Pompeo pulling back on lab allegations?; 7 day NPC; Archaeologists declare proof of 5000 years of civilization

When discussing the virus on Wednesday President Trump declared that:

This is really the worst attack we’ve ever had.  This is worse than Pearl Harbor.  This is worse than the World Trade Center.  There’s never been an attack like this.  And it should have never happened.  It could have been stopped at the source.  It could have been stopped in China.  It should have been stopped right at the source, and it wasn’t.

Both of those attacks led to shooting wars, let’s hope history does not repeat itself.

In a series of interviews over the last day US Secretary of State Pompeo seems to be backing off a bit from the allegations that the virus leaked from a lab. Perhaps allies like Australia made it clear they were not on board with the more aggressive approach and even the Wall Street Journal editorial page expressed some skepticism of the claims, writing in a Thursday editorial

China’s cover-up is cause for suspicion, and Messrs. Trump and Pompeo are right to press the question. But until they produce the evidence they’re alluding to, the Wuhan lab theory will remain just that.

Among the other things going on:

  • In another sign of confidence in progress fighting the epidemic, the government starting today now classifies all counties in the country as “low-risk for the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19)”;

  • The Global Times reports that the Two Meetings will be shortened this year, to six days for the CPPCC and seven days for the NPC;

  • The latest PRC economic data does not give much reason to be optimistic about the speed of the recovery;

  • Archaeologists announced that they have found key proof of the origin of the over 5,000-year-long Chinese civilization at the Shuanghuaishu site (双槐树遗址) in Henan.

Thanks for reading.


The Essential Eight

1. Economic data

China’s April Exports Unexpectedly Rise While Imports Slump - Caixin

“Although the decline narrowed in April, foreign trade is facing significant downward pressure,” Gao Feng, spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce, said at a regular briefing in Beijing on Thursday. “The spread of the (coronavirus) outbreak overseas has had a tremendous impact on the global economy and trade, increasing uncertainty and instability and posing unprecedented challenges to China’s foreign trade.”

Economists from Nomura International Ltd. in Hong Kong attributed the unexpected growth in exports in April to two main factors — companies clearing backlogs of orders that had built up during and after the domestic lockdown, and a surge in exports of antivirus medical supplies. Overseas shipments of medical supplies exports could have contributed 5 percentage points to overall export growth in April, based on preliminary figures from the customs administration, they wrote in a research note.

China’s Services Activity Contracted for Third Month in a Row, Caixin PMI Shows - Caixin Global

Original data in the services PMI survey of around 400 companies in the sector were collected from April 7 to April 22. Total new orders received by service providers contracted for the third month in a row, though the rate of decline continued easing from the fastest rate on record in February. New export business also contracted for the third consecutive month in April, with the rate of contraction accelerating from March as external demand plummeted.

The sustained decline in total new work caused a further drop in employment across the services sector, setting a record for the steepest rate of job losses last month. The decline in new business also triggered a further slide in outstanding orders among service providers in April, despite the reduction in staff.

Prices charged by service companies declined for the fifth consecutive month as part of efforts to attract new orders, though input prices across the sector continued to rise in April.

However, the gauge for service companies’ business expectations, which indicates how optimistic or pessimistic they are about the business outlook for the coming 12 months, rose further to a three-month high

Yicai - Confidence Rebounds to Two-Year High, Yicai Chief Economist’s May Survey Finds

The Yicai Chief Economist Confidence Index rose to 50.91, according to the findings of the latest Yicai survey that canvassed top economists in China.

The country’s economic indicators are returning to normal, the economists said. Investment and consumption in April will be higher than in March, though consumer and producer prices will be lower. The trade surplus will narrow due to the drop in demand in the international market, they said.


2. The outbreak

China classifies all counties as COVID-19 low-risk areas - Xinhua

China classifies all counties as low-risk for the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) from Thursday, a health official said.

The move came as no domestic cases have been reported in the Chinese mainland for four consecutive days as of Wednesday, with no new deaths for 22 consecutive days, said Mi Feng, a spokesperson for the National Health Commission, at a press conference in Beijing.

Yicai - Chinese Mainland Reports Two New Confirmed Covid-19 Case

Chinese health authority said today that it received reports of two new confirmed Covid-19 cases in Shanghai and Guangdong province respectively yesterday, both imported from abroad.

Covid-19 Experts: ‘No Chance’ Pandemic Will End This Summer - Caixin

Some countries’ attempts to ease Covid-19 measures before bringing their outbreaks under complete control may complicate global efforts to prevent new waves of infections and delay plans to reopen international borders, Zhang Wenhong, head of the infectious diseases department in a major Shanghai hospital and director of the city’s Covid-19 clinical expert team, and his colleague Ai Jingwen, wrote in an opinion piece (张文宏:我们要为全球性的“新常态”风险做好准备 ) penned for the hospital’s WeChat public account and subsequently republished by Caixin...

They warned countries against treading too lightly in the fight to contain the virus, writing: “The earlier, more thoroughly, and more decisively you do it, the better the results — like in China.”

Countries that reopen too early will inevitably face a second wave of infections in future, they added.

'They wanted to take us sightseeing. I stayed in the hotel', says first foreign official to enter Wuhan

Yin-Ching Chuang, Taiwan's Regional Commander of the Infectious Diseases Prevention and Treatment Network, is thought to be the first foreign official to have entered Wuhan when the crisis broke. He talks exclusively to The Telegraph about what he saw there, revealing tensions between local officials in Wuhan and China's national government over the nature of the virus for the first time...

meeting on January 13 and 14 morning and afternoon in Wuhan....

Initially the presenter, who was also the chairperson of the meeting, tried to deny human to human transmission but finally the person from the central government health authority said ‘why do give an old conclusion? Now the conclusion is that limited human to human transmission cannot be excluded.’ For me that was very important information.

I think he [Beijing official] was convinced at least that there was limited human to human transmission. That was my observation. He physically stopped him [the chairperson].

China Says It Contained COVID-19. Now It Fights To Control The Story : NPR

In February, during the peak of the outbreak in Wuhan, where the virus is believed to have originated, thousands of volunteers delivered supplies to hospitals, drove medical workers around the city and staffed online mental health services.

But now public security agents are questioning these volunteers over suspicions they provided foreign organizations with documentation that has led to accusations that China intentionally covered up the full extent of its coronavirus epidemic, according to two people familiar with the matter. They requested anonymity because those questioned were told by security agents to keep the matter confidential.

More than 3000 Hubei cadres have been disciplined for their actions during the outbreak, but Cai Li and Peng Yixiang, Party Secretary and Head of the Wuhan Central Hospital respectively, were not on the list, even though they pressured and silenced Ai Fen, a doctor at the hospital who tried to provide the earliest warnings about the outbreak -湖北3000多名干部被问责,但没有蔡莉彭义香

但非常遗憾的是,在这份长长的名单里,在被追责的3000多名干部里,我们最想看到的两个人,却没有看到:

武汉中心医院的书记蔡莉,院长彭义香。

正是他们的失责和高压,导致中心医院200多名医护感染,5名优秀医生离世。李文亮、江学庆、梅仲明……

在财新、南方周末等良心媒体的报道下,因为发哨子的人艾芬“老子就要到处说”,我们才知道,为什么中心医院的感染率和死亡率如此之高。

Related: Wuhan doctor speaks out against authorities - The Guardian March 11

China, Vietnam, UAE top list as citizens rank government response to Coronavirus - CNBC

Citizens from just seven out of 23 countries rate their governments’ coronavirus containment measures as broadly positive, based on the “Global Crisis Perceptions” index released Wednesday by insights agencies Blackbox Research and Toluna.

China's Guangxi opens first nucleic acid testing lab for border ports - Xinhua

China urges summarizing, promoting effective measures on regular epidemic control - Xinhua

Chinese authorities on Thursday urged efforts to summarize and promote effective practices in regular epidemic prevention and control.

The instruction was given at a meeting of the leading group of China's COVID-19 epidemic response, which was chaired by Premier Li Keqiang..

The meeting called for more efforts to promote the production resumption of enterprises, the resumption of consumer-oriented service industries and the reopening of schools as well as to improve nucleic acid testing capabilities.

Targeted measures should be taken to enable more consumer-oriented service facilities to resume operations and drive up household consumption, according to the meeting.

人民日报:坚持和发展新时代“枫桥经验”(治理者说)

Deputy head of public security in Zhejiang Jin Bozhong wrote on People’s Daily page 5 saying the province did great in controlling the virus spread because they used Xi Jinping’s “Fengqiao experience” in social governance. Jin said Zhejiang mobilized 69,000 “grid workers” and used big data and AI technologies to closely monitor people in the neighborhoods to guard against potential risks of transmission. 


3. Virus origins

Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman says evidence suggests coronavirus was not man-made or released from lab | TheHill

“The weight of evidence — nothing’s conclusive — the weight of evidence is that it was natural and not man-made,” Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Army Gen. Mark Milley said of the coronavirus.

“The second issue is, was it accidentally released, did it release naturally into the environment or was it intentional? We don’t have conclusive evidence in any of that, but the weight of evidence is that it was probably not intentional,” he told reporters at the Pentagon.

The Wuhan Lab Theory - WSJ Editorial

The evidence is clear that the Chinese Communist Party covered up for weeks the extent of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, but what we don’t know is why. One emerging theory is that the virus originated in a Wuhan lab. Beijing denies it, but the world deserves a full accounting of what China knew and when.

President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have both said in recent days that they’ve seen evidence the coronavirus did come from a Wuhan lab. Mr. Trump said it appears to be an accidental release. If they don’t want the issue to be dismissed as an anti-China campaign ploy, they should make the evidence public.

Secretary Michael R. Pompeo With Lou Dobbs of Lou Dobbs Tonight - United States Department of State

QUESTION: Reports that the Chinese, the CCP, ordered the Wuhan laboratory, the virology laboratory there, to absolutely clean up, to destroy all specimens of the virus that they had on hand, all samples from the epidemic that broke out in Wuhan and Hubei province. Is there – have we confirmed that? Has the United States Government confirmed that?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Lou, I’ve seen those reports as well. I can’t say much about the intelligence we’ve collected with respect to this, but we know enough now to be confident of this: We saw what they did to the journalists that they kicked out, American journalists they kicked out; we saw what they did to some of the doctors who early on raised the flag and said hey, we’ve got a problem; we saw that they just wandered off, not to be seen again. We’ve seen this kind of behavior, this kind of activity. It’s what authoritarian regimes like the Chinese Communist Party do. They hide, they dissemble; they then propagate disinformation propaganda that we saw when they tried to pin it on the United States – it seems like forever ago, but just a few weeks back.

Coronavirus Australia: COVID-19 origin theory about Wuhan lab tests relationship with US - Sydney Morning Herald

The Australians became even more anxious on Saturday when a similar sequence of events played out closer to home. News Corp Australia tabloid The Daily Telegraph ran a lengthy front-page story about a 15-page "dossier" that laid "the foundation for the case of negligence being mounted against China". The Telegraph story, which alleged China destroyed evidence at Wuhan research facilities, was soon being quoted by national security experts and commentators in the US...

Labor MP Anthony Byrne, the deputy chair of the influential intelligence and security committee, was "incensed" by the report of the dossier. Mr Byrne, one of Parliament’s biggest supporters of the US alliance, directly raised his concerns with senior members of the Morrison government and intelligence agencies, saying Australia shouldn’t accept intelligence that doesn’t exist and fall for a "tricked-up document".

There are now widespread suspicions within senior ranks of the Australian government and the intelligence community that the document was leaked to The Daily Telegraph by a staff member in the US embassy in Canberra. This suspicion, whether true or not, underlines how the positions between sections of Canberra and Washington national security circles have diverged over the claim. Some senior officials clearly believe the US embassy is pushing a narrative in the Australian media that could be counter to the beliefs and interests of its hosts.

Secretary Michael R. Pompeo with Chris Stigall of The Chris Stigall Show - United States Department of State

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, I guess I’ll start obviously with – if you Google your name today, it’s all the Wuhan lab. It’s all the virus and China and whether Mike Pompeo in a combative – it’s always combative, a combative press exchange about whether or not the virus originated from a lab in Wuhan. So where are we officially on that today?

SECRETARY POMPEO: So it’s neither partisan, nor bullying, nor combative. We’re trying to get answers for the world. The Chinese Communist Party has not been forthcoming with the data set. We know that it originated in Wuhan, China. That much is certain. What we don’t know yet is precisely where it came from and how it began to spread. We can’t identify patient zero. We’ve seen evidence that it came from the lab. That may not be the case.

Secretary Michael R. Pompeo with Jack Heath of The Jack Heath Radio Show - United States Department of State

With respect to the source of the virus, look, we know this much:  We know that this originated in Wuhan, China.  That was challenged by the Chinese at the front end.  This administration was very clear we weren’t going to accept that disinformation, pushed back.  I think the whole world knows that this began and originated there in Wuhan.  Where exactly it came from, it matters.  We want to know the answers to that.  There’s evidence that it came from somewhere in the vicinity of the lab, but that could be wrong.  We need to get the answer to that.  It matters because we need to know where patient zero came from.  We need it for all of the epidemiological work that needs to be done to protect Americans today and tomorrow.

Secretary Michael R. Pompeo with Steve Gruber of The Steve Gruber Show - United States Department of State

QUESTION: Good to have you, sir. The Chinese have made you quite a target here, as I was just sharing with the listeners. And you say it’s because, well, all roads lead back to that virology lab in Wuhan.

SECRETARY POMPEO: So, we know this for sure. We know now that there’s been enormous global economic destruction and the loss of more than a quarter million lives – 70,000 of them here in the United States. This is a catastrophe of real proportions that emanated from Wuhan, China and originated there.

Secretary Michael R. Pompeo with Joe Kernen, Andrew Sorkin, and Rebecca Quick of CNBC’s Squawk Box - United States Department of State

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, just getting back quickly to the origin of the virus there, I was under the impression, and Dr. Fauci has made some comments, that it has been determined that maybe it escaped from a lab perhaps, but that the notion that it was designed or weaponized or created by the Chinese has been taken off the table. But some recent comments you had are that even that you’re not completely convinced that this wasn’t actually made in a lab by the Chinese. What can you add to that?

SECRETARY POMPEO: I’ve seen some suggest that that’s what I said. They were aiming to confuse and try and create friction inside the United States Government. The fact is that the Intelligence Community has conducted its analysis with the information that it has available. It has said that this was not a manmade virus. I see no reason to dispute that.

The question that the Chinese Communist Party has to help the world answer is: How did this come to be? Where did it come from? How did it get in the wild? Where is patient zero? All the things that free, freedom-loving nations that want to protect life around the world would share information on. We still don’t have the virus sample in spite of repeated requests for it, and we need it.

Chinese FM slams Pompeo for making up ‘pack of lies' - Global Times

The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Thursday slammed US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for making up a "pack of lies," urging US politicians who indulged in blame games to focus more on saving American lives.

"If Pompeo has evidence, then show it! If not, are you busy making up this 'evidence?'" Hua Chunying, spokesperson of China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said at Thursday's media briefing in response to a series of remarks from Pompeo on the origin of the novel coronavirus.

Video from Wuhan lab adds evidence of human error? Fake News! - Global Times

China on Thursday rebuked the Henry Jackson Society, saying that the video that the British think tank claimed to uncover from inside the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) which adds more evidence to allegations of the lab not observing essential bio-security actually comes from a science documentary...

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said at Thursday's routine press conference that the society's attitude toward China has always been the voice and imagination of extreme anti-China forces. "As for media reports, we have conducted some investigation."

The video comes from the fourth episode of a popular science documentary, Wild Youth, and the people involved are not from the Wuhan lab, Hua said.

Question: Is Hua correct in saying they used a video that had nothing to do with the lab?

US system fuels Trump team's political hooliganism: Global Times editorial - Global Times

Two days ago, Pompeo claimed the US had "enormous evidence" to prove the virus came from a Wuhan lab, which was rejected by the WHO, US experts and intelligence officials, putting him in an awkward position. He was forced to backtrack while at the same time managed to defend this change. This is a major setback for the Trump administration's campaign to frame the Wuhan laboratory as the origin of the virus. Although Washington will continue to make an issue of the lab, it's hard to garner attention as the world knows that it's lying...

The US system has fueled the political hooliganism of the Trump team. No force in the US is able to contain it. China should prepare for a fierce public opinion war with Washington, discarding any illusion that we can reason with a hooligan.

China backs WHO investigating origin of Covid-19, hits out at US ‘politicising issue’ | South China Morning Post

China says it supports World Health Organisation efforts to investigate the origin of the Covid-19 pandemic, but rejects any “presumption of guilt”, after the global body said it was talking to Beijing about sending another delegation to the country.

The remarks came as Beijing is under mounting international pressure – particularly from the United States – to allow an inquiry into how the pandemic started, and if it was linked to a laboratory in Wuhan, the city where the new virus strain was first reported.

Australia spreads 'political virus' as the world fights pandemic: Chinese expert Ruan Zongze - Global Times

It has chosen to play the blame game alongside the US amid the pandemic and spread a "political virus" which will only narrow its economic recovery path after the outbreak...

As a member of the Five Eyes Alliance, it has followed the US' moves and joined the blame game to agitate for an inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus outbreak and tries to blame China for the pandemic...

As for Australia, the choice rests in its own hands and a rational choice to pursue positive and sincere relations with China and other Asia-Pacific countries would generate a wider development space for the country during the post-pandemic era, while an ill-advised strategy will only lead to gloomier prospects.

The article was compiled based on an interview with Ruan Zongze by Global Times on Wednesday. Ruan is an executive vice president and senior research fellow at the China Institute of International Studies

Comment: Dumb of Ruan to criticize Australia like this given that Australia appears to be pushing back on the US claims about the lab.

Trump's anti-China theory implodes (opinion) - CNN - Jeffrey Sachs OpEd

Perhaps we will learn that the earliest human cases were not even in Wuhan at all and were brought to the Wuhan market by an infected individual traveling from Western China.

Question: Has anyone else seen this speculation that it originated in Western China? Seems strange for Sachs to just drop this in here

Kevin Rudd: We Must Set Aside Nationalism to Learn the Truth About COVID-19 | Time - Kevin Rudd

That leaves the U.N. General Assembly, perhaps adopting a resolution, with terms of reference along the three-part lines suggested above, requesting the U.N. Secretary-General to convene a high-level panel of inquiry. This might even be done with Chinese co-sponsorship. Alternatively, the Secretary-General could commission such an inquiry at his own initiative. It could be composed of both Chinese and other members (although all should be scientists). These could be also be appointed by the Secretary-General who should also chair it.

国际锐评:美国政客的自残式造谣已沦为粗俗的“脱口秀”_CCTV

锐评指出,华盛顿的政客们置危急疫情于不顾,把每一次在公众面前的亮相当作谋取政治私利的秀场,以形形色色的自残式造谣、“甩锅”表演,向世界展示了一场又一场充满欺诈与无赖的粗俗“脱口秀”。这其中,最具反智主义的当属所谓“病毒源自武汉实验室”以及“与中国脱钩”两种谣言和谬论。它们既违背科学规律,也不尊重经济规律。这已不仅仅是美国人的黑色幽默,而是一种“自残式攻击”。

CCTV Evening News continued the harsh attack on the US on Thursday for saying the virus may originated from a Chinese lab: “The politicians in Washington ignored the critical epidemic and regarded each appearance in the public as a show for political self-interest. By spreading all kinds of self-mutilation rumors and trying to shift the blame, they put up a vulgar talk show that is full of lies and shamelessness. Among them the most anti-intellectualism is the rumors and absurd ideas that “the virus came from a Wuhan lab” or “decoupling with China”. They go against both science and economic logic. This is not just the black humor of the Americans, but also a kind "self-mutilating attack".”


4. US-China

Remarks by President Trump at Signing of a Proclamation in Honor of National Nurses Day | The White House

This is really the worst attack we’ve ever had.  This is worse than Pearl Harbor.  This is worse than the World Trade Center.  There’s never been an attack like this.  And it should have never happened.  It could have been stopped at the source.  It could have been stopped in China.  It should have been stopped right at the source, and it wasn’t.

Blame China. Remake economy: Trump pivots to new election message amid pandemic - Reuters

Trump officials say the new messaging, being sent to Republican state leaders across the country and pushed in new anti-Biden ads across swing states, reflects internal and external polling data that shows voters trust Trump more on the economy, and that Americans across party lines distrust China.

“Voters know China was a bad actor on the virus. The president made clear to pinpoint China as the origin of the virus,” said Tim Murtaugh, the Trump campaign’s spokesman. “We’re going to push this.”

Pompeo, “Public Enemy” | China Media Project

In this war of words, one word in particular should grab our attention — “public enemy,” or gongdi (公敌). “International Commentary” has labelled Pompeo “the public enemy of mankind.”...

As the war of words with the United States grows louder, the “public enemy” spotlight seems to have turned from the virus to Pompeo. The language is poisonous and personal, recalling the heat of attacks made against the public enemies of China’s past. Pompeo is “wicked Pompeo” (邪恶蓬佩奥). His remarks point to a “nervous disorder” (神经错乱). He “carries four sins on his shoulders” (背负四宗罪). He has “broken through the bottom line of being human” (突破做人底线).

Such direct attacks on a senior US official are very rare indeed — and a sign of just how seriously relations have deteriorated.

Putting the blame on others is bald-faced political blackmail - People's Daily Zhong Sheng

People’s hearts are the biggest political power. The U.S. politicians are advised to do useful things. What’s needed most now is to go all out to prevent and control the pandemic, race against time to save lives, and stop blaming each other with lies and blackmail. It is impossible to shift the blame and shirk one’s own responsibilities, and this naked “political blackmail” will become a scandal in the human response to pandemics.

U.S., China Trade Chiefs to Speak After Trump Threat to End Deal - Bloomberg

The planned phone call will be the first time Liu and Lighthizer speak officially about the agreement since it was signed in January, just before the global coronavirus pandemic hit the world’s two biggest economies and upended global supply chains. The deal called for Liu and Lighthizer to meet every six months, making next week’s call slightly ahead of schedule.

Trump also seemed to suggest a development was on the horizon when he told reporters at the White House on Wednesday that he’d be able to report in the next week or two if he’s happy with how the trade deal is progressing.

WTH is going on with Chinese disinformation? Assistant Secretary Stilwell on Beijing’s role in spreading coronavirus propaganda | American Enterprise Institute - AEI

Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs David Stilwell joined the show to discuss Beijing’s global disinformation campaign and how the Chinese Communist Party has changed in recent years. He also talks about the Trump administration’s Asia strategy and explains what Kim Jong Un’s recent absence might mean for North Korea.

GOP to launch ‘China Task Force’ that Democrats bailed on - The Washington Post

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) will announce Thursday the formation of the GOP’s “China Task Force,” a committee of 15 Republican lawmakers representing 14 different committees of jurisdiction, to coordinate legislative strategy on all aspects of the China challenge. Republicans will use the body as a clearinghouse for ideas concerning China policy. They will use it to set priorities, pool information, coordinate approaches and devise tactics for actually getting bills passed into law...

Rep. Michael McCaul (Tex.), the ranking Republican on the Foreign Affairs Committee, will serve as chairman. Its members will include several young Republicans who have been active on the China issue, including Reps. Mike Gallagher (Wis.), Jim Banks (Ind.), Adam Kinzinger (Ill.), Liz Cheney (Wyo.) and Elise Stefanik (N.Y.).

The original plan was to include a group of Democrats, as well. But the day before the original launch plan in February, the Democrats withdrew without explanation..

“We are very cognizant of the need to hold China accountable for its actions,” a senior Democratic aide told me. “But to the extent this is going to be the Trump administration’s scapegoat for its utter failure, we are not going to go along with that.”

U.S. Makes Diplomatic Push for Taiwan to Attend WHO Summit - WSJ

U.S. diplomats have been asking European allies, and other democratic states, to jointly prod the WHO to publicly encourage China to allow Taiwan to join the conference as an observer. The World Health Assembly, the annual decision-making meeting for the United Nations organization, is normally held in person, but will be held virtually on a live-streamed videoconference on May 18-19.

DeSantis says China needs to 'pay' for trying to 'screw over the rest of the world' by hoarding PPE | Fox News

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis called out China on Wednesday, accusing the Communist nation of trying to hoard personal protective equipment (PPE) from the rest of the world during the coronavirus pandemic.

"As many people know, this PPE was a major crunch, particularly in March," DeSantis said. "China had known what was going on; they specifically bought up a lot of this stuff, really to try to screw over the rest of the world, which they’re going to need to pay for doing that."

携手冲破至暗时刻,合作塑造后疫情时代——崔天凯大使在凤凰网财经云峰会上的讲话

Ambassador Cui Tiankai gave a speech to an online panel organized by Phoenix. Cui said it is wrong to assume that the globalization has died. On China-US, he said the two countries are now again at the crossroads. He believes they can join hands in many areas but those American politicians advocating for decoupling or using the virus to blackmail China are playing with fire. “They will be held accountable by history and people in the world.”


Note: I realized today that I had left out a section 5. Apologies, it was not intentional.

6. Archaeologists say they have found proof of 5000 years of civilization

Archaeological findings provide key proof of Chinese civilization origin - Xinhua

Chinese archaeologists announced significant achievements at the Shuanghuaishu site in central China's Henan Province, providing key proof of the origin of the over 5,000-year-long Chinese civilization.

With an area of 1.17 million square meters, the Shuanghuaishu site, dating back to around 5,300 years, is located on the south bank of the Yellow River in the township of Heluo, Gongyi City, and was proposed to be named "Heluo kingdom."..

A large number of relics of the Yangshao Culture dating back 5,000 to 7,000 years have been discovered at the site, said Gu Wanfa, director of the Zhengzhou Municipal Research Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, at the press conference.

"The important archaeological findings provide key proof of the origin of Chinese civilization, and also prove the representativeness and influence of the Heluo area in the golden stage of the origin of Chinese civilization around 5,300 years ago," said Wang Wei, a member of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Since 2013, the Zhengzhou Municipal Research Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology and the Institute of Archaeology of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences have conducted continuous archaeological excavations on the site...

郑州巩义双槐树遗址被誉为“早期中华文明的胚胎” - Thepaper.cn on the discovery

Xinhua video:


7. Foreign work

Xi calls for global synergy against COVID-19 - Xinhua

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday urged countries around the world to replace their differences with solidarity, eliminate prejudice with reason, and foster great synergy against the COVID-19 pandemic.

He made the remarks in a telephone conversation with his Uzbek counterpart, Shavkat Mirziyoyev.

Xi urges global solidarity, cooperation against grave challenges - Xinhua

Chinese President Xi Jinping said Thursday that only by standing together and cooperating in the spirit of a shared future can countries around the world tackle all the difficulties and challenges of the century.

He made the remarks in a telephone conversation with his Portuguese counterpart, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.

China, Slovakia agree on enhancing cooperation, tracing COVID-19 origin - Xinhua

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi lauded the prioritization of developing China-Slovakia relations by the new Slovak government in a phone conversation with Slovak Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Ivan Korcok Wednesday...

Wang pointed out that China first reported the epidemic outbreak to the World Health Organization which reflected China's responsible attitude, but the earliest report does not mean the virus originated from China...

Korcok also agreed with Wang that tracing the origin of the virus is a scientific matter which should be resorted by experts.

China will strengthen joint epidemic prevention, control with Mongolia: FM - Xinhua

China and Mongolia should strengthen joint prevention and control of the COVID-19 pandemic, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Wednesday in a phone conversation with Mongolian Foreign Minister Damdin Tsogtbaatar

PLA medical expert team fights COVID-19 in Pakistan - China Military

Zhou Feihu, who had once participated in the battle against the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, noted that the pandemic situation in Pakistan remained grim and complicated. "When we fought Ebola, the place we stayed was isolated, but now in Pakistan, the flow of people remains large. Although we stay in a Pakistani military guesthouse, it still sees a frequent flow of people. We need to take stricter anti-pandemic measures. This is a challenge faced by the Chinese expert team."

China, Russia tackle health crisis together - China Daily

Images from a military cargo plane have been tweeted thousands of times in Russia.

They show medical experts from China sitting with their backs against the cabin wall, and walking sideways when they have to visit the toilet on the eight-hour flight to Moscow from Harbin, capital of Heilongjiang province.

The cabin of the cramped Russian Defense Ministry plane is occupied mostly by supplies sent from China to fight the novel coronavirus outbreak.

EU’s pivot to China falls foul of Beijing’s censors – POLITICO

A spokesperson for the European External Action Service, the EU's foreign service, said Brussels regretted that the original letter was "not published in full by the China Daily" and noted that it could not have been published without a green light from China's foreign ministry.

In a sign of discontent among EU countries, the Beijing embassies of countries such as Germany, France and Italy published the full letter with the reference to the disease originating in China and spreading from there. By contrast, Gunnar Wiegand, managing director for Asia and the Pacific at the EEAS, retweeted the censored version in the China Daily.

The offending sentence had referred to "... the outbreak of the coronavirus in China, and its subsequent spread to the rest of the world over the past three months ..."

The EEAS said it agreed to the words being cut with "considerable reluctance" and only relented because it reckoned it was important to stress the benefits of EU-China cooperation on "climate change and sustainability, human rights, multilateralism and the global response to the coronavirus

State-run China Daily newspaper censors opinion article by European Union ambassadors | South China Morning Post

The ambassador to United Nations Geneva, Chen Xu, told reporters on Wednesday that China will not invite international experts to investigate the source of Covid-19 until the “final victory” against the virus has been secured.

China’s priority is first beating the pandemic – and countering the “absurd and ridiculous” politicisation of the new coronavirus, Chen said.

Opinion | What’s Behind China’s New Behavior in Europe - POLITICO

The most likely explanation is that all these dynamics — an eye toward the domestic audience, a limited degree of panic, a dose of anger and the desire to make the most of a strategic opportunity — are informing Beijing’s current approach.

What is unclear, however, is whether this is a temporary offensive that will ebb as the pandemic fades, or is part of the “new normal” awaiting Europe in the future.

In the short term, those in Europe who had been sounding the alarm bell about China before the crisis have been handed more leverage to pursue a confrontational agenda, while supporters of deeper engagement may find it harder to make their case.

Foreign Minister Winston Peters tells China's NZ Ambassador to 'listen to your master' after criticism - NZ Herald

Foreign Minister Winston Peters is blasting China's embassy in New Zealand, telling its ambassador to "listen to your master" after she was critical of his recent Taiwan comments...

Should China offer debt relief since they “created” the problem? Thirny request from the Ugandan President - Uganda calls on creditors to cancel Africa's debts as coronavirus wrecks economies - Reuters

Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has called on international creditors to cancel all of Africa’s debts to ease the economic distress caused by the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

“The external friends, if they are friends at all, should cancel all the multi-lateral and bilateral loans because this problem (coronavirus) has been created for Africa by Asia,” Museveni said in a speech seen by Reuters on Wednesday.

He did not mention any particular country by name, though Uganda’s debt has been growing largely as a result of loans from China to finance infrastructure projects.


8. Wechat’s overseas content surveillance

We Chat, They Watch: How International Users Unwittingly Build up WeChat’s Chinese Censorship Apparatus - The Citizen Lab

Key Findings:

We present results from technical experiments which reveal that WeChat communications conducted entirely among non-China-registered accounts are subject to pervasive content surveillance that was previously thought to be exclusively reserved for China-registered accounts;

Documents and images transmitted entirely among non-China-registered accounts undergo content surveillance wherein these files are analyzed for content that is politically sensitive in China;

Upon analysis, files deemed politically sensitive are used to invisibly train and build up WeChat’s Chinese political censorship system;

From public information, it is unclear how Tencent uses non-Chinese-registered users’ data to enable content blocking or which policy rationale permits the sharing of data used for blocking between international and China regions of WeChat;

Tencent’s responses to data access requests failed to clarify how data from international users is used to enable political censorship of the platform in China.

China’s WeChat Monitors Foreign Users to Refine Censorship at Home - WSJ $$

People overseas might be “misled into believing what we call the ‘one app, two systems’ approach, that they’re somehow immune from China’s information controls,” said Ron Deibert, director of Citizen Lab. Mr. Deibert was alluding to China’s “one country, two systems” framework for Hong Kong that grants residents in the international financial hub civil liberties unseen on the mainland, an arrangement many there have lost confidence in.


Business, Economy and Trade

China to give foreign firms equal access to govt support policies: commerce ministry - Reuters The Ministry made the comments at a weekly briefing in response to concerns raised by the American Chamber of Commerce in China in a recent white paper where it listed hurdles to what it described as a truly level playing field for U.S. firms in China.

Yicai - China to Scrap Foreign Investment Quotas to Further Open Up Financial Sector China will remove quotas on the dollar-denominated qualified foreign institutional investor (QFII) scheme and its yuan-denominated sibling, RQFII, according to the provisions issued by the People's Bank of China and the State Administration of Foreign Exchanges, which will take effect on June 6.

PBOC Fills Two Key Posts - Caixin Sun Tianqi, 49, former chief accountant of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) and head of SAFE’s general affairs department, which is charged with policy and regulation, has been appointed head of the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) financial stability bureau, sources with knowledge of the matter told Caixin. Zhou Chengjun, 45, an inspector at the PBOC’s macroprudential policy bureau, will be appointed head of the PBOC’s finance research institute, the sources said.

China’s Forex Reserves Gain for First Time in Three Months, Rising to USD3.09 Trillion in April Holdings rose 1 percent to USD3.0915 trillion at the end of April, from USD3.0606 at the end of March, according to data released today by the State Administration of Foreign Exchange. March’s figure was the lowest since October 2018, due to the turmoil caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic on the world’s major economies.

Shanghai to Spend USD38 Billion on State-of-the-Art Infrastructure - Yicai The 48 new projects will incorporate fifth-generation mobile network capabilities, artificial intelligence and Big Data technologies, the latest facilities such as smart charging stations as well as new energy vehicles, the municipality said in its infrastructure action plan released today.

India Looks to Lure More Than 1,000 U.S. Companies Out of China - Bloomberg The government in April reached out to more than 1,000 companies in the U.S. and through overseas missions to offer incentives for manufacturers seeking to move out of China, according to Indian officials who asked not to be identified, citing rules on speaking with the media. India is prioritizing medical equipment suppliers, food processing units, textiles, leather and auto part makers among more than 550 products covered in the discussions, they said.

Online Event: A Book Talk on "The Myth of Chinese Capitalism: The Worker, The Factory, and The Future of the World" | Center for Strategic and International Studies Recording of online event featuring Dexter Roberts, fellow at the University of Montana’s Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center and author of the new book, The Myth of Chinese Capitalism: The Worker, The Factory, and The Future of the World.

US hands Justin Sun a $2 million coronavirus relief grant - Decrypt Justin Sun’s Tron platform, which maintains the Tron blockchain, has received US government aid of more than $2 million in coronavirus relief, according to a post on the platform’s Chinese WeChat channel.

Distress funds eye more direct loans to Chinese companies - Nikkei Asian Review Fund houses, distressed debt investors, hedge funds and pension funds have a combined $25 billion to lend directly to companies in the second-largest economy, interviews with five money managers and two deal arrangers suggest. Burgeoning demand has boosted yields on such loans to as much as 18% from about 12% at the end of last year, investors said.

Beyond Meat Taps Social Media, Local Distribution to Build on China Entry Founder and CEO Ethan Brown said on an investor call that in addition to the Starbucks tie-up, the company has finalized an agreement with local distributor Sinodis to sell its products in other stores and restaurants. He added that the company has set up a Chinese-language website, as well as official accounts on Weibo and WeChat, two of China’s most popular social networking services.

Wang Tao - Opinion: How Much More Stimulus Can We Expect? - Caixin Global normalization of economic activity seems to have been slower than expected, the global economy has entered into a deep recession, and the virus may take much longer to come under control globally. All of the above would hamper China's recovery in the coming quarters. As such, we expect the Chinese government to increase policy stimulus significantly to help achieve economic and social stability, including additional monetary easing and a bigger fiscal stimulus, the latter especially in terms of more infrastructure spending. We expect additional fiscal spending greater than 2.2% of GDP, resulting in overall fiscal support worth 4% of GDP in 2020. The government has called for stepping up infrastructure investment in recent months, supporting it with front-loading of special local government bonds. We foresee additional infrastructure related spending to exceed 1.8 trillion yuan in 2020. In addition, we expect the government to offer more support for corporations (interest subsidies and loan guarantees), additional subsidies and allowances to unemployed workers and the low-income population (less than 100 billion yuan), and limited consumption subsidies (100 billion to 200 billion yuan), totaling 0.4-0.5% of GDP.—Wang Tao is the head of Asia economics and chief China economist at UBS Investment Bank.

Beijing and local cities in tug of war over real estate policy - Nikkei Asian Review Local governments in China are announcing deregulatory actions for real estate development only to backtrack just days later, apparently in the face of central government pressure. The conflict stems from a difference in stance. Local authorities are desperate to revitalize their economies. Beijing is clearly worried about a real estate bubble, and ensuring market stability is a top priority.

China Car Sales Rebound With First Monthly Gain Since 2018 - Bloomberg Carmakers shipped 2 million vehicles to dealerships and stores in April, up 0.9% from a year earlier, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said in a statement Thursday. That’s the first increase since June 2018. Still, deliveries dropped about 32% in the first four months to 5.67 million units, according to the trade body.

Due to Lack of Auto Parts, Tesla Gigfactory Shanghai Suspends Vehicle Assembly Line- PingWest Tesla's Gigafactory in Shanghai did not restart normal operations as scheduled on May 6 after the end of the five-day Labor Day holiday, and the situation will continue until May 9, tech media 36Kr reported, citing sources familiar with the matter. "Currently, only part of the production is in progress, and the final assembly line has not been resumed. It is expected that a complete car will not be assembled until the 9th," sources told 36Kr.

Online push helps Shanghai shopping festival pull in US$2.2 billion of sales in first 24 hours | South China Morning Post Combined sales from the city’s online and offline channels soared to 2.3 billion yuan within the first four hours after the festival started and crossed the 10 billion yuan mark 20 hours after the event launched, according to English-language newspaper Shanghai Daily, citing the Shanghai Commerce Commission. By 10am on Tuesday – 14 hours after the festival started – some outlets of Alibaba Group Holding’s online-to-offline supermarket chain Freshippo were wiped clean of stocks, news site The Paper reported

Didi boss Jean Liu says core business profitable, as China’s ride-hailing market recovers from Covid-19 | South China Morning Post Didi’s ride volume in China has reached 60 to 70 per cent of pre-coronavirus levels and is five times its February low, president Jean Liu Qing says

Top Didi Executive Outlines How Ride-Hailing Will Bounce Back — The Information $$ Didi’s senior vice president Stephen Zhu hints that the West may not recover as fast—in the ride-hailing industry or more broadly. In a rare interview, Zhu drew a contrast between the Chinese government’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis domestically and the difficulties faced by countries in the West. The recovery “may look different” in Western regions, he said, implying it would take longer. And he said that unlike “other players” in the industry, Didi’s army of customer service reps are “on the street” or getting on the phone to help drivers disinfect cars and install safety equipment—and to answer their questions.

Bank of China oversteps regulations in passing derivatives off as wealth management. And it’s not alone | South China Morning Post Several bank officials with China Construction Bank, Bank of Communications, Shanghai Pudong Development and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Crude Oil Treasure product, allowed customers to build up positions based on the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) or Brent International contracts and effectively overstepping regulations that bar the country’s lenders from operating as commodities futures brokerages.

观察者:中信银行向池子道歉:支行行长已撤职 China’s CITIC Bank apologized after it leaked the account details of a talk show host. The bank gave the account information of Wang Yuechi “Chizi” to his employer who is also major client in the bank. Chizi had a fallout with his employer earlier and was shocked to learn that the bank had provided all his bank account details to the employer. The incident has led to a big discussion on Chinese internet about privacy protection and the bank said it had sacked the head of that bank branch. 

新京报:虎门大桥出现晃动后,广东省委书记、省长到现场调研 The Guangdong party boss and governor both visited the Humen bridge in Dongguan after the bridge showed abnormal vibrations. Chinese experts have said earlier the 20-year-old bridge is still safe and the vibration was caused by strong wind. The bridge has been closed since Tuesday.

住房和城乡建设部国家发展改革委关于进一步加强城市与建筑风貌管理的通知 Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development: limit the construction of skyscrapers, generally prohibiting new construction of buildings over 500m high and prohibit copycat constructions

Politics and Law

Two sessions likely to shorten, number of reporters cut - Global Times This year's two sessions, which have been pushed back to late May because of the coronavirus epidemic, are likely to be shortened to one week and see fewer reporters covering the event, delegates and reporters told the Global Times...A notice sent to a CPPCC member from Hong Kong seen by the Global Times shows that the CPPCC sessions this year will be shortened to six-and-a-half days. A Hong Kong deputy to the NPC told the Global Times that NPC sessions will last seven days.

马化腾:推动上“云”用“数” 建设产业互联网--IT--人民网 Tencent Chairman Pony Ma writes on page 12 of Thursday People's Daily about "new infrastructure" and increasing China's "digital competitiveness". Ma is an NPC delegate, no doubt this is positioning ahead of the NPC meeting in a couple of weeks

湖南日报:中国可能正遭遇30年来最恶劣的内外部环境,如何破题? Wang Wen, head of the Chongyang Institute of Financial Studies told Hunan Daily that China is facing “the most difficult internal and external situation” in the past three decades. This is consistent with the internal CICIR report that Reuters reported earlier. Wang also led a group of Chinese scholars to sign an open letter last month urging China and US to cooperate more on fighting the virus. Wang said in the interview that facing the global outbreak, China should “fight well” the global propaganda war, give more aid to others, do more to promote the use of RMB in energy market, and lead the cooperation to share virus information internationally.

赵克志:忠实履行党和人民赋予的新时代使命任务 Zhao Kezhi minister of public security wrote on page 6 of People’s Daily talking about how the police force in the past year has been working dedicatedly to follow Xi Jinping’s instructions to them in 2019 urging them to stay absolute loyal to the party and to Xi himself. Among other things, Zhao said the police force must “deeply understand the virus outbreak in and out of China and their influence toward safeguarding our country’s political security and social stability,” and that they would work harder to crack down all kinds of subversive activities that endanger the regime.//我们要坚持从长期大势认识当前形势,用全面、辩证、长远的眼光来看待,既要深刻把握国内外疫情发展变化对维护我国家政治安全和社会稳定带来的影响,切实做好较长时间应对外部环境变化和各种风险挑战的思想准备和工作准备,更要充分认识我国发展的诸多有利条件,保持战略定力、坚定必胜信心。要坚持总体国家安全观,坚持稳中求进工作总基调,紧紧围绕党中央关于做好“六稳”工作、落实“六保”任务的部署要求,扎实抓好维护安全稳定各项措施的落实,为确保完成决战决胜脱贫攻坚目标任务、全面建成小康社会创造安全稳定的政治社会环境。要抓紧抓实抓细常态化疫情防控,充分发挥职能作用,积极会同有关部门,因时因势完善外防输入、内防反弹各项措施,不断巩固疫情防控战果。要坚决捍卫政治安全,始终把防范政治安全风险置于首位,统筹推进反颠覆、反分裂、反恐怖、反邪教斗争,严密防范、严厉打击境内外敌对势力捣乱破坏活动。Comment: Zhao will likely step down at or around the NPC, to be replaced by Wang Xiaohong is the speculation. Zhao is at the retirement age.

Viral Youth Day Video Gets Lukewarm Reception Among Young Chinese - SixthTone In a video released Sunday to commemorate Youth Day on May 4, Chinese actor He Bing spoke to the country’s youth, urging them to be aware of their privilege. In a monologue filmed like a parent’s lecture to a child, the 52-year-old actor spoke of the advantages young Chinese enjoy, and which he says people from his time or before would envy. “You have what we didn’t have — that is, the right to choose,” He said in the video, produced by streaming site Bilibili in cooperation with several domestic media outlets. “You are fortunate to meet such an era, and this era is even more fortunate to meet you.”.. The jury is out on social media platforms such as Zhihu and Weibo, where a related hashtag had received more than 500 million views by Thursday evening.

The video on Youtube:

His dictionaries taught Chinese to the Uyghur world. Then he was taken away - Darren Byler Hüsenjan was a Chinese state employee — and member of the Chinese Communist Party — tasked with creating dictionaries for the Uyghur language. His work couldn’t save him.

After advocating for his release, Uighur woman hears from father via Chinese media - AP She had been praying to hear his voice telling her that he missed her, that he was safe and healthy — that her public campaign urging China to release Iminjan Seydin, a prominent Uighur publisher and historian, had worked and her father was now free. But when it finally happened, it was via a two-minute video posted on Twitter by Chinese state media on Monday (May 4) morning, in which her father states that Imin had been “deceived” by “overseas anti-China forces” into believing he had been detained. “It was unbelievable to see him,” said Imin, a 27-year-old research assistant at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “I watched the video again and again, just seeing him sitting there alive. It was a relief, even though he seems like he has weakened a lot physically.” “It looks like, obviously, he was forced to say that to me under threat,” Imin said. “We all know that. ... They tried to silence me by having my dad say that to me, and they tried to discredit my words. If I didn’t speak up, I don’t think they would have released him and made this video.”

Detained Rights Lawyer Resurfaces After Crackdown on Xiamen Dissident Gathering - RFA Chinese rights attorney Wen Donghai has reappeared following his detention in the wake of a Dec. 13 gathering in the southeastern port city of Xiamen.

Dui Hua Human Rights Journal: Observations in Death Penalty Cases in China Understanding of how China applies the death penalty is largely lacking. To better understand these conflicting trends, Dui Hua has conducted an updated analysis of trends in the length of time between trial and execution in China’s death penalty cases. Longer times between sentence and execution could indicate a more deliberate judicial approach that allows for meaningful review of the evidence supporting a conviction and death sentence, and it also provides a window for intervention from higher courts and others to stop executions and correct wrongly decided cases.

疫情期登记的个人信息将去向何方 Xinhua: localities and individuals raise issues of how to protect personal information registered online/offline during the epidemic

浙江天台县委第四巡察组巡察福溪街道滩岭村用“清廉健康码”管理村干部、党员 The Paper: a village in Zhejiang applied health code on official's political performance and integrity

北京开始严查“户口违法违规”,一人多户将被注销 The Beijing News: Beijing to closely investigate Hukou violations, could be deregistered if one person register for multiple Hukou

Foreign and Defense Affairs

Gulf states should consider U.S. ties when dealing with China: official - Reuters “These (Gulf) states have to weigh the value of their partnership with the United States,” said U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker. “We want our partner nations to do due diligence,” he told Reuters by phone.

Donald Trump urges nuclear talks with China in call with Russia’s Vladimir Putin | AFP “President Trump reaffirmed that the United States is committed to effective arms control that includes not only Russia, but also China, and looks forward to future discussions to avoid a costly arms race,”

Photos spark talk of 2nd stealth fighter’s PLA commissioning - Global Times The maker of the FC-31, China's second stealth fighter jet following the J-20, recently revealed photos of a scale model of the aircraft painted with the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) insignia, a move military observers said suggested the warplane might join PLA service, despite being a made-for-export model.

Pulitzer Prize won't alter Western media’s bias - Global Times For both China and Russia, the Pulitzer Prize seems increasingly to encourage reporting that focuses on challenging their political systems. The mainstream media in each country has its own political standards, and it is normal for some Western media who always target countries such as China, Russia, Iran, and Venezuela with very biased lenses.

China's unmanned submersible completes expedition mission - Xinhua Qianlong 2 was developed by the Shenyang Institute of Automation under the CAS. The voyage in the southwest Indian Ocean was its first mission after technical upgrading. The upgraded version of Qianlong 2 has more endurance and the ability to collect near-bottom water samples.

China interferes in Nepal to save Communist Party government - The Economic Times China is making hectic efforts to protect Nepal Communist Party (NCP)-led government in Kathmandu amid rifts within top leadership of the ruling dispensation Amid heightened intra-party row within the NCP, Chinese Ambassador to Nepal, Hou Yanqi has intensifie

Chinese Ambassador’s meetings part of solidarity from Beijing: Nepal Foreign Minister - The Hindu “The meetings between the Chinese Ambassador and leaders of the Nepal Communist Party were part of their message of solidarity to Nepal’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Nepal Foreign Ministry usually facilitates such meetings, and it is with the permission of the Foreign Ministry that diplomats of other countries are allowed to meet our leaders,” said Mr. Gyawali, speaking from Kathmandu.

Dangerous Synergies | Center for a New American Security Although there is no concrete evidence to suggest that Beijing and Moscow explicitly coordinate their information operations, the two countries are increasingly finding common cause as their interests align on a number of issues and in strategic regions. Their digital influence campaigns work in tandem and toward the following objectives: Undermine liberal democratic norms and institutions. Weaken cohesion among democratic allies and partners. Reduce U.S. global influence. Advance Russian and Chinese positions.

China is Buying Global Influence for Cheap - The Atlantic Last year, the United States gave more than $670 million to the United Nations’ operating budget, while China gave almost $370 million—yet Chinese nationals currently head four of the body’s 15 specialized agencies. “No other nation leads more than one,” Melanie Hart, a senior fellow and the director of China policy at the Center for American Progress, told me. “Making contributions is one thing, but [Chinese personnel] show up big, and they push.”

Naikon, Group Tied to China's Military, Deploys Debilitating New Cyberattack Tool - The New York Times a cybersecurity company in Israel has identified Aria-body as a weapon wielded by a group of hackers, called Naikon, that has previously been traced to the Chinese military. And it was used against far more targets than the Australian prime minister’s office, according to a report to be released on Thursday by the company, Check Point Software Technologies. In the preceding months, Naikon had also used it to hack government agencies and state-owned technology companies in Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Myanmar and Brunei, according to Check Point, which said the attacks underscored the breadth and sophistication of China’s use of cyberespionage against its neighbors... Check Point did not disclose all of the targets it said Naikon had infiltrated, but said they included embassies, ministries and state-owned corporations dealing with science and technology. // The report Naikon APT: Cyber Espionage Reloaded - Check Point Research

The Pandemic Bodes Ill for Both American and Chinese Power - Foreign Affairs - Kevin Rudd despite the best efforts of ideological warriors in Beijing and Washington, the uncomfortable truth is that China and the United States are both likely to emerge from this crisis significantly diminished. Neither a new Pax Sinica nor a renewed Pax Americana will rise from the ruins. Rather, both powers will be weakened, at home and abroad. And the result will be a continued slow but steady drift toward international anarchy across everything from international security to trade to pandemic management. With nobody directing traffic, various forms of rampant nationalism are taking the place of order and cooperation. The chaotic nature of national and global responses to the pandemic thus stands as a warning of what could come on an even broader scale.

Joint Statement on United States - Czech Republic Joint Declaration on 5G Security - United States Department of State The United States and the Czech Republic emphasize the importance of encouraging the participation of reliable and trustworthy network hardware and software suppliers in 5G markets, taking into account risk profile assessments, and promoting frameworks that effectively protect 5G networks from unauthorized access and interference. The United States and the Czech Republic further recognize that 5G suppliers should provide products and services that enable innovation and promote efficiency. The United States and the Czech Republic note that all countries share a responsibility to undertake a careful and balanced approach to network security, and the evaluation of 5G component and software providers.

Czechs sign joint 5G security declaration with United States - Reuters In it, the countries agreed evaluations should look at whether suppliers were subject to undue foreign influence, have transparent ownership, are committed to respect for intellectual property rights, or are subject to legal regimes that enforce transparent corporate practices. “Protecting communications networks from disruption or manipulation, and ensuring the privacy and individual liberties of the citizens of the United States and the Czech Republic are vital to ensuring that our people are able to take advantage of the tremendous economic opportunities 5G will enable,” the declaration said.

Secretary Pompeo’s Call with Czech Prime Minister Babiš - United States Department of State ecretary Pompeo and Prime Minister Babiš adopted a U.S.-Czech Joint Declaration on 5G Security, reaffirming commitment to the Prague Proposals.  The Secretary and the Prime Minister also discussed the common fight against COVID-19 and our shared interest in strengthening our trade and investment ties, including support for an OECD-led solution to a digital services tax.  The Secretary reiterated concerns about increased propaganda and malign influence from the People’s Republic of China and Russia and its proxies.

观察者:西班牙在成都设立总领事馆已获批准 The Sichuan foreign affairs office said the foreign ministry has approved Spain’s request to set up a consulate in Chengdu. The city now has 20 foreign consulates. // Lucky Spanish diplomats who get assigned to that wonderful city

解放军空降兵加速转型成为合成“飞行军” An article on the transformation of airborne units into combined arms formations. It highlights several shortcomings (equipment doesn’t work together, structures are not rational, the level of informatization is low, functioning as a system is weak, each type of unit fights independently instead of together, etc.)  Despite that, the article claims progress is being made—90% of battalion and company officers and enlisted have completed combined arms training exercise missions and over 60% of backbone multi-functional weapon systems are at operational capacity.

美推动“全域战”应对“大国竞争” PLA Daily article discussing the U.S. military’s concept of “All-Domain” (or Multidomain) Operations, including discussion of a 2019 wargame where INDOPACOM forces used these concepts to break through an enemy’s anti-access/area-denial (A2AD) capabilities. Concludes that this concept is “Cold War thinking” and a potential total war/nuclear war Pandora’s Box.

Hong Kong and Macao

HK protesters say they were tortured in prison - RTHK Three anti-government protesters said on Tuesday that they had been tortured and abused while detained in a Hong Kong prison, alleging they were taken to areas away from surveillance footage and beaten and slapped. Appearing via Skype and in a pre-recorded video shown at a press conference organised by Demosisto's Joshua Wong, the young men recounted how they were violently abused by guards who hit them with their elbows, and with wooden rods, metal rulers and batons.

煽惑、洗脑与撕裂——香港修例风波回望之一 Xinhua: a series of commentaries of HK's protest last year, titled "Incitement, brainwashing and splitting", accusing foreign forces and populism

Hong Kong Landlords Squeezed as Retail Sales Fall - Mingtiandi Link REIT, Wheelock Properties and other owners of shopping centres in the city have issued profit warnings in recent weeks

Hony Capital Leases Unit in Hong Kong’s IFC at 35% Discount - Mingtiandi The Beijing-based firm, which is a unit of investment holding company Legend Holdings, has taken on 10,000 square feet (929 square metres) in the 2003-vintage building in Central for a total of about HK$1.3 million per month, according to a report in the Hong Kong Economic Times.

Taiwan

观察者:金灿荣对"祖国统一"给出最新判断 Jin Canrong of Renmin University said Taipei-Beijing relations are at a new low as the DPP administration continues to use the outbreak as an opportunity to push for its “independecne”. Jin warned that, with Chinese navy launching more warships recently and the US economy tanking, China already has the capacity to take back the island. And if Tsai continues to “mess around” she is essentially “forcing (China) to have conflict” with Taiwan. Jin said if that happened “the reunification will be achieved earlier than planned”.

Taiwan’s representative in Washington Stanley Kao is optimistic in the age of coronavirus - The Washington Post Despite the chaos caused by the coronavirus, Kao feels optimistic about Taiwan’s place in the world and, in particular, its relationship with Washington. “Certainly, it is not a business as usual,” he said of quasi-embassy life under shutdown during a phone call this week, but he felt positive. “We see a new niche, an opening. A new window of opportunity to work even closer.”

Taiwan participation in int'l organizations' events must be under one-China principle: mainland official - Xinhua The WHO is a specialized agency of the United Nations formed by sovereign states and it observes UN General Assembly resolutions, Ma Xiaoguang, spokesman for the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, said, adding that World Health Assembly (WHA) Resolution 25.1 has reiterated UN General Assembly Resolution 2758, reflecting the one-China principle that the UN has been upholding... He noted that some people in the United States brazenly supported Taiwan's participation in the WHO, which politicized pandemic prevention efforts and sent a gravely wrong signal to "Taiwan independence" forces.

Taiwanese scholar among appointees to new Facebook oversight board - Focus Taiwan National Chengchi University Professor Katherine Chen (陳憶寧) was one of 20 people named Wednesday to Facebook's newly-established Oversight Board, which will be tasked with deciding what types of content the social media giant allows on its platforms.

Virus Outbreak: Taiwanese in Hubei can return home - Taipei Times Taiwanese in China’s Hubei Province are to be allowed to return to the nation on their own starting tomorrow, when the CPBL would be able to admit up to 1,000 spectators to baseball games, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads of the center, said that Taiwanese in China’s Hubei Province, the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, would not be required to take chartered flights or quasi-chartered flights from designated airports to return home.

Cyberattacks might be test for Tsai’s inauguration day - Taipei Times A spate of cyberattacks originating from China could be preparations for an attempt to paralyze Taiwan’s key computer systems and public infrastructure to disrupt the inauguration of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and vice president-elect William Lai (賴清德) on May 20, Ministry of National Defense officials and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Wang Ting-yu (王定宇) said yesterday.

Tech and Media

Yicai - Tencent Video, IQiyi, Youku Tudou Lead Call for Cheaper Chinese TV Shows Three of China’s leading online video platforms and six television production companies are petitioning for a thorough shake-up of how TV programming is priced as a shortage of content due to the novel coronavirus outbreak leads to a severe drop in revenue. Tencent Holdings’ video streaming site Tencent Video, Alibaba Group Holding’s Youku Tudou and Beijing-based iQiyi together with six local production firms have issued a joint call to members of their industry to help lower production costs by limiting the number of episodes in lengthy TV dramas and capping actors’ fees.

Yicai - Zhejiang Talent’s Shares Fall on TV Firm’s Control Passing to Chinese State Assets Manager Zhejiang Talent Television & Film’s shares ended lower today after it was revealed that the production company, which has deep ties with Chinese movie star Fan Bingbing, will hand control to a local state assets administrator.

Tencent Literature Unit Tries to Make Peace With Agitated Authors - Caixin The newly installed management team at China Literature Ltd., the online reading company controlled by internet giant Tencent, met with its top authors on Wednesday to try to diffuse compensation-related tensions in the rapidly changing industry.

Alibaba chipmaking subsidiary to emerge as major client of TSMC-Digitimes Pingtouge, Alibaba's semiconductor subsidiary, has stepped up its AI and server related chip development while extending its ties with TSMC and Global Unichip, and has the potential to become a major client of the foundry house

Yicai - Enflame Early Investor Tencent Joins Chinese AI Chip Firm’s Latest Fundraiser Internet giant Tencent Holdings has opened its wallet again for artificial intelligence chip developer Enflame Technology by taking part in the startup’s Series B fundraising, which attracted total investment worth CNY700 million (USD98.8 million). Tencent was a participant along with lead investor SummitView Capital, a semiconductor industry fund, Shanghai-based Enflame said today as it announced the round’s conclusion.

Xiaomi Japan Apologizes for ‘Inappropriate’ Atomic Bomb Ad The ad was intended to promote Xiaomi’s latest smartphone line, the Redmi Note 9 series, internationally. Around 45 seconds into the two-minute commercial, the ad shows a Caucasian man inflating into a balloon after eating a piece of sushi. After bursting through the roof, the man explodes into a mushroom cloud over a Japanese cityscape. The imagery, apparently aimed at promoting the phone’s “fast charge” feature, has been ridiculed for its tone-deaf allusion to Fat Man — the code name of the atomic bomb the United States dropped on the Japanese city of Nagasaki during World War II.

The ad:

在特朗普的白宮簡報室裏,中文媒體記者進退維谷|深度|2020美國大選|端傳媒 Initium Media 比起在美國媒體工作的華人同行,供職中文媒體的王又又和張經義在特朗普治下的白宮,位置顯然更為尷尬。兩人與總統歷時僅僅數秒的交鋒迅速發酵,這不僅觸及近期風雨飄搖的中美關係,還觸碰到中港、兩岸的敏感議題,在各地都掀起了排山倒海的爭議。// Initium on the increasing challenges Chinese reporters face in the US

‘Better Days’ Wins Big at Hong Kong Film Awards | Sixth Tone “Better Days” bagged the top prizes for film, director, screenplay, cinematography, makeup, and original song. The 2019 teen drama directed by Derek Kwok-cheung Tsang depicts how school bullying incidents shape the fates of teenagers played by Zhou Dongyu and Yi Yangqianxi. The two actors also won awards for their performances.

Society, Arts, Sports, Culture and History

The Struggles of a Chinese Stay-at-Home Dad - Chinarrative In this issue we meet Chen Hualiang, a stay-at-home dad who gets a monthly salary of 20,000 yuan (around $2,800) from his wife. He takes his parenting duties seriously and finds that he can do just as good of a job as stay-at-home moms. In doing so, Chen is also challenging gender roles in China.

Tibet to invest 40 mln yuan to protect world heritage temple - Xinhua Southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region plans to invest over 40 million yuan (about 5.6 million U.S. dollars) to protect the Jokhang Temple, a UNESCO world heritage site in the old city of the regional capital Lhasa. The large-scale investment, subsidized by both central and local governments, mainly focuses on upgrading the security, power, and fire-fighting facilities of the temple to protect the historical artifacts and the heritage site overall. // Question: What was destroyed in the 2018 fire?

Energy, Environment, Science and Health

Belt and Road: China Stands Alone in Backing Africa Coal Projects - Bloomberg Chinese companies and banks are involved in financing at least 13 coal projects across the continent with another nine in the pipeline, according to data compiled by Greenpeace. Since 2000, the China Development Bank and the Export-Import Bank of China alone have supplied $51.8 billion of finance for coal projects globally, according to the Boston University Global Development Policy Center.

Chinese internet giants target 450 million users with online health care plans by 2025 | South China Morning Post By 2025 users of China’s online mutual aid industry will increase three times to reach 450 million, according to the whitepaper released by Ant Group on Thursday. Mutual aid platforms, which operate as a collective claim-sharing mechanism offering basic health plans to assist those facing critical illnesses, are popular among China’s low and middle income households in rural areas which often lack quality hospitals and good medical care.