Xinhua recently reported that, according to the data that the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) just released, January Chinese national automobile manufacturing volume declined 33.5 percent, month-over-month, and 24.6 percent, year-over-year. The sales volume declined 27 percent, month-over-month and 18 percent, year-over-year. Passenger car sales declined 27.1 percent month-over-month and 20.2 percent, year-over-year. New energy source automobile sales declined 54.4 percent year-over-year. According to CAAM officials, the coronavirus impact started later in January, so the numbers do not yet reflect the pandemic. February numbers are expected to be much worse, as they will start to show the impact of the virus on market activities, manufacturing capacity, export limitations, financial bottlenecks and tougher government regulations. In the near term, the Chinese automobile market may have further significant landslides.
Source: Xinhua, February 13, 2020
United Daily News (UDN), one of the primary Taiwanese news groups, recently reported that, according to the Mainland Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi met with the Vatican Secretary for Relations with States, Paul Gallagher (also known as the foreign minister of the Holy See), in Munich. This is the first time in 70 years. The Vatican described the talk that took place in a cordial atmosphere. On behalf of the Pope, Gallagher expressed his respect and support for China’s fight against the coronavirus and expressed the Vatican’s belief in China’s wisdom and courage. The Vatican issued a statement later affirming China’s effort in the virus battle and the Vatican sided with the people in pain. Given this is the first time the two Foreign Ministers met, it should be considered an important alarm to Taiwan’s foreign affairs work.
Source: UDN, February 15, 2020
Radio Free Asia (RFA) Chinese Edition recently reported that, while Europe gave Chinese telecommunications company Huawei multiple green lights, the United States did not rest. The U.S. Department of Justice filed another lawsuit against Huawei with 16 new charges, mainly focusing on stealing trade secrets. The new suit went against Huawei, four Huawei subsidiary companies, and Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou. The prosecution alleged that Huawei has been stealing intellectual properties from six U.S. companies on the Internet router source code, cellular antennas, robotic testing technologies, and other issues. Huawei typically performed the stealing via breaching NDAs (non-disclosure Agreements), obtaining knowledge from former employees of competitors, penetrating via proxies like professors, and establishing awards to encourage its own employees to steal from competitors. Huawei also exports to Iran and North Korea, who are under sanctions from the U.S., Europe, and the United Nations. The White house is working with U.S. technology giants like Microsoft and Dell to establish a new 5G network without Huawei.
Source: RFA Chinese, February 14, 2020
Major Taiwanese news network Liberty Times Network (LTN) recently reported that the Mainland military has been sending multiple aircraft to circle the areas around Taiwan. The rising new Taiwanese party, the New Power Party (NPP), published an official post on Facebook, accusing the Mainland authorities of wasting time threatening Taiwan, when the whole world is expecting the Communists to report honestly about the status of the coronavirus and to control the virus to keep it from spreading. The NPP also pointed out that the military activities may be one way to “release the Mainland’s internal pressure.”
The Primary Taiwanese news agency Central News Agency (CNA) later reported that, after Mainland aircraft circled the Taiwan region on February 9 and 10, the U.S. military sent MC-130J multi-mission combat aircraft and B-52 bombers on February 12 to patrol east and west Taiwan. On February 15, the U.S. also sent a combat warship to pass through the Taiwan Strait. This is the second time this year that the U.S. Navy dispatched a warship to the Taiwan Strait. The last time was on January 17. Strategists pointed out that the U.S. activities should be considered as a response to the Chinese operations.
(1) LTN, February 10, 2020
(2) CNA, February 15, 2020
The shortage of medical supplies has created tension between local governments as everyone works on control and prevention of the novel coronavirus. Several places have been reported for confiscating other locality’s medical supplies.
- In early February, Dali City, Yunnan Province, confiscated hundreds of boxes of face masks belonging to several cities, including Huangshi City, Hubei Province, Chongqing City, Chengdu City, Sichuan Province, and Cixi City, Zhejiang Province.
- After customs in Shengyang City, Liaoning Province detained 100,000 face masks of Qingdao City, Shandong Province, Qingdao drafted an official notice that “following the reciprocal principle,” their customs will detain the face masks that Shenyang bought from Korea.
- Mengzi City, Yunnan Province detained over 100,000 face masks that Liucheng County, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region had purchased.
The most recent case was that the Shanghai Armed Police went to Rizhao City, Shandong Province to escort 5,000 protective suits back to Shanghai. They drove over a thousand kilometer (over 600 miles) in 28 hours and successfully brought the suits back to Shanghai. Continue reading
Many people, including medical experts, have been questioning the origin of the coronavirus. Many Chinese individually questioned whether it was created by the Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory, China’s first Biocontainment Level 4 (BL4) lab (Chinese call it a P4 lab) in Wuhan.
There have been widespread discussions among Chinese individuals on the Internet about a few “theories” to support this suspicion, though officially the media have remained silent:
- The virus was leaked to the public by selling experimental animals with the coronavirus.
- Huang Yanling (黄燕玲), a female graduate student who studied at the P4 lab in 2012, was the first coronavirus patient (Patient “No. Zero”).
- No one from the P4 lab has caught the coronavirus, so they may know a specific way to protect themselves.
On February 15, the government declared theory #2 to be a “rumor.” The Wuhan Institute of Virology, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, issued a statement that Huang Yanling didn’t work at Wuhan P4 lab after her graduation.
Beijing News interviewed Shi Zhengli, the lead technician at the P4 lab and Chen Quanjiao, a researcher at the lab. Both were not sure if the lab has someone called Huang Yanling, but Shi Zhengli flatly rejected the idea that patient “No. Zero” was from the lab. “How could that be? It is definitely fake news. I can guarantee that including graduate students, no one in our institute has been infected. Our institute has zero infections.”
Caixin also gave a detailed report on patient “No. Zero.” In addition to mentioning that it was a rumor, it explained the significance of identifying patient “No. Zero” and mentioned that the first reported infection case of coronavirus was on December 1, 2019 and the patient didn’t go to the seafood market, which China blamed as the starting point of the virus.
Related posting on Chinascope:
- Virus Origin: Genome Analysis of the New Wuhan Coronavirus Found Viral Sequences Suspicious of Laboratory Engineering
Qiushi Journal, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Central Committee’s flagship bimonthly periodical, released a speech that Xi Jinping, the CCP General Secretary, gave at the February 3 meeting of the Politburo Standing Committee.
Qiushi published the full text of Xi’s speech on Saturday, February 15. In the speech, Xi explained his role since January 7, 2020, in containing the novel coronavirus. After consolidating power, Xi has made it a rule that different organizations, including the National People’s Congress, State Council, each headed by a Politburo Standing Committee member, all report their work to him. This is the first time he had to explain to others what he has been doing.
China experts observed that Xi has been under mounting domestic and international pressure because of the outbreak, as well as the spread of the coronavirus. In order to “gain international understanding and support,” Xi offered guidance on “communicating with WHO, and with relevant countries and regions, to promote information sharing and policy coordination.” Meanwhile, Wilbur Ross, the US commerce secretary, revealed that the 15-member WHO delegation has no US experts in it.
Xi also wanted to “ensure societal control and security by stepping up law enforcement and mobilizing public security and the armed police in joint efforts.” Xi made no mention of the delayed or inaccurate reporting that the local leaders from Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus outbreak had voiced.
Xi gave orders to “strengthen control and management of Internet media; push for clear organizational and individual obligations, management obligations, and supervision obligations; and strike against and handle those who spread rumors and stir up trouble.”
On February 4, the day after Xi’s speech, Zhao Kezhi, minister of China’s ministry of public security, told police personnel across the country through a teleconference to maintain a secure and stable environment to fight the virus. He said the police needed to place “political security” above everything else, and to crack down on “domestic and international hostile forces.”
Xi also emphasized adherence to the economic goals set for this year, including achieving “moderate prosperity.”
Related postings on Chinascope:
- Leadership: Xi Not Happy with Tough Measures to Contain Coronavirus When Such Measures Harm the Economy
- Leadership: Wuhan Municipal Website Defended Its Mayor
- Leadership: Xi Jinping Told Trump That by April, the Heat Will Kill the Coronavirus
- Leadership: Xi Jinping Made a Public Appearance on February 10
- Leadership: Xi Jinping: I Have Been In Charge All Along
After Xi Jinping pushed for thawing the economic freeze due to the lockdown of cities in the face of the novel coronavirus, a few places in China mobilized businesses to resume work. However, several companies, after restarting work, immediately reported a patient of coronavirus at work and thus had to stop operations and instead quarantine all or part of the employees who came to work for another 14 days.
- An office worker from Guangzhou was found to have caught the coronavirus. All employees from his company were stopped from working and put under quarantine.
- A person returned to Beijing to resume his work after the Chinese New Year. After working for eight days, he was found to have the coronavirus. Several dozen people in his department were quarantined and a colleague who sat next to him at the cafeteria during lunch was infected.
- A branch of Chongqing Titanium Industry Company, owned by the Panzhihua Iron and Steel Company, a State-owned enterprise and the largest steel maker in Western China, had 2 confirmed cases and 1 asymptomatic infection case, with 131 people having had close contact with the patients.
- Lianyuan Conch Cement Factory in Loudi City, Hunan Province and an electricity power plant in Shanxi Province also reported cases. The companies either stopped operations or locked down the employees.
- Gree Electric in Zhuhai City, Hubei Province reported that a driver of a shuttle bus to transport its employees to work had close contact with a confirmed coronavirus patient. Gree has several tens of thousands of employees in Zhuhai.
Related postings on Chinascope:
- Leadership: Xi Not Happy with Tough Measures to Contain Coronavirus When such Measures Harm the Economy
At a news conference on February 14, Zeng Yixin, Deputy Director of National Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that Beijing will not include an asymptomatic coronavirus infection in its infection count.
An asymptomatic coronavirus infection refers to people who are carriers of a the disease or infection, but experience no symptoms of being infected with the novel coronavirus. That is, although they have no symptoms, they are likely to be found to be infected in a pro-active test.
He stated that in accordance with the relevant regulations about the epidemic, only suspected and confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus will be reported to the public. An asymptomatic infection is not considered to be a case that needs to be reported. If a patient with an asymptomatic infection develops symptoms during the period of quarantine, then the government can report it as a confirmed case.
Related posting on Chinascope:
Fan Yifei, Deputy Chairman of the People’s Bank, China’s Central Bank, announced on February 15, that commercial banks, after receiving money bills from customers, must disinfect the bills before re-circulating them and giving them back to customers. In regions that have severe novel coronavirus infections, bills must go through ultraviolet ray or high temperature treatment. Then they must be stored for 14 days before re-circulating them back to market. In regions with light infections, bills need to be disinfected and then stored for a week.
Guangzhou has gone one step further. It destroys bills received from hospitals, farmer’s markets, and the public transit system. Continue reading