Li Wenliang investigation; No new cases in Hubei per official data; Xi and Putin chat

Hi everyone, no commentary today, didn’t like what I spent the last 45 minutes writing so will leave it at this. I will be holding an open thread Friday for subscribers only, look for an email tomorrow morning DC time.


The Essential Eight

1. The outbreak

Comment: Officials stats show 0 new cases in Hubei. Yes I know we need to take the official data with a grain of salt, but we should all cheer the progress.

Chinese mainland reports 34 newly imported COVID-19 cases - Xinhua

The commission said it received reports of 34 newly confirmed cases on the mainland Wednesday, all of which were imported from outside China.

Of the 34 newly imported cases, 21 were reported in Beijing, nine in Guangdong Province, two in Shanghai, one in Heilongjiang Province and one in Zhejiang Province, according to the commission.

Beijing cuts infection channels from abroad - Global Times

To curb imported cases in Beijing is a critical task because if the epidemic resurrects in the capital, it would exert a direct impact on international exchanges and political meetings such as the "two sessions," the annual meetings of China's top legislative body and top political consultative body, analysts said.


After reporting 54 imported cases of coronavirus, Beijing government told Chinese students overseas not to return to China recently unless they have to.

Yicai Global - Shanghai Expands Epidemic Prevention Key Countries to 24

Those newly listed countries refer to Australia, Malaysia, Greece, the Czech Republic, Finland, Qatar, Canada and Saudi Arabia, said the Shanghai municipal epidemic prevention and control headquarters.

The original list of high-risk countries includes the Republic of Korea, Italy, Iran, Japan, France, Spain, Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Sweden, Belgium, Norway, the Netherlands, Denmark and Austria.

Concentrated observation required for people arriving in Beijing from other countries - Xinhua

Beijing municipality has required people arriving in the city from other countries to undergo a self-paid 14-day concentrated medical observation from Thursday, as imported cases of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continue to increase.

Australian woman asked to leave China for flouting quarantine rules - Global Times

The Australian woman who breached Beijing coronavirus quarantine rules by taking a jog outside her home has been asked to leave China, a decision that instantly won sweeping approval among Chinese netizens, while legal experts said it was a lenient punishment.

The Beijing Public Security Bureau decided to cancel the woman's work-type residence permit in accordance with the law and asked her to leave the country within a certain time, Pan Xuhong, an official from the bureau, told the press on Thursday.

With No New Covid-19 Cases, Wuhan’s Neighbors Ease Up on Traffic Controls - Caixin

Qianjiang, Shiyan and Xiangyang had removed all traffic controls by Wednesday, when Hubei province recorded no new cases of Covid-19 for the first time since the pandemic began in January...

Counties with zero new confirmed Covid-19 cases for 14 straight days are categorized as low-risk zones. As of Sunday, 71 of Hubei’s 76 counties met that standard. Only one place in the province, downtown Wuhan, was classified as high-risk.

Critical Shortage in Face Masks Lures Home Appliances, Auto and Phone Makers- PingWest

The total output volume of surgical masks and N95 respirators combined surpassed 226 million per day, a significant increase compared to early February, according to data from China’s National Development and Reform Commission. Prices dropped to normal rate in China as the country has brought new infections under control and seemingly heading to a safer situation than weeks ago.

To Learn About Pandemic Abroad, Chinese Sift Through Fake News - Sixth Tone

As COVID-19 infections fall in China but rise abroad, social messaging app WeChat has been flooded with fake news about the supposedly chaotic pandemic situations in foreign countries. An analysis published Wednesday by Sixth Tone’s sister publication The Paper said that, out of more than three dozen public accounts found to be spreading fake news, many were publishing nearly identical articles, with the only differences being the country’s name and a few minor details.

[视频]全国一盘棋快速统筹调度, 抗击疫情后勤保障彰显我国制度显著优势

CCTV evening news on Thursday praised that China’s handling of the virus, which it said demonstrates the “obvious advantages of our country’s institutions”.

2. What some scientists are saying

Opinion: I Fought the Coronavirus in China. Here’s How I Think the U.S. and European Responses Stack Up - Caixin Global

The darkest time has passed in China. Its people have paid a heavy price for the victory so far. But the battle is not over. China still faces a great risk of imported cases.

Based on the current global response, it remains unclear whether the outbreak will end this summer, with the biggest constraints in countries such as Italy and Iran.

If the outbreak in these countries continues to worsen, it’s possible the pandemic could last to next year. If so, the battle we are fighting now is just the beginning.

Zhang Wenhong is director of the department of infectious diseases from Shanghai’s Huashan Hospital.

Exclusive: Why ‘Smart’ Covid-19 Virus May Be Here to Stay - Caixin

Chinese health authorities initially failed to identify and control the threats posed by Covid-19 because of faulty assumptions and weaknesses in a carefully constructed direct reporting system, according to Shao Yiming, a prominent virologist who is chief HIV/AIDS expert at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)...

It is a great pity that the direct reporting system to monitor infectious disease set up after the SARS outbreak didn’t play its due role during this epidemic. Under the rules, the cases should be submitted to the system whenever there are more than three unknown pneumonia cases. The system is in place with a network covering more than 70,000 reporting points across the country, and doctors can do it with a simple click. The reports will be simultaneously submitted to the national and local level of the Disease Control and Prevention Center (CDC). The idea of the direct reporting system is to reduce administrative intervention and save time in the face of an epidemic. But after 15 years of operation of this costly system, all the efforts unbelievably turned out to be in vain, and hierarchical review and administrative intervention were back in place. Why were there such actions, which violate the Law on the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases, could happen in government and law enforcement departments? Why didn’t local experts fulfill their duty according to the infectious disease reporting rules? And why did the National Health Commission and its experts fail to collect important information in a timely way? Whether we can find true and adequate answers to these questions will be important to future work.

Undetected Covid-19 Cases Fueled Disease’s Early Spread: Study - Caixin

Scientists estimate that about 86% of people who had the virus were not documented in Wuhan before the city was put under an unprecedented lockdown on Jan. 23, according to the study titled “Substantial undocumented infection facilitates the rapid dissemination of novel coronavirus” which was published Monday in the journal Science.

The undocumented cases were 55% as contagious as documented infections, the study found, adding results could shift in other countries with different control, surveillance and reporting practices. The relatively high numbers of undocumented infections meant they were the sources for 79% of documented cases, according to the study.

The study - Substantial undocumented infection facilitates the rapid dissemination of novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV2)

Recovered Monkeys Show Covid-19 Immunity: Experiment - Caixin

In a recent experiment led by the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, rhesus monkeys that recovered from coronavirus infections suffered no reinfection symptoms after being put back into contagious environments. The study found the monkeys produced antibodies that were key to resisting reinfection.

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

CGTN: Zhong Nanshan: No evidence that COVID-19 originated in Wuhan

Renowned Chinese respiratory specialist Zhong Nanshan said that there is no evidence showing that COVID-19 originated in Wuhan, noting that it is irresponsible to jump to conclusions without getting facts straight.

3. The race for a vaccine

China’s Wolf Warrior strives to be first with coronavirus vaccine - The Washington Post

In “Wolf Warrior II,” a muscular and nationalistic Chinese action movie that broke box-office records in 2017, a heroic military scientist called Dr. Chen developed a vaccine for a deadly virus called Lamanla that was spreading across Africa.

Two years earlier, a muscular and nationalistic Chinese state had sent a heroic military scientist called Dr. Chen to Sierra Leone to develop a vaccine for a deadly virus called Ebola that was spreading across Africa.

The none-too-subtle reference was not lost on Chinese audiences.

Now, in 2020, as a deadly coronavirus that causes a disease known as covid-19 spreads across the world, Dr. Chen is back in the limelight.

This time it’s the real Dr. Chen: Chen Wei, a major general in the People’s Liberation Army and a virologist who leads the Institute of Bioengineering at the Academy of Military Medical Sciences.

4. Li Wenliang investigation completed

Findings on Dr. Li incident reflect facts, public sentiment - Global Times

The investigation team dispatched by China's top supervisory body to probe issues related to Dr. Li Wenliang just reported the result of their investigation. It concluded that the reprimand order issued by Zhongnan Road Police Station, Wuhan Public Security Bureau was inappropriate and the law-enforcement process didn't conform to standards. The investigation team requested and urged police authorities to revoke the reprimand and hold related people accountable.

Some people might be dissatisfied with the decision which only requests to revoke the reprimand order. They may expect arrests of a few high-ranking officials and a verdict on the Wuhan government's performance in the initial stage of the outbreak.

But the team was sent to investigate issues involving Li, instead of the performance of the Wuhan government and Hubei provincial authorities. It is believed there would be additional probes into the Wuhan government's slow action and inadequate response in the early stage, and any mishandling will be strictly held accountable. After the epidemic concludes, the country will conduct a comprehensive review and reflection, when the accountability mechanisms will certainly not be overlooked.

In early March, Li was already honored as an outstanding individual in fighting the deadly coronavirus, a significant signal which was obviously related to the early work of the inspection team. The investigation team further withdrew the reprimand. These two developments indicate that Li had been completely "exonerated." The country has given Li the affirmation and respect he deserves...

The investigation has ended. It was generally fair to Li. But reflection must go on as to why the coronavirus epidemic took place in China 17 years after the SARS outbreak. The reflection will make an impact as relevant people are held accountable. There is a lot to be done to make the country's preventive and control mechanism work effective and allow the country to draw experiences and perfect its modern governing capabilities. The work goes beyond the inspection on Li and his colleagues.

Reclaiming Doctor Li | China Media Project

The message from China’s leadership today: Li Wenliang belongs to the Chinese Communist Party, and any attempt to portray him as a folk hero or oppositional figure is unacceptable...

Perhaps more significant than the release of the investigation findings is a separate news release from the official Xinhua News Agency that includes a Q&A with the National Supervisory Commission on its findings. That release takes on a far more antagonistic tone, portraying the so-called “Li Wenliang incident” in early February as an attempt by “hostile forces” to undermine the Party’s leadership.

The official findings - 国家监委调查组负责人答记者问|新冠肺炎|李文亮_新浪新闻

The Q &A - (受权发布)关于群众反映的涉及李文亮医生有关情况调查的通报-新华网

Wuhan police urged to revoke virus ‘whistleblower’ Li Wenliang's reprimand order following probe - Global Times

The release of the findings of the 42-day probe, which specifically centered on Li's case that has been highly politicized and used in attacks on China's political system, showed the Chinese government is committed to moving forward, while remains wary of such ulterior motives...

The grief expressed over Li's case has also been exploited by secessionists and foreign entities, which have spread anti-China sentiment on social media. It has become a source to share emotions and even outrage over Wuhan's handling of COVID-19 in the early stage, with some maliciously intending to use Li's death to incite "social movements" in China.

The US Senate passed a resolution honoring Li on March 3, calling for transparency and cooperation from the Chinese government. However, observers warned that foreign entities and forces are exploiting the grief the public expressed over Li's death and spreading anti-government rhetoric on social media.

Wuhan Police Apologize for Coronavirus Whistleblower’s Death - Sixth Tone

“The letter of criticism issued by the Zhongnan Road police station was inappropriate, and the law enforcement process was nonstandard,” the commission concluded. Investigators found that the two signatures on the letter chastising Li for “spreading rumors” — officers surnamed Hu and Xu — were both signed by Hu. “Actually, Xu didn’t participate in their conversation,” the report said...

“The Wuhan Municipal Public Security Bureau has decided to withdraw the letter of criticism and solemnly apologize to Li’s family,” the police wrote on microblogging platform Weibo. They also announced that Hu — the officer who forged a signature on the letter — and the police station’s deputy chief had been given a warning and a demerit, respectively.

5. The economy

Most of China Is Returning to Normal, Premier Li Says - Bloomberg

Efforts will be made to accelerate the resumption of work, and any barriers to the flow of people and goods in low-risk areas should be removed, Li said, according to a statement on the government’s website. He said there is no need to impose quarantine on people in low-risk areas

The statement - 李克强主持召开中央应对新冠肺炎疫情工作领导小组会议 部署调整优化防控措施 进一步精准防范疫情跨境输入输出等

China to ramp up spending to revive economy, could cut growth target - sources - Reuters

China is set to unleash trillions of yuan of fiscal stimulus to revive an economy expected to shrink for the first time in four decades amid the coronavirus pandemic, while a planned growth target is likely to be cut, according to four policy sources.

The ramped-up spending will aim to spur infrastructure investment, backed by as much as 2.8 trillion yuan ($394 billion) of local government special bonds, said the sources. The national budget deficit ratio could rise to record levels, they added.

Beijing is likely to have to lower its economic growth target for 2020 given the prolonged impact of the pandemic, according to the sources involved in internal policy discussions who declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter...

Local governments will be allowed to issue more special bonds, which could hit 2.5-2.8 trillion yuan this year, compared with 2.15 trillion yuan in 2019, the sources said.

Comment: But that still sounds nothing like the 2009 stimulus

China Focus: China hands out vouchers to spur virus-hit consumption - Xinhua

Nanjing has been giving out vouchers worth 318 million yuan to its residents since Sunday. People are invited to participate in lotteries for e-vouchers which can be used in restaurants, gymnasiums, bookshops as well as tourist spots, helping the service sector bounce back.

The voucher bonus has been well received as more than 1.6 million local citizens have registered for the lotteries as of Monday, according to the Nanjing Big Data Administration Bureau.

Vouchers to Boost Post-Virus Spending Trigger Affordability Warning - Caixin

“Local governments should pay attention to two things when making these policies,” Ha Zengyou, director-general of the employment and income distribution department at the National Development and Reform Commission, said (link in Chinese) at a press briefing on Wednesday. “First, they should consider how much funding they can afford and second, they must ensure that the measures can bring real benefits to businesses and the public.”

Ha’s comments came after three major cities in eastern China –– Nanjing, the capital of Jiangsu province; Jinan, the capital of Shandong; and Ningbo, a port city in Zhejiang –– issued coupons with a combined face value of more than 400 million yuan ($56.6 million).


Mayors or party boss of at least 16 cities went shopping or eating out publicly, in a bid to boost public confidence and encourage people to consume more.

China Home Sales Plunged in February as Outbreak Intensified - Bloomberg

Contracted sales plunged 33% on average versus February 2019 across 30 developers tracked by Bloomberg. The contraction was the steepest in at least six years and came despite property firms’ best efforts to migrate sales online.

China to help exporters with fiscal, finance steps: ministry - Reuters

“The coronavirus epidemic is spreading across the world, and foreign trade enterprises may encounter weak external demand, declines in orders and other issues in the future,” Jiang Fan, an official with the ministry’s foreign trade department, said during a weekly briefing held online.

Jiang did not elaborate on what these measures are, but stressed they will be conducted in accordance with World Trade Organization rules.

China Cinemas Bring Back Popular Movies to Kickstart Theatrical – Variety

They include four Chinese blockbusters: Peter Chan’s 2013 “American Dreams in China,” 2015’s “Wolf Totem,” directed by France’s Jean-Jacques Annaud, and two of the country’s highest grossing films of all time, the patriotic titles “Wolf Warrior 2” and sci-fi adventure “The Wandering Earth.”

Chinese factories face new threat: US anti-virus controls - AP

Factories in China, struggling to reopen after the coronavirus shut down the economy, face a new threat from U.S. anti-disease controls that might disrupt the flow of microchips and other components they need.

6. Foreign propaganda work

Xi Jinping holds phone talk with Vladimir Putin - CGTN

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday talked with Russian President Vladimir Putin over the phone at the latter's invitation...

Xi stressed that China and Russia have supported and assisted each other and conducted close cooperation during the special period of fighting against the epidemic, which reflects the high level of China-Russia relations in the new era.

During the phone conversation, Putin noted that the Chinese government has taken effective measures to combat the epidemic in not only controlling the domestic epidemic, but also making important contributions to protect the health and safety of the people around world.

"China has set a good example for the international community by extending timely assistance to the affected countries,"

"China's actions are a resounding response to the provocations and stigmatization of China by some countries." Putin said.

Comment: Will Putin be able to continue siding with Xi if the outbreak gets bad in Russia?

Readout of the Xi-Putin call -习近平同俄罗斯总统普京通电话-新华网


How China Is Reshaping the Coronavirus Narrative - The New York Times

We looked at China’s expansive propaganda system aimed at foreigners and analyzed thousands of English-language tweets from state media and diplomats. Here are the coronavirus messages China is projecting to the world.

China Is Trolling the World and Avoiding Blame - The Atlantic - Shadi Hamid Senior fellow at the Brookings Institution

The political scientist Andrew Michta has drawn controversy and accusations of racism for stating what any measured overview of the evidence makes clear. “The question about assigning agency and blame is pretty straightforward to answer,” he writes in The American Interest. The Chinese state, he says, is culpable.

But is this a time for blame? Yes, it is. Accounting for responsibility when a disaster happens—particularly one likely to devastate entire countries, leaving thousands dead—is not beside the point, particularly as Chinese officials move to take advantage of the crisis and launch a disinformation campaign claiming that the U.S. Army introduced the virus.

Well before the new coronavirus spread across American cities, the Chinese regime was already rather creatively trolling U.S. publications, expelling American journalists, and “weaponizing wokeness” over anything it perceived as critical of China’s role in mishandling the epidemic. To hear Chinese spokespeople use the language of racism and prejudice is somewhat surreal, considering this is a regime that has put more than 1 million Muslims and ethnic minorities in “reeducation” camps.

Taiwan facing risk of infection wave due to flawed control effort: experts - Global Times

The island of Taiwan's epidemic control efforts against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) are seriously flawed and Taiwan is facing the risk of another wave of COVID-19 infections, as the island's authority previously only focused on preventing cases from the Chinese mainland but not those from the rest of the world, multiple experts from the island said on Wednesday.

The experts' statements came after US-based media outlet Foreign Policy published an argument article on Monday titled "Fear of China Made Taiwan a Coronavirus Success Story," which claimed the island had brought things under control using "a combination of early vigilance, proactive measures, and information sharing with the public, as well as applying technology in the form of analyzing big data and online platforms."

Bolsonaro’s son enrages Beijing by blaming China for coronavirus crisis | The Guardian

On Wednesday, Bolsonaro’s influential politician son Eduardo – who many regard as Brazil’s de facto foreign minister and has close ties to Steve Bannon – enraged Beijing with an incendiary tweet about its role in the pandemic.

“It’s China’s fault,” Bolsonaro claimed on Twitter, retweeting a message that said: “The blame for the global coronavirus pandemic has a name and surname: the Chinese Communist party.”..

Yang Wanming, Beijing’s top diplomat in Brazil, demanded an immediate retraction and apology for the “evil insult”, while his embassy accused Eduardo Bolsonaro of contracting “a mental virus” during a recent trip to the United States.

Its Coronavirus Cases Dwindling, China Turns Focus Outward - The New York Times

“I don’t know and now I don’t care,” Michele Geraci, a former under secretary in the Italian economic development ministry, said in an interview when asked whether the assistance reflected China’s geopolitical ambitions as much as humanitarian concerns.

He said the urgent issue was to provide aid to save lives, something that Italy’s allies in the European Union were unable or unwilling to do..

“China is now trying to repair its severely damaged international image due to its mishandling of the outbreak in Wuhan in early January,” Minxin Pei, a professor of government at Claremont McKenna College in California, wrote in an email.

“Donating medical supplies shows China is a responsible and generous world power,” he added. “It is also touting its success in containing the coronavirus outbreak to suggest its one-party regime is superior to the bumbling democracies in the West, in particular the U.S.”

從信任危機到世界救星,中國政府如何重建「大國自信」敘事|2019冠狀病毒疫情|深度|端傳媒 Initium Media


Initium looks at how China has seemingly gained the propaganda high ground in telling its story of fighting the outbreak, after mistakes in January and February

I think Zhao Lijian's tweet suggesting the US Army might have spread the virus will go down in history as a massive error that may derail the CCP's global propaganda efforts.

7. US-China

Coronavirus cases: Trump blames China for pandemic in US, world - CNBC

President Donald Trump emphatically blamed China for the coronavirus pandemic Thursday, and again made a point of using the term “Chinese virus.”

“The world is paying a very big price for that they did,” Trump said, referring to his claim that Chinese officials did not fully share information sooner about the coronavirus outbreak after it began in China.

“It could have been stopped right where it came from, China,” Trump said at a White House news conference.

He argued that American officials would have been able to act faster if China’s government had fully shared information about the outbreak, which began around the city of Wuhan.

Commentary: No more time for U.S. politicians' repeated racist mistakes -Xinhua

Faced with domestic criticism and deepened public fears, some White House politicians sharpened their rhetoric against China this week, referring to the widespread coronavirus as the "Chinese virus," "Wuhan virus," or the "kung-flu," blaming China for the epidemic, and arousing virus-related hatred.

But putting the blame on China is not an easy or quick way out of the twin health and economic crises faced by the U.S. administration. The tactic can only hurt China-U.S. relations and dampen the confidence in fighting the coronavirus, domestically and internationally.

When the U.S. public sees that their government has sunk so low as to scapegoat China, fears will only deepen, as shown in the continuous slide in the U.S. stock market despite increasing policy efforts.

Spotlight: U.S. politicians' use of "Chinese virus" widely condemned - Xinhua

Michael Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization's health emergencies program, warned on Wednesday against using the phrase "Chinese virus," saying that "Viruses know no borders, and they don't care about your ethnicity, the color of your skin or how much money you have in the bank."

"So it's really important we be careful in the language we use," Ryan said at a news conference in Geneva, giving an example of the H1N1 influenza outbreak in 2009.

The pandemic "originated in North America and we didn't call it the North American flu," he said, calling for solidarity and joint efforts of all countries.

Fox News hosts echo Trump, blame China for coronavirus pandemic - The Washington Post

On Wednesday night, several of Fox News’s most popular personalities sent a clear message to their audiences: There is only one country to blame for the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic.

“This calamity, this pandemic, was avoidable,” Tucker Carlson said on his prime-time show. “It happened because China hid the truth about what was happening from the rest of the world.”

Hosts Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham took their criticisms of China even further.

“Their months-long coverup is now causing death and destruction and carnage all over the world,” Hannity said.

“China has blood on its hands,” Ingraham gravely told viewers.

Secretary Michael R. Pompeo With Sean Hannity of The Sean Hannity Show - United States Department of State

QUESTION: Here with a lot more on this and so much more, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Mr. Secretary, great to see you. Thank you for being with us. You actually brought in Chinese representatives to your office on this very topic of blaming the U.S. military and other issues. Can you bring us inside that conversation?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, Sean, thanks for having me on tonight. We did, in fact, call on the Chinese ambassador, and I spoke to my counterpart in China a couple days back. This disinformation campaign, which began when we began to call out this risk that was created not only for the Chinese people, but now we can see people all across the world where the Chinese Government knew about this risk, had identified it, they were the first to know, and they wasted valuable days at the front end, allowing hundreds of thousands of people to leave Wuhan to go to places like Italy that’s now suffering so badly.

They tried to suppress this information – you talked about the means by which they did it – instead of trying to actually do the work to suppress the virus, which is what the world demanded. And the Chinese Communist Party didn’t get it right and put countless lives at risk as a result of that...

We have had an incredibly difficult time getting professional medical people in. You’ll recall early on we offered to have America’s finest experts travel there to assist them, to assist the World Health Organization. We weren’t permitted in. These are the kind of things that the Chinese Communist Party has done that have put the world and the world’s people at risk.

Video - Pompeo rips China; says Beijing put 'countless lives at risk', pandemic 'repeatable' without transparency | Fox News

Coronavirus: WHO official denounces stigmatising language such as that used by Donald Trump | South China Morning Post

“It’s really important that we be careful in the language we use lest it lead to profiling of individuals associated with the virus,” said Mike Ryan, the head of the WHO’s health emergency programmes. “This is just something we need to all avoid.”

Virus pushes U.S.-Chinese relationship toward fracture - POLITICO

Steve Bannon, a former chief strategist in Trump’s White House who has long warned about the dangers posed by a rising China, said any goodwill built up as a result of reaching the initial trade deal is now moot. He blamed Beijing’s early actions — when it was accused of trying to cover up the crisis and resisting outside help — for “metastasizing” the pandemic.

“Now you can see they are on a propaganda offensive to blame this on the West, particularly the United States, and it’s going to lead to a further confrontation. There is a confrontation coming,” Bannon said.

He said a confrontation would likely involve an escalation “in the information war and the economic war.”


Chinese ambassador Cui Tiankai held a online Q&A [I watched a bit of it on the CGTN Youtube channel last night] with Chinese students in the US. When asked whether they should return to China given the virus outbreak, Cui said only that if they do, they need to comply with the rules of local Chinese governments, and the Chinese embassy will provide the help needed if they contract the virus. When asked about how to handle racism in the US against Chinese, Cui said that the vast majority of American people are still friendly to Chinese, and those racists are danger to not just the Chinese people but American people as well.

8. More moves against American news organizations

The Foreign Ministry is forcing some of the PRC journalists at the targeted US news organizations, and I am hearing at least one other, to quit. These people are dedicated reporters who take many risks to help foreign correspondents, and they contribute a lot to the reporting. Their status came up in a question at the Thursday Foreign Ministry Press conference.

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang's Regular Press Conference on March 19, 2020

Q: China announced reciprocal countermeasures on some American media organizations yesterday. First question, according to some US officials and analysts, American people can watch CGTN in the US; China Daily and People's Daily can get published freely in the country, and China Daily has cooperation with three American newspapers subject to China's countermeasures. By contrast, none of the American newspapers or TV shows are accessible to Chinese citizens here. That's why they think it's not really reciprocal. I wonder if you could respond to that? Second question, we learned that the credentials of many Chinese employees working in American media agencies have been revoked by a subsidiary of the foreign ministry. According to Chinese laws, foreign media in China's mainland cannot just hire whichever Chinese employee they want; the employment must be approved by this subsidiary. This indicates that these Chinese employees are deprived of opportunities to work for those foreign media organizations. Given that the US measures only target Chinese employees in the US, can you give us any explanation for China's move?

A: I'll take your second question first. The Chinese competent authorities, including the subsidiary you mentioned, have been lawfully managing affairs related to Chinese employees of foreign media agencies in China.

Your first question was about reciprocity. Each country has its unique national condition, public opinion environment, media ecology and related laws and regulations. Regarding this matter, all countries should respect each other's domestic conditions and customary practices.

As we repeatedly stressed, we welcome foreign media and journalists, including those from the US, covering news in China according to law and regulation, and we provide convenience and support for them. What we oppose is ideological bias towards China, fake news in the name of press freedom, and violation of professional ethics. As we keep saying, our fundamental policy of opening-up hasn't changed and will remain unchanged. We hope foreign media and correspondents can play a constructive role in enhancing mutual understanding between China and the world.


An article circulated on WeChat criticized the foreign ministry’s decision for targeting the Chinese staff at American news outlets. It said their wok is important in bridging the gap between China and the world and their work may be critical of China but they are all for the better interest of China.


Reuters’ Keith Zhai wrote a good Twitter thread on the PRC reporters working for foreign news organizations:

U.S. ill mentalities to expulse Chinese journalists only cause troubles - People's Daily Zhong Sheng

While beating their brains out to contain China-U.S. exchanges, these Americans are acting innocent and posing as “victims.” For instance, the U.S. is doing everything to cook up the so-called threat of the Chinese media, as if the only super power in the world was fragile – there’s just too much acting. The attacks on Chinese media are totally groundless, and the expulsion of Chinese journalists is nothing but political oppression.

A major reason for the rising disputes and contradictions over China-U.S. relations is the growing Cold War mentality and ideological prejudices of certain Americans. By exaggerating media competition, the U.S. is indeed inciting a competition between American and Chinese modes.

The original - 人民日报钟声:美方制造矛盾的错误心态贻害无穷

Business, Economy and Trade

China Builders Face Defaults as Cashflow Comes Under Pressure - Bloomberg Chinese property developers, the biggest junk bond issuers in Asia, are at growing risk of default as the coronavirus outbreak squeezes funding channels, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers. In China, 90% of apartments are sold before construction is completed, making developers “reliant on pre-sales as part of their overall financing,” PwC said in a report released in Hong Kong on Thursday.

Chinese issuers turn to bond exchanges as repayment pressures build - Reuters Under bond exchange offers, bond investors receive new bonds, rather than cash, when a bond matures. Previously, Chinese issuers were able to roll over maturing bonds through the issuance of new instruments, but bond exchanges simplify the process.

Peter Navarro, Trump’s China Hawk, Is Trying to Commandeer the Coronavirus Stimulus - The Daily Beast In an interagency meeting last week, representatives from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other trade officials voiced their objections to Navarro, saying the executive order could create more harm than good by restricting the flow of medicines and other supplies needed to treat coronavirus patients, according to two individuals familiar with the conversation, including one with direct knowledge.

Cotton, Gallagher Introduce Bill to End U.S. Dependence on Chinese-Manufactured Pharmaceuticals | Tom Cotton | U.S. Senator for Arkansas Prohibit pharmaceutical purchases from China or products with active pharmaceutical ingredients created in China*.

Yicai Global - Trip.Com Sees Revenue Halving in First Quarter After Profit Rose Six-Fold Last Year China's tourism sector ground to a halt from the end of January as the Covid-19 contagion took a hold of the country. For its part, Trip.Com said it had CNY31 billion (USD4.4 billion) worth of cancellations in the first three months of this year.

Electric Vehicle Upstart Faces Dwindling Cash - Caixin Nio Inc., the electric car maker once called the Tesla of China, said its future could be in jeopardy, as it reported its latest quarterly results that showed a narrowing but still sizable loss while it rapidly burns through cash.

Prominent Tech Sectors Face Scrutiny Receive After Consumer Complaints Amass- PingWest "315 Gala", China Central Television's (CCTV) annual televised show that exposes companies for fraudulent behaviors that violates consumer rights, was postponed this year due to complications of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, leaving internet users discussing, and even some joking, that companies scheduled to be publicly shamed may have already gone out of business due to the outbreak before CCTV got a chance to shame them.

China’s relaxed land rules could speed up urbanisation, offer economic boost amid coronavirus | South China Morning Post All provinces will now be allowed to use farmland not already classified as “permanent arable land” for development purposes without first obtaining approval the central government, China’s cabinet, the State Council, said last week. But under a one-year trial, eight rich municipalities and provinces, namely Guangdong, Zhejiang, Jiangsu Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Anhui, and Chongqing, will also be allowed to use “permanent arable land” for development.

Politics and Law

人事观察|山东省长龚正转岗上海市委副书记_政经频道_财新网 Shandong governor Gong Zheng is now Shanghai Deputy Party Secretary, looks like he is positioned to become Party Secretary, he worked in Zhejiang 2008-20015

Formal arrest of three health rights defenders | Front Line Defenders On 16 March 2020, the Changsha Judicial Bureau informed the six family-appointed lawyers of health rights defenders Cheng Yuan (程渊), Liu Dazhi (刘大志) and Wu Gejianxiong (吴葛健雄) that the three have “dismissed” the lawyers and that new lawyers would be appointed. Since the detention of the three defenders almost eight months ago in July 2019, the Changsha police has rejected all requests by the family-appointed lawyers to meet their clients. One of the lawyers is the father of Wu Gejianxiong.

【新冠肺炎】新闻联播报道玄机 折射中南海抗疫模式|多维新闻网|中国 报道指出,疫情爆发以来,央视新闻联播已由过去的每日半小时,延长至近一小时,但新闻主要聚焦于抗疫新闻,仅为普通政治局委员的副总理孙春兰,因身处武汉第一线,任中央指导组长,因此,几乎天天上新闻联播,其能见度仅次于。6名常委的低调抗疫模式,更加突出习在中南海“定于一尊”的地位。

Foreign and Defense Affairs

Sudden recall of China’s ambassador to SA raises questions, offers few answers - The Daily Maverick Outspoken ambassador to South Africa, Lin Songtian, has been ordered back to Beijing next week, sources said, prompting speculation about the reasons for his sudden departure...Chinese sources hint that he is not being “recalled” – if that suggests official displeasure — but on the contrary is being promoted. // Lin is one of diplomatic corps leading digital wolf warriors

Hong Kong and Macao

China and HK wealthy flee coronavirus in west by private jet | Financial Times $$ Hong Kong international airport reported its busiest day for private jet activity on record this week as wealthy residents of the territory and Chinese citizens rush back to the city before authorities imposed strict quarantine measures on new arrivals.

Pure Gyms in Hong Kong's Central Cleaned After Coronavirus Case - Bloomberg Pure Fitness gyms at ICBC Tower, Kinwick Centre and California Tower were disinfected after one of the members was found to have visited the locations from March 11 to March 16, the fitness chain said in a notice on Thursday. Separately, a Hong Kong Department of Health official said two virus patients had visited one of the locations.

Tech and Media

Some Users Report Their Photos Were Deleted by Huawei Phones- PingWest A Huawei user posted his complaint on, saying that some of his photos had been automatically deleted on his Huawei smartphone on March 11. These deleted photos include images of top Chinese officials' visit to Wuhan, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus this week. According to the user, the images were downloaded from Xuexiqiangguo, an app released by the Chinese government. // a bug or something more sinister?

Society, Arts, Sports, Culture and History

Chaguan - How the virus kills dreams for Chinese teens | Chaguan | The Economist The coronavirus will leave many scars on China. Some of the longest-lasting, but hardest to see, may involve months of schooling missed by vulnerable students, who risk doing worse in the zhongkao than they could have done if face-to-face classes had not been disrupted. In painful contrast, affluent teenagers with good computers, fast internet and private tutors may overperform.