Official data on outbreak continues trending positive; Xi urges more support for frontline medical workers; WSJ reporters expelled

The official data on the epidemic continues to trend positive and there are more reports that the economy is slowly restarting.

But the balance between control of the epidemic and restarting the economy is very precarious. For example, Beijing’s Xicheng district is worried about a possible outbreak, the Washington Post reports:

Xicheng district, one of Beijing’s most central locales and the site of the Chinese government’s central headquarters, is tightening restrictions and increasing tests for more than 489,000 households in one of the most significant changes in epidemic control policies in the capital.

That move comes after the Beijing Xicheng district government quarantined 69 employees after one confirmed coronavirus infection. (Global Times).

China has expelled three Wall Street Journal reporters. The Wall Street Journal has the story:

China revoked the press credentials of three Wall Street Journal reporters based in Beijing, the first time in the post-Mao era that the Chinese government has expelled multiple journalists from one international news organization at the same time.

China’s Foreign Ministry said the move Wednesday was punishment for a recent opinion piece published by the Journal.

Deputy Bureau Chief Josh Chin and reporter Chao Deng, both U.S. nationals, as well as reporter Philip Wen, an Australian national, have been ordered to leave the country within five days, said Jonathan Cheng, the Journal’s China bureau chief.

The official trigger is the Wall Street Journal opinion piece “China Is the Real Sick Man of Asia” (and yes, the headline is terrible given the history) from February 3rd and the Journal’s refusal to apologize. In reality the three reporters had done excellent work on sensitive subjects including Xinjiang and so the authorities may have just been looking for a pretext.

I understand the real outrage over this headline but we should all be concerned that once again the PRC is using access to China to try to dictate editorial coverage outside of China, in yet another example of its efforts to shape if not control all discussion of China globally.

There is already concern about visa issues other foreign journalists in China are having, and I would not be surprised if these expulsions trigger a round of US expulsions of PRC media workers, perhaps even executives of some of those outlets.

Philip Wen, one of the three reporters kicked out, is an Australian citizen. China expelling an Australian reporter working for an American publication could trigger a joint response from the US and Australian governments.

Are the expulsions related to yesterday’s announcement that US State Department had designated five PRC media outlets as foreign missions? I actually doubt it given they came so soon after the US announcement, as the PRC bureaucracy usually needs more time to react.

This exchange from a background briefing Tuesday with US State Department officials on the designation is interesting:

QUESTION:  You said you wouldn’t speculate on what Beijing will do, but have you thought about what will happen if Beijing does retaliate against any U.S. media outlets or any other media outlets operating in China.  If they try to revoke licenses for example, what will the State Department response be?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE:  Look, we have a very long track record of speaking up for freedom of the press in China and will continue to do that.  If you – again, I don’t want to predict what they may or may not do, but I think it would be faulty logic to attribute that to this action.  But like I said, and as [Senior State Department Official Two] clarified, we’re not doing anything to restrict the activities of these folks here in the United States.  They’re going to continue to enjoy our free and open system.  And let’s not forget that before today, there were already plenty of restrictions on foreign journalists operating in China, so I just want make sure that that point is highlighted and you keep that in mind.

There was never going to be much of a phase one trade deal deal US-China honeymoon.

This is a long issue, I recommend you click on the headline at the top of the email to read it in your browser. Thanks for reading.

The Essential Eight

1. The outbreak

Coronavirus infections continue daily drop outside Hubei - China Daily

With an increase of 1,749 over the course of Tuesday, total infections of the novel coronavirus on the Chinese mainland have reached 74,185, according to the National Health Commission.

Most new cases were reported from Hubei province, where the virus originated. Only 56 infections were counted from elsewhere, marking the 15th straight day with a decline in daily growth outside Hubei.

A day earlier, 79 cases were reported outside Hubei on the Chinese mainland.

As of Tuesday at midnight, 2,004 people have succumbed to the pathogen and 136 of them died of it that day

COVID-19 outbreak gradually brought under control in epicenter: spokesperson - Xinhua

National Health Commission spokesperson Mi Feng made the remarks at a press conference in Beijing Wednesday, citing the epidemic data in the province over the past week.

The daily count of newly cured and discharged cases in Hubei, excluding the capital city of Wuhan, has exceeded the number of newly confirmed cases for four consecutive days as of Wednesday, said Mi.

He also noted that the number of newly confirmed cases has decreased significantly since Feb. 13 in areas besides Wuhan, and the increase in the cumulative number of confirmed cases has remained flat.

China's virus center vows no patient unchecked as cases fall - AP

The city of Wuhan, where the new form of coronavirus emerged, was in the final day of a campaign to root out anyone with symptoms whom authorities may have missed so far.

“This must be taken seriously,” said Wang Zhonglin, the city’s newly minted Communist Party secretary. “If a single new case is found (after Wednesday), the district leaders will be held responsible.”

Two more military-led hospitals put into use in virus-hit Wuhan - Xinhua

The two hospitals, with a planned capacity of 860 and 700 beds, respectively, had not been put into operation before being transformed into specialized hospitals to admit patients during the virus outbreak.


On Tuesday 10 provinces reported no new cases of the virus

北京一患者隐瞒武汉旅行史感染他人,被立案侦查 - 国内 - 新京报网

Beijing man arrested for hiding his travel to Wuhan and thus committing the crime of harming protection and control work of an infectious disease. he was discovered after his mother, with whom he was staying, got sick and tested positive for the virus

北京市教委:网传北京大中小学3月初开学系谣言 - 国内 - 新京报网

Beijing government dismisses rumor that schools in Beijing will reopen in early March


Zhao Kezhi tells the public security system to stop excessive and violent measures in their epidemic control work.

Question: Like the treatment of this guy in Henan, who was tied to a pillar to make a public example for not wearing a mask?

New York Times continues biased coverage against China during epidemic, containing deviations from the truth: experts - Global Times

The Global Times compiled a list of a few major criticisms of China made in the New York Times juxtaposed to the facts Global Times reporters learned from frontline patients and medical workers.

China Turns to Health-Rating Apps to Control Movements During Coronavirus Outbreak - WSJ $$

China’s official Xinhua News Agency reported this week that the country’s cabinet, the State Council, had instructed Alibaba Group Ltd. affiliate Ant Financial Services Group to explore the nationwide rollout of a rating app to help governments control which people can travel into and around the city during the Covid-19 outbreak.

Experts Move to Calm Fears of Inaccurate Diagnostic Tests - Caixin

The comments by public health researchers and medical industry insiders come after Wang Chen, a critical-disease expert and director of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, appeared to tell state broadcaster CCTV earlier this month that the so-called nucleic acid tests (NATs) used to screen for the deadly pneumonia-causing virus “only come back positive 30% to 50% of the time” in people who had the disease.

Evidence of SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Returning Travelers from Wuhan, China | NEJM

In this effort to evacuate 126 people from Wuhan to Frankfurt, a symptom-based screening process was ineffective in detecting SARS-CoV-2 infection in 2 persons who later were found to have evidence of SARS-CoV-2 in a throat swab. We discovered that shedding of potentially infectious virus may occur in persons who have no fever and no signs or only minor signs of infection

China’s first home-built aircraft carrier, the Shandong, tightens shore leave regulations to combat coronavirus | South China Morning Post

Naval command sets quotas and tells crew that trips ashore need permission of captain after medical exam as ‘each and every corner’ of vessel is disinfected

PLA Navy’s news website says some Shandong crew members were in worst-hit areas but that no infections were reported

2. Economic impact

China central bank sees limited impact to economy from coronavirus - Reuters

China’s central bank said on Wednesday the impact of the coronavirus on the economy will be limited as the epidemic has not changed the country’s economic fundamentals

Chinese Companies Say They Can’t Afford to Pay Workers Now - Bloomberg

Across China, companies are telling workers that there’s no money for them -- or that they shouldn’t have to pay full salaries to quarantined employees who don’t come to work. It’s too soon to say how many people have lost wages as a result of the outbreak, but in a survey of more than 9,500 workers by Chinese recruitment website Zhaopin, more than one-third said they were aware it was a possibility.

China Considers Cash Injections, Mergers to Bail Out Airlines - Bloomberg via Yahoo

One proposal involves allowing some of the nation’s biggest carriers -- which are controlled by the state -- to absorb smaller ones suffering the most from the collapse of travel, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information hasn’t been discussed publicly. Another option being explored is for the government to inject billions of dollars to bail out the industry, they said. Discussions are ongoing, and no decision has been made on what the final bailout package will look like, they said.

ZoZo Go

Through the first two weeks of February, new car sales were only 5% of the level achieved during the same period in 2019

China stresses stable job market amid coronavirus outbreak - Xinhua

Subsidies were offered by some local governments to institutions that provided employment services and to enterprises that hired more staff, Song Xin, an official with the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, told a press conference Wednesday.

Song said more targeted measures will be unveiled to help college graduates, the number of which is expected to hit a record 8.74 million this year, find jobs.

The ministry has worked with relevant institutions to arrange online job fairs, provide employment guidance and consulting services, and encourage public employment service providers to facilitate college graduates in contract signing, he said.

Chinese Oil Refiners Deepen Run Cuts in Sign Worst Not Over - Bloomberg via Yahoo

The deepening run cuts belie optimism that the impact of the epidemic may have peaked, a sentiment that’s helped spur a recovery in oil prices over the last week. Many people are still trapped in their homes and unable to go to work, while curbs on travel have pummeled demand for transport fuels.

Adidas and Puma warn of coronavirus drag on sales | Financial Times $$

Puma on Wednesday said that more than half its stores in China were closed, and that it expected a negative impact on revenues and profits in the first quarter of this year. Rival Adidas said sales in the country had slumped 85 per cent year on year since January 25, and that it had closed a “significant number” of stores and seen a “pronounced” reduction in customers at those that remain open

Unilever, 3M on list of firms eligible for China loans to ease coronavirus crisis - sources - Reuters

Some lenders in the city have each received a list of firms compiled by the Shanghai branches of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) and the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), according to seven bankers, each at a different lender.

“Every bank in Shanghai is rushing to lend to the companies on its list, to earn political goodwill,” said one banker who had seen a list with 194 firms, including restaurant operators and property developers.

Coronavirus Exposes Businesses’ Dependency on China - WSJ $$

“I think many companies have realized their complete dependence on China. If the country goes down like this, it is going to really hamper” their business, said Jörg Wuttke, president of the European Chamber of Commerce in China. Many companies will now look to diversify, he said in a briefing on Tuesday, “seeing that not all eggs are in one basket.”

China may adjust 2020 GDP growth target due to coronavirus, government policy adviser says | South China Morning Post

“There will definitely be adjustments. For the central government, it hasn’t defined what the ‘reasonable range’ should be after the outbreak of coronavirus. People are still watching how the outbreak will develop and influence the economy,” Zhang Yansheng, the chief research fellow at the Beijing-based think tank, the China Centre for International Economic Exchanges, told the South China Morning Post on Tuesday.

China widely expected to trim lending benchmark LPR: analysts - Reuters

China’s central bank cut the interest rate on its one-year medium-term lending facility (MLF) on Monday as policymakers sought to offset the impact on businesses from the coronavirus outbreak.

China turns to internet for food supplies amid virus fears - AP

“Customers used to buy a lot of electronics,” Sun said. “Now they are buying rice, noodles, grain, oil, disinfectant, masks and so on.”

China's virus-hit industrial cities start to ease curbs, restore production - Reuters

Some cities in Guangdong and Zhejiang this week organized buses and trains to ferry workers back from their hometowns.

The city of Taizhou, in Zhejiang, even arranged for several planes to pick up workers from Chongqing, Guiyang, Chengdu, Kunming and Xian, with the local government of Taizhou footing a third of the bill.

Labor shortages are relatively acute in Zhejiang, Ge Pingan, an official at the Zhejiang government’s human resources department, said.

Opinion: China’s Economic Fight Against the Coronavirus - Caixin Opinion - Yu Yongding

When SARS virus hit the Chinese economy in the spring of 2003, everyone initially was pessimistic about the outbreak’s likely economic impact. But as soon as the epidemic was contained, the economy rebounded strongly, and ultimately grew by 10% that year. China is unlikely to be that lucky this time, given unfavorable domestic and external economic conditions. So, with the deadly coronavirus still on the rampage, the Chinese authorities must prepare for the worst...

The battle against the coronavirus undoubtedly will be very costly, and will reverse some of the Chinese authorities’ recent achievements in reining in financial risks. For now, however, any potential problems related to debt, inflation, or asset bubbles are secondary. Policymakers can worry about them once the situation has calmed down.

Chinese bond yields hit four-year low as virus-hit economy sputters | Financial Times $$

China’s 10-year Treasury yields, which fall as prices rise, have sunk more than 25 basis points to 2.87 per cent since the start of the year. That rally accelerated in late January as Chinese authorities ordered businesses to shut, stoking fears of a sharp economic slowdown. Yields have not been below 3 per cent since 2016.

Coronavirus exposes western universities’ reliance on China | Financial Times $$

Australia is still more vulnerable: one in 10 students at its top eight universities is Chinese, the highest ratio in the developed world. The International Education Association of Australia warned this month of a A$6bn-A$8bn hit if Chinese students cannot attend the first term.

Dim Sums: Rural China Economics and Policy: Tough Year for China's Rice Farmers

China's rice market is in for a very tough year, a "Three Rurals Filling Station" (or "Go Rural") reporter warned this week. The journalist was alarmed to learn from chats and phone calls with rice growers in Heilongjiang Province that sales of the northeastern province's rice has stalled due to a perfect storm of a poor quality crop, a delayed government purchase program, the coronavirus quarantine, and unusual weather.

The reporter learned that the virus has spread quickly in Heilongjiang, villages are prohibiting movement of people, and some are using drones to monitor comings and goings. Rice marketing is nearly halted with the absence of traders and trucks.

3. Xi calls for more support and resources for frontline medical personnel

Xi Focus: Xi urges protection, care for medical workers - Xinhua

Xi…made the remarks in a recent instruction on protecting the medical workers participating in the COVID-19 prevention and control.

Noting that medical workers are the backbone force in defeating the epidemic, Xi stressed providing comprehensive support for them to ensure their strength, morale and energy...

Xi is particularly concerned about their wellbeing.

He has held multiple meetings, delivered important speeches and made instructions to express the CPC Central Committee's care for medical workers battling the epidemic at the frontline, especially in Hubei and Wuhan.

This was the top item on the Wednesday CCTV Evening News 习近平作出重要指示强调 务必高度重视对医务人员的保护关心爱护 确保医务人员持续健康投入战胜疫情斗争

Coronavirus Among Medics More Widespread Than Reported, Research Shows - Caixin

The researchers found that 3,019 medical workers had been infected, among whom 1,688 patients were in severe or critical condition. As of Feb. 11, the government acknowledged more than 1,700 medical workers nationwide as confirmed with the disease, almost 90% of them in Hubei, according to Chinese National Health Commission deputy chief Zeng Yixin at a press conference Friday.

The overall death rate among confirmed cases was 2.3%, the CDC researchers found. In Hubei province, the epicenter of epidemic, the pace of fatalities was 2.9%, compared with 0.4% in the rest of the country, according to the paper. For patients more than 80 years old, the fatality rate can be as high as 14.8%, the study found.

China's Hubei ups care for medics in anti-virus fight - Xinhua

According to the measures, frontline medical personnel in makeshift hospitals and designated hospitals shall not work continuously for more than one month in principle. The continuous working hours of medics in designated hospitals for accepting virus-infected patients in critical conditions can be appropriately shortened...

Meanwhile, hotels near medical institutions can be expropriated in accordance with the law to provide single rooms as far as possible for their rest and medical quarantine. Meals and other basic necessities will be supplied.

Hubei will also make every effort to provide all medical and health institutions with protective materials and equipment. Priority will be given to frontline medics in the distribution of such medical supplies.

In addition, health examinations will be organized for doctors and nurses to minimize infection among them. Timely quarantine and comprehensive treatment will be given to infected medical workers.

The Hubei notice - 湖北:方舱医院或定点医院一线医护人员连续工作不得长于一个月

20 police have died as coronavirus fight strains frontline personnel - Global Times

Frontline workers are being ordered to take compulsory breaks after work days in the battle against the novel coronavirus epidemic, as dozens of police officers and medical personnel have died in their posts due to infection, overwork and accidents.

Public security authorities across China have been sending orders to their staff members who have been working non-stop since the epidemic broke out to force them take some rest, China Central Television (CCTV) reported on Wednesday.



Page 1 Wednesday People's Daily article praising the efforts of the PLA medical personnel who have gone to Wuhan. So far we do not know how many have been sickened by or died from the virus

Chinese gov't mourns hospital chief who died in coronavirus fight - Xinhua

A central government team guiding the coronavirus epidemic control work in China's Hubei Province on Tuesday expressed deep condolences over the death of Liu Zhiming, head of Wuchang Hospital in Wuhan, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus epidemic.

Comment: I believe this video is of the body of Liu Zhiming being taken away, and his wife sobbing as she follows the van. During the video another van from the funeral home drives past. So much suffering, so much courage and sacrifice in the face of this disaster:

Meanwhile, China Media Group is out with a paean to Xi and his leadership of the people’s war against the virus - 坚决打赢疫情防控阻击战 中国加速!. The graphic at the top of the page says 人民领袖习近平 - People’s Leader Xi Jinping.

High Noon for Xi Jinping: The President Vs The Virus - The Little Red Podcast

To discuss what happens when a leader obsessed with control faces an uncontrollable foe, Louisa and Graeme are joined by Orville Schell, the Arthur Ross Director of the Centre for US China Relations at the Asia Society, Shaun Roche the chief Asia-Pacific economist at Standard & Poors, and from Wuhan by the New York Times’ Chris Buckley.

4. Russia bans entry of all PRC nationals

Russia Bars Entry of Chinese Citizens Amid Coronavirus Threat - The Moscow Times

Russia will suspend entry of Chinese citizens to its territory starting from Feb. 20, Russian authorities in charge of coronavirus prevention said on Tuesday.

Russian ban on Chinese visitors regrettable but understandable: experts - Global Times

Russia's new precautionary move amid the coronavirus epidemic starting from Thursday is a bit of an overreaction, Chinese experts noted, it's regrettable but due to Russia's basic medical conditions and shortage of medical resources, it is also understandable for Moscow to make the hard decision for the health of its own people, adding that Russia has also been one of the most supportive partners of China during the epidemic situation, so the ban won't hurt bilateral ties too much...

Russia's temporary travel ban comes mainly from self-protection and not because Russia is seeking this chance to suppress China. There is no possibility that Russia and the US will join hands against China, said Cui Heng, a post-doctorate researcher from the Centre for Russian Studies, East China Normal University.

Comment: Not quite the same reaction from Beijing as when the US did it…

5. US-China

Exclusive: Pompeo says new China media restrictions "long overdue" - Axios

"This action is long overdue. For years, these so-called media outlets have been mouthpieces of the Chinese Communist Party and these Chinese outlets are becoming more aggressive."

U.S. Designates China’s Official Media as Operatives of the Communist State - The New York Times

The State Department officials, who briefed reporters only on the condition of anonymity despite requests for public comment, said the new designation would not impede the five Chinese news agencies’ ability to report, broadcast or carry out other journalistic activity.

Suppressing Chinese media bodes ill for bilateral ties - Global Times

On Wednesday afternoon Beijing time, China's Foreign Ministry announced it would revoke the press credentials of three Wall Street Journal reporters working in Beijing, as the WSJ had previously published a racist commentary entitled "China Is the Real Sick Man of Asia" and had refused to apologize. According to the writer, the commentary was headlined by the paper's editors, not himself.

There are no connections between the two events, but it is not completely coincidental that they happened at about the same time. Together they show the ideological conflict between China and the US is intensifying. The two countries' values are drifting apart, and they are acting more resolutely in accordance with their own respective principles. This is not a good sign. It might be another clue of a more turbulent great power relationship in the 21st century.

Generally, the US is more aggressive and offensive. In addition to preventing Chinese media from "penetrating" the US as claimed, the US State Department is using its decision to declare Washington's opposition to the Chinese political system, amplify the differences between the Western and Chinese systems, and distort the image of the Chinese government.

Flu outbreak reveals US’ true colors - Global Times

Many nations around the world have been lending a helping hand to China. Though US companies have provided assistance, limited relief has been offered by the US government. Moreover, US President Donald Trump is seeking to cut the US' WHO funding by more than 50 percent. That has shown the US cares little not only for the safety of its own people, but also for the safety of people around the world. US politicians only value election ballots.

Here’s what U.S. has contributed to global efforts amid epidemic - People's Daily Online

What it has done is clear. The country was the first to announce a travel ban against China, which clearly violated the WHO's recommendation. Some U.S. politicians even took the lead in spreading conspiracy theories and used the epidemic to discredit China.

Such dark mentality and dangerous practices go against not only the U.S. claim of “strong leadership”, but also the bottom line of human civilization.

It’s interesting that when most American health experts and citizens hope to work with the world to defeat the epidemic, Washington is politicalizing the matter and running counter to the voice of the masses.

China firmly opposes U.S. rules against five Chinese media outlets - CGTN

The U.S. offices of Chinese media have long been covering news following the principles of objectivity, impartiality, truth and accuracy, he stressed. "They have helped promote mutual understanding, communication and cultural exchange between our two countries."

Geng called the new rules "unjustified and unacceptable" and urged the U.S. to discard its Cold War mentality and zero-sum game mindset and stop ill-advised measures that undermine bilateral trust and cooperation.



Court rejects Huawei's lawsuit over federal defense spending law - POLITICO

istrict Judge Amos Mazzant determined that Congress acted within its powers when it passed the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act.

‘Furious’ US Presses Israel To Bar Chinese Gear From Sensitive Systems « Breaking Defense

The United States has demanded that Israel act to bar all Chinese-made systems and components in communications and security systems used in sensitive infrastructure and Shin Bet has issued a broad directive to that effect.

The directive was issued officially by the Israeli Cyber Directorate, but was initiated by the Israeli General Security Service (Shabak, known more commonly in English as Shin Bet), the highest authority on these issues. An earlier directive was voluntary. The new one requires Israeli companies to bar the Chinese materiel.

Opinion: Sino-U.S. Conflict Enters Dangerous New Territory — Intelligence - Caixin Opinion

It is hard to predict how the intelligence war between the U.S. and China, particularly, the U.S.’ “whole-of-society” approach, will play out. But it’s certain that U.S.’ concerted counterintelligence actions against China will only intensify. Within the month, the Justice Department already announced at least three such China-related cases, including new indictments against Chinese military personnel on Feb. 10, and Huawei and its chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou on Thursday.

Lu Zhenhua is a senior editor at Caixin Global.

Press Release - NCSC Unveils the National Counterintelligence Strategy of the U.S. 2020-2022

The strategy recognizes the U.S. Government cannot address these challenges alone and calls for a whole-of-society approach that fully integrates the assistance of the private sector, an informed public, as well as foreign allies. Sound counterintelligence and security procedures must become part of everyday American business practices. Implementing the strategy will require partnerships, information sharing, and innovation across public and private sectors.

When Bloomberg News’s Reporting on China Was Challenged, Bloomberg Tried to Ruin Me for Speaking Out - Leta Hong Fincher

Soon after Bloomberg published the article on Xi’s family wealth in June 2012, my husband received death threats conveyed by a woman who told him she represented a relative of Xi. The woman conveying the threats specifically mentioned the danger to our whole family; our two children were 6 and 8 years old at the time. The New Yorker’s Evan Osnos reports a similar encounter in his award-winning book, “Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth and Faith in the New China,” when the same woman told Osnos’s wife: “He [Forsythe] and his family can’t stay in China. It’s no longer safe,” she said. “Something will happen. It will look like an accident. Nobody will know what happened. He’ll just be found dead.”

Tucker Carlson lashes out at American leaders who 'betrayed us' to China | Fox News

"A single theme ties them together: A systematic decision, by many of our country’s most powerful leaders, to sell out this country to China," Carlson added.

The host warned that China "is no longer simply an economic rival to the United States. It’s becoming a dangerous enemy.

"But instead of protecting us from this threat ... our leadership class collaborates with the other side. Why? Simple: they’re getting rich from it."

Friday, Feb. 14 Scoreboard: For 2nd Consecutive Night, Tucker Carlson Finished No. 1 on Cable News | TVNewser - Carlson has real influence

6. Kathmandu Post enrages PRC ambassador to Nepal

Statement of the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in Nepal

We are ready to accept any meaningful suggestions on how to control the spread of the epidemic as soon as possible. But we firmly oppose any ulterior motives and even malicious attacks on the political systems of other countries. It is regrettable that Mr. Anup Kaphle, Chief Editor of The Kathmandu Post has always been biased on China-related issues. This time he went as far as disregarding the facts and becoming a parrot of some anti-China forces and, therefore, his ulterior purpose is destined to failure. The Chinese Embassy in Nepal has made solemn representations to the newspaper and himself and reserves the right of further action.

‘A picture of malicious intention’ - Himal Southasian

What does Chairman Mao behind a surgical mask mean to you? Until recently, it was a convenient shorthand for the coronavirus outbreak and, linked to this, the impact the disease has had on Chinese governance and politics. In Nepal, however, following a sharply worded response by the Chinese ambassador to a Kathmandu newspaper, the image has come to signify the dangers of international pressure on the domestic press.

The offending article and cartoon:

[Ivo Daalder] China’s secrecy has made coronavirus crisis much worse

The syndicated opinion article that so upset the PRC ambassador in Nepal

Nepali editors condemn Chinese embassy’s statement regarding the Post - The Kathmandu Post

Seventeen editors, in a statement issued on Wednesday, condemned the embassy’s use of disparaging language and reiterated the Nepali constitution’s guarantee of full press freedom.

Comment: This is one more in the growing list of examples of the PRC's efforts to shape if not control all discussion of China globally. The "China is saving the world" narrative is being pushed hard by CCP propaganda organs and its overseas proxies. Anyone who argues this without also mentioning how the initial coverup made the outbreak so much worse should not be taken seriously, and anyone who questions it should expect to be attacked.

Ambassador Hou Yanqi is quite active on Twitter @PRCAmbNepal. Here she is previously trying to charm Nepalese:

Why China’s statement targeting The Post is a cause for concern - The Kathmandu Post

On Tuesday, the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu issued a statement over a syndicated opinion article and the accompanying illustration published in The Post’s February 18 edition. The Post publishes a diverse mix of opinions—both international and local—seven days a week. The opinion editors curate, edit and publish these opinions without bias. The Post is well aware of the fact that any individual or organisation is free—and holds the right—to disagree with the material that is published. But the Chinese embassy did not just express its discontent with the article published; it went so far as to disparage the Post’s Editor-in-Chief and employ threatening language. The undiplomatic—and frankly menacing—manner in which the Chinese embassy made its objections known is condemnable.

7. And the PRC is also threatening the Czech Republic

China threatened to harm Czech companies over Taiwan visit: letter - Reuters

The Chinese government threatened to retaliate against leading Czech companies if a senior Czech official made good on a planned visit to Taiwan, according to a diplomatic message reviewed by Reuters.

The Jan. 10 letter, sent by China’s embassy in Prague to the Czech president’s office, suggested that automaker Skoda[VOWGK.UL], lender Home Credit Group, and musical instrument maker Petrof Pianos would suffer if late Czech lawmaker Jaroslav Kubera visited the self-ruled island as planned.

An interesting question from US scholar Liz Economy:

8. HNA succumbing to the virus?

China Said to Near Takeover of HNA as Virus Hits Business - Bloomberg

China plans to take over indebted conglomerate HNA Group Co. and sell off its core airline assets, the latest example of how the government is stepping in to contain the economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak.

The government of Hainan, the southern island province where HNA is based, is in talks to take control of HNA after the outbreak hit the conglomerate’s ability to meet financial obligations, according to people familiar with the plans. The airline assets could be taken over later by other local companies, they said. An announcement could be made as early as tomorrow, though talks are ongoing and could be delayed or fall apart, the people said, asking not to be identified as the news is not yet public.

Business, Economy and Trade

China Datang Said to Eye Loan After Share Pledge Clause Breach - Bloomberg A unit of a Chinese state-owned power company is seeking a HK$5 billion ($644 million) one-year loan that will refinance an earlier 2018 deal after the company breached a default clause, according to people familiar with the matter.

Tesla’s choice of cheaper Chinese batteries hits cobalt miners | Financial Times $$ So-called LFP batteries are widely used in electric cars and buses in China because they are cheaper than nickel and cobalt-containing batteries. But Tesla is hopeful it can still boost the range above 155 miles to be eligible for Chinese subsidies, analysts at Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, a consultancy, said.

Politics and Law

China issues guideline for enhancing educational supervision, guidance - Xinhua The general offices of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council have published a guideline for deepening the reform of the educational supervision and guidance system and mechanism in the new era. By 2022, a socialist educational supervision and guidance system and mechanism with Chinese characteristics will be basically put in place that can work efficiently with full coverage, authoritative results and enhanced accountability for oversight, the document said.

The document: 中共中央办公厅 国务院办公厅印发《关于深化新时代教育督导体制机制改革的意见》

Foreign and Defense Affairs

China’s military tightens secrecy rules as PLA steps up exchanges abroad | South China Morning Post The increased confidentiality was part of a revised law that will take effect from March 1, according to the newspaper. Crypto security would also be improved for military information and intelligent electronic devices, while a section on disciplinary violations and punishment had also been amended. Details of the revised law were not given, but defence experts and military insiders said the new secrecy rules would replace a confidentiality decree signed by Xi’s predecessor Hu Jintao in 2011.

China's Banksy Badiucao says censorship is rife in Australia Front and centre in Badiucao’s exhibition, opening on Thursday in Melbourne, is a portrait of Dr Li Wenliang, who sounded the alert about the coronavirus. The 34-year-old had messaged his university alumni to warn them about a SARS-like illness, the very disease that would later kill him.

China issues regulations on classified military information - China Military The Regulations have a total of 10 chapters and 61 articles. In responding to the increasing challenges, the Regulations innovatively rebuild the management system of military-related information, put an emphasis on safeguarding the security of information network system, and tighten the management of intelligent electronic devices

四部门联合发布《境外烈士纪念设施保护管理办法》 - 中国军网 《办法》共20条,对境外烈士纪念设施保护管理的总体要求、管理体制机制、保护内容方式、相关责任等作出具体规定。《办法》的出台,是烈士褒扬工作领域法制化建设的又一重要成果,对于更好推动境外烈士纪念设施修缮、保护、管理,弘扬英烈精神、凝聚民族情感、传承中外友谊、展现国家形象具有重要意义。

Chinese military adopts new rules against cybersecurity risks - Global Times The Chinese military will adopt a new regulation on confidentiality in a move to better manage cybersecurity risks amid the increasingly intense strategic games between China and the US, experts said on Wednesday.

1MDB Fugitive Jho Low Was Active in Wuhan, Malaysia Police Say - Bloomberg

“Previously, we did receive intelligence that he was active in Wuhan,” Inspector-General of Police Abdul Hamid Bador said in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday, without saying when Low was reported to be in the Chinese city. “I have told Kuala Lumpur International Airport to monitor if he comes back with Covid-19.”

Hong Kong and Macao

Virus Deals Fresh Blow to Already Struggling Hong Kong Economy - Caixin Hong Kong’s unemployment rate surged to a three-year high as its services sector sputters under months of civil unrest and fallout from the Covid-19 outbreak, with economists now forecasting the city could post an unprecedented second straight year of economic contraction...Amid the new round of virus-related turmoil, economists have forecast the city’s economy could contract by more than 1% this year, marking a first-ever second year of negative growth after a 1.2% decline in 2019. That would mark a greater drop in Hong Kong’s real economy from the virus than from the 2003 SARS epidemic, Hong Kong Financial Secretary Chan Mo-po wrote on his Caixin blog. “The tsunami-like influence on industries could lead to a further plunge in employment,” he said.

Coronavirus: most Hong Kong hotels record single-digit occupancy as industry faces ‘life or death’ struggle to survive | South China Morning Post Numbers of tourists arriving drop to daily average of 3,000 in mid-February from 200,000 in same month last year. Occupancy rate drops below that of Sars in 2003, which stayed in double digits even at height of health crisis

Tech and Media

Yicai Global - Huawei to Debut Its First Android Alternative OS Phone in Europe Next Week The smartphone will be part of the Shenzhen-based company's latest Honor V30 series. It will offer a full raft of proprietary services including Huawei Mobile Cloud, Huawei AppGallery, Huawei Browser, Huawei Video, Huawei Themes and Huawei ID.

TSMC cuts chip capacity support for Huawei, say sources - Digitimes TSMC has started reducing its chip capacity support for Huawei, but is still working closely with the China-based vendor in the development for advanced 5nm and 3nm chip solutions, according to industry sources

Energy, Environment, Science and Health

‘The disruption is enormous.’ Coronavirus epidemic snarls science worldwide | Science | AAAS Universities across the country remain closed; access to labs is restricted, projects have been mothballed, fieldwork interrupted, and travel severely curtailed. But scientists elsewhere in the world are noticing an impact as well, as collaborations with China are on pause and scientific meetings for the next 5 months have been canceled or postponed.


China Students Miss Foreign University Exams Due to Coronavirus - Bloomberg The College Board, which organizes the standardized Scholastic Assessment Test, or SAT, for admission to colleges in the U.S., canceled the March 14 test for all registered students traveling from China to other locations for the exam, according to an email sent to students and seen by Bloomberg. The test will be administered in cities like Hong Kong, Macau and Singapore, but not in mainland China.