Q1 GDP this week; Guangzhou's treatment of Africans causes diplomatic mess; Mekong dams and downstream drought

It is China Q1 GDP week!

The 2020 target is still not set, officials face a real conundrum between releasing credible GDP data while not feeding into some of the more bearish views for the rest of 2020. The Q1 data may help settle the debate over what the 2020 target should be, if there is going to be one, and settling that may lead to an announcement for a date for the Two Meetings.

The Monday’s People’s Daily had a page one commentary “to expand domestic demand, we must strengthen efforts to ensure and improve people's well-being”, spurring hopes yet again of more forceful policy responses. The data this week may force the leadership to roll out much more stimulus, but they can not do what they did in 2008-09, nor do they want to. And I do not see how they can expand domestic demand enough to make up for the Q1 shortfall and the subsequent collapse in global demand.

Will the leadership decide that direct cash payments to some or all citizens make more sense as a stimulus? That could certainly be spun as “Communist” or “Socialist”, more so than another round of crazy real estate speculation…

The epidemic in Russia looks quite bad given the number of imported cases that have come into China from Russia. See item 2.

Thanks for reading.


The Essential Eight

1. The economy

财新调查|一季度GDP同比下降6.6% 3月数据降幅或收窄

Economic data for the first quarter of 2020 will be released on April 17. Economists from 18 organizations predicted the first quarter GDP of China to drop by 6.6 percent on average.

财新对18家国内外机构的调查显示,经济学家对一季度GDP同比增速的预测均值为-6.6%,中位数均为-7%,预测区间为-11.5%至0%,明显低于2019年四季度的6%。

Expect the first negative GDP print in over 40 years - Capital Economics

The government will publish Q1 GDP figures next week in what will be an unprecedented test of its willingness to acknowledge economic weakness...

In the past, efforts to nudge up official growth have involved massaging the key monthly data first, much of which feeds directly into the GDP calculations. So the fact that NBS have published such weak data recently suggests they have decided to be upfront about the extent of the downturn. Given this, we think GDP may fall 16% y/y in Q1.

A sharp contraction in Q1 GDP would have implications for the ongoing discussions over the 2020 growth target, which is due to be published at the National People’s Congress (rumored to be taking pace in the next month or so). Any target that is politically palatable would be unachievable in practice and so it is not out of the question that they opt not to set one at all.

人民日报:扩大内需必须加强保障和改善民生--舆情频道--人民网

Top right Page 1 People's Daily article Monday - "To expand domestic demand, we must strengthen efforts to ensure and improve people's well-being"

Yicai Global - China May Use Economic Tools to Battle First-Quarter Economy Shrink, Chief Economists Say

Twenty of the chief economists projected China’s gross domestic product growth for this year, pegging the average at 2.87 percent, down from 5.96 percent at the end of last year with all respondents expecting expansion to slow. The short-term impact of Covid-19 will be significant and the GDP likely contracted in the first quarter, the economists believe, predicting it may have shrunk as much as 6.48 percent.

Coronavirus pandemic to test China's unemployment safety net - Reuters

The rapid spread of the disease around the world has dashed hopes for a quick recovery in China, where the virus first emerged. Analysts expect nearly 30 million job losses this year due to stuttering work resumptions and plunging global demand, outpacing the 20-plus million layoffs during the 2008-09 financial crisis.

Beijing has fortified its jobless claims programme in the decade since the financial crisis erupted, tripling the pot of funds to which both employers and workers contribute to 581.7 billion yuan ($82.37 billion), according to the latest data.

But millions of workers have no contracts or have not been paying into the unemployment insurance scheme, meaning they will have to rely on their employers giving them compensation if they get laid off.

Appliance-Maker Hisense to Lay Off Over 10,000 - Caixin

Chinese home appliance-maker Hisense Group is laying off more than 10,000 people, several employees told Caixin, as the global coronavirus pandemic has disrupted production and reduced demand for its products.

Executives are determined to carry out the redundancies and most departments will be affected, according to one employee in the company’s research department, who said that layoffs may affect as much as 20% of the companies staff. Company Chairman Zhou Houjian said earlier this year that Hisense had a total global workforce of 80,000.

Chinese manufacturing recovering, but demand now a concern: EU business group - Reuters

“On the manufacturing side, it actually has been recovering quite well, surprisingly well,” EU Chamber of Commerce President Joerg Wuttke said at an online news briefing.

“But the shutdowns in the major markets... have hit our demand story as well as the supply chain,” he added.

China’s export showroom Yiwu grinds to a near halt as global pandemic restrictions bite | South China Morning Post

Export orders have dried up amid sweeping containment measures in the US and Europe and restrictions on foreigners entering China have shut out international buyers

Chinese Central Bank Releases First Quarterly Data Report Since COVID-19 Outbreak – China Banking News

As of the end of March Chi­na’s broad M2 money sup­ply bal­ance was 208.09 tril­lion yuan, for YoY growth of 10.1%, and an ac­cel­er­a­tion of 1.3 per­cent­age points and 1.5 per­cent­age points com­pared to the pre­ced­ing month and the same pe­riod last year re­spec­tively...

The ren­minbi loan bal­ance was 160.21 tril­lion yuan, for YoY growth of 12.7%, and an ac­cel­er­a­tion of 0.6 per­cent­age points com­pared to the pre­vi­ous month as well as a de­cel­er­a­tion of 1 per­cent­age point com­pared to the same pe­riod last year.

Ren­minbi loans in­creased by 7.1 tril­lion yuan in the first quar­ter, 1.29 tril­lion yuan more than the read­ing for the same pe­riod last year.


2. The outbreak

Chinese mainland reports 108 new confirmed COVID-19 cases - Xinhua

Chinese health authority said Monday that it received reports of 108 new confirmed COVID-19 cases on the Chinese mainland Sunday, of which 98 were imported.

Ten new domestically transmitted cases were reported, including seven in Heilongjiang Province and three in Guangdong Province, the National Health Commission said in a daily report.

China toughens restrictions on border with Russia as imported coronavirus cases hit record - Reuters

The border city of Suifenhe and Harbin, capital of Heilongjiang, said they would require all arrivals from abroad to undergo 28 days of quarantine, as well as nucleic acid and antibody tests.

Harbin added that it would lock down residential units where confirmed and asymptomatic coronavirus cases are found for 14 days.

How Safe Is Air Travel Amid Virus? China Finds Coronavirus Cases - Bloomberg

More than half of the coronavirus infections reported by China on Sunday stemmed from a Russian flight to Shanghai on April 10, underscoring the possible severity of the outbreak in Russia.

Shanghai’s Municipal Health Commission said 51 of 52 imported cases on Saturday were of Chinese nationals who were diagnosed to have Covid-19 after they landed in the city. The travelers accounted for more than half of 97 imported infections China disclosed on Sunday morning. No other information was provided about the flight.

China sends experts to support border city's COVID-19 control - Xinhua

The dispatched personnel include medical experts on infection control, intensive care and respiratory diseases, as well as public health professionals on emergency health response, infectious disease control and laboratory testing, said Mi Feng, spokesperson for the NHC at a press conference in Beijing.

Experts are cooperating with local organs to treat patients and prevent the epidemic from spreading, Mi said.

The capabilities of China's land border cities and counties, including Suifenhe, to prevent and control major epidemics are insufficient, said Wang Bin, an official with the NHC.

Mobile negative pressure lab put into use in Chinese border city as imported cases increase - Xinhua

A team of 15 medical experts from the National Institute for Viral Disease Control and Prevention under the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Sunday departed from Beijing for Suifenhe to aid the latter fighting against imported cases. Now the experts are conducting nucleic acid tests and scientific research in the lab they set up, according to the CDC.

China strengthens epidemic control along border, expands coronavirus infection testing in key regions | english.scio.gov.cn

The instructions were made at a meeting of the leading group of China's COVID-19 epidemic response, which was chaired by Premier Li Keqiang, also a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee.

Measures should be taken to strengthen the COVID-19 test and treatment capacity in border regions, according to the meeting.

The leading group decided to shift more resources from inland areas to secure the medical supply reserves in border regions and port cities and boost their testing capacity.

Heilongjiang to reward residents who report on illegal migrants amid growing risk of imported COVID-19 cases - Global Times

Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province has mobilized local residents in the fight against the epidemic by offering a reward of 3,000 yuan ($425) for those living in border areas who report on illegal migrants, with a reward of 5,000 yuan for those who capture illegal arrivals by themselves.

Russian alarm on imported infection risk: Global Times editorial - Global Times

Russia is the latest example of a failure to control imported cases and can serve as a warning to others. When the virus wreaked havoc in Europe, Russia appeared to have successfully blocked the epidemic outside its border. It was only on March 2 that the country reported its first case, much later than Western Europe and the US. Russia has also imposed strict restrictions on the entry of Chinese travelers. But it eventually failed to curb the epidemic.

15-20% of those quarantined in Suifenhe may be infected: official - Global Times

While recording 243 confirmed COVID-19 cases, the Suifenhe land port neighboring Russia has 1,479 people under collective quarantine, 15-20 percent of whom may be diagnosed and tested positive, local officials said on Monday.

Yang Yanjie, the vice head of the expert group for epidemiological investigation of COVID-19 of Heilongjiang Province, told the Global Times on Monday that the number of infections in Suifenhe will keep soaring and the city still needs about a month to handle imported cases from Russia.

Beijing schools prepare for reopening with emergency plans - Global Times

The Beijing Municipal Commission of Education on Monday posted answers to the top 30 questions regarding school resumption. It said on Sunday that graduating students in high schools will return on April 27, and graduating students at middle schools will return on May 11.

Beijing requires teachers to wear masks in classrooms, and students to wear masks all time in schools, said the commission.

Nearly 1 million students return to school in China's Zhejiang - Xinhua

The eastern Chinese province of Zhejiang on Monday partially reopened schools, with a total of 977,000 senior students in junior and senior high schools resuming classes in classrooms, as the novel coronavirus epidemic wanes in China.

On Monday morning, students wearing masks had body temperatures taken and presented their digital codes proving their health conditions before entering schools.

China will step up coronavirus testing for people leaving Wuhan - Reuters

China will step up coronavirus testing and health management for people leaving Wuhan, state television reported Monday, quoting a meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang.

The government will expand nucleic acid test coverage, especially for people who leave Wuhan and who will work in teaching, the medical sectors and public services, it said.

I Spent Seven Weeks in a Wuhan ICU. Here’s What I Learned - SixthTone

Bringing the death rate down was our top mission. Faced with so many unknowns, we tried just about everything. I spent my free time poring over the latest scientific literature and talking to my colleagues about what we could do and how we should adjust our treatment plan. We even experimented with drugs like chloroquine, the anti-malarial that U.S. President Donald Trump has hailed as a “game-changer,” though many of our patients experienced severe side effects and couldn’t continue the treatment.

Indeed, in our experience, no medicine was particularly useful. Instead, the most effective solution was oxygen. For around 60% of our patients, oxygen saturation was improved by using oxygen masks with a reservoir bag. In more severe cases, we would also use a nasal cannula and an oxygen mask to increase the volume of oxygen.

COVID-19 drug study canceled, other continues - China Daily

A clinical trial in China of the experimental drug remdesivir on severe coronavirus patients has been canceled because of a lack of participants, but another trial of the drug on mildly and moderately ill patients continues and the results are scheduled for release on April 27, a chief scientist said.

Foreigners urged to cooperate - China Daily

Foreigners in China should cooperate with local authorities, it said, and permit monitoring, quarantine and other coronavirus preventive measures as needed.

Foreigners over age 16 should show their passports to public security bureaus and accept inspection of their IDs. They should also register accommodations within 24 hours of arrival or change of address and accept being placed under medical observation if asked.

Beijing tightens grip over coronavirus research amid US-China row on virus origin - CNN

China has imposed restrictions on the publication of academic research on the origins of the novel coronavirus, according to a central government directive and online notices published by two Chinese universities, that have since been removed from the web.

Under the new policy, all academic papers on Covid-19 will be subject to extra vetting before being submitted for publication. Studies on the origin of the virus will receive extra scrutiny and must be approved by central government officials, according to the now-deleted posts.

A medical expert in Hong Kong who collaborated with mainland researchers to publish a clinical analysis of Covid-19 cases in an international medical journal said his work did not undergo such vetting in February.

First Flights Repatriating Chinese Students From U.S. Arrive Home - Caixin

The chartered planes carrying nearly 400 minors landed in the cities of Guangzhou and Shanghai. The trips were completed only one week after the Chinese Embassy in the U.S. started to gauge Chinese students’ desire to return.

How Thousands of Chinese Gently Mourn a Virus Whistle-Blower - The New York Times

Dr. Li Wenliang tried to warn his country but was silenced. Now its traumatized people visit his spirit online.

Coronavirus: China’s Centres for Disease Control should have power to warn public, says country’s leading expert | South China Morning Post

China’s Centres for Disease Control and Prevention should play a stronger role in raising the alarm over disease outbreaks, the country’s leading epidemiologist Zhong Nanshan said on Sunday.

“The CDC should be granted certain powers, rather than merely being a technical unit to collect and report data,” Zhong told People’s Daily in response to a question about what an ideal CDC would look like.

The original - 钟南山关于疫情的12个最新判断,信息量很大

Arrivals to Beijing must provide nucleic acid test certificate from Sunday - Xinhua

All arrivals to Beijing who need to stay at hotels must provide a nucleic acid test certificate from April 12, local authorities said Friday. People entering the capital city who need to stay at hotels should hold a health certificate verifying a negative local nucleic acid test within seven days, as well as a health code to prove they are free of COVID-19, Zhou Weiming, an official with Beijing Municipal Bureau of Culture and Tourism, told a press briefing on epidemic prevention and control.


3. Africans in Guangzhou mistreated as racism mixes with fears of “imported” infections

An Unprecedented Rupture in China-Africa Relations - The China Africa Project

A key turning point occurred on Friday, when photos of young men forced to sleep outside on the street, visibly cold and wearing surgical masks to protect them from COVID-19, started going viral on Facebook and Twitter.

The reaction in Africa was immediate and furious. African social media users took to Twitter under the hashtag #ChinaMustExplain to vent their anger, frustration and concern. Sensing the severity of the crisis and the surging outrage, African politicians began to call in Chinese ambassadors to their foreign ministries to express their concern...

Once the morning newspapers started to come out on Saturday, the scale of the damage to China’s reputation in Africa became clear. “Kenyans in China: Rescue us from hell” blared the main headline on the Saturday Nation newspaper. Similarly dire stories were featured on popular news sites in Nigeria and Ghana, among other countries.

Africans in China being evicted from homes after lockdown ends — Quartz Africa

“I don’t know where I will sleep tonight,” a man from Ghana says in a nighttime video, luggage strewn on the streets. “We are Nigerians, Ugandans and Ghanaians; we are stranded now.”

In another video, a group of black men can be seen pulling their luggage and being herded through the rainy streets by police officers. “They are chasing us away. We are just walking on the road. They [are not] giving us houses, they [are not] giving us hotels…They don’t want us to stay at one place,” the person filming the video says.

On Saturday, the front page of Kenya’s Nation newspaper read: “Kenyans in China: Rescue us from hell”.

Kenyans in China cry for help as they face stigma - Daily Nation

A Kenyan student in Guangdong, whose identity the Saturday Nation is not revealing for security reasons, said attacks on African immigrants have persisted under the collective nose of Chinese authorities for two weeks now.

The Chinese Embassy in Nairobi has not commented on the attacks, but Mr William Zhuo, chairman of the Kenya Chinese Chamber of Commerce, told the Saturday Nation that “as a member of the Chinese community living in Kenya”, he is “concerned and saddened” by reports of the harassment of Kenyans.

Protest Letter of African Ambassadors in Beijing - FrontPageAfrica

The Group of African Ambassadors appreciates the excellent relations between China and our respective African countries dating back in the Africa’s liberation struggle and Africa’s support to China, especially in securing the permanent seat of the United Nations Security Council. This collaborative effort is also manifested in the ongoing fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and the various assistance extended to our countries by the Communist Party of China under the leadership of H.E Xi Jinxing...

It is therefore worrisome, following this excellent cooperation and mutual friendship that, the African Group of Ambassadors observes with consternations the discrimination and stigmatization of Africans whereby they are made to forcefully, and in a very crude manner to undergo epidemic investigation and Nucleic Acid Test and fourteen (14) days quarantine even if they had not travelled outside their jurisdictions, not come into contact with infected persons, not had close contact or showing any symptoms of the COVID-19.

‘Black people are not allowed’: McDonald’s China apologizes for discrimination - Inkstone

In a statement sent to Inkstone on Monday, McDonald’s China confirmed a branch in Guangzhou introduced the ban on black customers on April 11. It said the restaurant had been told to stop such actions.

“McDonald’s China apologizes unreservedly to the individual and our customers,” the statement says. (McDonald’s businesses in mainland China and Hong Kong are majority owned by state-owned conglomerate CITIC Ltd and its private equity arm.)

The video from a McDonald’s:

外交部部长助理集体会见非洲国家驻华使节

Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs Chen Xiaodong meets with a group of more than 20 African ambassadors in Beijing, sounds like MoFa at least understands the problem, but can they convince the powers that be to force Guangdong to improve its policies and measures?

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian's Regular Press Conference on April 13, 2020

China Review News: A US State Department spokesperson said on April 11 that there has been discrimination towards Africans in places like Guangdong in the process of epidemic prevention and control, adding that, “It’s unfortunate but not surprising to see this kind of xenophobia towards Africans by Chinese authorities”; “Anyone who watches Chinese engagement in projects across Africa recognizes this kind of abusive and manipulative behavior”; “Promises made to Africans are never kept as advertised”; and that “To treat people – especially students – this way during a global public health crisis says everything about how the PRC views their so-called ‘partnership’ with Africa”. What’s your response?

Zhao Lijian: We note the remarks by the US State Department spokesperson. At a moment when the international community urgently needs to work together to fight the pandemic, the US side is making unwarranted allegations in an attempt to sow discord and stoke trouble. This is neither moral nor responsible. We suggest that the US had better focus on domestic efforts to contain the spread of the virus. Attempts to use the pandemic to drive a wedge between China and Africa are bound to fail.

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian's Remarks on Guangdong's Anti-epidemic Measures Concerning African Citizens in China

During our fight against the coronavirus, the Chinese government has been attaching great importance to the life and health of foreign nationals in China. All foreigners are treated equally. We reject differential treatment, and we have zero tolerance for discrimination. Since the outbreak, the authorities in Guangdong attach high importance to the treatment of foreign patients, including African nationals. Specific plans and proper arrangements are made to protect their life and health to the best of our ability, thanks to which we were able to save the lives of some African patients in severe or critical conditions.

The Guangdong authorities attach great importance to some African countries’ concerns and are working promptly to improve their working method. The measures include: to provide health management services without differentiation, to designate hotels for the accommodation of foreigners required to undergo medical observation and adopt price adjustment for those in financial difficulties; to set up effective communication mechanism with foreign consulates-general in Guangzhou; and to reject all racist and discriminatory remarks. The Chinese people always see in the African people partners and brothers through thick and thin. China-Africa friendship is unbreakable as it is deeply rooted in this land. African friends can count on getting fair, just, cordial and friendly reception in China. The foreign ministry will stay in close communication with the Guangdong authorities and continue responding to the African side’s reasonable concerns and legitimate appeals.

Africans Caught Up in Guangzhou Campaign to Contain Imported Infections - Caixin

Guangzhou reported its first imported case of Covid-19 on March 15, and 119 of the city’s 479 new cases between that date and the end of Saturday came from people entering China from abroad. Another 13 new cases of local origins during that period were related to imported cases — 12 of those involving African nationals.

Chinese official: claims of racial targeting are 'reasonable concerns' | The Guardian

A Canadian man said he was “mandated to stay indoors because I am black”.

On Sunday the US state department accused the Chinese officials of “xenophobia” towards Africans, and said the abuse and mistreatment showed how “hollow” the China-Africa partnership was.

The US consul general in Guangzhou has advised African-Americans or those who Chinese officials may suspect of having contact with African nationals to avoid the area “until further notice”.

It said the “escalating scrutiny of foreign nationals”, including mandatory testing and quarantine, was occurring “regardless of recent travel history or previous quarantine completion”.

WATCH: Former AU Diplomat Challenges President Xi To Deal With Discrimination ⋆ Pindula News

Former African Union (AU) “Permanent Ambassador” Arikana Chihombori Quao has appealed to Chinese President Xi Jinping to do what is “right” and “just” following reports that Africans resident in China are being mistreated in Guangzhou, with some being evicted from hotels.

Chihombori said, “the Africans are no longer going to tolerate this from the Chinese or anyone else for that matter. The African youths are enraged…”

Coronavirus: Chinese diplomats deny mistreatment claims following angry protests from African nations | South China Morning Post

On Friday the Chinese ambassador to Nigeria Zhou Pingjian met the speaker of the country’s House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila, who made the diplomat watch a video that he said showed quarantine workers mistreating people...

Gbajabiamila posted a video of his meeting with Zhou on Twitter, in which he is heard saying: “I’m almost undiplomatic in the way I am talking, but it is because I am upset about what’s going on.”

But in a statement released on Sunday the Chinese embassy said Zhou had rejected the speaker’s claims.

China in the driver's seat amid calls for Africa debt relief - Reuters

Beijing is likely to endorse a temporary freeze on debt payments by African countries as part of an expected agreement by the Group of 20 (G20) major economies this week, two sources familiar with the process told Reuters.

Broader debt relief is the obvious next step but China is unlikely to lead that charge, analysts say, despite the potential opportunity to burnish its soft power credentials.

4. Foreign work

Xi says China ready to continue supporting Mexico in COVID-19 fight | english.scio.gov.cn

Chinese President Xi Jinping said Friday that China is ready to continue to provide as much support as its capacity allows for Mexico's fight against COVID-19, including helping the Latin American country purchase badly needed anti-epidemic supplies in China.

Xi Jinping: China-Indonesia cooperation enjoys great potential - CGTN

Especially in recent years, bilateral relations have continued to elevate with expanding and deepening cooperation, such as Belt and Road cooperation, delivering benefits to two peoples and contributing to regional and world stability and prosperity, Xi said.

Meanwhile, China will continue to work with Indonesia to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic, he added.

Xi says China ready to continue helping Venezuela fight COVID-19 | english.scio.gov.cn

The Chinese president said he follows closely the development of the COVID-19 outbreak in Venezuela, and has noted that the Venezuelan government has rolled out swift and decisive measures, which fully demonstrates its high sense of responsibility for the safety and health of the Venezuelan people.

China understands Venezuela's current situation, and has sent to the Latin American country several batches of material aid as well as a team of high-level medical experts, Xi said, adding that his country is ready to offer more help.

Xi says China ready to continue helping Argentina with COVID-19 prevention, aid | english.scio.gov.cn

Xi made the remarks in a recent exchange of messages with Argentina's President Alberto Fernandez...

The Chinese side firmly supports the South American country's measures against the outbreak, and has sent to Argentina supplies related to epidemic prevention and control, said Xi, adding that experts of the two countries have also exchanged experience on how to battle the epidemic.

Chinese premier to attend ASEAN-China, Japan, ROK special meeting on COVID-19 - Xinhua

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang will on Tuesday in Beijing attend a special meeting of leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) plus China, Japan and the Republic of Korea on responding to COVID-19.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian made the announcement on Monday, saying the video meeting will be hosted by Vietnam as ASEAN's chair in 2020.

Beijing tried to make German officials praise China over coronavirus outbreak - report | Hong Kong Free Press HKFP

a German intelligence source told Die Welt that “Chinese officials are pursuing an intensified information and propaganda policy with regard to the coronavirus”.

Beijing has sought to counter the narrative that the outbreak began in China and highlighted its assistance to Western countries “in order to present the People’s Republic as a trustworthy partner,” Germany’s Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution said.

Chinese government asks Wisconsin Senate for a commendation - Wisconsin Examiner

The genesis of this resolution is quite a story. Roth received two emails from Chinese consulate staff asking that he pass a resolution they wrote supporting China’s battle against COVID-19 praising China’s response to the virus. When he received the first one dated Feb. 26, he saw it was from a hotmail account and disregarded it as a prank.

Then on March 10, 2020, he received a follow up, and Roth says he had his staff start digging, reaching out through government channels. They were able to confirm that the email requests were legitimate —  and they were told Chinese diplomats routinely use private email accounts because they are faster.

“Then I got mad, because that’s when [COVID-19] cases started cropping up here and you saw the problem exacerbated as we started to learn the truth,” Roth says. “I just sent them back a one-word response. I said ‘nuts.’ 

Finland's Emergency Supply Agency Head Quits Over Face Mask Purchase - Reuters

The Finnish government said on Friday it has accepted the resignation of the head of the country's emergency supply agency over a multi-million euro purchase of Chinese face masks that proved unsuitable for hospital use.

Chartered cargo flights carry anti-epidemic materials to Netherlands, Japan - Xinhua

Two aircraft on Monday departed from east China's Jiangxi Province to the Netherlands and Japan, respectively, marking the first batch of international air cargo and mail charter services to deliver medical supplies from the province...

As of Sunday, Jiangxi had delivered 333 million masks, 3.58 million protective suits, 306.5 million pairs of gloves and 530,000 pairs of shoe covers to 98 countries and regions including Germany, Israel, the United States, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, the Republic of Korea, Italy and Japan.

To Belgrade and beyond: Beijing exports China model of virus management - Reuters

In Belgrade, the Chinese team visited a memorial to those killed in 1999 when American bombs hit China’s embassy there in what Washington apologised for as an accident.

After the team’s arrival, a placard was mounted on a central Belgrade street with a picture of China’s leader and big letters in Chinese and Serbian: “Thank you, big brother Xi”.

Yomiuri Shimbun biased on COVID-19 fight: Global Times editorial - Global Times

Seiichiro Takeuchi, head of the China bureau of Japan's Yomiuri Shimbun, published an article headlined "Parties which refused to apologize will shoot themselves in the foot." The article echoed the extreme ideas that China should be responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic and claimed that the view of Beijing is "dwarfing." The article also asserted that the Chinese regime did not bear the weight of public trust, while accusing the Chinese government of fanning nationalistic sentiment to tighten its control...

Takeuchi should think bigger and inform his Japanese readers and the West of the true story of China's epidemic fight instead of disregarding facts and looking to his American big brother to create new divergences between China and Japan. Please be spiritually and mindfully independent and morally integrated as a Japanese.

Xenophobia Rises: Thai actress sparks Twitter feud between users in China and Thailand - Thisrupt

“nnevvy” is the Twitter username of actress Veeraya Sukaram, nicknamed New. Veeraya is “rumored” to be dating actor Vachirawit Cheevaari, or Bright, who is the star of the popular TV soap opera 2gether, in which he plays a gay man named Sarawat.

But the hashtag is not trending because fans of the series are disappointed Vachirawit isn’t gay in real life.

#nnevvy currently has nearly two million tweets and still counting, because of a post retweeted yesterday by Veeraya on her private Twitter account that was later deleted. She retweeted a post with a caption questioning China’s credibility and sense of responsibility during the COVID-19 outbreak.


5. US-China

Trump administration moves against Chinese telecom firms citing national security - The Washington Post

According to the filing, China Telecom targets its cellphone service to more than 4 million Chinese Americans, 2 million Chinese tourists visiting the United States annually, 300,000 Chinese students at U.S. colleges and more than 1,500 Chinese businesses in the United States. Moreover, the FBI is disadvantaged in wiretapping Chinese diplomats using the service because the bureau could not serve an order on the company for fear of tipping off the Chinese government, U.S. officials said...

Team Telecom, which includes Pentagon and Department of Homeland Security officials, last week was given an official status and name through an order issued by Trump, creating the Committee for the Assessment of Foreign Participation in the United States Telecommunications Services Sector. That gives its recommendations more legal heft...

The administration is also drafting a rule targeting a major Chinese tech firm’s ability to make semiconductor chips, part of its broader effort to slow Huawei Technology’s drive to dominate the emerging high-speed wireless 5G market.

At a White House meeting called by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Tuesday, Trump raised no objections to proceeding with the rule, though its timing remains uncertain
, according to several individuals familiar with the meeting who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

Americans See Spread of Disease as Top International Threat, Along With Terrorism, Nuclear Weapons, Cyberattacks | Pew Research Center

Roughly six-in-ten Americans (62%) name China’s power and influence as a major threat, a figure that has increased sharply in recent years. By comparison, in 2017, 41% said China was a major threat to the U.S.

Anthony Fauci: China misled the world; coronavirus erupted in mid-December - Washington Times

Dr. Fauci, an influential member of President Trump’s coronavirus task force, told the Fox News show “Watters’ World” over the weekend that as the disease spread to more people in mid-January in Wuhan and the surrounding Hubei province, the Chinese government said that human contagion was minimal, a fact that shaped for weeks the outside world’s sense of the danger and the appropriate response.

Both assertions were “clearly not correct … that was misinformation right from the beginning,” he said.

Scott Gottlieb says WHO should investigate China's handling of initial coronavirus outbreak - CBS News

"China was not truthful with the world at the outset of this," he said. "Had they been more truthful with the world, which would have enabled them to be more truthful with themselves, they might have actually been able to contain this entirely. And there is some growing evidence to suggest that as late as January 20, they were still saying that there was no human-to-human transmission and the WHO is validating those claims on January 14, sort of enabling the obfuscation from China."

In coronavirus-gripped Washington, rhetoric rises but anti-China bills stall | South China Morning Post

The 116th Congress will forever be best known for the impeachment of Donald Trump. But it will also go down as the most hawkish – and most prolific – Congress to date in its approach toward China...

“Not much of what gets proposed or introduced in the upcoming days [regarding China] will become policy, but everyone wants to message that they’re on it,” said a senior congressional staffer, who requested anonymity to discuss lawmakers’ internal deliberations.

There has been “far and away” more China-related legislation introduced during the current congressional session than, for example, there was counterterrorism legislation introduced in the 107th session following 9/11, noted Anna Ashton, who closely tracks movements on Capitol Hill in her work heading government affairs at the US-China Business Council.

Exclusive: GT probes in Wuhan, Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou refute US slander about wet markets - Global Times

The most recent attack comes from the Wall Street Journal, which presented China's Ministry of Finance and tax authority document on March 17, saying that China would raise value-added tax rebates on nearly 1,500 Chinese products, including a 9 percent rebate on the export of animal products such as edible snakes and turtles, primate meat, beaver and civet musk.

The Journal said it has discovered a treasure after finding the document, which is just a bid to promote overall trade, and recklessly linked it with China's intention to sell "wild animals" abroad while banning the wildlife sales domestically.

"Most animals on the list are artificially bred and edible animals, which have been allowed for export for a long time," a source from China's National Forest and Grassland Administration told the Global Times on Monday. The source said exporting animals and their products have to undergo layers of food safety examinations in China, and have to reach the recipient countries' standards.

The report -Amid Coronavirus Pandemic, China Bans Domestic Trade of Wild Animals, but Offers Tax Breaks for Exports - WSJ $$

China’s Ministry of Finance and tax authority said on March 17 they would raise value-added tax rebates on nearly 1,500 Chinese products, including offering a 9% rebate on the export of animal products such as edible snakes and turtles, primate meat, beaver and civet musk, and rhino horns, a Chinese government document shows...

The Chinese government’s new tax incentives are tied to a broad array of exports, designed to support Chinese industries from steel and construction to agricultural products, according to a report by the Congressional Research Service, which produces nonpartisan analysis for members of Congress.

U.S. spy agencies collected raw intelligence hinting at public health crisis in Wuhan, China, in November - NBC News

The intelligence came in the form of communications intercepts and overhead images showing increased activity at health facilities, the officials said. The intelligence was distributed to some federal public health officials in the form of a "situation report" in late November, a former official briefed on the matter said. But there was no assessment that a lethal global outbreak was brewing at that time, a defense official said.

On Wednesday night, the Defense Department disputed an ABC News report that an "intelligence report" had warned about the coronavirus in November.


6. Virus origin debate

In the long Sunday New York Times story on the US response to the epidemic are some China nuggets, including another reminder of the impact of Zhao Lijian’s Twitter disinformation.

He Could Have Seen What Was Coming: Behind Trump’s Failure on the Virus - The New York Times

Mr. Pottinger initially suspected that President Xi Jinping’s government was keeping a dark secret: that the virus may have originated in one of the laboratories in Wuhan studying deadly pathogens. In his view, it might have even been a deadly accident unleashed on an unsuspecting Chinese population.

During meetings and telephone calls, Mr. Pottinger asked intelligence agencies — including officers at the C.I.A. working on Asia and on weapons of mass destruction — to search for evidence that might bolster his theory.

They didn’t have any evidence. Intelligence agencies did not detect any alarm inside the Chinese government that analysts presumed would accompany the accidental leak of a deadly virus from a government laboratory. But Mr. Pottinger continued to believe the coronavirus problem was far worse than the Chinese were acknowledging…

Mr. Trump took a conciliatory approach through the middle of March, praising the job Mr. Xi was doing.

That changed abruptly, when aides informed Mr. Trump that a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman had publicly spun a new conspiracy about the origins of Covid-19: that it was brought to China by U.S. Army personnel who visited the country last October.

Mr. Trump was furious, and he took to his favorite platform to broadcast a new message. On March 16, he wrote on Twitter that “the United States will be powerfully supporting those industries, like Airlines and others, that are particularly affected by the Chinese Virus.”

Inside the Viral Spread of a Coronavirus Origin Theory | Vanity Fair

Over the past week or so, just a couple of months after it had been knocked down and sent packing back to the fringe, the lab-leak scenario has begun to rear its head once again, this time entertained by credible journalists. On April 2, the Washington Post’s David Ignatius published a column titled, “How did COVID-19 begin? Its initial origin story is shaky.” That piece, which made a case for the plausibility of a lab accident, was followed two days later by a story from Glen Owen, political editor of Britain’s Mail on Sunday: “Did coronavirus leak from a research lab in Wuhan? Startling new theory is ‘no longer being discounted.’”

The Mail on Sunday published a letter from the Chinese Embassy in UK on its report on the origin of COVID-19

Last week, The Mail on Sunday carried an article propagating a groundless theory that links the origin of Covid-19 to a lab in Wuhan.

The article also discredits China’s effective efforts in combating Covid-19 and promoting international co-operation...

The origin of a virus is a complicated, scientific issue. It should be left to scientists and doctors to find out through studies and research.

Hasty and reckless allegations, such as naming China as the origin in an attempt to shift the blame, before any scientific conclusion is reached, is totally irresponsible and will definitely do harm to international co-operation at this critical time.

尴尬的真相:COVID-19外地起源论最终是个死胡同 - Chairman Rabbit “兔主席” on why the argument over the origin of the virus is a dead end for China. Chairman Rabbit is Ren Yi, the grandson of Ren Zhongyi, a “reformer” who was Guangdong Party Secretary 1980-85.

中国民间似乎把所有的注意力都放在了病毒起源论上,陷入了一个巨大的认知陷阱。这本质说明中国民众的不自信结合原罪感,认为自己要给全世界担责任。好像真的只有证明病毒不来自中国,才能“自证清白”,“洗脱罪责”,不需再还世界一个道歉。而纵观全球,抹黑中国最不遗余力的就是美国。所以病毒起源论自然要扣到美国身上。

这就是美国病毒起源论的根本逻辑。

民间有这样的朴素想法是没有办法的,这也是老百姓的自由,但中国政府自己千万不能涉足这个领域,对民众应该健康引导,同时尤其不能向外输出廉价的“美国起源阴谋论”。这种阴谋论只在中国内地有市场,基本属于内宣,不属于外交。它只会给我们的外交工作及国际形象带来巨大负面影响,有百害而无一利,应该完全避免,中国官方极力回避陷入病毒起源论这个没有出路的死胡同里,应当坚定不移的恪守“病毒是全人类的敌人”,“全人类社会应齐心协力众志成城抗疫”的叙事。


7. Wolf warrior diplomacy

China wants its diplomats to show more fighting spirit. It may not be intended to win over the rest of the world | South China Morning Post

Shortly before her promotion last year to head the foreign ministry’s information department, Hua Chunying lamented the lack of fighting spirit among China’s diplomats in promoting the country’s preferred narrative...

Published in a front-page article in July in Study Times, the flagship newspaper of the party school, her remarks echoed a key message that the leadership and diplomats have repeated since early last year, that Communist cadres must prepare for a“long-term struggle” and be prepared to fight through adversity...

“There is no doubt that the assertive diplomacy, including the conspiracy theory to blame the US for spreading the virus in China, has had the approval from the leadership,” said Yun Sun, a senior fellow at the Stimson Center in Washington.
“This is reflected in the fact that such conspiracy theories are allowed on the internet despite the strict information control about the Covid-19, as well as the fact that a spokesperson of the foreign ministry will need authorisation to tweet what he did. I think the diplomats and the leaders are mutually reinforcing each other’s position.”

Hua’s study Times article - Occupy the moral commanding heights, enhance international discourse power 占据道义制高点,提升国际话语权

Justice Department Tracks Virus Disinformation by Russia, China - Bloomberg

“The Chinese Foreign Ministry official saying the virus came from a U.S. military lab is disinformation, but it’s not something that we would go after criminally,” Demers said. “A bot spreading that and pretending to be not Chinese, pretending to be concerned citizens for coronavirus, is something that we do look at very seriously.”

Out of Order: Pandemic Playbook: How Beijing is Shaping its Own Story— and Learning from Moscow.

On this episode, Alliance for Securing Democracy co-directors Laura Rosenberger and Zack Cooper dive into the new information battle over COVID-19, which narratives China is pushing and why, and what it could mean next for China’s global strategy. How do China’s tactics mirror Russia’s and what does the end game look like?

Xi Jinping Won the Coronavirus Crisis - Foreign Affairs - Yanzhong Huang

Chinese leaders have sought to deflect the blame for their initial mishandling of the outbreak. Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian in particular has waged a disinformation campaign portraying the U.S. military as a potential cause of the outbreak. And the campaign appears to have been successful. The Chinese celebrity blogger Cui Yongyuan conducted an informal poll in which only 12 percent of nearly 10,000 Chinese respondents described COVID-19 as originating in nature. Conspiracy theories, coupled with propaganda portraying Western countries as incompetent, have fueled Chinese nationalism and bolstered the government’s legitimacy at home.

Comment: I think it is far too early to tell who will be a political "winner" from this catastrophe

Twitter suspends account of Chinese Embassy in Colombo

Social media giant Twitter has suspended the account of the Chinese Embassy in Colombo, days after it had responded to allegations against China using undiplomatic language.

“We have already applied to unlock the account,” a spokesman for the embassy told News1st.

“This is double standards. There is so-called freedom of media, but on the other hand, they suspend and lock any account that is not on their agenda,” the spokesman added.

Professor Hua Sheng- “The word is being changed by the epidemic: The strategic choice of China at the historical juncture 疫情改变中的世界:历史关口的中国战略选择(上) ——武汉保卫战:从错失战机和惨烈退守到逆

另外,从国际角度看,那些不做自省反思,反而自吹自大、嘲笑别人“连抄作业都抄不好”的说法,那些在人类的抗疫战争还远远没有结束,就对别人的灾难和悲剧指指点点、居高临下、自满自得的态度,那些缺乏人道主义精神对别人的惨状幸灾乐祸,对其他国家领导人因履职而感染病毒大肆点赞的做法,以及对海外同胞冷嘲热讽,拒之于千里之外的情绪宣泄,都是属于会使我们失道而不是得道的言行。


8. Chinese dams causing downstream droughts?

New Evidence: How China Turned Off the Tap on the Mekong River - Stimson Center 

For three decades, China has been building dams on the upper Basin of the Mekong River, worrying countries downstream that China could one day turn off the tap. New data shows that for six months in 2019, while China received uncommonly high levels of precipitation, its dams held back more water than ever — even as downstream countries suffered through an unprecedented drought. These new findings confirm what many had long suspected: China is impounding much more water than it ever has before and is causing erratic and devastating changes in water levels down stream...

China is impounding much more water than it ever has in the past. After the completion of the Nuozhadu dam in 2012, China’s dams collectively impounded considerably more water than the previous 20 year period and also began restricting much more water than they released.

China’s dam management is causing erratic and devastating changes in water levels down stream. Sudden unexpected flood events downstream can now be linked to the completion of the Dachaoshan dam and the Nuozhadu dam in 2002 and 2012-2014. Unexpected dam releases caused rapid rises in river level that have devastated communities downstream, causing millions in damage shocking the river’s ecological processes.

China Limited the Mekong’s Flow. Other Countries Suffered a Drought. - The New York Times

new research from American climatologists shows for the first time that China, where the headwaters of the Mekong spring forth from the Tibetan Plateau, was not experiencing the same hardship at all. Instead, Beijing’s engineers appear to have directly caused the record low water levels by limiting the river’s flow.

“The satellite data doesn’t lie, and there was plenty of water in the Tibetan Plateau, even as countries like Cambodia and Thailand were under extreme duress,” said Alan Basist, who co-wrote the report, which was released on Monday, for Eyes on Earth, a water resources monitor.


Business, Economy and Trade

State Council approves open economy pilot zone in Jiangxi - Gov.cn According to the circular, the construction of the pilot zone should adhere to new development concepts, persist in promoting high-quality development, and focus on supply-side structural reform. It should also actively integrate into the co-construction of the Belt and Road Initiative, participate in the development of the Yangtze River Economic Belt, and coordinate with the construction of Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and the development of the Yangtze River Delta.

Facing Backlash, Restaurant Chains Haidilao, Xibei Apologize for Raising Prices | Sixth Tone The two companies’ apologies come after their raised prices upon reopening met with mostly negative reactions online.

Vestager urges stakebuilding to block Chinese takeovers | Financial Times $$ Regulators are already working on proposals to grant EU countries sweeping powers to derail unfair competition from state-backed enterprises. Margrethe Vestager, also executive vice-president of the European Commission, told the Financial Times: “We don’t have any issues of states acting as market participants if need be — if they provide shares in a company, if they want to prevent a takeover of this kind.”

余永定:现在我最关心的不是增长速度,而是生存的问题 Yu Yongding says China’s growth rate is not what people should be worried, but rather survival, given the impact the global recession and logistical bottlenecks that may especially threaten supplies of food, oil and other essential goods

China Startups Tumble After Regulator Says Investors Misled - Bloomberg Shares of Ningbo Ronbay New Energy Technology Co. and Zhejiang HangKe Technology Inc. closed down at least 10% in Shanghai after the companies were told they wouldn’t be allowed to sell stocks or bonds publicly for a year. The punishment -- for not fully disclosing links to a customer who then failed to pay its bills -- is the first of its kind for a company trading on the city’s Star board.

A five-step plan for reopening business is put to the test in China — and it looks tough - The Washington Post Also included are work schedules that minimize employee crowding. Some Chinese Internet companies have returned to work in recent weeks on “AB shifts,” with two teams coming into the office on alternate days. ByteDance — the parent company of viral video clip platform TikTok — recently reopened its office in Wuhan on such a schedule, as has Chinese Internet search giant Baidu.

Hitachi anticipates wave of Chinese infrastructure spending | Financial Times $$ “These situations create the need for governments to actually get the workforce back and therefore infrastructure spending will rise,” said Alistair Dormer, head of group’s rail and mobility businesses. “All the indications are that China is going ahead at full speed.”

Coronavirus pandemic to test China's unemployment safety net - Reuters The rapid spread of the disease around the world has dashed hopes for a quick recovery in China, where the virus first emerged. Analysts expect nearly 30 million job losses this year due to stuttering work resumptions and plunging global demand, outpacing the 20-plus million layoffs during the 2008-09 financial crisis.

Chinese Central Bank Increases Stake in India’s Biggest Mortgage Lender – China Banking News PBOC has in­creased its stake in In­di­a’s Hous­ing De­vel­op­ment Fi­nance Corp Lim­ited (HDFC) to 1.01% from 0.8% pre­vi­ously, ac­cord­ing to a fil­ing made with reg­u­la­tors.

Alibaba's Ant Financial Spins off Corporate Credit Reporting to Serve SMEs- PingWest With a registered capital of 50 million yuan ($7.06 million), the newly established company offers corporate credit reporting, socio-economic consulting and data processing & storage support. The company was another example of an Ant Financial spin-off, following Zoloz, a startup that provides biometrics authentication in China and Southeast Asian markets.

Politics and Law

人事观察|昔日“最年轻”部长有望成最年轻省长 李干杰履新山东 Li Ganjie, the 55-year-old former minister of environment, will become new governor of Shandong. He is there to replace Gong Zheng, who is now mayor of Shanghai. Li was the youngest minister in the state council cabinet.

Police in China's Chengdu Raid Online Easter Church Service - RFA Police in the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan detained at least eight people in an Easter Sunday raid on the homes of Early Rain Covenant Church members, RFA has learned. Police raided an online meeting of the church in a simultaneous operation targeting church deacons, ministers, volunteers and regular members in their homes Sichuan's provincial capital Chengdu on Sunday.

逝者丨高岗夫人李力群走完百年悲喜人生 Li Liqun, wife of the disgraced revolutionary leader Gao Gang, died last week at 100 years old, according to a notice circulated on WeChat. The family said they won’t hold a funeral due to the coronavirus outbreak.

陈一新在中央政法委秘书长会议上强调 疫情防控常态化倒逼政法工作多“上线”-中国长安网 At the Central Politcs and Law Commission's "Secretary General meeting" Chen Yixin says the epidemic work is forcing more politics and law work to "go online"// 中央政法委秘书长陈一新近日主持召开中央政法委秘书长会议强调,要深入学习贯彻习近平总书记关于统筹推进疫情防控和经济社会发展工作的系列重要指示精神,做到疫情防控不能松、政法工作不能等,多依托互联网平台,多运用智能化手段,创新政法工作“线上模式”,倒逼政法工作多“上线”,努力完成全年政法工作目标任务。

新京报:10个省部级纪监“一把手”换人 Beijing News reports that the CCDI is reshuffling their point men in different provinces. At least 10 provincial- ministerial-level officials responsible for party disciplinary and inspection have been relocated to since March. 

China investigates sexual abuse claims against oil executive | South China Morning PostIn a statement on Monday, the Supreme People’s Procuratorate said a team from the top prosector’s body and the Ministry of Public Security had gone to the city of Yantai to look into the allegations. Shandong police said on Friday that the force had reopened the case and begun to review previous investigations by Yantai police, who decided not to proceed. Last week Jereh Group, an oil and gas company based in Yantai, identified the executive as Bao Yuming, saying that it had ended its relationship with the 48-year-old over the allegations.

After Rape Allegations, Caixin Report Accused of Victim-Blaming - SixthToneSince late last week, the case has consumed Chinese social media, attracting more than 1.5 billion views on microblogging platform Weibo. Over the weekend, many Chinese celebrities — who tend not to weigh in on social issues, for fear that doing so could be detrimental to their careers — voiced support for the alleged victim, known by the pseudonym Xingxing, as well as anger at the accused, Bao Yuming, and frustration with the police departments that did not pursue Xingxing’s claims…Discussion of the case reached a fever pitch on Sunday, when a Chinese news report from domestic outlet Caixin sparked immediate backlash. The article, which was taken offline within hours, was widely criticized for victim-shaming language and unethical reporting after appearing to accept Bao’s version of the story — that he and Xingxing were in a consensual sexual relationship — without due diligence to get the woman’s point of view. The author of the article was further slammed for posting on her WeChat account to describe the case as that of a young girl who had been looking for a sugar daddy and later changed her mind.

财新网声明_财新网_财新网 - Caixin Apology财新网4月12日刊发报道《高管性侵养女事件疑云》,引起舆论较大争议,我们认真核查,报道确有采访不够充分、行文存在偏颇之处,已在当日撤回报道。财新矢志满足公众更为充分的知情权,努力传递更多信息,呈现复杂事实的真相,这些事实既可能符合也可能不符合人们(包括我们财新自己)的期望,但无论是对此案还是任何新闻事件,我们都将奉行新闻专业主义立场,以严谨严肃的态度深入调查。有未经慎查明辨的仓促报道,我们诚挚致歉,并将做出修正和追踪报道。感谢读者们长期以来的厚爱,财新唯以更高标准的自省与努力回报大家的信任。

Foreign and Defense Affairs

Chinese President Xi Jinping promotes 170 PLA officers in move to streamline ranking system | South China Morning Post The move came after the release on December 8 of a circular aimed at providing clearer procedures for the promotion of officers with the rank of major general or above across all branches of the armed forces. The mass promotion was the biggest ever carried out by Xi, who also chairs the Central Military Commission. A long-running problem within the PLA has been the lack of correlation between rank and status. For example, a corps commander with the rank of colonel would have seniority over a division leader with the rank of major general – a situation that would be impossible in most other militaries around the world.

China starts military conscription for second half of 2020 - China Military This year's recruitment mainly targets young people with a high school or higher education background, giving priority to the highly educated and the fresh graduates. The age requirements also vary according to the level of education, ranging from 18 to 24 as max. Those graduates enlisted with college education or above will be financially compensated through governmental sponsorship or student loan mechanisms. Besides, high school graduates who have been admitted to colleges and universities this year will have their admission qualification retained, and enjoy the national tuition cut and exemption policy after decommissioning.

China's PLA Navy is controlling coronavirus and aircraft carrier's deployment proves it, report says - CNN A Chinese naval flotilla headed into the Pacific over the weekend, evidence that the People's Liberation Army Navy has done a much better job controlling coronavirus than the US Navy, according to a story posted on the PLA's English-language website. // Truly “remarkable” there are 0 reported cases inside the PLA, especially considering thousands of PLA medical workers went to Wuhan

Chinese dams held back Mekong waters during drought, study finds - Reuters The findings by Eyes on Earth Inc., a research and consulting company specialising in water, published in a U.S.-government funded study, could complicate tricky discussions between China and other Mekong countries on how to manage the river that supports 60 million people as it flows past Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and through Cambodia and Vietnam.

Czech court rules against extraditing Taiwanese to China | Safeguard Defenders The Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic (CCC) has ruled that eight Taiwanese who are accused by Beijing of telecom fraud cannot be extradited to China. The ruling was posted by the court itself last week here (in Czech). The Prague-based court ruled that a 2018 decision by the Municipal Court in Prague, later upheld by the High Court in Prague, to extradite the Taiwanese had not taken into account the likelihood they would suffer from torture and other inhumane treatment if they were sent to China.

Beyond binary choices? Navigating great power competition in Southeast Asia The Brookings Institution has launched a new trilateral initiative with experts from Southeast Asia, Australia, and the United States to examine regional trends in Southeast Asia in the context of escalating U.S.-China rivalry and China’s dramatic rise. The initiative not only focuses on security trends in the region, but covers economic and governance developments as well. This report summarizes the main findings and policy recommendations discussed at an inaugural trilateral dialogue, convened in Singapore in late 2019 in partnership with the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) and the Lowy Institute.

China's latest aircraft wind tunnel completes major test - People's Daily Online Unlike the unstable and inconsistent airflow of previous Chinese wind tunnels, the FL-62 provides a stable wind field and more precise measurements, military experts said, noting that unnecessary trials and errors can be avoided when designing new aircraft, significantly reducing development periods.

UK spy agencies urge China rethink once Covid-19 crisis is over | The Guardian MI6 is also understood to have told ministers that China was significantly under-reporting the number of coronavirus cases and deaths in January and February, echoing similar briefings given by the CIA to the White House. Intelligence agencies have been urging a greater emphasis on Chinese activity for months, and the announcement of Ken McCallum as the new director general of MI5 at the end of last month was accompanied by a promise that the organisation would focus more clearly on Beijing.

China protests Abe’s tweet of thanks to Taiwan - The Japan News On Tuesday, when Abe declared a state of emergency in Tokyo and six other prefectures, Tsai tweeted in Japanese that the two can join hands and “win this battle.” Abe responded the following day with a tweet of his own: “I’m grateful for the warm support. Let’s beat the virus, and overcome this hardship together.” China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, viewing Abe’s post as problematic, lodged the protest with the Japanese Embassy in Beijing, the Japanese government source said.

Taiwan

Taiwan says Chinese carrier group drills close to island - Reuters Taiwan’s Defence Ministry said the Liaoning, China’s first operational aircraft carrier, and five accompanying warships passed first through the Miyako Strait, located between Japan’s islands of Miyako and Okinawa, to the northeast of Taiwan, on Saturday. On Sunday, the carrier group sailed in waters on Taiwan’s east coast and then into seas to the south of Taiwan, carrying out exercises, the ministry added in a statement.

Tech and Media

Meituan is selling Huawei smartphones and cosmetics from Sephora · TechNode Consumers can now order Huawei products like smartphones and tablets on Meituan for delivery in Beijing, Shanghai, and Wuxi, according to an advertisement posted on the company’s official account on messaging platform WeChat. Flagship Huawei stores in the capital city promise that smartphone orders will arrive within an hour.

Alibaba Pictures Issues Significant Profit Warning Amid Coronavirus – Deadline Alibaba Pictures, the entertainment arm of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, has issued a profit warning, saying it expects losses for the financial year ended March 31, 2020 to range from RMB 1.1B-1.2B ($156M-$170M). That would be an increase of over 330% as compared to the previous year. The company cited “complicated difficulties in pursuing profitable operation faced by the entertainment industry in mainland China since 2019” and a “significant decrease” in the group’s fourth quarter revenue as a result of the outbreak of the coronavirus.

Qiming Venture Partners Raises $1.1 Billion Fund VII Fund VII is led by Managing Partners Duane Kuang, Nisa Leung, William Hu, and Gary Rieschel, with investment and administrative teams based in Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong.  Qiming anticipates investing Fund VII in domain areas such as biopharma, medtech, diagnostics, health care services, information technology, artificial intelligence, enterprise services, consumer internet and e-commerce.

VC investment in China’s tech sector down more than 30 per cent in first quarter as coronavirus takes its toll | South China Morning Post Investments targeting China’s so-called new economy – a term loosely applied to tech-based industries including artificial intelligence, fintech and web-based services – saw a 31.3 per cent decline to 119.1 billion yuan (US$16.8 billion) in the first quarter, from 173.5 billion yuan in same period last year, according to a report by Beijing-based information service provider ITJUZI.com.

China's top chipmaker says it can match Samsung on memory tech - Nikkei Asian Review Yangtze Memory Technologies, China's top memory chipmaker, has announced it is now able to build chips that match the most advanced offerings of international industry leaders, though it remains to be seen if this breakthrough will translate to successful mass production. On Monday, the Chinese national champion said its 128-layer 3D NAND flash memory chip samples have been verified by the company's partners and the first batch of the chips will go into production as early as the end of this year. International players such as Samsung, Kioxia (formerly Toshiba Memory), Micron and SK Hynix are also poised to start mass-producing such chips this year.

Tencent Ramps up Investment in Philippine Fintech Startup Voyager Innovation - Pandaily Founded in 2013, Voyager owns brands such as PayMaya, the first prepaid online payment app that enables the financially underserved to pay online without a credit card. The service has already penetrated the Philippine e-commerce, retail and even natural gas industries. PayMaya Business, the company’s system solutions provider, allows businesses to receive online and card payments anytime, anywhere; Smart Money is advertised as the world’s first e-wallet linked to a mobile phone; and Smart Padala is the leading remittance network in the Philippines with over 15,000 agents across the country.

China Bans Sales of Animal Crossing as Feature Likely Triggers Censorship- PingWest The ban likely came after gamers were found using a pattern creation feature of Animal Crossing to draw up and share materials that are generally sensitive on the Chinese internet, including political slogans and portraits of senior leaders. Overseas players were alsofound to have been engaging in politically motivated activities in the game, which came with a high degree of freedom. Additionally, PingWest has found that many chat groups on WeChat dedicated to the game were limiting discussions about the ban, and some even kicking out members who violated the group owners' new rules.

Society, Arts, Sports, Culture and History

‘You Can See China From Here’: The Evolution of a Border – The Diplomat This film thinks about borders in a new way by tracing the recent history of a particular border crossing: the Hong Kong-mainland China border, especially at the iconic Lowu Bridge joining Hong Kong with Shenzhen. This bridge is fascinating because it is now the busiest border in the world, but in the Maoist period it was one of the loneliest frontiers. The film traces the experiences of a dozen people crossing this border between the 1970s and the 2010s:

Podcast – The New Normal: a COVID-19 Panel Discussion - China India Networked Last week I joined friends from Young China Watchers based in Hong Kong and Beijing to trade stories on life after lockdown and the new normal.

Energy, Environment, Science and Health

New Draft Law Puts Clean Power at the Forefront of China’s Energy Policy - Caixin The draft law, which was three years in the making, aims to bring all of China’s disparate energy laws under the same roof, analysts said, as the country now has separate laws governing different kinds of sources, such as renewables and fossil fuels, not mention other aspects of the sector like electricity generation and conservation. The National Energy Administration (NEA) announced the release of the draft law — called China’s Energy Law — on its website Friday.

Education

Covid-19 Quarantine Makes It Easier to Cheat in Exams in China- PingWest "Cheating online during the Covid-19" has become somewhat of a top trending keywords in Chinese search engine Baidu. A search on Baidu for "paying professional to take online exams" can return multiple platforms for potential customers to choose from. "Test-taking services", "paper-writing", "take Online courses for you," one advertisement from a platform called "Dabai" seen by PingWest, claimed.