People's Leader Xi visits Wuhan; Propaganda struggle

The rumors were true, Xi Jinping did finally visit Wuhan. He did not quite declare victory in the “people’s war” on the virus but his trip is clearly a sign he believes victory is within reach.

Wang Huning accompanied him.

Xi started his visit at a command center next to the Huoshenshan hospital, where he talked over video link with medical workers and patients in the hospital. Xi upgraded his face mask from the simple surgical mask he has worn in Beijing to a better 3M N95 one.

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Victory in the people’s war over the virus may be the "wartime experience" Xi has lacked to fully elevate him past Deng to at least equal standing with Mao Zedong. I will guess it will be the achievement that finally gets him the full "People's Leader" mantle.

Xinhua today posted a short video - 人民领袖 指挥决战-新华网-The People's Leader Commanding the decisive battle".

The worse the outbreak gets outside China the better Xi looks domestically, in spite of the initial missteps. Things are starting to look up for Xi, China, and the Chinese economy after an awful start to the year of the Rat.

Thanks for reading.


1. Xi visits Wuhan

Xi Focus: "Turning the tide" -- Xi leads anti-virus war toward victory - Xinhua

The inspection to Wuhan, Hubei Province, took the president to a hospital treating severely ill COVID-19 patients and a residential community. He visited patients, medics, community residents and workers, police officers, military personnel, officials and volunteers who have been fighting the novel coronavirus...

Wang Huning, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and a member of the Secretariat of the CPC Central Committee, also attended the inspection.

In Huoshenshan Hospital, the first leg of his inspection, Xi lauded medical workers as "the most beautiful angels" and "messengers of light and hope."...

Xi talked with patients in the hospital through a video link, and expressed his wishes for their quick recovery.

"All prevention and control measures taken by the CPC Central Committee against the virus are to prevent more people from being infected and save more patients' lives," Xi said.

Meeting medic representatives in the hospital, Xi said the spread of the virus has been basically curbed in Hubei and Wuhan, and attributed the achievement to efforts of the whole Party, the whole country and the whole society.

"But you are the biggest heroes," Xi told the medics...

Xi demanded more understanding and tolerance for people in Hubei and Wuhan if some vent their feelings for long time under self-quarantine, as well as efforts to ensure the supply of their life necessities.

习近平在湖北省考察新冠肺炎疫情防控工作 看望慰问奋战在一线的医务工作者解放军指战员社区工作者公安干警基层干部下沉干部志愿者和居民群众时强调 毫不放松抓紧抓实抓细各项防控工作

The report on Xi's visit to Wuhan took up the top 20 minutes of the Tuesday CCTV Evening News

习近平指出,我们党在内忧外患中诞生,在磨难挫折中成长,在攻坚克难中壮大。敢于斗争、敢于胜利,是中国共产党人鲜明的政治品格,也是我们的政治优势。各级党组织和广大党员、干部要不忘初心、牢记使命,扛起责任、经受考验,在这场大考中磨砺责任担当之勇、科学防控之智、统筹兼顾之谋、组织实施之能,做到守土有责、守土有方。要坚决反对形式主义、官僚主义,让基层干部把更多精力投入到疫情防控第一线。要激励广大党员、干部在危难时刻挺身而出、英勇奋斗,在大战中践行初心使命,在大考中交出合格答卷。

Xi pointed out that the party was born out of internal and external troubles, grew up through hardships and setbacks, and gained strength through overcoming difficulties. The courage to fight and to win is the distinct political character of the Chinese communists and our political advantage. Party organizations at all levels and the vast number of party members and cadres should not forget their original intention, keep their mission firmly in mind, shoulder their responsibilities, and stand the test. They should sharpen their courage to assume responsibilities, their wisdom in scientific prevention and control, their ability to make overall plans, and their ability to organize and carry out the test. We must resolutely oppose formalism and bureaucracy, and let grassroots officials devote more energy to the frontline of epidemic prevention and control. We should encourage party members and cadres to stand up and fight bravely in times of crisis, carry out their original mission in the great war, and give qualified answers in the final examination.

Xi Focus: Moment of truth: Xi leads war against COVID-19 - Xinhua

The man of the hour was President Xi Jinping, commander-in-chief of China's war against COVID-19, who flew into Wuhan Tuesday to inspect the epidemic prevention and control work on the ground...

The COVID-19 outbreak is the hardest major public health emergency to contain since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, he said.

Xi declared a "people's war" to fight this invisible enemy by mobilizing the force of the whole country...

"Xi is the backbone of this battle," said Liu Jingbei, a professor at the China Executive Leadership Academy in Pudong, Shanghai. "His leadership is crucial for the country to ultimately beat the epidemic."

As coronavirus goes global, China’s Xi Jinping asserts victory on first visit to Wuhan since outbreak - The Washington Post

Xi’s first stop Tuesday was Huoshenshan Hospital, which was built in 10 days. State media said he visited patients, but television footage later showed a mask-clad Xi, surrounded by military and party officials, talking to a patient by video...

“You should build your confidence, we should together build our confidence, and together we will win this war,” Xi told the man, who was in bed wearing striped pajamas, with two health-care workers in head-to-toe protective gear at his side. “Wuhan must win, Hubei must win, and the whole of China must win,” Xi said.

He appeared to be speaking from the Wuhan Workers’ Sanatorium, a facility next to the pop-up hospital.

China’s Xi Visits Wuhan, City at Center of Coronavirus Epidemic - WSJ

“Xi Jinping is there to pick peaches” and enjoy the fruits of other people’s labor, said Zhang Lifan, an independent historian in Beijing. “Xi’s hope is to turn an initial setback into victory.”..

In a sign that authorities are relaxing controls, Qianjiang, a city of about one million people roughly 100 miles west of Wuhan, said Tuesday that it would begin to lift the lockdown and restore normal industrial activity in the coming days.

Comment: Qianjiang is the city whose Party Secretary decided after hearing about the virus during the two meetings in Wuhan in January to immediately quarantine all the patients in his city who had symptoms, and so the epidemic never really exploded in his city. This 2.18 Caixin article has more details.

Chinese President Xi Jinping salutes Wuhan under shadow of coronavirus pandemic threat | South China Morning Post

Having come under heavy criticism from overseas initially, Beijing is now portraying its containment efforts as a heroic fight showcasing the Chinese people’s spirit as well as the strength of the country’s unique political system..

By making the symbolic visit, Xi sent a message to the world that the extreme measures undertaken by his authoritarian government were “highly effective”, said Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at Renmin University and a government adviser.

“The message to the domestic audience is that the rampant epidemic has now been brought under control and this is possible [only] under the leadership of Xi,” he said. “The Communist Party wants to highlight the decisive role Xi has played in this.”

Xi’s visit to epicenter Wuhan heralds new phase in fight against epidemic: analysts - Global Times

Xi personally commands the people's war against the epidemic. He has been paying constant attention to the epidemic prevention and control work and made oral or written instructions every day...

Lu Keli, an associate professor at the school of Marxism studies in the Renmin University of China in Beijing, told the Global Times that Xi's visit to Wuhan at this stage showed that China has achieved a phased victory in the current juncture that can help effectively stabilize and control the epidemic situation...

From January 7 to March 2, he convened six meetings of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and one meeting of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, urging authorities at every level to put forth resolute efforts to curb the spread of the virus.

He also held a meeting aimed at comprehensively deepening the reform, one meeting on advancing law-based governance, one teleconference with 170,000 officials, reflecting his personal involvement in the response to the epidemic.

Such an extensive level of engagement was hailed as "a very rare leadership" amid the outbreak by Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus..


2. The economy

China’s Inflation Slows as Coronavirus Locks Down Economy - Bloomberg

Core consumer prices rose 1% in February from a year ago, the slowest pace since June 2010, and factory prices returned to deflation, with the producer price index registering a 0.4% decline on year after rising 0.1% in January. However food costs continued to soar due to rising pork prices, leaving overall consumer inflation at 5.2%, the National Bureau of Statistics said Tuesday...

“In the short term, it means that the People’s Bank of China might not ease as much as the Fed and other central banks,” according to Larry Hu, chief China economist at Macquarie Group Ltd in Hong Kong. “CPI inflation will ease in the coming months on the slowing economy and oil price crash, so PPI deflation will be the major concern later this year. As such, we expect more stimulus to come later this year.”

Virus Going Global Means China’s Factories Will Get Hit Again - Bloomberg

Manufacturing firms across China told Bloomberg News that they are close to being able to resume full production as domestic infections slow to a trickle, but are now facing canceled orders and fewer opportunities to gain new customers as the virus grips elsewhere.

“We are actually more worried about the development of the epidemic in Europe and the U.S., which will affect their domestic consumption,” said Mark Ma, owner of Shenzhen-based Seabay International Freight Forwarding Ltd. The company relies on those regions for 80% of its business, with about a third of the goods it handles being sold on Amazon. “China’s manufacturers have no big problems taking orders and producing, the main problem now is how the epidemic is contained overseas.”

Coronavirus: China’s risky plan to revive the economy | Financial Times $$

“The party propaganda machinery has unwittingly admitted that Xi was responsible for the fiasco,” says Steve Tsang, head of the China Institute at Soas in London. “The changes Xi has made to the operation of the party-state have not strengthened its capacity to act in order to pre-empt a crisis. [Instead]it has made it easier for a crisis to emerge as it all depends on Xi understanding the situation properly and making the right call at critical moments.”

An adviser to senior officials in Beijing agrees. “This virus crisis was really 70 per cent human error [attributable to] the leadership,” he says.

Some economic projections make sober reading for China’s leadership. Bert Hofman, director of the East Asian Institute at the National University of Singapore, predicts that “first-quarter growth year on year may well be negative, between -2.0 and -6.5 [per cent]”.

Alibaba’s Chinese Delivery Arm is Back at Pre-Outbreak Levels - Bloomberg

Cainiao, of which Alibaba owns more than 60%, is again at full strength after a few weeks during which the epidemic disrupted transport and held up shipments. Meal delivery unit Ele.me and grocery chain Freshippo are also back at full strength and operating at “full capabilities” at present, an Alibaba spokeswoman said.

China to modify environmental supervision of firms to boost post-coronavirus recovery - Reuters

“The environmental supervision should be adjusted in accordance with practical needs and social economic situation,” said Cao Liping, director of Ecological and Environmental Enforcement bureau at the Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE), at a press briefing on Tuesday…

But Cao said that changes to supervision did not mean relaxing environmental rules or supervision.

China’s Busiest Coal Railway Posts Fourth Straight Monthly Freight Decline - Caixin

A transportation analyst told Caixin that dip is due to slumping supply and demand, not transportation capacity. The analyst said the coronavirus hasn’t had a big direct impact on the railway’s operations, as few workers are needed to transport goods...

Many of the coal mines in northern China are yet to resume work even after an extended Lunar New Year holiday, and those that have started operating again are often running under full capacity due to labor shortages, as mandatory 14-day quarantines are keeping many workers off-site.

Coronavirus: Apple China stores all open apart from four - CNBC

Three stores in Tianjin, a major city in northwest China, and a retail location in Suzhou, a city west of Shanghai, remain closed. An Apple spokesperson declined to comment on the reason for keeping those stores shut when contacted by CNBC.

Coronavirus forces Europe to confront China dependency – POLITICO

"There will be a 'before' and an 'after' the coronavirus [outbreak] in global economics," French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told radio station France Inter on Monday. "We have to decrease our dependence on a couple of large powers, in particular China, for the supply of certain products" and "strengthen our sovereignty in strategic value chains" like cars, aerospace and medicines.

Online Travel Agents Scramble as Epidemic Clouds Tourism- PingWest

Ms. Yan, who works at a brick-and-mortar office operated by OTA giant Trip.com (previously known as Ctrip) in China's Jiangsu Province, recently had to pivot to selling pots, snacks, fruits, and imported skincare products on WeChat to make ends meet. She told PingWest that her income consists of a meager base salary, and relies heavily on commissions, which relies on orders both online and offline. Now she have to find other means to make money so as the mortgages and car loans on her shoulders don't break her lifestyle apart.

Online Used Car Platforms in Crisis as Virus Drives Off Business - Caixin

While the industry has been slowly coming back to life in recent weeks, in step with China’s bigger return-to-work push, business is still far from normal levels. The China Automobile Dealers Association reported that about two-thirds of used car dealers had reopened as of March 2, with trading volume about 55.5% of ordinary levels. While still weak, those figures represented a marked 20% improvement from the week before.

Chinese firms get back to work — but with stricter rules | Financial Times $$

Wen Tianwu, of Beijing’s urban management department, last week called the workplace an “important arena for epidemic prevention”. His bureau — better known for hassling and detaining street hawkers — has started office building checks to make sure companies are following the rules, he said.

The guidelines for many workplaces include not having more than 50 per cent of staff in the office at one time, while maintaining at least one metre of space between employees.

Coronavirus: China trumpets message of stability amid world turmoil as Beijing senses Covid-19 victory | South China Morning Post

“China is indeed a hero for now” after the crash in the United States, wrote Hao Hong, the head of research for Bocom International, the Hong Kong-based investment bank of China’s fifth-largest lender.

Hong added that China’s stock market had become “a beacon in the darkness” as the country’s quarantine measures, including restricting the movement of hundreds of millions people to control the spread of the virus, had been largely successful. At the same time, Hong noted that China’s market has already suffered a plunge as it was the first country to suffer from the coronavirus outbreak.


3. Propaganda struggle

Let the West deceive itself in virus fight - Global Times

China's response to coronavirus has won support from more than 170 state leaders and the leaders of more than 40 international and regional organizations. Yet some Western countries are still living in their own imaginary world. They portray China's effective efforts as the embodiment of autocracy, and Chinese media's objective reporting is seen as an attempt to "reframe the narrative." Yet when it comes to their country's own inaction and failures, they become silent.

Let the West deceive itself. Let these countries dodge their faults and pass the buck. No matter how they distort the facts and attempt to control public opinion, the truth remains unchanged: China has played a vital leading role in fighting the epidemic, demonstrated its influence as a responsible major power, and established a positive international image.

President Xi's inspection instills more optimism in society - Global Times

Besides optimism brought about by the easing situation of the epidemic, the people have enhanced their trust in the government's ability to control the situation and eliminate the major menace of the public. Despite the initial mishandling of Wuhan, government measures have made vigorous efforts to turn the tide. Now many of the countries have fallen victim to the virus. All these have reshaped the Chinese people's understanding of their country's capability. Generally, the collective confidence of the Chinese people is strengthening. Many countries repeated the mistake that Wuhan has made, while they cannot achieve what China has done.

Commentary: Institutional strength: China's key to beating novel coronavirus - Xinhua

Just as the country tackled the 2002-2003 SARS outbreak and the 8.0-magnitude Wenchuan earthquake in 2008, the institutional strength will continue playing a key role in enabling China to secure a decisive victory against COVID-19. While China protects the health of its 1.4 billion people, it contributes greatly to the global fight as well. Those who have used the virus to make racist remarks or smear China's system and tremendous efforts are immoral and despicable.

Nation sets example in fighting virus - China Daily

The outbreak has revealed inadequacies in global public health governance and highlighted the urgent need to buttress the system, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in a signed article published on March 1 by Qiushi Journal, flagship magazine of the Communist Party of China Central Committee.

"China is ready to work with the international community to address these challenges," Wang said.

"We support the core role of the United Nations and the WHO in responding to health emergencies and in improving the global public health governance system," he said.

He said that public health issues should be moved up on the international agenda, and major international health projects should be implemented, and a health Silk Road taken up.

China on the Defensive to Safeguard the Economy and Xi Jinping - Bloomberg

Ma Hui, a minister in the Chinese embassy in London, said diplomats were working overtime to field questions about the virus and rebut what they believe to be misleading reports. ..

Recent days have also revealed another element of the strategy: seeding doubt about China’s role in the initial spread of the virus. Last week, Ministry of Foreign Affairs ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian effectively gave the government’s public blessing to online rumors suggesting that the virus may have originated elsewhere: “Its origin is not necessarily in China,” he said.

China changes virus narrative in bid to salvage soft power -AFR

The Chinese embassy in Canberra emailed me last week with a message for foreign journalists reporting on the coronavirus outbreak.

It pointed to comments from Beijing's Foreign Ministry about "highly irresponsible" references by some media to the "China virus". It suggested journalists are politicising the coronavirus by suggesting it originated in China "without any supporting facts".

Comment: These efforts from PRC officials are going to lead to a backlash to start calling the virus not COVID-19 but names that cause all sorts of racist issues.

China rebuts Pompeo's denigration of COVID-19 fight, says it bought the world time - CGTN

Apart from blaming the Chinese government, Pompeo also ignored the official name of the virus, calling it the "Wuhan virus." Geng condemned the Secretary of State's remarks as irresponsible, saying his "plot" to use COVID-19 to denigrate China will not succeed.

As of Monday, the disease has affected more than 30 American states and the District of Columbia, with at least 554 confirmed cases and 22 deaths.

Meanwhile, American Fox News viewers at least know it as the “Chinese” virus. This Carlson segment is worth watching to get a sense of the mood in some of the US media - Tucker Carlson: We must remain calm but not complacent about the Chinese coronavirus - YouTube

De-Sinicizing the Virus: How CCP Propaganda Is Rewriting History -Bitter Winter

Some days ago, I opened my email and found a message from a Chinese colleague asking whether I was safe from the “Italian virus.” I had never heard the expression “Italian virus” with respect to COVID-19, but then learned than others had received similar messages, and that Japanese were being asked by Chinese friends whether they had been affected by the “Japanese virus.”

The CCP wants to “sinicize” everything, including all religions. Only one thing is being “de-sinicized,” the virus. There was anecdotical evidence for this, until on March 9 the left-wing Catholic daily La Croix International (which is normally far from being hostile to China) published an investigative report citing confidential instructions sent to Chinese embassies and fellow travelers around the world one week ago. They were asked persuade those favorable to China never to mention the Chinese origin of the virus, and to insist that “while the virus severely hit Wuhan, where it really originally came from is unknown. We are conducting new studies to locate the virus’ true origin.

Politicians’ Use of ‘Wuhan Virus’ Starts a Debate Health Experts Wanted to Avoid - The New York Times

The debate over racism, the coronavirus and partisan politics has grown uglier by the hour, and it is precisely the type of geopolitical back-and-forth that health officials have tried to avoid since releasing more stringent guidelines for naming viruses in 2015...

For Mr. Pompeo’s part, a State Department official said on Monday that the secretary was using this language to counter Chinese Communist Party disinformation. This echoes public remarks made by Mr. Pompeo, when he rejected a suggestion made last week by Zhao Lijian, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, that the coronavirus may not have originated in China, and that it was “highly irresponsible” to connect the two.


4. The outbreak

Xinhua Headlines: China's Wuhan closes all 16 temporary hospitals - Xinhua

Wuhan reported 17 new confirmed cases Monday, dropping below 20 for the first time and a significant contrast with a month ago, when 1,921 cases were reported on Feb. 9

湖北:中低风险地区持绿码人员全省通行

Hubei issued new rules that gradually lift the travel restrictions within the province. The new rules said will categorize different cities into low-, mid- and high-risk, and separate people into groups of red, yellow and green, given their risks of carrying the virus. People in different categories will have their QR code from a mobile app, and different restrictions will be applied. Those graded “green” and from the low-risk area will be allowed to travel across the province.

China’s Controversial Quarantine Measures Worked, Prominent Epidemiologist Argues - Caixin

Using a version of the “susceptible, exposed, infectious, recovered” mathematical modeling technique, the study predicted that with the quarantine measures in force at the time of its publication, the epidemic in China would peak on Feb. 28 with 59,764 cumulative active infections, dwindle by late April and result in about 122,122 cases in total by the end of the epidemic.

This contrasts with modeling done by overseas infectious disease experts, with one study estimating the country’s Covid-19 cases would reach 160,000 by early February. While Zhong’s figures more closely match China’s official case numbers, Caixin has previously reported that the official tally excludes a significant portion of people who have tested positive for Covid-19, namely those without symptoms.

Yicai Global - Shanghai Catches Two More Imported Covid-19 Cases

Shanghai confirmed two new novel coronavirus infections among travelers from Italy today, bringing the eastern megacity's overall total of cases to 344, the Shanghai Health Commission said at a press conference today.

Beijing Capital International Airport Sections Off Entire Wing to Process High-Risk Flights | the Beijinger

In its efforts to contain the threat of imported infections, Beijing today announced that an entire portion of Beijing Capital International Airport (BCIA) has been converted into a makeshift screening and testing area for flights arriving from those countries considered high-risk, according to Beijing Times.”

WHO chief says COVID-19 cases in significant decline in China, its experience "impressive" - Xinhua

"What we saw in terms of experience from China is really impressive. Now the outbreak in China is on the decline, and there is a significant decline. The virus is hammered, and on a retreat. We're very glad that it's reversing and the viruses retreating (in China)," said WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in response to questions from Xinhua.

The WHO chief made the remarks after signing an agreement with Chen Xu, China's permanent representative to the United Nations Office at Geneva, on China's donation of 20 million U.S. dollars to the WHO for cooperation in dealing with the novel coronavirus epidemic.

A Wuhan Couple's Outbreak Diary - Gushi

In our second story set against the coronavirus outbreak in China, we move from the fringes of hard-hit Hubei to the provincial capital Wuhan, the center of the epidemic that is still under lockdown.

As the situation in China appears to come under control and the focus shifts to the surge in cases elsewhere in the world, this piece published by the non-fiction platform The Story Plan (WeChat ID: quanmingushi) on Feb. 14 chronicles the trials of a Wuhan couple in the early days of the local crisis. The husband’s parents fall ill in succession, with the father eventually testing positive for COVID-19.

A cough, a coronavirus check and why a passenger had to be subdued on a plane in China | South China Morning Post

Thai Airways staff had to restrain a Chinese woman after she coughed at a flight attendant while passengers waited for hours to get a coronavirus check upon landing in Shanghai from Bangkok


5. Doctors on the coverup

Wuhan Doctors Say Colleagues Died in Vain Amid Official Cover-Up

On Monday, ophthalmologist Zhu Heping was the fourth doctor at the hospital to succumb to the disease, following the deaths of doctors Li Wenliang, Jiang Xueqing and Mei Zhongming on Feb. 7, Mar. 1 and Mar. 3, respectively. The hospital’s deputy chief cardiothoracic surgeon and deputy chief urologist remain in critical condition, the head nurse said.

A Central Hospital department head blamed authorities for endangering lives by spreading false information. “The false information released by the relevant departments — claiming the disease was controllable and would not spread from human-to-human — left hundreds of doctors and nurses in the dark, doing all they could to treat patients without knowing about the epidemic,” the department head told Caixin. “And even when they fell ill, they could not report it. They could not alert their colleagues and the public in time despite their sacrifice. This is the most painful loss and lesson.”..

a Central Hospital internal document obtained by Caixin revealed interference from Wuhan’s municipal health authority made it difficult for the hospital to report cases. That interference was especially severe from Jan. 12 to Jan. 17, when the province held its annual “Two Sessions” legislative meetings.

Multiple doctors have confirmed the authenticity of the document, titled “Explanation of the Novel Coronavirus Treatment Situation,” while the hospital’s public relations and public health units declined to comment.

Original Chinese of this article - 李文亮所在医院为何医护人员伤亡惨重?

人物:发哨子的人

Chinese magazine Portrait published a major article featuring Ai Fen, a doctor at the Wuhan Central Hospital and one of the early whistleblowers about the coronavirus. Doctor Ai said in the interview that she deeply regrets that she didn’t persist and keep blowing the whistle after she was scolded by the leaders, so those aggressive measures could have been taken earlier, and so many of her patients and colleagues would not have have to die. The article went viral on WeChat last night and was soon censored.

One comment on the article that also went viral: “The doctor is risking her job to take interview, the reporter is risking being charged of fabricating rumors to write the article, media is risking being shut down to publish the article, and people on WeChat are risking of having their accounts blocked to spread that article. Today we need this ridiculous level of tacit cooperation just for a word of truth.”

“医生冒着丢工作的风险在接受采访,记者冒着造谣罪名写文章,平台冒着被整顿的风险发稿,朋友圈冒着封号接力挽救一篇文章,今天要一句真话,竟然需要如此荒诞的默契...”

Xi lauds medics as "most beautiful angels" - Xinhua

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday lauded medical workers as "the most beautiful angels" and "messengers of light and hope" while inspecting the command center of Huoshenshan Hospital in Wuhan, the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Comment: The medical workers are heroes, they are also a group that has to be managed properly given how many have died, been sickened, and/or know many details of the initial cover-up.


6. The epidemic and inequality

The Discontent of Migrants Looms Over China - WSJ $$

Migrants are the Achilles’ heel of the China growth story. They are still facing unprecedented virus-related disruptions in their lives and work. The majority have seen their incomes dry up, unable in most cases to return to jobs or get their farm goods to market. Industrial workers who have made it back from their villages now face two-week quarantines in factory dorms, with little or no pay, as at the facilities of Apple supplier Foxconn in Zhengzhou and Kunshan. Restaurants and other service-industry businesses, which rely on migrants but are particularly concerned about spreading the virus, have been among the slowest to reopen and rehire...

The coronavirus may eventually fade as a threat, but it has exposed the deep inequities that divide Chinese into two classes, an urban elite and an equally large underclass from the countryside that sees its small gains stalling. That split remains the biggest obstacle to China’s development. Rather than ascending to a new urban middle class helping to power China’s growth, the country’s migrant workers—left behind, as they are—pose the biggest threat to its economic and political future.

— This essay is adapted from Mr. Roberts’s new book, “The Myth of Chinese Capitalism: The Worker, the Factory and the Future of the World” which will be published on March 10 by St. Martin’s Press. He is the former China bureau chief for Bloomberg Businessweek.

The coronavirus crisis and China's inequality | Andrew Batson's Blog

The loss of revenue to businesses from the extended closures and quarantines is also uneven. Most of China’s state-owned enterprises declared they had reopened soon after the official holiday ended on February. But it has taken much longer for smaller and private-sector companies. According to the industry ministry, only 30% of small- and medium-sized enterprises had resumed operation as of the last week of February. Even among China’s largest 500 companies, more state companies got back online than private-sector one. State companies tend to be larger, have more cash reserves and better access to credit than private-sector ones, so they are inherently better positioned to survive the shutdown. It thus seems very likely that large and/or state-owned companies will gain market share this year as small businesses struggle.

In Coronavirus Fight, China’s Vulnerable Fall Through the Cracks - The New York Times

In locked-down cities like Wuhan, isolated seniors and disabled people have largely had to fend for themselves.

Coronavirus Stigma Sends Chinese Trucker on Harrowing Journey - WSJ $$

Mr. Xiao, a 50-year-old native of Hubei province, set out from his hometown of Tianmen in early January to make a string of deliveries, planning to return to his family at the end of the month. But as China’s coronavirus epidemic put Hubei on lockdown and fear and prevention efforts intensified, Mr. Xiao found himself stranded on numerous highways, immobilized by his license plate.

“One vehicle floating in the world,” he later wrote in a poem about his experience. “I now make my home in the wild lands.”

How the coronavirus deepens the classroom divide for China’s schoolchildren | South China Morning Post

Her two daughters, Ningning and Lele, should have returned to primary school last month after the Lunar New Year but instead the classes have been moved online and they remain at home on their farm in Zizhou county, Shaanxi province.

With one ageing smartphone between them and unable to afford broadband services or a computer, it’s been all play and no study for the children.

“They were happy in the beginning … But as time goes by, they feel frustrated – there is no teacher, and their mother can’t teach them,” said Huo, who is illiterate.


7. Huawei stressing US alliances

Beijing must be pleased to see the stresses in the Five Eyes group over Huawei and 5G

U.S. sends top adviser to warn Ottawa against Huawei 5G networks - The Globe and Mail

Robert Blair, White House special representative for international telecommunications, will be laying out U.S. national-security objections over Huawei’s 5G wireless gear in a meeting with Public Safety Minister Bill Blair and senior officials from the departments of Innovation, Foreign Affairs and Defence, Canadian and U.S. sources say. The Globe and Mail is keeping their names confidential because they are not authorized to publicly comment on the matter.

The U.S. source said that the special representative, who is deputy White House chief of staff as well, will also warn Canada that it could lose access to sensitive intelligence if Huawei is allowed to sell its 5G gear to Canadian wireless carriers...

Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains said last week – in an apparent reference to the U.S. campaign against Huawei – that Canada “won’t get bullied by any other jurisdiction” in its decision...

Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne has hired an adviser on Asia-Pacific matters who, in a paper published online last December, advised against Canada allowing itself to be drawn too deeply into a U.S.-China conflict.

Government wins Huawei vote despite Tory rebellion | The Guardian

The government’s majority was cut to 24 as the rebels were defeated by 306 to 282 on an amendment put down by former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith, amid concerns over the presence of a Chinese supplier at the heart of Britain’s digital infrastructure.

Had another 13 MPs joined the anti-Huawei revolt, Johnson would have suffered an embarrassing defeat just three months after his comprehensive success in December’s general election.

But the narrow margin of victory is a warning shot to Downing Street, which still has to legislate to implement its plan for a 35% cap on Huawei in 5G in the early summer, although 44 would be needed to have a chance of defeating the government.


8. Reform dashboard

This regular dashboard is consistently insightful, and depressing for those who want reform.

Winter 2020 — The China Dashboard Winter 2020 — Asia Society Policy Institute and Rhodium Group

The data available through the third quarter of 2019 (those available for this edition) show limited economic reform progress, and much of the data needed to make a credible evaluation was delayed and not available even then – a problem exacerbated further by the virus. Three areas saw modest improvement over the previous quarter: competition policy, state-owned enterprise (SOE) reform, and cross-border investment opening. Policy in these areas remains far from sound, but after years of stalled movement modest improvements were positive signs. However, fully half of our ten policy dials show backtracking quarter-on-quarter. Systemic reform has been piecemeal at best. It has not been the central thrust of the government’s economic policy efforts.


Business, Economy and Trade

Yicai Global - Tesla Is Ordered to Rectify Chip Issue in China-Made Model 3s China's industry ministry has held talks with Tesla about the illegal assembly of Hardware 2.5 chips in some of its Model 3 vehicles and ordered the company to make rectifications to ensure production consistency and product quality and safety, the ministry said on its website today.

Yicai Global - Livestreaming Judges Auction Off Assets Seized in China During Virus Epidemic Resourceful judges in China have not let the novel coronavirus epidemic get in the way of performing their duties. As travel restrictions persist, some have taken to livestreaming to auction off confiscated bankruptcy assets.

China’s oil reserves to be boosted amid global crude price rout, Beijing researcher says | South China Morning Post “Neither a rally [in oil prices] nor a plunge is good for China. The Chinese government is concerned more about energy security, i.e., how to find multiple sources of stable supply,” said Wang, who heads global energy research at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a key governmental think tank based in Beijing.

Chinese oil giants face steep losses, set to cut production, dividends as Saudi Arabia stokes price war, analyst says | South China Morning Post PetroChina and China Petroleum & Chemical or Sinopec, are expected to trim their annual production by 2 to 3 per cent, similar to that seen in the last oil recession in 2014, according to Neil Beveridge, senior analyst in Hong Kong at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Both producers are less competitive on costs than China’s offshore major CNOOC, he said

CFIUS concludes review of planned acquisition of Cypress and clears transaction / closing remains subject to approval from Chinese authorities - Infineon Technologies On 9 March 2020, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (“CFIUS”) concluded its review under Section 721 of the Defense Production Act of 1950, of the planned acquisition of Cypress Semiconductor Corporation as announced by Infineon Technologies AG (FSE: IFX / OTCQX: IFNNY) on 3 June 2019. CFIUS cleared the transaction. The closing of the Merger remains subject to approval from China’s State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) and other customary closing conditions under the merger agreement.

Mystery Math: The U.S.-China Phase-1 Purchase Figures Do Not Add Up | Center for Strategic and International Studies - Scott Kennedy Determining whether the Phase-1 deal is worth it, in the short and long term, requires more than judgments about vague developments. It requires knowing the actual value of what is in the deal and being able to track its implementation going forward. Unfortunately, as far as the purchase commitments go, we are in no position to do so. Those details are not only confidential; they also do not make sense.

2020 Business Climate Survey Released - Press Center | AmCham China The Chamber’s annual Business Climate Survey (BCS) Report said that many American companies in China continue to be profitable, although China’s slowing GDP is reflected by the fact that 21% of surveyed members saw a drop in revenue in 2019, compared with only 7% in 2017. Additionally, the proportion of members describing their financial performance as “profitable” has dropped from 73% in 2017 to 61% in 2019 – the lowest percentage to report profitability in almost two decades...Although improvements have been made to wrestle with longstanding operational and regulatory challenges, a growing number of companies expressed a pessimistic outlook, as bilateral US-China tensions remained a major source of uncertainty, despite the enactment of China’s Foreign Investment Law and before the signing of the Phase One trade deal earlier this year. Furthermore, the full impact of the COVID-19 outbreak remains unknown and is not reflected in these results.

Blackstone in talks to take developer SOHO China private in $4 billion deal - sources - Reuters The U.S. private equity firm entered exclusive discussions in early February with Hong Kong-listed SOHO China, a major prime office developer in China. The U.S. firm offered HK$6 ($0.77) per share to take the company private, said the people with direct knowledge of the matter. The price represents an almost 100% premium to the HK$3.03 average price of SOHO China’s shares in January.

Blackstone Spies a Gem Amid the Virus Rubble - Bloomberg via Yahoo Finance The $4 billion price tag, which translates to 0.78 times forward book, is a bargain, according to analysts at Bloomberg Intelligence. In October, Soho China was considering selling a majority of its commercial property holdings for as much as $8 billion, Bloomberg News reported, citing people familiar with the matter. Blackstone will also assume Soho China’s debt, which stood at the equivalent of $4.7 billion at the end of June, Reuters reported.

Politics and Law

新华:全国7436万多名党员踊跃捐款支持疫情防控工作 Xinhua reported that 74 million CCP members (83% of the total) have donated 7.68 billion RMB to support government’s efforts against coronavirus. // Comment: So only a bit over 100 RMB per donation?

正在武汉的公安部副部长现身《新闻联播》Vice minister of public security Sun Lijun is busy at work in Wuhan. CCTV evening news said Monday that Sun attended the swear-in of two model policewomen who were able to join the party because of their excellent performance.

"Round Up All Those That Should Be Rounded Up": State Violence in China - The Little Red Podcast The “people's war” on COVID-19 has brought enforcers in hazmat suits onto the streets of Wuhan, where they're bundling ordinary citizens into vans, giving Han Chinese urbanites a taste of the kind of state violence that is normally reserved for dissidents and troublesome ethnic groups. In this episode, we discuss the changing nature of state violence in China, and how it manifests in the re-education camps of Xinjiang, on the streets of Hong Kong and on demolition sites across rural China.  Is President Xi Jinping's China becoming a thug state?  To address this question, we're joined by Lynette Ong, associate professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto, and Michael Clarke, associate professor at the National Security College of the Australian National University.

Foreign and Defense Affairs

China to launch 2nd amphibious assault ship soon: reports - Global Times China is reportedly set to launch its second Type 075 amphibious assault ship soon following the launch of the first one in September, leading analysts to say that China has grasped related shipbuilding technologies. The development of aircraft to be used on the ships is also progressing smoothly, they said.

How the Coronavirus Shut Down Chinese-South Korean Rapprochement - Foreign Policy And they’re not shy about saying who they blame for the shortage: South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who in a misguided effort to bolster improving relations with China sent medical equipment worth $5 million to Wuhan, where the first cases arose, in the early days of the epidemic, including 2 million face masks and 1 million medical masks. But now the virus is spreading rapidly in South Korea, and the news media and ordinary people keep asking, “Why don’t I have enough masks?” and pointing the blame at neighboring China. It is only one element of a Moon policy gone badly wrong and a wished-for rapprochement with China that is rapidly dissolving into anti-Chinese enmity and mistrust on both sides.

Briefing With Senior State Department Official On the New START - United States Department of State So these are all parts of our focus as we think about the future of arms control.  Bringing China into the mix is critical here as well.  China has enjoyed having both Moscow and Washington constrained by strategic arms control, and it is on track to at least double the size of its arsenal over the next few years.  That is not just a question of numbers, although its numbers are increasing quite notably, but it’s also a question of the range and diversity of delivery systems, and a range of systems that are both – that are capable both of nuclear delivery and non-nuclear delivery.

Joint Statement by the Foreign Ministers of China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States on the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons - United States Department of State The success of the NPT was not foreordained, nor is its future success guaranteed. It depends on our concerted and sustained efforts to ensure compliance, to promote universalization, to ensure effective safeguards, and to respond to ongoing and emerging proliferation challenges, wherever they occur. Even at the height of the Cold War, our predecessors made this wise investment in our shared security and prosperity. Today, we pledge our unstinting commitment to preserving and deepening this legacy for future generations.

Hong Kong and Macao

UK All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hong Kong Inquiry into violations of human rights and humanitarian principles by the Hong Kong Police Force In January 2020, the APPG on Hong Kong decided to undertake a full international inquiry into possible violations of human rights and humanitarian principles by the police, specifically in regards to its treatment of medical workers, in Hong Kong since the start of the 2019 protests. It invites individuals and organisations from Hong Kong and international organisations to submit evidence to the inquiry team, as well as a group of international lawyers and human rights experts, led by the APPG, to curate, analyse, and evaluate the evidence of the inquiry.

Tech and Media

ByteDance to Launch Google-Like Work Tools During Outbreak - Bloomberg ByteDance Inc. became the world’s most valuable startup on the strength of its viral consumer apps like TikTok and news aggregator Toutiao, but in April last year it quietly released a remote-work app called Lark (Feishu in China) that combined elements of Slack, Dropbox, Google Docs and Skype. Now the company is preparing to release a suite of tools that marks an overhaul of its approach to work software, focusing on cloud-based file management and document and spreadsheet editing à la Google’s G Suite.

Even mask-wearers can be ID'd, China facial recognition firm says - Reuters Hanwang Technology Ltd, which also goes by the English name Hanvon, said it has come up technology that can successfully recognize people even when they are wearing masks.

Alipay to open up platform to service providers in China - TechInAsia Alipay, the mobile payment service operated by Alibaba’s Ant Financial Services, announced it will open up its platform to 40 million service providers to become a one-stop platform for various digital services.

China unveils stricter rules for facial recognition tech · TechNode The latest changes include requiring collectors of biometric data to inform each subject of the purpose, method, and scope of collection and usage, as well as length of time the information will be stored. It also requires that users give express consent.

China: Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, and Privacy – Institute for Freedom and Community Interesting panel

Society, Arts, Sports, Culture and History

Wuhan nurse gets Messi's jersey, free football training for her son - Xinhua Wu Yu, a nurse from Xiangya Hospital in Central China's Hunan province, made a special wish on Women's Day - she hoped Argentina's superstar footballer Lionel Messi would send her son a jersey. In the past two days, not only has the Argentine Football Association responded to her wish, but her son's youth training club has also promised to arrange a coaching session with a leading Spanish coach free of charge.

Energy, Environment, Science and Health

China develops intelligent robots for throat swab sampling of coronavirus tests - Global Times Co-developed by the research team led by Zhong and another team from the Shenyang Institute of Automation under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the sampling robot system, according to Chinanews.com, consists of a snaking-shape robot arm, a binocular endoscope, a wireless transmission device and a human-computer interaction terminal.

Rural and Agricultural Issues

Chinese farmers dodge coronavirus and go online for spring seeds and supplies - Reuters “We have observed a significant trend that farmers are now relying on their smartphones to buy their equipment online,” said a Pinduoduo spokesperson, adding that more than 4.3 million agricultural producers bought farming essentials from its platform last month.

China eases unlawful restrictions on hog production - Xinhua The country's environmental and agricultural regulators have jointly urged local authorities to standardize the zoning and management of pig breeding. To date, the ban on 14,000 areas has been lifted, said Liu Zhiquan, an official with the Ministry of Ecology and Environment. The supply of pork is closely related to people's food consumption. Actions of restricting hog breeding beyond the provisions of laws and regulations in the name of environmental protection should be firmly opposed, Liu said at a press conference.