Standing Committee meeting signals concerns; Report claims US intel warning of outbreak in November; Loyalty to Xi

Xi chaired another Standing Committee meeting, again focused on epidemic control and restarting the economy. The readout from this meeting makes it sound like the leadership is increasingly concerned about the risks of a second wave of infections as well as the deteriorating global environment which will have a significant drag on any PRC economic recovery. The leadership has been quite disciplined in pushing economic stimuli but at some point they are going to have to get much more aggressive.

The stability maintenance issues from a prolonged economic downturn that causes mass underemployment and unemployment would be significant, and if the leadership believes that risk is fast approaching then they will probably get more aggressive in the economic policy response. I just do not know if we are there yet.

Finding someone to blame for deepening economic pain is also likely. Should we expect the CCP to try to blame the US, by arguing that the US is responsible for the global downturn because it did not properly manage its response to the pandemic?

A couple of weeks ago there was a rumor going around that the Two Meetings would start April 18. There has been no official announcement and so that rumor looks incorrect. Has the date not been set because of concerns about controlling the spread of the virus in Beijing, or has the leadership still not yet agreed on what the economic policy goals should be for the rest of the year?

The American ABC News earlier today released what on its face looks to be a blockbuster story - Intelligence report warned of coronavirus crisis as early as November: Sources - ABC News

As far back as late November, U.S. intelligence officials were warning that a contagion was sweeping through China’s Wuhan region, changing the patterns of life and business and posing a threat to the population, according to four sources briefed on the secret reporting.

Concerns about what is now known to be the novel coronavirus pandemic were detailed in a November intelligence report by the military's National Center for Medical Intelligence (NCMI), according to two officials familiar with the document’s contents...

The report was the result of analysis of wire and computer intercepts, coupled with satellite images. It raised alarms because an out-of-control disease would pose a serious threat to U.S. forces in Asia...

From that warning in November, the sources described repeated briefings through December for policy-makers and decision-makers across the federal government as well as the National Security Council at the White House. All of that culminated with a detailed explanation of the problem that appeared in the President’s Daily Brief of intelligence matters in early January, the sources said.

If this story is accurate it blows up the official PRC timeline, and it makes President Trump’s approach to to preparing for the pandemic look even worse. If the story is accurate. Who leaked it and why did they leak it are among the questions we should want answered before taking it at face value.

I do find it hard to believe that a “contagion was sweeping through China’s Wuhan region” and no one heard about it over social media or through personal networks. Then again, the South China Morning Post reported that official documents their reporter had seen showed the first case in Wuhan was in the third week of November - China’s first confirmed Covid-19 case traced back to November 17.

If any Sinocism readers can offer more insight I am happy to hear from you, on Signal at +13012460858 or Protonmail

Thanks for reading.

The Essential Eight

1. Standing committee meeting

Xi chairs leadership meeting on regular epidemic control, work resumption - Xinhua

The meeting of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee analyzed the COVID-19 situation and economic performance at home and abroad.

As the pandemic continues its global spread, the world economy faces mounting downside risk, Xi said, adding that unstable and uncertain factors are notably increasing.

Noting that China is under rising pressure of guarding against imported COVID-19 cases, Xi said new difficulties and challenges have emerged for China's work resumption and economic and social development.

Xi called for preparedness in mind and work to cope with prolonged external environment changes.

Xi urged unremitting efforts in guarding against imported cases from abroad and preventing a resurgence of the outbreak at home and demanded redoubling efforts in economic and social development...

Noting that China's economic development faces growing difficulties, the meeting urged Party committees and governments at all levels to timely adjust their anti-virus measures in light of local conditions and create favorable conditions to the maximum for the resumption of work and production.

The meeting urged stronger implementation of pro-resumption policies, greater support to industries as well as micro, small and medium-sized enterprises hit by the epidemic, and more vigorous efforts to expand domestic demand...

The meeting also highlighted work on ensuring and improving living standards, urging efforts to advance spring agricultural production and maintain stable market supply and prices of non-staple food, including pork, vegetables and fruits.

Efforts should be made to enhance basic social security for those most in need, offer temporary living allowances to people in hard-hit regions, and expand access to unemployment insurance.

Comment: The Chinese version also notes that the need for the unifying of policies and standards around the health QR codes, and that the country has had several years of bumper harvests, the foodstuff reserves are ample and the country has the ability to guarantee supplies of foodstuffs and other important agricultural produce. This looks to be a response to the fears going around that the pandemic may disrupt the global food supply chains and China may run out of certain things.

CCTV Evening News report on the meeting, no video from inside - 中共中央政治局常务委员会召开会议 分析国内外新冠肺炎疫情防控和经济运行形势 研究部署落实常态化疫情防控举措全面推进复工复产工作 中共中央总书记习近平主持会议_CCTV




2. The outbreak

Yicai Global - Chinese Mainland Reports 62 New Confirmed Covid-19 Cases

The Chinese mainland reported 62 new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19), of which 59 were imported from overseas and three domestically transmitted cases were reported, two in Shandong province and one in Guangdong province,   the National Health Commission said today.

China's Wuhan ends its coronavirus lockdown but elsewhere one begins - Reuters

But even as Wuhan came back to life, new imported cases in the far northern province of Heilongjiang surged to a daily high of 25, fuelled by an influx of infected travellers crossing the border from Russia.

On Wednesday, Suifenhe city announced restrictions on the movement of citizens similar to the measures Wuhan has endured.

People must stay in their residential compounds and only one person per family can leave once every three days to buy necessities, and must return on the same day, state-run CCTV reported.

Silent carriers are infectious, must be reported within 2 hours after discovery: State Council - Global Times

China's State Council on Wednesday published new regulations on the management of silent coronavirus carriers, specifying that the group are infectious and have risks of transmission, amid mounting public worries over whether lifting Wuhan's lockdown would cause a second outbreak due to mass population flows.

The regulations standardize the process of reporting silent carriers, requiring nationwide medical institutes to report within two hours via the internet after discovering any such case. County-level disease prevention and control authorities should complete investigations into each single case within 24 hours and record close contacts. Local medical institutes should also record the date they are discharged from medical observation in a timely manner.

The State Council also stipulates that for asymptomatic patients who have been released from medical observation, further medical observations and follow-ups shall continue for 14 days. They should also visit designated hospitals for follow-up re-examinations in the second and fourth weeks.

China releases COVID-19 prevention measures for key venues, groups -

The circular, issued by the State Council's joint prevention and control mechanism, called for differentiated measures in the workplace and public places, based on each region's epidemic situation.

According to the circular, for regions at low-level risk and activities gathering people together, should be held prudently to reduce risks of virus transmission; places essential for work and life, as well as open-air sites, should be reopened gradually and in an orderly way; and the reopening of places for entertainment and leisure activities should be carefully considered.

The principles of safety and steadiness should be implemented in medium and high-risk areas. Activities that call for gathering people should not be organized in principle.

The circular - 国务院应对新型冠状病毒感染肺炎疫情 联防联控机制关于印发新冠病毒 无症状感染者管理规范的通知 国办发明电〔2020〕13号

Fear Lingers in Wuhan as China Eases Lockdown - WSJ $$

In the past few days, however, it has tightened restrictions on some housing complexes, and said others will remain in place, after confirming dozens of new asymptomatic cases. An official newspaper said Monday there could be 10,000 to 20,000 such cases in Wuhan. The report was swiftly deleted online.

北京:滞留武汉人员返京每天限定1000人 需进行核酸双检测_凤凰网资讯_凤凰网

Beijing restricts the number of people coming to the city from Wuhan to 1000 per day, and only if they test negative within 7 days prior to traveling to Beijing

北京疾控:就餐期间不扎堆、不聊天 尽量使用自备餐具-中新网

Beijing officials urge residents to avoid crowded restaurants, bring their own utensils, do take away if they can

Chinese vigilant on deifying writer Fang Fang amid publication of Wuhan diary in English - Global Times

The Chinese writer, whose diary on life under lockdown in Wuhan triggered polarized views in China, where some call her a truth-teller but others view her as a liar and traitor, continues to rise globally, appearing on the front pages of major newspapers in the US and even scoring publishing deals for her diaries.

However, her global rise propelled by foreign media outlets has also sounded the alarm for many in China that the writer might have become just another handy tool for the West to sabotage Chinese people's efforts to fight the COVID-19 outbreak. Many readers who were loyal fans of Fang Fang have a change of heart in the wake of the suspicious level of fanfare the West has given her.

QR codes becoming ubiquitous amid epidemic - China Daily

Tencent Holdings Ltd, which operates popular messaging app WeChat, has launched a dedicated QR code Fuxuema, which translates as "school resumption code", as a growing number of educational institutions have announced plans to resume classes after months of shutdowns...

The application makes note of body temperatures, any symptoms developed and students' whereabouts over the previous 14 days. Teachers and education administrators can access such information to help with more precise management.

Schools in China have been closed since the end of January. But some provinces, such as Qinghai and Guizhou-in early March began announcing upcoming reopening dates as the number of new locally transmitted cases gradually fell.

However, schools in major cities such as Beijing and Shanghai have yet to say when they will ask students to return.

Coronavirus May Spread Twice as Fast as Thought, Study Says - Bloomberg

The new coronavirus raced through China much faster than previously thought, a U.S. research team said, suggesting that extremely widespread vaccination or immunity will be necessary to end the pandemic.

Each person infected early in the epidemic in Wuhan probably passed the virus to an average of 5.7 other people, according to a mathematical analysis from Los Alamos National Laboratory. That’s more than twice what the World Health Organization and other public health authorities reported in February.

The paper - High Contagiousness and Rapid Spread of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2

Big pool of coronavirus cases going undetected, German researchers say | South China Morning Post

The researchers, from the University of Gottingen in Germany, made the assessment after comparing estimates of coronavirus infection fatality rates in a previous study with the confirmed number of cases and United Nations population data.

They concluded that on average about 6 per cent of cases were detected in the 40 countries studied, and the only way to prevent a renewed outbreak of Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, was to do widespread testing followed by isolation of infected people.

Wuhan residents remember whistleblower Li Wenliang - The Washington Post

In recent weeks, homebound Internet users have left hundreds of thousands of messages to "Brother Liang" — or sometimes called "Old Li" — as comments under Li's final post from Feb. 1 on Weibo, the popular Chinese social media platform. In tones both casual and intensely personal, they have used Li a as kind of a silent confidant, therapist and muse.

Yicai Global - JD.Com to Invest USD849 Million in Hubei as China's Internet Giants Vow Support

Beijing-based JD said today that it will build new infrastructure, support industry, help farmers and alleviate poverty in Hubei while launching a series of initiatives to help the province's economic recovery and development of local small and medium-sized enterprises following the Covid-19 outbreak.

Yicai Global - Walmart to Invest USD424.5 Million in Wuhan to Support City's Economic Recovery

Walmart China will spend CNY3 billion (USD424.5 million) over the next five years to build new retail outlets in Wuhan, the Chinese city hardest hit by the novel coronavirus outbreak, the Economic Daily reported today...

Walmart wants to play its part in helping Wuhan gradually restore its social and economic order, Walmart China President and Chief Executive Chen Wenyuan said.

Derek Scissors - Estimating the true number of China’s COVID-19 cases | American Enterprise Institute - AEI

China’s COVID-19 figures are not arithmetically sensible. The Communist Party has deliberately made estimation difficult, but, outside of Wuhan city and Hubei province, cases are low by a factor of 100 or more.

3. The economy

Exclusive: China's central bank to step up easing, won't borrow Fed playbook - sources - Reuters

China’s central bank will ramp up its policy easing to support the coronavirus-ravaged economy but debt worries and property risks will prevent it from following the U.S. Federal Reserve’s steep rate cuts or quantitative easing moves, policy sources said...

The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) will boost credit and lower funding costs, especially for small firms seen as vital for growth and jobs, and accommodate increased fiscal spending, according to three sources involved in internal policy discussions. The sources declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter.

The PBOC said on Friday it was cutting reserve requirement ratio (RRR) - the amount of cash that banks must hold as reserves - for the third time this year, and lowered interest rate on banks’ excess reserves for the first time since 2008.

China takes steps to prop up virus-hit economy - Xinhua

China will enhance macro-economic regulation and give more credit support to smaller and private companies, according to a statement issued after a meeting of the financial stability and development committee under the State Council.

The meeting, presided over by Vice Premier Liu He on Tuesday, also pledged to make good use of capital markets, replenish the capital of small and medium-sized banks, and keep a close eye on the novel coronavirus pandemic and the global economic and financial situations.

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic, China has used a variety of policy tools to maintain reasonably sufficient liquidity, keep its stock market open as normal, expand the low-cost fund-raising channels for companies, and provide differentiated financial services, in a bid to fast-track work resumption and maintain overall economic stability.

On the next stage, the committee will spare no effort to prop up the economy, the meeting said.

Prudent monetary policy will be pursued with more moderate flexibility, and more attention will be paid to supporting the real economy.

Readout of the meeting chaired by Liu - 国务院金融稳定发展委员会召开第二十五次会议_中证网


China’s Markets Already Pricing In More Central Bank Easing - Bloomberg

Investors across China’s financial markets are betting the central bank will need to keep ramping up monetary stimulus, ignoring economists who are virtually certain that won’t happen any time soon.

Those expectations helped kickstart a fresh rally in the country’s government bonds on Tuesday as markets reopened after a long weekend.

Opinion: Shifting From Stimulus to Structural Potential - Caixin

China should wait until it has entered a period of slow growth before relying mainly on stimulus.

Therefore, for China’s economy at this stage, the focus should be shifted to structural potential, whether it is to offset the impact of the epidemic in the short term, or to maintain medium-speed growth in the future. We can still leverage structural potential and have yet to reach the point where we need to rely mainly on stimulus. Macroeconomic policies can be unleashed at any time. From the perspective of promoting growth, such policies are still short-term, relatively minor and should be compatible with structural potential.

It is widely acknowledged that China is still in an important period of strategic opportunity, so it’s somewhat puzzling to see people fall back on promoting stimulus policies every time there’s a problem. It’s necessary now to adjust the way we observe and solve problems.

Liu Shijin is a vice chairman of the China Development Research Foundation and a deputy director at the Committee for Economic Affairs of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.

Original Chinese of Liu's OpEd - 刘世锦:中国还未山穷水尽,着眼点要从刺激转向结构性潜能_观点频道_财新网

China launches special hiring activity for college graduates - Xinhua

The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security on Tuesday launched a special employment activity for China's job-hunting graduates in 2020.

The activity, which will last until the end of July, is part of the ministry's special online hiring project launched on March 20, offering over 10 million positions for job seekers

China launches free online vocational training program - Xinhua

The ministry will select more than 50 high-quality online platforms to provide free skill training for over 5 million people from late March to the end of June, with digital training resources covering over 100 types of jobs.

Wuhan's tech and auto factories up and humming as lockdown lifted - Nikkei Asian Review

Yangtze Memory Technologies has returned to full operation, said CEO Simon Yang, who adds that the company is even setting a goal to expand production capacity.

As of Saturday, 97.2% of industrial enterprises in Wuhan had resumed operation, according to city officials. Local government authorities are actively supporting the resumption of activity of core companies.

Wuhan Car Sales Rebound Give Hope to Battered Auto Industry - Bloomberg

Vehicle sales have been picking up since early February -- albeit from a near-zero level -- as showrooms gradually re-open their doors. In Wuhan, a city of 11 million, dealerships have been back in business for only a couple of weeks yet staff at some of them say daily sales have rebounded to pre-crisis levels.

Trump expects quick economic comeback from coronavirus, but China’s incomplete recovery hints at long-lasting problems - The Washington Post

Lingering Chinese weakness is evident in a Capital Economics index that blends measures of power station activity, property sales, subway ridership and long-distance travel. In mid-February, as the government began pushing people to resume work, the index stood at 22 percent of the year-ago level. By mid-March, it reached 52 percent, but today it is only 59 percent...

It may be July 1 before operations are back to normal, according to the German Chamber of Commerce in China. The Chinese economy this year will grow less than 3 percent, its weakest performance since 1976, S&P Global Ratings said Tuesday.

4. Foreign work

Xi and his unremitting call for global health cooperation - Xinhua

His remarks on global public health in recent years, especially in the last few months, have become particularly meaningful as countries worldwide mark the 2020 World Health Day on Tuesday amid a raging COVID-19 pandemic.

Back in 2013, during a meeting with then World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Margaret Chan in Beijing, Xi said China will continue to improve public health and enhance cooperation with the WHO.

He also expressed his hope that China and the WHO could work closer to help promote Chinese medicine and medical products into overseas markets, and jointly assist African countries to improve their disease control and public health systems to meet the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.

In March 2015, Xi pointed out in a meeting in China's Hainan province with Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill &Melinda Gates Foundation, that preventing and controlling public epidemics is a common challenge to the international community and requires strengthening international cooperation on joint control.

Xi says China will help Turkey purchase medical supplies - Xinhua

China will continue to support Turkey in its fight against the COVID-19 epidemic in line with its needs, and assist in and facilitate its purchase of medical supplies in China, Chinese President Xi Jinping said Wednesday in a phone call with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Xi says China will continue to support Africa in COVID-19 battle, capacity building - Xinhua

China stands ready to continue to provide support for African countries in their battle against COVID-19 epidemic and help Africa improve its capacity of disease prevention and control, Chinese President Xi Jinping said Wednesday in a phone call with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa

China Launches List of Authorized Certifiers for Export Medical Goods - Caixin

China’s market regulator has published a list of domestic companies authorized to certify the quality of medical supplies for export to the U.S. and European markets, after an overseas backlash prompted the government to rein in the export of substandard goods.

The list, launched by the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) Sunday, follows other restrictions brought into effect on April 1 which require masks, ventilators, test kits and certain other medical products to be certified for use in the Chinese domestic market before they can be exported.


MIIT says that COVID-19 tests, medical masks, other medical PPE and ventilators must get SFDA credentials before being allowed to be exported

Yicai Global - China Has Provided 47,000 Ventilators Worldwide Amid Covid-19, Ministry Says

Some 29,000 were for domestic use and 18,000 for overseas, 7,000 of which were invasive ventilators, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said today.

China’s Coronavirus Battle Is Waning. Its Propaganda Fight Is Not. - The New York Times

Some critics have already backtracked: After a furious response from the Chinese ambassador to Iran, the Iranian official who called China’s numbers a joke tweeted that China’s support of Iran would “never be forgotten.” The Brazilian official who accused China of maneuvering for world domination later deleted his Twitter post, which had also mocked Chinese accents, after similar backlash.

China is the biggest trading partner for both Iran and Brazil.

Chinese doctors arrive today, to spend one month – Punch Newspapers

Despite opposition by the Nigerian Medical Association, the visiting 15-member medical team from China will arrive the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, on a chattered Air Peace aircraft on Wednesday (today).

The personnel, who are experts in infectious diseases, respiratory illness, intensive care, cardiology, neurology, general surgery and anesthesiology, will be coming with their drugs, and equipment to carry out COVID-19 tests on the staff of the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation in the country.

Chinese Consulate in Laoag Turns Over Donated Goods from Shandong Province to Ilocos Norte

Consul Zhou said in a statement that, China always acknowledges the support from Hon. Governor Manotoc and Filipino friends during China's fight against COVID-19. In particular, the video of the Governor last February to encourage Shandong people was very impactful. Now as Ilocos Norte is facing a similar concerning situation, we also remain keen and hope to help the locals. Despite its own difficulties, Shandong government raised the most urgently-needed medical materials in a short period.

WHO rejects 'China-centric' charge after Trump criticism - Reuters

World Health Organization officials on Wednesday denied that the body was "China-centric" and said that the acute phase of a pandemic was not the time to cut funding, after U.S. President Donald Trump said he would put contributions on hold.

Commentary: To be or not to be: a world test with Wuhan answer - Xinhua

In the era of economic globalization, there cannot be victory over the virus in one, or some, countries alone. Victory can only be won for all.

That is why China has been sharing information about the epidemic in a timely manner, why planes loaded with masks, ventilators and other critical medical supplies have been flown from China to Rome, Belgrade, London and New York, why Chinese medical experts have gone to other countries to share their experience and why China has donated money to the World Health Organization (WHO) to help poor countries improve their public health systems.

Those who claim such efforts as propaganda and attempts to expand geopolitical power are sowing seeds of suspicion and confrontation. Such acrimony will only undercut the global resolution, action and cooperation.

The Chinese Virus Spread to the West on the New Silk Road - Foreign Policy

It is too early to tell whether or not China’s coronavirus propaganda offensive will bear fruit. China may be having some success in anti-Western countries such as Serbia and Iran, but even many Italians have their doubts about the sincerity of China’s newfound compassion for their plight, with one top Italian medical researcher even suggesting that China had allowed the virus to spread to Europe as early as November. The coronavirus pandemic seems to have turned public opinion decisively against China in many poor countries in Africa and Southeast Asia.

Beijing speaking. How the Italian public broadcasting TV fell in love with China -

Over the course of a few weeks, Italian public opinion has gone from being branded as racist towards the Chinese to being more pro-China than ever. At least that is according to the latest Swg surveys for the LA7 news, which shows that when asked “What country Italy should look to in developing its international alliances outside Europe?”, 36% of respondents answered “China”. Only 30% answered with the United States of America...

Why this abrupt change? Not only because, as reported by Formiche last week, a formidable bot propaganda machine was put into action. Rather, as explained previously on Formiche, the Chinese propaganda machine has penetrated Italian media (in particular through a remarkable series of Memorandums of Understanding between almost all of Italy’s main news and publishing agencies, as well as private and public radio and television broadcasters, the contents of which remain secret). In fact, Beijing has enjoyed a very particular support over these past few weeks, in terms of a huge and “disproportionate” television coverage.

5. Loyalty to Xi

The Delicate Dance of Loyalty | China Media Project - Qian Gang

he “loyalty dance,” or zhongziwu (忠字舞), was a collective dance that became prevalent during the Cultural Revolution, at a time when Mao Zedong and his image reigned supreme over all aspects of life in China...

How, in Xi Jinping’s so-called “New Era,” does one dance the loyalty dance?

Last month, CMP wrote about how the top leader in the city of Wuhan stirred up trouble as he tried to signal his “gratitude” toward Xi Jinping, suggesting that the people of Wuhan, then still in recovering from the coronavirus epidemic, should undergo “gratitude education.” This leader, Wang Zhonglin, was previously the top Party official in the city of Jinan in Shandong province, and when official media recently reported the news of Wang’s replacement taking up his post, certain words caught my eye.

As Shandong’s provincial Party secretary praised Wang Zhonglin’s replacement in Jinan, we had a pair of loyalties: “He is loyal to the Party,” said Shangdong Secretary Liu Jiayi (刘家义), “and loyal to the General Secretary.”..

The phrase “loyalty to the Party, loyalty to the General Secretary” can be regarded as an ambiguous phrase under the current political environment, meaning that, though positive from the standpoint of CCP leaders, it does not appear in the People’s Daily or high-level speeches or other documents. But local officials know, at the same time, that there is little or no risk for them in shouting the phrase to the heavens, which might actually put them in good favour with senior officials.

From the March 30 Sinocism-济南新书记孙立成的“十二时辰”:先干这些事,背后有深意…… 

Sun Licheng, a former senior police officer, is the new party boss of Jinan, Shandong as well as a member of the party standing committee of the province. The Shandong party chief publicly praised Sun for “being loyal to the secretary general [Xi Jinping]”, and some said this is the very first time the party uses this language to describe an official.-据检索公开报道显示,“对总书记忠诚”是第一次出现在官方公开报道中。

Question: Is this something that will bubble up into something more significant over time, as “the core” and “People’s Leader” did?

6. US-China

China yet to meet key phase one trade deal target due to Covid-19 lockdown | South China Morning Post

China was due to release intellectual property action plan 30 working days after phase one trade deal came into force on February 15

US officials said to be ‘frustrated’, but content with progress on agricultural purchases and market access

Republicans and Democrats are in wide agreement on China policy - The Washington Post

a new poll shows that, outside the Beltway, the coronavirus crisis is actually bringing Americans together on the China issue. Republicans and Democrats now largely agree that the Chinese government bears responsibility for the spread of the pandemic, that it can’t be trusted on this or any other issue, and that the U.S. government should maintain a tough position on China on trade and overall, especially if Beijing again falters in its commitments.

“It’s as much of a consensus issue as you can get in today’s divided world,” said Mark Penn, chairman of the Harris Poll. “Overall, there’s very little trust for anything that the Chinese government says or does, especially its premier. Xi Jinping has less than half the credibility of President Trump in this poll.”..

Ninety percent of Republicans said the Chinese government is responsible for the spread of the virus, compared to 67 percent of Democrats. Only 22 percent of Republicans and 34 percent of Democrats said they thought the Chinese government reported their coronavirus statistics accurately.

On trade, there’s even more agreement. Neither party seems to know whether China will fulfill its obligations under Trump’s “phase one” trade deal. But strong majorities in both parties believe that the U.S. government should reimpose tough tariffs if Beijing doesn’t live up to its obligations. Majorities in both parties also believe U.S. manufacturers should pull back from China in the wake of the crisis....

The political question for Biden, the front-runner for the Democratic nomination, and other party leaders is whether they will take this opportunity to close ranks on the China issue, taking away the Republicans’ political advantage, or instead adopt what some on the far left are pushing — a pro-engagement strategy that paints the United States, not Beijing, as the bigger part of the problem.

Comment: The China rhetoric is going to get so ugly between now and the November US election. It was going to be nasty before the pandemic, but now expect it to get much worse. This is one of the reasons I have recently started to include more China content by folks like Tucker Carlson of Fox News.

So how does one stay rational while also not playing into the CCP's hands? Or is that not possible in this environment?'

And I fear the same toxic mix is brewing in China as well, albeit without the electoral imperatives.

Republicans whack China over coronavirus as Trump plays nice - POLITICO

Republican lawmakers are launching an all-out assault on China over its handling of the coronavirus outbreak, accusing Beijing of a deadly cover-up fraught with lies, propaganda and stonewalling.

But their posture is somewhat at odds with that of the Trump administration, which has of late adopted a more restrained approach to dealing with Beijing as officials in both countries focus more on addressing the public health crisis.

POLITICO Playbook: The pile-on against China - POLITICO

If any foreign policy change is emerging in the post-coronavirus era, it’s the desire to tangle with and inch away from China. BETSY WOODRUFF SWAN scooped about DOJ’s focus on cracking down on Chinese espionage. The NYT reported a few days ago that the CIA is engaged in sleuthing to try to figure out just how many people have really died of Covid-19, which originated in China. GABBY ORR is reporting that religious leaders are looking to smack China over its handling of the coronavirus, and ANDREW DESIDERIO and NAHAL TOOSI write about how China is becoming a punching bag for Republicans on the Hill as “Trump plays nice.” And OUR REPORTING shows that the administration is intently interested in using the Phase Four stimulus bill to begin shifting medical supply chains away from China.

Trump's evangelical supporters want China to pay a price for coronavirus - POLITICO

As the U.S. death toll from the viral respiratory disease surged past 10,000 this week, the president’s top religious allies joined a choir of voices urging him to punish China for its furtive mismanagement of Covid-19. Interviews with top evangelical leaders, many of whom have been in frequent contact with the Trump administration’s coronavirus task force, revealed a growing consensus that something must be done to hold China accountable and that Trump should take the lead in defining a suitable punishment...

The push for retaliatory measures by some of Trump’s leading Christian supporters underscores the dicey position in which he finds himself as the 2020 election closes in: forced to determine whether a laundry list of accomplishments, such as an intact trade deal with China, will carry him to reelection or if the deciding factor will be how voters score his handling of Covid-19. Part of that rests on whether his response to the Chinese government satisfies conservative evangelicals, a demographic that comprises much of his political base and which the Trump campaign has sought to grow in recent months.

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian's Regular Press Conference on April 8, 2020

CCTV: Nearly 100 former government officials and experts in the US issued a statement calling for China-US anti-epidemic cooperation, which they claim has won bipartisan support. The statement also identified China's problems such as its initial cover-up, its continuing lack of transparency, and its failure to cooperate fully with the US and international medical authorities. I wonder if you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: We noted this statement. Former government officials and experts in the US are calling for cooperation between China and the US in an effort to combat the COVID-19, which they believe is very important for preventing its further spreading. This is consistent with the rational voices coming from people with vision in China, the US and the larger international community. We applaud and welcome that...

That said, some contents that you mentioned in this statement, like China's initial cover-up and lack of transparency, are completely untrue. China has been open, transparent and responsible since the COVID-19 first broke out. We notified the WHO of the epidemic, shared the genome sequencing of the virus, carried out international cooperation and helped other countries affected, all at the earliest time possible. These are plain, internationally recognized facts, which cannot be denied or erased by anyone.

The fight against COVID-19 could serve as a platform for China-US cooperation. Just as President Xi said to President Trump in a recent phone conversation, both sides stand to gain from cooperation and lose from confrontation. Cooperation is the only right choice.

Feature: Grassroots groups in Chinese community strive to aid U.S. hospitals amid PPE shortages - Xinhua

When Rose Xu and Liang Zhao launched an initiative to support U.S. hospitals three weeks ago, they didn't expect a newly built 20-person team would be able to help 12 local hospitals, with some 112,000 surgical masks, over 3,000 N95 masks, and beyond.

On Monday, the first batch of supplies, some 24,000 surgical masks produced in Shanghai, were delivered to Holy Cross Hospital and Suburban Hospital [Where I was born] in Maryland, offering a timely support for doctors and nurses facing shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) as COVID-19 swept across the country

Comment: I donated $250 to this initiative through GoFundMe

Chinese supercomputer and American doctors clash over AI coronavirus diagnosis of young US vaper | South China Morning Post

A supercomputer in China found that a young vaper in hospital for a “mysterious pneumonia” in the United States last summer could be a victim of coronavirus.

The Tianhe-1 machine detected distinguished features – suggesting high probability of Covid-19 – in the CAT image of a patient who became severely ill between July and August in North Carolina, according to a diagnosis report seen by the South China Morning Post. The machine is at the National Supercomputer Centre in Tianjin.


former Bank of China deputy head Wang Yonglin writes in the PBoC's Financial News that the US Fed's temporary lending facility to let foreign central banks convert their Treasuries into US dollars is not the US "locking up", freezing" or "reneging on" the PRC's holdings, as some are claiming online.



Comment: As US-China tensions increase, and as calls for some sort of "reparations" increase, expect there be increasing calls inside China for the government to reduce its exposure to US assets.

As U.S. faces worst week yet in epidemic, Chinese show solidarity - Xinhua

Chinese factories are operating in full swing to fulfill the U.S. orders, China's provincial and municipal governments are rushing to help their sister states and cities, and China's business sector is offering huge donations.

The grassroots efforts from many ordinary Chinese Americans, though trivial compared to deep pockets, have also contributed to solving desperate medical supply shortages in their communities.

Chinese Commentary: "COVID-19 May Ravage America, But It Won’t Dent American Self-Confidence" - ChinaTalk

Chairman Rabbit (兔主席 tù zhǔxí) is the popular WeChat account and pseudonym of Ren Yi, a Harvard Kennedy School grad and scion of party elite who regularly writes about politics, international relations, and history. Pre-Hong Kong protests, he was reasonably balanced when it came to US-China issues, but of late he has become much more critical of the west.

On March 27, he published a fascinating through-the-looking-glass portrait of how certain America-watchers in China are interpreting America’s opinions toward China during COVID-19. His more mainstream take stands in stark contrast to the recently disappeared tycoon Ren Zhiqiang’s scathing critique of the CCP’s handling I published earlier this week.

7. Imagination tech takeover

MPs launch inquiry into potential Chinese asset stripping of UK firms | The Guardian

An emergency Commons inquiry into potential Chinese asset-stripping of UK hi-tech firms has been launched following an aborted Chinese boardroom takeover of Imagination Technologies, a Hertfordshire-based chip designer at the cutting edge of AI and communications technology.

The inquiry by the foreign affairs select committee is going ahead even though the culture secretary, Oliver Dowden, stepped in to delay the boardroom takeover due to take place at a meeting on Tuesday...

The Tuesday board meeting, before it was cancelled, was due to appoint four board members with links to China Reform Holding, a $30bn Chinese government-controlled venture fund...

The company’s chief executive, Ron Black, appointed two years ago, tendered his resignation earlier this week and complained in a letter that China Reform’s promises to be a passive investor had not been kept.

Black put the boardroom changes explicitly in the context of the US government efforts to block Huawei’s involvement in western 5G technologies.

Chinese move to take control of Imagination Technologies stalls | Financial Times $$

Imagination Technologies, which is based on the site of an old Ovaltine factory, has grown to become one of Britain’s biggest and most influential technology companies over the past decade, developing technology that can process images for smartphones and tablets within the semiconductor.

Its technology became so pervasive that both Apple and Intel acquired stakes in the British company, but a move to broaden its scope to take on local rival Arm Holdings fell flat. In 2017 it was sold for £550m to Canyon Bridge, a US-based venture company backed by Chinese funds, after Apple said it would no longer use its chip technology, sending the shares into freefall.

8. Documentary film on coal miners

Chaguan - China stifles documentary-makers, but their art still shines | Chaguan | The Economist

For some years now, the makers of non-fiction films have understood that, without the letter of approval from censors that they call a “dragon seal”, their work will reach only a handful of hardy Chinese fans—perhaps via a semi-underground film screening at a bar near a university, or in a small festival sponsored by a foreign diplomatic mission. Losing money is taken for granted.

Even so, documentary enthusiasts were shocked to realise in late March that a respected film-maker was quietly distributing his latest work by sending individual strangers instructions on how to get it from the internet, without paying. These download links arrived as private messages from the director, Jiang Nengjie, to film-lovers who clicked a button marked “Want to watch” when reading about his new project on Douban, a leading review site. Mr Jiang’s documentary* is called “Miners, the Horsekeeper and Pneumoconiosis”. It is about coal workers afflicted with a fatal lung disease. Shot over eight years, the film takes viewers down illegal mine shafts in the central province of Hunan, inside shabby rural clinics and, finally, into a village home where children watch their father fighting to breathe, like a man drowning on dry land.

《矿民、马夫、尘肺病》 "Miners, the Horsekeeper and Pneumoconiosis", a documentary by Jiang Nengjie on Youtube:

Business, Economy and Trade

China’s ‘Daigou’ Got Rich Shopping Abroad. Now, They’re Going Broke. - SixthTone This gray market is now worth billions of dollars a year and by some estimates employs over 1 million Chinese. In 2014, four in 10 luxury purchases by Chinese consumers were made by daigou, according to consultancy Bain & Company. South Korea — famous for its cosmetics brands and K-pop fashion — is a particularly popular daigou hot spot. The trade, however, has slowed to a trickle as countries implement travel bans and compulsory quarantine periods, shutter shopping malls, cancel flights, and suspend international deliveries amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

China Braces for Wave of Soured Loans With New Bad-Debt Manager - Bloomberg Galaxy Asset Management Co. won approval in mid-March to convert into ​a financial asset management firm, gaining a much-coveted license to buy bad loans directly from banks nationwide, and the ability to borrow at relatively low rates. The economic dislocation from Covid-19 threatens to add 5.6 trillion yuan ($790 billion) of bad debt -- more than double the amount Chinese banks already sit on -- according to S&P Global Inc.

Chinese e-learning king TAL Education admits inflated sales - Nikkei Asian Review Beijing-based TAL said on Tuesday evening U.S. time that it discovered one employee had "wrongly inflated sales" of an educational program by forging contracts and other documentation. TAL did not reveal the exact figure of the fabricated sales but said the program at issue contributed roughly 4% of its total revenue in fiscal 2020.

Chinese FDI in Europe: 2019 Update | Mercator Institute for China Studies 1. Chinese foreign direct investment (FDI) in the European Union (EU) continued to decline in 2019. Chinese FDI transactions in the EU-28 dropped by 33 percent last year, from EUR 18 billion in 2018 to EUR 12 billion in 2019, bringing the total back to 2013 levels. The decline is in line with the downward trajectory of China’s global outbound investment since 2016...3. The share of state-owned investors plummeted. The proportion of inbound investment coming from China’s state-owned enterprise (SOEs) tanked further to a mere 11 percent of aggregate investment (the lowest level since 2000). Continued administrative controls and financial constraints in China and a changing regulatory environment in Europe contributed the drop.

Will iQiyi be the Next Luckin? - Caixin On Tuesday, Muddy Waters tweeted that it helped Wolfpack Research prepare the report targeting iQiyi and that it takes a short position on the Chinese company.

Anxin Trust Punished for Deceiving Investors, Misappropriating Their Assets Anxin was found to have illegally misappropriated investments in trust products, concealed product risks when promoting them to investors, and posed huge payment risks by guaranteeing returns to some investors, according to a Tuesday filing (link in Chinese) to the Shanghai Stock Exchange. The regulator said it will restrict Anxin’s profit distribution to the company’s largest shareholder, Shanghai Gorgeous Investment Development Co. Ltd., which holds a 52.4% stake in Anxin and is controlled by businessman Gao Tianguo.

Yicai Global - [Exclusive] Tesla China Says It Won't Follow US Parent's Lead in Slashing Wages While Tesla shaves employee salaries in the US by as much as 30 percent in response to closing its North American plants amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the electric car giant's China factory will take a different approach, a person familiar with the matter told Yicai Global. Tesla will adopt different measures in China and will make an announcement later, the source said.

China’s consumers are starting to binge on travel, cosmetics again in signs economy is reviving | South China Morning Post Demand for travel, cosmetics, outdoor gear and food has surged in recent weeks as policy-driven stimulus kicked in, workers returned to offices and factories and the government started easing restrictions on people’s movement. Transport bookings rose more than 50 per cent, while hotel reservations increased by 60 per cent during the three-day tomb-sweeping Ching Ming Festival through April 6, according to Group. Online retail orders have likewise boomed, according to e-commerce site Pinduoduo.

Politics and Law

曾是广东最年轻市委书记,他跨省升副部 Liu Xiaotao is now a vice governor of Zhejiang. He will be 50 in July, He was the youngest municipal Party secretary in Guangdong when he was Chaozhou PS from 2017-2019

Li Xiaolin (politician) - Wikipedia Li Xiaolin (Chinese: 李小林) is party secretary and chairperson of the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries // hear she is no longer the head of it

孙德顺被捕 - 综合 - 新京报网 Sun Desheng, former vp at the CITIC Bank who was investigated last year for taking bribes, has been formally placed under arrest, announced today. Interesting timing

Foreign and Defense Affairs

New South China Sea Fishing Vessel Sinking: Philippines Backs Vietnam Amid China Standoff – The Diplomat The Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila expressed deep concern over the reported April 3 sinking of the boat carrying eight fishermen off the Paracel Islands. The incident happened at a time when a common approach was crucial in confronting the coronavirus pandemic, it said. “COVID-19 is a very real threat that demands unity and mutual trust,” the department said. “In the face of it, neither fish nor fictional historical claims are worth the fuse that’s lit by such incidents.”

Chinese and World Bank Lending Terms: A Systematic Comparison Across 157 Countries and 15 Years | Center For Global Development Our analysis demonstrates that China’s official financing is less concessional than World Bank financing in comparable settings; however, nearly all Chinese loans have some degree of concessionality, which may help to explain the attractiveness of Chinese financing compared to market sources of finance.

Coronavirus Australia: Shaoquett Moselmane's China comments 'inappropriate', says Jodi McKay NSW Labor leader Jodi McKay has criticised one of her MPs for praising China's "unswerving leadership" in handling the coronavirus crisis, labelling the comments as "inappropriate". Labor upper house MP Shaoquett Moselmane sparked controversy this week by saying China's President Xi Jinping had "fought [COVID-19] and contained it", describing the nation's response as "emphatic" and "decisive".

海南省委军民融合办副主任裴成敏接受审查调查————执纪审查——中央纪委国家监委网站 vice-director of the Hainan civil-military fusion office is under investigation.

Hong Kong and Macao

The Latest: Hong Kong to remain closed to foreigners - AP Hong Kong will continue to be closed to foreigners, extending the initial two-week entry restrictions on non-residents indefinitely. Non-residents coming from overseas to Hong Kong by plane will be denied entry, and those coming from mainland China, Macao and Taiwan will be barred from entering if they have been overseas in the past 14 days.

Hong Kong rolls out 17-bln-USD package to prop up virus-hit industries, residents - Xinhua As a key part of the package, the government will allocate 80 billion Hong Kong dollars pay up to half of the wages of workers from coronavirus-hit sectors for six months, capped at 9,000 Hong Kong dollars for every beneficiary each month, Carrie Lam, chief executive of China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, said at a press conference. The program will benefit about 1.5 million workers across Hong Kong, with the first batch to be distributed as early as in June in a two-phase arrangement. Besides, 215,000 self-employed people will be granted one-off subsidies.


Department of Justice Clears on Google’s Application to the Federal Communications Commission to Operate a Portion of the Pacific Light Cable Network System | OPA | Department of Justice On behalf of itself as well as the Departments of Homeland Security and Defense, the department advised the FCC that those agencies do not oppose Google LLC’s application (through its subsidiary GU Holdings Inc.) to operate the segment of the Pacific Light Cable Network System connecting the United States to Taiwan for the next six months, pending a final disposition of the license application, so long as that temporary authority is conditioned on certain obligations

Taiwan’s Success Is the Bane of Beijing’s Global Coronavirus Propaganda – The Diplomat Beijing’s Taiwan Affairs Office has decried Taiwan’s “mask diplomacy” as “taking the wrong path of ‘worshipping everything foreign’ and engaging in a confrontation with the Motherland.” Beijing has also criticized Taiwan’s cooperation with the United States as the DPP’s “despicable move and political plot to use the COVID-19 pandemic to achieve independence.” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying commented on Taiwan’s mask donation to the United States that “it seems that the U.S. has really let its standard fall, as 2 million masks are enough to make Taiwan a model of democracy and a ‘true friend.’”

Tech and Media

China's top mobile operators to launch 5G messaging services - Xinhua China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom jointly released a white paper on 5G messaging services, vowing to improve their text messaging system to give users access to enhanced features including the sharing of high-resolution photos, files, locations and coupons

Aspiring Memory-Chip Maker Gets Nod for $600 Million Fundraising - Caixin Chipmaker GigaDevice Semiconductor (Beijing) Inc. has received the green light to raise funds for construction of a new factory making DRAM chips, joining a fledgling campaign by local Chinese players aiming to enter a lucrative sector dominated by foreigners.

Decade of the RATs: Novel APT Attacks Targeting Linux, Windows and Android BlackBerry researchers have released a new report that examines how five related APT groups operating in the interest of the Chinese government have systematically targeted Linux servers, Windows systems and Android mobile devices while remaining undetected for nearly a decade.

Energy, Environment, Science and Health

China snake village scales down as coronavirus prompts wildlife trade ban - Reuters “In the village now, there’s definitely no one breeding snakes,” said Yang Heyong, a 71-year old former breeder. “It must be because of the epidemic. Zhong Nanshan (China’s top medical adviser) has already said it is related to bats and snakes!” Zisiqiao has been an unlikely centre of China’s snake industry for nearly four decades. It is dotted with small factory farms and its “snake culture” museum is a tourist attraction.

Chinese molybdenum miner halts production after tailings spill - Reuters The emergency management bureau in the city of Yichun in Heilongjiang province will “temporarily withhold the company’s safe production licence” while rectifications are carried out, the report on the Heilongjiang government website said on Wednesday. “Restrictive measures” have also been taken against Yichun Luming’s main managers, it said, without elaborating, adding that a team of experts has been assembled to investigate the cause of the spill.