National security education day; WHO; 6 days in January; China in the US election; Reform guideline

Happy Fifth National Security Education Day!

Some of the highlights of today’s newsletter:

  • The Associated Press has a blockbuster story based on leaked documents that appear to show that senior officials were aware January 14 of the terrible potential of the novel coronavirus, and yet Xi did not issue a public warning until January 20;

  • President Trump announced that the US is suspending payments to the WHO “while a review is conducted to assess the World Health Organization’s role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus…The WHO’s reliance on China’s disclosures likely caused a 20-fold increase in cases worldwide, and it may be much more than that”. If the US decides to end the halt on funding after the review, will one of the changes it demands be that Taiwan has its observer status restored? And if the WHO has a funding crisis because of the US suspension, why wouldn’t Beijing step into the breech and cover the shortfall?;

  • The move against the WHO appears both rooted in legitimate grievances against the WHO and China coupled with the emerging 2020 election strategy of “blaming China”. The 2020 US elections are just under seven months away, and we should expect the rhetoric against China to get increasingly nasty, and the space for any “soft” pro-engagement views to increasingly shrink. “Blame China” is likely an especially winning political strategy this election cycle, just as “Blame America” is always a political winner in the PRC;

  • Hong Kong celebrated national security education day by launching a new web site about national security education and Hong Kong, and Luo Huining, director of the central government’s liaison office in Hong Kong, gave a speech in which he stressed the importance of national security legislation in Hong Kong and, among other things, “constructing social and public opinion environment favorable to struggle 營造有利於同各種危害香港安定和國家安全的行為作鬥爭的社會輿論環境”.

In yesterday’s newsletter I said of the reform guideline “on improving market-based allocation of production factors” [中共中央 国务院关于构建更加完善的要素市场化配置体制机制的意见] issued last week that “we are all so jaded with unfulfilled reform promises but perhaps we should take this seriously given the mounting economic pressures?”

Plenum, a relatively new China research firm whose work I find consistently excellent, has a new note on that opinion - Xi Looks to New Reforms to Aid Recovery - in which they write:

On 9 April Beijing released a comprehensive roadmap on how to make institutional changes on production factors including land, labor, capital, technology and data. It is by far the most important reform guideline unveiled by Xi Jinping’s administration following the “deepening reform initiative” released in November 2013 at the Third Plenum of the 18th Party Congress.

By releasing a reform guideline amidst the pandemic, the Chinese government is signaling that it is still dedicated to market reforms, and that it is hoping to drive growth with reform measures instead of relying solely on monetary and fiscal stimulus. It will be the centerpiece of this year’s “two sessions”—the annual meetings of the National People’s Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), which will likely take place in May after postponement since March.

Never let a crisis go to waste?

Thanks for reading.


The Essential Eight

1. Six days in January that could have changed the course of the pandemic

China didn’t warn public of likely pandemic for 6 key days - AP

In the six days after top Chinese officials secretly determined they likely were facing a pandemic from a new coronavirus, the city of Wuhan at the epicenter of the disease hosted a mass banquet for tens of thousands of people; millions began traveling through for Lunar New Year celebrations.

President Xi Jinping warned the public on the seventh day, Jan. 20. But by that time, more than 3,000 people had been infected during almost a week of public silence, according to internal documents obtained by The Associated Press and expert estimates based on retrospective infection data...

The documents show that the head of China’s National Health Commission, Ma Xiaowei, laid out a grim assessment of the situation in a confidential Jan. 14 teleconference with provincial health officials. A memo states that the teleconference was held to convey instructions on the coronavirus from President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang and Vice Premier Sun Chunlan, but does not specify what those instructions were.

“The epidemic situation is still severe and complex, the most severe challenge since SARS in 2003, and is likely to develop into a major public health event,” the memo cites Ma as saying.

In a faxed statement, the National Health Commission said China had published information on the outbreak in an “open, transparent, responsible and timely manner,” in accordance with “important instructions” repeatedly issued by President Xi.

The documents come from an anonymous source in the medical field who did not want to be named for fear of retribution. The AP confirmed the contents with two other sources in public health familiar with the teleconference.

Read the whole thing here. Interesting that someone inside the PRC system leaked these documents to the AP.


2. The outbreak

Chinese Mainland Reports 46 New Confirmed Covid-19 Cases - Yicai

Chinese health authority said today that it received reports of 46 new confirmed Covid-19 cases on the Chinese mainland yesterday, of which 36 were imported.

Ten new domestically transmitted cases were reported, with eight in Heilongjiang province and two in Guangdong province, the National Health Commission said in a daily report.

Harbin district raises risk level amid mounting imported case pressure - Global Times

According to an announcement released by the Daowai district authority on Wednesday afternoon, the district raised the infection risk level from low to medium and began to initiate a second level emergency response to the pandemic.

China has a four-tier response system for public health emergencies that determines what measures it will implement, with level one being the most serious.

Under this risk level, residents in all communities can only enter and exit with a permit, which means one person in one household can go outside every two days. Meanwhile, one permit can grant a one-time exit and it becomes invalid when expired. All people and vehicles outside are prohibited from entering the communities.

Heilongjiang Offers Rewards for Reports of Illegal Border Crossings | Sixth Tone

People who “capture” and turn in illicit migrants crossing via land or sea will be rewarded with 5,000 yuan ($700), the provincial-level publicity office said Monday. Meanwhile, any “valid tips” — which are to remain confidential — will be rewarded with 3,000 yuan.

王毅同俄罗斯外长拉夫罗夫通电话

China’s foreign minister Wang Yi spoke with his Russian counterpart on the phone, discussing more coordination “to prevent unnecessary population flow … and strengthen the virus control at border ports.” They also exchanged views on United Nations and the situation in Afghanistan, according to statement on the ministry website.

Leisure Facilities Should Stay Shut, China’s CDC Says - Yicai

The key is to control human traffic, prevent crowds and maintain social distancing, Shi Xiaoming, head of the CDC's National Institute of Environmental Health, said at a press conference held by the State Council, the country’s cabinet...

So it is recommended that leisure facilities such as cinemas, theaters and sports halls remain closed, and all major sports events and exhibitions be postponed, he added.

澎湃:3地4例患者持湖北健康码被确诊,多地对湖北籍人员免费核检

The Paper reported that the Hubei “Health Code” mobile app, which has been used by the government to check people’s health records and eligibility for travel, may not be trustworthy. The report said at least four cases have been confirmed in Guangdong and Gansu in which the patients came from Hubei and had a “green” code. The green code means they have no virus.

China trial of Gilead's potential coronavirus treatment suspended - Reuters

A trial in China testing Gilead Sciences Inc’s antiviral drug, remdesivir, in those with mild symptoms of COVID-19 has been suspended due to a lack of eligible patients, according to a website maintained by the U.S. government.

中国新闻网:全国累计报告多少无症状感染者?要不要囤粮?相关部门回应

China’s national health commission said there have been 6764 asymptotic patients accumulated, and only 1023 under medical surveillance. This is the first time the authority reports the accumulated number. Earlier report by SCMP citing internal documents said there were 40,000 of them across China, but Caixin later said the number is an estimate and the total of cases reported is far less than that.

Hainan restricts access as imported infections rise - Global Times

South China's Hainan Province has restricted access to people from regions that have seen a surge in imported cases, including the China-Russia border city Suifenhe and two districts in Guangzhou, requiring them to present a negative test result before setting foot on the island.

Beijing Education Commission Releases Comprehensive FAQ on Restarting School | the Beijinger

Following the announcement that Beijing schools will partially reopen on Apr 27, the Beijing Education Commission has moved quickly to answer a number of logistical and health-related questions regarding the resumption of classes, reproduced in full here with translatio

Frustrated Beijing Parents Demand Refunds From Pricey Private Schools - Caixin

China’s Ministry of Education last week issued a notice forbidding schools to charge tuition in advance. But administrators at many private schools say that advance payment is the only way to keep their operations going. Revenue loss during the epidemic has already put some private kindergartens at risk of closure.

Does air con help spread coronavirus? Chinese study of 3 families in a restaurant suggests so | South China Morning Post

“Strong airflow from the air conditioner could have propagated droplets” between three tables, according to the report of the research, based on the infections in the city of Guangzhou in late January. Droplet transmission alone could not explain the infections, it concluded.

Restaurants should increase the space between tables and improve ventilation to reduce the risk of infection, according to the report of the research, led by Jianyun Lu of the Guangzhou Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

Coronavirus: China launches study into asymptomatic cases and shared immunity | South China Morning Post

China has begun a major survey to determine how many people might have been infected with the coronavirus and then recovered without ever showing symptoms, while also assessing immunity levels within different communities, state media reported.

The research will be conducted in six provinces, including Hubei which was the focus of the initial outbreak, as well as Beijing, Shanghai and Chongqing

中国法院网:最高法发布第三批8个依法惩处妨害疫情防控犯罪典型案例

China’s supreme court said courts across China have tried 1196 cases and 1406 people for crimes related to the coronavirus. That include people who do not report their travel history and do not follow the quarantine rules.


3. US suspends funding to WHO

Remarks by President Trump in Press Briefing | The White House

Today I’m instructing my administration to halt funding of the World Health Organization while a review is conducted to assess the World Health Organization’s role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus. Everybody knows what’s going on there.

American taxpayers provide between $400 million and $500 million per year to the WHO. In contrast, China contributes roughly $40 million a year and even less...

The WHO failed to investigate credible reports from sources in Wuhan that conflicted directly with the Chinese government’s official accounts. There was credible information to suspect human-to-human transmission in December 2019, which should have spurred the WHO to investigate, and investigate immediately.

Through the middle of January, it parroted and publicly endorsed the idea that there was not human-to-human transmission happening despite reports and clear evidence to the contrary. ..

The silence of the WHO on the disappearance of scientific researchers and doctors and on new restrictions on the sharing of research into the origins of COVID-19 in the country of origin is deeply concerning..

The WHO’s reliance on China’s disclosures likely caused a 20-fold increase in cases worldwide, and it may be much more than that.

China Blasts Trump’s Move to Pull WHO Funding, Pledges Support - Bloomberg

The U.S. contributes nearly a quarter of all member state dues for the WHO. That pool of funds — although a small proportion of the overall budget — are used as the organization’s operating budget to run daily operations, said Adam Kamradt-Scott, an associate professor of international security at the University of Sydney who has written about the politics of pandemic preparedness. The rest of the funding, called voluntary contributions, come from member states and non-profits and are tailored to specific global health programs.

Immoral to boost reelection by attacking WHO: Global Times editorial - Global Times

It should be taken as part of Trump's reelection campaign. Attacking WHO and labeling it as "China centric" could incite many Americans to unleash their anger over the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans amid the pandemic as well as their severely impacted life. Canvassing gatherings cannot be held at this moment, so finding scapegoats to let voters vent their anger has become the best campaign tactic. The US recent years has intensified its anti-China ideology, targeting WHO and China together could fan as much nationalism as possible in the US and covertly boost Trump's reelection.

Those in the US Congress who are furiously blasting WHO are from the Republican party. The White House has taken state apparatuses and public interests as campaign resources. Such political operations are quite immoral.

Sabotaging unity and cooperation hinders global efforts against COVID-19 - People's Daily - Zhong Sheng

Recently, certain U.S. politicians, in total disregard of facts, have attempted to blame the World Health Organization (WHO) for their own country’s inadequate response to the disease and even threatened to freeze U.S. funding to the WHO.

As it’s clear to all, the root cause for the U.S. unreadiness to tackle the pandemic lies in the country itself, and the U.S. couldn’t conceal its structural maladies by buck-passing.

The world has witnessed the leadership of the WHO in international cooperation regarding COVID-19.

Taiwan must participate in the WHO. Global health is too important to play politics. - The Washington Post-John Pomfret OpEd

Taiwan should be allowed back into the World Health Assembly, where it was an observer from 2009 to 2016, and Beijing should be told clearly that it cannot turn on and off the switch to the assembly for political reasons. Keeping 23 million people out of an organization dedicated to public health because of the whims of the Chinese Communist Party is something the world can no longer afford.


4. US-China

Secretary Michael R. Pompeo's Call with Chinese Politburo Member Yang Jiechi - United States Department of State

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo spoke today with Yang Jiechi, Director of the Office of Foreign Affairs of the Communist Party of China.  The Secretary stressed the need for full transparency and information sharing to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and prevent future outbreaks.  He also noted the aid the American people delivered to the people of China in January – and continue to offer – and the high importance we attach to China’s facilitation of medical supply exports to meet critical demand in the United States.  The two sides confirmed their commitment to defeat the COVID-19 outbreak and restore global health and prosperity.

PRC readout of the Yang-Pompeo call杨洁篪应约同美国国务卿蓬佩奥通电话--国际--人民网

杨洁篪表示,自3月27日习近平主席同特朗普总统通话以来,中美双方按照两国元首重要共识,就抗疫问题保持了密切沟通。下步,中方愿继续同美方分享疫情防控信息和经验,开展抗疫合作,同时推动落实二十国集团领导人应对新冠肺炎特别峰会各项共识,保障全球供应链稳定、促进全球经济金融稳定。

杨洁篪强调,在全球抗疫大背景下,处理好中美关系、保持两国关系健康稳定发展至关重要。希望美方同中方相向而行,落实好两国元首重要共识,聚焦合作,排除干扰,推动中美关系沿着正确轨道向前发展。这符合两国人民的根本利益,也是国际社会的共同期待。

蓬佩奥表示,疫情是国际社会面临的共同挑战,美方愿同中方一道,落实两国元首共识,加强双方抗疫合作,并继续就美中关系的发展保持沟通协调。

Pompeo knocks WHO as White House halts funding: 'We need answers ... we need transparency' | Fox News

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo joined "Hannity" Tuesday to discuss the coronavirus pandemic and the World Health Organization's (WHO) ineffectiveness, saying the organization needs to "do its job."

"They had access to the Chinese Communist Party, [but] didn't give Americans access when we needed in their most timely point at the very beginning," Pompeo told host Sean Hannity. "And then we know they have this lab. We know about the wet markets. We know that the virus itself did originate in Wuhan. So all those things come together."

US ambassador: China not blocking medical supply exports - AP

The U.S. ambassador to China said Wednesday that he doesn’t believe Beijing is deliberately blocking exports of masks and other medical supplies to fight the coronavirus, and that the shipment of 1,200 tons of such products to the U.S. could not have been possible without Chinese support.

Ambassador Terry Branstad also said the U.S. has concerns about how China initially handled the virus outbreak in the central city of Wuhan, but that such issues should be addressed after the pandemic has been brought under control.

Evidence that coronavirus originated at Chinese lab is 'inconclusive,' top general says - POLITICO

"We've had a lot of intelligence take a hard look at that," Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley told reporters Tuesday. "At this point it's inconclusive, although the weight of the evidence seems to indicate natural. But we don’t know for certain."

Trump fundraising committee attacks China’s handling of coronavirus in pitch for campaign donations - The Washington Post

A fundraising committee for President Trump’s reelection is using his renewed attacks on the Chinese government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic to mobilize donors, urging supporters in an email Tuesday to “hold China accountable” by contributing to his campaign.
The appeal reflects an increased effort by the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee to use U.S.-China relations as a campaign issue against presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden...

“China has been lying and doing everything they can to cover up the spread of COVID-19 in their country. It’s absolutely disgraceful and we can’t stand by and do nothing,” read the appeal...

“President Trump has always been tough on China, but he can’t hold them accountable on his own,” it read. “That’s why he is calling on YOU to stand with him and hold China accountable for their lies and deceptions during the Coronavirus pandemic.”..

Campaign officials said they are drawing attention to U.S.-China trade relations as an important issue in the general election, and intend to focus their attacks on Biden’s response to China over the coronavirus outbreak.

Ad from the Trump campaign last week:

Don Jr. blasts Jim Acosta for saying Trump is 'scapegoating' China for virus: 'Maybe time for a name change from CNN to Xi NN' | Fox News

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, offered similar condemnation of the journalist.

"Why is CNN apologizing for the Communist Party of China?" Cruz asked. "You’re supposed to be journalists, not CCP propagandists."

Watch – Jim Bognet Launches TV Ad: ‘Make China Pay’

Jim Bognet, a former Donald Trump administration official and Republican candidate for Pennsylvania’s Eighth Congressional District, launched his first television ad on Wednesday titled, “Make China Pay.”

“The Chinese lied to us. They tried to cover up coronavirus. When I’m your congressman, we’ll make China pay for the lies they told, the jobs they stole, and the lives we’ve lost,” Bognet said in the ad.

Epidemic hinders US military presence near China - Global Times

Beijing-based military expert Wei Dongxu told the Global Times on Wednesday that the US aircraft carriers will not be able to conduct missions for some time, and said the US Navy was attempting to use other types of warships to replace them...

"In a bid to maintain the US' image of a maritime hegemony, the country's recent operations risked its sailors' health and safety as more of them could be infected by the coronavirus. This is irresponsible," he said.


5. The economy

China Adds Liquidity, Trims Rates Ahead of Poor GDP Data - Bloomberg

The People’s Bank of China offered 100 billion yuan ($14 billion) via the one-year medium-term lending facility, cutting the rate to 2.95% from 3.15%. The reduction was expected as the central bank already cut the rate on 7-day market operations in late March and the different interest rates tend to move together..

A cut of 50 basis points to banks’ reserve ratio also took effect Wednesday, releasing about 200 billion yuan of funding.

刘世锦:救助重点应是低收入人群 建议补贴一个月收入 - 财经 - 新京报网

The Beijing News talks with Liu Shimin, the former deputy director of the State Council’s Development Research Center. He recommends gving a subsidy of one month's salary to lower income groups, and to take “relative references” for China’s GDP growth, instead of absolute references. For example, if the global GDP growth is -2.5% and China’s is +3.0%, China could still claim to have achieved 5.5% “relative” growth.

国务院发展研究中心原副主任刘世锦认为,第二波冲击在时间上将会大大长于第一波冲击,带来的增长减值也大概率超过前者,中国经济要从常规增长模式转入相当长时期的“战疫增长模式”。“全年能够实现3%左右的增长,就是一个很大胜利。”刘世锦同时表示,在增长背景出现改变的情况下,对增长目标的评估也要相应调整。建议采取“相对增长率”的评估方法,就是用中国增长速度与世界平均增长速度的比值或差值。“如果2020年世界增速为-2.5%,中国为3%,相对增长率就是5.5%,是高于去年的。”

Question: Is this a trial balloon for a way to creatively spin 2020 GDP?

Past the worst but recovery to underwhelm - Capital Economics

Overview – After the deepest downturn since the Cultural Revolution in Q1, China’s economy will return to growth this quarter. But with labour market strains holding back domestic demand and external headwinds intensifying, output is still set to contract this year and remain below the pre-virus path well into 2021.

China's FDI Fell 14% in March Due to Virus Impact - Yicai

FDI was CNY81.78 billion (USD11.6 billion) in last month, the commerce ministry said today. That was almost 11.3 percentage points below February’s figure.

In the first quarter, FDI dropped 10.8 percent to CNY216.1 billion (USD30.6 billion).

新京报:2020年一季度中小微企业收入平均下降69.5%

Research by Tsinghua PBC School of Finance said on average, Q1 revenues for mid- and small-sized companies dropped 69.5% in Q1. Hubei was hit the hardest, then Hunan, Hebei, Zhejiang, Henan and Anhui. Restaurants and hotels suffered the most, as did industries like construction, education and real estate. 


6. Foreign work

Xi Focus: Xi's article on global solidarity, cooperation to fight COVID-19 to be published in Qiushi Journal - Xinhua

An article by Chinese President Xi Jinping on global solidarity and cooperation to battle the COVID-19 pandemic will be published Thursday...

China upholds the vision of building a community with a shared future for humanity, the article says, noting that the Chinese government has acted in an open, transparent and responsible manner and provided timely updates on the outbreak to the World Health Organization (WHO) and relevant countries and regions.

Full text of Xi's Qiushi essay - 习近平:团结合作是国际社会战胜疫情最有力武器--时政--人民网

China to provide another 100 mln masks, 10 mln protective suits to ASEAN countries - Xinhua

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang announced Tuesday that China will provide another 100 million face masks, 10 million protective suits and other urgently needed medical supplies to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries as grant assistance and via commercial channels.

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian's Regular Press Conference on April 15, 2020

After COVID-19 broke out in China, the Saudi leadership was among the first to express sympathies and support. The Saudi government and people from all walks of life extendeda helping hand to us with many batches of supplies. Currently as Saudi Arabia faces the same challenge, China, likewise, stands firmly behind it and is ready to provide assistance as its ability permits. The Chinese experts sent to Saudi Arabia are from such fields as lab-testing, prevention and control of infectious diseases, respiratory diseases, critical case treatment, nursing, and traditional Chinese medicine. They will share experience with the Saudi side and provide guidance and training in prevention, control, diagnosis and treatment. Besides, they will also provide technical guidance on prevention and control, protective supplies, and traditional Chinese medicine consulting for staff of the Chinese embassy and Chinese businesses, Chinese nationals and ethnic Chinese in Saudi Arabia...

In order to support African countries in strengthening their response to COVID-19, the Chinese government has decided to send medical teams to Ethiopia and Burkina Faso to share anti-epidemic experience, provide guidance and technical advice to the medical and health institutions of the two countries, and enhance their epidemic prevention and control capabilities.

求是:以习近平外交思想为指引,在全球抗疫合作中推动构建人类命运共同体

State councilor and foreign minister Wang Yi wrote on the latest issue of Qiushi, praising Xi Jinping’s great leadership on foreign affairs amid the coronavirus outbreak, and said by containing the virus spread, being transparent and aiding others, China has made “major contribution” to the global flight against the virus and “pointed the right direction” for the world. Wang added that the global outbreak again demonstrated Xi’s idea that we are all one community of shared destiny. 

中联部:引领政党合作, 助力全球抗疫

The CCP central liaison department also wrote on Qiushi talking about their great work in promoting global cooperation with different parties to fight the coronavirus. It said, part of their success is that, more than 300 political parties around the world have written to CCP and Xi Jinping to offer condolence and support. And led by China, more than 240 political parties and organizations have made statements urging for more global cooperation.

Politicizing COVID-19 will only help virus, says SCO Secretary-General - People's Daily Online

“The virus has also affected the global balance of power, but attempts to use the pandemic to increase sinophobia have not been particularly successful,” he noted, adding that he supports the UN Secretary-General's opinion that the cause of the pandemic should be sought after it has been overcome.

As U.S., China Clash Over Coronavirus, Their Doctors Quietly Join Forces - WSJ $$

One of the key figures in the trans-Pacific collaboration has been Zhong Nanshan, China’s best-known epidemiologist and the former director of the Guangzhou Institute of Respiratory Diseases.

When the coronavirus outbreak began to grow dire in Wuhan in late January, Dr. Zhong—head of a coronavirus expert committee for China’s cabinet-level National Health Commission—reached out to Harvard through Hui Ka Yan, a billionaire real estate mogul whose Evergrande Group has endowed several initiatives at Harvard, including an immunological disease center.

Renowned Chinese expert Zhong Nanshan shares ideas on COVID-19 control with foreigners - Xinhua

Zhong shared the experience in China on coronavirus testing, tracking and treatment of infected patients. Nineteen foreigners joined the event with Zhong, from countries including Japan, Australia, Pakistan, Botswana, Vietnam, Russia, Nigeria and Bangladesh.

Zhong said early diagnosis, early quarantine and early treatment are effective measures in China in containing the spread of the virus. He also discouraged the idea of herd immunity as the coronavirus is highly infectious, adding that China's strong control measures have been proven effective.

Coronavirus | India to get 15 million PPE kits from China - The Hindu

Indian companies and government entities have placed orders for 15 million Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits, including gowns and masks, and 1.5 million rapid testing kits from China, officials said on Tuesday.

The Indian government is calling on China to fulfil those orders, amid concerns over tightened regulations on exporting such equipment by Chinese authorities following criticism from several European countries over the quality of exports.

What Does the Coronavirus Mean for EU-China Relations? | ChinaFile Conversation


7. Hong Kong

National security highlighted in China's Hong Kong on education day - Xinhua

Rather than something far away from daily life, national security actually concerns everyone and covers a wide range of areas from economy to culture and cyberspace, Director of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in HKSAR Luo Huining said.

For instance, the ongoing battle against the COVID-19 outbreak is significant to national security and related to every family in Hong Kong, Luo said in a video speech published on a new website designed to promote the national security education.

Put online on Wednesday morning, the website, nsedhk.com, vividly tells the significance of national security with text introduction, online galleries, video speeches and a Q&A game. An essay competition also started on the website, in which contestants write about their understanding of national security and peace in Hong Kong amid the pandemic.

The website, officially named National Security Education Day 2020, was launched by the Hong Kong Policy Research Institute, with the HKSAR government and the liaison office as support organizers.

The National Security Education Day 2020 HK site - 全民國家安全教育日 二零二零 - 主頁

Coronavirus pandemic and protests highlight need for national security legislation in Hong Kong, says Beijing’s top official in city | South China Morning Post

Luo Huining, director of the central government’s liaison office in Hong Kong, also urged the city to work together in opposing acts that threaten its stability.
“We must fight the pandemic together, and oppose [the notion of] ‘if we burn, you burn with us’,” he said in a video message, in a reference to a popular slogan of last year’s anti-government protest movement...

Luo’s message was among a series of speeches released on the website of the think tank Hong Kong Policy Research Institute to mark China’s “National Security Education Day” on Wednesday...

In a separate video clip released on the website, Hong Kong’s security chief John Lee Ka-chiu said that while the government would continue to create an environment for the legislation of Article 23, it would not turn a blind eye to “home-grown terrorism” after police found high explosives soon after the anti-government protests broke out.
Commissioner of Police Chris Tang Ping-keung also said in another video message that the force had been working with the Department of Justice to consider invoking anti-terrorism legislation, which had never been used before, to prosecute bomb suspects.

Wen Wei Po on Luo's speech - 駱惠寧:決不能讓香港成為國家安全的風險口 - 香港文匯網

4月15日是第五個「全民國家安全教育日」。據香港中聯辦官網消息,香港中聯辦主任駱惠寧在2020年香港「全民國家安全教育日」活動的致辭中分享了三點感想:第一,維護國家安全需要良好的制度環境。第二,維護國家安全需要良好的法治環境。第三,維護國家安全需要良好的社會環境。駱惠寧表示,要儘快在維護國家安全的法律制度和執行機制層面下功夫,該制定的制定,該修改的修改,該激活的激活,該執行的執行,決不能讓香港成為國家安全的風險口...

香港全社會都應行動起來,營造有利於同各種危害香港安定和國家安全的行為作鬥爭的社會輿論環境。

The above line- constructing social and public opinion environment favorable to struggle - sounds worrisome, as "City on Fire" author Antony Dapiran noted on Twitter:

Violence, hate speech threaten national security: CE - RTHK

She condemned people she said had been spreading “cold-blooded and hate speech” on social media.

“It’s possible that the national security would be threatened if these illegal acts are not effectively curbed,” she warned.

Lam said the SAR government’s determination to ensure Hong Kong’s safety and stability shows it is not only responsible to the city, but also to the central government.

More HKers support national security laws - Global Times

Hong Kong pro-establishment lawmaker Junius Ho Kwan-yiu, the initiator of a signature drive to support passing the national security law, or Article 23 of the Basic Law, in the HKSAR, told the Global Times on Wednesday that the online signature drive has received more than 1.86 million across the country, and at least one-third of the participants are from Hong Kong.

This online signature drive, which urges the HKSAR government to initiate and the Legislative Council to finish the legislation by the end of the legislative session of 2020, kicked off on February 23 and now received 1,860,431 signatures as of Wednesday.

Hong Kong judges battle Beijing on rule of law as virus halts protests - Reuters

Hong Kong’s judicial system is under increasing duress as signs grow that the Communist Party leadership in Beijing wants to bring the city’s courts to heel. Three senior judges told Reuters the independence of the judiciary is now under threat...

Beijing’s effort to hobble the judiciary is multi-pronged, according to more than two dozen interviews with judges, leading lawyers and diplomats in Hong Kong. The state-controlled press on the mainland has warned Hong Kong judges not to “absolve” protesters arrested during last year’s demonstrations. Judges and lawyers say there are signs Beijing is trying to limit the authority of Hong Kong courts to rule on core constitutional matters. And people close to the city’s top judge, Geoffrey Ma, say he has to contend with Communist Party officials pushing Beijing’s view that the rule of law ultimately must be a tool to preserve one-party rule.

Hong Kong top judge denies ‘any form of interference’ by Beijing over city’s judicial independence | South China Morning Post

In a statement on Wednesday, Ma said he had not encountered “any form of interference” from the mainland during his term as chief justice, a post he took up 10 years ago.

Hong Kong barristers call on Beijing to 'exercise restraint' in comments - Reuters

The Bar Association said comments by the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office (HKMAO) and Liaison Office that touch on affairs administered by the territory’s Basic Law, or mini-constitution, “could easily be perceived as interference in contravention of the principle of one country, two systems.”

China's State Council appoints, removes officials - CGTN

Among the officials, the announcement said that Yang Jian is no longer the deputy director of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

Comment: Yang is 61, may just be normal retirement


8. 5th National security education day

涵养国家安全意识贵在深入重在持久 Cultivating national security awareness should be deeply focused and lasting - Page 1 People's Daily commentary

People’s Daily front page commentary said China should always stay on high alert against all kinds of risks and the nationwide national security education for public should remain a long-term priority. The article repeated Xi’s speech on the concept of “comprehensive national security”, which covers a wide range of areas but with “political security” as the “fundamental 以政治安全为根本”.

维护国家安全,人人有责,人人可为。涵养国家安全意识,贵在深入,重在持久。要以全民国家安全教育日为契机,坚持以总体国家安全观为指导,全面实施国家安全法,深入开展国家安全宣传教育培训,切实增强全党全社会国家安全意识。只有大力加强总体国家安全观宣传教育,不断涵养全民国家安全意识,才能切实筑牢国家安全的群众基础;只有人人绷紧国家安全这根弦,拧紧头脑中的“安全阀”,才能促进全社会同心共筑国家安全的钢铁长城。

[lightly edited Youdao translation] Safeguarding national security is everyone's responsibility and everyone can do it. To cultivate national security consciousness, it is important to deepen it and attach importance to it. We should take the national security education day as an opportunity, adhere to the overall national security concept as a guide, fully implement the national security law, carry out in-depth national security publicity, education and training, and effectively enhance the awareness of the whole party and society on national security. Only by vigorously strengthening the publicity and education of the overall national security concept, and constantly cultivating the national security awareness of the whole people, can the mass foundation of national security be firmly established. Only when everyone tightens the string of national security and tightens the "safety valve" in their minds can the whole society together build a great steel wall of national security.

"Vivid practice and rich development of the overall national security concept" 总体国家安全观的生动实践和丰富发展-中国长安网-Chen Wenqing

Essay by the Minister of State Security Chen Wenqing in the latest issue of Qiushi. He praises Xi Jinping for always placing national security as a top priority and for his successful handling of the coronavirus.

展望前进道路,更需枕戈待旦。在中华民族伟大复兴征程上,我们可能还会遇到像新冠肺炎疫情这样的风险挑战。轻轻松松、敲锣打鼓,不可能实现民族复兴,唯有敢于斗争、敢于胜利,才能踏平坎坷成大道、斗罢艰险又出发。面对前行道路上可能遇到的重大风险,我们要贯彻落实总体国家安全观,发扬斗争精神、增强斗争本领,牢牢掌握新时代国家安全工作的主动权;面对国内外敌对势力挑战我们核心利益的图谋,我们要旗帜鲜明、不怕摊牌,要坚定斗争意志、讲究斗争策略,敢于斗争、善于斗争。

Looking forward to the road ahead, more need to be ready. In the course of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, we may encounter risks and challenges like the COVID 19 epidemic. It is impossible to achieve national rejuvenation by beating the drums and gongs with ease. Only by daring to fight and win can we smooth out the rough road and set out again after the arduous journey. In the face of major risks that may arise along the way, we need to implement the overall national security concept, carry forward the spirit of struggle, enhance our ability to fight, and firmly seize the initiative in national security work in the new era. In the face of attempts by hostile forces at home and abroad to challenge our core interests, we must stand up for ourselves and not be afraid of a showdown.

Comment from one of the excellent Sinocism interns who shall remain nameless given the current environment:

It is the first time I see anywhere they mention “do not be afraid of a showdown” and it is likely a reference for the Americans. It is very possible that Xi had mentioned this in one of his closed-door speeches and Chen is just repeating them.

[视频]各地开展宣传教育活动, 共筑国家安全防线

CCTV reporting on how different provinces across China held events to educate the public about national security risks and what they can do to help address these risks.

China awards citizens for helping safeguard national security - China Military

According to the statement, such contributions included giving tip-offs about instigating people in China to conduct state secret espionage, illegally collecting certain information in China and other state secret risks. There were also people awarded for capturing dubious interceptor equipment in China's territorial waters.

Xinhua report awards- 国家安全机关对为维护国家安全作出贡献的举报人进行表彰奖励-新华网

人民前线:丢掉幻想,准备打仗

The People’s Frontline, a magazine run by the PLA eastern theater published an article citing Mao Zedong in saying that “drop the illusion and get ready to fight!” The article went on talking about on the National Security Education Day, “we can never forget about war, forget about our national humiliation, and must be ready for the possible dangerous crisis.”


Business, Economy and Trade

Police Detain Execs at Two Property Developers in Shanghai Land Auction Probe - Yicai Chen Gang, vice president of China Resources Land and general manager of its east China business, and Song Youyou, the Shenzhen-based developer’s executive GM in Shanghai, were recently detained by police, Yicai Global has learned. Media reports also said Cui Shuai, the GM of Hong Kong-based China Overseas Land & Investment’s Shanghai branch, had been taken in for questioning. Three developers were admitted to the final auction on March 31: China Resources Land, China Overseas Land, and China Vanke. Only China Overseas Land put in a bid. The plot of land, meant for residential buildings in Shanghai’s Hongkou district, sold at the bottom price of about CNY3.4 billion -- CNY63,155 (USD8,942) per square meter.

China's Aviation Sector Posts USD5.6 Billion First Quarter Loss; Upturn to Take Time - Yicai China’s civil aviation sector lost CNY39.8 billion (USD5.6 billion) in the first quarter due to disruption caused by the coronavirus outbreak, according to official figures released today, with experts saying a return to normal will take time.

U.S. may stall massive IMF liquidity boost over Iran, China: sources - Reuters The Trump administration doesn’t want Iran and China to have access to billions of dollars in new resources with no conditions, two of the sources said.

China’s Central Bank to Run Simulations of Digital Currency Use - Bloomberg The functions of the “pilot” digital wallets include conversion between cash and digital money, account-balance check, payment and remittance, one of the people said. They added the research is still ongoing and those functions are subject to change.

Central Bank Official Sheds Light on China’s Fintech Regulatory Plans – China Banking News In an es­say en­ti­tled “Ex­plo­ration and Im­ple­men­ta­tion of Fin­tech In­no­va­tion Reg­u­la­tory Tools in China” (我国金融科技创新监管工具探索与实践) pub­lished on 15 April, PBOC deputy-gov­er­nor Fan Yifei (范一飞) writes that the cen­tral bank has “cre­ated new in­no­va­tion reg­u­la­tory tools, which need to ef­fec­tively han­dle the re­la­tion­ship be­tween se­cu­rity and in­no­va­tion.”

Troubled HNA Group Dodges Debt Bullet After 11th-Hour Meeting = Caixin The hastily arranged teleconference on Tuesday evening was aimed at securing agreement from investors for the extension which HNA had been negotiating with some creditors, but descended into acrimony as participants hurled insults at the company, calling it a “liar” and demanding it apply for bankruptcy, people familiar with the matter told Caixin. HNA subsequently apologized to bondholders in a posting on its WeChat social media account.

Wuhan hotel owners warn they are on the brink of going bust after coronavirus devastates industry | South China Morning Post On Monday, she joined hundreds of other hotel and rental flat managers in Wuhan in sending a letter to the local government appealing for help, saying they are going out of business because of high rents, costs, and sluggish market demand. “We expect a large wave of medium and small hotel and flat closures around May or June, followed by unemployment,” the letter said.

Hermès Hauled in $2.7 Million in One China Store on Saturday: Sources – WWD Hermès is said to have brought in at least 19 million renminbi, or $2.7 million, in sales on the reopening day of its flagship store in Guangzhou’s Taikoo Hui last Saturday, according to multiple sources.

Politics and Law

(猎狐 01 | Hunting 01(王凯、王鸥、邓家佳、胡军 领衔主演) - YouTube A new miniseries about the hunt for overseas fugitives premiered Tuesday. The Ministry of Public Security is one of the producers, first couple of episodes are already on Youtube, hoping it is as entertaining as "In the name of the people"

Zhuhai rolls out ban on dog, cat consumption - Global Times Zhuhai, another city in South China's Guangdong Province, following Shenzhen also in the province, has promulgated regulations to prohibit eating household pets such as cats and dogs, and violators shall be severely punished. The new rules will be effective from May 1.

Foreign and Defense Affairs

Top creditors to suspend poorest countries' debt payments: France - Reuters The government creditors, including not only the Paris Club group of creditors, but also China and other members of the Group of 20 economic powers, are to suspend $12 billion under the agreement, which remains to be finalised on Wednesday.

China Sends Survey Vessel into Vietnamese Waters - RFA China has sent a survey vessel involved in a standoff with Vietnam last year back into that nation’s exclusive economic zone this month, vessel-tracking data shows, in a move likely to fuel tensions between the two countries over their rival claims in the South China Sea. Vietnamese vessels are closely trailing the survey vessel, which is accompanied by a host of China Coast Guard (CCG) ships.

Kazakhstan summons Chinese ambassador in protest over article - Reuters In a statement the Kazakh ministry said the article titled “Why Kazakhstan is eager to return to China” and published on privately-owned Chinese website sohu.com “runs counter to the spirit of permanent comprehensive strategic partnership” officially declared between the two countries.

Australian city 'acting like US mouthpiece' to sever ties with Chinese sister cities - Global Times The Chinese Consulate-General in Sydney on Wednesday slammed Australian city Wagga Wagga's vote to sever its sister-city relationship with a Chinese city after some Wagga Wagga city councilors smeared China's efforts and blamed the COVID-19 pandemic on China.  Chinese analysts noted the move showed that the politicians are short-sighted in diplomacy, acting as mouthpieces of the US and ignoring the need for cooperation amid such a global crisis.

Miami University will close its Confucius Institute this summer - Miami University The Confucius Institute, a Beijing-based nonprofit organization aimed at promoting the study of Chinese language and culture, opened a center at Miami University in 2007. The university will close the institute June 30.

Young Thais join 'Milk Tea Alliance' in online backlash that angers Beijing - Reuters The hashtag #MilkTeaAlliance was among the top trending on Twitter in Thailand on Wednesday along with one in Thai that translates as #MilkTeaIsThickerThanBlood - which had nearly one million tweets. The Chinese embassy waded into the affair late on Tuesday with a Facebook post criticising those who attacked China. Beijing’s “One China” principle towards Hong Kong and Taiwan was “irrefutable” and “the recent online noises only reflect bias and ignorance,” the embassy wrote.

Chinese Embassy Bangkok: 使馆发言人就近期网上涉华言论发表谈话 Chinese embassy in Thailand weighed in after Chinese and Thailand netizens had a huge shouting war on social media. The embassy that “The recent online noises only reflect bias and ignorance of its maker, which does not in any way represent the standing stance of the Thai government nor the mainstream public opinion of the Thai People. The scheme by some particular people to manipulate the issue for the purpose of inflaming and sabotaging the friendship between the Chinese and Thai people will not succeed.”

PLA joint exercises in Tibet: Implications for India | ORF This paper examines the PLA reforms as they pertain to training and jointness in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and the Sino-Indian border areas. The paper then chronicles the increasing number of military exercises as well as the military upgrade being undertaken in these areas. The paper also examines the state of the Sino-Indian border infrastructure, illustrating the significant deficiencies on India’s side. The paper concludes with the strategic consequences and tactical implications of these for India.

Australia aid plane to Vanuatu delayed as Chinese plane was parked at Port Vila airport, Australia/NZ News & Top Stories - Reuters A Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) plane carrying aid to cyclone-struck Vanuatu turned around and returned home on Sunday (April 12) as a Chinese plane with medical equipment was already on the airport's tarmac, Vanuatu airport officials said. The decision to return to Australia, some 2,000km away was made despite being cleared by air traffic control to land and comes amid increasing rivalry between Australia's and China's aid programmes in the Pacific.

Spies Are Fighting a Shadow War Against the Coronavirus Pandemic - Foreign Policy To discredit the United States publicly, the Chinese government has promoted a conspiracy theory that the U.S. military was responsible for importing the new coronavirus to China. Whether the Chinese politburo knows it or not, its false claim is in fact a regurgitation of an older Cold War conspiracy theory developed by Soviet intelligence: that the U.S. military developed HIV. In Operation Infektion, the KGB spread disinformation that HIV was manufactured at the secret U.S. biological research institute at Fort Detrick—ironically, the predecessor to the facility mentioned above, now at the front line of the U.S. intelligence response to COVID-19. There is thus a sad convergence between previous Soviet disinformation about a pandemic and U.S. efforts to counter one today.

Tech and Media

Inside China's Plan to Power Global Blockchain Adoption - CoinDesk Led by the State Information Center, the Blockchain Service Network (BSN) is poised to launch for domestic commercial use Wednesday and globally on April 25. If it works as envisioned, companies and software developers will be able to plug into the BSN and build blockchain-based applications as easily as assembling Lego sets...“As the BSN takes hold in worldwide countries, it will become the only global infrastructure network that is innovated by China, whose gateway access is controlled by China,” declares the latest white paper penned by the BSN Alliance, led by the government agency, several state-owned entities and blockchain firms.

Tencent and Huawei join new national committee on blockchain standards · TechNode Tencent, Huawei, and Baidu are among the companies that will comprise a new committee tasked with setting up national standards for blockchain and distributed ledger technology, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) announced (in Chinese) yesterday. The proposal is open for public comment until May 12, 2020.

Baidu to Jam In Live Streamed E-commerce Fad- PingWest Baidu, the largest Chinese-language search engine, is taking a shot at the immensely popular live streamed e-commerce fad by launching its own mobile app-based infomercials, news outlet Jiemian reported.

Power Projection: China’s Hollywood dream and disruption – China Channel To discuss the special place of film in China’s global soft power push, back in March Louisa and Graeme were joined by City University of New York’s Ying Zhu and Variety Magazine’s Beijing bureau chief Rebecca Davis:

Sorry Huawei, the P40 Pro without Google apps is just too broken to live with What you're left with is one of the best Android camera phones on the market but with a software experience that’s far below what it should be — it’s a supercar with the engine of a compact hatchback. Huawei has no choice but to make the best of a bad situation if it wants to sell phones in Europe, but this current offering is not one I can recommend to anyone. For many prospective buyers with little technical knowledge, setting up and using this phone will be an exercise in frustration, no matter how hard Huawei tries to convince us otherwise.

Energy, Environment, Science and Health

State Grid to Accelerate Construction of Electric Vehicle Charging Piles - Caixin The country’s largest electricity distributor announced the plan in a virtual conference on Tuesday. According to the meeting, a total of 78,000 charging piles — 10 times last year’s installation figure — will be installed in 18 provincial-level regions, with 53,000 earmarked for local residential areas and 18,000 set for public use.