell assets to meet the deposit requirement.
Bank of China is being accused by netizens for failing to execute the crude oil futures contracts soon enough (as everyone else did) before the price crashed on Monday to almost minus 40 USD, which caused huge loss for Chinese investors. A screenshot by an investor circulated online suggests he or she invested 3 million RMB and ended up owing the bank 6 million. The bank issued a statement saying it did everything by the book.
In a meeting on Monday, the leaders at China National Petroleum Corporation said the company is facing “unprecedented challenge” as the virus hit the economy and the oil price crashed. It said “the low oil price highlights CNPC’s problem of being big but not strong.”
Business, Economy and Trade
Yicai - Search Volume of Labor Day Holiday Travel Grows 90% Weekly Travel searches have continued to climb for the International Labor Day holiday that runs from May 1 to May 5 in China, with a weekly growth rate of over 90 percent, show data Alibaba Group Holding's Fliggy tourism platform and navigation APP Amap jointly released.
China's Sinopec in talks to buy stake in Hin Leong's Singapore terminal: sources - Reuters The company owes a total of $3.85 billion to 23 banks and has applied to a Singapore court to delay its debt repayments, according to a Hin Leong presentation to lenders on April 14 contained in the court filing, which was reviewed by Reuters but has not been made public.
Lululemon apologises after China backlash to ‘bat fried rice’ shirt | Financial Times $$ The hashtag “Lululemon insults China” garnered hundreds of millions of views on Weibo, the country’s domestic alternative to Twitter, and some users called for a boycott after the brand’s artistic director posted a picture of a T-shirt saying “no thank you” to a takeaway box of “bat fried rice”. The design was widely viewed by Chinese internet users as a racist reference to the origins of the global coronavirus pandemic in the city of Wuhan, capital of Hubei province.
China Called Out in U.S. Warning Over Emerging Market Investing - Bloomberg “In many emerging markets, including China, there is substantially greater risk that disclosures will be incomplete or misleading” and substantially less access to recourse in the event of investor harm, said the statement from four SEC officials and William Duhnke, chairman of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board.
Japan preps first subsidy to company moving production out of China - Nikkei Asian Review Consumer products maker Iris Ohyama is set to become the first Japanese company to receive a government subsidy to shift production out of China as part of an effort to build more resilient supply chains
Marbridge Consulting - China Telecom, Mobile and Internet Research China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) has released its national telecom industry statistics for the month of March 2020. China's total number of mobile service subscribers increased by over 9.6 mln during the period to reach just under 1.590 bln
Politics and Law
习近平在西安考察调研--时政--人民网 Xi inspected Xian, still no full propaganda package on this inspection tour
Employment is the key route out of poverty, Xi tells Shaanxi locals - CGTN During a recent inspection tour to northwest China's Shaanxi Province, Chinese President Xi Jinping told locals that employment is the key route out of poverty, while reiterating his confidence in achieving the goal of poverty eradication in the country by 2020.
Xi Focus-Quotable Quotes: Xi Jinping on work, production resumption - Xinhua Crises and opportunities always exist side by side. Once overcome, a crisis is an opportunity.
人民日报：郭声琨在平安中国建设协调小组第一次会议上强调, 努力创造让群众安业安居安康安心的良好环境 China sets up a “central coordination group on building a peaceful China.” The group is headed by Guo Shengkun head of the CCP Central Commission for Political and Legal Affair, and the first meeting of the group was attended yesterday by heads of public security, state security, armed police, the supreme court and the supreme procuratorate. Also in the meeting are general secretary of CCDI, and head of the PLA anti-corruption body. The duties of group, according to People’s Daily, include suppressing “activities that endanger national political security”, investigating and settling “conflicts related to the virus”, supervising the anti-mafia campaign and pilot programs on “modern municipal social governance”, as well as “effectively preventing cyber security risks”. //Worth noting that Liaoning governor Tang Yijun was in the meeting. Rumors are that he will replace Fu Zhenghua as the new Minister of Justice. Tang worked four decades in Zhejiang until 2017 when he was transferred to Liaoning.
Policy Lender Executive Made Vice Governor of Jiangsu Province - Caixin Ma Xin, a vice president of China Development Bank (CDB), the top policy lender in China, is set to be appointed as a vice governor of East China’s Jiangsu province, sources with knowledge of the matter told Caixin.
Wang Quanzhang: The judges were blatantly violating the law before they threw me in jail - William Yang I also asked the prosecutors that whether they were targeting my speeches or behaviors when they tried to charge me with subversion of state. They said they were targeting my behaviors. So when they charged me with subversion of state for posting things on Weibo, I asked them what was my illegal behavior? “Your act of typing constituted the crime under subversion of state,” the prosecutor told me. When I heard this, I was just speechless.
China’s Supreme People’s Court Issues Long-awaited Guidance on COVID-19 Related Civil Disputes | Morrison & Foerster On April 20, 2020, China’s Supreme People’s Court (“SPC”) published its Guiding Opinion on Several Issues Concerning Proper Trial of Civil Cases Involving COVID-19 Pandemic (I) (关于依法妥善审理涉新冠肺炎疫情民事案件若干问题的指导意见（一）; “Opinion”). In this long-awaited Opinion, the SPC gives lower courts in China guidance on handling civil cases relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Opinion offers detailed guidance on applying force majeure and other principles to contracts when their performance is impacted by COVID-19 and addresses a number of other issues that the SPC has identified as affecting judicial processes...The party seeking to be discharged in whole or in part from a civil liability due to force majeure must demonstrate (a) causation (including its extent) between the pandemic or related control measures and the party’s failure to perform, and (b) that it provided timely notice to the other party. In addition, if the party invoking force majeure contributed to the failure to perform or to the extent of losses suffered, it should bear legal responsibility for its contribution.
ChinaAid: Disappeared lawyer receives Lin Zhao Freedom Award A panel of judges decided unanimously today to grant the annual Lin Zhao Freedom Award to disappeared lawyer Gao Zhisheng...Named after Lin Zhao, a young woman who was executed for standing up for her beliefs and later exonerated, the prize recognizes Chinese rights activists who have suffered for their resilient stances.
14,000 people submit opinions on draft civil code - Xinhua The opinions include clarifying the identification criterion for members of rural collective economic organizations, clarifying the ownership of garages and parking spaces in residential communities and improving the system of the right of habitation, according to Yue Zhongming, spokesperson for the Legislative Affairs Commission of the NPC Standing Committee. "We will conduct careful research on the opinions and suggestions from the public and adopt the reasonable ones," said Yue
Journalists Harassed, Barred From Reporting on Dead Children in Henan - SixthTone The domestic outlets — Red Star News, The Beijing News, and Shangyou News — have all confirmed that their journalists were barred from reporting at a cemetery where four children who had died in an accident last week were being buried Tuesday. The deaths of the children at an illegal construction site in Yuanyang County led to eight suspects being detained. According to Red Star News, more than 10 people who refused to identify themselves stopped the outlet’s reporters from covering the funeral. The reporters said they were physically assaulted and had their phones confiscated.
封面新闻：河南原阳通报“涉记者治安事件”：视频中9名人员均系原兴办工作人员 The Yuanyang government admitted that the nine thugs who beat up reporters are local officials. The reporters were there to report the death of four children who were killed in an accident in a construction site. The local government had said earlier those who beat up the reporters were angry family members of the victims.
Foreign and Defense Affairs
Philippines protests China's sea claim, weapon pointing - AP The Philippines has protested China’s declaration that a Manila-claimed region in the disputed South China Sea is Chinese territory, and its aiming of weapons control radar at a Philippine navy ship, the country’s top diplomat said Wednesday.
Australian, US vessels in South China Sea as China flexes muscles - Sydney Morning Herald An Australian warship has been conducting exercises in the South China Sea with US ships, as tensions heighten in the disputed waterway while much of the world remains in lockdown because of coronavirus. Over the past few days the Australian ship HMAS Parramatta has been undertaking exercises with US ships America, Barry and Bunker Hill as they passed through the waters.
Vietnamese Threat Actors APT32 Targeting Wuhan Government and Chinese Ministry of Emergency Management in Latest Example of COVID-19 Related Espionage | FireEye Inc From at least January to April 2020, suspected Vietnamese actors APT32 carried out intrusion campaigns against Chinese targets that Mandiant Threat Intelligence believes was designed to collect intelligence on the COVID-19 crisis. Spear phishing messages were sent by the actor to China's Ministry of Emergency Management as well as the government of Wuhan province, where COVID-19 was first identified. While targeting of East Asia is consistent with the activity we’ve previously reported on APT32, this incident, and other publicly reported intrusions, are part of a global increase in cyber espionage related to the crisis, carried out by states desperately seeking solutions and nonpublic information.
Wagga Wagga council reverses controversial decision to cut ties with Chinese sister city - Australian Broadcasting Corporation A New South Wales council that sparked widespread controversy when it voted to cut ties with Kunming in China has rescinded the original motion and will issue an apology.
Friends and Enemies: A Framework for Understanding Chinese Political Interference in Democratic Countries – Alliance For Securing Democracy These characteristics of the party’s foreign interference have deep roots in how the party governs China. They are not accidental, and they did not first appear after Xi Jinping’s assumption of power. Rather, they grew out of the strategies, structures, and political warfare doctrines the party has used to address the many internal and external threats it perceives to its primacy within China. These components are the result of purposeful choices with deep roots in the party’s “us versus them” approach to power. This report is therefore also an attempt to look at the party’s expanding global footprint through its own eyes. The following sections explain the doctrine behind these components and provide examples of their use.
China lashes out at Canada for expressing concern over Hong Kong arrests - The Globe and Mail The Chinese embassy in Ottawa in a statement this week accused Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne of making what it called “irresponsible remarks” over the arrests. //Today is day 500 in PRC detention for Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor
The United States and a Resurgent Asia – Chas W. Freeman, Jr. Fifty-one years ago, in Guam, President Richard Nixon prescribed three principles for future U.S. policy in the Indo-Pacific: First, the United States will keep all its treaty commitments. Second, we shall provide a shield if a nuclear power threatens the freedom of a nation allied with us or of a nation whose survival we consider vital to our security. Third, in cases involving other types of aggression, we shall furnish military and economic assistance when requested in accordance with our treaty commitments. But we shall look to the nation directly threatened to assume the primary responsibility of providing the manpower for its defense. The nations of the Indo-Pacific are far more capable today than they were in 1969 of meeting the challenges of their own self-defense. This is, in large measure, a success of past U.S. policies. America should acknowledge this and act accordingly. It is time to implement Nixon’s vision.
人民海军发布形象宣传片《向海图强》 - 中国军网 3.5 minute propaganda video for the PLAN’s 71st anniversary - "Seek Strength on the Seas". Nice scene from Johnson South Reef (赤瓜礁) in the South China Sea
More on the 71st anniversary of the PLAN - 人民海军，生日快乐！中国已进入双航母时代，山东舰战力超辽宁舰
Hong Kong and Macao
Hong Kong reshuffles Cabinet, appoints 5 new ministers - AP Hong Kong on Wednesday appointed five new principal officials in a Cabinet reshuffle, with new appointments for the ministers overseeing mainland affairs, civil service, financial services and home affairs, as well as innovation and technology. The reshuffle, approved by the central Chinese government in Beijing and announced by China’s State Council, came on recommendations by Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam.
A fresh crackdown in Hong Kong 'will result in deaths', says democracy leader | The Guardian Martin Lee, the 81-year-old founder of Hong Kong’s Democratic party, has said there will be more fatalities and protests if authorities try to pass anti-subversion laws – which would outlaw “sedition, subversion and the theft of state secrets” – before the September legislature election. “It will result in deaths for sure,” he told the Guardian. “The Communist party won’t show any mercy. They have already stated their stance.”
Martin Lee: I was arrested in Hong Kong. It’s part of China’s larger plan. - The Washington Post Martin C. M. Lee is a barrister and founder of Hong Kong’s Democratic Party Also arrested Saturday were 14 other veteran democracy advocates, including academics, trade union leaders, an independent publisher, lawyers and former legislators. We are accused of violating a draconian law by participating in unauthorized, though peaceful, demonstrations. Already, news publisher Jimmy Lai, I and two others branded the “Gang of Four” have been accused of having committed 14 offenses on the mainland — and had the extradition bill been passed, we could have faced trial already in China instead of Hong Kong...Hong Kong people now face two plagues from China: the coronavirus and attacks on our most basic human rights. We can all hope a vaccine is soon developed for the coronavirus. But once Hong Kong’s human rights and rule of law are rolled back, the fatal virus of authoritarian rule will be here to stay.
Two teens charged with murder of elderly man during Hong Kong protest clashes | South China Morning Post Two teenagers have been charged with the murder of a 70-year-old cleaner who was hit on the head with a brick during a clash between Hong Kong anti-government protesters and other residents last year. Student Chan Yin-ting, 16, and Kelvin Lau Tsz-lung, who is 17 and unemployed, were taken on Wednesday to Tuen Mun Court, where they also faced charges of rioting and wounding with intent.
环球时报：香港警方突击搜查全港11地 检获5支枪械拘3人 Hong Kong police raided 11 places in the city, seizing 5 guns, on April 20. 3 people were arrested.
Tech and Media
South China Morning Post to cut pay of top management and put staff on three weeks unpaid leave as part of cost-cutting measures | South China Morning Post Twenty-seven senior executives, including CEO Gary Liu and Editor-in-Chief Tammy Tam, have agreed to have their pay cut immediately, and all staff earning more than HK$20,000 a month have been asked to take three weeks unpaid leave by the end of March next year. Salaries will be frozen, except for promotions. There has also been a limited number of redundancies.
Energy, Environment, Science and Health
Inside the Legal Battle to Save China’s Green Peafowls - SixthTone Three years ago, the peafowl’s plight caught the attention of the Beijing-based nonprofit environmental organization where I work, Friends of Nature. We sued to block construction of the dam. In August 2017, the case became China’s first public interest civil lawsuit aimed at averting future environmental damage to wildlife to be heard in court since the Supreme People’s Court issued a judicial interpretation in 2015 allowing such cases to proceed. In its March ruling, the court ordered the defendant — construction firm Xinping Development — to immediately suspend construction of the dam, not take in or store water, and stop felling plants in the hydropower station’s future reservoir...Nevertheless, environmentalists are concerned that the ruling will not be enough to save the green peafowl, as the judgment does not directly challenge the government’s decision to approve the project.
Rural and Agricultural Issues
China to bolster financial, insurance support to agriculture, rural areas - Xinhua China will ramp up financial and insurance assistance to sectors related to agriculture, rural areas and farmers, according to a circular issued by the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission. To secure the supply of major farm produce, the commission encouraged commercial banks to strengthen financial support for grain production, circulation, processing, storage, import and export and consumption, and offer good financial services to the animal husbandry industry.
胡春华在河南、山东实地督导夏粮和生猪生产 Vice premier Hu Chunhua inspected Henan and Shandong, giving instructions and guidance on optimizing summer crops production and pig farming.