People's Leader Xi makes another Beijing inspection; Official outbreak data's positive trend; US responds to WSJ expulsions;

There was terrible economic data out of China on Saturday and there are increasing fears the COVID-19 virus is spreading throughout the world. The PRC and US stock markets were up big Monday. Bad news is good news for the markets if it means stimulus and more central bank money printing I guess.

Seriously though, while the data out of China was bad it was not unexpected. From many accounts economic activity is slowly returning in the country, though it is far from back to normal. But there is so much pressure from the top leadership and from people and companies at risk of running out of money that, so long as the epidemic outbreak in China looks like it is coming under control, the odds of a quickening return to normalcy are growing.

A V-shaped recovery however is increasingly at risk as the virus spreads globally and may slow the economies of key PRC trading partners. The propaganda positives of highlighting the CCP’s success in fighting the epidemic as other large countries flail would be offset by the economic damage.

Hopes for a massive fiscal and/or monetary stimulus from Beijing seem misplaced given the leadership’s continued emphasis on fighting the “tough battle” against financial risk. Then again, increasing risk of economic collapse and mass unemployment could shift the political imperatives. Perhaps instead of a 2008-style massive stimulus free-for-all the government, if it really gets worried, could just deposit money directly into the bank accounts of adult citizens?

The US has finally responded to the expulsion of the three Wall Street Journal reporters with an order for the reduction of staff at four of the five PRC organizations recently designated under the Foreign Missions Act. Xinhua News Agency, China Global Television Network, China Daily and China Radio International will have to reduce the number of PRC employees working in the US from 160 to 100 by March 13.

Thanks for reading.


The Essential Eight

1. People’s Leader Xi does another Beijing inspection

Xi Focus: Xi stresses COVID-19 scientific research during Beijing inspection - Xinhua

On Monday afternoon, Xi first went to the Academy of Military Medical Sciences, where he heard a report on the academy's COVID-19 scientific research and inspected a contingency medicine research lab for major epidemic outbreaks...

Xi urged prompt efforts to develop safe and effective vaccines, drugs and testing kits to help fight the virus.

He also called for more core technologies with own intellectual property rights and strong products after the tough battle against the coronavirus.

While inspecting the School of Medicine at Tsinghua University, Xi noted coordination between the frontline battle against the epidemic and scientific research and material production...

Xi also required efforts to reinforce the national surveillance network for major epidemics, improve the legal and regulatory system, promote the research of cutting-edge technologies and cultivate top-notch professionals to raise the country's ability to respond to major public health emergencies.

Top 10+ minutes of the Monday CCTV Evening News on Xi's inspection - 习近平在北京考察新冠肺炎防控科研攻关工作时强调 协同推进新冠肺炎防控科研攻关 为打赢疫情防控阻击战提供科技支撑

Xi's article on improving epidemic prevention and control to be published- Xinhua

An article by President Xi Jinping on improving law-based epidemic prevention and control, and the national public health emergency management system will be published Sunday on the Qiushi Journal, a flagship magazine of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee...

In addition to securing a victory in the current fight against the epidemic with scientific and targeted measures, the article called for greater efforts in strengthening areas of weakness and closing the loopholes exposed in the outbreak to improve the institutions and mechanisms for major epidemic prevention and control and the national public health emergency management system...

The system of prevention, control and treatment of major epidemics should also be improved, the article noted, encouraging the application of digital technologies including big data, artificial intelligence and cloud computing in areas such as epidemic monitoring, virus source tracing, epidemic prevention and treatment, and resource allocation.

The article called for improving the medical insurance and medical aid systems for major diseases and a unified system for providing emergency response supplies.

The article - 全面提高依法防控依法治理能力 健全国家公共卫生应急管理体系 - 求是网

牢记党和人民重托 奋战在防控疫情斗争第一线 - 求是网

The latest issue of "Qiushi" also has an article praising and detailing the efforts of the PLA in implementing Xi's instructions to go to the front line to fight the outbreak. The piece is written by "钧卫民Jun Weimin" clearly a homophonous pen name for "Military protects the people 军卫民"

It starts with Xi as the core of the Party, commander in chief of the military, and people's leader -  人民,在党的核心、军队统帅、人民领袖心中重千钧

天津市委党的建设工作领导小组召开会议 李鸿忠主持并讲话--新闻报道-人民网

Tianjin Party Committee holds 2.29 meeting on Party Construction, also goes with the direct "people's leader" 习近平总书记作为党的核心、人民领袖、军队统帅

着力提高“两个维护”的能力--理论-人民网

Yu Weizhi in Study Times goes with "People's Leader" in an article calling on cadres to increase their efforts to raise the ability around the "two upholds".

由衷认同,来自于伟大情怀。情怀是执着信念、坚定意志的深沉表达。人民领袖坚定的理想信念、崇高的革命品格、强烈的历史担当,折射出人民领袖爱人民的伟大情怀,辉映出当代中国共产党人的政治品格、价值追求、精神风范。

Are we seeing an upgrade to calling Xi "people's leader" directly, as opposed to 人民领袖深切的为民情怀 “people’s leader’s heartfelt feelings for the people”?

It would make sense, Xi is in charge of the People's War against the virus and so when victory is achieved the propaganda will make clear that he has proven he really is the People's Leader.


This what I wrote in early January after the annual year-end Politburo Democratic Life Meeting used "people's leader":

You all know my obsession with Xi and “People’s Leader 人民领袖” over the last several months. He got what I believe is the first Politburo endorsement of that appellation at the annual Politburo Democratic Life Meeting at the end of December. The official release from the meeting did not use “人民领袖习近平 People’s Leader Xi Jinping” but rather the more indirect “人民领袖深切的为民情怀 “people’s leader’s heartfelt feelings for the people”, in a long section fulsomely praising Xi and his genius. Now we need to watch for how the phrase is used in meetings and reports in the New Year and whether it morphs from this somewhat indirect phrasing into “People’s Leader Xi Jinping”.

But in recent days this book seems to have disappeared. Strange days in propaganda-land, I will bet it is deferred not cancelled -A Fairy Tale Ending | China Media Project - 2.27.20

In recent days, official state media in China have celebrated the publication of A Battle Against Epidemic: China Combatting Covid-19 in 2020, a book that compiles writing by official state media to paint a portrait of leadership resolve in the face of a major challenge.

『大国战疫』突然下架了?『总书记来过我的家』还在连载

难道真的下架了?为什么?有人分析此书突然下架,原因比较复杂,可能在防疫期间印刷、物流和推广等配套的资源调配跟不上,加之以反响不理想,有翻车可能,所以决定延后放行,但绝不是放弃,“放弃不可能,还要不要亮剑?要不要伟大斗争?“


2. The outbreak

陈一新:武汉抗疫形势呈现五大转变!疫情态势已从高位运行期进入中位运行期

Chen Yixin cites progress in the epidemic control in Hubei, says soon the new cases in the province will be between 10-100 per day, says there are now surplus hospital beds in Wuhan

Xinhua Headlines: Tracking down Wuhan's new confirmed COVID-19 cases - Xinhua |

a considerable number of the recent new cases are asymptomatic infected patients found in special places such as the detention centers, as the city has launched a "blanket search" to leave no coronavirus patient unattended, according to the Wuhan Center for Disease Control and Prevention...

Grid-based management in Wuhan has been running at full speed since Feb. 11, when the city's headquarters for epidemic prevention and control required all residential areas to implement closed-off management.

Wuhan has 8,700 grid-based community workers. Each worker takes care of 300 to 500 households, according to Luo Ping, deputy secretary of the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the Communist Party of China Municipal Committee of Wuhan.

新京报:两省公布具体开学日期,各地学校多数不早于3月15日

Guizhou and Qinghai are the first provinces to announced date of the new semester for high schools, which will reopen as early as next week. Inner Mongolia, Shanxi, Gansu and Tibet have issued similar notices saying high schools are allowed to reopen after March 15.

Research paper predicts outbreak will level off in late April - China Daily

The outbreak of novel coronavirus pneumonia in China peaked in late February and will level off in late April, new research headed by respiratory scientist Zhong Nanshan predicted.

If the implementation of control measures were delayed for five days, the outbreak in the Chinese mainland would have tripled in size, according to a paper by Zhong and his team, published in the Journal of Thoracic Disease.

In Depth: How Early Signs of a SARS-Like Virus Were Spotted, Spread, and Throttled-Caixin

The new coronavirus that has claimed nearly 3,000 lives and spread to almost 50 countries was sequenced in Chinese labs — and found to be similar to SARS — weeks before officials publicly identified it as the cause of a mysterious viral pneumonia cluster in Wuhan, a Caixin investigation has found.

Test results from multiple labs in December suggested there was an outbreak of a highly infectious virus. However, the results failed to trigger a response that could have prepared the public, despite being fed into an infectious disease control system that was designed to alert China’s top health officials about outbreaks.

The revelations show how health officials missed early opportunities to control the virus in the initial stages of the outbreak, as questions mount about who knew what and when, and whether these actions helped the disease to spread.

专栏 | 夜话中南海:敢言媒体的“问责” 实际上都是在帮习近平甩祸

就在今天,总部在北京的多维新闻网刚刚发表了一篇标题为《疫情尚未结束 “甩锅大战”已至?》的评论文章,说的是中国大陆媒体“财经”与“财新”日前同天各自推出事关武汉肺炎疫情防控的重磅报道,两家曾经源出一处的媒体,一个通过中国国家卫健委专家组匿名专家之口披露大量重要信息,另一个则是聚焦卫健系统的病原检测之争,让“新冠肺炎大规模爆发究竟是谁的责任”掀起了新一轮舆论战。

China’s Decision to Leave Asymptomatic Patients off Coronavirus Infection Tally Sparks Debate - Caixin

China’s decision to exclude individuals who carry the new coronavirus but show no symptoms from the country’s public tally of infections has drawn debate over whether this approach obscures the scope of the epidemic, with a document received by Caixin showing a significant proportion of one province’s cases show no symptoms.

In Coronavirus Fight, China Gives Citizens a Color Code, With Red Flags - The New York Times

A new system uses software to dictate quarantines — and appears to send personal data to police, in a troubling precedent for automated social control...

People in China sign up through Ant’s popular wallet app, Alipay, and are assigned a color code — green, yellow or red — that indicates their health status. The system is already in use in 200 cities and is being rolled out nationwide, Ant says.

Beijing reports two imported virus cases from Iran - China Daily

The two new patients in Beijing are both from Gansu province. They took part in an activity in Iran with one of the confirmed patients from Ningxia on Feb 18 and were diagnosed with novel coronavirus pneumonia on Saturday.

Businesswoman quarantined in Beijing over coronavirus says be prepared - CNBC

The Aeroflot flight she boarded on Friday in Moscow had two passengers infected with the virus. As a result, she is now quarantined in a Beijing hotel.

Normal services return at city hospitals - SHINE News

After adding more staff and improving procedures, hospitals in Shanghai were operating smoothly on Monday, when general outpatient services fully reopened and specialist outpatient clinics, inpatient and surgical services gradually became accessible again.

177 quarantined after man showing no symptoms in East China confirmed with COVID-19 infection - Global Times

Authorities in Hefei, East China's Anhui Province, reported a COVID-19 case on Monday whom showed no symptoms, forcing 177 people to be put into quarantine.

Gov't works to curb imports of infections - China Daily

Cui Aimin, director-general of the Foreign Ministry's Department of Consular Affairs, said that if the situation in those countries worsens, the Chinese government will help bring Chinese citizens staying there back to China...

China will closely follow the development of the epidemic in other countries and strengthen communication with those countries to reduce unnecessary cross-border travel and ensure its foreign exchanges and cooperation won't suffer major impact, he said.

China ready to supply coronavirus testing kits to the world - Global Times

Global demand for COVID-19 testing kits is likely to surge in the coming days as new cases of the virus arise daily in the world, and Chinese firms have the ability and are prepared to help supply that demand to countries in Asia and Europe, as well as the US, industry players told the Global Times.

Chinese customs roll out measures to fight epidemic - Xinhua

Customs across the country have kept a close eye on the epidemic at home and abroad, conducted risk assessments with gathered information and rolled out countermeasures at ports all over the country, Lin Wei, an official with the General Administration of Customs (GAC), said at a press conference Sunday.

China's daily face mask output exceeds 100 million - ECNS

The daily production of masks, including ordinary masks, surgical masks and medical N95 masks, reached 116 million units on Feb. 29, 12 times the number on Feb. 1, greatly easing the supply and demand gap during the fight against the novel coronavirus.

Beijing releases penalty on people involved in coronavirus-infected released inmate case - Xinhua

The released inmate surnamed Huang entered Beijing through an expressway toll-gate in a private car on Feb. 22, according to an official with the city's discipline watchdog.

The official said the auxiliary police at the toll-gate and employees of the property management office of the community where Huang lives failed to faithfully perform their duties as required in Beijing's epidemic prevention and control work. The hotline personnel of the Beijing center for disease control and prevention (CDC) also gave misinformation when being asked by Huang's relative whether she could enter Beijing or not.

Question: How is the announced investigation in the the circumstances surrounding Li Wenliang's silencing going? This Beijing investigation went much faster...

北京日报:最全!黄某英离汉进京事件,全程细节、处理结果来了

At least 16 officials, including the head of Hubei justice department and Beijing’s CDC, are sacked, disciplined or put under further investigation for allowing a coronavirus-infected prisoner to leave Wuhan and came to Beijing. The joint investigation team led by the ministry of justice announced their investigation results on Monday, saying the prisoner was able to make the trip because these officials didn’t do their job properly in implementing the lockdown. All future released prisoners will be kept in Wuhan until the lockdown is lifted. 

Chinese laboratory that first shared coronavirus genome with world ordered to close for ‘rectification’, hindering its Covid-19 research | South China Morning Post

The Shanghai laboratory where researchers published the world’s first genome sequence of the deadly coronavirus that causes Covid-19 has been shut down.

The laboratory at the Shanghai Public Health Clinical Centre was ordered to close for “rectification” on January 12, a day after Professor Zhang Yongzhen’s team published the genome sequence on open platforms. It closed temporarily the following day.

特稿|仁心赴国难 全国医护殉职已达25位

A total of 25 doctors or nurses have died on duty combating the coronavirus, according to Caixin.

央视新闻:2月12日后境外入丹东人员全部开展核酸检测

According to CCTV, Dandong, the town bordering North Korea, just announced that all foreigners coming into the city after Feb 12 will have to go through nucleic acid testing for coronavirus. The notice said the measures are needed because of the “severe situation in Japan, South Korea and other neighboring countries”.

Quarantine Cooking: Finding Relief from Coronavirus Anxiety in the Kitchen | The New Yorker


3. Economy

Coronavirus Craters China Manufacturing Index - WSJ $$

The Caixin China manufacturing purchasing managers index’s 40.3 reading in February was the lowest since the survey began in April 2004, Caixin Media Co. and research firm Markit said Monday. It was down from 51.1 in January and well below the 50 mark that separates expansion in activity from contraction...

China’s official National Bureau of Statistics manufacturing gauge earlier showed the steepest monthly contraction on record.

Both track business sentiment among purchasing managers, but the Caixin index more closely tracks small private manufacturers while its official counterpart focuses more on large state-owned ones.

China’s Stock Traders Are Making a Big Bet on Fiscal Stimulus - Bloomberg

The stock moves mark a shift in investors’ policy expectations after data for February showed manufacturing activity tumbling to the lowest levels on record. The economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak -- coupled with China’s cautious stance on monetary stimulus -- is now spurring bets of more fiscal spending by the government.

China Allows Banks to Delay Bad Loan Recognition on Virus - Bloomberg via Yahoo Finance

Qualified small- and medium-sized businesses nationwide with principal or interest due between Jan. 25 and June 30 can apply to delay repaying their debt, the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory said in a joint statement with the central bank on Sunday. In Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak, the waiver applies to all companies, including large firms, according to the statement.

Chinese banks are taking extraordinary measures to avoid recognizing bad loans, seeking to shield themselves and cash-strapped borrowers from the economic fallout of the epidemic. Regulators told lenders not to downgrade loans with missed payments or report borrowers’ delinquencies to the country’s centralized credit-scoring system before the end of June, according to the statement.

The statement - 关于对中小微企业贷款实施临时性延期还本付息的通知

In Depth: China’s Local Governments Find It Hard to Make Ends Meet - Caixin

Local governments are generally not optimistic about their fiscal situation in 2020. Of the 29 provincial-level regions which have released fiscal revenue targets, 22 of them set lower growth targets than last year...

Zhang Yu, chief macroeconomic analyst at Huachuang Securities Co. Ltd., said the epidemic would make even the lower fiscal revenue targets hard to meet, and some might need to be revised...

As far as there is a solution to this problem, it will come on two fronts: broadening income sources and reducing expenditures.

To save cash, multiple local governments have vowed to cut their daily spending, including Beijing

Yicai Global - Alibaba-Backed Baicheng Goes Under as Virus Wreaks Havoc on China's Travel Sector

Baicheng, which specializes in outbound travel and visa applications, does not have enough funds to remain in business, the firm said in an internal notice seen by Yicai Global on Feb. 29. At a shareholders' meeting, it was decided that the Beijing-based company should declare insolvency and wind up operations.

Airborne Nitrogen Dioxide Plummets Over China - NASA

“This is the first time I have seen such a dramatic drop-off over such a wide area for a specific event,” said Fei Liu, an air quality researcher at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Liu recalls seeing a drop in NO2 over several countries during the economic recession that began in 2008, but the decrease was gradual.

Monday commuting traffic approaches normal levels - SHINE News

Meanwhile, the number of Metro passengers was also on the rise, with 1.1 million people transported by 9am, 334,000 more than Monday last week, although still 63 percent less than on working Mondays before the epidemic, Shanghai Metro said.

China’s Push to Jump-Start Economy Revives Fake Data Worries - Bloomberg

This phenomenon is playing out in Zhejiang province, an industrial hub on the east coast, in the form of electricity usage. At least three cities there have given local factories targets to hit for power consumption because they’re using the data to show a resurgence in production, according to people familiar with the matter. That’s prompted some businesses to run machinery even as their plants remain empty, the people said.

Bitter harvest for China’s farmers as coronavirus keeps country in lockdown | South China Morning Post 

Li Guoxiang, a researcher at the Rural Development Institute at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said there was still time for things to return to normal, given that most planting started in March in most areas.

But fewer crops might be planted. “Enthusiasm among farmers to grow crops would be dampened if they expect it will be more difficult to buy fertiliser and seeds,” Li said.


4. Report on forced labor from Xinjiang

Uyghurs for sale | Australian Strategic Policy Institute | ASPI Report

The Chinese government has facilitated the mass transfer of Uyghur and other ethnic minority1 citizens from the far west region of Xinjiang to factories across the country. Under conditions that strongly suggest forced labour, Uyghurs are working in factories that are in the supply chains of at least 83 well-known global brands in the technology, clothing and automotive sectors, including Apple, BMW, Gap, Huawei, Nike, Samsung, Sony and Volkswagen.

This report estimates that more than 80,000 Uyghurs were transferred out of Xinjiang to work in factories across China between 2017 and 2019, and some of them were sent directly from detention camps...

This report examines three case studies in which Uyghur workers appear to be employed under forced labour conditions by factories in China that supply major global brands.

China's Uighur crackdown expands to forced work in factories, some supplying Western brands - The Washington Post

“The Chinese government is now exporting the punitive culture and ethos of Xinjiang’s ‘reeducation camps’ to factories across China,” said Vicky Xiuzhong Xu, the study’s lead author. In some cases, they found evidence that Uighurs were transferred directly from internment camps to factories...

“For the Chinese state, the goal is to ‘sinicize’ the Uighurs; for local governments, private brokers and factories, they get a sum of money per head in these labor transfers,” Xu said.


5. New censorship rules come into effect

China tightens controls on internet to try to remove ‘weeds’ and keep things positive online | South China Morning Post

The regulations – announced by the Cyberspace Administration of China in December but effective from March 1 – put responsibility for such content not just on the websites that host it but service providers, content producers and service users...

A commentary in Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily on Sunday hailed the regulations as a “good start for Chinese internet management”, saying they could “eradicate the weeds in cyberspace”.

明天起《网络信息内容生态治理规定》将施行 - CHINA 中国 - cnBeta.COM

Governing the E-cosystem - China Law Translate on the new rules

The ‘illegal’ content list is largely incorporated from article 15 of the Measures for Managing Internet Information Services issued in 2000, with only two additions. Item 4 on protecting the honor of the nation’s heroes and martyrs is added to reflect a new law on this issue, and item 5 is included to reflect the 2015 Counter-terrorism Law and National Security Law. While these items of ‘illegal content’ are distressingly vague and easily abused, there is an existing legal basis for banning them.

The items of ‘Negative Content’ more closely resemble content restrictions previously issued for professional broadcasters and content creators. While these might have been workable standards for regulating a small number of stations who can become familiar with the rules, through routine practice. it is harder to imagine how they will play out in the more interactive online setting where every citizen can become a content creator.

Comment: The article includes a useful line by line comparison of the changes, in English

Actor Fans’ Fight Over ‘Boys’ Love’ Stories Sparks Boycott Campaign - Caixin

The ban on AO3 also comes at a time when the Chinese authorities have been tightening scrutiny over “obscene” content, which has previously seen authors of gay-themed fiction arrested.

Opening the Door | China Media Project

On Wednesday this week, Li Zehua (李泽华), a journalist who recently resigned from his job as a news anchor at China’s state-run China Central Television to report as a citizen reporter on the front lines of the epidemic in Wuhan, was apparently detained by officers from state security. His whereabouts are currently unknown...

As state security officers caught up with him and prepared to detain him Wednesday, Li Zehua recorded a final message speaking to the men outside his door...

Our translation of Li Zehua’s message follows.


6. US responds to WSJ expulsions as FCCC issues grim 2019 report

Trump administration orders four Chinese news outlets in U.S. to reduce staffs - The Washington Post

Senior State Department officials said the decision to cap the number of Chinese nationals working for the designated “propaganda outlets” in the United States at 100 overall, down from 160, reflected growing concern of a crackdown on press freedoms for both Chinese and foreign journalists...

The caps were imposed proportionately on four of the five designated outlets: Xinhua News Agency at 59; the China Global Television Network at 30; the parent company of the China Daily at nine and China Radio International at two. The fifth designated outlet, the distributor for the People’s Daily, was not capped because it has no Chinese citizens working in the United States.

Institution of a Personnel Cap on Designated PRC State Media Entities - United States Department of State

nor does it place any restrictions on what the designated entities may publish in the United States.

Our goal is reciprocity. As we have done in other areas of the U.S.-China relationship, we seek to establish a long-overdue level playing field. It is our hope that this action will spur Beijing to adopt a more fair and reciprocal approach to U.S. and other foreign press in China

U.S. places new restrictions on Chinese journalists - Axios

The administration will place a duration of stay on all Chinese nationals who are in the United States on I visas, the visa type given to foreign media workers. They will be eligible to request extensions when their visas expire.

From the official White House office of the press secretary readout of “Background press call By senior administration officials On china and information reciprocity”:

According to the Foreign Correspondents Club of China, we’ve also seen the expulsion of nine foreign journalists from China since 2013.  Now, to put that into perspective, even the Soviet Union used expulsions sparingly at the height of the Cold War, as contrasted with Beijing today.

Foreign reporters who have been expelled tend to be reporters who have reported on topics that are critically important to an international audience.  For example, the Chinese Community Party’s indoctrination camps and the use of forced labor to export products to U.S. consumers; high-level corruption and the ways that wealth and power are employed by top leaders, sometimes against the interests of American business; how a virus first started spreading.

And so it’s really no accident also that the expelled foreign journalists are ones who speak Chinese language very well. 

So, in other words, these are all topics that are important to American and other international readers, including investors, business people, and policymakers.  Our businesses and our money managers need this kind of information to be reported without fear or favor to make responsible decisions for their clients.

Our educational institutions need free-flowing information to make judgments about the security and the academic environment.  And, of course, our public health experts need this kind of information in order to keep the American people safe and to allow us to work with international partners to contain and mitigate disease outbreaks.

So, irrespective of the reasons that the Chinese government may give for why it expels this or that reporter, it’s clear that the Chinese Communist Party simply doesn’t want any light being shed on a vast range of everyday activities, policies, and conditions inside of China.  And, sadly, the cost of that approach will be greatest to China itself because fewer and fewer people, Chinese and Americans alike, will be interested in doing business in and engaging in such an opaque and information-poor environment… 

Foreign Correspondents' Club of China - “Control, Halt, Delete: Reporting in China under threat of expulsion,” an in-depth examination of media freedoms in China in 2019.

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China (FCCC) has published its annual media freedoms report, “Control, Halt, Delete: Reporting in China under threat of expulsion,” an in-depth examination of media freedoms in China in 2019. For the second consecutive year, not a single correspondent surveyed for the report said conditions improved. The report finds Chinese authorities have weaponized visas against the foreign press, issuing truncated press credentials to a dozen journalists in 2019, and expelling four correspondents since August 2019. This amounts to one of the most brazen attempts in the post-Mao Zedong era to influence foreign news organizations and to punish those whose work the Chinese government deems unacceptable

The full report (PDF)

China has never recognized the FCCC, whose report is inappropriate and unwise: Chinese FM - Global Times

The annual report of the Foreign Correspondents' Club of China (FCCC) was inappropriate and unwise,and China has never recognized the so-called organization, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Monday following the FCCC report claiming that working conditions for reporters in China have deteriorated.

China always welcomes foreign media to report about the country in a comprehensive and objective way, and has been providing support and conveniences for international journalists to report about China in accordance with international practices and laws, Zhao Lijian, spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, made the remarks at Monday's press conference.


7. Xia Baolong dropping hammer on Hong Kong?

Hong Kong protests: Apple Daily owner Jimmy Lai charged over August 31 march and alleged intimidation of reporter at 2017 vigil | South China Morning Post

Media mogul Jimmy Lai Chee-ying was arrested on Friday morning for taking part in an illegal assembly during the anti-government protests in Hong Kong last year, as well as for allegedly intimidating a reporter at an event in 2017.

The 71-year-old founder of the tabloid-style Apple Daily will appear at Eastern Court on May 5 along with former lawmakers Lee Cheuk-yan and Yeung Sum, who were also arrested on Friday morning, over their involvement in a march on August 31 last year, one of several mass demonstrations held during the unrest sparked by the now-withdrawn extradition bill.

Spotlight: Hong Kong society hails arrest of Jimmy Lai as long-awaited justice - Xinhua

The arrest and prosecution against Jimmy Lai Chee-ying, instigator of the Hong Kong riots, has been hailed by people from various sectors of the Hong Kong society as the arrival of long-awaited justice and a demonstration of the spirit of rule of law...

Leung Chun-ying, vice chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, said that Lai's arrest drew attention because of his role as the brain, donor, whip and mouthpiece of the forces in Hong Kong that have been betraying the country and destabilizing Hong Kong as well as the importance foreign anti-China forces attached to him.

China Readies the Boot in Hong Kong - Asia Sentinel

On February 28 police arrested Jimmy Lai, the high-profile publisher of the popular newspaper Apple Daily, on two very disparate counts.

China urges U.S. to stop interference in Hong Kong and Chinese internal affairs - Xinhua

Spokesperson Zhao Lijian made the remarks at a press briefing in response to a question concerning a U.S. State Department spokesperson's statement that voiced "concern" over Hong Kong police's recent legal action against Jimmy Lai Chee-ying and several others.

"We urge the United States to earnestly respect Hong Kong's rule of law and judicial independence, stop supporting anti-China rioters in Hong Kong, stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs and China's internal affairs, and do more for Hong Kong's prosperity and stability," said Zhao.

Arrest of Hong Kong Pro-Democracy Leaders - United States Department of State

We are concerned by the arrest of prominent Hong Kong businessman and publisher Jimmy Lai and two other longtime advocates for civil liberties and democracy in Hong Kong. We expect Hong Kong authorities not to use law enforcement selectively for political purposes, and to handle cases fairly and transparently in a manner that preserves the rule of law and the Hong Kong people’s universal rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.


8. Huawei

Exclusive: Newly obtained documents show Huawei role in shipping prohibited U.S. gear to Iran - Reuters

China’s Huawei Technologies, which for years has denied violating American trade sanctions on Iran, produced internal company records in 2010 that show it was directly involved in sending prohibited U.S. computer equipment to Iran’s largest mobile-phone operator...

The newly obtained documents involve a multi-million dollar telecommunications project in Iran that figures prominently in an ongoing criminal case Washington has brought against the Chinese company and its chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou.

Huawei Seeks Advisers for U.S. Image Makeover - WSJ $$

Huawei has approached at least six such figures seeking their help as the company navigates challenges posed by the U.S. government and tries to change how it is covered by the media, people familiar with the initiative say. Some individuals approached by Huawei met with staff of the Chinese telecom company at its New York offices earlier this month to discuss company strategy, these people said.

Huawei Makes End-Run Around U.S. Ban by Using Its Own Chips - Bloomberg

In a sign that the self-reliance is working, Huawei in the fourth quarter sold more than 50,000 of these next-generation base stations that were free of U.S. technology, according to Tim Danks, the U.S.-based Huawei executive responsible for partner relations. That’s only about 8% of the total base stations that Huawei’s sold as of February, but the company is quickly ramping up at its secretive HiSilicon division to make more of these American component-free devices, Danks said.


Business, Economy and Trade

Chinese Biotech Censured for False Claim on Gilead’s Virus Drug - Bloomberg BrightGene’s announcement on Feb. 12 that it had managed to manufacture remdesivir in mass quantities garnered global headlines and sent its stock up nearly 60% last month to touch a record high. The stock exchange’s reprimand comes as concerns grow that researchers and drugmakers in China and elsewhere are seizing on the global panic around the growing epidemic to get attention for less-than-credible scientific work.

Used car seller Uxin suspends staff after slashing salaries · TechNode During the suspension, the company will continue to pay suspended staff the minimum salary required by local governments as well as make payments to social insurance and housing funds, according to the letter.

Beijing to subsidize ski resorts as coronavirus hits hard - CGTN According to a new policy, Yanqing District will provide subsidies worth 50 percent of the profit margin between this season and a year ago, and partially cover water and electricity consumption as well as maintenance fees at ski resorts to compensate profit loss.

立足中国大地创新发展中国特色经济学(构建中国特色哲学社会科学) Liu Shouying, Dean of the Renmin University School of Economics, writes on the page 9 of the Monday People's Daily about innovating and developing economic theory with Chinese characteristics, part of a series about the initiative to construct philosophical and social sciences with Chinese characteristics.

China to Manage HNA Debt as Virus Pushes Group Over the Edge - Bloomberg The government of Hainan, the southern island province where HNA is based, appointed an executive chairman for the company and set up a working group of officials from the municipality, the civil aviation authority and China Development Bank to oversee the effort, HNA said in a statement on Saturday. The move came after the group failed to resolve liquidity difficulties that stretch back to late 2017, it said

Chinese frog breeders call for help as wildlife trade ban shuts down business | South China Morning Post The appeal was made in two petitions posted online – one by a group from Jiangmen in Guangdong province and the other by breeders in Hainan province.

财新:王健林广州退地,姚振华即将接盘 Caixin reported that the Wanda Group had suspended a private hospital project in Guangzhou that started in late last year. The land has been returned to the government and reauctioned. Wanda spent 1.34 billion RMB on the land and it had invested another 20 million RMB for it. It is unclear why it pulled out.

Politics and Law

Guoguang Wu | China Leadership - From the CCP Dilemma to the Xi Jinping Dilemma: The Chinese Regime’s Capacity for Governance This essay analyzes how the Fourth Plenary Session of the Nineteenth Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), held in October 2019, furthered the concentration of power in the hands of party chief Xi Jinping, a concentration of power epitomized by the personification of party leadership over the party-state system. This took place against the background of a strengthening of the regime’s capacity for governance, but the consequence has been an upgrading of the CCP’s governance dilemma, which features unbalanced strength to promote economic growth and political stability on the one hand and to deal with the social, environmental, and public costs of development on the other hand, and Xi Jinping’s governance dilemma, which involves overall control by the supreme leader as a result of the impotence of the regime and accordingly the institutional decay in present-day China. The COVID-19 crisis is the latest example of the overlapping of these two dilemmas.

中央和国家机关在广大党员中积极开展自愿捐款支持新冠肺炎疫情防控工作 CCTV praised the leaders and officials in Beijing, including “the elder comrades that have retired”, for donating money for combatting the virus. CCTV reported earlier that by Saturday, just three days after Beijing’s appeal for “volunteer donation”, more than 10 million party members (about 11% of the 90 mln members) had donated a total 1.18 billion RMB.

Foreign and Defense Affairs

Why the Chinese Navy’s Target of a US Surveillance Aircraft With a Laser Isn’t Business As Usual – The Diplomat a Poseidon P-8A maritime surveillance aircraft belonging to the U.S. Navy was targeted with what U.S. officials described as a “military grade” laser. The laser was directed against the U.S. aircraft by a Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) warship with the incident taking place in Pacific Ocean waters near Guam

Chinese military puts joint drills on hold to fight coronavirus battle | South China Morning Post Hong Kong-based military commentator Song Zhongping said disruptions in logistics were at the core of the training plan changes. “The ongoing war against the epidemic has affected the PLA’s regular drill plans because many of the PLA’s combat units, such as air force aircraft and military vehicles, have been mobilised to support Wuhan,” Song said.

Researcher at University Arrested for Wire Fraud and Making False Statements About Affiliation with a Chinese University | OPA | Department of Justice Anming Hu, a  an Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK) was arrested today on a federal indictment and charged with three counts of wire fraud and three counts of making false statements. “Hu allegedly committed fraud by hiding his relationship with a Chinese university while receiving funding from NASA,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers.

Tokyo and Beijing agree to delay Xi's visit as nations battle coronavirus, source says | The Japan Times The visit had originally been planned for early April. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will officially announce the delay later this week, the person said, adding that a new schedule for Xi’s visit had not been decided.

Chinese research vessel Xiang Yang Hong 01 tracked in waters near Christmas Island off Western Australia - Politics - Australian Broadcasting Corporation A high-tech Chinese research vessel has been detected mapping strategically important waters off the Western Australian coast where submarines are known to regularly transit.

Establishment of national defense force on biosecurity urged amid COVID-19 outbreak - Global Times A permanent national defense force on biosecurity should be established and led by China's military, as the novel coronavirus pneumonia (COVID-19) outbreak shows that China is not fully prepared to efficiently deal with a biological disaster or even potential warfare, which can have as great an impact as a conventional regional war, Chinese experts said on Monday.

U.S. society knows how to help China amid epidemic better than American politicians - People's Daily Online Compared with the U.S. government, the U.S. businesses, friendly organizations and civil society organizations are acting way more actively. Over 100 member enterprises of the American Chamber of Commerce in the People’s Republic of China (AmCham China) have donated cash and supplies totaling 500 million yuan ($71 million) for China. According to statistics from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the U.S. companies have offered the most assistance to China among their global peers, and their donation is much higher than that made by companies from other countries.

China vows to advance int'l military cooperation against threats like COVID-19 - Xinhua Addressing a press conference on the work of China's armed forces in the virus battle, Wu Qian, a spokesperson for the Ministry of National Defense, thanked countries and militaries that have offered China sincere help and support in the country's full-swing fight against COVID-19.

Resource-Backed Loans, Revisited: Infrastructure for Aluminum in Ghana and Guinea This two-part series analyzes past, present, and future trends in China’s resource-backed loans. Part I looked at why China made frequent use of this tool in the 2000s and early 2010s and why it has since diminished in stature. This installment (Part II) turns to how China might change its approach to correct for some of the issues that arose with the older deals. This includes a look at two recent arrangements with Ghana and Guinea.

Coronavirus: China embassy U-turns on claim Russian police singled out Chinese | South China Morning Post The concerns about Chinese people in Russia were raised following speculation on social media that they were subjected to violent law enforcement, abuse and detention for no reason by Moscow police. But the embassy’s new statement on Sunday said that those reports were not true, and that Russian authorities had strictly enforced quarantine rules against all people, including Russians.

Wilson China Fellows | Wilson Center The Wilson Center is pleased to announce the members of the inaugural 2020-2021 Wilson China Fellowship class, a new China-focused non-residential fellowship supporting the next generation of American scholarship on China.

Tech and Media

WeChat now blocking links to Bytedance's Feishu app · TechNode Feishu, known in overseas markets as Lark, was officially launched in April and is a rival to WeChat’s enterprise productivity app, WeChat Work.

Trapped at Home by the Coronavirus, People Turn to Livestreaming - Bloomberg One Saturday night about a month into the new coronavirus outbreak, Peter Li was going stir crazy. He couldn’t bear to read more about the hundreds of deaths it had caused. He’d have liked to go for a drink, but his regular Beijing haunts were closed. So in the middle of the night, Li—like millions of homebound twentysomethings in China—turned to his phone in search of relief. In Li’s case, he watched a livestream from One Third, one of the capital’s hottest nightspots. It was empty that night but live online with a pair of DJs pumping out electronic dance music. During a five-hour set a few weekends ago, viewers like Li left the club 2 million yuan ($285,000) in tips on the short video platform Douyin, ByteDance’s Chinese version of TikTok.

Society, Arts, Sports, Culture and History

小端網絡觀察:中國網友抵制外國人永居權立法,非我族類其心必異? The Initium reported the xenophobia sentiment among Chinese netizens toward the new rules to grant foreigners China’s green cards. “I don’t want to see the day that China essentially recognizing dual citizenship; I don’t want to see foreigners of different color starting color revolution in China; I don’t want to see China to be spliced into pieces; ‘Empty the cage for new birds’ is not to give more space for foreigners; We Chinese sacrifice not to see the country collapsed and our families destroyed, and not to give benefits to the imperialists.” One angry comment wrote.

Domestic Violence Cases Surge During COVID-19 Epidemic - SixthTone Feng Yuan, the director of Beijing-based women’s rights nonprofit Weiping, told Sixth Tone that they have also received a substantial number of domestic violence-related reports since the Lunar New Year vacation a little over a month ago — beginning around the time several cities went into lockdown. She added that police should be more proactive in registering survivors’ complaints instead of finding excuses to not help them.

Sun Yang: Chinese swimmer to fight CAS ban after WADA appeal China's top swimmer Sun Yang has vowed to appeal after being handed an eight-year ban for a dope test violation that would rule him out of the Tokyo Games. The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) earlier accepted an appeal from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) against a decision by swimming body FINA to clear Sun of wrongdoing for his conduct during the 2018 test.

Sun Yang: Mother Ming Yang says 2014 doping was covered up - Yahoo Sports Sun Yang’s mother has launched an extraordinary attack on the Chinese Swimming Association, claiming her son’s positive doping test in 2014 was initially covered up.

财新:孙杨遭禁赛8年,商业代言影响几何? Caixin reported that Chinese Olympic swimmer Sun Yang’s 2.4 million USD annual income will be hit hard if he is banned. Most his Chinese sponsors have not yet given a response on how they will handle the case. They may stick with him or cancel their contracts and ask for compensation. Like other Chinese athletes, 50% of Sun’s sponsorship income will be summitted to China’s local and central sport authorities. // And Sun, always classy, Chinese simmer Sun Yang posted on Weibo, he made public the ID numbers and faces of the Chinese nationals involved in his blood testing. 

Beijing

Beijing population falls, per capita income rises in 2019 - Xinhua The number of permanent residents in Beijing saw a slight drop to about 21.54 million at the end of last year, 6,000 fewer than at the end of 2018, official data showed Monday...With policies and measures on stabilizing employment and individual income tax reform, the per capita income from wages and salary of Beijing residents increased by 9.4 percent last year, up 2.4 percentage points from 2018.

Rural and Agricultural Issues

China Says African Swine Fever Vaccine Effective in Lab Tests - Bloomberg China’s Harbin Veterinary Research Institute, the country’s top research body on animal diseases, said it developed an African swine fever vaccine that laboratory testing has showed is safe and effective.