Der wöchentliche Presserückblick der Schweizer Botschaft in der VR China
The Weekly Press Review of the Swiss Embassy in the People's Republic of China
La revue de presse hebdomadaire de l'Ambassade de Suisse en RP de Chine
  10-14.2.2020, No. 803  
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Foreign Policy

Roundup: Foreign political party leaders express confidence in China's defeating coronavirus (Xinhua)
A growing number of leaders from political parties around the world have expressed their appreciation for and confidence in China's efforts in combating the novel coronavirus. History has repeatedly proven the capability and resolution of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in its leading the Chinese people to overcome various challenges, and he firmly believes the CPC will win again in the fight against the epidemic, said Jurin Laksanawisit, head of the Democrat Party, who is also Thailand's deputy prime minister and commerce minister. The Democrat Party of Thailand is willing to develop cooperation with the CPC in various aspects, he added. While expressing his party's respect and support in his message, Chairman of the Pakistan People's Party Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee Xi Jinping and the CPC have led the Chinese people to adopt strong and comprehensive anti-virus measures in a remarkably quick and efficient response to the unexpected virus outbreak, ensuring the safety of both the Chinese people and Pakistani nationals in China. The efforts show the CPC's firm resolve and outstanding capacity in coping with complex challenges, he added. Prabowo Subianto, general chairman of the Great Indonesia Movement Party, or Gerindra, and the Indonesian defense minister, said the coronavirus outbreak emergency has prompted huge efforts from governments and medical societies around the world, and the Indonesian people and his party shared the feelings and hearts of the Chinese people and wish them success in their fight against the virus. In his message, Cevdet Yilmaz, deputy chairman of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), expressed the readiness of the Turkish people to help the Chinese people at any time in their combating the novel coronavirus. The AKP is willing to maintain close communication and coordination with the CPC to jointly tackle the common challenge, he said, and that it believes that under Xi's leadership, the CPC and the Chinese government and people will eventually defeat the virus. Secretary General of South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) party, Ace Magashule, said in his message that under the strong leadership of the CPC, the Chinese people are making concerted efforts, with scientists, medical workers, the People's Liberation Army and other people from all walks of life cooperating effectively. He added that the Chinese efforts are admirable, and the ANC believes that the CPC will lead China to a victory in the fight. First-Vice President of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela Diosdado Cabello said the entire international community has witnessed the decisive actions taken by the CPC and the Chinese government to combat the epidemic. He expressed full confidence that under Xi's command, the CPC is sure to lead the Chinese people to an ultimate victory. The victory belongs to the Chinese people and the epidemic will certainly be defeated, he added. General Secretary of the Portuguese Communist Party Jeronimo de Sousa said the CPC and the Chinese government have been actively treating infected patients to prevent the spread of the disease and striving to safeguard the people's health, and have made immeasurable contributions to containing the spread of the virus around the world. He expressed his belief that the CPC and the Chinese people will definitely overcome the difficulty and continue to develop and make progress on the socialist path, he said. Former Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev said the Chinese people have shown great courage and strength in the fight against the epidemic, which inspires full confidence in China's ultimate victory. He said that after witnessing the strong power and solid foundation of the Chinese economy, he believes that the Chinese economy will recover quickly and achieve greater development. ^ top ^

Crisis brings China, Japan closer (China Daily)
When the American writer Patrick Rothfuss said, "Words can light fires in the minds of men, words can wring tears from the hardest hearts," could he possibly have imagined that some words would be powerful enough even after a 1,000 years to still produce tears? Well that is exactly what happened. As China fights against the novel coronavirus, many sayings have been circulating on Chinese social media recently with one thing in common: they were written in Chinese and printed on packages donated to China by Japan. Among them, one saying, written about 1,300 years ago by a Japanese prince was sent to Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, together with masks and infrared thermometers. It read: "Even though the landscapes are diverse, we share the wind and moon under the same sky." Chen Wan, who works in the international office of Huazhong Agricultural University in Wuhan, said: "Tears welled up in my eyes when I saw the words on the package." Chen, who regularly deals with the Japanese in the course of her work, said she is very grateful for Japan's help. "These words have greatly encouraged Wuhan's people. China and Japan both have Confucian cultural origins and some things that the Japanese have done have make me feel that Wuhan is not alone in this fight, and that we will eventually conquer this epidemic because we are protected by love and friendship." Of course, helping those in hardship can come in many forms, something that Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization, would no doubt have had in mind when he made a plea at a forum on the novel coronavirus in Geneva on Tuesday. The serious measures China is taking in Wuhan and other cities against virus calls for countries to show solidarity with China, he said. "It's a test of political solidarity-whether the world can come together to fight a common enemy that does not respect borders or ideologies. It's a test of financial solidarity-whether the world will invest now in fighting this outbreak, or pay more later to deal with its consequences. And it's a test of scientific solidarity-will the world come together to find shared answers to shared problems?" Universal love is a core concept of Confucianism, something that was evident when Toshihiro Nikai, the secretary-general and a heavyweight of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party, told the media on Monday that all members of his party in the Diet would each donate 5,000 yen ($45) to China. "It's natural to help a neighboring country if something happens there," Nikai said. Earlier on Friday, Nikai, 80, at a meeting with China's Ambassador to Japan, Kong Xuanyou, said: "A friend in need is a friend indeed. Japan will stand together with China and will mobilize the entire country to provide support and assistance to help fight the epidemic." At the same meeting, Tetsuo Saito, the secretary-general of Japan's Komeito Party, said that the enhanced collaboration between Japan and China would help prevent the spread of the virus and overcome it soon. "While facing the epidemic, the world has shown it is a community with a shared future," said Long Xingchun, a professor at the School of Foreign Languages at China West Normal University. Long said he appreciated the fact that apart from sending medical materials, Japan used ancient poetry, the cultural connection between China and Japan, to get closer to the Chinese public and to strengthen friendship with China. Echoing Long, Hirotake Ran, a professor of East Asian studies at Musashino University in Tokyo, said: "Cultural connections have shown their power in bringing people together in this common fight …It makes people feel compassion and love for all, which is extremely important at a time like this." Beyond poetry, another cultural connection between China and Japan is calligraphy. In a video shot at his home, Tomiichi Murayama, 96, a former Japanese prime minister, wrote "Wuhan, jiayou (stay strong)" in Chinese characters and shouted out the message in solidarity with the Chinese. Inspired by the poetry, Yukio Hatoyama, another former Japanese prime minister, wrote the 1300-year-old saying himself and said in a video expressing his support: "I want to send this message to my friends who are fighting the virus in Wuhan, in Hubei province, and all over China. We are in a community with a shared future for mankind, and I hope everybody can survive these difficult times." Rebecca Li, a cross-cultural etiquette expert in Beijing, said Japan is the closest country to China in terms of culture. While many countries have offered their support to China, Japan stands out, partly because of the cultural resonance between China and Japan. "The Chinese feel particularly good when seeing the ancient poetry on the packages of the donations. These poems are all expressions of friendship and goodwill, making people feel that a better Sino-Japanese relationship is assured." ^ top ^

Xi, Malaysian PM talk over phone on novel coronavirus epidemic (Global Times)
Chinese President Xi Jinping held a phone conversation with Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Thursday, with both sides expressing confidence in China's victory in fighting the novel coronavirus epidemic. Noting that the Chinese side has taken strong measures in response to the epidemic, Xi pointed out that China not only takes the responsibility for the health of its people, but also contributes to the cause of global public health, which has been fully recognized by the World Health Organization and other countries in the world. For his part, Mahathir said that the Malaysian side appreciates China's great efforts and positive progress in the fight against the epidemic, and considers such actions as China's contribution to safeguarding world public security as a responsible major country. ^ top ^

China calls for respect for sovereignty in promoting transitional justice, rule of law at int'l level (Xinhua)
A Chinese envoy on Thursday called for respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of the countries concerned in promoting transitional justice, as well as the rule of law and justice at the international level. The issue of transitional justice is one of the major areas of peacebuilding and should be carried forward within the framework of peacebuilding and sustaining peace. Relevant discussions must be strictly limited to conflict and post-conflict situations, said Wu Haitao, China's deputy permanent representative to the United Nations. In this regard, it is imperative to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the countries concerned on the basis of the UN Charter and universally recognized international law, Wu told the Security Council, which met to discuss the issue of transitional justice. There is a need to respect the countries concerned for their efforts to carry forward transitional justice processes step by step in a manner consistent with their own national conditions, he said. No models should be imposed from outside, let alone interference in their internal affairs or intervention in internal contentions. Only by adhering to the principle of sovereignty can transitional justice efforts be justified, the trust of the countries concerned be won, and the role of promoting peace and development be claimed, said Wu. It is necessary to help the countries concerned enhance capacity building with the focus on the functions of their judicial systems. In the long run, no special measure, interim measure or external measure can substitute a functioning domestic judicial system. The international community should reach out to the countries concerned and enhance their capacity building, he said. The relations between transitional justice and the political process, economic development, and social integration should be properly addressed. Comprehensive measures should be taken to promote the rule of law and judicial justice, said Wu. Transitional justice is not just a legal issue. It should serve the interests of achieving lasting peace and stability, economic development, and social progress. Above all, it should serve the long-term fundamental interests of local populations, he said. In the process of carrying forward transitional justice, security sector reform and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration should be carried out. Economic and social measures, such as poverty eradication and job creation, must be taken so as to promote peace through development, achieve national reconciliation, and address the root causes of conflict, he said. "The rule of law and justice must be highlighted not only at the national level, but also at the international level," said Wu. In today's world, many ongoing conflicts have remained unresolved for decades, with ever-deepening rifts between the parties. Those problems are often the bitter consequences of breaching international consensus and disrupting the international order based on international law, he said. The basic principles of international law, such as the adherence to the peaceful settlement of international disputes and the prohibition of use and threat of use of force, constitute the core of the UN Charter and the foundation of the contemporary international order. Such principles fall within the realm of international rule of law and must be upheld by all states, said Wu. The Security Council, at the core of the international collective security architecture, must shoulder the lofty responsibility of upholding international law and the basic norms governing international relations, he said. The council should effectively advance the political settlement of disputes, support good offices and mediation, and ensure the implementation of relevant resolutions, he said. "Only in so doing can we truly prevent and resolve conflicts and avoid creating more differences and divisions." Efforts should be made to enable the people of the world to enjoy the same vision of peace and prosperity and to facilitate the building of a community with a shared future for mankind, he said. Wu cited a quote of late former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the General Assembly in September 2004: "Those who seek to bestow legitimacy must themselves embody it, and those who invoke international law must themselves submit to it." ^ top ^

Foreign firms lend helping hand to China for coronavirus fight (Xinhua)
Foreign firms across diverse industries have lent their support to China's fight against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak through donations and fee reductions. Global mining giants BHP and Rio Tinto donated 10 million yuan (about 1.4 million U.S. dollars) and 1 million dollars, respectively, to the Chinese Red Cross Foundation to aid medical workers and purchase supplies, according to the companies' websites. BHP CEO Mike Henry expressed the company's wish to stand by the Chinese people to fight the outbreak in a note on the company's WeChat page. Foreign firms including the Singapore-listed property developer CapitaLand and Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis donated medical supplies like masks, goggles and protective suits to Chinese hospitals. Vas Narasimhan, CEO of Novartis and an expert on public health, has also expressed deep concern over the epidemic while speaking highly of the control and prevention measures put in place by the Chinese government. On top of donations, CapitaLand said it will waive rent and management fees for all of its malls in Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak from Jan. 25 to Feb. 13, and will halve those charges for malls outside Wuhan from Jan. 25 to Feb. 9. BHP said in an update on its WeChat page that the company has a lot of faith in China in the long run. Over 200 foreign companies in China had donated cash and materials worth over 1.3 billion yuan by Monday for the epidemic control efforts in China, according to the China Association of Enterprises with Foreign Investment. Chinese authorities have also urged local officials to help foreign-funded companies with work resumption and operation amid the anti-epidemic fight including through supporting large foreign investment projects and facilitating the introduction of foreign investment and capital. ^ top ^

Beijing-Moscow historical bonds deepen during coronavirus crisis (Global Times)
In response to the outbreak of novel coronavirus pneumonia (NCP), many countries around the world have expressed their goodwill to help China fight the epidemic. Russia, as China's largest neighboring country, has also provided assistance, showing that China-Russia cooperation has further deepened. In particular, people-to-people exchanges between the two countries have been further enhanced, which has enriched the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination. China and Russia have stepped up cooperation in the prevention and control of infectious diseases. In June 2019, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to elevate bilateral ties to the comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era, further enriching China-Russia relations. The statements propose a broader scope of cooperation in the field of health, including continuing to strengthen cooperation in response to natural, man-made and epidemic and health emergencies. China and Russia will also continue to expand cooperation in diagnosis, treatment and prevention of infectious diseases. As a result, Russia sent five epidemic prevention experts to Wuhan, the epicenter of the NCP in Central China's Hubei Province, to carry out joint development of vaccines. Chinese and Russian scientists will jointly develop vaccines to help China in fighting the epidemic. In the face of the outbreak of the NCP, Russian media have shown noble professional ethics. This has created a good social environment for fighting the epidemic, reflecting the deep social foundation of the China-Russia ties. The official Russian government newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta published an editorial on Monday, expressing the idea of sharing hardships together with China. These expressions of Russian government and people's support for China in fighting the epidemic reflect the two countries' profound friendship. Putin sent a message to Xi on January 31 expressing his deep sympathy and support following the outbreak and his confidence that China's measures would help stop the spread of the epidemic and minimize damage from it. Russia has also provided medical aid supplies to China. On Sunday, Russia sent more than 23 tons of humanitarian aid to Wuhan, which included more than 2 million face masks. Besides that, the mainstream media in China and Russia also jointly released reports and comments on China's epidemic prevention and control, providing the latest information on the effective measures to the Russian people. Relevant Russian departments will also interact closely with China to defend against the common threat of the virus as quickly as possible. At the crucial moment, China-Russia relations have demonstrated the basic nature of mutual support, mutual assistance and friendly neighborliness. Instead of affecting the continuous and stable development of China-Russia relations, the epidemic further shows the world that the two countries help one another during difficulties. Jointly fighting the epidemic helps China and Russia consolidate their relations and reflects the friendship between the two leaders and the two peoples. ^ top ^

France will not exclude Huawei from 5G rollout: minister (Xinhua)
French Minister of Economy and Finance Bruno Le Maire said on Thursday that China's tech giant Huawei won't be excluded from the country's 5G network rollout, but the government will set "restrictions" to protect France's sovereignty and address potential security risks. "Huawei will not be excluded from 5G in France. Everyone can have a place on the market, but we will put limits to protect our sovereignty," Le Maire said, adding "it's understandable that we could prioritise a European operator." On Sunday, the Chinese Embassy in Paris called on local authorities to "treat all companies equally," noting that "the concerns of a sovereign country over the security of 5G networks... have to be based on science and facts, and the measures taken must be proportionate." "The French state takes precautions to guarantee our interests and sovereignty. This does not mean that there is discrimination. Everyone does the same thing," Le Maire told BFMTV news channel. "When you have a critical site like a nuclear power plant, a military installation, it is normal that we protect them... Huawei will be able to continue in France and will not be excluded from 5G but we will set a certain number of restrictions to protect our sovereignty," he said. ^ top ^

Anti-Huawei pressure ploy losing steam: China Daily editorial (China Daily)
As if it seems to believe that lies, if repeated a thousand times, will become the truth, the United States has once again harped on the same old tune of Huawei posing a grave national security threat to its allies should they roll out their 5G networks using the company's technology and equipment. According to The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, the Chinese telecommunications equipment giant can use "back doors" to access network data without the carrier's knowledge, potentially giving the Chinese government a potent spy tool. And quoting national security adviser Robert O'Brien, it showed the precise itch that the US cannot stop scratching: "Strategically, we see a company that can use its position in the market to advance the aims of the Chinese Communist Party," he said, yet again without providing any concrete evidence. When pointing an accusing finger at Huawei, the official seemed to have forgotten about his agency's vast data gathering programs revealed by former US National Security Agency employee Edward Snowden years ago, which enabled the spy agency to routinely install hidden surveillance tools in the products of such high-tech companies as Cisco, Dell and Juniper Networks. It is especially despicable that he made his irresponsible remarks despite Huawei having emphatically rejected such baseless accusations, and stressed time and again that it "has never and will never do anything that would compromise or endanger the security of networks and data of its clients". What makes the scare game being played by Washington look clumsy and desperate is that after years of review, the UK government, the German Federal Office for Information Security, the European Commission, and many other institutions have all concluded that Huawei poses no security threat and should not be specifically excluded from networks. Still, the US has revved up its smear campaign, because many of its European allies have already decided to base their 5G network plans on technological and economic interests, rather than geopolitical considerations, despite increasing pressure from Washington. After all, an outright ban on Huawei will not only hold back 5G rollout in Europe for years, but also cause huge additional costs given the company's dominant role in existing 4G networks. In a latest blow to US bid to engineer a clampdown on Huawei, lawmakers from German Chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling conservatives on Tuesday backed a position paper on 5G mobile networks that stops short of banning Huawei, even though it recommends tougher rules on foreign vendors. The document was drafted by Christian Democrat leaders to address the concerns of party rebels who see Huawei as a threat to national security. Before that, the UK already ignored US calls to ban Huawei totally despite the latter's threat to end their intelligence-sharing. Washington should learn to respect its allies, and stop crying wolf over Huawei before it loses too much face. ^ top ^

Chinese spokesperson refutes U.S. accusation of cyber theft of trade secrets (Xinhua)
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Tuesday said the Chinese government and military and their relevant personnel had never engaged in cyber theft of trade secrets. Spokesperson Geng Shuang made the remarks when commenting on reports that the United States on Monday indicted four members of the Chinese military for allegedly breaking into the computer networks of the Equifax credit reporting agency. Geng said the Chinese government's position on cybersecurity is consistent and clear. "We firmly oppose and combat cyber attacks of any kind. China is a staunch defender of cybersecurity." He said that it had long been an open secret that relevant departments in the United States, in violation of international law and basic norms governing international relations, had been engaging in large-scale, organized and indiscriminate cyber stealing, spying and surveillance activities on foreign governments, enterprises and individuals. "From the case of WikiLeaks to Edward Snowden, the U.S. hypocrisy and double standard on cybersecurity have been fully revealed," said Geng. Geng said according to abundant information that has been made public, U.S. agencies have been engaging in cyber intrusion, surveillance and monitoring activities on foreign governments, institutions, enterprises, universities and individuals, including its allies. "China is also a victim of this. We have lodged stern representations to the United States and asked it to provide explanations and immediately stop such activities," said Geng. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

China Focus: Full-power manufacturing industry helping fight against novel coronavirus (Xinhua)
Keeping their production lines running 24 hours a day, Chinese manufacturers are powering the fight against the novel coronavirus outbreak. Fang Hongxia, a worker of Xinli, a sanitary product company in Tianchang City, east China's Anhui Province, can pack 40,000 to 50,000 masks every day. Specializing in foreign trade, the company has canceled all foreign orders and concentrated its output on the needs of the epidemic control. "The production lines have resumed work 24 hours every day at full power since Jan. 25," said Cai Fengfu, president of the company. "To ensure production, the city's economy and information technology bureau has assigned personnel in charge of the supply of raw and auxiliary materials and contacting technical teams for equipment maintenance." A total of 68 enterprises producing emergency supplies in the province have resumed work as of Feb. 6, including 35 major manufacturers of protective suits, masks, disinfectants, and other products. Cobes Health Care (Hefei) Co., Ltd., a medical products company in the province, increased its output of protective suits ninefold thanks to support from the government. "The government officials solved our worker shortage by coordinating local garment associations to organize workers from garment factories," said Xiao Yinglong, general manager of the company. "We coordinated with east China's Jiangsu Province for raw materials, and with banks for 8 million yuan (about 1.15 million U.S. dollars) to help the company buy production equipment," said Shen Zhonglin, an official with the provincial economy and information technology department. Yang Li, a worker of Xinhua Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. in east China's Shandong Province, chose to work at the company during the Spring Festival holiday. She was not alone. "Many of our employees gave up their vacation, helping increase the output by 30 percent," said Xing Zhongnan, the company's workshop director. The province has a total of 26 mask manufacturers with a daily output of 2.64 million masks, which have all fully resumed work with other companies of medical products. Companies in the province also started to develop new products targeting the needs of medical staff. A company in the province's city of Dezhou developed a new filtering system and put it into mass production in just eight days. Manufacturers in non-medical industries were encouraged and supported to produce disinfectant and other medical products by the government. Jilin Boda Biochemical Co., Ltd. in northeast China's Jilin Province, a famous liquor producer, transformed itself into a disinfectant alcohol manufacturer in a short period of time. "We reduced our profitable liquor production and changed to the production of disinfectant alcohol with a daily output of 50 tonnes after experts confirmed our products met standards," said Zhou Haishan, deputy head of the company. ^ top ^

Xi Focus: Xi chairs leadership meeting on epidemic control, noting "positive changes" (Xinhua)
The Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee on Wednesday held a meeting on the prevention and control of the pneumonia epidemic caused by the novel coronavirus or COVID-19. Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, chaired the meeting and made an important speech. Xi said the epidemic situation has shown positive changes due to concerted hard work and that the prevention and control work has achieved notable outcomes. "The results are hard-won progress made by all sides," Xi said. Noting that epidemic prevention and control have entered a critical stage that requires stringent efforts, Xi stressed focusing on priorities without any let-up and strengthening prevention and control in areas where the epidemic situation is particularly serious or at greater risk. Xi demanded resolute efforts from Party committees and governments at all levels to win the people's war against the epidemic and urged them to strive to achieve this year's economic and social development goals and tasks. The meeting stressed the following key points in preventing and controlling the epidemic: -- raise the hospital admission capacity to leave no one unattended to in cities with a large number of fever patients; -- reduce the infection rate by strengthening the prevention and control in communities and cutting off transmission routes; -- improve treatment for patients, especially those in severe condition, by pooling strengths in medical resources and technology; -- provide more medical resources including hospital beds and medical workers in Hubei Province, especially the city of Wuhan, which remains the top priority region; -- implement the support of 19 provincial-level regions to different areas of Hubei; -- step up health monitoring of returning personnel in regions with large population inflows. The meeting also called for efforts to ensure medical supplies as well as the supply of daily necessities. The non-key regions for epidemic prevention and control should coordinate curbing the epidemic and restoring the economic and social order, the meeting said, requiring greater efforts to reduce the impact of prevention and control measures on people's life. The meeting called on Party committees and governments at all levels to minimize the impact of the epidemic to maintain steady economic performance as well as social harmony and stability. More efforts should be made to formulate policies and measures to cope with the impact of the epidemic. To better combat the epidemic, the country will increase funding and roll out targeted tax and fee reduction measures to ease strains on firms, while looking to offer discounted loan interest rates for producers of anti-virus materials. The meeting also called for ensuring the orderly resumption of work and production in enterprises. At the same time, multiple measures will be taken to ensure a stable job market for college graduates and other job seekers. Foreign trade companies will get help to resume work at an earlier date and financing support to trade will be beefed up, the meeting said. The legitimate rights and interests of foreign investors will be better protected as the country pledges more efforts in improving its investment environment. The meeting said to well coordinate the epidemic prevention and control, and the economic and social development is a "major battle" as well as a "big test," urging Party committees, governments and leading officials at all levels to shoulder their responsibilities and pass the test. ^ top ^

Plasma treatment hope in coronavirus fight as China reports 5,090 new cases (SCMP)
[…] China National Biotec Group announced on Thursday evening that virus-neutralising antibodies had been detected in the plasma of patients who have recovered from Covid-19, and experiments have proven they can effectively kill the virus, according to a Beijing News report on Friday. The company said it had successfully prepared the plasma for clinical treatment after strict blood biological safety testing, virus inactivation and antiviral activity testing. The plasma had been used to treat 11 patients in critical condition, with significant results, it said. The first phase of the treatment was carried out on three critically ill patients in Wuhan on February 8 and the plasma is currently being used to treat more than 10 critically ill patients. Clinical tests showed that, after 12 to 24 hours of treatment, the main inflammatory indicators in the laboratory decreased significantly, the proportion of lymphocytes increased, key indicators such as blood oxygen saturation and viral load improved, and clinical signs and symptoms improved significantly. "The plasma product to treat the novel coronavirus is made from plasma loaded with antibodies donated by recovered patients. It went through virus inactivation and was tested against virus-neutralising antibodies and multiple pathogenic microorganisms," the company said, according to the report. […] ^ top ^

Vice premier stresses stable employment amid epidemic (Xinhua)
Chinese Vice Premier Hu Chunhua has called for all-out efforts to ensure stable employment amid the novel coronavirus outbreak. Hu, also a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, made the remarks Thursday at a teleconference on employment work amid the epidemic. Stable employment is significant to resuming production, guaranteeing and improving people's livelihood, and maintaining sound market expectations, Hu said. He encouraged enterprises to resume production in a well-organized and safe manner while carrying out epidemic prevention and control work. Massive layoffs must be prevented via efforts to help businesses keep their payrolls stable, while aid should be offered in a timely manner to those in need, he said. Hu said the development of the employment market should be closely watched, and specific efforts should be made to take care of key groups such as college graduates and migrant workers. ^ top ^

Xinhua Headlines: China's coronavirus battle offers valuable experience for future fights against epidemics (Xinhua)
As the number of new confirmed cases of novel coronavirus pneumonia (NCP) in China outside the epicenter of Hubei Province has been dropping for nine consecutive days, China's tough measures to contain the virus outbreak, to some extent, have paid off. According to China's National Health Commission (NHC), a total of 312 new confirmed cases were reported on Wednesday outside of Hubei, compared with 890 on Feb. 3. "Measures in China (are) incredible, unprecedented, from which we can learn a lot of how this kind of outbreak is handled," said Soumya Swaminathan, chief scientist of the World Health Organization (WHO). The disease broke out in January, just days before the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday, of which family reunions play a central role. During that time, people across China were busy travelling back home, some for thousands of miles. Wuhan, capital of China's central Hubei Province and with a population of over 10 million, soon became the epicenter of the outbreak. On Jan. 23, the city was locked down. All public transportation -- including city buses, subways, ferries and long-distance coaches -- was suspended, while outbound channels at airports and railway stations were also closed. Shortly after the nationwide outbreak, all 31 provincial-level regions in China activated top-level response measures to contain the epidemic. The State Council, China's cabinet, extended the seven-day Spring Festival holiday, scheduled to end on Jan. 30, to Feb. 2. The Education Ministry postponed the beginning of the 2020 spring semester for schools. Sazaly Abu Bakar, professor and director of the University of Malaya Tropical Infectious Diseases Research and Education Center said he believes China has been resolute in making decisions to contain the spread of the disease. The Chinese people "are protecting the world from an even faster spread through their willingness to make sacrifices and their commitment," said Michael Schumann, head of the German Federal Association for Economic Development and Foreign Trade. "They deserve our respect and our active and energetic support." "The world is grateful for your efforts to discover how to best treat (patients) and prevent the spread of the virus," said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Sunday. Chinese President Xi Jinping, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, said on Feb. 3 when chairing a leadership meeting on epidemic control, that party committees and governments at all levels should firmly follow the unified command, coordination and arrangement of the CPC Central Committee. To "concentrate resources to solve major problems," as Chinese often describe it, is a notable advantage of China's socialist system that has helped the country overcome major challenges over the past decades. The novel coronavirus is no exception. Chinese health authorities have sent more than 11,000 medics to Wuhan so far, including the country's best ICU staff. Over 4,000 commissioned medical officers from the army have also been dispatched on the ground. Frozen pork reserves and fresh vegetables were trucked to Hubei from across the country. Meanwhile, workers in face mask and medical gown factories were called back to work early from the holiday break to resume production to alleviate the supply shortage. And two makeshift hospitals -- Leishenshan and Huoshenshan, with a combined 2,600 beds -- were built within days after thousands of construction workers worked shifts around the clock, with machinery operating 24/7. Some of Wuhan's gymnasiums and sports centers were also converted into temporary hospitals to accomodate people with mild symptoms, adding another 10,000 hospital beds. "I have never seen, in my life, this kind of mobilization," Tedros said. It is indeed a so-called "people's war" against the epidemic, which demonstrates China's ability in mobilizing on a large scale and its sheer national strength. Solly Mapaila, first deputy general secretary of the South African Communist Party, said the CPC and the Chinese government have displayed outstanding leadership in face of the epidemic under the leadership of Xi, which reflects the advantages of a socialist system. At the early stage of the spread, Chinese experts detected this new type of coronavirus and shared the genetic sequence with the WHO once completed, which the latter said was of great importance for other countries' development of diagnostic kits. This week, a WHO team arrived in Beijing before joint China-WHO discussions on and evaluation of the novel coronavirus epidemic and its containment, while invited Chinese representatives briefed a WHO-led forum in Geneva on China's research on the outbreak. "We need international solidarity. We're all in this together. And when we work together, we can beat and overcome these challenges," UN Under-Secretary-General Fabrizio Hochschild said, expressing his appreciation for China's efforts in the fight against the outbreak. Since late January, Chinese leaders have held phone conversations with their worldwide counterparts, briefing them on the latest developments on the outbreak and they also received recognition and support from the international community. Russian President Vladimir Putin told Xi in a phone call that relevant Russian departments will work closely with their counterparts in China to eliminate this common threat, while Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said his country is willing to mobilize all the country's medical supply reserves to assist China. China has received supplies and other assistance from at least 30 countries and various international organizations so far. A community with a shared future, a concept first brought up by China, offers the best solution to the outbreak. Cooperation of this kind buys the world time to learn about and cure this illness. China's active cooperation with the international community demonstrates its high sense of responsibility for global welfare, said Speaker of the Parliament of Sri Lanka Karu Jayasuriya. "China has set a new standard for other countries to prevent and control the epidemic, while no other country has the scale, speed, transparency and openness comparable to China," said Margaret Chan, former director-general of the WHO. ^ top ^

Wang Zhonglin appointed Party chief of central China's Wuhan city (Xinhua)
Wang Zhonglin has been appointed secretary of the Wuhan Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and a member of the Standing Committee of the Hubei Provincial Committee of the CPC, replacing Ma Guoqiang. ^ top ^

CPC appoints new Hubei Provincial Committee member (Xinhua)
Approved by the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, Wang Hesheng, deputy head of the National Health Commission, was appointed as a member as well as a Standing Committee member of the CPC Hubei Provincial Committee. ^ top ^

China to amend law on wildlife protection: official (Xinhua)
China's top legislature will amend the law on the protection of wildlife this year in an effort to fight the novel coronavirus outbreak, an official said Monday. Efforts will also be made to accelerate the amendment of laws on animal epidemic prevention and other areas, Wang Ruihe, an official with the Legislative Affairs Commission of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, said at a press conference in Beijing. Potential public health security risks caused by trading and eating wild animals have drawn worldwide concern, Wang said, stressing the need to improve laws and regulations related to wildlife, tighten supervision over law enforcement and toughen the crackdown on wildlife trafficking. The novel coronavirus is suspected to be related to wildlife. Despite the proven effects of the law on the protection of wildlife after its revision in 2016, there are still some problems in its implementation, Wang said. He pointed out that relevant supporting regulations related to the law are yet to be rolled out and improved. Supervision, inspection and law enforcement should be strengthened to ensure that wildlife trade markets are banned and closed. Wang also stressed the importance of improving the law on the protection of wildlife and other relevant laws and regulations, citing the need to expand the scope of the adjustment to the law and toughen the crackdown on and punishment for the illegal hunting and eating of wild animals. The Legislative Affairs Commission of the NPC Standing Committee will make a decision on the legal issues soon, Wang said. ^ top ^

Li Wenliang's death prompts academics to challenge Beijing on freedom of speech (SCMP)
Hundreds of Chinese, led by academics, have signed an online petition calling on the national legislature to protect citizens' right to freedom of speech, amid growing public discontent over the handling of the coronavirus outbreak. The petition on the highly sensitive issue in China comes as the ruling Communist Party has tightened its control over society in recent years. It also follows a massive outpouring of grief and anger over the death of Li Wenliang, a young doctor who was reprimanded by police for "spreading rumours" when he tried to warn people about the virus outbreak when it began in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December. Li's death from the pneumonia-like illness on Friday has prompted calls for those who sought to silence him to be punished, and for greater freedom of expression in China. The new virus strain has so far infected more than 44,000 people and killed more than 1,000 in mainland China, with cases reported in more than 20 other countries. The petition, addressed to the National People's Congress, lists five demands for Beijing: to protect people's right to freedom of expression; to discuss the issue at NPC meetings; to make February 6, the day Li died, a national day for free speech; to ensure no one is punished, threatened, interrogated, censored or locked up for their speech, civil assembly, letters or communication; and to give equitable treatment, such as medical care, to people from Wuhan and Hubei province. Many people from the outbreak epicentre have reported experiencing discrimination elsewhere in the country as the virus has spread. The petition is gaining momentum online, but some of the signatories have already come under pressure. They include Tsinghua University sociologist Guo Yuhua and her colleague, law professor Xu Zhangrun, whose accounts on social media network WeChat have been blocked. Xu wrote a damning letter last week blaming Beijing's crackdown on civil society and freedom of expression for making it impossible to raise the alarm about the coronavirus outbreak. Guo said the petition could be "another gesture that might not go very far before it's stifled, but it's important to take a stand". "These days, one must speak up regardless of practicality," she said. Guo also criticised the authorities for putting political stability ahead of preventing the outbreak by censoring the people it said were "spreading rumours". "If the warnings were heard much earlier, this outbreak wouldn't have got to the stage of no return," she said. Another law professor, Zhang Qianfan from Peking University, said he had signed the petition to fight for the public's right to information because that was the key to containing the public health crisis. "It will take time to assess whether [public discontent over handling of the outbreak] will eventually threaten Beijing's ruling legitimacy," Zhang said. "The main factor will be the damage caused by this crisis to the national economy." Meanwhile, veteran mainland journalist Chen Min, who is better known as Xiao Shu, said he felt compelled to sign the petition and act according to his conscience "at a critical juncture that could change China's future". "It is inexcusable for an intellectual not to step up in the face of a national crisis like this, with an impact that far outweighs the deadly 2008 Sichuan earthquake," Chen said. "If anyone has to pay a price for [signing this petition] on such a rational set of demands, then it really shows all sanity has been lost … and it will only further inflame public anger," he said. ^ top ^

China's informant system differs from Western whistleblowers: experts (Global Times)
The Chinese public engaged in lively debate on the concept of "whistleblower" after the death of Li Wenliang, one of the first doctors who raised the alarm about the pneumonia epidemic in China. However, many say it might not be accurate to label the 34-year-old Li as a "whistleblower" in Western narratives, reminding people not to blindly advocate the so-called whistleblower concept of Western political discourse. Separatists and Western media who use epidemics to criticize the Chinese government efforts reflect their usual tactics. They distort the concept of "whistleblower" for the purpose of creating a confrontation between the government and the public, Shen Yi, head of Fudan University's Cyberspace Governance Research Institute, told the Global Times. China has been exploring its own whistleblower system for many years although it has not been formally written into law. Public supervision channels, government reporting platforms and an emergency warning mechanism have been established to facilitate information sharing between the public and decision makers. Li's death has made the term "whistleblower" familiar to more Chinese people, and the current outbreak has brought an opportunity to improve China's own whistleblower protection system, said analysts. Many laws and regulations in China also provide rewards for whistleblowers, but the rules are vague and the amount or proportion of rewards is low. Whistleblower protection however still faces challenges in China, given the conflict and balance between protecting whistleblowers and cracking down on malicious, inaccurate reporting, Wu Danhong, a legal scholar at the China University of Political Science and Law, told the Global Times. Li, in Wuhan, capital of Central China's Hubei Province, was one of the initial eight doctors who warned about the virus. He tried to warn his friends and colleagues on WeChat, saying that the "SARS" outbreak came back. On January 1, he was reprimanded by Wuhan police, and eventually passed away of novel coronavirus pneumonia on February 7. Then Li was regarded as a brave "whistleblower" by some people. However, the definition of "whistleblower" is based on the purpose of alerting the public to serious violations of laws and regulations, which was not the purpose of Li's original intention to remind friends and colleagues and warn them not to divulge information, Wu said. Li, who is an eye doctor, failed to make a professional and rigorous judgment or issue a warning through professional channels. China has strict disciplines in reporting and publicizing disasters, especially for major infectious diseases, and the lowest level of authority for issuing outbreaks information to the public are provincial health authorities. After SARS in 2003, China has set up world's largest online direct reporting system for infectious disease outbreaks and public health emergencies, mandating reports of primary medical institutions be directly heard of by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CCDC) without going through the cascade reporting process, The Beijing News reported. The CCDC can immediately launch an investigation into the reported outbreaks such as unknown pneumonia. This is a legal channel available to grassroots-level doctors like Li to report the epidemic, according to the report. The Chinese government has always encouraged informed citizens to disclose and report misconduct. The State Council issued a guideline on September 12, 2019 to officially suggest the establishment of whistleblower systems for the first time to enhance public supervision channels and upgrade government reporting platforms. The central government aims to reward and protect those who provide clues to solving serious crimes and understanding major potential risks. For decades, similar oversight mechanisms have already played a role in cracking down on crimes across many sectors such as drug retail, finance, environmental protection and food safety. Whistleblowers who report food safety violations can be rewarded with as much as 600,000 yuan (84,634) in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province and 300,000 yuan in Shanghai after both cities launched a reward system for anonymous reports in 2016. According to the guideline, credit service agencies will be encouraged to launch credit ratings and third-party evaluations in order to prevent false accusations and claims. China's efforts to protect informants are also reflected in major reforms to the Constitution and Criminal Law. A number of specialized departments, including the The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party of China, the Supreme People's Procuratorate, the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Finance, continued to improve the protection measures for whistleblowers over the past years. Experts believe that the Chinese government attaches great importance to the transmission of information, and thus has a system to ensure decision-makers receive opinions and information from the public and all parties. Professional agents like accountants, lawyers and tax organizations will also provide opinions for supervision and law enforcement. Zhang Jixian is considered the first doctor to report the novel coronavirus before its outbreak. Working as the director of respiratory and critical care medicine department of the Hubei Provincial Hospital of Integrated Chinese and Western Medicine, Zhang firsts reported the infection to the hospital, which then reported it to the local CDC. The Hubei government awarded a grand merit to Zhang on February 6 for her contribution. The US enacted its Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 to protect employees from retaliation for reporting illegal activities. State-level governments in the US have also introduced whistleblower protection laws for their own situations, making the nation one of the most developed countries in the world for reporting system. But the US whistleblower system has been much-maligned and marred in controversy for a long time as whistleblowers are often not protected when being involved in politically sensitive cases that threaten US government interests. Edward Snowden's revelation of mass surveillance by the US National Security Agency and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's exposal of misconduct in US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq resulted with both of them in legal trouble. There are furious debates in the US over whether Edward Snowden is a hero or a criminal. A poll conducted by Reuters shows that 31 percent of US people think Edward Snowden is a whistleblower, 23 percent see him as a traitor and the remaining half of US people say they can't judge. Snowden is now in exile in Russia. Experts said that Western whistleblowers are intimidated and targeted under their political systems, but doctor Li gained widespread public respect in China. The term "whistleblower" did not become familiar to the Chinese people until 2019, when the film Whistleblower was released nationwide in December last year, together with the novel of the same name, according to Wu. However, there is not yet any particular whistleblower law in China so far, and most of the relevant provisions are distributed in the form of administrative regulations. In addition to the need for legislative safeguards, Chinese experts also suggested a high monetary reward for whistleblowers to encourage them to stand up while strengthening the protection of their personal rights and information and rights. In January 2019, a consumer who reported supermarkets selling expired food to Food and Drug Administration in Ji'nan, East China's Shandong Province, was rewarded with just 0.2 yuan. The consumer then sued the food and drug administration for a higher reward. In the US, Germany, France and other developed countries, the reward amount for early-warning behaviors is often several times or even more than 10 times as much as that of the Chinese standard, which leads to a lack of effective incentives in China, according to Wu. ^ top ^



Cities in Guangdong, China to allow temporary seizure of private properties to control spread of coronavirus (HKFP)
Guangzhou and Shenzhen have enacted urgent measures to allow their governments to temporarily take over private properties for disease prevention and control. According to official figures, there were more than 44,000 confirmed cases of the new SARS-like "covid-19" virus in the mainland as of Wednesday, and more than 1,000 infected people have died. There have been 1,177 confirmed cases in Guangdong province, which neighbours Hong Kong. Guangzhou and Shenzhen's city legislatures passed the measures on Tuesday during urgent meetings. It marks the first time after the establishment of China's property law in 2007 where governments have been allowed to seize private property using emergency powers. The Guangzhou legislature passed a decision that said authorities could implement emergency administrative measures or announce policies related to health and hygiene, quarantine, transport management, community management, guarantee of funds, protection of labour, management of wild animals, and other items. Under the decision passed on Tuesday morning, Guangzhou authorities can also temporarily take over houses, venues, vehicles and relevant facilities for the purposes of disease control. They can also demand the production and supply of resources and daily necessities from relevant enterprises and organisations. "Emergency takeover orders should be sent to relevant units and persons and registration should be completed. Compensation should be given in accordance with the law. Those that can be returned should be returned as soon as possible," the decision said. A similar decision was passed by Shenzhen's legislature on Tuesday afternoon. The decisions were implemented immediately and the end time will be announced at a later date. ^ top ^



Why did Beijing appoint trusted Xi Jinping ally to office overseeing Hong Kong affairs? Insiders put positive spin but admit it's for tighter oversight after protests (SCMP)
Beijing officials stationed in Hong Kong have sought to put a positive spin to the sudden shake-up of the central government's cabinet-level office that oversees the city's affairs. The central government was "upgrading" the office by appointing a state leader and thus devoting more attention to Hong Kong, the liaison office said in briefing notes distributed to pro-Beijing politicians, a copy of which was obtained by the Post. In the unexpected announcement on Thursday, Beijing appointed Xia Baolong, a vice-chairman and secretary general of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the nation's top advisory body, as director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office. It demoted incumbent Zhang Xiaoming to executive deputy director, a post that had been vacant since 2008. Xia is widely regarded as a trusted ally of President Xi, having worked together for more than four years in Zhejiang province in the mid-2000s when Xi was the Communist Party chief there. Xia was his deputy then. Going beyond the prepared notes they were given, several Beijing loyalists told the Post the appointment of Xia would mean closer supervision of the city's affairs. Yet, others saw it as a chance to reset relations between the local and central governments, after the discombobulation caused by the social unrest in the city over the past eight months. Pan-democrats in Hong Kong's legislature, meanwhile, warned the move signalled Beijing's hardened stance on Hong Kong policy. Political analysts also perceived the redesignation of Zhang as a sign of Beijing holding the "old Hong Kong hand" accountable for the handling of the political crisis triggered by the now-withdrawn extradition bill. Alongside Xia's appointment, Beijing's top envoys to Hong Kong and Macau will also take up new roles in the HKMAO too. Directors Luo Huining and Fu Ziying, of the Hong Kong and Macau liaison offices respectively, will be double hatting as deputy directors of Xia's office and report to him. Zhang, who has spent more than three decades on Hong Kong affairs, held on to his ministerial rank, although his authority was reduced to that of executive deputy director "handling day-to-day operation". A mainland expert familiar with Hong Kong affairs, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the 56-year-old official would stay on as a member of the Communist Party's Hong Kong and Macau affairs central coordination group chaired by Vice-Premier Han Zheng. Han is the top-level Politburo Standing Committee member who oversees Hong Kong affairs, reporting directly to President Xi Jinping. In the briefing notes to pro-Beijing politicians, Beijing's liaison office in Hong Kong highlighted positive messages about the revamp of the HKMAO. Stressing on the upgrading of the office with Xia's appointment, it said: "The integration of the HKMAO and the liaison offices in Hong Kong and Macau is conducive to better collaboration." However, one of the pro-Beijing politicians who received the notes believed there was a sense of Beijing holding Zhang accountable for the handling of the months-long anti-government protests in the city. "The reshuffle was arranged recently, together with the removal of top officials of Hubei province. This serves as a sense of Zhang bearing accountability," the source, who declined to be named, said. "Unlike [former Hong Kong liaison office director] Wang Zhimin, Zhang is staying in the office with his ministerial rank intact," the politician said. "It is not a major punishment for Zhang, but more like holding him accountable in principle." Wang was moved out as director of the liaison office in the city last month and transferred to the history research unit under the party's Central Committee. The pro-Beijing politician said Xia, and Luo Huining who replaced Wang, were both trusted by Chinese President Xi Jinping. "With the ongoing social unrest, I believe these two men will pull no punches in fixing Beijing's ruling policies towards Hong Kong," he said. A mainland expert, who also declined to be named, described Xia's appointment as director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office as a "highly unusual arrangement". "It's an indication of the importance attached by the central government to Hong Kong affairs. It is aimed at better coordination of work between various central government agencies on Hong Kong," the expert said. Tam Yiu-chung, Hong Kong's sole representative on the National People's Congress Standing Committee, the nation's top legislative body, said the reshuffle centred on strengthening the central government's oversight on Hong Kong. "Xia's appointment indicates the central government's intention of strengthening the works on Hong Kong," Tam said. "The installation of a heavyweight, who has a close working relationship with President Xi, can help win the support of other mainland government agencies involved in Hong Kong," Tam said. He said the elevation of the HKMAO could help avoid potential rivalry between the cabinet-level office and the liaison office, where previously the relative hierarchy of each to the central government was ambiguous. Tam said Xia would be able to monitor the situation in Hong Kong more closely than Vice-Premier Han, who had other tasks on his plate. "Apart from Hong Kong and Macau affairs, Han has other portfolios such as public finance," Tam said. "Xia can be more focused on his position as HKMAO head." ^ top ^

China's central bank issues 30 bln yuan of bills in Hong Kong (Xinhua)
China's central bank announced Thursday it has issued 30 billion yuan (about 4.3 billion U.S. dollars) of bills in Hong Kong. Among the total, 20 billion yuan will mature in three months and 10 billion yuan will mature one year later, with the interest rate standing at 2.55 percent and 2.60 percent, respectively, according to the People's Bank of China (PBOC). The issuance was well-received by investors in the offshore markets of many countries and regions in Europe, North America and Asia, with the bid amount exceeding 83 billion yuan, 2.8 times the circulation, said the PBOC. Since November 2018, the bank has established a normal mechanism of issuing central bank bills in Hong Kong. The move helps to enrich yuan-investment products with high credit ratings in Hong Kong, offer more yuan liquidity management tools, improve the yield curve of yuan bonds and advance the yuan's internationalization, it added. ^ top ^

A new strain of resistance? How the coronavirus crisis is changing Hong Kong's protest movement (SCMP)
When about 9,000 medical workers went on strike for five days early this month, it signalled not only their dissatisfaction with the Hong Kong government's handling of the new coronavirus outbreak, but also a change in the city's protest movement. After more than eight months of anti-government street marches, violence and vandalism, with riot police responding by firing tear gas and other crowd-dispersal weapons, the health crisis led to protests being called off. New police tactics since the new year, with officers intervening earlier at demonstrations to end violence and arrest protesters, also had the effect of keeping protesters away. But declining crowd sizes at protests were no indication that the social unrest was over, said Eric Lai Yan-ho, deputy convenor of the Civil Human Rights Front that organised seven mass rallies between last June and January 1 this year, including four which it said drew more than a million participants. "Street protests are just a part of the movement," he said. The arrival of the coronavirus crisis provided the anti-government camp with an opportunity to revitalise its resistance, offering a glimpse of the shape of protests to come. The front joined forces with pro-democracy lawmakers and district councillors to stage a citywide signature campaign slamming the government's failure to control the spread of the new coronavirus. The online petition gathered more than 35,000 signatures. Then came Hong Kong's largest ever medical workers' strike, demanding that the city close its borders completely to travellers from the mainland. It was organised by the new Hospital Authority Employees Alliance, which said its membership soared from 300 in December to more than 18,000 in less than two months of mobilisation. Its members represent 22.5 per cent of the 80,000-strong workforce in the statutory body that manages all public hospitals and clinics in the city, the second-largest employer after the government. The medical sector has established unions such as the Hong Kong Public Doctors' Association and the Association of Hong Kong Nursing Staff, but before the alliance was set up, a large number of health care workers, including allied health workers and clerical support staff, were not unionised. The alliance is one of several new unions to emerge from the social unrest. The Labour Department confirmed that 27 unions were formed in a month this year as of last Thursday, compared with 23 in the whole of 2019 and 13 in 2018. Some of the new unions represent workers not previously covered by any registered unions, such as the Bartenders and Mixologists Union, Testing and Certification Union and Event Professionals Union. Some expect to attract significant numbers because of the size of their employers, including the Union for New Civil Servants, a union for MTR workers called Railway Power, and the Hong Kong Financial Industry Employees General Union. These were among about 50 new unions and pro-democracy groups who openly supported the medical workers' strike. Chris Chan King-chi, associate professor in sociology at Chinese University (CUHK), said the alliance's high membership and the range of medical workers it represented gave it significant collective power to pressure the government. A scholar of unionism and former labour organiser, he said previous significant strikes, including one by iron workers in 2007 and another by dock workers in 2013, involved no more than 1,000 union members. The high number of medical workers who went on strike reflected their unhappiness with the government, as well as a sense of despair accumulated through the months of protests last year, he added. A survey conducted by the Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute in late January showed that 75 per cent of respondents were not satisfied with the government's response to the virus outbreak and 80 per cent supported a total shutdown of the border to travellers from the mainland. "The strike, backed by people from all walks of life, has opened new dimensions in the labour movement and has a far-reaching impact for labour resistance in future," Chan said. With this, he added, the government and large institutions had been put on notice to expect more long-term and organised forms of confrontation with their workers. Hong Kong's long season of unrest was triggered by the government's now-withdrawn extradition bill which would have seen fugitives returned to mainland China as well as other jurisdictions. Opposition to the bill began as early as last March with peaceful protests, but as Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor proved determined to push it through, large-scale protests erupted in June. Although the hugely unpopular bill was finally withdrawn in September, the protest movement morphed into a wider anti-government and anti-mainland campaign, with demands for an inquiry into alleged police brutality, amnesty for protesters who had been arrested, and universal suffrage, among others. Observers have noted that in the weeks following the sweeping victory of pan-democratic candidates at last November's district council elections, protest crowds have shrunk, with lunchtime protests attracting mere dozens compared with the hundreds who gathered daily in Central earlier. Protest fatigue might be one explanation for the smaller crowds, according to political scientist Ma Ngok of CUHK. But he noted that Hong Kong's new police chief had changed the way the force responded, especially to violence, and thought this might have discouraged people from joining protests. "The police strategy now is to make peaceful marchers bear high risks even at police-approved protests," he said. For example, the approved New Year's Day march was the first major protest since Police Commissioner Chris Tang Ping-keung took command of the 31,000-strong force in November. When some protesters vandalised a branch of HSBC bank in Wan Chai, police acted swiftly, asking the organisers to end the march. More than 400 people were arrested, the highest number in a single day since June. Four days later, at a Sheung Shui protest organised by the Democratic Party, about 100 people were detained. Then, on January 19, police halted a gathering at Chater Garden and fired tear gas to disperse the crowds soon after skirmishes broke out between protesters and officers. As of January 23, police have arrested 7,165 people, and more than 500 have been charged with rioting. Just a few weeks ago, regular frontline protester Alan (not his real name) was feeling disheartened by the dwindling numbers at anti-government marches. The 32-year-old freelance cook was masked, dressed in black and wearing a helmet when he took part in the January 1 march which ended with riot police firing tear gas to disperse the crowd in Wan Chai. He recalled that as he ran down the main street to snuff out tear gas canisters, the sea of protesters clapped and moved aside, creating a path for him. Then he realised there was no one else in full protest gear confronting police. "People encouraged me to enter the battlefield, but my comrades at the front line were gone," Alan said. Morale among his small group of frontline protesters sank to its lowest, he said, and he stopped going to protests. Since Hong Kong reported its first two cases of coronavirus infection on January 22, many planned gatherings and marches were called off and there have been only a few spontaneous protests and acts of vandalism. On January 31, Alan returned to the street, and was at the Prince Edward MTR station to mark five months since police officers stormed the station, sparking rumours that three protesters died – an allegation the force and government have strenuously denied. The crowd was smaller than at past protests but he was struck by the fact that everyone present – demonstrators as well as residents and bystanders – was wearing a surgical mask. "Previously, we risked arrest for wearing a mask," he said, referring to last October's ban on the use of face coverings at protests. "Now, how ridiculous it is that police fear us if we don't wear a mask and cough at them." He never felt safer from the risk of arrest, he said. The question is what happens after the ongoing health crisis ends – will street protests be a thing of the past, or will new forms of anti-government resistance proliferate? A joint study by scholars from three universities has found that the solidarity between protest radicals remains strong enough to keep the movement going, at least for the foreseeable future. The study was done by City University public policy associate professor Edmund Cheng Wai, Lingnan University political scientist Samson Yuen Wai-hei, and Chinese University journalism and communications professor Francis Lee Lap-fung. Cheng said that since early November, the number of posts on LIHKG Forum, a Reddit-like platform protesters used to discuss plans and pro-democracy events, fell significantly compared with June last year. Big data analysts had earlier also reported a sharp decline in protest-related online activities over the past two months. He said protesters now tended to coordinate among themselves through private channels and chat groups, such as the encrypted messaging application Telegram and Firechat, which ensure confidentiality. The study also showed that unlike 2014's Occupy movement, which ended with deep divisions between protesters, a large number of peaceful demonstrators remained firmly behind the radicals in the current protests. The scholars' analysis of 18,000 questionnaires collected at protest sites from June to early January showed a high level of solidarity among protesters, with respondents strongly agreeing that "the peaceful faction and militant faction are in the same boat" and that "it is understandable for protesters to take radical action when the government acts in disregard of people's opinions". Cheng warned that a political powder keg would remain in Hong Kong society if root problems remained unsolved and the anger of the people lingered. "They will be back on the streets again. It need not be related to police brutality, the extradition bill or virus control measures, but any controversial policy might spark a public outcry," he said, noting that city leader Carrie Lam's support rating has plummeted from 64 points when she took office in 2017 to just 21 points in mid January – the lowest score for any chief executive. University of Hong Kong social sciences professor Paul Yip Siu-fai said the government's failure to grasp a golden opportunity to rebuild trust with the people during the virus crisis had instead helped the protest movement. "The government's recent performance has accelerated the pro-democracy campaign to progress to a new stage – from street protests to everyday protests," he said. The pro-democracy camp is already mobilising eligible voters to register for the Legislative Council elections in September. Chinese University's Ma hoped Beijing would review hardline policies towards Hong Kong after failing to grasp the sentiment expressed by voters who inflicted a humiliating defeat on pro-government candidates in last November's district council elections. "If police further escalate their use of force against protesters, resistance by people from all walks of life will persist in more diversified forms and the pro-Beijing camp may suffer another defeat in the coming elections for the legislature," he said. But Beijing loyalist Lau Siu-kai believes the central government recognises the Hong Kong police force's efforts in deterring radicals, and will continue to rely on law enforcement bodies. Lau, who is vice-chairman of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, is also sceptical over the virus crisis boosting the anti-government movement. "The opposition continues to create issues in the health crisis to spread anti-mainland sentiments, but this tactic cannot be sustained in the long run," he said. "People will eventually know who sacrificed professionalism in the medical workers' strike for political goals." Protester Alan, for one, is not ready to give up the fight. "Retreating from street battles doesn't mean withdrawing from the war," he said, adding that the protest mantra "Be water" was not merely a call to hit and run. "We know it's a long fight. It's about flexibility and adaptability. We'll observe, reform and fight back until the government heeds our demands," he said. ^ top ^

Coronavirus: Unions urges medics to halt work if Hong Kong Hospital Authority cannot provide adequate protective gear (HKFP)
The Hospital Authority Employees Alliance (HAEA) has called upon members to halt work if they are not provided with adequate protective gear in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. The union launched a strike last week to urge the government to close the border with mainland China and improve the protective gear given to staff members. It said the Hospital Authority has refused to reveal the amount of protective gear they have in stock. Globally, there have been over 60,000 confirmed cases of the new SARS-like "covid-19" virus and over 1,360 deaths. Medical professionals in Hong Kong have repeatedly complained about a lack of protective gear amid a city-wide shortage. The HAEA said it has sought legal advice over work safety, adding that the Occupational Safety and Health Ordinance states that employers must provide and maintain a safe and healthy working environment. "If our bodies may be harmed, employees do not have to follow instructions given by their superiors to work, and employers have no power to take action," it said. "If we need to enter airborne infection isolation rooms and our employer cannot provide adequate protection gear, the Hospital Authority cannot force employees to work under such conditions," it added. ^ top ^


Macau will give residents 2.2 billion patacas worth of vouchers to boost economy once outbreak is over (SCMP)
Macau will give its residents 2.2 billion patacas (US$274.9 million) worth of vouchers to boost the coronavirus-hit economy and distribute extra medical coupons to deal with the impact of the outbreak, officials revealed on Thursday. To address a widespread shortage of masks, the casino hub is also setting up a production line in mainland China that will supply the protective gear to the city and other areas in the Greater Bay Area. "When the coronavirus outbreak is over, the government will invest around 2.2 billion patacas in vouchers to revitalise consumption," Secretary for Economy and Finance Lei Wai-nong said, while announcing a series of relief measures, including tax cuts. He said each permanent resident would be given a card with a stored value of 3,000 patacas that would be valid for three months. "It can be used for catering, retail or groceries, but only in Macau," he said. "The intention is to help enterprises survive through consumption." Lei added there would be a 300-pataca cap on spending, meaning the card would have to be used at least 10 times. "I hope the consumption will benefit medium and small-sized enterprises." The permanent residents will also get an extra medical coupon worth 600 patacas this year, Lei said. The city has 10 confirmed cases of the deadly new illness known as Covid-19, while three have been cured, the latest being a 57-year-old woman from Wuhan in mainland China discharged on Thursday afternoon. Lei Chin-ion, director of Macau's Health Bureau, said the city had no new confirmed cases in the past nine days due to the government's stringent measures in response to the outbreak. After Macau confirmed its first case, the government launched a rationing system to prevent people from hoarding surgical face masks. Residents could buy only a maximum of 10 surgical masks every 10 days at designated pharmacies. "We need to keep it up," Lei said. "The number of cases in Hong Kong, Zhuhai, and other cities in Guangdong province are increasing. We need to be careful." Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Ao Ieong Iu said: "We are setting up the production line for masks through a local team. We hope in the fourth round of the government's mask rationing, the new production line will be able to provide masks to Macau residents." She said the details of the fourth round of mask distribution and the production line would be disclosed later. Macau's Chief Executive Ho Iat-seng earlier suspended casinos and 18 other types of premises – including bars, cinemas, and massage parlours – for 15 days from February 4 to contain the spread of the virus, after a hotel worker was found to be infected locally. The world's largest gambling hub has 41 casinos and employed more than 57,000 full-time staff in 2018, according to official figures. ^ top ^



Chinese warplanes make second Taiwan incursion in space of two days (SCMP)
Taiwan sent warplanes to intercept a group of mainland Chinese jets that had briefly approached the island on Monday, the second such incident in two days. The incident came as the island's vice-president-designate William Lai Ching-te concluded an eight-day visit to the US that had angered Beijing. The mainland warplanes, including H-6 bombers, briefly crossed the median line in the Taiwan Strait on their way to the western Pacific through the Bashi Channel in the morning for long-haul training exercises, Taiwan's defence ministry said in a statement on Monday. "Our air force scrambled fighter jets to shadow, intercept and disperse the communist warplanes through radio broadcasting," the ministry said, adding the mainland planes later left the area. The mainland warplanes later returned to their home base after their morning drill, the military said. It was the second day in a row that the mainland warplanes flew past Taiwan after a group of aircraft, including J-11 fighter jets, KJ-500 early warning aircraft and H-6 bombers, flew over the Bashi Channel on Sunday before returning to their bases via the Miyako Strait northeast of Taiwan, the ministry said. "The military has full surveillance and control of the communist long-haul training activities and the public can rest assured of our capability to uphold security or our national territory," it said. Meanwhile, Lai completed his eight-day "private" visit to Washington, during which he met the National Security Council and other US officials and senators. Lai, who left for the US last Sunday to attend the National Prayer Breakfast – an annual gathering of political and religious leaders in Washington – was considered the highest-level Taiwanese official to meet with National Security Council officials since the US switched diplomatic recognition to Beijing from Taipei in 1979. The visit was hailed as a diplomatic breakthrough for the island because until now Washington has been reluctant to allow such exchanges for fear of angering Beijing, which has repeatedly demanded that the US adhere to the "one-China" policy. Beijing views Taiwan as a wayward province that must be brought back to the mainland fold – by force if necessary. It has suspended official exchanges with Taiwan since Tsai Ing-wen of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party was first elected president in 2016 and refused to accept the one-China principle as the basis for cross-strait exchanges. Since then, Beijing has staged war games close to the island and poached seven of Taiwan's allies to heap pressure on the president, who was reelected last month. A People's Liberation Army spokesperson said on Sunday the flight was a "necessary action" under "current security situation across the Taiwan Strait". Observers said Lai's US visit was made possible due to a new US policy to allow high-level official and military exchanges with Taiwan, which has been included in the US security alliance to counter the mainland's military expansion in the Indo-Pacific region. They said Lai is still technically a civilian until he takes office in May, and the US can always use this status to defend its move, although the visit has prompted strong protests from the Chinese foreign ministry. Observers also said Taiwan's efforts in seeking to join the World Health Organisation amid the deadly coronavirus outbreak have also riled Beijing, which has repeatedly said the island is a mainland province with no right to join international bodies which require statehood for membership. On Monday, Ma Xiaoguang, a spokesman for the mainland's Taiwan Affairs Office, warned the Tsai government against "playing with fire" by "trying to use its strengthening ties with the US to plot independence". "This is a sheer provocation," Ma said, adding what the People's Liberation Army did was to protect the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of the mainland and to maintain cross-strait peace. Song Zhongping, a military commentator for Hong Kong Phoenix Television, said the patrol was aimed at the separatist movement on the island. "Such a patrol is for war-preparedness … and has become a routine practice and a resolution to effectively attack the pro-independence force," said Song, a former instructor for the PLA's Second Artillery, the predecessor of the Rocket Force. A Beijing-based military source close to the PLA, who requested anonymity, said the warplanes were equipped with missiles, which has become a standard procedure for PLA's air drills. ^ top ^

Taiwan says it does not need Beijing's permission to take part in WHO's online coronavirus meeting (SCMP)
Taiwan's presence at a World Health Organisation (WHO) meeting this week on the coronavirus outbreak that started in mainland China was the result of direct talks between the island and the body, and did not require Beijing's permission, Taipei said on Wednesday. Its exclusion from WHO membership because of Chinese objections has been an increasingly sore point for Taiwan during the outbreak. It complained that it was unable to get timely information from the WHO and accused Beijing of passing incorrect information about Taiwan's total virus case numbers, which stand at 18. China has more than 44,000. But in a small diplomatic breakthrough for the island – which mainland China regards as a wayward province – its health experts were this week allowed to attend an online technical meeting on the virus. The Chinese foreign ministry said that was because Beijing gave approval for Taiwan's participation. Taiwan foreign ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou said China was trying to take credit for something it did not deserve. "The participation of our experts at this WHO forum was an arrangement made by our government and the WHO directly. It did not need China's approval," Ou said. Taiwan's experts took part in a personal capacity to avoid political disputes, and did not give their nationality when joining the online forum, she said. Taiwan's WHO exclusion became another point of contention between China and the United States last week, after the US ambassador to the UN in Geneva told the WHO's executive board that the agency should deal directly with Taipei. Mainland China, which said Beijing adequately represents Taiwan at the WHO, accused the US of a political "hype-up" about the issue. Beijing and the WHO said they had ensured Taiwan was kept up to date with virus developments and that communication with the island was smooth. Taipei said that it alone had the right to represent the island's 23 million people, that it has never been a part of the People's Republic of China, and that it has no need to be represented by it. ^ top ^

Taiwan's ban on returnees unreasonable: China Daily editorial (China Daily)
The Lunar New Year holiday is the most cherished occasion for family reunions for people of Chinese descent. As part of this most spectacular human migration that replays itself each year, numerous Taiwan compatriots working, living, studying or visiting in the Chinese mainland fly home for a festive reunion with loved ones. That yearning for the trip home was made stronger this year by the novel coronavirus epidemic, which set the entire mainland rushing to contain it. Amid such a public health crisis, which the World Health Organization has officially designated as a public health emergency of international concern, it is understandable that many Taiwan compatriots who have found themselves stranded in Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak, wish to leave. With the entire Hubei now in lockdown in a desperate bid to curb further spread of the epidemic, however, it is simply impossible to leave by public transport. Inside Hubei, despite the strenuous endeavors being made, the number of infections keeps rising each passing day, in the provincial capital Wuhan in particular. It was out of humanitarian concerns that authorities on the mainland responded to the appeals of stranded Taiwan compatriots and arranged flights to fly them home. Under such an arrangement, the first group of 247 has already flown to the island. Had things gone smoothly, all those who wanted to leave should have been in Taiwan by last Thursday. Yet the 890 people from the island who had registered for the four other flights originally scheduled for last Wednesday and Thursday remain stuck in Hubei because the Democratic Progressive Party authorities in Taiwan are creating various excuses to make their return home impossible. They first blamed the mainland for not arranging flights according to their preferred "order", which turns out to be an unnecessary fuss — because all who want to fly home would have been in Taiwan in at most four days. Then there is the claim that one in the first group flown home was confirmed to have been infected. While the mainland side made it very clear that each and every passenger went through strict medical screening before boarding the flight home, they have made a hilarious discovery — the person allegedly infected has confirmed he, like fellow passengers on that flight, remains in quarantine, in sound state, and has no idea of being a "confirmed case". There may be nothing surprising here given the protracted political wrangling across the Straits. Still it is sad that basic humanitarian concerns have again taken the back seat to political shenanigans of the Tsai Ing-wen administration. ^ top ^



Mongolia suspends all passenger trains and flights to and from China (Montsame)
The cabinet today summoned an irregular meeting and made a decision to halt all flights and rail passenger services to and from China. The decision will take effect on February 14, tomorrow. The last flight from China to Mongolia is scheduled today. However, export and import shipments across Mongolia's borders with China will continue as normal. For passengers who have already purchased tickets to and from China, MIAT Mongolian Airlines and Ulaanbaatar Railway will handle their refund free of charge. In accordance with the government resolution dated 01 February 2020, Mongolian citizens are restricted from traveling to China until March 02. Over the past two weeks, a total of around 6000 Mongolian nationals returned from China through all border crossing points, and since February 06, through Zamiin-Uud and Buyant-Ukhaa ports of entry. In the case of Mongolian nationals living in China are in need of returning to Mongolia after the complete travel ban imposed, charter flights may be arranged. However, they will be asked to cover their own travel expenses and will be isolated temporarily once they arrive in Mongolia. ^ top ^

Mongolia-China relations at best time in history: president (Xinhua)
Mongolia-China relations are at their best time in history, Mongolian President Khaltmaa Battulga said on Wednesday. Battulga made the remarks after receiving the credentials of China's new ambassador to Mongolia Chai Wenrui. "Mongolia-China relations are at the best time in history. Bilateral exchanges and cooperation in various fields such as politics, economy, trade and humanities have flourished, bringing benefits to peoples of the two countries," said Battulga. Noting that Mongolia and China are eternal neighbors, the president said his country has always attached great importance to developing ties with China. In addition, Battulga expressed his confidence in China's ability to deal with the novel coronavirus outbreak. Chai said that China is willing to work with Mongolia to continuously enrich the content of the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries, promote further development of bilateral relations, and make positive contributions to regional prosperity and development. ^ top ^

Ambassador of China to Mongolia presents letter of credence (Montsame)
Newly appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People's Republic of China to Mongolia, Mr. Chai Wenrui presented his credentials to President of Mongolia Khaltmaagiin Battulga. Upon receiving the Chinese Ambassador for a bilateral meeting on the occasion of presenting the latter's credentials, President of Mongolia Battulga expressed his satisfaction with the fact that a diplomat who has years of experience with Mongolia is being appointed the Ambassador and congratulated on the latter's tenure. While conveying the warm greetings of Xi Jinping, President of China, Ambassador Chai manifested his intent for promoting mutually beneficial cooperation on the basis of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between Mongolia and China. Underlining the significance of engaging in transparent and unreserved collaboration in order to upgrade the friendly relations between the two countries, the President of Mongolia requested the Ambassador's special attention on the mentioned issue. The dignitaries also exchanged views on the new coronavirus outbreak and its consequences. President Battulga highlighted that Mongolian authorities have been taking decisive measures towards prevention of spread of coronavirus. The President conveyed his confidence in the ability of the Chinese people to contain the outbreak and overpower the difficulties. ^ top ^

"Vision-2050" Policy document presented to political parties (Montsame)
Chief of the Cabinet Secretariat of Government L.Oyun-Erdene presented "Vision-2050" policy document to Democratic Party, Citizens' Coalition for Justice Party and 8 parties forming a coalition respectively. Chief of the Cabinet Secretariat of Government L.Oyun-Erdene emphasized that the "Vision-2050" policy document was formulated by a working group comprising of 1500 people, including scholars, experts and state secretaries of 13 ministries, heads of some government agencies, authorities of universities and representatives of non-government organizations. "Instead of focusing on the mistakes of the past 30 years and judging whose right or wrong, we need to define our systems and our policies. Apart from our two neighboring nations, 11 countries around the world have defined their goals until 2050. We must, too. The policy formulated by the Government was officially sent to the Parliament. Handing over the document to the parties with parliamentary seats scheduled" he said. The policy document is expected to be widely discussed by political parties, governmental and non-governmental organizations and academicians. The "Vision-2050" long-term policy document has 9 fundamental goals and 50 development objectives and each of them is planned to be carried out for 10 years or 3 stages until 2050. By implementing them, Mongolia has set a vision to be, by 2050, a country that will retain its natural environment, languages, borders and cultures, and will be a leader in social and economic development. 8th goal of the "Vision-2050" was developed by more than 500 people including researchers and academicians based on the recommendations and feedbacks of aimags and regions, moreover, programs, projects and policy documents that have been used and implemented for the past 30 years. As a result, Mongolia plans to have 6 macro-zones in the future, with the territory being divided into 6 regions: East, Gobi, Altai, West, Khangai, and Ulaanbaatar. The policy document was handed over to Democratic Party Leader S.Erdene, Citizen's Coalition for Justice Party Leader J.Batzandan, Republic Party Leader B.Jargalsaikhan, Leader of National Party of Mongolian Women B.Sarantsetseg, Mongolian National Democratic Party Leader B.Tsogtgerel, Development Program Party Leader O.Zaya, Leader of Labor Party of All Mongolian B.Odsuren, Truth and Right Party Leader A.Otgonbaatar, People's Governance Party Leader Ts.Narangerel and General Secretary of the Capitalist Party R.Uuganbaatar. ^ top ^

Head of President's Office to resign to run for elections (Monstame)
Yesterday, Head of the Office of President of Mongolia Z.Enkhbold announced his resignation to run for the upcoming parliamentary elections. "I am giving up my job to focus on the election campaigns both of my own and the Democratic Party. I have submitted my resignation letter to the President" he said during a press briefing. He further noted that he was also appointed as a temporary adviser to the Head of the Democratic Party S.Erdene. Mr. Z.Enkhbold also said that Secretary-General of the Mongolian Football Federation U.Shijir will be appointed as his successor.  ^ top ^


Gabriel Bishop
Embassy of Switzerland

The Press review is a random selection of political and social related news gathered from various media and news services located in the PRC, edited or translated by the Embassy of Switzerland in Beijing and distributed among Swiss Government Offices. The Embassy does not accept responsibility for accuracy of quotes or truthfulness of content. Additionally the contents of the selected news mustn't correspond to the opinion of the Embassy.
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