Massive stimulus?; Sun Chunlan heckled; Lessons from Taiwan

I admit to being distracted over the last couple of days as we try to get prepared as possible for the inevitable spike of COVID-19 cases here in the US. As we have seen in China and other countries, once testing capacity expands the number of confirmed cases can surge quite quickly. I am very nervous that the US is not ready, and expect growing pockets of panic as cities announce spikes in cases.

As the newsletter discussed yesterday, and does again today in Item #3 below, CCP propaganda is working hard to stress that the CCP’s response, now that victory appears within reach, shows the superiority of their system given the poor response in most countries, and especially the US. The best propaganda has at least kernels of truth, and this line of propaganda has a very receptive audience.

There continue to be rumors of an impending, massive stimulus package along the lines of what we saw in 2008-09. I am skeptical, because it is not clear a massive stimulus would work, or if that they can afford one. And as noted in Item #1 below, the language in the readout of the Wednesday Politburo Standing Committee meeting may indicate a recognition that the 2020 economic targets may be out of reach.

I will be holding another open discussion thread tomorrow, look for the kickoff email in the morning DC time.

Feel free to occasionally forward this newsletter, as word of mouth is always the best marketing for me. Thank you.


The Essential Eight

1. The economy

China stocks hit 2-year high on hopes of coronavirus-linked stimulus | Financial Times

Despite widespread disruption to supply chains in China, the country’s CSI 300 stock index gained 2.2 per cent on the day, making it the best-performing major stock market in the world. The index has gained nearly 3 per cent so far in 2020..

Analysts at Mizuho said comments from President Xi Jinping at a politburo meeting this week implied Beijing “had not yet given up” on its goal of doubling gross domestic product from 2010 by 2021. That would require growth of 5.6 per cent this year, they added, and lent credence to expectations of a “massive stimulus package” later in the year to make up for a collapse of growth in the first quarter.

Comment: I think we are getting signs that there may need to be an adjustment to those expectations of a massive stimulus package. Here is an interesting thread on yesterday's Standing committee readout:

And remember this from 2017? - Xi Skips Old Growth Pledge as China Seeks Quality, Not Quantity - Bloomberg:

Chinese President Xi Jinping has quietly dropped a commitment made by his predecessor to double the size of his nation’s economy.

In 2012, former President Hu Jintao pledged China will "double its 2010 gross domestic product and per capita income for both urban and rural residents" by 2020, which dictated a roughly 6.5 percent annual growth pace through that decade. Today, instead of re-iterating that goal, Xi has replaced it with a much vaguer commitment that China will stick to previous requirements, which included building a "moderately prosperous society" by 2020."

Comment: Those banking on massive stimulus because of a goal that is not clear is still a goal may be disappointed.

Highlights of Xi's remarks at a leadership meeting on controlling COVID-19, stabilizing economy - Xinhua

Consolidating and expanding the hard-won positive trend, and bringing the country's economic and social development back to the normal track at an early date;

-- Creating conditions for securing a decisive victory in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and eradicating poverty;...

-- Unleashing consumption that had been suppressed by the outbreak and strengthening new and upgraded consumption to compensate the lost consumption on goods and services during the outbreak.

-- Stabilizing foreign trade and investment, assisting businesses, stabilizing employment, creating more jobs, helping college graduates and migrant workers find work, and solving difficulties for small household businesses;’

China's investment spree soothes virus worries, but caution urged over side effects: analysts - Global Times

As of Sunday, eight provinces in China including North China's Hebei Province and East China's Fujian Province have reportedly rolled out investment plans worth 33.83 trillion yuan ($4.86 trillion) in total. Majority of the capital would be channeled to transportation, infrastructure and manufacturing...

However, the latest infrastructure projects are not aimed at boosting economic growth but instead are based on multi-year development plans based on organic demand for infrastructure, according to analysts.

"The intensity of the investment is not as excessive as some media outlets have suggested," he said, noting that growth in infrastructure spending will not see a sharp increase from last year.

Economists Keep Downgrading Their Forecasts for China’s Economy - Bloomberg via Yahoo Finance

Nomura Holdings Inc. is the latest to change, cutting its growth forecast for the first quarter to 0%, citing a slower-than-expected business resumption rate. Similarly, Pantheon Macroeconomics has lowered its forecast “close to zero” on record-low February factory data. Bloomberg Economics expects the economy to expand by 1.2% in the quarter.

Chinese Property Market Transaction Floorspace Plunges over 80% in February due to Coronavirus – China Banking News

The lat­est data from CRIC (克而瑞研究中心) in­di­cates that the to­tal trans­ac­tion floor­space for 27 key Chi­nese cities mon­i­tored was 2.4 mil­lion square me­tres, for an on-month de­cline of 83%, and a YoY drop of 77%.

Curbed by Coronavirus, China’s Truckers Can’t Wait to Get on the Road Again - WSJ $$

Trucking capacity in southern China has rebounded to 60%, according to shipping company A.P. Møller-Mærsk A/S. A new online system enabling truckers to apply for permits to clear checkpoints in some regions has removed one significant blockage. Even so, things won’t be back to normal for weeks, Mr. Zheng said. About half of China’s truckers have yet to return to work, according to people at local and international freight companies.

LNG News: CNPC Issues Force Majeure After Coronavirus Outbreak - Bloomberg

China National Petroleum Corp. has issued a force majeure on all prompt natural gas imports, according to people with knowledge of the situation, the second Chinese buyer to refuse shipments in a sign that global commodity flows may face a sustained impact from the coronavirus fight.

Ships Turn Into Floating Storage Units for Oil and Gas as Chinese Buyers Back Out - WSJ $$

Dozens of ships are acting as floating storage vats for oil and liquefied natural gas because the owners of the fuel are unable to find buyers or places to store their cargo on land, according to traders, shipping brokers and analysts.

Yicai Global - Chinese Banks Launch 'No-Contact' Loans to Help SMEs Resume Work

Hundreds of Chinese banks are getting together to start online loan reviews, with plans to help about 10 million small- and medium-sized enterprises, self-employed individuals and farmers get back to work.

Search data shows recovery in business activity in China - Xinhua

In the past week, the number of searches for information on work resumption has soared by 678 percent from the previous week, according to a report released by Baidu Thursday.

A New Number to Watch for China’s Economy: The Resumption Rate - Bloomberg

Since last month, China International Capital Corporation’s research team has been releasing a proxy of production resumption on a near-daily basis. With the latest reading at 70.7% on March 3, the so-called CICC Daily Production Activity Tracker aggregates a set of data including coal consumption, labor migration, freight logistics and urban civil transportation.


2. The outbreak

New coronavirus infections may drop to zero by end-March in Wuhan: Chinese government expert - Reuters

Wuhan, the epicenter of China’s coronavirus epidemic, will likely see new infections drop to zero by the end of this month, an expert with the country’s top panel on battling the illness said on Thursday, even as the city reported a quicker rise in new confirmed cases...

Zhang Boli said almost all regions outside Hubei province, where Wuhan is the capital, had managed to halt new infections by the end of last month, according to an interview with the official People’s Daily.

Coronavirus: ‘recovered’ patient dies as China reports discharged cases falling ill again | South China Morning Post

The Paper also reported that Fangcang Hospital – one of Wuhan’s makeshift facilities – issued an emergency notice on Wednesday that said more discharged patients had been readmitted after falling ill again. The hospital will begin conducting antibody tests on all patients before discharge from Thursday, to ensure they are fully recovered

One Doctor’s Life on the Coronavirus Front Lines. ‘If We Fail, What Happens to You All?’ - WSJ $$

Short on supplies and sleep, medical staff are being stretched to the limit to stop a pandemic no one fully understands

Inside Wuhan’s ‘Fangcang’ Shelter Hospitals - SixthTone

Since February, Wuhan authorities have sought to quarantine COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms in over a dozen makeshift clinics. How does the system work?

Latest Coronavirus Diagnostic Plan Adds New Tests to Beat False Negatives - Caixin

China is using antibody tests in a bid to strengthen diagnosis of the deadly new coronavirus following concerns that existing screening mechanisms were failing to catch large numbers of infections and leading to the premature discharge of patients.

The tests form part of the seventh national Covid-19 diagnostic and treatment criteria published Wednesday by the National Health Commission, China’s highest government health agency. The release comes as China battles dozens of “imported” cases of the disease.

Shaanxi Hospital Apologizes for Frontline Medics’ ‘Incorrect’ Subsidies | Sixth Tone

A hospital in the northwestern Shaanxi province has apologized for publishing an “incorrect” document indicating that senior administrators were receiving higher emergency allowances than frontline medical workers.

China adapts surveying, mapping, delivery drones to enforce world’s biggest quarantine and contain coronavirus outbreak | South China Morning Post

The software flying the drones made in Shenzhen is being rewritten to adapt their applications for disease detection and crowd management. The vehicles will use thermal sensors, high-definition zoom lenses, loudspeakers and chemical spray jets for disinfecting large areas, according to two makers of industrial drones.

Chinese doctors’ hard lesson from coronavirus outbreak: be prepared and plan ahead | South China Morning Post

“You must have a plan for every suspected case patient who goes into the fever clinic,” he said. “You must have a plan for general outpatient or even the inpatient department … You must have the ability [to do] laboratory confirmation for those suspected [of having the virus], and to isolate the individual suspected cases before confirming them or ruling them out.”


3. Propaganda narrative

Some follow on to the discussion in yesterday’s newsletter. And Mother-in-Law in Hainan’s views made the Washington Post…

Coronavirus conspiracy theorists blame U.S. for outbreak. China is encouraging them. - The Washington Post

“Go on WeChat, go on Weibo, look on Baidu search, and it’s full of ‘look at all the other countries getting sick,’ or ‘the virus came from the United States,’ or all different levels of conspiracy theories,” said Xiao Qiang, an adjunct professor at the University of California at Berkeley’s School of Information who studies China’s Internet...

The frenzy kicked into overdrive Feb. 27 after Zhong Nanshan, a Chinese pulmonologist who has appeared on state media to deliver key pronouncements, made a passing remark during a news conference, without offering any explanation, that “the coronavirus first appeared in China but may not have originated in China.”..

By Wednesday, Zhong’s comments came full circle. Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian did not speculate as to the virus’s origin or name any countries, but he cited Zhong’s comments to conclude that China was never proven to be the origin…

Bill Bishop, an observer of Chinese politics who writes the Sinocism newsletter, said the narrative of Communist Party superiority is being systematically — and effectively — pushed…

That argument is gaining traction, Bishop said, adding that his mother-in-law in China has been urging his family to flee their home in Washington for the safety of China.

“She is convincing us [Note I meant she is trying to convince us. She has not succeeded] that China has won the virus battle and the U.S. is about to descend into chaos,” he said.

US COVID-19 numbers ‘tip of iceberg’ - Global Times

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stopped reporting the number of people tested for the novel coronavirus pneumonia (COVID-19) since Monday, while the reported numbers so far could only be the "tip of the iceberg," which may not accurately reflect the situation in the US, analysts said.

"How big is this iceberg, it's hard to say," Zeng Guang, chief epidemiologist at China's CDC, told the Global Times on Thursday. The US CDC's slow response is politically driven, totally ignoring the public interest, Zeng noted.

And this from Global Times editor in chief earlier today:

理直气壮,世界应该感谢中国-新华网

Xinhua reprints an article by a Wechat account "Be bold and confident, the world owes China a thank you". The author criticizes the US government's response so far and writes that if China imposes a travel ban to the US the US economy and stock market will be hit hard, and if China imposes restrictions on pharmaceutical exports, US will be "plunged into the mighty sea of coronavirus".

如果这个时候中国对美国进行报复,除了宣布对美国旅行禁令外,还宣布对医疗产品进行战略管控,禁止出口美国,那么美国将会陷入新冠病毒的汪洋大海之中

This not a Xinhua piece but the fact that Xinhua is running it is an effective endorsement

Chaguan - China’s propagandists are trapped by their own rhetoric | Chaguan | The Economist

China’s top leaders are more subtle about their blame-sharing, but still at pains to note that virus-control is now a collective, global challenge. Meeting scientists on March 2nd Mr Xi talked of “humanity’s battle against diseases” and of the tasks facing all mankind. Such language is not as stirring as books about China single-handedly saving the world. But right now the task is selling something short of total victory to a frightened Chinese public, many of whom distrust official assurances about public health. Blaming the world is a good start.

China considers donating money to WHO for coronavirus efforts - Reuters

China is considering donating money to the World Health Organization (WHO) to help efforts to battle the coronavirus, its vice foreign minister said on Thursday.

Coronavirus: China keen to promote its success in controlling epidemic | South China Morning Post

Marina Rudyak, an expert on Chinese foreign aid at the University of Heidelberg, said Beijing had offered support to the countries most affected outside China and that had backed Beijing since the outbreak began.

“As for strategic motives, here, in essence the behavioural pattern is similar to the past ones: the provision of support has always served as a way to project the image of a ‘responsible actor’,” she said.

“Highlighting China’s aid to other countries, on the other hand, should strengthen the legitimacy of the [Communist Party] by implying that China’s chosen path is supported by other countries.

Dr. Zhang Wenhong - 'Good results don't mean the fight has ended' - SHINE News

“I don’t mean that our medical capability is the best in the world, but the government gives us the best resources. All leading devices like the best respiratory machines, artificial oxygenators are sent to Shanghai Public Health Center. For Extra-Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation, or ECMO, we have six such systems here, while there may be, at most, one ECMO or even none in an entire region in Europe. All these resources and experts are here to save patients.”

Jesse Watters attacks wrong target for US’ failure in tackling COVID-19 - Global Times

When the epidemic first broke out in Wuhan, China took immediate and effective measures. But there remains uncertainty over where the epidemic actually started.


4. Some Wuhan residents unimpressed with a Sun Chunlan inspection

Vice premier stresses community-level epidemic prevention, control - Xinhua

While visiting local communities in Wuhan, the capital city of Hubei, Sun stressed that the tasks of epidemic prevention and control in Hubei and Wuhan remain arduous, calling for continuous efforts in joint prevention and control, as well as in fortifying a community defense by mass participation...

In response to the difficulties and problems raised by the residents on the spot, Sun required in-depth investigations to address the issues.

A conference held by the leading group in the afternoon stressed the provision of psychological counseling for community residents.

中央指导组:抓好社区防控 保障群众居家生活_CCTV

Thursday CCTV Evening News on Sun Chunlan's inspection of communities in Wuhan

Residents of one of the communities she inspected, the one that appears at about 1:00 in the CCTV report, were not impressed:

In the firing line: the women in China’s war on the coronavirus | South China Morning Post

The highest profile is Sun Chunlan, vice-premier in charge of culture, education and public health and the only woman in the ruling Communist Party’s 25-member Politburo. The 70-year-old has spent more than a month on the front line in Wuhan, Hubei province, where the new virus strain first emerged in December, leading the government’s response on the ground.

She has been the stern face of the Politburo in the crisis, seen in state media talking to medical staff, stressing the importance of admitting patients to hospital and treating them as quickly as possible, checking on progress of new facilities being built, and warning local officials that “there must be no deserters, or they will be nailed to the pillar of historical shame forever”.

Day42 Wuhan Diary 武汉日记

I don’t know what to say. Should I be just heart-broken? Or sad that the lives of the people are so difficult? Why, after an entire month has gone by, why is there still so many clear gaps and chaos? I don’t know.


5. Lessons from Taiwan’s success in fighting the virus

Why Taiwan Has Just 42 Coronavirus Cases while Neighbors Report Hundreds or Thousands | Voice of America

The government first took notice of the virus in December as people in China began talking about it informally. In response, the Centers for Disease Control started onboard quarantine of all direct flights from Wuhan on December 31. The centers said on its website that by January 9 it had “inspected” 14 flights with 1,317 passengers and attendants...

Action against the coronavirus to date has boosted President Tsai Ing-wen’s approval rating to 68.5% in February up from 56.7% in January and on par with what she polled right after taking office in 2016, a Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation poll showed February 24. Local television network TVBS gave the government an 82% approval rating for its handling of the outbreak.

FSI | CHP/PCOR - How Taiwan Used Big Data, Transparency and a Central Command to Protect Its People from Coronavirus

Stanford Health Policy’s Jason Wang, MD, PhD, an associate professor of pediatrics at Stanford Medicine who also has a PhD in policy analysis, credits his native Taiwan with using new technology and a robust pandemic prevention plan put into place at the 2003 SARS outbreak.

“The Taiwan government established the National Health Command Center (NHCC) after SARS and it’s become part of a disaster management center that focuses on large-outbreak responses and acts as the operational command point for direct communications,” said Wang, a pediatrician and the director of the Center for Policy, Outcomes, and Prevention at Stanford. The NHCC also established the Central Epidemic Command Center, which was activated in early January.

“And Taiwan rapidly produced and implemented a list of at least 124 action items in the past five weeks to protect public health,” Wang said. “The policies and actions go beyond border control because they recognized that that wasn’t enough.”

Wang outlines the measures Taiwan took in the last six weeks in an article published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association [Response to COVID-19 in Taiwan: Big Data Analytics, New Technology, and Proactive Testing | Global Health | JAMA | JAMA Network].

Taiwan says China forced Malaysian state to ban Taiwanese entry on virus fears - Reuters

Taiwan’s foreign minister said on Thursday that China had forced the Malaysian state of Sarawak to reinstate a ban on travelers from the island as part of coronavirus control steps, saying Beijing was taking “joy” in the measures.


6. Policies to erase cultural identity

China: Tibetan Children Denied Mother-Tongue Classes | Human Rights Watch

The 91-page report, “China’s ‘Bilingual Education’ Policy in Tibet: Tibetan-Medium Schooling Under Threat,” examines the Chinese government’s rollback of minority education rights in Tibet under the guise of improving access to education. It highlights compulsory “bilingual” kindergartens that immerse Tibetan children in Chinese language and state propaganda from age 3, in the name of “strengthening the unity of nationalities.” These developments reflect an assimilationist policy for minorities that has gained momentum under President Xi Jinping’s leadership.

“China’s ‘bilingual education’ policy is motivated by political imperatives rather than educational ones,” said Sophie Richardson, China director. “The Chinese government is violating its international legal obligations to provide Tibetan-language instruction to Tibetans.”..

“China’s ‘bilingual education’ policy in Tibet goes against the constitution, international standards, and expert consensus on the importance of mother-tongue instruction, and the basic aspirations of the Tibetan people,” Richardson said. “Forced assimilation is no solution to the governance of ethnic minority regions, nor is national security an acceptable justification for the denial of mother-tongue education rights.”

The full report

Gadgets for tech giants made with coerced Uighur labor - AP

Beijing first sent Uighurs to work in inland China in the early 2000s, as part of a broad effort to push minorities to adopt urban lifestyles and integrate with the Han Chinese majority to tighten political control...

The program was halted in 2009, when at least two Uighurs died in a brawl with Han workers at a toy factory in coastal Guangdong province. After peaceful protests in Xinjiang were met with police fire, ethnic riots broke out that killed an estimated 200 people, mostly Han Chinese civilians.

An AP review of Chinese academic papers and state media reports shows that officials blamed the failure of the labor program on the Uighurs’ language and culture. So when the government ramped up the program again after the ascent of hardline Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2012, it emphasized ideological transformation.

All part of re-engineering the soul, as John Garnaut explained in 2017 - Engineers of the Soul: Ideology in Xi Jinping's China


7. How China bungled the response to African Swine Fever

Special Report: Before coronavirus, China bungled swine epidemic with secrecy - Reuters

When the deadly virus was first discovered in China, authorities told the people in the know to keep quiet or else. Fearing reprisal from Beijing, local officials failed to order tests to confirm outbreaks and didn’t properly warn the public as the pathogen spread death around the country...

All this happened long before China’s coronavirus outbreak, which has claimed more than 3,000 lives worldwide in less than three months. For the past 19 months, secrecy has hobbled the nation’s response to African swine fever, an epidemic that has killed millions of pigs. A Reuters examination has found that swine fever’s swift spread was made possible by China’s systemic under-reporting of outbreaks. And even today, bureaucratic secrecy and perverse policy incentives continue undermining Chinese efforts to defeat one of the worst livestock epidemics in modern history...

Cover-ups across China - coupled with underfinancing of relief for devastated pig farmers and weak enforcement of restrictions on pork transport and slaughter - have enabled the spread of the livestock virus to the point where it now threatens pig farmers worldwide, according to veterinarians, industry analysts and hog producers. Since the China outbreak, African swine fever has broken out in 10 countries in Asia

China’s Pork Hunger Stays Strong With More Dining at Home - Bloomberg via Yahoo

With restaurant crowds thinning out over fear of exposure to the virus, cooking at home is on the rise: Good news for pork, China’s favorite meat. But it’s also meant declining consumption of beef, which is eaten more while dining out. Analysts at Rabobank have said that pork “appears to be the least-affected” by the outbreak compared with other proteins.


8. Profile of LGBTQ app Blued

Two Gay Chinese Dads. One Long and Winding Trip to Fatherhood - Chinarrative

Hello. This edition features a short excerpt from a story by Chinese journalist Zeyi Yang. It tells how two gay men from China traveled to the United States in search of a surrogate mother to start their own family. The couple — Qiguang Li and Wei Xu — now have a son.

How a Dating App Helped a Generation of Chinese Come Out of the Closet - The New York Times By Yi-Ling Liu

China is home to an L.G.B.T.Q. population larger than all of France, around 70 million people (based on the assumption that about 5 percent of any given population identifies as queer). But according to a United Nations estimate, less than 5 percent of gay Chinese choose to come out. Blued (pronounced “blue-duh” or “blue-dee”) has a reported in-country user base of some 24 million, suggesting many Chinese have opted for some middle ground. It is easily among the most popular gay dating apps in the world. Like WeChat, Blued aspires to be a Swiss Army knife for its users, absorbing features from other apps, like newsfeeds and livestreaming functions — as well as real-world resources like H.I.V. testing and a surrogacy service called Blue Baby — and integrating them as quickly as possible. It’s like “Grindr crossed with Facebook, and more,” one former employee told me...

By staying within the commercial and public-health sectors and framing the fight for gay recognition in terms of business, the company, under the leadership of its founder and chief executive, Geng Le, has cultivated a minority community free of political activism. The company has cultivated strategic relationships within the government and raised L.G.B.T.Q. visibility, all while avoiding any kind of explicit agitation for gay rights. Geng has put his faith in the power of the so-called pink yuan to nudge China’s closet doors open — not just because money talks, but also because in today’s China, talking in terms of money is the safest option.


Business, Economy and Trade

Virus cancels exams, jeopardizes Chinese students' plans - AP Over 660,000 Chinese students study abroad annually -- close to half of them at schools in the United States, where they represent the largest group of foreign students by far -- and many universities have come to rely on their tuition dollars. To avoid losing students, universities have begun planning to enroll admitted students initially through online programs, accepting alternatives to traditional standardized tests and considering virtual orientations for students and their families in China.

Japan faces shortage of tombstones due to closure of Chinese factories - Global Times Ioka Susumu, a tombstone store owner in Japan, told the Global Times that  70 percent of his products were imported from East China's Fujian Province.

Latest China Stock Craze Sees ETF Draw $2 Billion in Eight Days - Bloomberg “ETFs and tech funds have gained an absurd amount of traction, and these flows fuel a self-fulfilling prophecy,” said Dong Baozhen, fund manager at Lingtongshengtai Asset Management in Beijing. “If funds keep pouring in at this pace, we will be left with mythological valuations and a bubble burst, just like 2015.”

Inside Apple’s Search for an Indian Supply Chain — The Information $$ These episodes demonstrate what is increasingly a critical challenge for Apple: how to diversify its production away from China. While Apple has made slow but steady progress diversifying into places like Vietnam, where some suppliers make AirPods and organic light-emitting diode displays, the vast majority of its components are still made in China, according to people familiar with the matter.

SEC.gov | SEC Provides Conditional Regulatory Relief and Assistance for Companies Affected by the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) These companies may include U.S. companies located in the affected areas, as well as companies with operations in those regions. To address potential compliance issues, the Commission has issued an order that, subject to certain conditions, provides publicly traded companies with an additional 45 days to file certain disclosure reports that would otherwise have been due between March 1 and April 30, 2020. // So relief for US-listed Chinese firms

Politics and Law

Xi Jinping Comes Down to Earth | China Media Project - Qian Gang The disappearance of “Xi’s thought” and “442” from the texts of the February Standing Committee meetings is certainly a trend to watch – and we can note, too, that the most recent Standing Committee meeting, held yesterday, does not mention either term. But these absences could be a short-term phenomenon. It may be that rather than indicate Xi’s loss of power or prestige in an absolute sense, they tell us that within the black-box of authoritarian politics, official discourse can still be highly flexible to the changing social climate while the core values remain intact. Given the broad shift in public opinion and public concerns in the midst of the crisis, it would be unseemly to boast too loudly about Xi Jinping’s theoretical contributions or focus overly on political indoctrination and such empty talk.

PEN America Concerned Over Detained Chinese Poet's Safety - PEN America Cui Hoaxin, also known by his pen name An Ran, was arrested January 24 under the charge of “picking quarrels and stirring up trouble.” PEN America has previously analyzed how the charge of “picking quarrels” has been frequently used by Chinese authorities as a tool to silence critics. Cui, a Hui Muslim, has been vocal in his support of minority rights in China, particularly in regards to ongoing rights abuses in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Since his arrest, there has been no public information about his whereabouts or the circumstances of his detention

Foreign and Defense Affairs

US WIPO vote meddling wrong, futile move - Global Times The US wants to suppress China, but it cannot. This is not only because of China's national strength, but also China's stimulus to the world economy, its positive impact on the world's peaceful development and its contributions to solving global issues. The US and other Western countries cannot ignore and deny China's contributions in these areas.

With North Korea border shut, China warns citizens to keep away, or else - Reuters Chinese authorities have told people to stay away from the border with North Korea, which has banned people from China to keep out the coronavirus, or risk being shot by North Korean guards, residents of the area said.

Chinese ambassador says COVID-19 co-operation not enough to fix relationship with Canada | CTV News "You know the outstanding issue for the bilateral relationship," Cong told reporters, though he added that the co-operation in the fight against COVID-19 has been "appreciated" and is "good."

What’s in the New China Military Presence Fears in the Philippines? – The Diplomat On March 4, a Philippine senator expressed concern that a few thousand Chinese military personnel were currently operating in the Philippines. Though the concern has yet to be verified, it is just one manifestation of the growing fears of Chinese influence in the Philippines and alleged government complicity in it.

China's Xi Jinping postpones state visit to Japan due to coronavirus | The Japan Times Chinese President Xi Jinping has postponed his state visit to Japan in April, the Japanese government said Thursday, ending weeks of speculation over whether the trip would go ahead amid efforts to contain the coronavirus epidemic.

Taiwan

Pelosi Statement on Passage of TAIPEI Act | Speaker Nancy Pelosi “The TAIPEI Act celebrates and supports Taiwan’s commitment to democracy, by preserving and promoting its position on the international stage.  It is imperative that America encourages our allies and partners to strengthen their diplomatic ties with Taipei, and that we ensure that Taiwan has a seat at the international decision-making table, including at the United Nations.

2共犯涉向心案 聲請解除限境遭駁回 | 社會 | 中央社 CNA Taiwan places exit bans on two more people as part of the Wang Liqiang case. Lin Xu and Su Jianfeng (not Taiwanese citizens) rent properties owned by Xiang Xin and Gong Qing

Tech and Media

Tencent’s WeChat Blocks Remote-Working Competitors From Alibaba and ByteDance Tencent is blocking messages shared on its WeChat platform from Alibaba’s popular workplace chat app DingTalk, in the latest escalation of the rivalry between the Chinese tech giants. The move comes days after WeChat did the same to Feishu, another Slack-like competitor developed by rival Bytedance.

Tencent’s WeChat tightens privacy controls for third-party apps, calls out rival DingTalk for alleged violations | South China Morning Post Under the new privacy controls, information can only be gathered on a need-to-know basis for mini programs, which run within the WeChat platform. Developers must include information about the types of personal data they are collecting and how they are doing so in the app’s back-end data, WeChat’s legal team said in a statement on its official account.

Huawei and Russian State-Owned Bank Team Up On Cloud Platform - Caixin Global Chinese tech giant Huawei is working with Russia’s state-owned bank Sberbank Group to build a cloud service platform as part of ongoing efforts to expand into the Russian digital market

U.S. senator moots ban on TikTok for federal workers, citing Chinese government ties - Reuters Republican Senator Josh Hawley said on Wednesday he will introduce legislation banning federal employees from using social media app TikTok on their devices and accused the company of sharing data with the Chinese government.

Alipay owner Ant Financial takes minority stake in Klarna | TechCrunch Klarna has a strong European presence and a flagship product that lets shoppers buy now and pay later in interest-free installments (typically 14 or 30 days after the purchase)

TikTok owner ByteDance launches music streaming platform in India While Resso is being first launched in India, Hari Nair, Head of Music Content and Partnership at Resso India said the idea is to be a global music streaming platform. The app wants to differentiate itself from others by taking elements from TikTok, which add a social aspect to music streaming.