Wuhan reopens; Ren Zhiqiang officially under investigation; Open letters; Taiwan as a model
|Bill Bishop||Apr 7|| 34|
Wuhan has reopened, somewhat. While travel to and from the city is now allowed, some restrictions inside the city remain, there is no timetable for schools to reopen, and officials are clearly very worried about a a resurgence of infections. It is great to see so much progress after so much pain in Wuhan, but sobering to think how major cities like New York, which have seen far more cases and deaths than official data say occurred in Wuhan, can possibly get back to anything approaching normal anytime in the near future.
“Wolf warrior” diplomat and Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian returned to the Foreign Ministry press podium after an absence of several weeks, and in response to one question said his virus origin conspiracy theory tweets were “personal”. Interestingly, those remarks have been censored from the official transcripts and media reports.
The Beijing government announced that Ren Zhiqiang is under investigation. It did not give the reason, but it is due to the article Ren wrote that was sharply critical of Xi’s handling of the outbreak. Ren got a slap on the wrist a few years ago for his criticism, this time he will likely face much harsher penalties. How much his case will ripple through the princelings and other members of the old Beijing elite is very much worth watching. There is a link to a translation of Ren’s offending article in Item 3.
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Thanks for reading.
The Essential Eight
1. Wuhan reopens
The occasion was marked with a light show on either side of the broad Yangtze river, with skyscrapers and bridges radiating animated images of health workers aiding patients, along with one displaying the words “heroic city,” a title bestowed on Wuhan by president and Communist Party leader Xi Jinping. Along the embankments and bridges, citizens waved flags, chanted “Wuhan, let’s go!” and sang a capella renditions of China’s national anthem...
Prevention measures such as wearing masks, temperature checks and limiting access to residential communities will remain in place in Wuhan, which is the capital of Hubei.
In an editorial, the ruling Communist Party’s flagship People’s Daily warned against celebrating too soon.
“This day that people have long been looking forward to and it is right to be excited. However, this day does not mark the final victory,” the paper said. “At this moment, we still need to remind ourselves that as Wuhan is unblocked, we can be pleased, but we must not relax.”
Official notice of the measures still in place in Hubei make clear they are far from thinking the risk has passed:
四、省内大专院校、中小学、中职学校、技工院校、幼儿园等继续延期开学。具体开学时间根据疫情防控情况，经科学评估后确定 - Schools stay closed
Tall barriers surround many housing compounds, with signs plastered at gateways asking people to display green mobile phone health codes or present documents showing a valid reason to go out. There is little evidence those restrictions will be loosened soon.
Although shops and restaurants have started reopening across much of China, thousands remain shut in Wuhan...
A letter published online last week by more than 160 hospitality firms asked the Wuhan government for rental rebates, loan assistance and wage support, saying the virus and its after effects posed “the threat of extinction,” to more than 80,000 businesses.
Wednesday’s reopening came after only three new coronavirus cases were reported in the city in the previous three weeks, and a day after China reported no new deaths for the first time since January. Controls on outbound travel were officially lifted just after midnight in China...
Within the city, however, tough rules on individuals and businesses are still in place to prevent the virus from regaining a foothold. Officials continue to urge everyone to stay at home as much as possible. Schools are still closed.
Four Caixin reporters entered Wuhan in January, and stayed in the original epicenter, never leaving as the city was locked down. Bringing one investigative report after another their journalism helped to build a picture of what life was really like in Wuhan and what really happened. Hear how they spent the last 70 days: the excitements and fears, mixed with a sense of journalistic responsibility as they witnessed history being made. These are personal stories from the journalists on the frontline that have never been shared before.
After the city went into lockdown, officials erected barriers to keep residents off the streets. As the threat receded, however, a photojournalist noticed cracks begin to appear.
Over 55,000 people are estimated to be leaving Wuhan, the capital city of Central China's Hubei Province, by train on Wednesday - the first day of lifting outbound traffic controls since the novel coronavirus outbreak began, most of whom are heading to the Pearl River Delta,
Chinese Vice Premier Sun Chunlan Monday stressed the implementation of policies designed to facilitate the employment of college graduates in Hubei Province...
She said state-sponsored rural employment programs will expand recruitment and demanded incentive policies to encourage more college graduates to join the military or start their own businesses.
The Zhejiang government apparently does not trust the Hubei and Wuhan governments, says those who come from Wuhan will need to take coronavirus tests after they arrive in Zhejiang.
Henan also said all those come from Wuhan will need to take “free” coronavirus tests.
Yang Jiong, a medical professor at Zhongnan Hospital at Wuhan Univesrity, said a recent survey suggests there might be 10,000 to 20,000 asymptomatic coronavirus patients in Wuhan, and even though the risk of transmission is low for these patients, but it is still necessary to wear masks and avoid crowd gathering.
Caixin profile of doctor Liu Deyan, who ran a private clinic near the Huanan wildlife wet market and who was probably the first the doctor to handle the coronavirus cases. He and his wife both contracted the virus and he died later of infection.
According to a Wuhan government notice last week, all cemeteries in the city will remain closed until April 30. Families can make bookings for cemetery staff to sweep the tomb for them.
Wuhan Medical Workers Look Back in Anger
On Sale: 08/18/2020
Weibo posts said the magazine Portrait was not allowed to publish the new issue because of an article it did on doctor Ai Fen, an early whistleblowers of the coronavirus.
Hubei party boss Ying Yong visited the parents of doctor Li Wenliang to offer his condolence, and said the success of containing the virus is result of the hard work and doctor Li and his colleagues.
Beijing lawyer Li Zhuang posted on Weibo a notice by the Zhengzhong Lawyer Association that disbarred a local lawyer who it said spread “rumors” online about people lining up outside a funeral home in Wuhan. The post has been censored.
2. The outbreak in the rest of China
The National Health Commission said it had 32 confirmed cases, down from 39 on Monday.
The capital, a center for international exchanges, still bears the brunt of the risks as the worldwide spread of the COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating, said Xu Hejian, spokesperson for the municipal government and director of its information office, noting that there is no chance to call off the city's prevention and control work in a short time.
The overall strategy of guarding against imported cases and a rebound in indigenous cases will remain unchanged, with scientific analysis of the epidemic situation and accurate control methods taken, Xu added.
11 colleges and universities in Jiangsu are reopening over the next couple of weeks
Henan and Guangxi are mentioned in this report
Chinese embassy in DC is registering PRC students under 18 in the US for emergency evacuation on chartered flights. The students have to bear all costs & risk and go into centralized quarantine after they land
Authorities in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou are investigating a possible series of community transmissions of coronavirus in its “Little Africa” district after five Nigerians who tested positive were linked to a city restaurant.
Guangzhou on Tuesday announced it was upgrading the risk levels of Yuexiu and Baiyun districts from low to medium after the discovery of domestic infections related to imported cases.
The city also released details of a situation where imported cases from Nigeria caused five domestic infections in two cities. The Nigerians were confirmed infections during the quarantine period, but they had been to eight restaurants, nine hotels and 12 public places before being put into central quarantine. Their activities caused 197 close contacts to be put into quarantine and 1,680 people with the risk of exposure had to take nucleic acid tests for COVID-19, according to Tuesday's government press conference.
Heilongjiang, China’s northernmost province that borders Russia, has reported 60 imported cases this month, according to the Health Commission of Heilongjiang Province. All but one entered the Chinese border by car or coach from the nearby Russian city of Vladivostok, after they flew from Moscow, where more than half of Russia’s 6,300 cases have been reported.
Chinese social media has been flooded with hateful and sometimes violent comments targeting the expatriate community. Over the weekend, the intolerance reached a fever pitch with a cartoon created by WeChat blog 锦鲤青年 (Koi Youth jǐnlǐ qīngnián), which sorts foreigners who “seek special treatment and run wild” in China into various categories, and depicts them as trash to be disposed of.
All foreigners in China should abide by Chinese laws and regulations in epidemic control work, and China is against any kind of discrimination and prejudice, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday in response to reports claiming "anti-foreign sentiment" is on the rise in China.
The Chinese side has always paid great attention to the safety and health of foreign citizens in China and ensure their rightful interests in accordance with law, said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian at a regular press conference on Tuesday.
The number of imported cases detected at land ports has exceeded those discovered at airports, China Central Television reported on Monday, without providing specific numbers.
Southwest China's Yunnan Province, with a border of more than 4,000 kilometers, suspended passenger transport service in 14 out of its 19 land ports on March 31. All arrivals from neighboring countries must undergo a 14-day isolation period and nucleic acid testing at their own expense.
Chinese people will appreciate and miss deceased nurse Zhang Jingjing and will always appreciate and remember the contributions made by medical workers in the fight against the COVID-19, said Mi Feng, spokesperson for the National Health Commission (NHC), at a regular briefing on Tuesday.
Zhang, a medic from east China's Shandong Province, joined the team treating COVID-19 patients in Hubei Province in January. She passed away on Monday from cardiac failure.
Zhang Wenhong of Huashan Hospital in Shanghai told Caixin that the Chinese officials and experts have reached a consensus to “fight a prolonged war”, and China’s focus next step would be stopping inflow of coronavirus cases. Officials working at customs and the neighborhood committees carry heavy responsibility in quarantining those return from overseas. He also expects there will be huge outbreak in Africa, South America and India, and in Europe and the US, the virus can come back in the fall.
3. Ren Zhiqiang put under investigation
Ren Zhiqiang is under investigation for serious violations of Party discipline and law
Thank you @You_Shu_China for translating Ren Zhiqiang's essay - Youshu
Several days afterwards, there has been loads of media reporting and sharing online about the central government’s national ‘170,000 people meeting’ on February 23rd; it was supposedly the most-attended event in Party history. Way bigger than the Lushan meeting, which had 7,000 attendees, it was more significant too, and some called it a ‘Great Meeting’.
Online, several people used all manner of empty boosts and flattery to talk about this meeting’s great significance, they particularly emphasized the General Secretary’s most important and lengthy speech - it inspired the heart, it laid out a wise and correct strategic vision, it clearly showed the world the right way to fight the virus, it called on us to use the power of the ‘entire-country-system’ to tackle this great test, to defeat the virus and to obtain a Great Victory for our system of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics. It told us “that the Party’s decision about the virus was correct”, “it showed the significant advantages of the Central Party leadership and Socialism with Chinese Characteristics.”
At that time, when the entire country was cheering madly about the Great Leader’s speech, it seemed that China had returned back to the Great Era of the Great Leap Forward, that it had reverted to a time when everyone was waving their red flags, holding up their Little Red books, shouting “10,000 years, 10,000 years, 10,000 years” for the Leader. And there were so many people claiming from all different angles that they’d found the essence of that February 23rd speech, and claiming that China had again entered into a New Era.
I was also curious and so I seriously studied that speech, but what I saw was completely opposite to the stuff in the media and online about it’s ‘Greatness’. Standing there was not some Emperor showing us his “new clothes”, but a clown with no clothes on who was still determined to play emperor. Even though he was clutching some rags in an attempt to cover up the fact he wasn’t wearing any clothes, he couldn’t cover up his ambition to be emperor, and his ambition to destroy whoever might want to stop him...
This big meeting, perhaps it’s the same - we’re also facing a crisis in the governance of the Party - but we didn’t see any suggestions for criticism at this meeting, there was no exploration of, or disclosures about, the real situation, there was no investigation into the reasons for the virus break out, and certainly no one made any self-criticism or took responsibility…Why was there no announcement on January 7th of the instructions [from Xi]? Those instructions have still not been published! Why after January 7th were there still all manner of national meetings still held? Why was there still international travel? Why was there still the Spring Festival drumming in Yunnan?…
Ren points out the fatal flaws in the propaganda and the questions everyone should be asking about the early handling of the epidemic by Xi. And comparing Xi’s response unfavorably to Mao’s behavior at the 7,000 cadre conference after the wake of the Great Leap Forward is a kind of political nuclear missile.
When was the last time someone whose life so embodies the CCP system and its evolution, and who has so personally benefited from it, attacked the core so publicly? Li Rui?
Did Wang Qishan try to protect him, or did Ren get his one get out of jail free card with his previous outburst a few years ago that left him banned from Weibo, and Wang did not intervene this time?
Re-upping my comment from the March 31 newsletter:
Ren was part of a group of elite Beijingers who thrived in the previous Era. and his fate resonates in elite circles I think much more than Tsinghua University’s Xu Zhangrun does. His disappearance and rumored pending charges for "economic crimes", assuming the other set of rumors that he died in detention are wrong, will not help Xi with his efforts to improve sentiment and confidence among private entrepreneurs.
His friends say he vanished this month after writing an essay critical of the Chinese government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak. The essay, which was shared widely within private internet message groups, never named Xi Jinping, China’s top leader. But it said the actions of a power-hungry “clown” and the Communist Party’s strict limits on free speech had exacerbated the epidemic. It declared that the party should “wake up from ignorance” and oust the leaders holding it back, just as it did with the leaders known as the “Gang of Four” in 1976, ending the turmoil of the Cultural Revolution.
4. Foreign work
Over the past seven years, Chinese President Xi Jinping has on various occasions stressed the importance of global health cooperation, expressed China's support for international health organizations, and voiced the country's determination to help improve global health governance.
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.
Front page People’s Daily article on Monday praising Xi Jinpnig’s efforts to “personally” promote international cooperation combatting the coronavirus and to build the community of shared density. The article listed Xi’s meetings and phone calls with more than a dozen foreign leaders since Jan 20, and said Xi had underscored the importance of transparency and international cooperation very early on, and that China has been giving aid to countries that kindly aided China earlier.
Virus knows no national borders, and the epidemic distinguishes no races. Only with solidarity and by cooperation can the international community prevail over the pandemic and safeguard the common homeland of humanity. Upholding the vision of building a community with a shared future for humanity, China has been timely releasing information on COVID-19 since the onset of the epidemic in an open, transparent and responsible manner, unreservedly sharing with the WHO and the international community its experience in epidemic response and medical treatment, and strengthening cooperation on scientific research. It has also provided assistance to all parties to the best of its ability. All these efforts have been applauded and widely recognized by the international community.
Based on media reports and information from the National Health Commission, scientific research institutions and other departments, Xinhua News Agency sorted out the main facts China has taken in the global joint anti-virus efforts to timely release epidemic information, share prevention and control experience, and advance international exchanges and cooperation on epidemic response.
The Chinese version of the above Xinhua article ran the entire pages five, six and seven of the People’s Daily on Tuesday.- 中国发布新冠肺炎疫情信息、推进疫情防控国际合作纪事
The whole page two of People’s Daily is spent on articles praising China’s efforts to aid foreign countries, to be a global leader, and to build the community of shared destiny:
What’s more impressive is that China, while itself is under the impact of the COVID-19 disease, upholds the concept of a community with a shared future for mankind, and calls on the international society to help developing countries with vulnerable public health systems enhance preparedness and response...
China has taken active action to offer the world what it has promised. The country has sent anti-epidemic experts to countries in Asia, Europe, and Latin America. The Chinese government has provided material aid for 120 countries and 4 international organizations. China’s local governments have donated medical supplies to more than 50 countries through sister city mechanisms and other channels.
The original - 人民日报和音：国际人道主义精神值得加倍珍视——抗击疫情离不开命运共同体意识
The ILD spokesman weighs in on Twitter:
China's efforts have ensured the life, safety and health of the Chinese people and earned valuable time for other countries to combat COVID-19. As the WHO puts it, China's measures have altered the dangerous course of the virus' quick spread and prevented hundreds of thousands of infections.
Now COVID-19 is haunting more than 200 countries and regions. At this critical juncture, only by uniting as one can the world prevail over the pandemic.
Facing censure over their response to the outbreak, however, some U.S. politicians are playing blame games. It is immoral to politicize public health emergency at the moment when hundreds of thousands of people are suffering and even facing death threats. Lies and smears only waste time and endanger more lives.
None of the antibody tests ordered by the government is good enough to use, the new testing chief has admitted.
John Newton said that tests ordered from China were able to identify immunity accurately only in people who had been severely ill and that Britain was no longer hoping to buy millions of kits off the shelf.
The company has already delivered to Canada more than a million masks, 30,000 goggles and 50,000 pairs of gloves, according to a person with knowledge of the donation, the scale of which Huawei has not made public. The Globe and Mail is not identifying the person because they are not authorized to speak with the media.
China added yet another channel to its propaganda media distribution network in Africa with paid editorial content in South Africa’s leading financial newspaper Business Day. While paid Chinese editorial inserts are nothing new around the world (China Daily famously pays the New York Times, Washington Post and others to carry them), what’s distinctive here is that we haven’t seen it applied to the ongoing campaign regarding COVID-19 messaging.
Spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour called China’s coronavirus numbers “a bitter joke” at a press conference on Sunday, adding that the Chinese government’s reporting on the virus was misleading to the rest of the world.
The Chinese ambassador to Tehran Chang Hua responded on Twitter: “The Ministry of Health of China has a press conference every day. I suggest that you read their news carefully in order to draw conclusions.”
The interview followed a tweet the minister posted Sunday, and later deleted, using a cartoon character to mock Chinese accents and suggest Beijing was taking advantage of the crisis to carry out a world domination plan
Before President Donald Trump started calling the COVID-19 virus the “Chinese Virus”, many Nigerians already ascribed “Chinese” characteristics to the COVID-19 virus, thanks to a plethora of conspiracy theories, and videos of Asians (some Chinese) eating bats, and other exotic animals that they’ve seen on social media.
China had also signed commercial procurement contracts for medical supplies with 54 countries and three international organizations, Ministry of Commerce official Jiang Fan announced at the same presser.
"China hasn't and will not restrict the export of medical supplies," Jiang added.
China News Service: The Group of 77 and China issued a statement on COVID-19 on April 3, calling on the international community to work together to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic. What are the specific considerations and significance of this statement?
Zhao Lijian: The Group of 77 and China is the largest and most influential political group of developing countries in the United Nations. In the face of severe challenges posed by the COVID-19 outbreak, the Group of 77 and China issued the statement to urge the international community to demonstrate solidarity, accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, maintain the stability of global financial markets and supply chains, including by cutting tariffs and removing trade barriers, in order to facilitate the unfettered flow of trade and promote global economic recovery, and eliminate the use of unilateral coercive economic measures. The Group of 77 and China is resolved not to allow any stigmatization or discrimination of states, peoples or individuals in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic. The statement calls on the international community to work together in solidarity to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 and to build a community with a shared future for humankind.
He made the remarks in a phone conversation with Namibian President Hage Geingob...
Expressing deep concern about the current COVID-19 situation in Africa, he said China has overcome difficulties to actively assist the African Union and African countries with anti-epidemic supplies, and organize video conferences of medical experts to share experience.
Meanwhile, Chinese enterprises and non-governmental organizations have also extended a helping hand to African countries, he added, pointing out that all these are true manifestations of the China-Africa community with a shared future.
China, Xi said, will continue to share experience on epidemic prevention and control with African countries, and work with them to enhance cooperation in health care and win the final victory over the pandemic.
China's medical supplies for 18 African countries have arrived here on Monday, and are scheduled to be delivered to the other 17 countries within a few days. The beneficiary African countries are Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, Gabon, Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Cote d'Ivoire, Gambia, Liberia, Mali, Burkina Faso, Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Togo, Benin, Cape Verde, as well as Sao Tome and Principe.
Twelve Chinese medical experts arrived in Manila on Sunday to help their Philippine counterparts manage the outbreak. The team brought 5,000 units of personal protective equipment, 300,000 surgical masks, 30,000 medical N95 masks, 5,000 medical protective face shields and 30 noninvasive ventilators that were donated by the Chinese government.
Attended by some 20 health officials and experts in Beijing, Wuhan and Rawalpindi, the teleconference started with the Chinese side's introduction on China's general situation and experience in COVID-19 response, as well as testing and treatment of the disease.
The two sides exchanged views on emergency coordination, epidemic response, testing and clinical treatment, and discussed treatment of severe cases and nosocomial infection control with detailed cases.
China and the Netherlands should strengthen international cooperation to fight COVID-19 and build up their support for free trade, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said in a phone conversation with the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Tuesday afternoon...
Li said, during the outbreak, the two governments and peoples have offered each other support and assistance, adding that China stands ready to facilitate the Netherlands' purchase and transportation of medical supplies of urgent need from China, and will continue its tight control over the quality of export products.
China hopes, Li noted, the Dutch side safeguard the safety and the convenience for the living of Chinese citizens, especially Chinese students, in the Netherlands with concrete measures.
While a number of Australian firms (including FMG, Rio Tinto, BHP) are busy purchasing medical supplies in China, some Australian media such as SMH and The Australian are keen to defame the local Chinese companies who did similar things here in February. It was known to all that at the time China was in great need of certain medical materials in its fight against COVID-19. The procurement by the Chinese business was just to help China overcome difficulties. What they did bears no difference with what the Australian companies are doing at the moment in China, which is to help this country to get the badly needed medical items in response to COVID-19 outbreak. The Aussie media are misleading the public, maliciously characterized the Chinese companies' purchasing, a purely humanitarian move, as "scandal". Then how do they characterize the Aussie companies' procurement in China? Another Scandal?
Beijing has accused Australian media of "inciting hatred" for reporting the bulk buying of medical supplies to be transported to China as part of its global propaganda campaign to deflect attention over its culpability for the coronavirus outbreak.
Chinese pay television company StarTimes on Friday rolled out home schooling programming that will enable primary and high school students to continue learning through audiovisual broadcasts following the closure of schools in order to contain the spread of COVID-19.
“We will not forget that at the beginning of the fight against the epidemic, many countries gave us a helping hand,” Jiang Fan, from the department of foreign trade at the Ministry of Commerce, said on Sunday...
“Some media completely blamed China's product quality but it was due to many reasons,” Jiang said. “For example, the standards of Chinese and foreign products are different, there are differences in how they are typically used, and improper use can also raise doubts about the quality.”
Stressing that the Chinese people will bear Laos' support in mind, he said he is deeply concerned about the difficulties Laos is facing in its epidemic prevention and control.
The Chinese side sent medical experts to Laos in the shortest time possible and has offered assistance in medical supplies, Xi said, adding that China will continue to provide all-out support and assistance.
5. Virus origin and disinformation
Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a briefing Tuesday in Beijing that his social media posts were “a reaction to some U.S. politicians stigmatizing China a while ago.” In response to a question about whether the tweets represented the government’s official stance, Zhao said, “This also reflects the anger of many Chinese people about this stigma.”
Comment: Zhao's comments about this tweets is missing from the official transcripts Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian's Regular Press Conference on April 7, 2020 and 2020年4月7日外交部发言人赵立坚主持例行记者会
Three official news outlets – Xinhua, China Central Television and the Global Times – have targeted users across the world with promoted stories in English, Chinese and Arabic.
The ads, seen millions of times, extolled China’s efforts against Covid-19, downplayed its domestic outbreak, depicted Mr Trump as misguided and racist, and suggested that the virus might have originated in the US.
Yet all of them initially ran without a political disclaimer, allowing them to hide information about who they were targeting and sometimes letting them sidestep Facebook’s strict rules on political advertising.
But how did the outbreak occur? Solving this medical mystery is important to prevent future pandemics. What’s increasingly clear is that the initial “origin story” — that the virus was spread by people who ate contaminated animals at the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan — is shaky....
There’s a competing theory — of an accidental lab release of bat coronavirus — that scientists have been puzzling about for weeks. ..
Richard Ebright, a Rutgers microbiologist and biosafety expert, told me in an email that “the first human infection could have occurred as a natural accident,” with the virus passing from bat to human, possibly through another animal. But Ebright cautioned that it “also could have occurred as a laboratory accident, with, for example, an accidental infection of a laboratory worker.” He noted that bat coronaviruses were studied in Wuhan at Biosafety Level 2, “which provides only minimal protection,” compared with the top BSL-4.
Ebright described a December video from the Wuhan CDC that shows staffers “collecting bat coronaviruses with inadequate [personal protective equipment] and unsafe operational practices.” Separately, I reviewed two Chinese articles, from 2017 and 2019, describing the heroics of Wuhan CDC researcher Tian Junhua, who while capturing bats in a cave “forgot to take protective measures” so that “bat urine dripped from the top of his head like raindrops.”..
Accidents happen, human or laboratory. Solving the mystery of how covid-19 began isn’t a blame game, but a chance for China and the United States to cooperate in a crisis, and prevent a future one.
A new report by the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee argues the country where the outbreak began should have taken a leading role in collecting data and sharing its research with other nations to help control the spread of Covid-19, accusing Xi Jinping’s Beijing of engaging in “obfuscation” rather than transparency...
the committee, led by Conservative chairman Tom Tugendhat MP, reserves its sharpest criticism for China, which it says “allowed disinformation to spread as quickly as the virus”.
“Rather than helping other countries prepare a swift and strong response, it is increasingly apparent that they manipulated vital information about the virus in order to protect the regime’s image,” Mr Tugendhat’s panel argues.
6. Open letters and OpEds
Ambassador Cui Tiankai penned an oped in the New York Times and a group of PRC scholars and a group of US scholars and former policymakers issued open letters urging cooperation to fight the epidemic. I have seen two more open letters from outside the PRC that should be made public this week.
We are a group of 100 Chinese scholars representing diverse academic fields including philosophy, political science, economics, medicine, international relations, sociology, law, communication, military science, and technology....
At this stage of the pandemic, the exact source and origin of COVID-19 remain undetermined, but these questions are unimportant and finger pointing is demeaning and hurtful to everyone. In the end we will all respect the final determination of scientists. Like many other countries, China is a victim of the virus, but also a success story overcoming it, and it is willing to work with people of other countries to stop the spread of the pandemic.
We sincerely hope to cooperate with the international community, including intellectuals and experts from the U.S. that look forward to a brighter future. We look forward to the time when doctrines of international cooperation once again flourish around the world. We call on all nations to work together in sincere cooperation to defeat this common enemy of humanity.
Comment: Interesting that Shi Yinhong, Yan Xuetong, Wang Jisi and Zhu Feng are not among the signatories
The open letter was the idea of Wang Wen, executive dean of the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University in Beijing, who said its aim was not only to show the willingness of China’s intellectual elite to promote solidarity and reduce tensions, but to make clear that the priority right now was saving lives.
“We did not criticise anyone in the letter, or mention any names. We did not want to fuel the current disputes and confrontations,” he said.
“Most Chinese intellectuals are peaceful, rational and constructive, and thankfully we quickly reached consensus on the content of the letter.”
Dr. WANG used to be a Chief Op-eds Editor and Editorial Writer at Global Times, one of the most best-selling newspapers under the People’s Daily, and won the China News Awards in 2011. He has authored, co-authored, translated and contributed to more than 30 books, including "Great Power’s Long March Road: The views of China's rejuvenation and the future of the world after hundred countries’ visit"
Open Letter - Saving Lives in America, China, and Around the World - - A Statement Organized by Asia Society's Center on U.S.-China Relations & the 21st Century China Center at UC San Diego's School of Global Policy and Strategy
The kind of cooperation we are promoting has precedent: during the height of the Cold War, the United States and Soviet Union worked together to vaccinate the entire world against smallpox. It is true that the United States and China are increasingly in competition and have serious differences in interests and values. But America need not concede its interests or values, or condone China's handling of the crisis, to cooperate on coronavirus. Nor should such differences impede cooperation among local governments, NGOs, corporations, scientists, and private citizens on both sides of the Pacific that together form the core of any joint effort.
In time, in order to prevent or prepare for future outbreaks, there will be a need for a global review of the coronavirus pandemic: its origins, the conditions that allowed it to spread, the failure of the institutions tasked with response, and the potential fragility of medical supply chains so critical to the health and safety of billions. But for now, as the pandemic sweeps the globe, the focus should be on finding the resolve to work together to contain and defeat the virus at home and abroad. Millions of lives in both countries and around the world will depend on it.
A large group of prominent American foreign-policy experts, including former high-ranking White House officials from both parties, is calling on the Trump administration to work more closely with China to stem the coronavirus epidemic.
Susan Rice and Stephen Hadley, national security advisers under Presidents Obama and George W. Bush respectively, were among the nearly 100 boldface names who signed the statement, which comes as the U.S. and China trade blame over the Covid-19 crisis.
a few western politicians and media outlets have never stopped bashing, smearing and attacking China's efforts out of deep-seated ideological bias. They are fond of hyping up the abuse of human rights rhetoric but turn a deaf ear to the pandemic information China shared at the beginning, wasting the precious time that China has earned. They openly adopt the "double standard" and shift blame to China to cover up their inability. They air racist and xenophobic remarks, showing full malice on China. Recently, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attempted to write the "Wuhan virus" into the communique of the G-7 Foreign Ministers' Meeting and played his same old tune of attacking China for spreading false information. It makes him fail to live up to the decency of his capacity but underlines his shameless and immoral image.
Recently, 100 scholars from China wrote an open letter, calling for cooperation and solidarity to fight the common enemy of mankind. Over 90 bipartisan, former high-ranking government officials and experts from the United States also released a joint statement urging cooperation with China to combat COVID-19. Such rational, calm and positive voices are welcome at this moment.
China is doing whatever it can to support the United States and other countries in need; New York, America’s epicenter of the pandemic, is one of the biggest destinations of China’s assistance. We are facilitating the U.S. government’s purchase of personal protective equipment made in China. Indeed, factories are operating in full swing to fulfill the orders of medical supplies from New York State and other parts of America. China’s provincial and city governments are rushing to help their sister states and cities in America too. And donations are pouring in from the country’s business sector.
Huawei has donated tens of thousands of personal protective items — including masks, gloves and goggles — to New York and Washington, D.C. In total, Chinese companies have donated 1.5 million masks, 200,000 test kits, 180,000 gloves and many other medical supplies to the United States. Over the weekend, Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York expressed his appreciation to the Joseph and Clara Tsai Foundation for donating 1,000 ventilators to New York and the Jack Ma Foundation for providing masks and goggles. Chinese communities in America are also showing their support with generous financial and material donations to their local hospitals and neighborhoods. In the fight against the virus, we stand together with the people of New York and America.
US State Department Spokesperson responds on Twitter:
Trump said he was confident that China would follow through “because I know President Xi [Jinping], who I like and respect, and I think he will honour the deal he made with us”.
Trump tweeted earlier today:
Early this year, the United States was weighing whether to deny GE's latest license request to provide the CFM LEAP-1C engine for the narrow-body COMAC jet, which is expected to go into service next year.
China’s Washington ambassador, Cui Tiankai, said in Sunday’s New York Times there had been ‘unpleasant talk’ between the two countries about the virus, but now was the time for “solidarity, collaboration and mutual support.”
A senior Trump administration official said access to Wuhan had been restricted since the virus outbreak, and added: “If Ambassador Cui is saying China is willing to cooperate with the U.S., we would appreciate the opportunity to work directly with their virology labs in Wuhan... “
The leadership of the Justice Department has put a bull’s-eye on the Chinese government, pushing prosecutors across the country to focus on investigations of Chinese state-backed efforts to steal intellectual property. The work involves investigations into American academics and work with U.S. universities, and department officials say their nationwide undertaking isn’t slowing it down...
In an interview with POLITICO, John Demers — the Justice Department’s assistant attorney general for national security — said DOJ headquarters wants each of the country’s 94 U.S. attorney’s districts to bring cases as part of the work...
“I think it’s actually gone better than we initially expected,” said Richard Donoghue, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York and a member of the Initiative’s steering committee. “I do think there are a lot of people in academia who were initially skeptical, but when they see the cases that have been brought and when we explain to them what the Chinese government is doing to try to manipulate these relations and steal intellectual property, I think it really opens their eyes.”
"Only last week, there were multiple flights coming from China full of medical supplies," the reporter from Hong Kong-based Phoenix TV began during Monday's briefing. "Companies like Huawei and Alibaba have been donating to the United States, like 1.5 million N95 masks and also a lot of medical gloves, and much more medical supplies."
"Sounds like a statement more than a question," Trump interjected...
"Are you cooperating with China?" she pressed. "Who are you working for, China?" Trump responded. "Who are you with?"
The reporter smiled. "Um, no, I'm working for -- Hong Kong Phoenix TV."
Comment: Wang Youyou, the PhoenixTV reporter, is being attacked on the Chinese Internet for having poor English and seeming to say that Hong Kong is not China. She just can't win…
what was Xi’s logic in implementing policies that rendered engagement so unworkable when they were working so well? What moved him to so alienate the United States when he did not need to? There are, of course, myriad specific rationales, but Xi has never articulated an overarching explanation that speaks to China’s actual national self-interest. The most plausible might be the simplest: Muscular nationalism and overt projections of power often play well at home among those ginned up on national pride.
Wang Jisi of Peking Universiiy recently gave a speech that talked about US-China relations and how the coronavirus could accelerate the downward spiral. “The coronavirus epidemic has dealt a huge blow to the China-US relations and the deterioration of the relations is accelerating. The official relations are now almost frozen, the lack of strategic trust is getting worse, and the hostility between the two people is higher than ever. In the future, there will be more difficulty to implement the first phase trade agreement, and it is already irreversible that the two are decoupling in terms of economy and technology, and there will be less exchanges in other areas. This will be the most difficult phase since the establishment of US-China diplomatic relations in the 1970s. And it is difficult to say how long this will last and how bad it will get.”
The US discourse around China may get uglier between now and the November election - Trump faces heat on coronavirus as Republicans elevate role of China in outbreak - The Washington Post
For months, national Republicans hoping to wrest back control of the House this fall have targeted first-term Rep. Sean Casten (D-Ill.), hitting him on his vote to impeach President Trump, his criticism of the U.S. drone killing of an Iranian general and his opposition to a federal ban on fentanyl.
This week, they opened a new front — accusing Casten of “spewing Communist Party propaganda to bash the president” over Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Casten’s sin, in the National Republican Congressional Committee’s view, was a pair of conference calls during which he told constituents that China had acted “quickly” and “to their credit … shut down the entire province that this was in, and they seem to largely have isolated the cases.”..
“Beyond dispute that #China’s Communist Party has lied about #Coronavirus at every stage of pandemic,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) wrote in a tweet this week. “Yet in their reporting, tweets & discussions some continue to spread Chinese govt propaganda negatively contrasting our numbers to fake Chinese govt ones.”
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) said in a statement: “The claim that the United States has more coronavirus deaths than China is false.”
Republican congressional candidate Kathaleen Wall is using the coronavirus outbreak as the centerpiece for a new campaign ad airing in the Houston media market.
“China poisoned our people,” a narrator says in the ad, which then lauds President Donald Trump for calling COVID-19 the “Chinese virus.”
A bit disturbing how many people have asked me over the last two weeks if I think that Xi will use the distraction and chaos from the pandemic to attack Taiwan.
In the past 10 days, the administration has taken at least two specific overt steps to boost Taiwan...
On Thursday, the State Department announced it had convened a virtual conference to promote “expanding Taiwan’s participation on the global stage.” Just days before, on March 26, the White House announced that President Donald Trump signed a law requiring the U.S. to press for Taiwanese recognition in international forums and to take unspecified action against countries that “undermine the security or prosperity of Taiwan.”
On March 31, 2020, high-level officials representing the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), the U.S. Department of State, the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO), and the Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs convened for a virtual forum on expanding Taiwan’s participation on the global stage...
Participants also discussed ongoing efforts to reinstate Taiwan’s observer status at the World Health Assembly, as well as other avenues for closer coordination between Taiwan and the World Health Organization. Participants in the forum included: AIT Director Brent Christensen, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs Pam Pryor, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Ambassador Atul Keshap, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Jonathan Fritz, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs Nerissa Cook, TECRO Representative Stanley Kao, Taiwan Deputy Foreign Minister Kelly Hsieh, and Taiwan Director General for International Organizations Bob Chen...
Countries around the world can benefit from better understanding the Taiwan Model, as well as the generous contributions and impressive expertise Taiwan – a vibrant democracy and force for good – brings to the global community.
The surgical masks will be provided primarily to healthcare workers in these countries to assist them in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, Ger said.
An official familiar with the matter, who asked not to be named, told CNA that the countries will include Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, India, Myanmar and Indonesia...
On April 1, the foreign ministry announced that Taiwan will be donating 10 million masks to countries seriously affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, including the United States, 11 European countries and 15 of the country's diplomatic allies.
Two million will be sent to the U.S., 1 million to the 15 allies, with the remaining 7 million going to Italy, Spain, Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Czech Republic, Poland, the United Kingdom and Switzerland, according to a MOFA press release.
Question: Will the masks be stamped "Taiwan" and have the ROC flag on them?
Since WHO senior advisor Bruce Aylward awkwardly refused to answer a question about Taiwan during an interview with Hong Kong’s RTHK in March, discussion about Taiwan’s inclusion to WHO has been gaining momentum. On Monday, WHO removed a public statement about Taiwan after posting it online for less than 24 hours. The move raised more suspicion about the organization’s deliberation between “health” and “politics.”
In late March, Taiwan confirmed it's 300th case of novel coronavirus. As of March 30, Taiwan has recorded multiple incidents of community spread, including eight cases of unknown origin. These incidents give cause for concern, raising the question: “how far away is Taiwan from rampant community spread?”
Business, Economy and Trade
The State of Chinese Commodities Shows Recovery Taking Hold - Bloomberg Bloomberg Economics estimates that most of China was 90%-95% back to work at the end of last week, noting pick-ups in the steel market, construction activity and crude processing. Those oil refineries, as well as coal-fired power plants, are nearing last year’s operating rates, while metals stockpiles have shrunk from record or near-record levels.
人民日报：加快建立同疫情防控相适应的经济社会运行秩序（人民要论） Wang Changlin, head of the state-run Academy of Macroeconomic Research, wrote on page 6 of People’s Daily that the government must roll out different policies to “establish an economic and social order that is consistent with the measures to control and prevent virus spread.” That includes more stringent inspections of international flights and ships while putting more efforts to help companies resume business, to help graduates and immigrant workers get employment, and provide a better, wider safety net for those in difficulties.
财新：封面文章|疫情冲击外贸悬空 各路商品八仙过海 Caixin’s cover story on the Chinese manufacturers who are struggling to deal with the blow of the coronavirus. Many companies, even if they have managed to bring workers back and restart production, are now running out of orders from overseas. Some pharmaceutical companies are running out of raw materials to produce. For those managed to overcome the two obstacles, are having troubles finding international ships and flights and warehouses for transportation. Many of them worried about a decoupling and China being forever isolated from the international supply chain.
China consumers wary of spending after coronavirus — Quartz A recent survey (link in Chinese) conducted by Cefuture, a Chinese consulting form focused on logistics and transportation, found that 41% of nearly 1,000 participants said they would reduce spending to prepare for future crises, while 51% said they would work harder to make more money. Only 8% expressed willingness to do more shopping after the outbreak. In another survey (link in Chinese) of 949 people conducted by investment bank China Renaissance, 68% of people say they expect their income this year to be lower, further dampening consumer appetite.
How Effective Have China’s Agricultural and Seafood Tariffs Been? | Council on Foreign Relations - Brad Setser There is a case that viruses (bird flu, swine fever, and now the coronavirus) have had almost as big an impact on Chinese-American agricultural trade as the trade war. (And more than most want to know on trade in crustaceans)
In a first, China knocks U.S. from top spot in global patent race - Reuters The World Intellectual Property Organization, which oversees a system for countries to share recognition of patents, said 58,990 applications were filed from China last year, beating out the United States which filed 57,840.
Universities Forced to Face Addiction to Foreign Students’ Money - Bloomberg Chinese spend an estimated $30 billion a year on overseas tuition alone, according to Salvatore Babones, a political sociologist at the University of Sydney. Add in living expenses, and that expenditure is greatly magnified.
Defaulted Chinese Debt Is a $1.5 Trillion Minefield - Bloomberg Global money managers desperate for yield have a growing universe of beaten-down Chinese debt to choose from. The country had $1.5 trillion of NPLs and other stressed assets at the end of 2019, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers. And S&P Global Ratings estimates that past-due loans could jump by $800 billion if the coronavirus epidemic turns into a prolonged health emergency.
Seafarer Funds - The China Investment Dilemma – Part I Based on an estimate of holdings of Chinese companies listed domestically and on foreign exchanges, U.S. investors own more than 500 billion USD worth of Chinese securities, making China the fourth-largest foreign exposure for U.S. investors, falling just behind France. As China’s weighting in global investment indices increases, the share of China holdings for passive investors will increase. Active investors have more flexibility regarding their level of China exposure, but many have chosen to invest an even larger share of their portfolios in Chinese securities compared with the indices because of the country’s economic and financial importance. // Comment: Meanwhile, he PRC is intensifying its information decoupling, making it really hard to understand how investors are willing to place so much money into something that is getting less transparent
Yicai Global - Over Half of Chinese Listed Firms Expect Rising Profits in Q1 More than half of of Chinese firms listed on the A-share market are expected to see profit expansion in the first quarter, China Securities Journal reported today. // ???
Airlines Convert Passenger Planes to Haul Cargo - Caixin At least 10 Chinese and international airlines have managed to retrofit their planes to haul goods instead of people. China Eastern Airlines, one of China’s four major carriers, increased its freight capacity last month by modifying the internal structure of some of its planes, which will carry electronics and Tesla automotive parts when flying back to China from other countries this month, an employee told Caixin.
China’s Sovereign Debt Funds May Go to Banks - Caixin Funds raised by issuing special treasury bonds (STB) may be used to replenish capital in China’s financial system, top state economists have said, relieving pressure on banks’ balance sheets as they support the country’s stalling economy.
China takes steps to stabilize foreign trade, investment - Xinhua China will establish new pilot zones for cross-border e-commerce, support the processing trade and host an online Canton Fair to stabilize foreign trade and investment amid the novel coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), according to an executive meeting of the State Council. The meeting, presided over by Premier Li Keqiang, also decided to continue preferential tax policies for inclusive financial service and micro-loan companies in a bid to help small- and micro-businesses, self-employed individuals and farmers tide over.
Goldman seizes Luckin Coffee shares from chairman after $518m default | Financial Times $$ Goldman on Monday said it was seizing the shares as collateral on the margin loan facility to Luckin chairman Lu Zhengyao. It would then convert them into American depositary shares and sell them to recoup losses on behalf of a syndicate of lenders. The syndicate of lenders also included Credit Suisse, Morgan Stanley and Barclays, two people familiar with the situation told the FT. All three banks declined to comment.
Yicai Global - Chinese Investors Join the Line to Sue Scandal-Hit Luckin Coffee The issuing of securities and any trading activities outside of the People's Republic of China that disrupt market order within China and damage the rights and interests of Chinese investors can be prosecuted within the provisions of the country's Securities Law, the journal said today.
China's Ucar, in which Luckin chairman is top shareholder, halts shares - Reuters China’s Ucar Inc, in which Luckin Coffee (LK.O) Chairman Charles Zhengyao Lu is the biggest shareholder, suspended trading of its shares on Tuesday after regulators questioned the car service provider about how the alleged fraud at Luckin would impact it.
In China, Travel Resumes—Cautiously - WSJ $$ After some two months hunkered down at home to fight the coronavirus, many Chinese people traveled this weekend—the annual tomb-sweeping holiday—boosting beleaguered hotels and travel companies. Travel bookings for the three-day weekend were up 50% from the weekend before, according to Trip.com, China’s largest travel services company, while hotel bookings increased 60%. Fliggy, an online travel service operated by Alibaba Group Holding, said train reservations doubled and hotel bookings rose 30%.
China’s Huangshan mountains swamped with visitors as country tries to ease coronavirus lockdown | South China Morning Post Attraction in Anhui province said it would be forced to close on Sunday after exceeding its 20,000-visitor limits
Coronavirus: nearly half a million Chinese companies close in first quarter as pandemic batters economy | South China Morning Post More than 460,000 Chinese firms closed permanently in the first quarter as the coronavirus pandemic pummeled the world’s second largest economy, with more than half of them having operated for under three years, corporate registration data shows. The closures comprised of businesses whose operating licenses had been revoked, as well as those who had terminated operations themselves, and included 26,000 in the export sector, according to Tianyancha, a commercial database that compiles public records. At the same time, the pace of new firms being established slowed significantly. From January to March, around 3.2 million businesses were set up, a 29 per cent drop from a year earlier.
SCMP: Hainan Airlines calls bondholders for meeting on plan to defer debt repayment amid liquidity squeeze Hainan Airlines is calling a meeting with bondholders this week to seek a delay in repayment, citing tight liquidity as the coronavirus pandemic slammed travel and carriers worldwide. The airline, part of the debt-stricken HNA Group, is holding a conference call at 2pm local time April 10 with holders of its 750 million yuan (US$106.4 million) 4.35 per cent bond, according to a Shanghai Clearing House filing on Tuesday. The 270-day bond matures on April 17.
Politics and Law
习近平战“疫”兵法——致人而不致于人 央视网《人民领袖》栏目推出系列特稿《习近平战“疫”兵法》，与您一同领悟其中精髓。CCTV Online has an article explaining the "Xi Jinping Art of "Epidemic "War"
把习近平总书记依法治网要求落实落细落具体！最高检成立惩治网络犯罪维护网络安全研究指导组-中国长安网 The Supreme People's Procuratorate establishes a research and guiding group to punish Internet crimes and safeguard Internet security
中新网：广东省委常委、宣传部部长傅华已任中宣部副部长The CCP propaganda department has a new vice minister- Fu Hua. Fu used to be editor in chief of Beijing Daily and Economic Daily, and he was the propaganda chief in Guangdong before he took the new job.Tuo Zhen, former vice minister at the propaganda department and now head of People’s Daily, was also once propaganda chief in Guangdong.
财新：人事观察|吉林省政府高层有望增员, 三亚“70后”市长阿东北上 A’dong, former mayor of the Sansha municipality (which includes both the Paracel and Spratlys archipelago), will become deputy governor of Jilin. He used to head the apartment of policy and legal affairs and island interests in the State Oceanic Administration in the lead up to the 2016 South China Sea international arbitration case.
'Shameless': anger as China quarantines freed human rights lawyer 400km from home | The Guardian Prominent Chinese human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang, who was jailed for four and a half years for subversion, has been released from prison but barred from reuniting with his wife and son in Beijing amid the coronavirus pandemic. His wife, Li Wenzu, fears that the authorities are using the pandemic as an excuse to hold him under de facto house arrest indefinitely. She said Wang has been released from prison but authorities had sent him to his home town, Jinan, in the north-eastern province of Shandong (400km south of Beijing) for quarantine.
China Undercover | S2020 E18 | FRONTLINE | PBS | Official Site A special undercover report from China’s secretive Xinjiang region. FRONTLINE investigates the Communist regime’s mass imprisonment of Muslims, and its use and testing of sophisticated surveillance technology against the Uyghur community.
Xinjiang’s new rules against domestic violence expand China’s ‘extremism’ front to the home | South China Morning Post Under the new rules, domestic violence also covers the “exercise of extremist acts – both physical and psychological – that prevent other family members from engaging in normal production and way of life”.
坚持更高标准 采取更实举措 创建模范机关--中央办公厅机关党委 建设让党中央放心、让人民群众满意的模范机关，是党中央和习近平总书记对中央和国家机关提出的明确要求。中央和国家机关工委印发《关于创建“让党中央放心、让人民群众满意的模范机关”的意见》之后，中央办公厅按照工委部署，结合实际，精心研究制定创建方案，召开会议进行安排部署。丁薛祥同志对中办创建工作高度重视，多次提出要求，特别强调在中央和国家机关中，中办是“第一方阵”的排头兵、“最先一公里”的首发站，在创建上必须有更高标准、更实举措、更好成效。按照工委意见精神和丁薛祥同志要求，中办机关党委突出“五个聚焦”，研究谋划思路举措，扎实推进模范机关创建工作。
Foreign and Defense Affairs
PRC’s Reported Sinking of a Vietnamese Fishing Vessel in the South China Sea - United States Department of State Since the outbreak of the global pandemic, Beijing has also announced new “research stations” on military bases it built on Fiery Cross Reef and Subi Reef, and landed special military aircraft on Fiery Cross Reef. The PRC has also continued to deploy maritime militia around the Spratly Islands. China’s Nine-Dashed Line was deemed an unlawful maritime claim by an arbitral tribunal convened under the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention in July 2016, a position shared by the U.S. Government.
China says Vietnamese fishing boat rammed coastguard ship before sinking | South China Morning Post The Chinese coastguard said in an online statement late on Friday that the Vietnamese fishing vessel QNG90617 had been fishing illegally in waters near the Paracel Islands and had refused to leave after repeated warnings. “It rammed into our coastguard ship 4301 and sunk, all eight of the crew have been rescued,” the coastguard spokesman Zhang Jun said... He added that the crew had confessed to illegally entering Chinese waters and dangerous manoeuvres.
China must step up on Africa debt relief, Ghana finance minister says - Reuters African governments are calling for $100 billion in assistance, including support for a moratorium on all external debt and eventually some debt write-offs. China on Tuesday said that it recognises that developing countries face a greater challenge, but it did not mention any specific debt-relief measures that it would implement.
Chinese move to take control of Imagination Technologies stalls | Financial Times $$ An attempt to seize control of the board of British graphics chipmaker Imagination Technologies by an investor linked to the Chinese state has failed after intervention by the UK government.
DarkHotel hackers use VPN zero-day to breach Chinese government agencies | ZDNet Chinese security-firm Qihoo 360, which detected the intrusions, said the hackers used a zero-day vulnerability in Sangfor SSL VPN servers, used to provide remote access to enterprise and government networks. Qihoo said it discovered more than 200 VPN servers that have been hacked in this campaign.
New publication: Empty shell no more: China’s growing footprint in Central and Eastern Europe | chinaobservers The new CHOICE (China Observers in Central and Eastern Europe) audit reveals that the People’s Republic of China has been increasingly active in political, economic and societal domains in the countries gathered in China-led 17+1 platform. The 17+1 initiative, founded in 2012, has been labeled by some as an ‘empty shell’ with the assertion that cooperation between Central and Eastern Europe with China lacks substance. However, it is only when the whole picture is analyzed that the progress and direction of the 17+1 platform becomes evident. Contrary to what has been often assumed, the 17+1 cooperation is loaded with action. While results in the economic domain are falling behind expectations, political and societal ties have seen a huge uptick, resulting in a dramatic rise of China’s presence in the region.
The Internet in the Arctic: Crucial Connections – Over the Circle As for China, the Arctic has become a major area of interest for that country’s flagship ICT (information and communications technology) firm, Huawei (华为) as the company seeks to promote its fifth-generation (5G) communications infrastructure to other states. However, Huawei’s results in the Arctic markets have been mixed at best.
US military asks for US$20 billion to counter Beijing’s influence in the Indo-Pacific | South China Morning Post The request’s sweeping budgetary priorities include more air missile units, new radar warning systems, expanded training exercises and initiatives to strengthen the military capabilities of US allies. Under the proposal, some US$1.6 billion would be released for financial year 2021, with a further US$18.5 billion earmarked for financial years 2022-26.
PLA Air Force's first batch of female flight instructors take cadets to sky - China Military this is the first time for the Air Force to select female pilots from aviation units to assume flight instructors. They have had training courses at the Aviation University, the Harbin Flight Academy and an aviation brigade under the PLA Air Force successively, accumulating flight experience with different types of aircraft including primary trainers, advanced trainers and fighter jets.
Amphibious aircraft AG600 prepares for first sea-based test flight - Global Times The AG600, China's large amphibious airplane that will be capable of covering all of the South China Sea, is preparing in Hubei Province to conduct its first maritime test flight this year as planned, despite the novel coronavirus pneumonia (COVID-19) epidemic.
China dismisses rumors that 1.5 million Chinese in Russia will be expelled due to pandemic - Global Times The Chinese consulate general in Vladivostok dismissed an online rumor that Russia was set to expel over 1.5 million overseas Chinese in Russia, who would return to China through three ports in Northeastern China's Heilongjiang Province.
Attorney General Will Chair Committee to Review Foreign Participation in the U.S. Telecommunications Sector | OPA | Department of Justice The Committee will review applications for telecommunications, submarine cable landing, and other FCC licenses which the FCC refers for review of national security and law enforcement concerns.
How China and Russia Could Join Forces Against The European Union - Polish Institute of International Affairs PISM The analysis starts with the identification of the EU’s global agenda, the main goals pursued by Russia and China towards the EU, and, in turn, the EU’s policies towards them. It proceeds with scrutiny of the state of and future prospects of the Russian-Chinese relationship to determine the likelihood that a convergence of interests could make them joint forces against the European Union. A set of measures that China and Russia might use against the EU is identified. Finally, the report looks into the Russian and Chinese efforts to undermine the EU and analyses whether and in what circumstances more active Russian-Chinese cooperation against the European Union may be possible.
Conor McGregor blasts China over report claiming ‘substandard’ medical equipment sent to Ireland | The Irish Post McGregor also appeared to hit out at Leo Varadkar’s suggestion that Ireland and China would be working closely together.“Take back this thank you and offer of assistance, this instant! It is barbaric what has been done here,” he said.
Britain Falls Out of Love With China - WSJ Editorial $$ Skeptical voices are rising outside the administration, too. Iain Duncan Smith, a member of Parliament and former Conservative Party leader, cited Beijing’s coronavirus cover-up as the final straw that should prompt Britain to “rethink” its relationship with China. That argument won’t be a hard sell to many Conservatives. Mr. Johnson faced a rebellion by 38 of his own party members in Parliament who recently voted against his plan to allow Huawei to sell equipment to Britain.
China joins U.N. human rights panel, will help pick experts on free speech, health, arbitrary detention - UN Watch China was appointed on Wednesday to a United Nations Human Rights Council panel where it will play a key role in picking the world body’s human rights investigators — including global monitors on freedom of speech, health, enforced disappearances, and arbitrary detention — in a move that has sparked protest by international human rights activists.
Via Local Commie Underlings, Beijing Officially Disapproves | Daily Telegraph Australia The Daily Telegraph this week received a letter from the Australian Consulate General of the People's Republic of China, who took gentle issue with our excellent coverage of the coronavirus crisis. Following is a point-by-point response to the Consulate General and China’s communist dictatorship
Hong Kong and Macao
Why the Basic Law is the best safeguard for Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability | South China Morning Post - Carrie Lam From topping global IPO rankings to its large offshore renminbi market, independent judiciary and bilateral trade and other agreements, the special administrative region has come a long way under ‘one country, two systems’
Military Activity and Political Signaling in the Taiwan Strait in Early 2020 - Jamestown This uptick in tactical military activity has been accompanied by more assertive rhetoric from People’s Republic of China (PRC) media outlets and spokespersons since the landslide reelection of Taiwan President Tsai Ing-Wen (蔡英文) on January 11 (China Brief, January 17). These military operations (see further discussion below) have also taken place as PRC officials and citizens have scrambled to cope with the social, economic, and political impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic that first manifested in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December (Jamestown, ongoing). This suggests that senior Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials wish to project the message that the crisis has not inhibited the PLA’s capabilities to defeat Taiwan “separatism”—and may further wish to use such operations to assert an image of strength in the face of the internal crisis produced by the pandemic.
Tech and Media
U.S. chipmaking industry pushes back on proposed export rule changes - Reuters In a letter sent on Monday, nine groups urged U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to allow public comment before putting the rules into effect to avoid unintended consequences.
Move Fast & Roll Your Own Crypto: A Quick Look at the Confidentiality of Zoom Meetings - The Citizen Lab The AES-128 keys, which we verified are sufficient to decrypt Zoom packets intercepted in Internet traffic, appear to be generated by Zoom servers, and in some cases, are delivered to participants in a Zoom meeting through servers in China, even when all meeting participants, and the Zoom subscriber’s company, are outside of China. Zoom, a Silicon Valley-based company, appears to own three companies in China through which at least 700 employees are paid to develop Zoom’s software. This arrangement is ostensibly an effort at labor arbitrage: Zoom can avoid paying US wages while selling to US customers, thus increasing their profit margin. However, this arrangement may make Zoom responsive to pressure from Chinese authorities.
Response to Research From University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab - Zoom Blog In our urgency to come to the aid of people around the world during this unprecedented pandemic, we added server capacity and deployed it quickly — starting in China, where the outbreak began. In that process, we failed to fully implement our usual geo-fencing best practices. As a result, it is possible certain meetings were allowed to connect to systems in China, where they should not have been able to connect. We have since corrected this, and would like to use this blog post to explain how our system typically works, where our misstep occurred, and how we will prevent these kinds of problems in the future. We have also been working on improving our encryption and will be working with experts to ensure we are following best practices.
Taiwan Bans Government Use of Zoom Over Cybersecurity Concerns - Bloomberg Agencies should avoid using services such as Zoom as they may have security flaws, the island’s cabinet said in a statement Tuesday.//Comment: One lesson from the outbreak that began in Wuhan is that we should pay more attention to how the Taiwan government deals with China.
Tencent Eyes Africa for Music App After Covid-19 Streaming Spike - Bloomberg Joox has become one of the most popular music apps in emerging markets from Indonesia to Thailand and Malaysia since launching in 2015, rivaling the likes of Spotify, in which Tencent also has a stake. Now the Chinese social media giant is hoping for a repeat on the world’s second largest continent, said Poshu Yeung, vice president of Tencent’s international business group.
Used Across China, Health Codes Pose Major Privacy Loopholes- PingWest a number of health codes used across China have been found without user agreements or data privacy policies, sometimes both. Essentially as tech products, they are required by relevant laws and regulation, such as China's Cybersecurity Law, to have these agreements that users can choose to agree or not agree to when signing up, which is known as informed consent. Some of these health codes also require more data than they need. For example, the "Anti-Virus Code", developed by the central government and can be found in WeChat's payment tab, claims that it collects data about other apps installed on users' phones, which can be seen as a violation according to the Cybersecurity Law.
Can Virtual Influencers and Avatars Change the Face of Chinese Ecommerce? - Radii On December 31, one of China’s biggest pop stars took the stage for Bilibili’s New Year’s Eve Gala. Before millions of mostly post ’90s-born viewers, Luo Tianyi played the guzheng, a classical Chinese stringed instrument, live on the streaming platform. The catch, however, is that Luo can never actually play “live” — she is a virtual pop star created by a Shanghai technology company to perform in front of thousands of fans.
差评：那些喊着 “ 我爱中国 ” 的外国网红 Interesting article on WeChat that looks into those foreigners who made great fortunes in Chinese internet by making videos praising China, Chinese food and the Chinese people. Some of them were hired by Chinese company to make such videos. The article explains that they are popular because many Chinese are insecure eager for endorsement from foreigners.
Society, Arts, Sports, Culture and History
LDS Church Holds General Conference During Pandemic, Announces First Temple In China | KUER 90.1 Nelson ended the conference by announcing eight new temples to be constructed, including the first in Dubai and in mainland China. He described the temple to be built in Shanghai as a multi-use meetinghouse and reaffirmed that the church does not proselytize in China per a long-standing agreement with the Chinese government.
Interview: 'Wu Fei And Abigail Washburn' On Their New, Collaborative Folk Album : NPR NPR's Lulu Garcia-Navarro spoke to Wu Fei and Abigail Washburn about how their friendship began and the stories behind the traditional songs that they arranged and recorded for the album.
Books and Literature
10 Works of Chinese Fiction to Get You Through Self-Isolation - Radii As coronavirus-instigated self-isolation becomes prevalent all over the world, we’ve compiled a list of ten excellent novels, short story collections and novellas
Rural and Agricultural Issues
Chinese Officials Urge Citizens to Refrain From Hoarding Grains - Bloomberg Government officials in China, the world’s biggest consumer and producer of rice, called on citizens not to hoard the grain after a recent ban on new export sales by Vietnam sparked concerns over global supplies. The country holds sufficient rice and wheat stockpiles for one year of consumption, while imports of the cereals are only about 2% of domestic usage, Wei Baigang, an agriculture ministry official, said at a conference on Saturday. “Market supplies are ample and there is no need to hoard,” said Wei.