More economic policy support; Xi in Zhejiang; Tencent gets a UN contract

The propaganda rollout is underway for Xi Jinping’s recent Zhejiang inspection tour. While his visit underscores that the worst of the epidemic is over and the economy is coming back to life, it is hard not to be struck by how far from normal China still is, in spite of all the pain and sacrifices since January, and what that means for the the next few months here in the US and in the rest of the world.

The State Council announced more measures to support the economy but if the global demand shock is worse than it was in 2008, and it sure looks it is, then the PRC economy will need much more support. It is hard to believe that the domestic market alone will be enough to fuel a sustained recovery at the level the CCP needs to meet this year's goals for economic and social progress, as Xi emphasized in Zhejiang.

And even if significantly more policy support is forthcoming the stability maintenance system in the PRC will likely be stressed in ways it has not in years, given the downside risks to employment and incomes.

Sorry to be so gloomy, but we are on day 21 of the lockdown at Sinocism HQ and seeing how much China and especially Hubei and Wuhan went through, and how far they still have to go, makes me very worried and angry about where we are in the US and how hard and how long it really will be to get through this.

Thanks for reading.

1. The economy

China to roll out mix of fiscal, financial policies to vigorously meet challenges -

Related plans were made at the State Council’s executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang on March 31.

The Chinese government puts great emphasis on intensifying counter-cyclical macro-policy adjustment to advance both the epidemic control and economic and social development. General Secretary Xi Jinping said China’s proactive fiscal policy needs to be more vigorous. The deficit-to-GDP ratio could be raised as appropriate, and the scale of special bonds for local governments expanded. Premier Li Keqiang stressed the need for local government bonds to be expeditiously issued and the raised funds utilized to catalyze effective investment...

Those at the meeting also decided on steps to boost auto consumption. The subsidy and tax exemption for purchases of new energy vehicles, which were set to expire at the end of this year, will be extended by two years.

Support will be intensified for low-income groups, the meeting decided. Between March and June, the temporary monthly subsidy will be doubled under the mechanism of raising social benefits pro rata with price increases. Those caught in outbreak-induced difficulties will be covered by social protection and work support plans such as the subsistence allowance plan, the support plan for people in extreme poverty and the provisional relief program.

Local Governments Get More Firepower to Support Post-Coronavirus Recovery - Caixin

The State Council didn’t quantify the increase in the overall quota or specify how much more will be allocated early to provincial-level governments. The Ministry of Finance has already given the green light to the sale of 1.29 trillion yuan ($182 billion) of SPBs, the maximum allowed under the law until the National People’s Congress (NPC) approves the quota for the full year. The delay in holding the annual meeting of the legislature is complicating efforts to raise the funds, which analysts now expect could amount to as much as 4 trillion yuan for the whole year, almost double the 2.15 trillion yuan SPB quota in 2019.

State Council Announces More Cuts to Banks’ Reserve Requirements - Caixin

The State Council also said the government will support financial institutions to issue 300 billion yuan in financial bonds exclusively targeting small firms.

Usually, such measures announced by the State Council herald moves from the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) within a few days.

Traders Get Reality Check With China's Cautious Stimulus Measures - Bloomberg via Yahoo

“The policy stance during the virus outbreak has given many investors a reality check,” said Yu Yingbo, fund manager at Shenzhen Qianhai United Fortune Fund Management Co. “For those who are still waiting for Beijing to roll out the big guns -- day by day they’ll wait in vain.”

China’s relatively cautious program of easing speaks to the government’s concerns over price stability and the country’s large pile of debt. That’s even as the economy is forecast to grow at the slowest pace since 1976 this year. The People’s Bank of China said Monday it still has plenty of room to adjust monetary policy as needed and “doesn’t use its bullets all at once.”

Workers Return to China’s Factories, but Coronavirus Hurts Global Demand - WSJ $$

Chinese factory activity expanded in March, after sharp contractions in January and February, when Beijing locked down much of central Hubei province and took other drastic measures to contain the virus. However, smaller companies appeared to lag behind larger companies, many of them state-owned enterprises, in the recovery, according to new private and official surveys of China’s manufacturers.

The Caixin China manufacturing purchasing managers index, which is tilted toward smaller private manufacturers, rose to 50.1 in March from 40.3 in February, Caixin Media Co. and research firm Markit said Wednesday. The March result is just above the 50 mark, which separates contraction from expansion.

China's ports brace for second hit as virus spread wipes out exports - Reuters

with virus outbreaks now overwhelming healthcare systems and shutting logistics channels in other major economies, exporters and industry analysts warn that global demand for products made and shipped out of China looks set to plunge.

“We expect the near-term impact on trade growth in coming quarters likely to be the worst ever, as economies stall and external demand faces imminent collapse on large scale quarantine measures across major economies,” said Rahul Kappor, vice president at IHS Markit.

In Depth: How a Rugged Covid-19 Recovery Risks More Than 100 Million Jobs - Caixin

A dramatic decline in foreign demand amid the outbreak will pose great challenges to China’s export industry, threatening the jobs of nearly 60 million people, said Lu Ting, chief China economist at Nomura International Ltd. in Hong Kong.

The Covid-19 outbreak is squeezing China’s job market from both the supply and the demand end, said Lu, who suggested greater policy support to stabilize the market. Policies should focus on easing the strains of small businesses to encourage resumption as well as measures to prevent company and household default, Lu said.

Coronavirus: China to open US$1.5 trillion distressed debt market as it braces for bad loan blowout | South China Morning Post

If gross domestic product (GDP) growth drops to 4.8 per cent this year from 6.1 per cent in 2019, sour debts could result in bad debt formation of about 3.45 trillion yuan (US$486 billion), according to May Yan, head of China global markets at investment bank UBS. If GDP growth fell to 3.2 per cent, then NPL formation could be as much as 5 trillion yuan (US$704.4 billion), Yan said.

Preferential policies to cut tax load of SMEs - China Daily

China is contemplating more measures to ease the tax burden of small and medium-sized enterprises, amid the accelerated production resumption, officials said on Tuesday.

Preferential tax policies for reinvestments by overseas companies will be enacted to further support the development of foreign businesses in China, while the roster of industries eligible for foreign investment will be further revised, said Wang Daoshu, chief auditor of the State Taxation Administration.

2. Xi’s Zhejiang inspection tour

Xinhua Headlines-Xi Focus: Xi stresses coordinating epidemic control, economic work, achieving development goals - Xinhua

While hearing work reports made by Zhejiang provincial committee of the CPC and provincial government Wednesday, Xi said the epidemic situation in China is moving steadily in a positive direction, and the peak of the current COVID-19 outbreak is over in the country.

The risk posed by imported cases, however, has sharply risen as the pandemic is accelerating its spread across the world, said Xi, stressing intensified management of asymptomatic virus cases in China...

Though the increasingly fast spread of COVID-19 abroad has disrupted international economic and trade activities and brought new challenges to China's economic development, it has also provided fresh opportunities for expediting the country's development in science and technology and advancing industrial upgrading, Xi noted....

While seizing the opportunities of industrial digitization and digital industrialization, China also needs to expedite the construction of "new infrastructure" projects such as 5G networks and data centers, and deploy strategic emerging sectors and industries of the future including digital economy, life health services and new materials, he said...

Efforts must be made to improve the mechanism for major epidemic prevention and control and the public health emergency response and management system, said Xi, stressing carrying out extensive patriotic health campaigns

习近平在浙江考察时强调 统筹推进疫情防控和经济社会发展工作 奋力实现今年经济社会发展目标任务_CCTV

Top 19 minutes of the Wednesday CCTV Evening News on Xi's Zhejiang inspection tour


It is necessary to comprehensively implement the various decision-making arrangements of the Party Central Committee, do a good job in coordinating and advancing the prevention and control of the new crown pneumonia epidemic and economic and social development, adhere to the general keynote of steady progress, adhere to the new development concept, and adhere to the "eight-eight strategy" To be practical, to be at the forefront, to be brave, to accurately implement various measures for epidemic prevention and control and to resume production and production, strive to achieve this year's economic and social development goals and tasks, and strive to become an important window for the new era to fully demonstrate the superiority of the socialist system with Chinese characteristics.


According to People’s Daily, Xi told officials during his Hangzhou visit not to lower their guard against the virus. He suggested people should watch movie online if they like movies. Restaurants and tourism resorts should continue to practice social distancing. “I think these (measures) are still necessary,” he said, adding that the government’s governance capacity can be seen in whether it can tighten and loosen the social control as it wishes.


习近平:危和机总是同生并存的 克服了危即是机_手机新浪网

Xi comments on his inspection tour - "crisis and opportunity always coexist. After overcoming the crisis there's the opportunity"

Xi stresses green model of growth - China Daily

President Xi Jinping stressed the importance of environmental protection during his inspection tour of eastern China on Monday at a village where he unveiled his theory of ecological civilization 15 years ago...

In August 2005, Xi visited the village to praise the local government for stopping mining activities and closing cement factories to deal with the then serious pollution problem. During the visit, Xi put forward his famous development theory of "lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets", which was later known as the "Two Mountains Theory".

Xi calls for making major cities 'smarter' - Xinhua

Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, said major cities can become "smarter" by using big data, cloud computing and artificial intelligence technologies to modernize urban governance.

He made the remarks while visiting the City Brain, a smart city platform aiming to improve urban management, in Hangzhou, east China's Zhejiang Province Tuesday.


State media puts out a video of Xi talking to tourists in Hangzhou. Xi said he would love to join them for a boat ride, but he had too many officials with him.

坚决打赢湖北保卫战武汉保卫战 Resolutely win the battle of Hubei and the battle of Wuhan - 求是网 - 来源:《求是》2020/07 作者:应 勇 2020-04-01

newly promoted Hubei Party Secretary Ying Yong in the latest issue of Qiushi on Xi's Hubei speech and lessons and tasks from the fight against the epidemic.

He of course has fulsome praise for all Xi has done leading the fight, including his March 10 trip to Wuhan, and calls him "People's Leader"


General secretary Xi Jinping's affectionate words reflect the firm political stance of the people's leader who puts the people at the top of their minds.

3. The outbreak

The Latest: China reports 36 new COVID-19 cases - AP

China’s National Health Commission on Wednesday reported 36 new COVID-19 cases, one day after announcing that asymptomatic cases will now be included in the official count.

The commission said all but one of the new cases was imported from abroad, while seven more deaths from the disease had been reported over the previous 24 hours. The commission did not say if any of the new cases were asymptomatic but on Tuesday reported that, of a total of 1,541 asymptomatic cases now being isolated and monitored for symptoms, 205 had come from overseas.

35 overseas Chinese students diagnosed with COVID-19: official - Xinhua

According to information collected by Chinese embassies and consulates, all of the diagnosed students have received timely treatment, and 11 of them have recovered, Liu Jin, the official with the Ministry of Education (MOE), said at a press conference Tuesday.

About 1.42 million of some 1.6 million overseas Chinese students are abroad at present, she added.

China’s Asymptomatic Coronavirus Case Numbers Don’t Tell the Whole Story - Caixin

Despite not publicly disclosing statistics on asymptomatic individuals, the NHC has demanded the prompt detection and reporting of those with light or no symptoms since late January and has treated them as a potential source of contagion. Most recently, detected asymptomatic individuals were subject to a 14-day quarantine and were required to test negative in two separate nucleic acid tests before being released.

A study published Feb. 12 in the Chinese Journal of Epidemiology suggested that asymptomatic infected individuals accounted for only 1.95% of all lab-confirmed infections. According to data Caixin obtained, asymptomatic individuals accounted for more than one in six detected infections in the province of Heilongjiang on Feb. 25.


Beijing government told the public to not take off their masks yet and they should continue to practice social distancing as instructed. The Beijing government has said earlier that it still faces high risks of imported cases and “all preventive and control measures can only be further strengthened instead of weakened.”


The Beijing Education Committee said there is still no clear date when they can reopen schools. 

Suspension of sporting events to continue in China amid COVID-19 - CGTN

Sporting events that involve large gatherings in China will continue to be suspended as a preventive measure against the coronavirus, China's General Administration of Sport announced on Tuesday...

The notice directly addresses the Chinese Football Association and Chinese Basketball Association, meaning the extension also applies to events held by both leagues.

Earlier reports indicated that the Chinese Basketball Association could resume the season on April 15 and the Chinese Super League in mid-May.

Chinese county goes into coronavirus lockdown as country tries to get back to work amid fear of second wave | South China Morning Post

Henan province in central China has taken the drastic measure of putting a mid-sized county in total lockdown as authorities try to fend off a second coronavirus wave in the midst of a push to revive the economy.

Curfew-like measures came into effect on Tuesday in Jia county, near the city of Pingdingshan, with the area’s roughly 600,000 residents told to stay home, according to a notice on the country’s official microblog account.

财新:27省份调降响应级别, 京津冀鄂仍为一级

At least 27 provinces have recently lowered their alert level regarding the coronavirus, and now only Hubei, Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei remained on a level-one alert.

Chinese Embassy in U.K. Charters Flight for Fleeing Students - Caixin

The chartered flight, which will depart London on April 2 for the city of Jinan in East China’s Shandong province, will accommodate “less than 200 people,” and is available only to Chinese students under the age of 18, who must travel at their own expense, several families who were notified by the embassy in recent days told Caixin.

Parents were not allowed to accompany their children onboard, and must sign waivers regarding risks of infection their kids may face on their journey.

Chinese missions assist students living abroad - China Daily

China has mobilized over 280 diplomatic missions overseas to solve issues that its students abroad are facing regarding COVID-19 prevention, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement...

China's aviation regulator said on Monday that it would arrange additional or chartered flights to bring back its citizens stuck abroad due to the pandemic, based on the demands of overseas Chinese and domestic local governments' capability of handling inbound passengers.

From zero to hero: Italy's Chinese help beat coronavirus - Reuters

“Among Chinese resident in Prato there isn’t even one case of COVID contagion,” he said, referring to COVID-19, which has killed almost 12,000 people in Italy, more than in any other country.

Ethnic Chinese make up about a quarter of Prato’s population, but Berti credits them with bringing down the entire town’s infection rate to almost half the Italian average — 62 cases per 100,000 inhabitants versus 115 for the country.

Prato’s Chinese community, built originally around the textile industry, went into lockdown from the end of January, three weeks before Italy’s first recorded infection.

Chinese province bars citizens from leaving the country to stop coronavirus spread | South China Morning Post

The southwestern province of Yunnan has banned Chinese citizens from leaving the country via its more than 30 land and river ports to stop the spread of the coronavirus epidemic through returning nationals.

Rare coronavirus patient’s mild symptoms but long illness may point to ‘chronic’ mutation: researchers | South China Morning Post

A middle-aged man whose symptoms were not severe appears to have formed a “dynamic balance” with the coronavirus after an extremely prolonged illness lasting 49 days, Chinese military researchers reported in a preprint article on last week.

A Wuhan Writer Takes On China’s Communist Machine and Becomes an Online Star - WSJ

“People like us are on a battlefield, and Fang Fang is the most outstanding combat correspondent,” Tang Yiming, a Chinese classics professor in Wuhan, said in a widely read interview published on social media.

Some Wuhan natives say the diary has offered them an emotional and intellectual lifeline. One resident, separated from her family for more than two months, said she had repeatedly read an entry in which Ms. Wang referred to deaths from the coronavirus as manslaughter because of government failures in responding to the crisis...

Ms. Wang often cited the Wuhan government’s initial claims that the disease wasn’t known to transmit between humans and that a contagion was “preventable and controllable.” She excoriated the Communist Party bureaucracy for dulling cadres to the needs of ordinary Chinese.

“This isn’t entirely an issue of moral character, but rather they are a part of a certain machine,” she wrote. “The rapid operation of this machine causes their eyes to stare only at their superiors and become unable to see the masses of common people.”


People’s Daily did a 30-minute documentary of the brave medics in the Jinyintan hospital in Wuhan, which was designated as the main hospital to treat patients in critical conditions.


People’s Daily dedicated a whole page to praise the new “iron man”, doctor Zhang Dingyu, president of the Jinyintan hospital. Zhang has been working long hours despite having ALS and his wife infected with the coronavirus.

4. Foreign work

China willing to share virus experience, equipment with India: FM - Global Times

China said it is willing to share with India its own experience on fighting COVID-19 and to provide possible aid in its fight against the virus, a spokesperson of China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said on Wednesday, which marked the 70th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two countries.

Chinese premier says China ready to assist Ireland in fight against COVID-19 | Xinhua

He said China is also ready to facilitate Ireland's procurement and transportation of medical supplies from China, enhance exchanges of experience on epidemic prevention and treatment, and carry out cooperation in medical research and development.

A little help goes a long way: China offers help to other countries and regions tackling COVID-19 - People's Daily

The Chinese government and public have selflessly extended a helping hand to other countries and regions around the world to help in their fight against COVID-19, a lethal virus that has been rampaging around the globe since December, despite the fact that China is still under pressure from imported cases and possible rebound in domestic cases...

An online phrase, You 滴答滴答 me, I 哗啦哗啦 you has also been invented by Chinese netizens to show support to foreign nations in the fight against COVID-19.

A mix of both English and Chinese words, the phrase is actually derived from a Chinese proverb “A drop of water shall be returned with a burst of a spring”. By using four onomatopoeias related to water, the Chinese phrase, using an albeit limited knowledge of English, seeks to convey the message to the world that the lethal virus is mankind’s common enemy. Those who helped China will not be forgotten, and the favour will be doubly returned.


Commentary by He Yin on page 2 of People’s Daily argued that the fact China is manufacturing the badly-needed medical supplies for the world again demonstrates that and the world should work together to keep the global supply chain “open, stable and secure”, instead of seeking decoupling.

China Asserts Claim to Global Leadership, Mask by Mask - WSJ $$

Chinese President Xi Jinping, speaking by video link to other leaders of the Group of 20 nations last week, said his country had made tremendous sacrifices to curtail the virus’s spread at home and would now help others.

China’s French embassy put it in starker terms in a tweet storm. “When the epidemic started to explode everywhere, it was China who the entire world asked for help, and not the United States, the ‘beacon of democracy,’” the embassy said. “It is China who lent a helping hand to more than 80 nations. Not the United States.”

China Ramps Up "Mask Diplomacy" in Africa  - The China Africa Project

The quality of the Chinese-made PPE could present a significant challenge in Africa because concerns about counterfeit and poorly-made Chinese products are already widespread across the continent.

China’s reputation for exporting counterfeit and low-quality products around the world, especially in Africa, threatens to undermine its entire “mask diplomacy” initiative (to be fair, the Chinese do not use the “mask diplomacy” phrasing). If/when frontline healthcare professionals start dying of COVID-19 because they wore a defective Chinese mask, this whole undertaking could quick backfire on the Chinese.

Comment: I recently subscribed to the China Africa Project newsletter and am finding it very informative

China donates medical supplies to South Africa - CGTN

The South African National Defense Force has received a donation of medical protective gear from China's Armed Forces. The donation includes 2,000 protective goggles, and 30,000 face masks

Australia should 'take back the land' from China as damages | Sky News Australia

China should be made to pay reparations for the outbreak of the coronavirus, but given they are unlikely to do so "maybe (Australia) can take back the land that their foreign owned corporations have as damages" says Nationals MP George Christensen.

Coronavirus: China bans export of test kits, medical supplies by firms not licensed to sell them at home | South China Morning Post

The move comes after China was hit with a number of complaints from buyers in Europe about the quality and accuracy of tests kits and other products.
The new rule applies to all companies seeking to export test kits, face masks, protective clothing, ventilators and infrared thermometers, according to a joint statement issued on Tuesday by the Ministry of Commerce, General Administration of Customs and the National Medical Products Administration.

Traders Seek China's Masks to Help U.S. Hospitals Battle the Coronavirus - The New York Times

China vacuumed up a big share of global supplies after the outbreak emerged in January. It imported two billion masks in a five-week period starting then, according to Chinese customs data, roughly equivalent to two and a half months of global production. It also imported 400 million pieces of other protective gear, from medical goggles to biohazard coveralls...

Now, China has become a major part of the solution. Already a giant in mask manufacturing, it has ramped up production to nearly 12 times its earlier level of 10 million a day.

Politicizing China’s foreign assistance does no good for global efforts against COVID-19 - People's Daily

It’s unreasonable to call foreign assistance “political generosity”. When the EU assisted China in its fight against COVID-19, no one said the medical supplies were intended to expand EU influence in China.

To be honest, the accusations and attacks from Western media against China are not unusual. Certain people will always find fault with whatever China does. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the unhealthy mindset of certain people in the West, who just can’t accept the fact that China has prevailed over the virus while their own country has become a virus battlefield.

Others want to pass the buck to China while turning a blind eye to the inability of their own country to prevent and control the COVID-19 pandemic.

China vows to keep exporting protective materials - China Daily

China believes that by helping other countries get past the pandemic, it is also helping itself, according to a news release on the Foreign Ministry's website.

So far, 30 countries and two international organizations have signed agreements with Chinese exporters to purchase products including face masks, protective suits and nucleic acid testing reagents, according to Hua.

"Many other countries are in talks with Chinese companies over purchases," she said.

Meanwhile, the Chinese government has donated medical materials including surgical masks, N95 masks, protective suits, nucleic acid testing reagents and ventilators to 120 countries and four international organizations, she said.

In addition, Hua said that local Chinese governments have donated such materials to more than 50 countries through sister city channels, and Chinese enterprises have made donations to more than 100 countries and international organizations.

Foreign party leaders praise China's support in global anti-virus fight (1) - Xinhua

Political party leaders from around the world have recently expressed their appreciation for the Communist Party of China (CPC) for widely sharing China's experience and practices in its combat against COVID-19.

While successfully curbing the spread of the virus at home, China has been doing all it can to support and help other countries in need, which fully shows the spirit of a community with a shared future for mankind that asks all to stick together and help each other, they said in messages addressed to the International Department of the CPC Central Committee.

China, Hungary experts share experience in fighting COVID-19 - Xinhua

Health experts in southwestern China's Chongqing Municipality on Wednesday shared experience in fighting the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) epidemic with their Hungarian counterparts via a video conference.

The conference, held in the Hungarian General Consulate in Chongqing, gathers experts from the city's disease control center as well as multiple disciplines including epidemiology, respiration, and infectious diseases.

China hands over infectious disease treatment center to Mauritania - Xinhua

According to the minister, the equipment will help medical teams prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the country.

For his part, Chinese Ambassador Zhang Jianguo lauded "the support of the Mauritanian government to China in its fight against the novel coronavirus."

Coronavirus: Italian prosecco maker apologises after owner asks China to pay compensation | South China Morning Post

Italian prosecco producer Bottega Spa apologised to its Chinese customers and wine importers on Tuesday after its owner’s comments demanding China compensate Italy and the rest of the world for the economic damage resulting from the coronavirus caused a storm of outraged reactions on Chinese social media.

China rejects misinformation allegations - China Daily

China's embassy in London has strongly rebutted claims made in the British media that Beijing has disseminated misinformation during the COVID-19 crisis...

"Such reports on China's anti-epidemic measures by some British media are untrue and the accusations are groundless," an embassy spokesperson said in a statement. "They completely disregard the tremendous efforts and huge sacrifice of China and its people in the battle against COVID-19, and deny China's significant contribution to global public health and safety. We are shocked and deeply concerned."

China and Australia target Pacific with coronavirus aid - Reuters

“This is a global effort by China to change the perception of early January that China was the source of the virus, to China is the source of the solution,” said Richard McGregor, senior fellow with Australian foreign policy think tank the Lowy Institute.

“If their system is mobilized to not just sending these materials to New York and Italy but even tiny countries, it gives you a sense of how galvanized they are to use this moment to build China’s reputation.”

5. US-China

China Concealed Coronavirus Outbreak Extent: U.S. Intelligence - Bloomberg

The officials asked not to be identified because the report is secret and declined to detail its contents. But the thrust, they said, is that China’s public reporting on cases and deaths is intentionally incomplete. Two of the officials said the report concludes that China’s numbers are fake...

The report was received by the White House last week, one of the officials said.

Comment: The fact that US intelligence thinks the Chinese numbers are manipulated is not a surprise. I hope we will learn more detail about the scale of the believed manipulation.

Deborah Birx: 'Significant amount' of missing data from China may have led to slow coronavirus response

White House coronavirus task force response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx blamed the government's slow response to the outbreak on "probably" incomplete data provided by China.

Birx alleged that the Chinese government withheld notable information regarding the virus during Tuesday evening's task force press briefing at the White House.

The National Security Council sounded early alarms about the coronavirus - The Washington Post

Before Vice President Pence took over the White House Coronavirus Task Force in late February, Pottinger led the interagency meetings to respond to covid-19. Fluent in Mandarin and intimately familiar with the Chinese government’s pattern of lying and obfuscation, he and O’Brien repeatedly pressed other top officials to take the threat more seriously.

“The guy who was co-chairing most of the task force meetings before the vice president took over, reported on and lived through the SARS breakout in China,” a senior administration official told me. “Pottinger maintains significant contacts in the region that have proved very useful in providing context and information for us as we have been dealing with the crisis.”...

This month, Pottinger has led a separate interagency team focused on fighting coronavirus propaganda and disinformation coming from the Chinese government. ,,

Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping promised to tamp down the rhetoric during their phone call last Friday, officials said.

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying's Regular Press Conference on April 1, 2020 2020年4月1日外交部发言人华春莹主持例行记者会

The Paper: During his interviews with the Strait Times and Nikkei Asian Review on March 30, US Secretary of State Pompeo again accused China of spreading disinformation, saying China's decision to force Western press out of the country would reduce the capacity for all to understand what's happening there. I wonder if you could comment on his remarks?

Hua Chunying: We read the reports, too. I must say this is typical Pompeo in his "lying" and "cheating" style, but these comments are completely inconsistent with what President Trump said last week during his phone call with President Xi.

First, regarding "China's decision to force Western press out of the country would reduce the capacity for all to understand what's happening there", Mr. Pompeo should honestly tell the world that the US State Department denied 29 Chinese journalists' visas for no reason in the past two years and asked 60 Chinese journalists to leave the US within 10 days on March 2. What's the true intention behind this? Could it be that they foresaw the epidemic in the US would develop into what the situation is today? Were they trying to conceal the domestic situation from the world?

The absence of some US journalists will not impede the international community from learning what's going on in China, because our government has been open, transparent and responsible in publishing the epidemic data every day, which has been highly and unanimously acclaimed by all except Mr. Pompeo and several US politicians. Besides, there are still over 500 foreign journalists stationed in China. The world will have no difficulty whatsoever in learning about the true situation in China.

Secretary Michael R. Pompeo Roundtable Interview With Journalists from East Asian and Pacific Media Outlets - United States Department of State

QUESTION: Excuse me. So reportedly, foreign ministers of G7 haven’t been able to issue a joint statement because the U.S. insisted on calling the coronavirus the Wuhan virus, and some countries concerned about that. Could you explain about that, and what did you discuss at the time?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah, unfortunately that was some pretty bad reporting. The truth of the matter is we had an enormously successful G7 gathering where there was a collective belief that we had a responsibility as the G7 to respond to this COVID-19 outbreak, that we needed to do so in a way that represented the best of the West in terms of our technology, our resources, our markets, the things that we bring to bear in the world to help deliver solutions that are on a global scale.

We also talked a great deal about the disinformation campaigns, but I think it was the first question or second question I got here this morning. We talked a great deal about it, that the Europeans made clear they’re experiencing it very much as well. I had one of the ministers talk to me about the fact that Europeans were being harassed in Africa because of a disinformation campaign where another country had made a claim that this virus was generated, created, from some place in Europe.

The U.S. needs to know what went wrong - The Washington Post - David Ignatius

A review of the Trump administration’s performance would find many negatives but also some pluses. President Trump’s public statements appeared to minimize the virus and its impact until recently. But the National Security Council staff, led by deputy Matthew Pottinger, a Chinese-speaking former Wall Street Journal correspondent in Beijing, was aggressive. The first interagency meeting on the Wuhan outbreak took place Jan. 14, and the first NSC deputies committee meeting on Jan. 27, according to a senior administration official.

GOP senator wants coronavirus hearings, probe over WHO role promoting China’s ‘misinformation’ | Fox News

Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., said Tuesday that he wants Congress to investigate the World Health Organization over accusations that it helped China cover up the severity of its initial coronavirus outbreak and then failed to hold the country accountable as the pandemic spread across the globe.

One-China principle allows no challenge - People's Daily Zhong Sheng

The “Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative (TAIPEI) Act of 2019” is an evil act that allows the U.S. government to enhance or cut economic, security and diplomatic relations with other countries in accordance with the latter’s relationship with Taiwan. It is nothing but a hegemonic threat that indulges the wrongdoings challenging the one-China principle...

China and the U.S. are at a critical moment regarding their bilateral relations, and the U.S. should take concrete actions to improve the ties. In terms of the Taiwan question which decides the foundation of China-U.S. relations, the U.S. shall have a clear understanding – following the one-China principle and the three China-U.S. Joint Communiques, as well as removing obstacles impeding the China-U.S. relations that feature non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation.

6. Disinformation

FSI | Cyber - Coronavirus Conspiracy Claims: What’s Behind a Chinese Diplomat’s COVID-19 Misdirection

A hostile messaging war between U.S. and Chinese officials seeking to deflect blame for the pandemic’s harms has included the U.S. president labeling the pandemic a “Chinese virus” to a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson spreading unfounded speculation that the U.S. military had a hand in introducing the virus to Wuhan. That speculation fed off of widely debunked theories that the virus was human-engineered and the fact that U.S. military personnel took part in the Military World Games in Wuhan in October 2019…

February 22: The Global Times — a provocative and often nationalistic tabloid published by the Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily — cast doubt on the geographic origin of the virus, citing a Chinese study claiming that the coronavirus did not originate in the Huanan Seafood market as originally believed.

February 23: A Global Times article published by People’s Daily Online referenced the now-deleted Japanese TV report speculating that COVID-19 might have been active and misidentified as influenza in the United States in 2019. The article quoted social media speculation that U.S. participants in the Military World Games in October might have carried the virus to Wuhan

February 27: The prominent Chinese doctor Zhong Nanshan remarked at a press conference that the geographic origin of the virus was still unknown and that it could have come from outside of China. His comments were carried widely, including by CGTN.

Virulent Rhetoric: Chinese State Claims of US Biological Warfare from the Korean War to COVID-19 - Center for Advanced Party Research

The continued promotion of these allegations by Chinese officials and other state entities represents China’s growing apathy toward maintaining even the image of an amicable relationship with the US. Long constrained by its desire to maintain at least a working  relationship with Washington, Beijing’s continued support for this campaign suggests that the preservation of a constructive bilateral relationship is no longer as high a priority as it once was for China’s top decision makers, which seem to have decided that the relationship was worth further jeopardizing in exchange for a global propaganda play. We are not yet back to the days of the Korean War but the fact that the comparison is even worth making should worry everyone.

This next entry is not about the COVID-19 conspiracy theories, but the fact that the Global Times is citing The Grayzone as a credible source, and Hua Chunying answers the questions says a lot - Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying's Regular Press Conference on April 1, 2020

Global Times: The Grayzone, an independent news website in the US, recently published an article pointing out a recent surge in stories in the Western press on the so-called "forced labor" report of the Uyghur Muslim ethnic minority in Xinjiang. The article says the report is actually by a right-wing Australian institution funded by the US government, NATO, and an eye-popping array of weapons manufacturers. It cites "testimonies" from a blog of religious fanatics. The website also disclosed that the endlessly repeated claims by Western media that China is detaining millions of Uyghur Muslims was built upon dubious interviews with a few crank experts. I wonder if you have a comment?

Hua Chunying: What you just cited already serves to illustrate a point. In some corners of the world, there are indeed a few people engaging in underhand dealings with sinister intentions. Anyone with a sense of right and wrong and common sense should be able to see the facts as they are and jointly reject such fake news.

7. Chinese debt in Africa

It's Time We Talk About All That Chinese Debt in Africa - The China Africa Project

There are growing calls for international lenders to cancel or at least reschedule significant portions of Africa’s debt as economies one after across the continent another sink into recession as a result of the worsening COVID-19 outbreak...

Considering that China owns 20% of the debt in Africa and is the largest bilateral creditor in a number of the continent’s major economies, Beijing’s plays a disproportionately important role in this discussion...

Tim Jones is following the African debt relief issue closely in his role as the Head of Policy for the Jubilee Debt Campaign, a London-based NGO that advocates for debt relief and fair lending practices in developing countries. He joins Eric & Cobus to discuss the complexities involved in the current debt relief debate in Africa amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

8. Tencent gets a UN contract

Tencent and United Nations announce global partnership to hold thousands of conversations online through platforms including VooV Meeting for the UN's 75th anniversary

Tencent (00700.HK) and the United Nations (UN) today announced a new and innovative global partnership for the UN's 75th anniversary, which will host thousands of online conversations through VooV Meeting (international version of Tencent Meeting), WeChat Work and Tencent Artificial Intelligence Simultaneous Interpretation (Tencent AI SI). This partnership means that amid the coronavirus pandemic, the largest global dialogue to date will be conducted with the technical support from one of the world's largest Internet services and technology companies.

In celebration of the UN's 75th anniversary (#UN75 campaign), Tencent and the United Nations are partnering to reach out to millions of people across the globe, aiming to listen to their thoughts on what the world should look like in 25 years and what role international cooperation should play in solving global challenges like climate change and pandemics such as the coronavirus. The United Nations is calling on people all around the world to engage in a global dialogue and empowering partners to organize and participate in online discussions of any scale with the help of Tencent's VooV Meeting platform, WeChat Work, as well as Tencent AI SI.

Tencent launches global version of its Zoom rival · TechNode

Voov is an international version of Tencent Meeting, launched in December 2019 by Tencent Cloud. It offers cloud-based encrypted video conferencing and instant messaging capabilities during meetings, the company said in a statement emailed to TechNode.

Business, Economy and Trade

Xinhua Headlines: China lifts foreign ownership limits on securities, fund management firms - Xinhua The abolition of the limits on foreign ownership in securities firms on Wednesday came after a March announcement by the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) to advance the time for the move originally scheduled for this December.

Temporary tariff relief likely coming - POLITICO Administration officials who have been wrangling over different versions of a tariff relief proposal have settled on one that would not apply to tariffs on Chinese goods or the Section 232 tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. Retaliatory duties on imports from the European Union as a result of the Airbus dispute would also remain in place.

A Global Consumer Default Wave Is Just Getting Started - Bloomberg Overdue credit-card debt swelled last month by about 50% from a year earlier, according to executives at two banks who asked not to be named discussing internal figures. Qudian Inc., a Beijing-based online lender, said its delinquency ratio jumped to 20% in February from 13% at the end of last year. China Merchants Bank Co., one of the country’s biggest providers of consumer credit, said this month that it “pressed the pause button” on its credit-card business after a “significant” increase in past-due loans. An estimated 8 million people in China lost their jobs in February.

Coronavirus tests China's appetite for food delivery - Nikkei Asian Review Meituan Dianping, China's third-largest internet company by market value as well as the country's No. 1 food delivery service provider, said transaction volumes halved in February and that recovery had been slow as some restaurants have yet to reopen and consumers' health concerns have persisted. The Beijing-based company controls roughly two-thirds of China's food delivery market.

Private Zhejiang Refinery Becomes First in Years to Get Export Nod - Caixin The news comes as the Chinese government pursues the twin goals of making room in its domestic stores to buy more crude at current bargain rates, and easing oversupply in its bloated refinery sector.

Huawei and ZTE Win Contracts to Build 200,000 5G Base Stations - Caixin The contracts to build 232,143 fifth-generation wireless network base stations in 28 provincial-level regions were put out for tender in early March. Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. won the lion’s share and will build 57.2% of the base stations, while 28.7% went to smaller peer ZTE Corp., according to statements released by China Mobile Tuesday.

Apple doubles China donations for COVID-19 recovery efforts - Reuters Apple more than doubled its donation to China’s efforts to fight COVID-19 to over 50 million yuan ($7 million), CEO Tim Cook posted on Weibo on Wednesday, weeks after the iPhone maker said it had opened all its 42 stores in one of its largest markets.

Chinese buyers snap up U.S. oil purchases at widest discounts ever - Reuters China has increased U.S. crude purchases with some buyers snapping up cargoes at the widest discounts ever as sellers seek to offload excess supplies in Asia, six trade sources said on Wednesday.

China’s housing market springs back to life as sales in 30 major cities triple with coronavirus crisis abating | South China Morning Post Transactions in at least eight large cities – Shenzhen, Chengdu, Fuzhou, Hangzhou, Huaian, Yangzhou, Jiaxing, Shantou – indicated buyers have returned in recent weeks, with volume surpassing the average levels in the final quarter of 2019, according to China Real Estate Information Corporation (CRIC).

Politics and Law

China moves to mitigate COVID-19 impact on poverty relief - Xinhua said Wang Chunyan, an official with the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development, at a press conference. The epidemic has prevented poor workers from going out to earn income, hindered farmers' production and delayed many poverty relief projects, Wang noted. To mitigate the impact, the country has mobilized companies and government departments to purchase agricultural products from poor areas

Beijing Supermarket Killing Raises Questions Over Convicts Buying Their Freedom - Caixin The Chinese capital has launched an investigation into the case of a convicted murderer who was released from prison on a dramatically reduced sentence last year and last month killed an elderly man over a dispute about wearing face masks.

Fears Grow For Chinese Student Who Told President to Step Down - RFA Concerns were growing on Tuesday for a university student in the eastern Chinese province of Shandong, after he posted a video to social media calling on President Xi Jinping to step down.

Former Xinjiang police chief arrested in bribery investigation, say Chinese prosecutors | South China Morning Post Ex-police chief Jureti Ibrahim and agriculture official Aikebaier Wufur, both ethnic Uygurs, have been taken into custody

Law equal for Chinese and foreigners - Opinion - China Daily A short video clip showing anti-epidemic staff roughing up a foreigner who refused to wear a mask had gone viral on Sunday. On Monday, the police in Xi'an city's Yanta district said the foreigner had violated Chinese laws on epidemic control and public security and therefore they told him to leave China within a stipulated period. The foreigner had left by Tuesday.

财新:关押5611天,商丘“投毒杀人犯”吴春红宣告无罪 A man in Henan is released from prison and has his name cleared 16 years after a local court wrongly convicted him for a murder. He pled guilty after he was tortured by the police and was sentenced to life in prison in 2004.

特稿|成立三月即上火线,民兵“专业扑火队”缘何集体牺牲? Caixin reported that the 19 firefighters died fighting the wildfire in Xichang, Sichuan, are not professional firefighters. They are militias and farmers who were not properly trained and equipped to do the job.

Foreign and Defense Affairs

[WEBCAST] The Belt, the Road, and the Coronavirus | Asia Society In this Thursday's edition of Coronavirus, Asia, and the World webcast, ASPI Vice President Danny Russel will discuss the impact of coronavirus, and the possibility it may trigger a global recession, on the Belt and Road projects, on its host country populations and economies, and on China’s plan to create new corridors of infrastructure to facilitate the flow of goods, services and people around the world.

China May Have Operational ASAT Program, Reports Say | Aviation Week Network “Chinese DA-ASAT capability against [low Earth orbit] targets is likely mature and may be operationally fielded on mobile launchers,” a report by the Secure World Foundation (SWF) says. “Chinese DA-ASAT capability against deep space targets (medium Earth orbit and geostationary orbit] is likely still in the experimental or development phase, and there is not sufficient evidence to conclude whether it will become an operational capability in the near future.”

China retains long-suspended railway to ensure maneuverability in war - China Military The Anhui-Jiangxi Railway connecting line under the Guixi Railway Station of Yingtan District in East China's Jiangxi Province will still be preserved after being suspended for over 10 years, announced the China Railway Nanchang Group on March 30, 2020.

Canada, China talking to keep canola exports moving | Financial Post Beijing blocked canola seed shipments from Richardson International and Viterra Inc last year, citing pest concerns. China’s move came after Canada’s detention of a top Huawei Technologies Co Ltd executive. Canadian canola seed shipments from other companies to China have continued but were in jeopardy due to the March 31 expiration of an agreed standard on the amount of foreign material allowed per shipment.

Xi says China-India relations at new starting point - Xinhua China-India relations are standing at a new starting point and facing new opportunities, Chinese President Xi Jinping said Wednesday when exchanging congratulatory messages with his Indian counterpart, Ram Nath Kovind, on the 70th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic ties.

Mapping the People's Liberation Army Rocket Force The last time someone attempted to compile a complete picture of China’s ballistic missile forces was over a decade ago with Sean O’Connor’s report on the Second Artillery. Because no one has released an updated dataset, scholars have had to rely on decade old orders of battle when examining the PRC military. I’m making this dataset publicly available so that more information on China's force posture is easily accessibly. I have put together an as complete as possible picture of the PLARF’s order of battle entirely with data publicly available online. The majority of my own conclusions on brigade equipment come from detail matching ground imagery released by Chinese state media or collected from Chinese social media sites like Weibo. In addition, 1980s era declassified documents from the Central Intelligence Agency yielded a surprising amount of data on active ICBM brigades.

Responding to China’s New Tools of Global Influence - War on the Rocks - Daniel Markey Zhao [Lijian] is a tiny piece in a wider web of Chinese policies intended to extend Beijing’s worldwide influence. The United States needs a smart response to Zhao’s provocations as well as China’s other initiatives. That response should be asymmetric, in that it should play to America’s own advantages rather than competing on Chinese terms. Equally important, Washington needs to calibrate its messages to other societies in ways that demonstrate an understanding of their interests and aspirations, rather than framing its outreach solely in terms of a U.S.-China competition.

Hong Kong and Macao

Coronavirus: Hong Kong residents unhappy with Covid-19 response – and surgical masks one big reason why, Post survey shows | South China Morning Post Out of nearly 850 people polled, seven in 10 said they would credit the community response for beating the coronavirus, while more than half objected to the idea of Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s administration being commended for it.


Beijing reiterates one China policy after reports say Beijing considers Taiwan WHO membership - CGTN Beijing's Taiwan affairs office said on Wednesday that the question of Taiwan's membership in the World Health Organization (WHO) must be discussed under the one China policy, denying reports saying China is considering Taiwan's observer status in the World Health Assembly.

Taiwan to donate 10 million masks to virus-affected countries (update) - Focus Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) indicated that diplomatic allies, the United States and European countries would be among those who would get the masks, but he did not say when the masks would be donated.

Tech and Media

Bilibili Esports Signs Production Deal for Overwatch League China Region - Pandaily Bilibili Esports has taken the place of Banana Culture as the new Chinese production partner for Activision Blizzard’s Overwatch League, sources told Pandaily. Bilibili Esports will also co-host the 2020 Overwatch Contenders competition, which will feature a $2.5 million total prize pool.


Chinese netizens said Douyin has banned people to do live video streaming on their platforms if they speak Cantonese instead of Mandarin. Some Douyin users they had been warned earlier by the platform not to speak Cantonese. Douyin didn’t give a reply to a reporter’s question. It is unclear whether this has to do with the fear of users talking about things related to the HK protests, and a lack of Cantonese-speaking censors.

And it sounds like Douyin’s parent Bytedance got at least one outlet to kill an English-language story on this:

Energy, Environment, Science and Health

Wuhan’s Covid-19 Crisis Is Easing. Its Mental Health Disaster Is Just Beginning - Caixin “Even without Covid-19, I would say the shortage of mental health professionals in China is shocking. So are the numbers of people who need help and who don’t even know that they can seek help,” said Shi Xiuxiong, a Shanghai-based psychotherapist who runs two popular podcasts on mental health. “When you lay Covid-19 on top of that, it’s an even more staggering situation.”

Waste molybdenum ore spill in China spreads 110 km downstream - Reuters Testing of water in the Hulan river some 110 km southwest of the mining site in Yichun showed the molybdenum content was 2.8 times higher than standard levels on Tuesday, Heilongjiang’s department of ecology and environment said. The Hulan flows into the Songhua river, the fifth-longest in China, in a northern district of provincial capital Harbin.

Coronavirus Comes to Rescue of Sierra Leone's Plundered Rosewood -Reuters A crash in demand for rosewood in China due to the coronavirus outbreak has led to an abrupt halt in illegal logging in this lush pocket of northern Sierra Leone - a rare upside to the pandemic that has killed thousands and left much of the planet under lockdown.

Jobs and Events

COVID-19 and the U.S.-China Relationship: Collision or Collaboration? | National Committee on United States - China Relations Join the National Committee on April 14 at 4:00 p.m. EDT for a virtual program during which Committee President Steve Orlins will lead a conversation with three experts: Yuen Yuen Ang of the University of Michigan, Amy Celico of the Albright Stonebridge Group, and Elizabeth Knup of the Ford Foundation, as they consider how the rampant spread of the virus is affecting the U.S.-China relationship, and what the long-term impact may be in the political, economic, and social realms.