Xi's standing committee speech; Is the CCP close to declaring "victory"?; US-China tech war doesn't stop for a virus

The CCP may be close to declaring “victory” over the virus everywhere but in Hubei. The official number of new cases outside of Hubei Province has declined for 13 consecutive days and Premier Li Keqiang sounded almost upbeat in today’s meeting of the leading group on the prevention and control of the novel coronavirus outbreak (Xinhua Chinese, English):

避免了可能出现的更大范围暴发流行,全国疫情形势出现积极向好趋势

The possibility of a wider epidemic outbreak has been avoided through strengthened prevention and control measures, the meeting noted, adding that a positive trend has emerged nationwide in curbing the epidemic.

However, the “Two Meetings” scheduled for the first week of March in Beijing looks like they will be delayed to an as yet unspecified date, and while that decision makes sense given that the delegates should be at their day jobs dealing with the epidemic and its aftermath, the signal from a delay would conflict somewhat with the message that the situation is nearly under control.

The latest Qiushi magazine published Xi’s February 3rd speech to the Politburo Standing Committee (PBSC). In his comments Xi says “I” thirteen times as he recounts his requests and instructions starting at a January 7 PBSC meeting. Xi therefore must have aware of the outbreak in early January if not earlier and his aides were already so concerned about it that it rose to the level of PBSC discussion by January 7.

Xi opened his speech (在中央政治局常委会会议研究应对新型冠状病毒肺炎疫情工作时的讲话) by saying:

After the outbreak of the new coronavirus pneumonia in Wuhan, on January 7, when I chaired a meeting of the standing committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, I made a request for the prevention and control of the new coronavirus pneumonia. On January 20, I issued a special instruction on the prevention and control of the epidemic, pointing out that we must attach great importance to the epidemic and do our best to prevent and control it. On January 22, in view of the rapid spread of the epidemic and the severe challenges faced by the prevention and control work, I explicitly asked Hubei Province to implement comprehensive and strict control over the outflow of personnel. On the first day of the first lunar month, I again chaired a meeting of the standing committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee to restudy, redeploy and remobilize the prevention and control of the epidemic, especially the treatment of patients.

武汉新型冠状病毒肺炎疫情发生后,1月7日,我主持召开中央政治局常委会会议时,就对新型冠状病毒肺炎疫情防控工作提出了要求。1月20日,我专门就疫情防控工作作出批示,指出必须高度重视疫情,全力做好防控工作,要求各级党委和政府及有关部门把人民群众生命安全和身体健康放在第一位,采取切实有效措施,坚决遏制疫情蔓延势头。1月22日,鉴于疫情迅速蔓延、防控工作面临严峻挑战,我明确要求湖北省对人员外流实施全面严格管控。正月初一,我再次主持召开中央政治局常委会会议,对疫情防控特别是患者治疗工作进行再研究、再部署、再动员,并决定成立中央应对疫情工作领导小组。

I do not see the publication of this speech and the exposure of Xi’s earlier than understood involvement as some sort of defensive move by Xi. Rather it may be another sign that Xi is more confident now that the epidemic is nearly under control and so now is the time to start claiming credit for the coming success while also employing the hallowed CCP strategy of pushing blame for problems to local officials, with probably a small handful of unlucky central-level official also going down. The leaders in the central health system bureaucracy, perhaps up to Vice Premier Sun Chunlan, may be nervous.

It is also part of the emerging and entirely predictable propaganda narrative that only with the strong leadership of the center, with Xi at the core, can the Party and the nation defeat this “devil virus”, and that this epidemic reaffirms everything just discussed at the Fourth Plenum about modernizing governance and the superiority of our system. Expect to see a surge in propaganda about Xi’s leadership role in this battle.

To shape this narrative we are already seeing increasing constriction of media reporting on the outbreak and even stronger Internet controls.

Is victory really in reach, or has the Party decided it needs to convince everyone victory is within reach so most of the country goes back to work? If Xi stays consistent to the propaganda system’s founding mission then we should expect to hear about a great and glorious victory, while they cover up the true extent of the devastation and death in Hubei.

And is this epidemic and its initial mishandling the crack in Xi's armor that so many inside the system have been hoping for that allows for pushback that checks some of his power? Or will he figure out once again how to use a challenge to his political advantage?

Thanks for reading.


The Essential Eight

1. Xi’s PBSC speech

《求是》杂志发表习近平总书记重要文章《在中央政治局常委会会议研究应对新型冠状病毒肺炎疫情工作时的讲话》_CCTV

CCTV Evening News report on the Qiushi article”

The article pointed out that, on the whole, the judgment of the central committee of the party on the situation of the epidemic is accurate, the work deployment is timely, and the measures taken are effective"

The article pointed out that we should do a good job in publicity, education and public opinion guidance, coordinate online and offline, domestic and international, big and small matters, better strengthen confidence, warm the hearts of the people, & better safeguard social stability

First, we need to strengthen policy enforcement and strengthen confidence in combating the epidemic. Second, grasp the dominant position and strengthen internet positive energy. Third, take the initiative and effectively influence international public opinion.

Xi stresses centralized leadership in virus battle - Global Times on Xi's 2.3 speech

Analysts noted that Xi, the leader of the Party and the country, is leading the fight against the COVID-19 in a very transparent and responsible manner, directly addressing public discontent and meeting people's expectations. It is very rarely seen that a speech by the president at a senior-level meeting included so many details, direct instructions and harsh criticisms on the problems, especially during the fight against the virus...

Shen Yi, head of Fudan University's Cyberspace Governance Research Institute, said that the article shows an honest and transparent attitude, as a very serious problem that was exposed since the beginning of the outbreak is that "a few officials at local level governments didn't effectively implement the instructions from the CPC Central Committee and also didn't reflect the real situation at the time."

"The CPC Central Committee is aware of a situation on January 7, but due to this kind of problem(inefficient implementation), it caused some loopholes and mistakes, and fortunately the Party has a strong capability of self-correction, and now the damage over the credibility of the government has been generally fixed and recovered," Song said.

The article also emphasized the importance of taking control of the narrative and winning over public opinion at home and abroad.

The text of the speech 习近平:在中央政治局常委会会议研究应对新型冠状病毒肺炎疫情工作时的讲话-新华网

In the qiushi reprint of Xi's 2.3 speech to the PBSC he uses the term "I 我" 13 times''

In his speech Xi also decried the eating of wildlife:

“We have long recognized the risks of consuming wildlife, but the "game industry" is still huge and poses a major public health hazard. No more indifference! I have given instructions on the subject. Relevant departments should strengthen law enforcement, strengthen market supervision, resolutely ban and crack down on illegal wildlife markets and trade, resolutely eradicate the bad habit of indiscriminate eating of wildlife, and control major public health risks at the source."

Xi's article on fighting novel coronavirus epidemic to be published - Xinhua

The article underlines the need to safeguard social stability, the promotion of public education and communication, as well as ensuring a stable economic performance.

It also stresses improving the country's emergency management system and capacity of handling urgent, difficult, dangerous and important tasks.

Xi Jinping ‘put China’s top echelon on notice’ in early days of coronavirus outbreak | South China Morning Post

The speech was delivered on February 3 and published in the party’s bimonthly journal Qiushi on Saturday. It was also featured on state television and other official mouthpieces...

In his speech, Xi also accused local officials of not carrying out edicts from the central government, vowing to punish incompetent officials.

“I issued demands during a Politburo Standing Committee meeting on January 7 for work to contain the outbreak. On January 20, I gave special instructions about the work to prevent and control the outbreak and I have said we have to pay high attention to it,” he said.

Xi says China must keep economic, social order while battling coronavirus - Reuters

The epidemic had revealed “shortcomings and deficiencies” in national governance, he said, such as how the wildlife animal industry had remained huge despite clear risks in their consumption, and how the country’s reserves of health and anti-epidemic materials were seriously inadequate.

重磅!习近平战“疫”全攻略-新华网

Xinhua infographic on Xi's complete strategy in the war on the virus

China stifles foreign internet to control coronavirus coverage | Financial Times $$

Beijing is tightening access to the uncensored global internet, while carefully controlling its domestic news reports, to increase its grip on the media narrative around the coronavirus epidemic.

China’s most popular VPN services, which allow foreign businesses and locals to circumvent internet censorship, have faced an onslaught of government attacks in recent weeks. As a result, some users are finding it more difficult to access censored websites, such as Google, Twitter and most foreign newspapers.

On Friday Xi chaired a meeting of the central committee for deepening overall reform - Xi Focus: Xi stresses improving mechanism for major epidemic prevention, control - Xinhua

President Xi Jinping on Friday stressed improving the mechanism for major epidemic prevention and control and the national public health emergency management system.

Xi...specified the requirements at the 12th meeting of the central committee for deepening overall reform, which he chairs...

Xi called for the assessment of revising laws and regulations concerning infectious disease prevention and treatment, as well as wildlife protection. He also highlighted speeding up establishing a law on biosecurity, stressing that biosecurity should be included in the system of national security.

Comment: Interesting moment for Xi to bring up biosecurity.

Xi urged reforming and improving the disease prevention and control system to prevent major outbreaks, strengthening primary-level capacity, and improving a coordinated system for major public health risk analysis, evaluation, decision-making, and prevention and control.

Xi stressed improving the mechanism for major epidemic emergency response, and enhancing the coordinated mechanism for scientific research, disease control and clinical treatment.

The system of treatment for major epidemics should also be improved, Xi said, encouraging the application of digital technologies including big data, artificial intelligence and cloud computing in areas such as epidemic monitoring, tracing virus sources, epidemic prevention and treatment, and resource allocation.

Comment: Xi is not going to take away a lesson from this that decisionmaking is too centralized. It is going to be that is not modernized and centralized enough.

Friday CCTV Evening News on the reform commission meeting - 习近平主持召开中央全面深化改革委员会第十二次会议强调 完善重大疫情防控体制机制 健全国家公共卫生应急管理体系_CCTV


2. The outbreak

No mahjong, no card games: Hubei province in full lockdown as China battles coronavirus | South China Morning Post

Under the new rules, all businesses will close and the province’s 58 million people will not be able to leave their residential community or village....

Crowd numbers will be limited in stores that are allowed to remain open and there will be “collective coordination” of people permitted to leave their homes to buy necessities.

“Disease control of the province has entered an important and difficult period,” the provincial government said in its announcement. “The situation is still grim and to cut transmission effectively and deter the trend of contagion … here are the new requirements.”

Hubei Companies Need Government Approval Before Restarting Work - Bloomberg

Private vehicles that aren’t used for virus-related activities will be temporarily barred in urban areas, while public places that aren’t providing essential service should be closed, the Hubei government said in a statement on its website. Unnecessary public gatherings should also be halted, it said.

The official notice - 湖北省人民政府关于进一步强化新冠肺炎疫情防控的通告

Coronavirus: Xiaogan, China’s second worst-hit city, bans people from leaving their homes | South China Morning Post

Authorities trying to limit the spread of the coronavirus in Xiaogan – China’s second worst-hit city – have taken the extreme measure of banning people from leaving their homes, and those who flout the order face 10 days in detention.

In Depth: Understaffed, Under-resourced and Overwhelmed — Coronavirus Early Response - Caixin

A review of the past 20 days in Wuhan shows how the city gradually toughened its approach to containing the epidemic, shifting from allowing most suspected patients to stay home to requiring centralized quarantine for all of them. But experts said the city moved too slowly and missed key windows for controlling the spread of the virus. Meanwhile, thousands of patients still remain in limbo seeking help....

Just 20 days ago, the Baibuting neighborhood was cheerfully celebrating a massive Lunar New Year event.

“It is like 20 years have passed, and so many things happened,” Li said.

It has been a tradition since 2000 that the 130,000-resident neighborhood holds a banquet similar to a Western potluck before the Lunar New Year. About 40,000 families brought meals to share. Li was busy organizing the event on Jan. 18 even though word was circulating of a mysterious disease.

“There was reportedly no human-to-human transmission, but many of us were concerned,” Li said. “We suggested canceling the event, but officials rejected.”

In Depth: The ‘People’s War’ Against the Epidemic in 16 Cities Across Hubei - Caixin

Caixin reporters visited 16 cities in the province and spoke with officials at epidemic prevention offices, medical workers, patients, community staff, businessmen and local residents to sketch out a panoramic picture of the front lines. Painful lessons from some local governments and effective measures by others may prove valuable for decision-makers in working out next-phrase battle plans...

A close-up of the 16 cities reveals a public health system not equipped to address a severe crisis such as this one, with slow responses from top to bottom. Medical workers, epidemic prevention experts and others cite shortages of health-care workers, lack of knowledge of epidemics, uneven medical resources, inconsistent control and prevention policies, chaotic management of emergency response, and sometimes health officials with no relevant experience....

This business-as-usual approach directly resulted in large numbers of patients swamping unprepared hospitals in Wuhan and nearby cities. Huanggang, a city just 50 miles east of Wuhan with a population of 7.4 million, is among the areas hit hardest by the epidemic, with the second- highest number of deaths after Wuhan and the third-highest number of confirmed case in Hubei.

A doctor at a Huanggang hospital told Caixin that the first suspected patient was recorded Jan. 3, and the hospital maxed out its capacity within two weeks. Doctors inexperienced in dealing with such an epidemic persisted in treating the sick as if they had a conventional flu.

Comment: The original Caixin story 封面报道之一|16城抗疫记录, the cover story for this week's issue, notes that the Qianjiang Municipal Party Secretary learned "some information" about the budding outbreak when he was in Wuhan for the "two meetings" and so on January 17 he "took a little risk" and ordered the first group of 32 patients in the city who were suspected of having the virus into quarantine and "concentrated treatment". To date Qianjiang, just 150 KM from Wuhan, has only 104 confirmed cases:

在以色彩深浅表示感染程度的湖北省疫情分布图上,潜江和神农架两块是浅粉色。除却山深林密的神农架有10例,距武汉只150多公里、交通便利、人烟稠密的潜江,104例的确诊人数,在全省可谓是个奇迹。

这缘于当地官员“冒了一点点不是太合规的风险”,市委书记吴祖云在武汉参加湖北省“两会”,获知一些关于疫情的信息,于是先期下手。1月17日,即果断将第一批32个疑似病例集中收治、隔离治疗。

Coronavirus: The Symptoms and What It Feels Like to Catch It - Bloomberg

Tiger Ye -- not his real name -- is a 21-year-old student in Wuhan...

Like many Chinese, Ye is critical of the government’s response to the outbreak, especially the slow initial response from local officials that meant a precious opportunity to contain the virus early on was missed. The two most senior Communist Party cadres in Hubei were replaced Thursday, as Beijing tries to gain control of the spiraling crisis.

“Hubei has missed one opportunity after another while they were trying to keep things under wraps,” Ye said. “Things wouldn’t have come to this point if the government hadn’t hidden information a month ago.”

Four Deaths in One Family Show Danger of Wuhan’s Home Quarantine Policy - Caixin

Chang Kai, a notable director at Hubei Film Studios, died on Feb. 14 from pneumonia caused by the virus also known as Covid-19, according to an obituary published by his employer. He was 55. His father, mother, and older sister also died from the same illness between Jan. 28 and Feb. 14, Caixin learned from one of Chang’s former college classmates.

The story of their deaths starkly illuminates how authorities in the disease-stricken city may have mishandled the spread of the virus by initially pursuing a policy of home quarantine in a bid to relieve pressure on overburdened, undersupplied hospitals.

In Wuhan, the coronavirus anguish as experienced by one family - The Washington Post

These days, Zhu is not just trying to be a good daughter and wife and mother and employee. She’s also trying to take care of her aging parents, both of whom have been infected with the pneumonia-like virus, while hoping not to put her husband and 9-year-old daughter at risk in the process....

Even once this is over, the family expects they, and Wuhan, will have to deal with new problems. The real estate market will suffer, with construction projects planned for this year delayed and prices set to plummet, Zhu said.

Comment: Hearlng increasing numbers of stories of families in Hubei who have had multiple members die from the virus. The official death tool seems low

Comment: Hearing increasing numbers of stories about Hubei families that have lost multiple members to the disease. The official death toll seems low.

Recovered patients donate plasma to save more - Xinhua

Cured patients who were infected with COVID-19 are called upon to donate plasma as initial results had indicated the effectiveness of convalescent plasma-derived therapeutic products in curing infected patients in severe and critical conditions

China highlights controlling virus transmission chains - Xinhua

Prevention and control measures, worked out by a joint mechanism, feature controlling the source of infection, interrupting virus transmission and protecting the public, especially the susceptible population, Zhou Yuhui, an official with the National Health Commission (NHC), told a press conference in Beijing...

Illegal activities of hunting, trading and eating wild animals have been harshly cracked down upon, Zhou said, noting that supervision over wildlife trading markets has been intensified to rein in the public health risks at the source.

'Animals live for man': China's appetite for wildlife likely to survive virus - Reuters

For the past two weeks China’s police have been raiding houses, restaurants and makeshift markets across the country, arresting nearly 700 people for breaking the temporary ban on catching, selling or eating wild animals.

Supreme People’s Court wields the Criminal Law “Big Stick” in the Anti-Coronavirus Battle | Supreme People's Court Monitor

The Punishing Crimes and Violations of Obstruction Opinions and the Ensuring Positive Medical Order are intended to provide guidance on certain violations of the criminal law and other related administrative offenses.  They do not create new legal rules but signal to the lower criminal justice institutions how the relevant criminal (and public security administration penalty) laws should be applied in the politically sensitive anti-coronavirus battle.

PHOTOS: Life Goes On In The Epicenter Of The Coronavirus Outbreak : Goats and Soda : NPR

WHO-China expert team begins coronavirus field inspections - Xinhua

The expert team will go to Beijing, Guangdong Province and Sichuan Province to conduct inspections, said Mi Feng, spokesperson for the National Health Commission (NHC), at a press conference.

How Wenzhou, 900 km From Wuhan, Went Into Total Lockdown - Foreign Policy

one of the largest magnets for the city’s diaspora has been Wuhan. Migrants from Wenzhou set up a chamber of commerce in Wuhan in 1997, and within a decade there were an estimated 170,000 Wenzhou businesspeople working in the city.


3. Persistent claims the virus leaked from a Wuhan lab

I have been trying to avoid these rumors but after some recent conversations in the last week, and some curious PRC official moves and statements recently I thought it is at least worth mentioning since serious people I know are looking at it seriously. As best I can tell the hypothesis has moved from the leak of a genetically modified virus to a naturally occurring one that the lab was researching, and somehow escaped. Again, I am not endorsing this idea, but it is out there, and not just in fringe conspiracy theory land anymore.

Wuhan virologist warns of overseas-started 'leaked virus' conspiracy - Global Times

A research fellow from Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus pneumonia (COVID-19), refuted rumors that claimed she accused the head of the institute of "leaking virus" from the lab. She cautioned the public to "be alert for conspiracies."

"I never released any information on reporting others and I am in great indignation for people who use my name to fabricate the reporting message," Chen Quanjiao, a research fellow from Wuhan Institute of Virology, said in her statement released on the website of the institute on Monday.

Chinese research lab denies rumours of links to first coronavirus patient | South China Morning Post

In a statement on Sunday, the Wuhan Institute of Virology denied that one of its employees was the outbreak’s “patient zero”.

“Recently there has been fake information about Huang Yanling, a graduate from our institute, claiming that she was patient zero in the novel coronavirus,” the institute said.

But releasing these guidelines at this moment only fuels the “conspiracy” theories - Biosafety guideline issued to fix chronic management loopholes at virus labs - Global Times

The release of the guideline deals with chronic loopholes at laboratories, Yang Zhanqiu, a deputy director of the pathogen biology department at Wuhan University in Hubei Province, told the Global Times on Sunday.

"The mention of biosafety at labs by the ministry has nothing to do with some saying that the coronavirus leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences," Yang said.

Laboratories in China have paid insufficient attention to biological disposal, Yang said.

Lab trash can contain man-made viruses, bacteria or microbes with a potentially deadly impact on human beings, animals or plants.

Some researchers discharge laboratory materials into the sewer after experiments without a specific biological disposal mechanism, Yang explained.

科技部要求加强对实验室特别是对病毒的管理 - 国内 - 新京报网

Ministry of Science and Technology has issued a guiding opinion on "关于加强新冠病毒高等级病毒微生物实验室生物安全管理 strengthening the laboratory biosafety management for the high grade virus new coronavirus"

And this comment from Xi at the Friday reform meeting is interesting - “Xi called for the assessment of revising laws and regulations concerning infectious disease prevention and treatment, as well as wildlife protection. He also highlighted speeding up establishing a law on biosecurity, stressing that biosecurity should be included in the system of national security.”


4. Economic impact

China should get ready for belt-tightening following virus outbreak - Global Times

"China will face decreased fiscal revenues and increased expenditures for some time to come, and the fiscal operation will maintain a state of 'tight balance.', Chinese Finance Minister Liu Kun wrote in an article published on Qiushi, a magazine affiliated with the Communist Party of China Central Committee. In this situation, it won't be feasible to adopt a proactive fiscal policy by expanding the fiscal expenditure scale. I, and instead, policies and capital must be used in a more effective, precise and targeted way," Liu said. Chinese Finance Minister Liu Kun wrote in an article published on Qiushi, a magazine affiliated with the Communist Party of China Central Committee.

Liu's article sent a clear signal that China would not stimulate the economy by rolling out another massive monetary stimulus.

Due to the major impact of the coronavirus outbreak on businesses across the country, the Ministry of Finance has already made it clear that it would continue to reduce the tax burden on enterprises, which will undoubtedly weigh down the already slowing fiscal income.

Liu Kun's article - 积极的财政政策要大力提质增效 - 求是网

China to step up financial support for epidemic control - Xinhua

The most urgent work for fiscal authorities at all levels is to increase financial input and roll out favorable policies to support epidemic control, said Finance Minister Liu Kun in a written article published on Qiushi Journal, a flagship magazine of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee.

As of 9:00 p.m. Feb. 12, China has allocated a total of 78.53 billion yuan (about 11.3 billion U.S. dollars) of fiscal funds to support the control of the epidemic, according to Liu.

China’s Coffers Are Depleted Just as Virus Spurs Spending - Bloomberg

More than half of mainland provinces expect slower expansion of revenue in 2020 than last year’s average local income growth, according to their budgets published before the disease outbreak became widespread in January. Hubei, the epicenter, was already expecting income to fall...

Analysts are divided about how the shortfalls will be addressed. While economists from Citigroup Inc. to China’s largest brokerage house Citic Securities Co. said officials have to accept a deficit bigger than 3% of China’s gross domestic product, others from Standard Chartered and Goldman Sachs believe that remains politically unpalatable.

China Factories Stand Ready to Go, But Where Are the Workers? - Caixin

Among 109 of its members surveyed last week between Feb. 11 and 14, some 69% involved in manufacturing said their operations were up and running by Feb. 14, according to the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai. Another 22% said they expected to be up and running by this week.

But despite reopening, resuming full production remained difficult due to staffing issues. Of the companies surveyed, only 21.8% said they had enough staff to run a full production line. Respondents cited Covid-19 related travel restrictions and a mandatory 14-day quarantine period for returning workers as the two biggest factors keeping their shops understaffed. When asked what their biggest challenge would be over the next two to four weeks, 41% cited lack of staff as their top concern, ahead of logistics, which was the next top concern for 30% of respondents.

Beijing neighborhoods move to step up precautions - China Daily

People who return to Beijing from other places must isolate themselves for 14 days at home or designated sites and report to their neighborhood committees before arriving, according to a notice issued by the city's epidemic prevention authorities late Friday. The regulation took effect immediately and violators will face legal liability.

北京一单位数十人被隔离 疾控中心称因一人返京即上班_政经频道_财新网

This is likely the reason for the new Beijing quarantine rules. A worker from an unidentified work unit (sounds like a government office) returned to Beijing from a trip over the holiday, the report does not say where, and after returning to Beijing and going to work was confirmed to have the virus, and now doxens from his work unit are quarantined...now imagine this happening at companies and factories across China...how can they restart normal economic activity until the are sure every worker is not sick or a carrier?

Catering Sector Suffers Major Losses as Diners Stay Away Over Lunar New Year - Caixin

The report released by the China Cuisine Association said the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on China’s restaurants, fast-food joints and snack stands will be several times greater than that caused by the SARS outbreak of 2002 and 2003. Besides losses over the holiday, businesses are likely to face serious cash flow issues and difficulty obtaining financing in the coming months.

The Economic Fallout of the Coronavirus in Southeast Asia - Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

The virus’s ripple effects have hampered the economies of nearby countries, especially in Southeast Asia, in three main ways: by curtailing the number of Chinese tourists, disrupting China-centric supply chains, and putting a damper on economic demand in China.

Yicai Global - Hainan Province Issues China's First Epidemic Risk Insurance to Get Firms Back to Work

Hainan, China's southernmost province, has introduced the country's first insurance against epidemic-related losses and will subsidize 70 percent of the premium to encourage local businesses to return to work.

Balance needed between economic activity, virus watch - Global Times

We do not believe prevention and control are no longer needed. Instead, we appeal to scientific, targeted measures while opposing excessive prevention and control. It is sincerely hoped that local authorities will take seriously the opinions of experts, take the local situation into consideration, and care more about the interests of local people rather than doing things only in a "politically correct" manner.

Beijing Auto Show Becomes Latest Event to Be Delayed by Virus - Bloomberg

The new date for the Beijing International Automotive Exhibition, originally scheduled for April 21-30, will be announced at a later date, the organizer said in a statement Monday.

China Focus: China sees 45-pct drop in holiday travel, no "peak" expected - Xinhua

China will see a 45-percent drop of trips over the annual Spring Festival travel period due to the COVID-19 outbreak this year, and there will not be a "peak" of travelers in the coming days like years before, officials said Saturday.

Drugmakers braced for coronavirus disruption to China supplies  | Financial Times $$

China manufactures key ingredients in the global supply chain for antibiotics, diabetes drugs, painkillers and antiretrovirals for HIV, although its vital role in pharmaceuticals is less well known than its production of technology, machinery and consumer goods.’

Europe braces for coronavirus-induced drug shortages – POLITICO

“We have seen there might be a possibility [of the] risk of shortages of supplies due to the coronavirus,” said German Health Minister Jens Spahn at an emergency meeting with his EU counterparts in Brussels Thursday. “We know many active ingredients are made in China, particularly in Hubei province.”


5. “Two Meetings” likely delayed

China to Postpone Annual NPC Session and Restrict Wide Animals Trade & Consumption – NPC Observer

The Council of Chairpersons decided on Monday, February 17 to convene the NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) for a one-day session on February 24. Two main items would be on the session’s agenda and both relate to the still-ongoing novel coronavirus outbreak.

First, the NPCSC is expected to adopt a decision postponing this year’s NPC annual session, which was originally scheduled to convene on March 5. ..

At this point, it is unclear whether the NPCSC will decide next week on a new date for the NPC session. Were it to do so, that new date should give us some clues about the authorities’ outlook on the epidemic. Note, however, that under the NPC’s Rules of Procedure [全国人民代表大会议事规则] (which has the status of a national law), the NPC must convene its annual session during the first quarter every year (i.e., by end of March) (art. 1).

Second, the NPCSC will also adopt a Decision on Prohibiting Illegal Trade in Wild Animals, Uprooting the Pernicious Habit of Eating Wild Animals, and Earnestly Safeguarding the People’s Lives, Health & Safety [关于禁止非法野生动物交易、革除滥食野生动物陋习、切实保障人民群众生命健康安全的决定].

China postpones year’s biggest political gathering amid coronavirus outbreak | South China Morning Post

The state news agency Xinhua reported that the standing committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) would discuss the delay later this month – effectively indicating that it would be put back.

Zang Tiewei, a spokesman for the NPC legislative affairs commission, told Xinhua that deferring the March meeting would allow government officials to concentrate on controlling the outbreak, which has killed more than 1,700 people.


6. US-China

What I learned at the 2020 Munich Security Conference - The Washington Post

For the past four years, it has been impossible to go to a global affairs conference without discussing the rise of populism. Even if that is not the intended theme, it winds up dominating the conversation. So it’s interesting to note that the overarching theme of the Munich Security Conference (MSC) turned out to be different from the theme that dominated the discourse. To paraphrase Jan Brady, #MSC2020 was all about “China, China, China!”

Bringing the East and West Together In Shared Commitment to Multilateralism - Trasncript of Wang Yi's speech at the Munich Security Conference

As many world leaders noted, it is admirable that the Chinese government and people have shown firm resolve in dealing with the epidemic. The high speed and massive scale of China's response are rarely seen in the world. China's speed, scale and efficiency all demonstrate the strengths of China's system...

To date, confirmed cases outside China account for less than one percent of the world's total. It means China has effectively curbed the spread of the outbreak beyond our borders. For that, we have made extraordinary efforts and a heavy sacrifice....

China's view is that as human society has entered the age of globalization, we must transcend the East-West divergence and the North-South divide, to see our shared planet as a community for all. We must go beyond the ideological gap and accommodate historical and cultural differences, to see the international community as one global family...

the West also needs to eschew the subconscious belief in the superiority of its civilization and abandon its prejudices and anxieties regarding China. It needs to respect the choices of the Chinese people and accept and welcome the development and rejuvenation of a major country in the East, one with a system different from the West...

The initiative of building a community with a shared future is inspired by the traditional Chinese philosophy that sees the world as one big family. It reflects profound thinking on the future of mankind and embodies a spirit of humanity; it points the way forward for global governance and represents the ultimate goal of multilateralism. It is a Chinese proposal on how to address today's challenges and has become an overarching goal of our major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics. China is ready to join hands with all countries and make unremitting efforts to this end.

Comment: US policymakers should be under no illusions that Wang and the PRC's message, along with cash and economic opportunities, does not resonate very strongly in much of the developing world

The West Is Winning - United States Department of State Secretary Pompeo speech at the Munich Security Conference

The West is winning. Freedom and democracy are winning. And by that, I don’t mean just geographical nations. The West doesn’t define a space or a piece of real state. It’s any nation – any nation that adopts a model of respect for individual freedom, free enterprise, national sovereignty. They’re part of this idea of the West....

China encroaches on the exclusive economic zones of Vietnam, the Philippines, and Indonesia. And on that point, China has had a border or maritime dispute with nearly every nation bordering it.

And let’s talk for a second about the other realm, cybersecurity. Huawei and other Chinese state-backed tech companies are Trojan horses for Chinese intelligence...

China demands silence on Taiwan and Hong Kong so that deals will keep flowing. It exacts pieces of national infrastructure as payment when countries can’t meet its onerous loan terms....

China is increasingly trying to co-opt officials at the state and local level.. And this is happening all across Europe and, indeed, all across the world..

Preaching clash of civilizations meant to reverse wheels of history: Chinese FM - Xinhua

"The so-called clash of civilizations is a false argument," Wang responded when asked whether China and the United States would inevitably move towards a clash of civilizations.

Noting that the human civilization is quite advanced in the 21st century, Wang said if anyone is trying to preach or even create the clash of civilizations, he is trying to reverse the wheels of history.

China has always advocated that all civilizations are equal and no one is superior to others as all civilizations are grounded in its unique history and culture of that particular country, Wang said...

Those who clamor for the clash of civilizations subconsciously believe in the superiority of Western civilizations. They are not ready and do not want to accept the development and revitalization of non-Western civilizations, Wang said.

As Prepared Remarks by Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper at the Munich Security Conference > U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE > Speech

China’s growth over the years has been remarkable, but in many ways it is fueled by theft, coercion, and exploitation of free market economies, private companies, and colleges and universities..

Huawei and 5G are today’s poster child for this nefarious activity...

We are not asking our partners to reject engagement with China; just the opposite.

We want you to show them the right path, and nudge them down it.

In the meantime, though, we ARE asking our friends to clearly choose a global system that supports democracy, protects human rights, and safeguards our greatest asymmetric advantages: our values, our shared interests, and our unmatched network of alliances and partnerships...

we want China to behave like a normal country that adheres to the international rules and order that generations before us have fought hard to protect and preserve.

And that means the Chinese government needs to change its policies and behaviors.

If the PRC will not change its ways, then defending this system must be our collective priority.

Chinese diplomat’s challenge to Nancy Pelosi signals concerted fightback, starting with Huawei | South China Morning Post

Rising from the audience of the Munich Security Conference, the chairwoman of the foreign affairs committee of China’s legislature, the National People’s Congress, posed a question directly to Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the US House of Representatives and one of the most vocal critics of China’s human rights records.

“China, since its reform started 40 years ago, has introduced all kinds of Western technologies … and China has maintained its political system. It is not threatened by these technologies,” Fu said. “How, if Huawei’s technology with 5G is introduced into Western countries, will it threaten the political system? Do you really think that the democratic system is so fragile that it could be threatened by this single hi-tech company of Huawei?”

Video of the exchange:

US warnings about China are lies, Foreign Minister Wang says - CNBC

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Saturday that U.S. criticisms of Beijing were “lies” and blamed Washington for the tumultuous relationship between the world’s two largest economies.

“The root cause of all these problems and issues is that the U.S. does not want to see rapid development and rejuvenation of China, still less would they want to accept the success of a socialist country, but that is not fair, China has the right to develop,” Wang said during a discussion at the Munich Security Conference.

Transcript of State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi's Exclusive Interview with Reuters

Does China believe that eventually it will have to have a military presence in the Middle East to ensure the security of its energy supplies. At the moment, China relies on the US security umbrella, but does China think that it would have to take more responsibility for itself in the Middle East?

Wang Yi: Well I'm afraid that many countries in the Middle East would not agree that the United States is providing security guarantee for China and countries in the region.

Think about this: In the past decades, how many wars has the US started in the Middle East? How much damage and devastation has it brought to the people of the region? Is the US providing security guarantee in the Middle East? What the US has been doing is not bringing stability and development to the Middle East, but rather endless turbulence and persistent poverty. In addition, the United States is taking actions out of its own interests, which has not benefited countries in the Middle East.

Coronavirus: China accuses US of ‘dark mentality and dangerous action’ | South China Morning Post

People’s Daily, a mouthpiece of the ruling Communist Party, published a commentary on Monday slamming Washington for its “dark mentality and dangerous action” during the outbreak, which originated in central China.

The commentary under the pen name Zhong Sheng – a homonym in Chinese for the “voice of China” – also hit out at Washington’s latest foreign aid budget proposal that would halve US funding to the World Health Organisation, which has led international efforts to combat the pneumonia-like virus.

And it targeted US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s tweet on February 8 that the US would provide an additional US$100 million to “support China in combating the coronavirus”, on top of hundreds of millions already donated, in a commitment that “demonstrates strong US leadership in response to the outbreak”.

The commentary - 疫情面前,美方做了什么(钟声)

U.S.-China Feud Ensnares Obscure UN Intellectual Property Agency - Bloomberg

The fight over who heads the World Intellectual Property Organization, described by people familiar with the strategy, has become such a priority that American diplomats around the world have been told to discuss it with counterparts whose governments will vote on the next leader in early March.


7. US-China tech war not stopping for the virus

U.S. Weighs New Move to Limit China’s Access to Chip Technology - WSJ

The Commerce Department is drafting changes to the so-called foreign direct product rule, which restricts foreign companies’ use of U.S. technology for military or national-security products. The changes could allow the agency to require chip factories world-wide to get licenses if they intend to use American equipment to produce chips for Huawei Technologies Co., according to the people familiar with the discussions. Chinese companies are bound to see the action as a threat to them too, which is a goal of the proposed rule, said the people briefed on the effort...

“They don’t want any fab in the world to produce anything for Huawei—that’s the goal,” one person said, speaking of the chip fabrication plants that likely would be affected by the new trade limits.

Trump Effort to Keep U.S. Tech Out of China Alarms American Firms - The New York Times

The concerns, which have been simmering for months, have taken on new urgency as the Commerce Department considers adopting a sweeping proposal that would allow the United States to block transactions between American firms and Chinese counterparts. Those rules, on top of new restrictions on Chinese investment in the United States and proposed measures that would prevent American companies from exporting certain products and sharing technology with foreign nationals, have the tech industry scrambling to respond.

Trump Administration Considers Halting GE Venture’s Engine Deliveries to China - WSJ

The administration may decline to issue a license allowing CFM International, a joint venture of GE and France’s Safran SA, to export more of its LEAP 1C jet engines to China, a person familiar with the discussions said. The engines are being used in the development of that country’s Comac C919 jetliner, the latest in a planned family of new jets that is years behind schedule.

Some within the administration are concerned that the Chinese could reverse-engineer the CFM engines, allowing China to break into the global jet-engine market, undermining U.S. business interests.

Cambridge caught in crossfire of US-China tech war | Financial Times $$

The battle for technological supremacy between China and the US risks damaging Cambridge’s growing reputation as a global centre for innovation, experts have warned, as British and other western universities come under increased scrutiny for their links with Beijing.

“The risk is that we find ourselves stuck between two world powers, trying to appease both,” said Alexi Drew, research associate at the Centre for Science and Security Studies at King’s College London.

Department of Commerce Renews Temporary General License for 45 Days | U.S. Department of Commerce

Today, the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) of the U.S. Department of Commerce announced it was extending a Temporary General License (TGL) for Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and its non-U.S. affiliates on the Entity List for an additional 45 days.  The TGL was implemented as a measure to prevent interruption of existing network communication systems in rural U.S. regions and permit global network security measures.  The TGL is intended to allow time for companies and persons to shift to alternative sources of equipment, software and technology (i.e., those not produced by Huawei or one of its listed affiliates).


8. Chicken cull and spring planting

Coronavirus fears force China into mass chicken cull | Financial Times $$

China is to begin importing live chickens from the US as feed shortages due to the coronavirus force poultry farms in the world’s second-biggest economy to start culling millions of young birds...

“There is no question China’s chicken population will fall sharply in the coming months,” said Qiu Cong of Jinghai Poultry Industry Group, a leading chicken producer. “The chicks are gone and farmers are struggling to make ends meet.”

Farmers have slaughtered at least 100m young chickens because travel restrictions imposed to control the spread of the coronavirus have blocked shipments of animal feed, according to a report by Wang Zhongqiang, former director at the China Animal Husbandry Association, and Ning Zhonghua, a professor at China Agricultural University.

China Approves Imports of Live Poultry From U.S. - Reuters

Beijing had banned all trade in poultry products from the United States since 2015 due to outbreaks of avian influenza there.

But it lifted the ban on poultry meat imports in November 2019 as a concession to the United States ahead of finalizing a limited trade deal.

The new announcement would also allow for the import of live birds

Comment: And the pig population has been decimated by African Swine Flu. And the leadership looks increasingly concerned the epidemic and its impacts on the economy and logistics systems may wreak havoc with the spring planting period

China's rural policy bank issues loans for spring farming preparation - Xinhua

As of Feb. 10, a total of 12 billion yuan (about 1.72 billion U.S. dollars) of loans had been issued by the Agricultural Development Bank of China (ADBC) to ensure the sufficient supply of agricultural materials and smooth transportation.

Specifically, the bank allocated a total of 5.7 billion yuan of loans to support fertilizer reserves between Oct. 1, 2019 and Feb. 10, while the rest supporting seeds, farming machines and high-standard farmland construction were issued from Jan. 1 to Feb. 10.


Business, Economy and Trade

Investors Oppose Province’s SOE Bond Buyback - Caixin The Qinghai provincial government is facing opposition from enraged overseas investors for an attempt to use one of its companies to buy another’s defaulted bonds back at sharp discounts.

N.B.A. Expects to Lose ‘Hundreds of Millions’ From China Rift, Silver Says - The New York Times N.B.A. Commissioner Adam Silver said on Saturday that the league will likely lose “hundreds of millions of dollars” because of a rift with the Chinese government that has affected sponsorships and television revenue but that he believed there would “be a return to normalcy fairly soon.”...Silver said he believed CCTV would resume airing games “at some point in the future.” Tencent, a streaming network, has been showing an average of three games a night.

China Standoff Cost the NBA ‘Hundreds of Millions’ - WSJ $$ it was encouraging to the league when Yao Ming, the former Rockets star who is now the head of the Chinese Basketball Association, made the trip to New York recently for Stern’s memorial service, where the 7-foot-6 man had a reserved seat in the front row of Radio City Music Hall. Yao, who refused to take the NBA’s calls during the China standoff, was one of the few players who received a special mention in Silver’s eulogy.

China becomes 5th largest trade partner of Ireland in 2019 - Xinhua In 2019, the total value of the goods traded between the two countries amounted to 14.18 billion euros (about 15.3 billion U.S. dollars), up by 30 percent over 2018, showed the CSO figures. Ireland exported a total of 8.93 billion euros worth of goods to China in 2019, up by 63.19 percent compared with the previous year, making China its fifth largest export market for the first time in the country's history.

Politics and Law

Chinese police detain fugitive rights activist Xu Zhiyong during ‘coronavirus check’ | South China Morning Post A Chinese rights activist in hiding since December was detained in the southern city of Guangzhou after police mounted “coronavirus prevention checks” on the homes of friends and sympathisers, according to other activists.

‘This may be the last piece I write’: prominent Xi critic has internet cut after house arrest | The Guardian The Chinese professor Xu Zhangrun, who published a rare public critique of President Xi Jinping over China’s coronavirus crisis, was placed under house arrest for days, barred from social media and is now cut off from the internet, his friends have told the Guardian....Those restrictions were lifted late last week, but his internet connection has been cut off since Friday, the friend added.

Document Shows Chinese Officials’ Calculations in Waging Xinjiang Campaign - WSJ $$ The 137-page document, a copy of which was shown to The Wall Street Journal and other news organizations, holds records from one county in Xinjiang, a northwestern region where human-rights groups say as many as a million people have been detained in re-education camps in recent years.

The Karakax list: how China targets Uighurs in Xinjiang | Financial Times $$ Tecords were leaked to the Financial Times by Abudewli Ayup, a Uighur activist who lives in exile in Norway. He obtained the records from contacts in Xinjiang. The Financial Times tracked down some of the relatives of detainees who live abroad and the details provided about their extended families match the records on the list. China experts believe the records are authentic.

How China Tracked Detainees and Their Families - The New York Times The leaked document, a 137-page spreadsheet, outlines information that the authorities in Karakax County (also spelled Qaraqash) in southwestern Xinjiang have gathered on its residents. It includes the names and government identification numbers of more than 300 people held in indoctrination camps and information on hundreds of their relatives and neighbors. Even children as young as 16 were closely monitored for signs of what Beijing considered to be wayward thinking.

Leaked data shows China's Uighurs detained due to religion - AP The database obtained by The Associated Press profiles the internment of 311 individuals with relatives abroad and lists information on more than 2,000 of their relatives, neighbors and friends. Each entry includes the detainee’s name, address, national identity number, detention date and location, along with a detailed dossier on their family, religious and neighborhood background, the reason for detention, and a decision on whether or not to release them. Issued within the past year, the documents do not indicate which government department compiled them or for whom.

汪洋主持召开全国政协主席会议--新闻报道-人民网 Wang Yang chairs CPPCC chairpersons meeting on 2.17

‘This may be the last piece I write’: now a Xi critic’s words ring true | The Guardian The Chinese professor Xu Zhangrun, who published a rare public critique of President Xi Jinping over China’s coronavirus crisis, has now been barred from social media, and his friends have not been able to contact him for several days, they told the Observer.

Foreign and Defense Affairs

China opposes U.S. "long-arm jurisdiction": FM spokesperson - Xinhua According to the Federal Register, the United States has decided to impose sanctions on six Chinese enterprises, three Russian enterprises, one Iraqi enterprise and one Turkish enterprise in accordance with its Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Act.

China quietly rolls out new rocket to launch mystery satellite - SpaceNews.com The terse notice stating that the Long March 7A was at Wenchang came from a subsidiary of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), the country’s main space contractor, which added that the payload for the mission is named ‘new technology verification satellite-6’. The name of the satellite series is apparently new, despite the satellite in question being designated ‘number 6’.

Chinese FM meets Vatican counterpart - Xinhua Noting that Pope Francis has publicly expressed his love and blessing for China on various occasions, Wang said that today marks the first meeting between the foreign ministers of China and the Vatican. This is the continuation of China-Vatican exchanges over time and will open up more space for bilateral exchanges in the future, he added.

Hong Kong and Macao

Macao casinos allowed to reopen after anti-virus closure - AP The Chinese territory of Macao will allow casinos to reopen Friday after a 15-day closure imposed to help block the spread of China’s virus outbreak.

Armed gang steals toilet rolls in panic-buying Hong Kong - AFP A gang of knife-wielding men jumped a delivery driver in Hong Kong and stole hundreds of toilet rolls, police said Monday, in a city wracked by shortages caused by coronavirus panic-buying.

Taiwan

U.S. warship sails through Taiwan Strait: MND - Focus Taiwan A United States warship sailed through the Taiwan Strait on Saturday, marking the third appearance by U.S. military forces in the area this week, following two recent incidents in which Taiwan had to scramble its F-16 fighter jets to monitor the movements of Chinese warplanes, according to the Ministry of National Defense (MND).

Tech and Media

ByteDance to name exclusive head for gaming, signaling ambitions for business: sources - Reuters Yan Shou, head of both strategy and gaming businesses, will focus wholly on gaming, as ByteDance sees gaming as the next important source of growth and plans to roll out a game like Honor of Kings, according to one of the people, asking not to be identified because the information isn’t public.

Under Lockdown and Quarantine, China’s Punk Rock Bands Are Taking the Mosh Pit Online With venues shuttered in the wake of the COVID-19 “coronavirus” outbreak, China’s indie musicians are live-streaming shows and organizing “bedroom” festivals.

Energy, Environment, Science and Health

China takes centre stage in global biodiversity push - Nature.com The meeting is the second of three rounds of talks in which nations decide biodiversity targets that will form the basis of a legally binding global agreement. That will be signed at the 15th conference of the parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Kunming in October, and will replace the current accord, signed in 2010.