More on the origin of the virus; Standing committee meeting; Hong Kong

Hi everyone, today’s issue is a bit ragged, I imagine more than a few of you share the mental exhaustion and challenge in focusing from the events of the last few days.

Key points from today’s newsletter:

  • Xi chaired a politburo standing committee that according to the official readout focused mostly on continuing work to prevent a resurgence of cases, especially imported ones. It did mention a need to pay attention to the worsening global economic outlook. The wording from the readout about the global economic situation and "targeted policy and measures" spurred hope in some quarters, once again, of a big stimulus package. I would be cautious in over-reading that, I think it still looks like the focus will be on targeted and relatively restrained measures;

  • President Trump made clear he is using the term “Chinese virus” as a way to push back on the claims by Zhao Lijian that maybe it came from the US Army, but in what could be seen as a bit of an olive branch he said he did not believe China was "inflicting" the coronavirus upon Americans;

  • It sounds like at least 13 reporters from the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and New York Times are on the expulsion list. We are losing some incredibly talented journalists. It is a shame for us, for them personally, and for China.

It is important to note the PRC idea of "reciprocity" in justifying the expulsion of these reporters - China Takes Countermeasures Against Restrictive Measures on Chinese Media Agencies in the US

The above-mentioned measures are entirely necessary and reciprocal countermeasures that China is compelled to take in response to the unreasonable oppression the Chinese media organizations experience in the US.

CGTN/CCTV is broadcasting in the US to US viewers, China Daily is distributing its content in the US through paid partnerships with major US media companies, I believe including all three of the newspapers whose correspondents were expelled, and the People's Daily Overseas Edition is freely available in the US. Which US media outlets are allowed to broadcast or distribute their content inside the PRC?

Thanks for reading.

The Essential Eight

1. Standing committee meeting

Xi Focus: Xi chairs leadership meeting on epidemic control, economic development - Xinhua

Xi said the positive trend in preventing and controlling the epidemic has been constantly consolidated and expanded, and the restoration of normal production and everyday life has been quickened.

However, new situations and problems, especially the overseas spread of the virus and its negative impacts on the world economy, have brought new challenges, he said...

The risk of outbreak rebounding still exists in other regions due to increasing personnel mobility and crowd gathering, he said.

Xi particularly noted the mounting risk of imported cases as the COVID-19 rapidly spread across the world...

He demanded strengthened exchanges and cooperation with other countries in epidemic response and pledged continuous assistance to the best of China's ability...

The meeting underscored efforts to restore people's normal work and life in full in low-risk provinces.

Authorities stressed that for the flow of personnel and goods between low-risk regions, necessary health certificates should be recognized nationwide, no more obstacles should be set up and no isolation measures should be taken for people with certificates.

The meeting called for strengthened research and analysis of the global economic situation and timely formation of targeted policies and measures.

Comment: I would not be surprised if they are considering direct payments to individuals as other countries are doing.

中共中央政治局常务委员会召开会议 分析国内外新冠肺炎疫情防控和经济形势 研究部署统筹抓好疫情防控和经济社会发展重点工作 中共中央总书记习近平主持会议_CCTV

CCTV Evening News readout of the standing committee meeting, no pictures from inside. Here are some of the key bits on the economy, mostly already translated in the Xinhua readout above




2. The economy

China Touts 50 Trillion Yuan in Infrastructure Spending, Yet Just 7.5 Trillion Scheduled for 2020 – China Banking News

While do­mes­tic me­dia re­ports have high­lighted plans for nearly 50 tril­lion yuan (ap­prox. USD$7.15 tril­lion) in in­fra­struc­ture spend­ing in China as the econ­omy reels from the im­pacts of the coro­n­avirus, only 7.5 tril­lion (ap­prox. $1.07 tril­lion) of this amount is sched­uled for im­ple­men­ta­tion in 2020.

Re­search from Zhong­tai Se­cu­ri­ties (中泰证券) has fur­ther de­ter­mined that the amount of in­fra­struc­ture spend­ing for many of Chi­na’s re­gional gov­ern­ments has de­clined com­pared to 2019.

China’s Electricity Consumption Drops by Most in Five Years - Caixin

Fresh data from the National Development and Reform Commission, the country’s top economic planner, showed Tuesday that the nation consumed 7.8% less electricity in January and February compared with the same period last year, led by a 12% fall in industrial consumption and a 3.1% drop in the services industry

Chinese Economy May See First Quarterly Contraction Since 1992 - Caixin

UBS economist Wang was more pessimistic. She estimated full-year growth would be 1.5%, even if the Chinese government hands out more than 2% of GDP in fiscal support measures and further eases monetary and credit policies. She said full-year GDP growth is not likely to surpass 3% even with a better-than-expected rebound in real estate and more-than-expected fiscal stimulus.

However, as the global economy is set to gradually recover once the pandemic is under control, Wang forecasted China’s GDP growth will rebound to 7.5% in 2021.

Chinese Port Restricts Ships From Virus-Hit Nations for 14 Days - Bloomberg

The port of Fuzhou in eastern China is restricting vessels arriving from nine countries including the U.S. and Singapore in efforts to limit the spread of coronavirus by visiting ships and their crew.

As China's coronavirus outbreak eases, a wary return to shops for consumers - Reuters

Helping consumers return has been a loosening of quarantine and other restrictions on business and social activity. Restaurants that have satisfied authorities with plans for curbing the risk of infection are now allowed to serve groups of diners and most stores have reopened, though big brands like IKEA and Apple Inc (AAPL.O) have restrictions on crowds.

Epidemic will not change long-term stability, continuous upgrade of China's consumption: MOC - Xinhua

Food sales picked up 9.7 percent year on year in the first two months, as people shifted from dine-in to take-out, MOC official Wang Bin told a press conference.

Meanwhile, protective gear and health and sanitation products registered notable sales increases, Wang noted.

New consumption and retail models including "contactless" pick-ups and live-streaming are gaining momentum while emerging sectors such as artificial intelligence are burgeoning against the broader consumption downturn.

China’s Coronavirus Response Toughens State Control and Weakens the Private Market - WSJ $$

In tough times, China’s Communist Party rulers turn to the nation’s vast state sector. The strategy, used during the 2008 financial crisis, is helping China absorb some of the economic shocks of the Covid-19 epidemic. It also could hasten the retreat from a market-oriented economy.

Many private manufacturers are struggling to restore production, yet more than 95% of some 20,000 industrial companies controlled by the central government are churning out masks, medicines, steel, heavy machinery and other products—keeping workers on the job...

That is the advantage of the Chinese system, said an official at the regulator overseeing large state-controlled firms, the State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission: “It’s like in a battlefield, and state-owned enterprises are the ones who can act fast and decisively.”

China’s Pre-owned Housing Prices Drop for First Time in 58 Months, Property Policy Settings Unaltered – China Banking News

The 70 City Pre-owned Hous­ing Price In­dex fell 0.1% in Feb­ru­ary com­pared to the pre­vi­ous month, for the first de­cline in 58 months. Only 14 cities on the in­dex saw an in­crease in pre-owned hous­ing prices, ac­count­ing for less than 25% of the to­tal.

Coronavirus: Getting China back to work - Trivium China

The vast majority of businesses in China have at least turned the lights back on – with 93% of large companies having resumed operations.
17 provinces are reporting full resumption rates (of between 99-100%) for large businesses. These provinces account for 74% of GDP. An additional five provinces have large business resumption rates above 90%. That said, capacity utilization at many of these companies is still closer to 70-80% of normal levels, with many far below that.

3. The outbreak

Imported coronavirus cases in China outpace local infections for fifth day - Reuters

Mainland China had 13 new infections on Tuesday, the National Health Commission said, down from 21 a day earlier. A dozen of the new cases involved infected arrivals from abroad.

Europe Passes China in Virus Deaths on Italy’s Deadliest Day - Bloomberg

According to data compiled by Bloomberg, Europe’s total of more than 85,000 infections exceeds China’s 80,900. Europe has also reported just under 4,000 deaths from Covid-19, compared with about 3,200 in China. Italy’s death count alone is 2,978.

China Hubei City to Relax Outbound Travel Curbs, Beijing Out of Bounds - Reuters

The Chinese city of Ezhou in Hubei province, the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, has relaxed restrictions on outbound travel for non-resident citizens within its borders, but they will not be allowed to travel to Beijing, it said on Wednesday.

Headed to Beijing by Air? Don't Be Surprised if You Stop Over in Hohhot | the Beijinger

International flights operated by Chinese airlines may soon be diverted to airports outside of Beijing such as Tianjin, Hohhot, Taiyuan, and Shijiazhuang, according to an article posted this afternoon by reliable Chinese news source Caixin. The post said that flights operated by international airlines would not be affected.

Beijing Plays Delicate Border-Balancing Act in Covid-19 Battle - Caixin

parents of overseas Chinese students told Caixin they are scrambling to find tickets to bring home their kids and are weighing calling on the Chinese government. As of Monday, China had carried out 13 transport missions to countries with severe outbreaks, of which seven flights brought back 1,101 Chinese citizens, the NIA said.

Strict vigilance to prevent imported cases: China Daily editorial

China has not closed its doors, as many other countries have, because it believes that as long as effective measures are taken to stop the transmission of the virus, there is no need to compromise normal cross-border travel...

Since many of the people arriving in the country these days are overseas Chinese, it is necessary that they realize that although the country will do its utmost to protect their freedom to travel, that will not be at the cost of others' safety.

Comment: China can not fully close its borders without sending a message to the diaspora that the Motherland will not always be there for you, but they are right to be very worried about imported cases, look to be making the return process increasingly onerous

Beijing upgrades QR system for coronavirus tracking-

Beijing has upgraded its color-coded QR system to identify residents based on their health conditions, and begun allowing users to help check the health codes of up to four other people.

Pan Feng, deputy chief of the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Economy and Information Technology, made the announcement at a press conference on Tuesday.

The move of allowing users to check other people's health codes is aimed at addressing the issues of people who do not have smartphones, such as the elderly or children, Pan said.

Chinese military scientists ordered to win global race to develop coronavirus vaccine | South China Morning Post

The Chinese military has been ordered to race to develop the world’s first vaccine for Covid-19, according to military and scientific sources.

The state broadcaster CCTV reported on Tuesday that a research team led by Major General Chen Wei, a top epidemiologist and virologist with the Academy of Military Medical Sciences (AMMS), had been authorised to start a clinical trial.

CCTV described the vaccine being developed by Chen’s team alongside Tianjin-based CanSino Biologics as the front-runner among nine possible treatments being worked on by Chinese scientists.

Researchers around the world are racing to develop a vaccine for the disease, and one expert said the Chinese leadership would feel they had “lost face” if the Americans beat them to it.'

Comment: Someone with a lot of time at home could write on the race to find the vaccine set against the US-China rivalry...

China’s Glowing Coronavirus-Response Coverage Triggers Anger at State Media - WSJ $$

With the numbers of new Covid-19 cases in China dwindling, the country’s ruling Communist Party has worked both internally and internationally to portray itself as decisive and forceful in facing down the pandemic.

These efforts included glorifying the work of Liao Jun, a veteran reporter with the official Xinhua News Agency, whose coverage of the coronavirus epidemic in central China’s Hubei province has been portrayed by Beijing as heroic.

Chinese social media has recoiled with anger at the lionization of Ms. Liao, saying she helped propagate fictions that clouded the severity of the outbreak in its early days.

The Coronavirus Exposes Education’s Digital Divide - The New York Times

For all of China’s economic advancements in recent decades, the rudiments of connected life — capable smartphones, reliable internet — remain out of reach for large segments of the population. As the virus has turned online conveniences into daily necessities, these people, most of whom live in China’s rural hinterland, have been cut off from their regular lives, especially when it comes to education.

Second wave of coronavirus cases hits Asia | Financial Times $$

Officials in South Korea, Taiwan and parts of China and south-east Asia are rushing through new measures after a second wave of new infections following weeks of declines.

Chinese government launches new tech database to help communities fight the coronavirus | South China Morning Post

Officials have compiled a list of more than 2,000 “new technologies” and their providers, ranging from automatic temperature detection to diagnosis and hospital information systems, according to a post by the Ministry of Science and Technology on Monday.

The ministry plans to proliferate technology-based applications among hospitals and communities, which have been on the frontlines of the outbreak, as well as to companies which are now coping with the aftermath of a nearly two month-long lockdown.

4. Foreign aid

中国抗疫彰显负责任大国担当-Page 1 commentary in the March 19 People's Daily - China's fight against the epidemic shows it is a responsible major country

"After the epidemic, China has always adopted an open, transparent and responsible attitude to promptly publish epidemic information to domestic and foreign countries, share virus research results as soon as possible, actively respond to the concerns of the international community, maintain good communication with the World Health Organization, and with relevant countries share experiences in epidemic prevention and treatment, strengthen international cooperation in the development of antiviral drugs and vaccines, provide assistance within the reach of other countries and regions where the epidemic has spread, and inject positive energy into the global epidemic. China's fight against the epidemic is not only responsible for the safety and physical health of the Chinese people, but also for the global public health cause."


Xi says China to help Spain fight COVID-19 epidemic - Xinhua

Xi stressed that China supports the measures taken by the Spanish government to fight the epidemic, understands the severe situation Spain is facing, and is ready to meet Spain's urgent needs by doing its utmost to provide support and assistance, and share its experience in COVID-19 prevention, control and treatment, so as to contribute to the health and well-beings of the two peoples as well as the global public health security.

After the epidemic, the two sides should step up exchanges and cooperation in a wide range of fields, Xi said, adding that China is willing to continue to expand imports of high-quality and featured products from Spain.

China ramps up coronavirus help to Europe | Financial Times $$

The Chinese move is the latest in a string of promised anti-coronavirus shipments to European countries that analysts see as having a potentially wider diplomatic impact, as Beijing seeks to exploit transatlantic tensions and forge closer relations with Europe. 

“The pandemic is a common threat that requires a co-ordinated global response,” Fraser Cameron, director of the Brussels-based EU-Asia Centre think-tank, wrote in an article published by China Daily on Wednesday. “But that is not the way the US administration thinks — and thus the US’ relations with both the EU and China may continue to suffer.”

Coronavirus: Germany’s Angela Merkel plays down China’s providing medical supplies to hard-hit European countries | South China Morning Post

“The European Union sent medical equipment to China [when] China asked for help at that time,” Merkel said at a Tuesday press conference, referring to the outbreak’s start earlier this year. “What we are seeing here is reciprocity.”

“As we are having a crisis at this time, we cannot expect everything to be provided in the framework of the EU. We are very pleased about [China’s provision],” Merkel said.

Question: Has the PRC made any connection between aid and allowing Huawei onto their 5G networks? 

Five reasons why China's global stature will rise after pandemic - Global Times

The first is China's self-sufficient supply chain for almost all products and a vast domestic consumer market;

The second strength China has that other countries, including the US, do not is an extremely efficient mechanism to deal with public health and economic crisis;

The third factor is that China has already put that same mechanism in place to fend off risks from the seemingly out-of-control situation overseas;

The fourth factor is China's sufficient monetary and fiscal tools, which many major economies, including the US, the EU and Japan, no longer have;

The fifth factor is China's rising reputation among foreign countries and businesses, as it continues to improve the domestic situation and offer support for more countries in dire need of help such as Italy and Pakistan

China Is Maneuvering for Global Leadership During the Coronavirus Crisis as the United States Falters - Foreign Affairs - By Kurt M. Campbell and Rush Doshi

As Washington falters, Beijing is moving quickly and adeptly to take advantage of the opening created by U.S. mistakes, filling the vacuum to position itself as the global leader in pandemic response. It is working to tout its own system, provide material assistance to other countries, and even organize other governments. The sheer chutzpah of China’s move is hard to overstate. After all, it was Beijing’s own missteps—especially its efforts at first to cover up the severity and spread of the outbreak—that helped create the very crisis now afflicting much of the world. Yet Beijing understands that if it is seen as leading, and Washington is seen as unable or unwilling to do so, this perception could fundamentally alter the United States’ position in global politics and the contest for leadership in the twenty-first century.

Updated: Huge shipment of donated COVID-19 test kits, masks moves through Memphis - The Daily Memphian

Chinese billionaire Jack Ma’s donation of test kits and masks was flown into Memphis, where FedEx provided ground support including customs clearance, sources said. It was destined for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Ma, founder of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, donated 500,000 coronavirus test kits and 1 million masks to help America cope with the epidemic. Coronavirus or COVID-19 originated in China but is believed to be past its peak there.

5. Virus origins

Trump again defends use of the term 'China virus' - CNNPolitics

" 'Cause it comes from China. It's not racist at all, no, not at all. It comes from China, that's why. I want to be accurate," Trump said on Wednesday.

Pressed again, he said: "I have great love for all of the people from our country, but as you know China tried to say at one point ... that it was caused by American soldiers. That can't happen. It's not gonna happen, not as long as I'm President. It comes from China."

Comment: Nice job Zhao Lijian.

Trump on 'Chinese virus' label: 'It's not racist at all' - Politico

Trump said Wednesday that he did not believe China was "inflicting" the coronavirus upon Americans, but argued that Beijing "could have given us a lot earlier notice" about the disease.

"I know where it came from. I don't know if you'd say China is to blame," the president said. "Certainly we didn't get an early run on it. It would have been helpful if we knew about it earlier. But it comes from China. It's not a question about that. Nobody's questioning it."

On the Technical Advancements and Instrumentalization of Rumor - CD/DC://

The author is a Chinese journalist

In the past, these misinformation has largely been harmless. However, since the pandemic started raging throughout the globe, we are actually beginning to see disinformation campaigns being pushed by the Chinese regime and causing political turmoils on a global scale.

No one demonstrates it better than Zhao Lijian, Deputy Director of the Information Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China.

There's more to this unfounded rhetoric that U.S. soldiers brought the Novel Coronavirus (now known as SARS-CoV-2) into Wuhan when the city hosted the Military World Games last year.

Back in Feb 23, Zhang Dingyu, dean of Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital, the hospital that took in the five U.S. athletes sick with a communicable disease during the Military World Games, told fact checkers at Beijing Association for Science and Technology (an actual government-affiliated organization) that all five inpatients were infected with malaria, rather than a coronavirus. It may be a bit far-fetching to say this, but at least you can see now that Zhao Lijian, acting in his own or the MFA's capacity, is pushing a conspiracy theory that the Beijing Government had already refuted.

But that's not all. Back in late January, an Inner Mongolian guy surnamed Man posted on social media a video he recorded, in which he claimed that "the pneumonia outbreak is the result of the U.S. using genetic weapons in China." Mr. Man was detained for 10 days and fined 500 Yuan for doing that., which is believed to be affiliated with the central government, picked up the news on Feb 9.

It hurts my brain to find a logical explanation for MFA's spinning of this conspiracy theory after it's been refuted and someone being arrested for spreading it. Luckily, I managed to find one.

I would argue that rumor is being instrumentalized by the Chinese regime to push their diplomatic rhetorics that China is not taking the blame for the global Covid-19 pandemic, as well as creating an optic through which a favorable domestic public opinion environment is projected.

Prominent figures join to fight ‘Chinese virus’ slander - Global Times

Rao Yi, president of Capital Medical University in Beijing, said in a WeChat article on Wednesday that according to the US government's logic, the first AIDS case was reported in the US on June 5, 1981, so should AIDS be called an American venereal disease and HIV the "American venereal virus?"

And should the spirochete leading to syphilis, which is widely considered to have originated in North America and been transmitted to Europe by the Spanish, be called "North American spirochete?"

He raised another example of US malicious deeds. Around 1918, the influenza virus that struck the whole world, which got the name of "Spanish flu," is now most commonly recognized as having originated in rural Kansas, in the US.

6. US-China relations

U.S.-China Ties Are Tanking Just When They Need to Get Along - Bloomberg

In Beijing, as in Washington, the virus crisis has boosted hardliners over those who favor preserving relations with a key trading partner and military rival. One Chinese official said Wednesday that the two sides were entering a difficult period that could last a long time. The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the remarks weren’t authorized, said that “a new Cold War is indeed unfolding.”..

The disputes have reaffirmed concerns that the trade pact was merely a pause in hostilities rather than the foundation for a truce. The outbreak and the resulting economic downturn has raised new doubts about China’s ability to meet its pledges to expand imports of American goods and bolstered nationalistic arguments on both sides of the Pacific for a more confrontational approach...

Richard McGregor, a former Financial Times bureau chief in Beijing who’s now a senior fellow at the Lowy Institute, said China’s leaders “must feel bulletproof” as their own outbreak appears to subside and the U.S. struggles with surging coronavirus cases.

“China is now doing things that the hardliners have always wanted to do, but would either have been restrained by other parts of the system or wouldn’t have felt strong enough to get away with,” he said. “It is a moment to move on all fronts, and we see them doing that.”

Secretary Michael R. Pompeo Remarks to the Press - United States Department of State

Your question about China – look, the disinformation campaign that they are waging is designed to shift responsibility. Now is not the time for recrimination. Now is the time to solve this global pandemic and work to take down risks to Americans and people all across the world. My team just got off the phone with the – our ambassador to Italy. The remarkable work our team’s doing there to help the Italian people would make every American proud. We’re doing this all across the world.

There will come a day when we will go evaluate how the entire world responded. We know this much: We know that the first government to be aware of the Wuhan virus was the Chinese Government. That imposes a special responsibility to raise the flag, to say, “We have a problem, this is different and unique and presents risk.” And it took an awful long time for the world to become aware of this risk that was sitting there, residing inside of China. We’ll do the after-action when the time is right. Every nation has a responsibility to share all of their data, all of their information in as timely and accurate a fashion as they have the ability to do not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because that’s how you save lives for your own people as well. The Chinese Communist Party had a responsibility to do this not only for Americans and Italians and South Koreans and Iranians who are now suffering, but for their own people as well.

Tucker Carlson has a direct line into the White House.- Tucker Carlson: When the coronavirus passes, we must treat China like a dangerous Cold War adversary | Fox News

Once the coronavirus crisis passes, we'll need to starting treating China like the dangerous, Cold War-level adversary it has clearly become….

When the country is well enough to function normally, we're going to have to change that immediately for our own sake and for the sake of our children. We need to move essential manufacturing back to the United States. It's crazy not to.

More broadly, we'll need to start treating China like the dangerous Cold War level adversary it has clearly become.

Don't let them lie to you. This crisis began in China, and that's significant, whether coronavirus escaped from a bioresearch lab, as independent Chinese scientists have claimed, or arose in a filthy street market selling wild animals for food. Either way, China's third world health practices played a central role in this disaster..

The virus grew to a pandemic because Chinese officials silenced health authorities in that country who tried to warn the public about it. Even now, the Chinese government is determined to crush any unsanctioned reporting from the country.

On Tuesday, Beijing announced it is revoking the press credentials for reporters from the biggest American newspapers. They don't want us to see what they're doing there. And at the same time, they're threatening us. One state-backed media outlet explained that China may cut off our supply of pharmaceuticals. That would kill Americans...

The Chinese know that any debate in this country can be derailed instantly if someone screams "racist" as someone inevitably does. So the Chinese have decided to use wokeness against us. The most racist power on Earth -- this is the country that puts Muslims in concentration camps. The country that stamps out Tibetan culture; the country that would not accept a single Somali refugee at gunpoint. This country is calling us bigoted. It's hilarious in a way.

US intrusions in S.China Sea can be stopped by electromagnetic weapons: experts - Global Times 

To counter US' repeated trespasses into Chinese territorial waters, the Chinese military has the option of using new approaches, including the deployment of electromagnetic weapons, Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and commentator, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Firing at US warships is not a good choice unless the US fires first, and that would result in the start of a China-US military conflict, Song said, noting that bumping into US ships might also not be a good counter, as lessons have been learned from the Black Sea bumping incident between the Soviet Union and US in 1988.

But the use of electromagnetic weapons, including low-energy laser devices, could be viable, as they can temporarily paralyze US ships' weapon and control systems without visible conflict but can send a strong warning, according to Song


Zhong Sheng continue its series attacking the US after the publication of China's US Human Rights report, this commentary says the "Defender of HUman Rights" is actually the creator of human rights disasters

The coronavirus and financial contagions demand a joint response. Can China and the US deliver? | South China Morning Post - Kevin Rudd OpEd

The last Republican president played a key role in bringing together G20 leaders in late 2008, at the start of the financial crisis. President Trump would benefit from doing the same now, including bringing China and the other major economies to the table. For example, an emergency virtual meeting of G20 health and finance ministers, and in time leaders, with a solid and agreed agenda of work, would provide the dose of confidence that both the people of the world and the global economy so desperately need right now.

7. Expulsion of American reporters

At least 13 US journalists facing expulsion from China - AP

The number of affected journalists at the papers — The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post — is at least 13 and could be higher depending on how broadly the group is defined, said the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China, or FCCC.

Briefing With Senior State Department Officials on China’s Expulsion of U.S. Journalists - United States Department of State

Second part: In January we announced media reciprocity. Again, the same thing – we asked their media that are sponsored by the Chinese Communist Party acknowledge that through determining that they were foreign missions. They are still allowed to do what they do in this country, but they just had to acknowledge the fact that they weren’t the same media organizations that you all represent. They basically were there to represent the Chinese Communist Party’s perspective. And one of you from PBS gave me a good summation of that. Here’s the quote: Journalists are constrained by facts while foreign missions are constrained by their governments. So that’s the approach we’ve taken as far as media reciprocity...

we’re getting a much more shrill narrative from the PRC, and this current conversation relates to the most recent and the most flagrant by a spokesman, by their ministry of foreign affairs – Zhao Lijian tried to attribute the current global pandemic to the American military, and that is just irresponsible and unacceptable.

As you watched – I don’t know if you watch what comes out of Chinese official media, but it’s become more and more fantastic and fictional. Here’s a quote from today’s People’s Daily: The U.S. even tries to create a chilling effect by expelling a large number of journalists from other countries – that’s absolutely not true – building a wall to the external world to report and understand the U.S. That’s actually what they’re doing, and so there’s a psychological term for that. Another quote: U.S. is conducting a disguised expulsion while it is, in fact, political repression.

Ousting U.S. Reporters, China Signals Confidence in Its Own Message - The New York Times

The party now feels it has other ways to reach a global audience. The state-run Xinhua News Agency’s English Twitter account has 12.6 million followers. The Communist Party’s official newspaper, People’s Daily, has seven million followers. The state broadcaster CGTN, an arm of the official broadcaster China Central Television, has 14 million followers. In the past year, as the U.S.-China trade war intensified, China’s diplomats “discovered” Twitter as well.

8. Hong Kong, PRC

As China-US relations continue to sour, Beijing says expulsion of American reporters may just be the start | South China Morning Post

In an unprecedented step, it said they would also be barred from working as journalists in Hong Kong and Macau...

In Hong Kong, the pro-democracy camp slammed Beijing’s move as interfering in the city’s local affairs and warned it could further undermine its economy.

“This is a clear violation of the Basic Law, which says we are supposed to look after our own immigration matters. But now, it is all according to Beijing’s orders,” Hong Kong lawmaker Claudia Mo Man-ching said...

Gu Su, a political scientist at Nanjing University, said the scale of the journalists’ expulsion was unprecedented since China embarked on its programme of reform and opening up in the late 1970s.

“The media is an important channel for cultural and political exchanges, and by directly targeting media outlets and journalists, it sends out a signal that some important changes are occurring in bilateral ties, inching closer to a new Cold War,” he said.

China’s Expulsion of American Journalists Raises Red Flags Over Hong Kong - WSJ $$

In November, President Trump signed The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019, which requires the secretary of state to certify annually that Hong Kong is autonomous enough from Beijing to retain favored trading status with the U.S. The legislation opened the door for a number of possible punitive measures, such as sanctions, against officials found to be violating the city’s agreed freedoms. The first report is due in a few months.

China's internal security force on frontlines of Hong Kong protests - Reuters

Officers from China’s top internal security force - the People’s Armed Police – joined Hong Kong police on the frontlines to observe anti-government protests that peaked last year, according to a senior foreign diplomat and an opposition politician...

Hong Kong police took PAP officers to monitor the protesters and their tactics as part of a wider effort by the paramilitary force to deepen its understanding of the Hong Kong situation, they said...

The diplomat and three other foreign envoys, however, estimated that China’s government had ramped up the paramilitary People’s Armed Police (PAP) presence in Hong Kong to as many as 4,000 personnel - far more than previously known estimates...

Some local legal experts and politicians fear the presence of the PAP - which has been devoted to internal security in mainland China - breaches the laws that protect Hong Kong’s autonomy under Chinese rule.

Business, Economy and Trade

Bad Loans Rise for China Banks as Virus Hits Businesses and Consumers - Caixin China's bad loans have steadily climbed amid the outbreak and will continue to rise in coming months, said Xiao Yuanqi, the chief risk officer of the CBIRC, at a briefing. Xiao said the country’s banking sector is capable of digesting the rising bad loans because of abundant capital reserves as well as sound profitability. The sector has more than 6 trillion yuan in reserves and provisions along with more than 2 trillion yuan of net profit annually, enough to cushion loan losses in the worst scenario, Xiao said.

Returns on Chinese Bank Wealth Management Products Drop to 39 Month Low in February – China Banking News Data from Rong360 in­di­cates that in the month of Feb­ru­ary 2020 the av­er­age yield for ren­minbi non-struc­tured WM­P’s in China was 3.98%, for a drop of 2 ba­sis points com­pared to the pre­ced­ing month.

China’s Yuan Looks Unshakable in the Face of Global Recession - Bloomberg “China’s safe haven status in the foreign-exchange market is durable given its strong external position and currency mechanism,” said Kowalczyk. While the yuan may depreciate moderately given the weak data, it won’t drop beyond 7.2 per dollar, he added.

Oil Price War May Revive China's Global Yuan Ambitions - Bloomberg The world’s biggest oil importer has found itself contemplating rock-bottom prices and the opportunity for an unprecedented power play. Russia and Saudi Arabia’s struggle for market share — and the resulting tumble to near $30 a barrel — has left China in a position to dictate conditions. That may include encouraging the world’s top two exporters to price and sell more of their crude in yuan.

Huawei Bonds Outshine Alibaba, Tencent in Downturn - Bloomberg via Yahoo Finance At the heart of this relative optimism is the knowledge that while a private company, Huawei is cushioned from short-term consumer sentiment and economic shocks by its dominant domestic position.

Politics and Law

依法全面禁止食用野生动物 保障人民群众生命健康安全 Wang Chen, Secretary-General of the 12th National People's Congress Standing Committee., has a long article on Page 6 of the March 19 People's Daily on the new law to ben the consumption and trade in wild animals

把奋斗作为一种境界 - 解放军报- 作者单位:北部战区陆军某预备役师 在理论滋养中保鲜奋斗精神。信息网络时代,虽不见鼓角争鸣、刀光剑影的硝烟战火,但意识形态领域的斗争仍然尖锐复杂,和平演变、颜色革命、文化冷战,搭乘网络的快车席卷而来,铸魂与蛀魂、固根与毁根的较量从未停歇

Foreign and Defense Affairs

Canadian Parliamentary Report Describes Chinese Interference | China Digital Times (CDT) On Thursday, Canada’s National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians published a heavily redacted version of its annual report, originally submitted to the government last August.

Full text of China-Pakistan joint statement - Xinhua Given the depth and breadth of Pakistan-China ties and the finest traditions of both countries to always stand by each other particularly in challenging times, President Dr. Arif Alvi's first visit to Beijing was a singular expression of Pakistan's solidarity with its "iron brother." The visit was undertaken at a time while China was engaged in a massive national struggle to contain the Covid-19. President Dr. Alvi praised the relentless efforts undertaken by China for containing and controlling the virus, and was confident that the Chinese people under the leadership of President Xi Jinping will emerge stronger and victorious in the aftermath of Covid-19.

Export controls and the US-China tech war | Mercator Institute for China Studies In a world of deeply integrated, global supply chains, European governments view export controls as a blunt instrument for tackling the risks tied to new technologies. They are skeptical about the US administration’s aims, seeing controls as part of a broader push to contain China. Despite this scepticism, European countries can neither ignore the US push nor refuse to engage with Washington as it presses ahead with its plans. On the contrary, Europe must formulate its own, considered approach to the transfer of sensitive technologies.

Sanctions on Entities Trading in or Transporting Iranian Petrochemicals - United States Department of State Hong Kong-based companies McFly Plastic HK Limited, Saturn Oasis Co., Limited, and Sea Charming Shipping Company Limited; and Chinese companies Dalian Golden Sun Import & Export Co., Ltd., Tianyi International (Dalian) Co., Ltd., and Aoxing Ship Management (Shanghai) Ltd.

Hong Kong and Macao

Core member of Hong Kong’s Democratic Party resigns from duties after joint petition from colleagues against his criticism of restaurants barring mainland Chinese | South China Morning Post Richard Tsoi Yiu-cheong, a long-time Democratic Party central committee member, said on March 5 in his capacity as a community organiser of a non-profit organisation that the Equal Opportunities Commission should investigate 101 restaurants.


U.S.-Taiwan Joint Statement | American Institute in Taiwan To further strengthen U.S.-Taiwan consultation and cooperation on combatting the COVID-19 virus, which originated in Wuhan, both sides will seek to share best practices and cooperate on a range of activities under a partnership that includes: Research and development of rapid tests; Research and production of vaccines Research and production of medicines Contact tracing techniques and technology Joint conferences with scientists and experts, and Cooperation and exchanges of medical supplies and equipment

Tech and Media

TikTok brings in outside experts to help it craft moderation and content policies | TechCrunch In October, TikTok tapped corporate law firm K&L Gates to advise the company on its moderation policies and other topics afflicting social media platforms. As a part of those efforts, TikTok said it would form a new committee of experts to advise the business on topics like child safety, hate speech, misinformation, bullying and other potential problems. Today, TikTok is announcing the technology and safety experts who will be the company’s first committee members. The committee, known as the TikTok Content Advisory Council, will be chaired by Dawn Nunziato, a professor at George Washington University Law School and co-director of the Global Internet Freedom Project. Nunziato specializes in free speech issues and content regulation — areas where TikTok has fallen short.

How China's chip industry defied the coronavirus lockdown - Nikkei Asian Review Most high-speed trains have not stopped in Wuhan since Chinese authorities locked down the city on Jan. 23, in an attempt to control the outbreak of the novel coronavirus that originated there. Most, but not all. Some have kept special reserved carriages, occupied by experts heading into the middle of the quarantine zone -- not to its clinics or hospitals, but to Yangtze Memory Technologies, China's most high-profile memory chip project.

TSMC weighs new US plant to respond to Trump pressure - Nikkei Asian Review The proposal shows how the Taiwanese chipmaker is trying to assuage U.S. alarm over the supply chain for military-use chips. The company also faces being caught up in Washington's hostility to China's Huawei Technologies, a key TSMC customer that President Donald Trump's administration views as a security threat.

State-Backed Chipmaker Set to Raise $713 Million - Caixin Unisoc’s latest round of fundraising comes as Beijing ramps up efforts to develop the domestic semiconductor industry, an area that has received billions of dollars of government support over the past decade. One of the round’s participants, CICFC, known as the country’s “Big Fund,” has played a prominent role in Beijing’s chipmaking ambitions. Since it was established in 2014, CICFC has received nearly 350 billion yuan in capital from government sources. Unisoc’s parent company, Tsinghua Unigroup, had also received investment from CICFC.

State-Owned Chinese Chipmaker Unisoc Set to Raise 5 Billion Yuan - Caixin Unisoc, the chip-making unit of state-owned Tsinghua Unigroup Co., is set to complete its 5-billion-yuan ($713 million) fundraising, amid China’s efforts to build up the country’s chip-making capacity.

Two investors – the state-backed China Integrated Circuit Industry Investment Fund and another fund backed by the Shanghai government – will each invest 2.25 billion yuan in Unisoc, said a person close to the company, adding the rest will come coming from other sources.

Apple Pay to support Alipay in next iOS update: report · TechNode The integration of Alipay “does not mean that Apple will not cooperate further with other mobile pay players,” said Wang, who added it was likely that WeChat Pay would be vying for inclusion.

Energy, Environment, Science and Health

Preliminary China Emissions Estimates for 2019 | Rhodium Group Based on preliminary energy and economic data for 2019, we estimate that China’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions increased by 2.6% last year, in line with the average annual growth of 3.0% over the past decade. This was due to increased consumption of fossil fuels across all fuel types, with oil and gas growth outpacing coal, along with growth in non-CO2 gases. Despite this increase, our preliminary data suggests China is within striking distance of meeting its Copenhagen Accord pledge in 2020 for carbon-intensity and non-fossil energy, though the net impact of economic changes driven by the COVID-19 pandemic remains unclear.