Wuhan virus spreads; Xi in Yunnan; Local governments under revenue pressure

So much for a slow glide into the Lunar New Year holiday. The official count (CGTN) of confirmed cases of the Wuhan virus is now over 300, with 6 deaths.

There is of course a lot of suspicion that the true numbers are much higher, and that the Wuhan government and maybe the Hubei provincial government have been trying to cover things up. The odds they were are not low, and at some point expect a political cost to be imposed upon at least the municipal leadership if not Jiang Chaoliang, the provincial party secretary.

Now that Xi has issued his directive to “put people's safety and health as the top priority and take effective measures to curb the spread of the virus”, I think it is going to be much harder for the authorities to cover things up. I know, some of you may think I am being naive, but they did learn lessons from SARS, information is much harder to control now, the political risks of a cover-up, and of failure to contain the virus, are extremely high for the Party and for Xi, and the damage to China’s international reputation if it does not share accurate information in a timely manner would not be small.

On the other hand, if the Party Center can show that once it became aware of the magnitude of the problem and used all available measures and resources to check the spread in a timely manner then the propaganda victory, based in reality, would be significant.

I was not in Beijing during SARS but I was there during the 2009 H1N1 outbreak. The measures they can bring to bear, including travel restrictions, temperature checks and mass quarantines, can be harsh but effective. But if you can avoid traveling to China I would do so, as in addition to not wanting to catch the virus you also do not want to be taken off a plane carrying someone else with symptoms and quarantined in a hotel for a week or longer, as people were in 2009.

Thanks for reading, and let’s all hope this is nothing like SARS.


The Essential Eight

1. Wuhan virus

China Virus Kills Two More Patients as Authorities Step Up Control Measures - WSJ $$

China’s cabinet-level National Health Commission said Monday it would treat the new coronavirus as a Class A infectious disease, meaning it would be handled similarly to cholera, the plague and to how it handled the SARS outbreak. Both SARS and the new virus are officially categorized in the more benign Class B.

Treating the new coronavirus as a Class A disease allows medical authorities to quarantine patients and the government to lock down affected areas and shut down traffic routes, according to Chinese law.

最新!全国新型肺炎确诊319例 湖北270例北京10例

People's Daily publishes map of China listing the cases, at this point 319 total confirmed cases. 270 in Wuhan, 10 in Beijing. 17 in Guangdong, 6 in Shanghai

China Seeks to Stop Virus Scare From Becoming Political Crisis - Bloomberg

“China’s leaders had to upgrade the security level of the crisis to ensure the stability of Chinese society and also because of China’s international reputation,” said Wang Peng, associate research fellow at Renmin University’s Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies. “The virus has the potential to negatively impact China’s image.”..

“The initial response has been quite rapid and hopefully effective,“ said David Heymann, a professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine who was formerly with the U.S.’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “They have made great progress.”

Wuhan coronavirus has entered transmission stage among families and hospitals, taking it a step closer to full-blown community epidemic, Hong Kong expert warns | South China Morning Post

Professor Yuen Kwok-yung, a top infectious diseases expert, says transmission of new coronavirus has entered its ‘third wave’

Warning comes as Hong Kong University study suggests outbreak worse than officially reported, with virus already spreading to 20 mainland cities

Wuhan boosts measures to curb new coronavirus spread - CGTN

The Wuhan Municipal Health Commission has said local tourist groups are banned from traveling outside of the city and vehicles entering and leaving will be subject to spot checks.

Local authorities will continue to exercise control over entry and exit into Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, the suspected source of the novel coronavirus.

China to curb spread of new coronavirus-related pneumonia - Xinhua

China will take further steps to control the new coronavirus-related pneumonia, and the disease will be put under management as an infectious disease in accordance with law, as was decided at the State Council's executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang on Monday...

It was decided at the Monday meeting that corresponding prevention and control measures will be launched to tackle the pneumonia as a public health emergency. The measures of prevention and control will be particularly enhanced in the city of Wuhan, where the markets concerned will be shut down, wildlife control will be tightened, and fever screening will be required at airports, coach and train stations as well as ports.

Local governments must, in light of their local conditions, carry out ventilation, sterilization and temperature screening as needed in key venues and public transportation facilities. At the same time, the monitoring, pre-examination and triage of the disease must be stepped up to ensure that cases of infection will be promptly detected and effectively handled...

The meeting required openness and transparency to keep the public informed of the situation and work of prevention and control in a timely and objective manner. The meeting also called for closer communication and cooperation with the World Health Organization, the countries concerned, and the regions of Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan

China warns Communist Party officials: cover up spread of Wuhan virus and be ‘nailed on pillar of shame for eternity’ | South China Morning Post

Chang An Jian, the official social media account of the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission – Beijing’s top political body responsible for law and order – ran a commentary on Tuesday telling cadres not to forget the painful lessons of Sars and to ensure timely reporting of the current situation...

“Anyone who puts the face of politicians before the interests of the people will be the sinner of a millennium to the party and the people,” the commentary read.

“Anyone who deliberately delays and hides the reporting of [virus] cases out of his or her own self-interest will be nailed on the pillar of shame for eternity,” it added.

The Central Politics and Law Commission WeChat account calls for transparency and "sunlight" in dealing with the virus outbreak - - 长安剑:肺炎疫情来势汹汹,只有曝光在“阳光”下,才能杀死它|界面新闻 · 中国

是否能在下步工作持续做到信息公开,全国上下的眼睛都紧紧盯着——“把人民放在心中最高的位置”不是一句口号,而是行动,这场猝不及防的疫情将成为炼金的烈火;能不能把习总书记的重要指示落到实处,坚决做到“两个维护”,这场全社会关注的较量将成为淘沙的大浪。

China, other affected countries will join WHO emergency meeting - China Daily

Dr. Tedros wrote on Twitter that the emergency meeting will ascertain whether the coronavirus constitutes a public health emergency of international concern and what recommendations should be made to manage the outbreak.

The virus is the top topic on Weibo, public opinion management is in full force - 微博搜索 - #新型冠状病毒感染肺炎疫情梳理#

But it is hard to fine anyone who believes the official numbers, in part because of the stories going around China like this - Coronavirus: Chinese hospitals not testing patients, say relatives | The Guardian

The hospital pressured the family to immediately cremate Huang’s mother, but they refused, asking for more information. A few days later, they relented and workers from a funeral home, also in protective clothing, retrieved, cremated and buried her within a few hours, leaving the family no time to say goodbye. Afterwards, the staff disinfected the van they had travelled in and threw away their hamzat suits.

“My mother’s death was dealt with without any dignity,” said Huang, 40, who did not want to give his or his mother’s full name. “She wasn’t even counted as a number on the government’s list,” he said, referring to the six people authorities say have been killed by the virus.

Masks sell out at shops and drug stores across Shanghai - SHINE News

Medical-style face masks have sold out at many pharmacies and supermarkets in Shanghai in the wake of a recent coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, capital city of central China's Hubei Province, and the city's market watchdog said on Tuesday that it's looking into possible price irregularities.


2. Did it come from wild game?

Deadly Virus Finds a Breeding Ground in China’s Food Markets - Bloomberg

Preference for fresh meat from animals that aren’t properly quarantined or from the wild “does make China susceptible to the risk of new virus outbreaks through close animal and human contact,” said Wang Yuedan, a professor of immunology at Peking University’s School of Basic Medical Sciences. “The same is true for Ebola, which came about as a result of eating animals from the forest in Africa.”

Severe acute respiratory syndrome - Wikipedia

No cases of SARS have been reported worldwide since 2004.[3] In late 2017, Chinese scientists traced the virus through the intermediary of civets to cave-dwelling horseshoe bats in Yunnan province.[4]


3. Xi in Yunnan

Party propaganda is not panicking , the Tuesday CCTV Evening News report on Xi's Yunnan inspection tour takes up first 22 minutes of the evening news...a report on the Wuhan virus was the number ten item (我国全力应对新型冠状病毒感染的肺炎疫情) on the broadcast.

习近平春节前夕赴云南看望慰问各族干部群众 向全国各族人民致以美好的新春祝福 祝各族人民生活越来越好祝祖国欣欣向荣_CCTV

At about minute 11 of the long report on Xi's Yunnan trip he goes into a crowd at a shopping plaza, picks up a mic to extend New Year's wishes...wonder how they set up the security

Xi Focus: Xi extends Chinese New Year greetings to all Chinese - Xinhua

Xi...made the remarks during a three-day inspection tour of southwest China's Yunnan Province which concluded Tuesday...Visiting the memorial hall of Ai Siqi, a renowned philosopher, Xi said the country needs a large number of talented individuals who can explain the adaptation of Marxism to the Chinese context well and who can use easy-to-understand language to spread the Party's new theories to more ordinary households...

Visiting an ecological wetland of Dianchi Lake in Kunming on Monday, Xi stressed resisting the old way of developing the economy at the cost of the environment.

Dianchi Lake, once among the most polluted lakes in China, has seen its ecology greatly improved after years of conservation efforts...

After hearing the work reports of the CPC Yunnan Provincial Committee and the provincial government on Tuesday morning, Xi encouraged Yunnan to break new ground in promoting ethnic unity and progress, pushing forward ecological conservation, and pursuing greater cooperation with South Asia and Southeast Asia.

Xi urged efforts to promote high-quality development, accelerate building a modernized economy, consolidate the achievements in poverty alleviation, boost the healthy and sustainable development of tourism, while continuing to fight air, water and soil pollution.

He also required further opening-up to neighboring countries, speeding up the building of connectivity networks and strengthening cultural and people-to-people exchanges.

Xi demanded efforts to strengthen governance capacity in border areas and areas with large ethnic minority populations, implement the plans to boost the development of ethnic minority areas and ethnic groups with small populations, step up the fight against cross-border crime, gangs and their "protective umbrellas," and maintain the stability of border areas.

Xi stresses link between education, fate of country - Xinhua 

He made the remarks during an inspection at the former site of the National Southwest Associated University (NSAU) in Kunming of southwest China's Yunnan Province. The NSAU was a coalition between Peking and Tsinghua universities in Beijing and Tianjin's Nankai University during the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression.

China's current education goal is to nurture a new generation of capable and aspirational young people with a sense of historical responsibility to join the socialist cause, Xi said.

独家视频丨“习爷爷,您喜欢孙悟空吗?” - 中国军网

clip of Xi inspecting a market in Kunming, chatting with the mass...one kids asks him "Grandpa Xi, do you like Sun Wukong"? Xi says he did when he was little...the people's leader loves the people, and the people love the people's leader...


4. US-China trade

Donald Trump says he and China’s Xi Jinping ‘love each other’, phase two trade talks to start ‘very shortly’ | South China Morning Post

Trump told the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that his relationship with Xi “is an extraordinary one” less than a week after the two countries agreed their phase one trade deal.

“He’s for China, I’m for the US, but other than that we love each other,” Trump said in his speech, stirring laughter in the room.

“Our relationship with China has probably never been better. We went through a very rough patch, but it has never, ever been better.”

Mnuchin Warns U.K., Italy Over Digital-Tax Plans - WSJ $$

With a “phase one” trade deal with China in place, Mr. Mnuchin said phase two wouldn’t necessarily be a “big bang” that removes all existing tariffs. “We may do 2A and some of the tariffs come off. We can do this sequentially along the way.”

Comment: As I wrote in the January 14 newsletter:

If there is a phase two deal expect it to be done in small chunks, like phase 2A, phase 2B etc, rather than one big agreement as the really difficult issues that go to the heart of the PRC economic system look so far to be mostly untouched in this phase one deal, and are likely untouchable in any future deal.

China Tries to Ease Concern U.S. Trade Deal Hurts Other Nations - Bloomberg

Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng told the World Economic Forum that the country’s trade deal with the U.S. won’t hurt rival exporting nations as complaints mount from governments that were left out of the agreement.

Dim Sums: Rural China Economics and Policy: China Grain Reserves Bulge With Weak Market

Chinese officials stockpiled more grain during 2019 to shore up sagging prices as a slow market undermined plans to jettison the stockpiles. With warehouses already bulging, it will be challenging for China to buy more American grain this year to meet its "Phase One" purchase commitment.

Chinese state news media boasted that price support policies for wheat and rice raised Chinese farmers' income by 10 billion yuan (about $1.4 billion) in 2019. The news item claimed that programs to purchase wheat and rice at minimum prices have put money in farmers' pockets by preventing farm gate prices from falling below minimum levels set by the government.


5. Expect more US pushback on partnerships with PRC universities

U.S. Turns Up the Spotlight on Chinese Universities - WSJ $$

U.S. officials are subjecting Chinese academic institutions to greater scrutiny over fears they are exploiting ties to U.S. businesses and universities to promote China’s economic and military goals...

The focus on Chinese universities is partially because of China’s efforts, under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, to pursue a policy of “military-civil fusion,” which binds Chinese civilian entities with the People’s Liberation Army in a common goal of bolstering China’s defense.

The U.S. military also has ties to American educational institutions, but unlike their Chinese counterparts, U.S. academia isn’t compelled to cooperate. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo noted this difference in a policy speech last week in Silicon Valley: “Under Chinese law, Chinese companies and researchers must—I repeat, must—under penalty of law, share technology with the Chinese military.”


6. Life getting tougher for Chinese engineers in Silicon Valley

US-China tech dispute: suspicion in Silicon Valley | Financial Times

The US commerce department has said it wants to expand existing export controls on so-called “dual-use technologies”, which have both civilian and military applications, to what it calls “emerging” and “foundational” technologies. The agency is now looking into categories such as artificial intelligence and microprocessor chips.

Since US rules consider even conversations about technology between Americans and foreign nationals as “deemed exports”, tech companies may have to apply for licences for their foreign workers from countries outside of Nato. Chinese nationals are classed as the most sensitive, alongside Russians and Iranians. 

In 2018, the commerce department more than halved the number of Chinese nationals it granted export licences to, awarding only 350 compared with 771 the previous year — the biggest proportional decrease of any country. 


7. Local governments under revenue pressure

China Scraps Metric for Local Government Tax Revenue as Cuts Bite - Caixin

China’s Ministry of Finance has scrapped one of the metrics it uses to evaluate local governments on their fiscal management, the latest move to ease pressure on officials as tax and fee cuts bite into fiscal revenue.

The ministry has abolished the criteria of “fiscal revenue quality” previously applied to provincial-level governments and some cities from a scorecard of seven benchmarks, according to a regulation (link in Chinese) published Sunday. “Fiscal revenue quality” refers to the proportion of tax receipts in total fiscal income and the higher their share, the higher the quality. The metric was partly aimed at discouraging local governments from boosting fiscal income through big land sales and unreasonable or illegal fees imposed on companies. ..

Local governments have been scrambling to make up their revenue shortfalls with other revenue sources, such as selling state-owned assets and creaming off more profits from state-owned enterprises. Finance ministry data show that nontax revenue jumped 25.4% year-on-year in the first 11 months, compared with a 9.1% decline over the same period in 2018.

In an effort to ease the pain, the central government has boosted fiscal transfers. In 2019 transfers amounted to 7.54 trillion yuan, an increase of 9 percent over the previous year, the biggest in recent years

A video of a local official berating other officials for not helping private firms has been going around. The folks are under immense pressure, squeezed on all sides. Click through the tweet below if you want to hear some screaming and abuse:


8. The legacy of Japanese chemical weapons in China

Portraits of China’s Abandoned Chemical Weapon Survivors - Sixth Tone

Chemical weapons abandoned by the Japanese army have killed or injured thousands of Chinese since the end of World War II. Those that survive carry the marks for life.

Ghosts from the Shells - Sixth Tone

A film and report on the legacy of those chemical weapons


Business, Economy and Trade

Firm Backed by Embattled Hanergy Misses Debt Payment Worth Millions - Caixin A company backed by embattled solar firm Hanergy Mobile Energy Holding Group. Co. Ltd. failed over the weekend to repay a tranche of debt raised to finance a factory project, and more payments are set to be missed through the end of February, according to a document obtained by Caixin.

Vulture Investors Swoop Into China to Feast on Soured Loans - WSJ $$ To clear out bad debts, Chinese commercial banks sell portfolios of defaulted loans to asset-management companies, mostly state-owned, that were set up to resolve troubled assets—whether by working them out with creditors or reselling them to domestic and foreign investors. Under the recent U.S.-China trade pact, American financial firms will be able to apply for licenses to run asset-management companies that can buy nonperforming loans directly from banks.

Jack Ma’s Booming Loan Business Threatens Visa, AmEx in China - Bloomberg Ant allows customers to borrow with a few taps on their smartphones. The loans are wildly popular among China’s army of mobile-savvy shoppers, who often lack formal credit histories but generate enough financial data via Alipay for Ant to make informed decisions on whether they’ll default. The company’s outstanding consumer loans may swell to nearly 2 trillion yuan ($290 billion) by 2021, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. analysts, more than triple the level two years ago.

Yicai Global - [Exclusive] Fuyao Chairman of Oscar-Nominated 'American Factory' Talks Shop Cao Dewang, founder and chairman of Fuyao Glass Industry Group, will be the first Chinese entrepreneur to show up in Hollywood with an Oscar-nominated movie. His trip to Tinseltown will be mainly to support director Steven Bognar and his wife Julia Reichert, Cao said in an interview with Yicai Global.

Chinese beef importers seek to renegotiate prices for Brazilian shipments: report - Reuters Chinese beef importers are seeking to renegotiate prices previously agreed when they closed deals to buy dozens of shipments from Brazil because values are too high, according to a report in the online edition of a local newspaper on Monday.

Exclusive: China’s Sovereign Wealth Fund Chooses Veteran Banker as Chief Supervisor - Caixin Hu Hao, a senior executive vice president of Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd. (ICBC) — the world’s largest bank by assets — will be officially made supervisory board chairman of China Investment Corp. (CIC) once regulators sign off, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Politics and Law

State Council unveils measures for govt administration informatization - SCIO These measures apply mainly to national government administration information systems in the charge of State Council departments and units, including the national unified e-government network platform. Planning and gaining approval involving various departments are necessary before project construction begins, according to the document. 国务院办公厅印发《国家政务信息化项目建设管理办法》

Former senior public security official Meng Hongwei sentenced for bribery - Xinhua Meng Hongwei, former vice minister of public security, was sentenced to 13 and a half years in prison for taking bribes at a court in Tianjin Tuesday. Meng, also the former head of the China Coast Guard, was fined 2 million yuan (290,000 U.S. dollars), according to the verdict of the first trial of the First Intermediate People's Court of Tianjin.

How are Supreme People’s Court Opinions structured? | Supreme People's Court Monitor This blogpost uses the two opinions announced at the 27 December 2019 press conference pictured above, at which Justice Luo Dongchuan and Judges Wang Shumei and Gao Xiaoli (head and deputy head of the #4 Civil Division) introduced the two opinions (and a judicial interpretation). A subsequent blogpost will highlight what is new in these three documents. All three are connected directly or indirectly to the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) and improving China’s foreign investment environment

Foreign and Defense Affairs

US ambassador Woody Johnson in 5G bust-up with Downing Street | World | News | Express.co.uk AMERICAN ambassador Woody Johnson had a stand-up row with officials in Downing Street over Britain’s plans to use Huawei to establish a 5G network, sources said last night.

Japan cites security as it weighs limiting foreigners' land purchases - Nikkei Asian Review "There is the possibility that Chinese nationals may have acquired properties near U.S. military and SDF bases or purchased such property from other foreign nationals," a government official said.

China's international journal Satellite Navigation launched - Xinhua A new English publication offering scientific research in the field of satellite navigation has just been launched by the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Springer Nature. The peer-reviewed academic journal "Satellite Navigation" is online in an open-access format, according to the joint sponsor Aerospace Information Research Institute of the CAS Tuesday.

Air Force reveals J-20 combat formation - Global Times In a video released Sunday that celebrates the upcoming Spring Festival, the PLA Air Force showed the first scenes of J-20 fighter jets of the Wang Hai Air Group conducting real-combat scenario training.  This is an indication that the J-20 jets are making smooth progress in the air force, as their service has entered a new stage of comprehensive combat capability, military experts said.

New venue showcases marine heritage - China Daily The National Maritime Museum of China is an imposing modern complex designed by the Australian company Cox Architecture and the Tianjin Architecture Design Institute, or TADI. The museum joins a growing list of innovative, modern architecture across China – from Beijing Daxing International Airport, to the country's focus on "green" design in urban development. Since the museum's soft opening in May, thousands have flocked to an institution that will highlight China's maritime history.

China’s New DF-26 Missile Shows Up At Base In Eastern China – Federation Of American Scientists Pictures taken recently by Maxar Technologies’ satellites show a large number of launchers for the DF-26 intermediate-range missile operating at a training site approximately 9 kilometers (5.7 miles) south of Qingzhou City in China’s Shandong Province. This is the first time the DF-26 has been seen operating in the area and marks a new phase in the integration of the missile into the Chinese military.

Following Federal Pressure, UMD Will Close A Program That Had Chinese Government Support | WAMU UMD President Wallace Loh wrote in a letter sent Friday afternoon that the university could no longer host Confucius Institute, due to language in a federal funding bill that took effect last summer. The legislation, written at a time of escalating tensions between the U.S. and China, essentially made universities choose between continuing their Confucius Institutes or accepting money from the Department of Defense.

Handbook on Countering Russian and Chinese Interference in Europe - European Values Center for Security Policy The hostile influence operations are not a random occurrence, nor are they a phenomenon that concerns a few countries only. In fact, our research has uncovered a broad consensus among the intelligence agencies in terms of existing tactics and tools applied by Russia and China.

Meng Wanzhou, Canada’s Most Famous Detainee, ‘Trapped’ in a Gilded Cage - The New York Times Under the terms of her bail, she is able to travel relatively freely about the city, although she has an 11 p.m. curfew and a GPS tracker around her ankle. Her bail conditions, which give her the freedom to go shopping or, should she desire, take excursions for dim sum, are in stark contrast with the two Canadians detained in China, and have raised hackles in Canada...Ji Jiahao, 22, came to Vancouver from Shanghai to study English and lives in a mansion on the same street as Ms. Meng. He said Ms. Meng had not broken any laws and should be released. “Canada has always been the little brother of United States,” he said. “It does whatever the United States does.”

Taiwan

Leaked map shows China plans to invade S. Taiwan after taking Kinmen, Penghu | Taiwan News Among the routes displayed on the map, one shows PLA forces first seizing Kinmen, followed by Penghu, before moving on to invade the southern part of Taiwan proper. Another map on the wall appears to show PLA forces breaking from their beachhead into three routes of attack after landing in southern Taiwan. // psychological warfare

Beijing and Taipei headed for collision over democracy | Financial Times $$ Diplomatic language in the Chinese version of a joint statement released with Myanmar when Chinese president Xi Jinping visited the country this past weekend suggests a shift: Myanmar “believes that Taiwan [is an] inalienable part of the People’s Republic of China” (PRC), the statement read. China has long demanded foreign governments guarantee that they will not treat Taiwan as an independent country. But so far, Beijing had in its dealings with the outside world deemed Taiwan part of “Chinese territory” — a phrase that allowed for some ambiguity.

The language in the communique - 中华人民共和国和缅甸联邦共和国联合声明(全文) — 中华人民共和国外交部 九、中方坚定支持缅甸走符合自身国情的发展道路,坚定支持缅甸在国际舞台维护正当权益和国家尊严,坚定支持缅甸维护发展稳定大局的努力。缅方重申坚定奉行一个中国政策,认为台湾、西藏、新疆是中华人民共和国不可分割的部分,支持中方处理台湾、涉藏、涉疆问题的举措。

王毅国务委员兼外长在外交部2020年新年招待会上的致辞 — 中华人民共和国外交部 无论台湾岛内局势怎样变化,台湾是中国不可分割一部分的历史和法理事实都无法改变,中国政府和人民谋求两岸统一的决心和信心也决不会动摇。// Wang Yi also used this language in his New Year’s Party remarks

为什么说“台湾是中国不可分割的一部分”? — 中华人民共和国外交部 not sure the language about Taiwan really new, this this from 2007 on the MoFA website, one example

Power Struggle Inside the KMT: Can It Reform and Infuse Young Blood? - Ketagalan Media In the aftermath of the electoral defeat on January 11th, internal struggle within the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) is increasingly surfacing. Different factions with conflicting demands are wrestling for power publicly and privately. Discourse currently are revolving around whether KMT’s current pro-unification, pro-Beijing platforms are sustainable for the party’s future.

Ministry offers sympathy after Czech politician dies - Taipei Times Kubera attended the National Day reception held by the Taiwan representative office in October last year and announced his intention to visit Taiwan with a business delegation, which angered Beijing and Czech President Milos Zeman, according to foreign media reports.

FM reiterates China's resolve on reunification - Xinhua The historical and legal fact that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China will not change no matter how the situation in Taiwan may evolve, Wang said when addressing the 2020 New Year reception hosted by the Chinese Foreign Ministry. Nothing will shake the resolve and confidence of the Chinese government and people in advancing the reunification, he said.

Taiwan president complains to Pope Francis about Chinese pressure - Reuters Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen has written to Pope Francis to complain about Chinese pressure on the island Beijing claims as its own, saying China seeks to threaten its democracy and freedom.

Tech and Media

Yicai Global - Tencent Has 160 Unicorns in Its Investment Portfolio The firm has invested in more than 800 companies to date and 70 of them have gone public

Apple says Chinese government requests for user data spiked · TechNode Between Jan. 1 and June 30 last year China’s government petitioned for information relating to nearly 15,700 user accounts in 25 separate requests. Due to US regulations, Apple can only release transparency data six months after a reporting period

After Layoffs, Oracle Executive Vows to Stay in China - Caixin Oracle Corp. isn’t getting out of China, a senior company executive said in an interview more than eight months after the media reported that the database giant planned to lay off nearly 1,000 people from its China operations. “We are actually doing pretty well, and we are not exiting China,” Wu Chengyang, vice president in charge of the company’s cloud business in China, told Caixin Friday in Shanghai.

Society, Arts, Sports, Culture and History

Chinese City Uses Facial Recognition to Shame Pajama Wearers - The New York Times On Monday, the urban management department of Suzhou, a city of six million people in Anhui Province, sparked outrage online when it published surveillance photos taken by street cameras of seven local residents wearing pajamas in public along with parts of their names, government identification numbers and the locations where their “uncivilized behavior” had taken place. City officials quickly apologized, but not before stirring nationwide ire over the use of a state-of-the-art digital tool to stamp out a harmless and relatively commonplace practice

故宫博物院院长王旭东向公众致歉--社会--人民网 Forbidden City Place Museum Director apologizes again for the car incident, says the responsible people have been suspended

Energy, Environment, Science and Health

Sex education urged after HIV/AIDS hits thousands of Chinese students a year - Global Times Chinese experts called for sex education for adolescents after the latest data shows around 3,000 newly infection cases of HIV/AIDS among students were reported every year from 2016 to 2019. People aged between 15 and 24 were diagnosed of HIV/AIDS in China every year from 2016 to 2019, according to data released at a youth AIDS prevention education forum in Beijing on Saturday.