"Political virus"; Australia-China tensions; Anger at Pompeo; 900m China Internet users; Two meetings
We may learn of the date for the Two Meetings by Wednesday. I think it is possible there will be a remote video conference element to them, though I doubt that none of the delegates will make the trip to Beijing.
Australia is back in the PRC doghouse, the trigger this time seems to be mostly the calls for an independent investigation into the origins and initial handling of the virus. The PRC could never allow such an independent investigation, but its increasingly shrill protests are doing it no favors with many countries.
One term I am seeing PRC officials and propaganda organs increasingly use is “political virus 政治病毒”, used when pushing back on criticism of its handling of the outbreak, and mostly as far as I can tell against the US and certain US officials.
One US official who has really angered the PRC, and who makes a good proxy for attacking the US, is Secretary of State Pompeo. I think though he would be pleased to know that there were two segments on the Tuesday CCTV Evening News attacking him, and that even the TV network in the Beijing subway is going after him, as you can from this picture from earlier today sent by a Sinocism reader:
The anti-US propaganda, which had been dialed back going into the conclusion of the Phase One deal, is back with a vengeance. So far the propaganda organs have refrained from attacking President Trump directly, but if that changes then we will have a good signal that the US-China relationship is even closer to if not already over the precipice.
One of the key architects of US policy towards China since 2017 is Matt Pottinger, now Deputy National Security Advisor. I highly recommend today’s Washington Post profile of him - Matthew Pottinger faced Communist China’s intimidation as a reporter. He’s now at the White House shaping Trump’s hard line policy toward Beijing. - The Washington Post
In February, as President Trump was projecting confidence that China’s Xi Jinping had the coronavirus under control, his deputy national security adviser Matthew Pottinger received some alarming information. The virus was spreading beyond China’s borders, and so, U.S. officials warned, was a disinformation campaign from the Communist Party in Beijing.
Chinese leaders, Pottinger believed, were engaging in a massive coverup and a “psychological warfare” operation to obscure the origins of the virus and deflect blame, according to people with knowledge of his thinking. U.S. intelligence officials were picking up signs that Chinese operatives were deliberately sowing disinformation, including state media manipulating stories to change key facts, the people said…
Pottinger believes Beijing’s handling of the virus has been “catastrophic” and “the whole world is the collateral damage of China’s internal governance problems,” said a person familiar with his thinking, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss his views...
Behind the scenes, Pottinger has pushed intelligence agencies to explore the theory, popular among conservatives, that the pathogen was accidentally released by a virology lab in Wuhan, rather than a wild animal market. So far, that theory has not been proved, but Pottinger believes there is more circumstantial evidence in favor of the lab explanation, said people with knowledge of his views.
He and like-minded State Department aides have warned outside China experts, who had criticized the administration’s use of “Wuhan virus,” that they should remain skeptical of Beijing’s motives. Their message amounted to a warning that more damaging information would come out about Beijing’s handling of the pandemic, according to four people on the calls...
During the India forum in January, Pottinger was asked whether the administration aimed to “decouple” economically from Beijing in a Cold War-style standoff.
“Decoupling,” he replied, “is when you have a Great Firewall where not a single Western Internet company has been able to prosper or survive in China, by design. When Christian churches are torn down and ethnic minorities are put into reeducation camps, that’s ‘decoupling.’ So the ‘decoupling’ is something that’s been underway for quite a long time — and it is not driven by the United States.”
Thanks for reading.
The Essential Eight
1. The outbreak
The Chinese mainland recorded six more COVID-19 cases on Monday, three of which were imported from abroad while three are domestic cases, according to China's National Health Commission.
In addition, 40 new asymptomatic cases and no new deaths were recorded on the same day.
Caixin reported that the Wuhan has zero confirmed cases of the virus because the official tally has taken out more than 30 people who are still in treatment but simply can’t be treated: they still test positive after more than 20 days of treatment. The doctors are confused about this as well, and they don’t know whether these people can still transmit the virus to others. These patients will be discharged from hospitals but will be put under medical surveillance in their neighborhoods.
China’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic faces “an extremely great challenge” from infected people entering the country through its southern and southwestern borders, a National Health Commission (NHC) official said Monday.
Wang Bin, an inspector at the commission’s disease prevention and control office, said (link in Chinese) at a State Council press conference that sparsely populated southern border areas with less-prepared health systems are at heightened risk of “imported” Covid-19 cases.
The report said the patients were all Chinese nationals who had arrived on an Air China flight from Moscow. There were five other passengers who were confirmed to be asymptomatic COVID-19 patients, the paper said.
China National Biotec today began clinical trials of its second and China’s fourth vaccine for Covid-19 after receiving approval from the National Medical Products Administration, according to The Paper.
Xiaotangshan Hospital, which was previously used to quarantine SARS patients in Beijing, cleared all COVID-19 cases Tuesday and is scheduled to cease operation Wednesday.
Head of China’s CDC said in an interview with the Health Times that it is “inappropriate” to continue designate the Chaoyang district of Beijing as “high risk” because it does not have any cluster outbreak within the past two weeks.
It’s unlikely the new virus will disappear the way its close cousin SARS did 17 years ago, as it infects some people without causing obvious symptoms like fever. This group of so-called asymptomatic carriers makes it hard to fully contain transmission as they can spread the virus undetected, a group of Chinese viral and medical researchers told reporters in Beijing at a briefing Monday.
2. The economy
China will accelerate the construction of new infrastructure such as the information networks, and promote industrial and consumption upgrading, according to an executive meeting of the State Council held Tuesday.
The meeting, presided over by Premier Li Keqiang, noted that the country will guide related parties to build the industrial internet, meet the needs of digital consumption, and deepen international cooperation in relevant areas...
The meeting also heard a report on suggestions from deputies to the National People's Congress (NPC) and proposals from members of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).
Beijing has rolled out a spate of policies to support catering enterprises, which were hit hard by the COVID-19 epidemic, Liu Meiying, deputy director of the Beijing Municipal Commerce Bureau, told a press briefing.
The capital has cut rents by up to 70 percent for key chain restaurants, food shops, convenience stores and other outlets that are severely affected by the virus outbreak or those that have ensured the basic livelihood of citizens in the epidemic prevention and control work, Liu said
China's finance ministry has given three provinces additional advanced quotas for the issuance of local government special bonds, five sources with knowledge of the matter said.
The southeastern province of Jiangxi is already in discussions with underwriters and is preparing to issue special bonds worth 51 billion yuan ($7.20 billion) on May 26, one source familiar with the province's plans told Reuters.
The eastern province of Jiangsu plans to issue 52.9 billion yuan worth of special bonds on May 28, and northern Shandong province is also preparing to issue bonds, the sources said Tuesday on condition of anonymity as they were not authorised to speak with media.
According to a leading travel agency, only 90 million trips are expected to be taken during the five-day break, which starts on May 1 with International Labour Day, with most people planning to stay within the country and staying at luxury hotels.
This compares with the 195 million domestic trips taken during last year’s holiday
“We’re doing very serious investigations... We are not happy with China,” Trump said at a White House briefing. “There are a lot of ways you can hold them accountable.
“We believe it could have been stopped at the source. It could have been stopped quickly and it wouldn’t have spread all over the world.”
The idea of seeking reparations from China came after a German newspaper published a mocked-up bill of a $160billion invoice for the impact shutdowns have had on the economy following the spread from Wuhan to Europe.
The president claimed he had a 'much easier' idea and claimed he was planning on obtaining much more than what the Germans were suggesting.
Comment: I hope the “much easier” idea does not involve some cockamamie plan to confiscate or default on the PRC’s holdings of US Treasuries.
AFP: The US President Donald Trump suggested on Monday that he may seek damages from China over the COVID-19 pandemic due to China's cover-up. What's your reaction to this suggestion?
Geng Shuang: I took many similar questions before and shared a detailed timeline of China's epidemic response. I think the facts are crystal clear now.
I must stress again that the sole purpose for some US politicians trying to fool others with their obvious lies is to shift the blame of their own incompetence. However, facts speak louder than words. Their attempt is doomed to fail as people have a fair judgment. By smearing China to shirk responsibilities, the US politicians cannot erase the progress China has made in the fight against the virus or in any way help to contain COVID-19 in the US. Their behaviors will only further expose their ill intentions and serious domestic problems in the US.
We urge these US politicians to repent what they did and put the epidemics under control as soon as possible. The last thing they should do is continue playing such tricks as duck-shoving and buck-passing.
There were two attacks on US Secretary of State Pompeo on the Tuesday CCTV Evening News - 国际锐评：背负“四宗罪”的蓬佩奥已经突破做人的底线_CCTV and a summary of a Xinhua article 新华时评：蓬佩奥式荒诞逻辑包藏祸心_CCTV. Here is the full Xinhua piece attacking him - 新华时评：蓬佩奥式荒诞逻辑包藏祸心. The next Pompeo-Yang Jiechi phone call should be interesting.
The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) on Tuesday expelled a US warship that trespassed into Chinese territorial waters off the Xisha Islands in the South China Sea as the US' move could have easily caused an accident, a Chinese military spokesperson said on Tuesday, who also urged the US side to focus on COVID-19 prevention and control at home rather than destabilizing regional security and peace….
This is the first time the PLA Southern Theater Command has actively announced an illegal trespass of a US warship into waters off the Xisha Islands, and also the first time that an announcement was made on the same day since similar arrangements began in November 2018, sources said.
Geng made the remark at a news conference after a recently disclosed memo advised US Republican candidates to address the coronavirus crisis by attacking China...
US media, think tanks and experts have raised doubts on whether the government has hidden something and why it is hurriedly shifting blame to others.
"We hope the US government will respond in a timely way to concerns from US people and the international community," he said.
The new rules will require licenses for U.S. companies to sell certain items to companies in China that support the military, even if the products are for civilian use. They also do away with a civilian exception that allows certain U.S. technology to be exported without a license...
The rules, which were posted for public inspection and will be published in the Federal Register on Tuesday, could hurt the semiconductor industry and sales of civil aviation parts and components to China.
The changes, which also expand the universe of items requiring licenses, affect Russia and Venezuela, too, but the biggest impact will be on trade with China.
At the center is a final rule [PDF] that broadened the scope of who and what dual-use goods, which have both civilian and military applications, are subject to restrictions for military end use. The rule will require export licenses for any transaction for not only direct military end users but also any private companies that support a military end use in China. The new rule would apply license requirements for exports of semiconductor equipment, aircraft parts, sensors and other technologies.
A ban by any other name? One industry official told Morning Trade that the new rule represents a “significant shift” in U.S. policy. It will act as a de facto export ban since most Chinese companies, for better or worse, have ties with the military and there will be a presumption of denial for most export license applications. The rule is vague enough that even if a Chinese company is engaged in an unrelated project with China’s military, it could be a reason to deny any request by a U.S. company to export goods or technology to that Chinese firm, the official said.
The administration is weighing a plan that would prohibit foreign chip foundries, such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, from producing semiconductors for Huawei’s in-house chip company HiSilicon, said three people familiar with the proposal. The U.S. figures it has jurisdiction to control production even for foreign-designed and foreign-made chips because TSMC and other foreign manufacturers produce the semiconductors on U.S.-made equipment that is subject to U.S. export controls.
A backstep: The potential rule is a step back from the administration’s previous ideas to close loopholes that allow U.S. semiconductor companies to continue doing limited business with Huawei even though the Chinese company has been blacklisted. U.S. companies made a major push to show that those initial proposals would erode U.S. dominance in the sector by taking away a major source of revenue in the form of Huawei’s purchase of less-sensitive and widely available chips for smartphone production.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang on Tuesday repeated its past rejection of Navarro’s claims that the Chinese side had held back supplies of vital personal protective equipment amid the Covid-19 pandemic. “Navarro has been a consistent liar with no credibility,” Geng told a regular news briefing Tuesday in Beijing.
Comment: The idea that Xi somehow deliberately let the virus spread is spreading in some quarters, but is one that makes no sense.
4. Virus origins
Yuan Zhiming, professor at WIV and the director of its National Biosafety Laboratory, said “malicious” claims about the lab had been “pulled out of thin air” and contradicted all available evidence.
“The WIV does not have the intention and the ability to design and construct a new coronavirus,” he said in written responses to questions from Reuters. “Moreover, there is no information within the SARS-CoV-2 genome indicating it was manmade.”..
Yuan also rejected theories that the lab had accidentally released a coronavirus it had harvested from bats for research purposes, saying the lab’s biosecurity procedures were strictly enforced.
Liu Peipei, a virologist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said the increased number of people with COVID-19 antibodies, as well as the existence of asymptomatic patients, are two main obstacles in finding patient zero.
Liu said that China and many other countries are also looking for patient zero. He said he hopes countries can work together to tackle this challenging task.
When asked about the origin of the novel coronavirus, Liu said the scientific community has reached a consensus, which is, the possibility of the virus being man-made is "very low".
5. Political virus
The term "political virus" is increasingly a thing. Does anyone know when PRC officials and media starting using it in the context of pushing back against criticism of China’s handling of the pandemic?
COVID-19 is currently making some severe situations in the US with skyrocketing confirmed cases and deaths, tugging the heartstrings of all the compassionate. However, when the ghastly virus keeps on claiming lives of numerous Americans, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo exposed his malicious intentions.
He spread dangerous “political virus” just in the way COVID-19 did and fabricated rumors with prejudices and ignorance, which counteracted the joint efforts of mankind to jointly combat the disease and set the whole world into conflicts...
When the world was in dire need of joint efforts to defeat the common enemy, Pompeo and his fellows stirred up troubles, regarded China as their rival and created the absurd “political virus”. Such practice would only undermine the joint efforts from the international community. Their wrong values and logic disclosed the ill intent to frame China and cover up their own incompetence.
in a recent campaign of stigmatisation, China has been accused of covering up data, while the WHO is accused of being controlled by China. Some have even demanded an apology and compensation from China. This “political virus”, born of prejudice and ignorance, distracts attention from the real efforts required to meet this crisis. In face of a raging pandemic, international co-operation is not a choice but a must-do.
I believe those who seek to stigmatise China owe the Chinese people an apology. As the president has said, solidarity and co-operation are the most powerful weapons for the international community to defeat Covid-19. China stands ready to fight with the rest of the world in a spirit of community and a shared future. If the world comes together, the time will come when the dawn breaks and ends this dark hour.
The other important issue is that when we are enhancing international collaboration on fighting against COVID-19 virus, we should also be on guard against a political virus. Like I said in my speech, some politicians and some forces try to find a scapegoat and to play a game of blaming in order to shirk their responsibility. You know we call on governments of all countries to focus on fighting the virus, on protecting the lives of its people, rather than fighting each other, rather than undermining the international collaboration. That is also very important. So we are very disappointed, and are rejecting these so-called accusations by some of the American politicians. We don't think this disinformation against China serves the purpose of international response to this virus.
At present, COVID-19 epidemic is spreading rapidly around the world. I advise some western politicians and media to do less "passing the buck" and think more about anti-epidemic measures, less political show and more about people's suffering, less spread of "political virus" and more joint anti-epidemic measures. Only by working together and helping each other can we overcome the epidemic faster.
6. Foreign work
China has provided useful experience for global response to COVID-19 and boosted confidence in defeating the virus, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said here Tuesday.
Wang, who is also a state councilor, made the remarks when addressing the extraordinary meeting of foreign ministers of BRICS, an emerging-market bloc that groups Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, via video link.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Tuesday called on all BRICS countries to make the right call and do the right thing in face of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Wang, who is also a state councilor, made the remarks when addressing the extraordinary meeting of foreign ministers of BRICS, an emerging-market bloc that groups Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, via video link...
"Should we let science and reason prevail or create political divisions, bolster cooperation across borders or isolate ourselves through decoupling, promote multilateral coordination or practice unilateralism? We all need to answer these questions in a way that stands the test of history," he said.
Wang made the remarks during a phone call with Cambodian Vice Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn.
Jia Qingguo, a member of the standing committee of China’s top political advisory body, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), urged the government Monday to lay out a plan for a massive foreign aid program to battle the Covid-19 pandemic..
In the early days of the pandemic, China’s foreign aid efforts were lacking in “scale, strategy and coordination, which could easily be misinterpreted as China “politicizing” its foreign aid, said Jia, a member of the CPPCC’s foreign affairs committee.
Instead, Jia suggested that Beijing should increase the scale, set rules and enhance the coordination of its foreign aid policy in an effort to effectively contain the pandemic.
At the request of the Lebanese military and with the approval of the Central Military Commission, the Chinese People's Liberation Army on Tuesday sent COVID-19 prevention and control materials, including medical masks and protective gowns, to the Lebanese military.
The eight medical experts specialize in areas including virus testing, infectious disease, respiratory disease, intensive care, and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).
During their stay in Kuwait, the Chinese experts will exchange in-depth experiences with health experts and medical staff of Kuwaiti side, assisting them in the prevention, control, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19.
They will also provide necessary medical guidance and consultation for overseas Chinese in Kuwait.
The Chinese embassy in New Delhi on Tuesday said it was “deeply concerned” about the ICMR’s decision.
“It is unfair and irresponsible for certain individuals to label Chinese products as ‘faulty’ and look at issues with pre-emptive prejudice,” embassy spokeswoman Ji Rong said in a statement, without specifying which individuals.
damages for the “loss of lives, economic strangulation, trauma, hardship, social disorientation, mental torture and disruption of the normal, daily existence of people in Nigeria,” according to a statement by the lead counsel, professor Epiphany Azinge (SAN), whose firm, Azinge and Azinge, is championing the action.
China is pushing ahead with a propaganda campaign critical of Western democracies and their handling of the coronavirus, even after protests from Paris and a high-profile diplomatic dispute between Beijing and the EU over Chinese disinformation.
Two weeks after French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian summoned China's ambassador to France, Lu Shaye, over the embassy's publication of a post that derided France's care for its senior citizens during the pandemic, another critical post was published Sunday on the diplomatic mission's website.
The article, titled "Why the Covid-19 epidemic is so politicized," was attributed to an anonymous Chinese diplomat. Seeking to explain why questions have been asked about China's responsibility in the spread of the virus, the article said "some Westerners are beginning to lose confidence in liberal democracy," and "some [Western countries] have become psychologically weak."..while leaders of countries like Australia, the United States and Germany have, each in their own way, called for investigations into how the coronavirus started, Macron has stopped short from joining them explicitly, preferring to leave that issue until the pandemic has been curtailed...
But the Elysée official insisted France does want to see a proper probe into the origins of the virus. "It’s evident that we will need to have all the necessary transparency on the origin of this pandemic and on the reality of its spread around the world, it’s important and necessary,” the official said.
7. Australia-China tensions increasing
Trade Minister Simon Birmingham on Tuesday said Frances Adamson, secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, had spoken to Chinese ambassador Cheng Jingye about his “disappointing” remarks, but he declined to give details of the discussion.
“Australia is no more going to change our policy position on a major public health issue because of economic coercion or threats of coercion than we would change our policy position in matters of national security,” he told ABC News.
“But our government is very clear that we’ve seen enormous loss of life around the world of hundreds of thousands of people, huge economic disruption to billions of lives across the planet, and of course that warrants transparent investigation to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
The man appointed by the Morrison government to spearhead a revamp of ties with Beijing has quietly resigned his post as diplomatic relations deteriorate and China’s ambassador issues new demands for Australia to stop playing “political games”
Former federal MP Warwick Smith stepped down several weeks ago as chairman of the National Foundation for Australia-China Relations and is understood to hold concerns about the new body after it replaced the 40-year-old Australia-China Council, of which he was longstanding chairman.
The Australian can also reveal the Morrison government will further anger China by pursuing its call for a review into the origins and handling of the COVID-19 pandemic at a meeting of the World Health Organisation’s decision-making body next month.
Late on Monday, Hu Xijin, the editor of the state-run Global Times wrote on Weibo that ties between Australia and its largest trading partner, China, were likely to deteriorate as much as relations between Beijing and Washington had.
Criticising Australia for joining the US in its attacks on China, Hu wrote: “After the epidemic, we need to have more risk awareness when doing business with Australia and also when we send our children to study there.”
“Australia is always there, making trouble. It is a bit like chewing gum stuck on the sole of China’s shoes. Sometimes you have to find a stone to rub it off,” Hu said.
Attacks on Australian media by the People’s Daily are sure to make people in Australia like China more…必须抵制挑衅现代文明的行径（钟声）
People's Daily Zhong Sheng is in quite a state in the Tuesday paper over the Australian Daily Telegraph's altering of the PRC national symbol make it look a bit like the virus. see next item
Our flubie friends at Sydney’s Chinese Consulate have been in contact again, this time to register Beijing’s official rage over an excellent Daily Telegraph illustration:
On 22 April, The Daily Telegraph newspaper in New South Wales of Australia published an article that included a defaced design of China's national emblem maliciously linking COVID-19 with China.
The image – shown above, and to be shown repeatedly until its pixels are worn down to invisibility – accurately linked the Wuhan flu to China.
The Australian: The Chinese ambassador to Australia said in the interview that maybe people in China will think why should we go to such a country that is not so friendly to China. As the foreign ministry of China, have you thought of the reverse? Is the foreign ministry concerned at all that Australian people and other people around the world might think that China is not so friendly, even hostile?
Geng Shuang: I wonder why you drew this conclusion that China is not so friendly?
By the way, you said last week that your wife couldn't come back to China. I sympathize that and hope you can get together as early as possible. However, it's not fair to conclude that China is not friendly to foreigners just because of some personal matters.
Follow-up: That's very kind. Are you concerned about people think China is not so friendly, and even hostile, when Chinese ambassadors like the ambassador in Canberra tell off countries they are in when they just make a reasonable proposal?
Geng Shuang: Like I said, the Chinese ambassador's remarks were to express concerns about the Chinese people's dissatisfaction and possible impacts on China-Australia relations caused by some wrong words and deeds of the Australian side. As a Chinese ambassador, of course he has the right to express such concerns.
I wonder how you drew a conclusion of China not being friendly based on our ambassador's remarks. I haven't heard that from anyone else before. I suggest you get deeper understanding of China and discard your bias in this process. We could have more discussions on this issue someday if necessary.
That said, as a journalist stationed in China, I think you can feel that China is open and opening up even wider to other countries. Our government and people have been embracing and deeply integrated into the world. So I don't know how you made that conclusion
Comment: Quite the exchange between Geng and the Australian, too long to excerpt all of it here.
The Chinese 外交部记者会上，耿爽与澳媒罕见交锋
Australian families and businesses will lose $60 billion by the end of the coronavirus crisis, economists believe, as it's claimed up to 95 per cent of the infected global population would have been spared if China acted faster to contain the outbreak.
The new economic modelling is based on a nationwide shutdown of non-essential services from April to September, meaning if the pandemic persists, losses could be significantly higher.
The findings come as more than 1,000 Australians join a class action worth an estimated $AUD10 trillion against China for not immediately working to contain the virus.
Taiwan has called on Australia to back its campaign to join the World Health Organisation, despite China's objections, arguing it has much to teach the world about tackling coronavirus.
Taiwan's Health Minister Chen Shih-chung said Taiwan's exclusion from the WHO on the direction of the Chinese Communist Party was no longer tenable after demonstrating the country had suppressed the virus.
Last week, Professor Xie Tao, the Dean of the School of International Relations and Diplomacy at Beijing Foreign Studies University and an adjunct at the Australia-China Relations Institute (ACRI), told me that China-US relations are now at "the lowest moment since 1972, when Richard Nixon first visited Shanghai."..
Two-way trade has never been higher, and China-Australia collaboration has extended into vital new areas such as knowledge creation. ACRI research shows that last year more Australian scientific publications included a co-author affiliated with an institution in China than any other country.
My friend and Director of the Australian Studies Centre at East China Normal University, Professor Chen Hong, is also correct in pointing out that some of the commentary about China in Australia has been inflammatory and disconnected from facts. ..
8. China’s Internet gets bigger
The number of people using the internet in China reached 900 million in March, an increase of 75 million from the end of 2018, according to a report published on Tuesday by the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) on internet development in China.
China's internet penetration rate has reached 64.5 percent, up 4.9 percent from 2018, according to the CNNIC report.
Among China's internet users, 255 million are from rural areas, with a 46 percent internet penetration rate, up 7.8 percent from 2018...
Online payment users total 768 million, up from 600 million, with 765 million making payments via mobile phone.
The report, in Chinese.
Users of internet applications such as online shopping, online videos, online education, e-government services and online payment had grown significantly during the epidemic, according to the report released Tuesday by the China Internet Network Information Center.
The number of online shoppers had grown by 16.4 percent from the end of 2018 to 710 million by March 2020, accounting for 78.6 percent of the total number of netizens, which stood at 904 million.
Despite the negative impact brought by COVID-19 on the economy, the online retail sales of physical goods nationwide increased 3 percent year on year in the first two months, with its share in the total retail sales up 5 percentage points to 21.5 percent, said the report.
As schools and universities in China postponed their spring semesters earlier this year amid the epidemic, around 265 million students switched to online learning, leading to explosive growth in online education applications.
And that size makes it impossible for many firms to resist.
It’s well known that global companies can face challenges doing business in and out of China due to the country’s unique rules, regulations, and norms, not to mention recent political and trade complications. Less well known is that China’s logistical and technical network infrastructure is also quite different from the rest of the world’s. With global Internet traffic up 30% over the past month due to the pandemic, these logistical and technical hurdles are increasing the burden for global businesses at exactly the wrong time…
Through this partnership, we’ll be adding 150 data centers in mainland China, an increase in the region of over 700%. The partnership will also enable JD to provide a Cloudflare-powered service to China-based customers.
Cloudflare operates all services outside of China, and JD Cloud & AI all services inside of China. No Cloudflare customer traffic passes through the China network unless a customer explicitly opts-in to the service. And, for Cloudflare customers that opt-in to proxying content inside China, traffic and log data from outside of China is not stored in the China network or shared with our partner.
Business, Economy and Trade
China's biggest banks post profit growth amid pandemic, but margins shrink - Reuters China’s largest banks are historically more resilient than their smaller kin, as they lend more to state-backed enterprises and have larger capital reserves. However, despite this firmer base, net interest margins shrank at three of the four lenders, as loan prime rate reform and looser monetary policy weighed, said analysts.
财新：会计底稿或将正式移交，瑞幸案能成为跨境监管突破口吗？ Caixin reported that China’s Securities Regulatory Commission will assist the SEC in investigating Luckin by handling over the company’s audit working papers,
独家|国家电网一季度净利或降为负 Caixin reported that the State Grid Corporation of China recorded 920 million RMB loss for Q1, down 106% on year, after the usage dropped due the outbreak and after the government demanded a rate cut to help out companies in difficulties. The loss is extremely rare for a monopoly like State Grid, who aimed to reap 58 billion RMB in profit this year.
Shanghai gold boss wants super-sovereign currency for post-crisis times - Reuters “Future global trade needs a super-sovereign currency system under which no single country has the power to freeze the international assets of another country,” said Wang, who held senior roles at China’s central bank, which supervises the SGE.
Chinese Auto Startup Labels Tesla a ‘Bully’ in Trade Secrets Spat - Caixin Chinese electric car startup Xpeng Motors has accused Tesla Inc. of engaging in a “fishing expedition” to “bully” its smaller competitor, firing the latest legal salvo in an ongoing case of alleged intellectual property (IP) theft.
Exclusive: PBOC Money Laundering Fines Soar - Caixin The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) handed down nearly four times more fines in the first quarter of 2020 than it did over the same period last year, according to a report from (link in Chinese) from a Shanghai-based consultancy. The PBOC penalized 93 institutions and their staff a total of 183 million yuan ($25.9 million) for violations of money laundering regulations in the January-to-March period.
Hillhouse Reloads After Building $60 Billion Asia Juggernaut - Bloomberg Hillhouse is seeking to raise as much as $13 billion from investors, according to people familiar with the matter, so it’s ready as the coronavirus-battered economy throws up opportunities. Zhang has also started accepting an increasing number of requests to invest in his hedge fund...Zhang, a native of central China’s Henan province, arrived at Yale’s business school after studying finance at Beijing’s Renmin University.
Development bank to allocate $15 bln to tackle virus fallout - AP The New Development Bank will allocate up to $15 billion for loans to help the so-called BRICS nations - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - boost their economies amid the coronavirus pandemic, Russia’s foreign minister said Tuesday
China’s new cybersecurity rules could hit foreign service providers | South China Morning Post The new guidelines, released on Monday and set to come into force on June 1, will affect operators of “critical information infrastructure”, requiring them to undergo a cybersecurity review process for any procurements that could have national security implications. The measures formalise steps needed to comply with a national security stipulation in China’s 2017 cybersecurity law.
Why China’s smaller businesses are struggling to access credit | Financial Times $$ “The banks are no longer lending indirectly to the SMEs,” said the founder of one Shenzhen-based microfinance lender that provides credit to owners of SME businesses. “The deleveraging is creating a crisis for the SMEs and for microfinance institutions. Both need help.”
Chinese City Known for Bitcoin Mining Seeks Blockchain Firms to Burn Excess Hydropower - CoinDesk Ya'an, one of the many cities in China's mountainous Sichuan province, a region that's estimated to account for over 50 percent of Bitcoin network's computing power, has recently issued a public guidance – likely in its first – to seize the "strategic opportunity of the blockchain sector" so that they can help consume the area's excessive hydropower electricity.
China’s antitrust law doesn’t seem to apply to internet giants · TechNode Does Tencent have a monopoly on China’s instant messaging market? You might think so. It has nearly 1.2 billion monthly active users, the same company owns QQ, with more than 800 million users. It’s hardly possible to live in Chinese cities without using WeChat to make contact, pay bills, and recently, pass health checkpoints. But a recent attempt to prove that Tencent is a monopoly in a Chinese court collapsed in January, according to court files made public on April 17.
China's Baowu dethrones long-reigning steel king ArcelorMittal - Nikkei Asian Review China Baowu Steel Group surpassed ArcelorMittal in the production of crude steel in 2019, according to publicly available data, ending the reign the European heavyweight has held since 2001. Putting Baowu over the top was its takeover last September of China's Magang (Group) Holding, which was then the country's ninth-ranked steel supplier.
Chinese homebuyers go on ‘revenge spending’ binge as cities emerge from coronavirus lockdowns | South China Morning Post Supportive policies by local governments have boosted home purchases in major cities recently. In Shanghai, Shenzhen and Beijing, for instance, residential property purchases rose 37 per cent in the week ending April 20, compared with the previous week.
Former Anbang Unit Suing South Korea’s Mirae for Failure to Close on $5.8 Billion Hotel Portfolio Purchase - WSJ $$ Mirae Asset Global Investments, part of a South Korean financial-services company, agreed to buy the 15-hotel portfolio from Anbang Insurance Group Co. in 2019. Mirae failed to close on the deal by the April 17 deadline, say people familiar with the matter. China’s Dajia Insurance Group, which has taken over from Anbang the process of selling the 15-hotel portfolio, asked the court to compel Mirae to complete the purchase for $5.8 billion.
Top funds write to govt for clarity on China FDI rule - Moneycontrol.com While the amendment aims to curb Chinese investors taking over Indian firms at cheap valuations, the broad, unexplained and sudden nature of the note has funds dialing lawyers frantically and scrambling to deal with its consequences. One unintended consequence is that the new law also covers venture capital and private equity funds, whose investors (limited partners) may be Chinese instititutions or high-net-worth individuals, and are now subject to scrutiny.
ChiNext Launches Registration-Based IPO System - Caixin The China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) and the Shenzhen Stock Exchange issued supporting rules Monday related to ChiNext’s move to a registration-based IPO mechanism and started soliciting public opinions on the rules. A registration-based IPO mechanism is more market-oriented than the approval-based system, under which the CSRC vets every application, and approvals can take months or even years. Currently registration-based IPOs are allowed only on the Shanghai Stock Exchange’s high-tech STAR Market, a competitor to Shenzhen’s ChiNext.
Politics and Law
全国两会前这个惯例动作，比往年晚了两个多月_腾讯新闻 Beijing Youth Daily's Wechat account on the language from the 4.28 state council executive meeting as a sign the Two Meetings are close at hand, also seems to be hinting that parts of the meetings could be held over video conference //4月28日召开的国务院常务会议，有一项重要议题值得关注——听取2019年全国两会建议提案办理情况汇报，促进科学民主决策、提升政府治理效能。这个动作，和总理召开座谈会，听取各方对政府工作报告的意见建议一样，是每年两会前的常规操作。..4月26日开幕的十三届全国人大常委会第十七次会议将于29日闭幕。这次采用“现场+远程视频”方式召开的会议，有个重要议题——审议了全国人大常委会委员长会议关于提请审议全国人大常委会关于十三届全国人大三次会议召开时间的决定草案的议案。 答案，就在明天。
At the 13th meeting of the Central Commission for Comprehensively Deepening Reform Xi stresses institutional strengths to respond to risks - Xinhua The fundamental reason behind China's solid progress in epidemic prevention and control as well as work and production resumption lies in the advantages of the CPC leadership and the socialist system, he said. The meeting deliberated and passed a plan on securing public health emergency supplies, a guideline on reforming the system for regulating medical insurance funds, a plan on reforming the ChiNext market, a plan on protecting and restoring major national ecosystems, a guideline for boosting the healthy growth of young people, and the implementation plan of major reform measures taken at the fourth plenary session of the 19th CPC Central Committee.
郑永年评论| 中国会再次被迫封闭起来吗？Cheng Yung-nien of National University of Singapore wrote on Zaobao that Chinese elites and Chinese public are getting increasingly arrogant and nationalist after the country successfully contained the virus spread while the West is still deep in troubles. This could further push China into becoming a closed country with little exchanges with the outside world, at a time when the US is trying to push China out of the international arena.
China honors young individuals, groups for outstanding contributions - Xinhua China's youth organizations awarded May Fourth Medals to 94 individuals and 34 groups Tuesday for their great contributions to the country. The medals, which are awarded annually, are the top honor for young Chinese. The Central Committee of the Communist Youth League and the All-China Youth Federation released the list of winners...Among the list, 34 were honored posthumously, including those who sacrificed their lives in the fight against COVID-19
四川阆中市政法委书记李献丰被查 此前被指性侵未成年_腾讯新闻 Politics and Law secretary of Langzhong, Sichuan under investigation, had previously been accused of sexually assaulting a minor
Returning to the Main Theme | China Media Project pring has arrived in the People’s Daily, and the 2020 propaganda themes leaders had originally envisioned to dominate starting back in January are now in full bloom, having survived the frost of the coronavirus epidemic. Chief among these are the themes of eliminating poverty and achieving a so-called “all-round moderately prosperous” society – 2020 having been designated back in 2013, at the start of Xi Jinping’s rule, as the year China would achieve both
汪洋：聚焦难点攻坚 确保如期脱贫--新闻报道-人民网 Wang Yang on a poverty alleviation inspection tour in Yunnan and Guizhou
Coronavirus Diplomacy: How China’s Red Cross Serves the Communist Party - The New York Times “During this epidemic, the shortcomings of the Red Cross were displayed to an even greater extreme,” said Jia Xijin, deputy dean of Tsinghua University’s Institute for Philanthropy. “The Red Cross cannot make decisions.” The Red Cross Society of China did not respond to multiple requests for comment. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, of which China’s Red Cross is a member, defended the group’s response in Wuhan.
A decade after Chinese human rights lawyers Tang Jitian and Liu Wei were disbarred, much has changed – for the worse | South China Morning Post - Jerome Cohen and Eva Pils The Communist Party, however, even under the comparatively less repressive leadership of 2010, could not tolerate such insubordination. Tang and Liu were promptly disbarred, ostensibly as a disciplinary measure against their 2009 courtroom protest...
A decade of the human rights lawyer movement in China | The China Collection I would only add that, back in 2010, the disbarment of Tang and Liu was astonishing news. But not anymore. Today it has become commonplace for human rights lawyers to be stripped of their lawyer’s license and to have their law firm closed. Human rights scholar/advocate Teng Biao estimated that, since China’s 2015 “709 Crackdown,” at least 50 rights lawyers have either been disbarred, had their practice license revoked, or have been unable to pass the annual inspection required to renew their license year after year. It was not a huge community to begin with, so 50 is a big portion. Many of them have nevertheless tried to continue their legal work. In 2018, a number of lawyers who have lost their practice license formed a “Former Chinese Lawyers Club” (中国律师后俱乐部) to advise clients and train other lawyers, but even that was squashed quickly by the police.
陕西省委理论学习中心组专题学习习近平总书记来陕考察重要讲话 胡和平主持--新闻报道-人民网 One the Shaanxi provincial party committee theory study group's study of Xi's important speeches on his recent inspection tour // 进一步增强了对习近平总书记这个党的核心、军队统帅、人民领袖的敬仰和爱戴 “It further strengthened the admiration and love for General Secretary Xi Jinping, the core of the party, the commander in chief of the army and the people’s leader.”
Foreign and Defense Affairs
North Korea economic delegation to visit Beijing for food, trade talks - sources - Reuters A North Korean economic delegation is due to arrive in Beijing this week to discuss food supplies and trade issues as the coronavirus pandemic has severely disrupted the country’s food supply, two people with direct knowledge of the situation told Reuters...North Korean officials were already scheduled to meet with officials from China’s Ministry of Commerce to discuss trade and bolstering food imports before questions arose about Kim’s health, the people said.
Roundtable: A ‘China Model?’ Beijing’s Promotion of Alternative Global Norms and Standards | U.S.- CHINA | ECONOMIC and SECURITY REVIEW COMMISSION This virtual public roundtable discussion “A ‘China Model?’ Beijing’s Promotion of Alternative Global Norms and Standards” assesses the intentions behind China’s efforts to revise international governance institutions, norms, and values. It examines Beijing’s vision for a revised global order, attempts to identify whether a distinguishable “China model” exists, and assesses the extent to which Beijing is seeking to export such a model to other countries. Witnesses: Nadège Rolland, David Shullman, Elizabeth Economy, Daniel Tobin
China’s 'Hub-and-Spoke' Strategy in the Balkans | Center for Strategic and International Studies This report, part of a two-year effort to track Chinese economic influence in the region, draws from a new CSIS dataset to identify key trends, including China's geographic and sectoral priorities, low project completion rates, and an emerging second wave of digital investments. - This report was made possible by a grant from the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations.
China sends new naval fleet for escort mission - Xinhua The 35th fleet of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy on Tuesday left the port city of Zhoushan in east China's Zhejiang Province for the Gulf of Aden and waters off Somalia to escort civilian ships. Composed of the guided-missile destroyer Taiyuan, the missile frigate Jingzhou and the supply ship Chaohu, the fleet has more than 690 officers and soldiers, dozens of special operation soldiers and two helicopters on board.
Identity and Relationship-Building in China’s Arctic Diplomacy | The Arctic Institute - Marc Lanteigne Central to the success of China’s emerging Arctic policies was the need to be accepted as a legitimate stakeholder in the region without being viewed as pursuing a dissenting agenda and risking being marginalised in a region which Beijing had recognised as one of emerging strategic importance. Therefore, China was required to build a robust Arctic identity over the past decade, and despite more overt pushback4) from the United States since last year, Beijing has been largely successful in achieving this goal. To understand why, it is necessary to look closely at the building blocks of the country’s current Arctic identity, especially since Beijing was able to develop key bilateral and multilateral relationships in the region to fortify the perception of it becoming an indispensable partner in the development of the Arctic.
China and the Budapest-Belgrade Railway Saga – The Diplomat No matter when the first train will speed across the new railway between Belgrade and Budapest, for China, the project won’t be the success story it hoped for. Because of the long delay in implementing the project, combined with the setbacks encountered and the negative publicity gathered along the way, the mood in Europe has changed too much for the Budapest-Belgrade railway to help the BRI. European countries might have been interested in Chinese high-speed technology in 2013, but now, in the middle of the U.S.-China conflict and the EU’s own hardening of positions regarding China, the interest has diminished.
坚决把基层负担减下来 Commentary on the anti-formalism campaign in the PLA. Stresses that normal work duties should not be reduced, only those requirements outside of formal requirements. Reminds leads that the lowest level officers and enlisted see problems most clearly and that their feedback should be sought after.
Hong Kong and Macao
Top lawyer asks government if Beijing could control Hong Kong’s prosecutors and judiciary, after justice chief says liaison office has supervisory powers | South China Morning Post The Hong Kong Bar Association’s chairman has urged the city government to make clear whether Beijing’s supervisory power over the city extends to the judiciary and prosecutors. Philip Dykes made his comments a day after the city’s justice secretary said the central government’s liaison office has such powers, and was not bound by the Basic Law’s rule over non-interference.
Belize businessman accused of fuelling Hong Kong unrest had links to disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai | South China Morning Post Guangzhou city’s state security department said last week it had completed its investigation into Lee Henley Hu Xiang, who was arrested in late November. A brief report in local official media accused Lee of “providing a large amount of funds to hostile elements in the United States, colluding with foreign anti-China forces to intervene in Hong Kong affairs, and funding the implementation of criminal activities that endangered [China’s] national security”.
Beijing Seeks New Formula to Try to Mollify Hong Kong - Asia Sentinel Party analysts trapped in their police-state bubble and propaganda cannot figure that freedom to think, debate, read, write, challenge authority, and live without fear of state-kidnap, are values Hong Kong holds dear and will defend to the death. An omnipotent one-party state of suffocating propaganda and brutal suppression of dissent over 70 years has normalized terror. Hong Kong rejects that viscerally.
Hong Kong judge barred from anti-government protest cases after Cultural Revolution remark about demonstrators, sympathising with Lennon Wall knifeman | South China Morning Post A Hong Kong judge who compared “Cultural Revolution-like” anti-government protesters to a terrorist army and expressed sympathy with a defendant he jailed for stabbing three people has been barred from handling cases relating to the demonstrations.
Beijing: attempts to plot 'Taiwan independence' doomed to fail - CGTN Attempts by certain Taiwan organizations to plot "Taiwan Independence" through the so-called referendum for constitutional revision are doomed to end in impasse and ultimately fail, said Zhu Fenglian, spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, on Tuesday at a regular media conference.// 热评两岸：“制宪公投”将推台湾入危险境地 大陆底线不容碰触
Netherlands rep office changes name to 'Netherlands Office Taipei' - Focus Taiwan The Netherlands' de facto embassy in Taiwan has officially changed its name from the "Netherlands Trade and Investment Office" to the "Netherlands Office Taipei" as of Monday, to be "more inclusive" in terms of bilateral cooperation, the European nation's top envoy to the country said that day.
Global Times: Netherlands could face backlash as it changes Taiwan office name The Netherlands' provocative move in changing its trade and investment office in Taiwan island to Netherlands Office Taipei, aimed at lifting its political relations with the island, is destructive to the regional stability and likely to face backlash, analysts said.
Overcoming Taiwan’s Energy Trilemma - Carnegie Endowment for International Peace This paper focuses on two elements of the paradigmatic transformation that are especially relevant to Taiwan’s future: (1) the rise of new energy and storage technologies, and (2) the dynamics of liquefied natural gas pricing. In particular, it looks at several ways in which new investment partnerships between Taiwan and U.S. players could bolster Taiwan’s ambitious effort to build out renewable energy as a source of industrial and residential power.
Tech and Media
The Chinese and American Apps Winning the Next Billion Users - Macro Polo Chinese apps have taken the lead in by far the largest emerging market: India.
Hikvision Hides Xinjiang R&D Activities - IPVM Hikvision has systematically deleted evidence showing their R&D base and activities in Xinjiang, hiding them, amidst US human rights abuse sanctions and increased scrutiny.
Fans excited as stories by sci-fi writer Liu Cixin are turned into comics - Global Times Four comic books based on stories by iconic Chinese sci-fi writer Liu Cixin were officially published on Monday as the first batch of a plan to use 15 of Liu's works, and the writer's fans are excited about the result.
Huawei strikes European chip tie-up as fears rise over US curbs - Nikkei Asian Review Huawei Technologies is working with French-Italian chipmaker STMicroelectronics to co-design mobile and automotive-related chips as it seeks to shield itself from Washington's possible tightening of export restrictions on the Chinese company, two sources familiar with the matter told the Nikkei Asian Review. The new collaboration with STMicro, its longtime sensor chip supplier, is also aimed at accelerating Huawei's autonomous driving development, the sources said.
Huawei and InterDigital agree patent deal nterDigital, a mobile and video technology research and development company, has announced that, together with its patent holding subsidiaries, it has signed a multi-year, worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty bearing patent licence agreement with Huawei. The agreement covers certain of Huawei’s products and certain of InterDigital’s essential patents. InterDigital and Huawei have also agreed to dismiss all pending litigation between the companies.
Boosted by ‘Consumption Quotas,’ Single Shatters Sales Records - SixthTone Fans of Chinese pop star Xiao Zhan are feeling conflicted this week. They’re excited because their idol’s newly released single has broken all-time sales records, but they’re also smarting from criticism over the role they’ve played in the song’s success...Behind the scenes, however, Xiao fan groups were hard at work making sure the previous records were surpassed by setting “consumption quotas” for their fellow fans
Imagination Tech IPO years away, but China listing a top option - source - Reuters Chinese-backed Imagination Technologies is at least three years away from a flotation because the chip designer’s finances are so poor, but an eventual listing in Shanghai is a top option, a source with knowledge of the plans told Reuters.
Chipmaker Unisoc Is Handed USD635 Million by China’s Big Fund, Shanghai Gov't Unisoc, a leading maker of mobile phone processors, has reaped a windfall of CNY4.5 billion (USD635 million) from the country’s investment fund for the semiconductor industry and a Shanghai government-backed asset manager, online news outlet The Paper reported today. The China Integrated Circuit Industry Investment Fund, also known as the Big Fund, and Guosheng Group have signed the agreement and delivered the funds, it added. This is the first outlay from Phase II of the Big Fund.
ByteDance Launches Wiki Site in Latest Attempt to Dethrone Baidu in Content Distribution- PingWest When accessed on smartphones, the wikipedia-like website will display as Toutiao Baike (头条百科), while still showing as Hudong Baike (互动百科) when viewed in desktop browsers. A ByteDance representative told PingWest that the desktop version of the new product isn't ready yet. A statement posted on Hudong Baike's front page indicates that a new version is coming up on April 30. ByteDance acquired 22.22% stake and became the largest shareholder of Hudong Baike in August last year, followed by buying the remaining 77.78% later in the same month.
Beijing film festival moves online amid virus battle - Xinhua The festival's movie screenings will run on online video platform iQiyi during the upcoming five-day May Day holiday under the title "Spring Online Screenings," the film festival organizer announced Tuesday via its social media accounts.
Energy, Environment, Science and Health
Power Plant Investment Outpaces Grid Spending for First Time Since 2013 - Caixin A total of 59.6 billion yuan ($8.4 billion) was invested in power plant projects, up by 30.9% year-on-year, while investment in energy transmission declined by 27.4% to 36.5 billion yuan in the first three months of 2020, according to data released Wednesday by the National Energy Administration.
China to Probe Oil Storage Safety as Firms Snap Up Cheap International Crude Chinese regulators will investigate oil storage risks at the nation’s petrochemical firms as they purchase cheap crude from the international market, according to the Ministry of Emergency Management.
Beijing bans disposable tableware in restaurants - CGTN The prohibited single-use tableware include chopsticks, spoons, knives and forks. Takeaway food platforms can't provide disposable tableware unless customers make it clear they need them. Hotels in the city aren't allowed to "actively provide" disposable materials ranging from toothbrushes to combs.
Rural and Agricultural Issues
China Said African Swine Fever Was Stable. Then Cases Climbed Again. - WSJ $$ Since mid-March, China’s Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Affairs has reported a spate of new cases across the country, supporting what some independent veterinary and farming consultants have been saying since late 2019: The disease is still rife... Several veterinarians interviewed by The Wall Street Journal said they personally witnessed or diagnosed Chinese pig herds with the disease even as the government said the country had seen no new cases.