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
  6-9.4.2020, No. 811  
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Chinese, Swiss FMs vow to jointly keep global industrial, supply chains stable (People's Daily)
China and Switzerland should work together to keep the global industrial and supply chains stable amid the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Tuesday in a phone call with his Swiss counterpart, Ignazio Cassis. Wang said that through the arduous efforts made by the Chinese people, China has generally brought the domestic epidemic under control, but still faces the risk of the outbreak rebounding, especially the challenges posed by the imported cases. This fully demonstrates that the pandemic knows no borders or races, and that all countries, which belong to the same community with a shared future for mankind, should work together to overcome the difficulties, he added. Wang said that the Swiss government and people have provided valuable support for China in its fight against the epidemic. Noting that on the recent Tomb-sweeping Day, China held mourning activities for the martyrs and compatriots who died in the COVID-19 outbreak, Wang said that Swiss embassies and consulates in China also participated in the mourning and flew their national flags at half-mast, which demonstrated the Swiss people's friendship with the Chinese people. China is grateful for that, he added. China, Wang said, is making every effort to support the global fight against the pandemic and has set up a green channel to ensure the fast and convenient delivery of anti-epidemic supplies. Noting that the ventilator is the most urgently needed medical equipment for countries to fight the epidemic, Wang said China, which takes other countries' concerns seriously, is cranking up production of ventilators day and night. Wang said he hopes that Switzerland and other important suppliers of ventilator parts will significantly increase supply and help enterprises boost production, so as to relieve the pressing need of all countries. This will not only provide material support for the global battle against the pandemic, but also help maintain the stability of the global industrial and supply chains, Wang said, adding that China also stands ready to strengthen cooperation with Switzerland in drug and vaccine research and development, among other fields. The Chinese side hopes and believes that Switzerland will guarantee the health and safety of Chinese nationals and students in the European country, he added. Wang also said the international community should abandon prejudice and suspicion and strengthen solidarity and coordination in the face of the severe challenges posed by the pandemic to the health and security of all mankind. He said he believes that the international community, including Switzerland, will fairly evaluate China's anti-epidemic efforts and firmly resist words and deeds of political play-up under the pretext of this pandemic. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Switzerland, Wang said, adding that the experience of jointly fighting the epidemic will further consolidate and deepen their friendship. For his part, Cassis expressed gratitude for China's support and assistance in the epidemic fight, while congratulating China on its achievements in containing the virus. He said Switzerland is ready to strengthen cooperation with China in such areas as ventilator production as well as drug and vaccine research and development, to jointly ensure the stability of industrial and supply chains, and to reduce the impact of the epidemic on bilateral economic and trade cooperation. Switzerland does not agree with or participate in the politicization of the epidemic, Cassis said, adding that what the international community needs now is solidarity and cooperation instead of finger-pointing. He said Switzerland will take good care of Chinese citizens and students in Switzerland and ensure their health and safety. Switzerland, Cassis said, stands ready to celebrate with China the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties after prevailing over the epidemic through joint efforts. ^ top ^


Foreign Policy

US senators oppose China's appointment to UN Human Rights Council panel, affecting organization's independence (Global Times)
A recent appointment of a Chinese official from the Chinese mission in Geneva to the consultative group of the UN Human Rights Council has upset some US senators and anti-China forces who have labeled the move "abnormal." However, Chinese experts on human rights said that the appointment of the Chinese official was made jointly by member states in the Asia-Pacific region and the US politicians' move would affect the UN organization's independence. On April 1, China was appointed to a seat on the consultative group of the UN Human Rights Council. Minister Jiang Duan from China's mission in Geneva was nominated and confirmed by the Asia regional grouping and will hold the seat until March 2021, according to a release from the UN Human Rights Council. On March 7, US senator John Cornyn, along with some other senators including Marco Rubio, sent a letter to the UN Secretary-General António Guterres expressing opposition to the appointment of Jiang. The UN gives seats to many regional groups in its branches to maintain a balance. Members of the consultative group are selected jointly by countries in a regional group, Mao Junxiang, an expert on human rights from Central South University, told the Global Times. "Jiang's nomination showed that member states in the Asia-Pacific region recognize China's work in human rights fields, as well as Jiang's individual performance in his position," Mao said. "Although the US is one of the UN Security Council's permanent member states, it is not a member of the UN Human Rights Council. It withdrew from the organization in 2018. The UN is an independent international organization, not an affiliate of the US government," said Mao. According to the Diplomat, the consultative group, the body to which China was just appointed, is charged with recommending candidates to fill positions according to the mandates of the Special Procedures, the Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the Expert Mechanism on the Right of Development. The panel consists of five ambassadors, each representing one of the five UN regional groups, and facilitates the appointment of experts on issues of freedom of speech and religion; water and sanitation; housing; food; health; poverty; and conditions in countries such as Cambodia, Iran, Myanmar, and North Korea. Mao noted what the US politicians have done is to interfere with the Human Rights Council's independence and the move also showed the US is putting its unilateralism above the multilateralism of the UN. "If the UN Human Rights Council yields to the US' request, it would be a shame for the international community," said Mao. In response to the US senators' request to investigate China's increasing influence on the international organization, Mao said that it is a fact that China's influence on international organizations is increasing, which shows China respects the multilateralism of the international community and tries to play an active role. ^ top ^

China aids Philippines in virus prevention and control (Global Times)
After three busy days in Manila, China's Medical Expert Team aiding the Philippines has found problems in the Philippines' COVID-19 prevention, such as lack of testing and medical staff's low awareness of self-protection. "We indicated the problems in the prevention work in the Philippines, and they paid attention to our suggestions," Weng Shangeng, head of the expert team, told the Global Times on Wednesday in an exclusive interview. The Department of Health of the Philippines is particularly interested in China's experience including applying joint control, classifying regions by contagion risk and applying target prevention, according to Weng, who is vice president at The First Affiliated Hospital of Fujian Medical University (FAHFMU) in East China's Fujian Province. By Wednesday afternoon, 3,870 people were confirmed to have COVID-19 in the Philippines, with 182 dead. Ninety-six people have recovered. The 12-member medical expert team arrived in Manila on April 5 and started their work directly. They held seminars with officials from local health departments and visited several hospitals and institutes. Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian announced another batch of medical supplies had been donated to the Philippines by China, including 300,000 surgical masks, 30,000 medical N95 masks, 5,000 medical protective suits, 5,000 medical face shields, and 30 non-invasive ventilators. According to Weng, the capability of testing in the Philippines is limited at present. Many samples are not tested on time and the testing is very slow. "In China the result could come out within the day, but in the Philippines it takes 48 to 72 hours," he said, noting that this problem might have led to a big amount of patients not being tested and treated, which enlarged the outbreak. Weng said that the Philippines lacks test kits as well as trained staff to do the tests. The Chinese medical team also found that local medical staff's awareness of self-protection should be enhanced as well. Some staff only wear masks and not protective suits, face shields or goggles. Also, the number of beds in local hospitals is not enough. The medical team urged the health department to build more makeshift hospitals as soon as possible. "The more patients are hospitalized, the smaller the risk of the virus spreading." According to Weng, five members of the Chinese expert team had been working at the frontline in Wuhan, Central China's Hubei Province. They are experienced and would like to provide professional direction and training. "We will try our best to help train the medical staff here." "We have told the Filipino side that China's success in preventing COVID-19 does not only rely on the medical system. The government departments also have motivated people to come together to fight the virus," he said, noting that China's experience could help the Philippines to strengthen its ability in fighting the pandemic and avoid unnecessary losses and costs. ^ top ^

Xi: Prepare for effects of world's woes (People's Daily)
China should fully prepare to deal with changes from the external environment for quite a long time given the continued spread of COVID-19 globally and the downward pressure facing the world economy, Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, said on Wednesday. While China is making further progress in pandemic control with acceleration in economic and social recovery, the country is still faced with growing pressure from imported infections and new challenges in resuming work and production, he said, urging that worst-case scenarios should be kept in mind. Xi made the remarks while delivering a speech at a meeting of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee. The meeting, the ninth of its kind since the start of the outbreak, analyzed the COVID-19 situation and economic performance at home and abroad, made new arrangements in the implementation of regular pandemic prevention and control measures and fully advanced work resumption, according to a statement released after the meeting. Xi urged efforts to hasten the comprehensive recovery in work and life, solve difficulties and problems during the process and limit the damage caused by the pandemic to a minimum while adhering to regular prevention measures. More targeted and effective pandemic control measures should be adopted in a timely way to guard against imported infections or a rebound in domestic infections, he said. In Hubei province and Wuhan, efforts should continue to focus on saving patients in critical condition, Xi said, and control measures in communities should be further improved to guarantee safety. Local authorities, especially in provinces bordering Hubei, should strengthen communication and sharing of information and boost coordination on prevention measures to ensure consistency in personnel controls and mutual recognition of health codes, he said. Xi also instructed that consistent effort be made in controlling the pandemic in Beijing and paying close attention to asymptomatic carriers, saying any possible loophole should be closed. Meeting participants decided that pandemic control measures in coastal and border ports will be strengthened and border cities will be guaranteed greater support in pandemic control personnel and materials, the statement said. Noting that China is faced with increasing difficulties in economic development, the meeting instructed local Party committees and governments to have a greater sense of urgency in creating the conditions for work and production resumption by all means while improving pandemic prevention measures according to their local conditions. Greater support should be provided to industries facing difficulties as well as small and medium-sized enterprises, it said, while calling for efforts to facilitate normal business in daily life service industries, expand consumption by residents and speed up the building of investment projects. China has ample grain reserves and is fully capable of guaranteeing the country's supply of grains and staple agricultural produce, the participants said. The meeting required strengthened monitoring and supervision of domestic grain market prices and consistent effort in production and distribution of foods such as pork, fruit and vegetables to ensure the basic stability of market supply and prices. It was decided that a minimum standard of living for disadvantaged people will be further guaranteed and people in difficulties caused by the pandemic or due to infection will be covered by subsidies. People in regions severely hit by the pandemic will be provided with temporary living allowances and unemployment insurance will be expanded to better guarantee the basic living of the unemployed, the meeting said. Participants also underlined the importance of identifying all kinds of potential safety dangers, improve contingency plans and enhance rapid response capabilities to protect lives and property. ^ top ^

Envoy showcases China's success in fight against COVID-19 (Xinhua)
China's UN ambassador on Wednesday wrote to General Assembly President Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and all permanent representatives and permanent observers to the United Nations to introduce China's fight against COVID-19 and its cooperation with the international community. The letter by Ambassador Zhang Jun outlines major actions and important experience of China in the fight against the pandemic, according to China's Permanent Mission to the United Nations. Under the strong leadership of the Communist Party of China and the Chinese government, and with tremendous sacrifice, 1.4 billion Chinese people have united together in the fight against the pandemic, and achieved important periodic results in 83 days, says the letter. China introduced "early detection, early reporting, early isolation and early treatment" as the guidelines for prevention and control, and the approach of admitting patients in severe conditions to facilities where the best resources and professionals are pooled, the effectiveness of both have been proven, it says. China mobilized medical workers across the country to support Hubei Province. A total of 346 medical teams of more than 42,600 medical workers were sent. Two special hospitals were built within 10 days separately and 16 temporary hospitals converted from public venues were built in Wuhan, demonstrating China's speed and effectiveness. With tenacious efforts, no new confirmed cases in the mainland of China were reported for the first time on March 18, it says. The letter illustrates in detail China's open, transparent and responsible attitude toward the virus, according to the Chinese Mission. After cases of pneumonia of unknown cause were first detected in Wuhan City on Dec. 27, 2019, China immediately conducted an investigation and pathogen identification. As from Jan. 3, 2020, China has been giving timely updates about the pneumonia outbreak to the World Health Organization (WHO) and foreign countries, including the United States, and sharing the genome sequence of the novel coronavirus. China received a field visit by the China-WHO joint expert team. China's National Health Commission updated the epidemic information on a daily basis. Under the joint prevention and control mechanism of the State Council of China, 65 press conferences had been held on a wide range of topics, including epidemic prevention and control, treatment, and scientific research. The Foreign Ministry held briefings and provided updates to diplomatic missions in China. China is sharing all of its experience with the international community, says the letter. Technical documents such as prevention and control protocols and diagnosis and treatment protocols have been shared with more than 100 countries and more than 10 international and regional organizations. China has established an online knowledge center on COVID-19 and a pool of experts for international cooperation, and held more than 40 virtual technical meetings with over 100 countries and regions. China has decided to donate 20 million U.S. dollars to the WHO to support its international cooperation in the fight against COVID-19, it says. The letter also demonstrates the enormous contribution China has made to international cooperation against the pandemic, according to the Chinese Mission. As of March 31, the Chinese government had provided material assistance, including surgical face masks, N95 face masks, protective suits, nucleic acid testing reagent, ventilators, to 120 countries and four international organizations, says the letter. Chinese local governments have donated medical supplies to more than 50 countries. Chinese businesses have donated medical supplies to more than 100 countries and international organizations, it says. As of April 7, China had sent 11 medical expert teams to Italy, Serbia, Cambodia, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Laos, Venezuela and the Philippines. Some Chinese provinces also sent medical expert teams abroad, it says. Defeating COVID-19 requires all member states to strengthen confidence, take concrete action in a responsible manner, respect science and facts, and address the challenge with solidarity and collaboration. China resolutely rejects any discrimination or stigmatization against states, peoples or individuals, says the letter. In the face of this tremendous test on humankind, the international community must collectively fight the pandemic and work toward a community of shared future for mankind, says the letter. ^ top ^

BRI a timely medicine for post pandemic ailing global economy (People's Daily)
The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the whole world, with almost 203 countries, regions, and territories reporting confirmed cases of infection. The hardest-hit countries include the US, Spain, Italy, France, China, Iran, and the UK. Industry has been shut down in most countries, and trade has ground to a halt. Normal routines have been disrupted, and social distancing has become a part of life. The whole world is facing challenges that no one could ever have imagined. The first country to fall victim to COVID-19 was China, but prompt actions and appropriate measures allowed it to defeat the disease. No new local cases have been reported for several days, and life is gradually returning to normal. Industry and domestic trade have resumed. International travel and trade are partially restored, and China is ready to meet global demand for medical equipment and living necessities. After two months, COVID-19 has spread in the EU and the US, and is currently reaching its peak destructive phase. The Western world is in lockdown. Industry, trade, and economic activities are almost negligible, badly damaging the economy. Companies are going bankrupt and closing down. People are losing their jobs, and social security systems are becoming over-burdened. Despite its strength, China's economy has also been dented. However, China still has the highest reserves of foreign exchange and possesses enough capacity to meet global demand for goods, services, and capital. The countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative will receive benefits under its friendly and flexible policies. More countries are expected to recognize and join BRI, which will play an essential role in rebuilding the ruined global economy. New projects will be launched under BRI, opening more avenues of opportunities. China and BRI countries will enhance economic activities, leading to mutual benefits and prosperity. The Chinese principle of "Win-Win" will ensure fruits for all BRI nations. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the flagship project under BRI, will be boosted. The CPEC was not halted during the pandemic, and Gwadar Port was functional throughout. Both governments are in close contact and consulting on ways to boost CPEC cooperation. The recent visit by the president of Pakistan to China and meetings with the Chinese leadership show that solidarity with China continues and our cooperation in all dimensions is strengthening, including CPEC. Post pandemic, there will be more space for development, and China has the capacity and will to meet this demand. Enhancement of BRI will lead to the prosperity of the entire BRI community and contribute to reversing the decline in the global economy and growth. ^ top ^

Countries flock to China to collect medical supplies amid epidemic (People's Daily)
Amid the global pneumonia outbreak, many countries have ordered medical supplies from China, some even sending airplanes to pick up the goods from the country, a way considered faster and safer. An airplane under the British airline Virgin Atlantic Airways recently carried a planeload of medical supplies and equipment from China to Britain, including 300 ventilators, 33 million masks and 1 million pairs of protective gloves, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab announced on April 3. At the beginning of April, the Boeing 767 private jet of the New England Patriots, a professional American football team, flew 1.2 million N95 masks from Shenzhen, south China's Guangdong province, to the U.S. Japan ordered a total of 15 million masks amid the epidemic, 10 million of which were imported from China. Italy, on the other hand, has agreed to buy 180 million masks from Chinese companies at the market price, with the first batch of 7 million arriving in Italy on March 31. Currently 54 countries and regions, as well as three international organizations, signed contracts with Chinese companies to purchase medical supplies as of April 4, according to data from the Ministry of Commerce. Meanwhile, 74 countries and 10 international organizations were negotiating with Chinese enterprises about medical purchasing, the data suggests. As a large manufacturer in the world, China has become the first choice for many countries to purchase medical supplies. By the end of March, the daily output of medical masks in China stood between 300 to 400 million. ^ top ^

As U.S. faces worst week yet in epidemic, Chinese show solidarity (Xinhua)
Just 11 weeks after the country's first case was confirmed and less than six weeks from its first death, nearly 400,000 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in the United States and its death toll has topped 12,900. The world's largest economy has seen the pandemic sweep across its territory, sending shock waves to the financial markets, and most Americans are under stay-at-home orders to slow down the spread of the virus. U.S. federal, state and local authorities have warned that this week will be the worst yet for the nation, with President Donald Trump predicting "a lot of death, unfortunately," and Surgeon General Jerome Adams calling it "the hardest and the saddest week of most Americans' lives, quite frankly." The silver lining, however, is that help either has arrived, or is on the way. Chinese factories are operating in full swing to fulfill the U.S. orders, China's provincial and municipal governments are rushing to help their sister states and cities, and China's business sector is offering huge donations. The grassroots efforts from many ordinary Chinese Americans, though trivial compared to deep pockets, have also contributed to solving desperate medical supply shortages in their communities. Globally, COVID-19 cases have passed 1.43 million, including more than 82,000 deaths, according to the latest tally from Johns Hopkins University. In New York State, the current U.S. epicenter of the pandemic, the number of infections has exceeded 140,000, including nearly 5,500 deaths. In New York City alone, the death toll has surpassed 4,000. "I have seen ambulances bring people who are ill, vomiting with surgical masks on, and they are vomiting into the mask. They are being rushed into an emergency room out of an ambulance," Monica Guy, a New York-based freelancer, told Xinhua in an interview via video call. Guy even gave this virus a personality -- a thief who steals loved ones. "It's a thief that climbs through the window of your home, infects your family, and steals them away because they New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday that 731 more people died of the coronavirus on Monday, marking the biggest single-day increase in fatalities in the state. In a FaceTime interview with Xinhua, Mike Lanotte, executive director and CEO of the New York State Funeral Directors Association, said "we have seen a huge spike in the number of deaths occurring especially in New York City." "I have never seen in my entire life anything like this. I have spoken to funeral directors who said to me, I have been doing this for more than 40 years and I have never seen anything like this in my life," Lanotte said, adding there is a dire need for funeral directors to get personal protective equipment (PPE) so that they can continue to do their jobs safely. "In the past two months, every week has been worse than the one that came before," read an editorial published Tuesday by The Los Angeles Times. "The safest bet is that this week will be the worst, followed by an unknown number of even worse weeks." China on Wednesday ended its 76-day lockdown of Wuhan, the city where the virus was first reported. Ever since the outbreak, Chinese Americans have found life much harder than before as they often had to deal with fear, discrimination and business closures. Many of them still focused on procuring medical supplies, to the best of their capacity, for those in need. Harry Wang, a 30-year-old Chinese American working in Silicon Valley, together with his Wuhan Alumni Association of Northern California, has raised about half a million U.S. dollars to help Chinese and American hospitals fight COVID-19. "We do not just care about the Chinese or Chinese Americans. When other Americans need us, we cannot say no. We say yes, absolutely yes to helping them," he said. Wang swiftly gathered a team of Chinese Americans in late January and worked closely with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) including Direct Relief and MAP International, delivering more than 10 tons of rescue supplies mainly to China's Hubei province, of which Wuhan is the capital. When the virus began spreading on the West Coast of the United States, Wang, leading the team, raised as much as they could within weeks, and worked with the same NGOs to help California hospitals purchase medical supplies. "At first when we tried to persuade the NGOs to help Wuhan, we convinced them that helping Wuhan is helping China, and helping China is helping the United States, and helping the United States is helping the world," Wang said. "Now it's time to help the United States, and our NGO partners continue to trust us." In New York City, Lei Chen is a restaurant owner who comes from northeast China's Liaoning province and immigrated to the United States in 2005. After noticing many police officers and doctors in his neighborhood did not have PPE, he managed to get them 20,000 surgical masks, 100 protective suits, 300 bottles of hand sanitizer, 1,000 N95 respirators and two boxes of goggles. "The other day I was driving past a local police station, and I stopped to give them the only two bottles of hand sanitizer I have in the car. They need those more than I do," he said. What many Chinese Americans have been doing since the outbreaks in both countries again shows how the Chinese people are contributing to the local community and also contributing to a good U.S.-China relationship, said Yanzhong Huang, senior fellow for global health at the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations. Huang, also director of the Center for Global Health Studies at Seton Hall University in New Jersey, suggested that the two countries keep working together at national levels and through corporations. Back in mid-March, hours after Trump declared a national emergency to free up 50 billion dollars in federal resources to combat the virus, Chinese billionaire and Alibaba founder Jack Ma offered to donate 1 million masks and 500,000 test kits to the United States. Medical area of the temporary hospital is seen at Jacob K. Javits Center in New York, the United States, March 30, 2020. Cuomo on March 26 announced a list of initial donations from major corporations, philanthropic organizations and celebrities to New York, revealing that the Chinese telecom company Huawei had donated 10,000 N95 masks, 20,000 isolation gowns, 50,000 medical goggles and 10,000 gloves. On March 29, a planeload of medical supplies arrived in New York from Shanghai, the first in a series of flights over the next few weeks organized by the White House to help fight the virus; and just over the weekend, a total of 1,000 much-needed ventilators also arrived in New York, a donation from several Chinese foundations. ^ top ^

Xi says China will continue to support Africa in COVID-19 battle, capacity building (Xinhua)
China stands ready to continue support for African countries in their battle against the COVID-19 epidemic and help Africa improve its capacity of disease prevention and control, Chinese President Xi Jinping said Wednesday in a phone call with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa. Xi recalled that after the epidemic broke out in China, the South African government and various sections of the South African society conveyed via multiple means their sympathies with and support for China. "Comradeship plus brotherhood" marks the special friendship between the two countries and the two ruling parties, Xi said. China firmly supports South Africa's endeavor in COVID-19 fight, Xi said, adding his country will continue to offer help within its capacity to South Africa in line with the latter's needs, share its experience in epidemic prevention and control, and strengthen cooperation in health care, Xi said. Xi expressed confidence that under the leadership of Ramaphosa, the South African government will achieve positive outcomes from its anti-epidemic measures. "We encourage Chinese nationals in South Africa to proactively support South Africa's anti-epidemic action and hope that the South African government attaches great importance to and protect their safety, health and legitimate rights and interests," Xi said. China is willing to enhance political mutual trust with South Africa, understand and support each other on issues concerning the other side's core interests and major concerns, promote bilateral cooperation for more progress, and strengthen cooperation within such frameworks as the BRICS and the G20, Xi said. Xi stressed that China and South Africa are good brothers who share weal and woe. The Chinese side has been following the epidemic situation in Africa and provided batches of anti-epidemic assistance for the African Union and all African countries that have diplomatic ties with China, Xi said. Experts from both sides have held video conferences for several times, and many Chinese enterprises, local and non-governmental organizations have also provided anti-epidemic supplies, Xi added. Xi said that China stands ready to continue support for African countries, accelerate the building of the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention, enhance China-Africa cooperation on public health and disease prevention and control, and help Africa improve its capacity in this regard. Xi called for the international community to uphold the vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind, strengthen solidarity, coordination and cooperation, and resolutely contain the spread of the epidemic, so as to protect people's safety and health. China is willing to work with South Africa to implement the outcomes of the Extraordinary G20 Leaders' Summit on COVID-19, promote international cooperation on epidemic prevention and control, and safeguard public health in Africa and around the world. For his part, Ramaphosa said China has contained the epidemic through decisive and strong measures, which sets an example for other countries and provides valuable reference. He said he appreciates China's support for South Africa and Africa over the years, especially the precious assistance provided at current difficult time for their fight against COVID-19, which is very important to them and boosts their confidence in beating the epidemic. Ramaphosa said he stands ready to work with Xi to implement the consensus of the Extraordinary G20 Leaders' Summit and promote global solidarity and cooperation. South Africa will continue to support China on issues concerning China's core interests, and steadfastly promote the development of relations between South Africa and China as well as relations between Africa and China, he added. ^ top ^

China's Xinjiang gradually reopens colleges as outbreak wanes (Xinhua)
Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region gradually reopened universities and colleges starting from Wednesday as the novel coronavirus outbreak wanes in the country, local authorities said. The first batch of 25 universities and colleges are scheduled to reopen between Wednesday and Sunday, while other schools are expected to announce reopening dates later, according to the regional department of education. Despite the epidemic's waning across the region, health risks management is still high on schools' agenda and local authorities will continue to implement anti-virus measures to ensure the safety of the students. On Wednesday, Xinjiang Medical University prepared masks and disinfectants in classrooms, dormitories and public facilities. Temperature measuring equipment has been installed at the entrances of teaching and dormitory buildings as well as canteens. Qeyser Abdukerem, president of the university, said the university has disinfected all venues in its three campuses to ensure the safety of the first batch of more than 6,900 returned students. In addition, it has provided anti-virus training for teachers, dorm supervisors ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

Update-Xi Focus: Xi chairs leadership meeting on regular epidemic control, work resumption (Xinhua)
Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, on Wednesday chaired a leadership meeting to make new arrangements on implementing regular epidemic prevention and control measures and fully advancing work resumption. The meeting of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee analyzed the COVID-19 situation and economic performance at home and abroad. As the pandemic continues its global spread, the world economy faces mounting downside risk, Xi said, adding that unstable and uncertain factors are notably increasing. Noting that China is under rising pressure of guarding against imported COVID-19 cases, Xi said new difficulties and challenges have emerged for China's work resumption and economic and social development. Xi called for preparedness in mind and work to cope with prolonged external environment changes. Xi urged unremitting efforts in guarding against imported cases from abroad and preventing a resurgence of the outbreak at home and demanded redoubling efforts in economic and social development. He urged efforts to minimize losses caused by COVID-19. Xi stressed paying close attention to the changes in the epidemic situation at home and abroad, calling for a prompt response that is more targeted and effective. He required Hubei Province and its capital city of Wuhan to continue focusing on treating severe cases while visiting discharged patients to check their health conditions. Community-level containment measures should also be optimized. Other parts of China, especially provinces near Hubei, should step up information sharing and containment coordination, Xi said, adding that containment efforts in Beijing should be maintained. He ordered targeted management of asymptomatic cases to fix all loopholes that might lead to a rebound of the outbreak. The meeting called for strengthened epidemic prevention and control at land and sea border ports. It stressed strictly enforcing quarantine requirements for all inbound travelers at designated venues to minimize the risk of them causing local transmission. The meeting also required in-depth international cooperation on COVID-19 response and active contributions to the global fight against the pandemic. Workers work on a production line of an intelligent forklift producing enterprise at Huagang Town in Feixi County, east China's Anhui Province, April 6, 2020. Amid strict measures against COVID-19, the county has acted to learn about local enterprises' productions and operations, and help them solve various difficulties with business resumption. All enterprises above designated size here have resumed businesses. Noting that China's economic development faces growing difficulties, the meeting urged Party committees and governments at all levels to timely adjust their anti-virus measures in light of local conditions and create favorable conditions to the maximum for the resumption of work and production. The meeting urged stronger implementation of pro-resumption policies, greater support to industries as well as micro, small and medium-sized enterprises hit by the epidemic, and more vigorous efforts to expand domestic demand. It was agreed at the meeting that efforts should be made to generate joint momentum of demand and supply by actively promoting residents' spending and expediting construction of investment projects. The meeting also highlighted work on ensuring and improving living standards, urging efforts to advance spring agricultural production and maintain stable market supply and prices of non-staple food, including pork, vegetables and fruits. Efforts should be made to enhance basic social security for those most in need, offer temporary living allowances to people in hard-hit regions, and expand access to unemployment insurance. The meeting also stressed workplace safety, disaster prevention and mitigation, including wildfire prevention, flood control and drought relief, and stronger emergency response capabilities to ensure people's safety. ^ top ^

Like a phoenix, Wuhan reemerges from dark coronavirus lockdown in warm spring (Global Times)
Those who had been staying in Wuhan since the city's lockdown to contain the COVID-19 pandemic kept asking themselves for more than two months: What do I want to do the most after the lockdown is lifted and life returns to normal? That day finally came on Wednesday. When traffic police began pushing aside the highway roadblocks that had cut off the city's link to the outside world for the past two months; when the first train from Wuhan took hundreds of stranded passengers to their homes; when hundreds of cars crowded the city's highways during the morning rush; when crowds jammed Wuhan's famous commercial spots, Wuhan woke up after two months of lockdown. For many Wuhan lovebirds, getting married became their greatest motive to celebrate the city's phased victory in its hard-fought battle against the virus, as couples-to-be rushed to the marriage registration. An employee from the Wuhan district marriage registration office told the Global Times that newlyweds were spared the traditional ritual of taking oath to avoid contagion. "It does not matter, as today is a special day, a new start for me and for Wuhan," said Xu Lin, a Wuhan resident who got married on Wednesday. Photo: Li Hao/GT Long lines also emerged in front of Wuhan train stations, where stranded people took the train home, and Wuhan locals were eager to return to work outside the city. "During the past 80 days, I promised myself I would never come back to Wuhan again," said Cao Lin, a Guizhou local who has been stranded in Wuhan since January. "But I cried when I saw the live broadcast of the lifting of Wuhan's lockdown today, and I decided to come back when Wuhan returns to normal. My heart will always be there with this strong, brave and heroic city, Cao Guangjing, deputy governor of Hubei Province, said at a Wednesday conference that the lockdown lift in Wuhan marks a decisive progress in the city's battle against the virus. Wuhan railway station reopens 76 days after city lockdown. Photo: Li Hao/GT Reasonable timing But the city's lockdown easing, unavoidably, ignited suspicion from foreign media, such as the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, as they questioned whether it is too early to lift the ban, as some feared a second outbreak may engulf the city, or even other parts of China, after it re-opens. And they repeated the old line that Wuhan under-reported its real infection numbers. Wuhan's health commission reported only had 297 patients with fever symptoms on April 5, a sharp drop from more than 15,000 per day at its peak in January. Wuhan reported zero new COVID-19 patient on Tuesday. "Wuhan is one of the safest places in China, as the pain still lingers in Wuhan people's hearts, which propelled the people and government to remain on high alert to avoid contagion. And the hospitals have formed a relatively mature test and treatment mechanism for patients, not mention the number of COVID-19 patients dropping drastically in the city," said a doctor from Renmin Hospital of Wuhan University. Doctors and nurses in Wuhan's No.7 hospital were on alert on Wednesday when increased number of workers came to receive CT and nucleic tests before they were summoned back to work in recent days. A nurse in the hospital told the Global Times that people who came to test was three times more on Wednesday than the previous day, and many voluntarily came. One of the testers who lives in Wuhan surnamed Xiao told the Global Times that she chose to do those tests out of responsibility for herself and others. "I am about to go to work tomorrow. It is better to know if I am the virus carrier before I go. I don't want to cause cluster contagion in my workplace, nor do I want to ruin Wuhan's hard-fought victory." One doctor surnamed Huang from the hospital's fever clinic said that she receives about 30 patients with fever symptoms (which is usual for COVID-19 patients) on a daily basis. "Once patients with fever symptoms are discovered, we immediately conduct nucleic tests on them and report them to the district health commission." As more and more Wuhan people travel outside the city, other Chinese cities have also ramped up tests for returnees from Wuhan to prevent further contagion. For example, Beijing requires anyone from Wuhan to the capital to undergo nucleic tests twice - once before they leave Wuhan and another after they arrive in Beijing. Taxi driver Liu Qi started to work for the first time after the city was ordered a seal-off in January. "I received 30 rides today, half of my normal rides per day before the pandemic." Liu said many Wuhan people remain on high alert, so they prefer to stay in. "Some of my colleagues refused to start work today. They preferred to wait another 14 days after the easing of the situation," said Liu, noting that asymptomatic patients are a real pain. The COVID-19 prevention task is still arduous in Hubei as it faces increasing pressure from imported cases, and the number of asymptomatic carriers has risen recently, Cao Guangjing said. "Easing of the lockdown means that Wuhan has been catching up with the pace of other Chinese cities' virus battle. But it does not mean we can catch a breath now," said Zeng Guang, an expert at China's National Health Commission. Despite the easing of traffic in and out of Wuhan, residential communities in the city also enforce strict measures. Most communities only let people enter after showing their green health code and temperature tests. Some residential communities remain under lockdown, letting no one enter or exit. Guards in Wuhan's commercial places also urged "Finnish lining up habits," which requires a certain distance to avoid contagion. "We've been raising our guard against contagion for the past two months. It won't hurt to remain vigilant for another two months. Pollyannas will make the city's hard-won battle go up in smoke," Liu said. ^ top ^

Coronavirus: tens of thousands say goodbye to Wuhan as city ends 11 weeks of lockdown (SCMP)
Towns and cities across China were preparing for the return of thousands of residents on Wednesday after people locked down for weeks in Wuhan, the city at the epicentre of the initial coronavirus outbreak, were finally allowed to leave. An estimated 55,000 people left the city by train alone on the first day the railways reopened, heading to all parts of the country, from Shanghai to Beijing, Shenzhen to Chengdu, according to the local railway authority. More than 100 commercial flights also took off from the city, the first departures since runways, like the roads and railways, were closed down on January 23. At a toll booth on Gongjialing Highway, Dong Lijun waited for a pickup truck he had ordered to take him back to Jiangxi province, where he runs a construction business. The 43-year-old said he was delighted to be leaving the city and had been eagerly awaiting his departure since last month, when officials in Jiangxi told him he would be allowed back into the east China province as long as he observed the health checks on his return. "I was really relieved when I heard that," Dong said. "Finally I can leave." Rong Laiqi, a 60-year-old taxi driver in Wuhan, said he was still not sure how the relaxation of the travel restrictions would affect him. Despite barely making a living for the past 11 weeks, he said he had yet to hear from the company he worked for as to when he could get back on the road. Despite the uncertainty, after two months of living in self-isolation, Rong said he was excited about the end of the lockdown. However, with all the reports of people being infected but showing no symptoms, he said he and his family would still be cautious about when they went out. Others took the opportunity on Wednesday to say thank you to the thousands of medical workers who have been on the front line of the battle against Covid-19 in Wuhan. A large banner draped from a motorway bridge said: "You are the most adorable people in the new era. People in Wuhan will always remember you." Among the estimated 11,000 Beijing residents who were stranded in Wuhan, 866 were among the first to leave aboard a high-speed train, said Chen Pei, deputy secretary general of the capital's municipal government. Authorities in Beijing said they would limit the number of returnees from Wuhan to about 1,000 per day, and that they would all be tested for the coronavirus on arrival. Similar measures are also in place in the southern province of Guangdong, where only those who produce a negative test result will be allowed back in, local authorities said. And even those who do pass the entry test are asked when not at work to remain in their homes as much as possible for a couple of weeks after their return. ^ top ^

China's telecoms unveil 5G rich communication services (China Daily)
China's big three telecom carriers unveiled a new 5G-enabled messaging service on Wednesday, which analysts said is likely to open a new era for social networking. China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom published a white paper for the 5G messaging service, which specifies technical details to invite smartphone makers to support the new service. Falling under the technical name of rich communication services, or RCS, the 5G messaging service is designed to replace current short messages with a system that is richer, provides phonebook polling, and can transmit in-call multimedia. With the new message service, for instance, consumers don't have to download a variety of mobile apps. They can directly buy train tickets and book flights by sending messages. Ma Jihua, an independent telecom analyst, said the new 5G-powered messaging service, if properly promoted, will usher in a new era of social networking, and erode the social networking business of Tencent Holdings Ltd. ^ top ^

Foreigners equally treated, must abide by Chinese laws in epidemic control: FM (Global Times)
All foreigners in China should abide by Chinese laws and regulations in epidemic control work, and China is against any kind of discrimination and prejudice, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday in response to reports claiming "anti-foreign sentiment" is on the rise in China. The Chinese side has always paid great attention to the safety and health of foreign citizens in China and ensure their rightful interests in accordance with law, said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian at a regular press conference on Tuesday. Since the COVID-19 broke out, China has been making maximum efforts to guarantee their needs in daily lives, epidemic prevention and medical care, and treating foreigners infected with COVID-19 in China the same way as anyone else, which has won support, appreciation and cooperation by most foreigners in China, according to Zhao. Zhao's statement came after a question at the press conference saying recent reports claimed some foreigners complained that they were being discriminated against in China, and they thought "anti-foreign sentiment" was rising in the country. China is against any kind of discrimination and prejudice, and China's recent border control measures were only implemented to counter the current epidemic situation and are temporary, Zhao said, noting that these measures are being carried out regardless of whether people are Chinese or foreign citizens, and no extra measures were added because of foreign identity. All foreigners in China should abide by Chinese laws and regulations in epidemic control work, Zhao said. Many Chinese netizens said foreigners who failed to respect Chinese rules amid the battle against the coronavirus are not welcome in China. A Nigerian man who tested positive for COVID-19 in Guangzhou, South China's Guangdong Province, refused to undergo medical quarantine and assaulted a nurse on April 1, beating her and biting her face, reports said on Thursday, noting the police are investigating the case, which will be dealt with severely with after the man's recovery. The government of East China's Qingdao in Shandong Province also announced on Thursday that they are investigating a case in which three foreigners were allegedly found to be queue-jumping during a coronavirus test and making disrespectful remarks against Chinese citizens at the scene. The incident also caused great dissatisfaction among Chinese Internet users. ^ top ^

Coronavirus: what next for China's wildlife trade ban? (SCMP)
Soon after the central Chinese city of Wuhan went into lockdown two months ago, the central government fast-tracked a ban on the trade and consumption of wildlife. The coronavirus that has killed tens of thousands around the world first emerged in the city and many of the early patients were linked to the Huashan Seafood Wholesale Market, which sold wild animals. Research suggests that the virus came from bats, and likely went through an intermediate host, possibly pangolins, before reaching humans. The national ban – as well as others around the world – is an attempt to stop a similar pandemic disease from animals. But while the ban has been welcomed, health specialists say that broader laws, effective enforcement and international cooperation are needed to tamp down the risk. A bigger ban Before the ban, wildlife trade and consumption was a multibillion-dollar industry. A 2017 report by the Chinese Academy of Engineering estimated that the industry employed more than 14 million people and generated about 520 billion yuan (US$74 billion). Under the new legislation in China, wild animals may no longer be bred for consumption but it is still legal to farm them for fur and traditional Chinese medicine. Amanda Whitfort, an associate professor at the University of Hong Kong's law faculty specialising in animal welfare law, said all uses should be prohibited to minimise risk. "Animals that are bred for any purpose are a risk for zoonotic disease," Whitfort said. The effectiveness of the new law would depend on how strictly it was enforced, she said, stressing that risks remained as China did not ensure proper living conditions for animals still allowed to be bred legally. "If it's being bred in closely confined circumstances, if it's being slaughtered in ways that are unhygienic and uncontrolled and quarantines aren't being respected … then you've got a recipe for a disaster again," Whitfort said. Even if China can effectively enforce its own laws against the trade, international cooperation is needed to stop it on a broader scale, according to Yanzhong Huang, senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. "For example with China's borders with Southeast Asia, because of this [wildlife] trade relations, if that demand is still there you could expect that this trade on the wild animals cannot stop, unless there is effective international cooperation," Huang said. He said the World Health Organisation could be a platform for establishing common rules on the trade. "But there could be other venues, regional forums like Asean+3 could be useful to enforce a regional ban, as an international ban may be impossible," Huang said. "China could reach out to leaders in Southeast Asia, Japan and [South] Korea to make that happen." There have been calls for a global ban on the wildlife trade but some countries have already taken steps on their own. On Friday, the central African nation of Gabon banned the sale and consumption of bats and pangolins. Both animals are for their meat, but pangolins are also popular among Chinese buyers for their scales, an ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine. According to the Wildlife Justice Commission, pangolins are the most trafficked animals in the world, with six territories – Nigeria, Vietnam, China, Singapore, Hong Kong, and the Democratic Republic of Congo – accounting for 94 per cent of all intercepted scales from the animal. Asked about targeted bans like the one in Gabon, Whitfort said the most recent coronavirus and severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) showed that diseases that made the leap from animals to humans were not limited to one species. "[They] will, in time, come through other species. It's really shutting the gate after the horse is bolted to say 'well now we're just not going to eat those species', what happens when the next one comes along, it may well be another species," she said. What about wet markets? So is the answer to close all markets that sell live animals, such as the one in Wuhan where many of the early patients had visited? Although under the new law, wildlife like civet cats are banned from sale at these markets, vendors can still sell aquatic animals, livestock, poultry, and other animals that have long been bred for food in China. These include animals such as frogs and turtles that may be considered exotic elsewhere. Jeremy Rossman, lecturer in virology at the University of Kent in Britain, said it would be a step in the right direction to ensure that all animals from the wild, including frogs and turtles, were not sold at markets. But the issue was not whether an animal was considered exotic but "where it lives, how it is captured and how it is sold and consumed". "The risk of transmission to humans is larger with trade in mammals … but there are risks from any wild animal, regardless of exotic or not," Rossman said. "Wildlife trade and consumption, especially in wet markets provides an opportunity for pathogens to jump species, and the emergence of human pathogens has been seen in these types of markets on numerous occasions. "A wildlife trade ban would not eliminate the risks of new diseases – and potentially pandemics – emerging, this is a much more complicated phenomena and other human activities, such as climate change and the destruction or encroachment of ecological niches, also play a very strong role. However, the ban would be a very strong first step in reducing our risks as a global population." Huang said that while taking wildlife out of the markets was an important step, the markets themselves were an important link in food supplies, particularly in rural parts of the country. "It's hard to imagine in a rural countryside that you could shut the wet markets. Where is the grocery store? I don't think they can find a place to buy food like chicken and fish," Huang said. "Secondly, most Chinese are not used to buying frozen foods like chicken, fish, they would prefer the live one and kill the fish or have the chicken slaughtered on the spot. That's very entrenched in China and we cannot expect that to change overnight." ^ top ^



Beijing says yes to travelers from Hubei (China Daily)
Strengthening its COVID-19 screening effort, Beijing is requiring people who had been stranded in Hubei province — the initial epicenter of the outbreak — to undergo at least two tests for the coronavirus, one before leaving Hubei and the other after arriving in the capital. A 14-day mandatory quarantine is also required, either at home or at a designated site, for people returning from the beleaguered province, the city's anti-virus leading group decided on Tuesday. The measures are being rolled out after Wuhan, China's hardest-hit city and Hubei's capital, lifted traffic controls on Wednesday and reopened after a 76-day lockdown. According to estimates, more than 55,000 passengers in 276 trains will leave the city on Wednesday, Beijing News reported. Travelers who left Wuhan for the Pearl River Delta accounted for the majority, about 40 percent of all passengers leaving the city by train on Wednesday. People who took the train from Wuhan to Beijing were not able to purchase tickets directly from the 12306 online ticket-booking platform and were required to apply through an online mini program on WeChat first, Beijing News reported. Earlier, the Beijing municipal government gave notice that all returnees from Hubei must apply on Jingxinxiangzhu, a WeChat mini program, if they want to go to the capital. After being approved, returnees can purchase train tickets or drive. ^ top ^

Beijing likely to remain in a state of COVID-19 prevention and control for a long time: official (Global Times)
As the global pandemic of COVID-19 continues to accelerate, it is impossible for Beijing, an international communication center, to completely end the pandemic in a short time. Beijing is likely to remain in a state of coronavirus prevention and control for a long time. Xu Hejian, spokesperson of the Beijing Municipal government, said at the press conference on the pandemic on Sunday that the situation of pandemic prevention and control in the capital city is still grim and complicated, and the prevention and control work will become normal, Xinhua reported. Beijing will continue to adhere to the strategy of preventing both imported cases of COVID-19 and a rebound of local cases, Xu said. Xu also noted that when domestic spread of the virus has been basically stopped nationwide and in Beijing, authorities will seize the best opportunity to speed up the resumption of production and work and make every effort to resume normal life. The government will formulate a series of policies to support the resumption of production and employment, Xu said. As of Saturday, Beijing had reported 170 imported cases of coronavirus, and 416 local infections. Beijing also reported two confirmed imported cases on Saturday who had symptoms but did not report, which caused hidden transmission danger. One patient came back with her husband from the UK on March 20 and was quarantined in a centralized location. On March 30, she suffered from mild symptoms but self-medicated and did not report to authorities. After she returned home on April 3, she had a fever. She was taken to the hospital on April 4 and was tested positive for COVID-19. Pang Xinghuo, deputy director of the Beijing Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention, warned at Sunday's press conference that people must report their health conditions truthfully or they will delay the treatment and increase the risk of infecting others. ^ top ^



Shanghai vows to build world-class public health system (China Daily)
Shanghai aims to establish itself as a metropolis guarded by a world-class public health care system, according to the municipal government. During a high-level video conference on public health on Tuesday, Shanghai rolled out new regulations to improve its epidemic prevention mechanism and public health emergency management system. A package of measures is scheduled to be implemented, including setting up a major public health and safety senior expert committee, building the Shanghai public health emergency command center, initiating a public health monitoring and early warning system, developing a plan to convert large public facilities into emergency treatment facilities, as well as applying 5G and blockchain technologies in the field of public health. Shanghai intends to become one of the safest cities in the world in terms of public health by 2025, according to Shanghai government officials. ^ top ^



Coronavirus: Guangzhou cases prompt shutdown in 'Little Africa' trading hub (SCMP)
Authorities in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou are investigating a possible series of community transmissions of coronavirus in its "Little Africa" district after five Nigerians who tested positive were linked to a city restaurant. The infections, centred on Kuangquan Street in Yuexiu district, has raised an alarm in a city that has so far reported only 463 cases of Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Guangzhou officials reported on Tuesday that the city had 111 imported cases of Covid-19 including at least 16 patients from various countries in Africa. According to the officials, 10 Covid-19 patients including the five Nigerians could be linked to Kuangquan Street, prompting the authorities to impose stringent control measures for all people entering and leaving the area. Chinese health officials have warned the country to be on guard against imported cases from countries like Britain and Italy but also from areas with less-developed health systems. Ouyang Ziwen, deputy director of the Guangzhou Health Commission, said on Tuesday that four of the five Nigerians who tested positive regularly visited the Emma Food restaurant on Kuangquan Street, which has since been closed for inspection. He said that as part of general efforts to contain the coronavirus pandemic, Guangzhou screened 3,779 foreigners from high-risk countries who had not been under centralised quarantine. Guangzhou is a major trading and garment industry hub, attracting many merchants from around the world, including Africa. Kuangquan Street is close to a number of international markets that had reopened for business in March. But on Tuesday, security guards were stationed at entries to the street to check any visitors' temperature before admission, measures that residents said had been in place since Saturday. "All shops have been closed since April 4 and I have heard that the closure will last for 14 days," a cleaner said. "Normally, there are a lot of African people but now they have been shut out." Henry Odini, 27, who arrived from Nigeria on March 20 on his first trip to Guangzhou, said he had just completed 14 days of quarantine at a hotel and could not find anywhere to stay. "I just paid 3,556 yuan (US$500) for the hotel where I stayed for the 14 days of quarantine," Odini said. "But now, no hotel will take me. "It's my first time to come to China. Many friends and relatives have earned a lot of money so I had planned to come and buy clothes, shoes and then sell them in Nigeria. Now the only thing I want is to go home but there are no flights." A security guard at the nearby Longtou market said that from Tuesday "only Chinese people with a certificate to say they are healthy can enter the market". Half of the shops on Kuangquan Street were vacant and residents said business was poor. "The business is really bad because of the coronavirus outbreak. If you want to rent [a shop], better think twice. At least wait for two weeks, see what happens, see whether the business can reopen then," one shop assistant said. Wang Xinhua, president of Guangzhou Medical University, said the cases in the African community "are just sporadic, not leading to a new outbreak". "Now we have implemented forceful border control measures including isolation and carrying out nucleic [tests for suspected patients]. So as long as we don't lower our guard, the situation is still preventable and controllable," Wang said. Entry to Kuangquan Street in Yuexiu district is being strictly controlled. Photo: Guo Rui Liang Yucheng, a sociologist at Guangzhou's Sun Yat-sen University, said he was optimistic that situation would improve for the African community in the city. "I think a megacity like Guangzhou has the capacity to deal [with] as many as 100 cases every day. The authorities can control the situation through the comprehensive epidemiological investigation. So the public should not panic," Liang said. He said he felt sorry for visitors like Odini who were stranded in the city but he believed that "the government will eventually sort things out". According to a report by Guangzhou police, about 11,000 Africans were living and working in the city in 2017. ^ top ^

Guangzhou ups infection risk level (China Daily)
The South China city of Guangzhou is tightening measures to control COVID-19 after imported cases from Nigeria caused local infections, exposing loopholes in the management of arrivals from overseas. Analysts and residents urged the city government to strengthen screening of inbound travelers and management at the community level as the risks of sporadic cases and small-scale outbreaks persist. Guangzhou on Tuesday announced it was upgrading the risk levels of Yuexiu and Baiyun districts from low to medium after the discovery of domestic infections related to imported cases. The city also released details of a situation where imported cases from Nigeria caused five domestic infections in two cities. The Nigerians were confirmed infections during the quarantine period, but they had been to eight restaurants, nine hotels and 12 public places before being put into central quarantine. Their activities caused 197 close contacts to be put into quarantine and 1,680 people with the risk of exposure had to take nucleic acid tests for COVID-19, according to Tuesday's government press conference. COVID-19 control work is aimed at safeguarding both Chinese and foreigners' health and safety in the country, and procedures are carried out regardless of nationality, China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Zhao Lijian said at Tuesday's routine press conference. China treats all people equally, Zhao said, easing concerns about whether strengthened measures would lead to discrimination against foreigners. With the resumption of work and increasing trans-regional exchanges, "it [epidemic control] is not only a matter for Guangzhou, but also for the sake of the whole country," Yang Zhanqiu, a virologist from Wuhan University, said on Tuesday. Guangzhou has reported 111 imported cases so far, including 25 foreign nationals. Among them, nine were from Nigeria, three from Angola, two from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and two from Niger. On March 27, Guangzhou tightened its policy, asking all arrivals from overseas to undergo central quarantine at their own expenses. Before that, people who were not from high-risk regions or who did not arrive via high-risk flights were free to walk around. Foreigners with a travel history were allowed to undergo home quarantine. Government officials on Tuesday noted the city had started retrospective screening of people exempted from central quarantine, extending health monitoring to 21,742 people. Some 1,038 passengers who came via high-risk flights have been moved from their homes to central quarantine and have taken nucleic acid tests. The city reported two infections on March 28 involving people who did not undergo any quarantine upon arrival as they were not from high-risk regions and arrived before the tightened policy. The Chinese couple began home quarantine after the policy adjustment and they were confirmed to have contracted the coronavirus. On Tuesday, Guangzhou police announced they had ordered a foreigner to leave China within a designated period of time after the man tried to escape central quarantine. During the 2020 Spring Festival travel rush, many passengers wearing medical masks to protect themselves from the novel coronavirus leave a platform of the Guangzhou South Railway station, a railway hub of Guangzhou, South China's Guangdong Province, on Wednesday. Photo: cnsphoto Public health analysts noted there had been a major loophole before the policy change. Once international arrivals return to their communities, it will be very hard for grass-roots workers to keep an eye on all of them, considering there are always people who lack the discipline to follow home quarantine rules, Yang said, noting retrospective screening could find and round up some virus carriers. The loophole before the policy change poses a danger to everyone as many people who arrived before March 27 have not passed the incubation period, which means there could be more domestic infections in the coming days, Yang told the Global Times. There were 32,183 international arrivals, including 6,321 foreigners, under central or home quarantine as of Tuesday, according to official data. Guangzhou is now using a "3+1" model to carry out community epidemic control, which means each work team will have a grass-roots worker, a medical professional and a police officer, plus an interpreter if necessary. As a city with active international exchanges, Guangzhou's management of foreigners has also sparked concerns. Many panicked after an article went viral claiming imported cases from Nigeria could cause a domestic outbreak in the African community and further spread the disease. The article also said that Guangzhou is building makeshift hospitals to deal with the situation. A Yuexiu district official denied the article's claim of 300,000 African nationals living in the district, saying 3,462 foreigners in the district are mainly from the US, Mali, Nigeria, Canada and Australia. The man who fabricated the viral article is under investigation and will be dealt with accordingly, Yuexiu police said. But some suspect the official number could be an underestimate. A resident surnamed Liu from Yuexiu district told the Global Times that regulation of foreigners is difficult at the community level. Some have been in Guangzhou for many years without legal documents. Old communities in the district lack the residence records or staff to screen and monitor their situations, Liu said. ^ top ^



Forced labor claims unfounded (China Daily)
Of late there has been a surge in stories in the Western media accusing China of implementing an oppressive "forced labor" program against the country's Muslims in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. The crime China is accused of committing has been called "Xinjiang's new slavery", allegedly involving more than 80,000 laborers and implicating the supply chains of 83 global brands, including Apple, Amazon, Nike, BMW, Gap, Samsung, Sony, and Volkswagen. But Western news outlets from Foreign Policy to The Washington Post to Democracy Now have relied on a series of questionable studies by purportedly "independent, nonpartisan" think tanks backed by the West's military intelligence apparatus for these reports. Building on the dubious claims that China is detaining millions of Uygur Muslims, these studies argue that "forced labor" is the "next step" in China's "tyrannical campaign "against the Uygurs. A close look at these reports shows serious biases and credibility gaps as the Western media paints China as the world's worst human rights violator. The latest allegations seem to be part of a PR blitz escalating Washington's new Cold War rhetoric targeting Beijing. Following the release of these reports, United States Democratic Congressman Jim McGovern said he would introduce a new bill seeking to ban all US imports from Xinjiang on the grounds that those involved forced labor. McGovern is an ardent supporter of the World Uyghur Congress, a US-backed, far-right network seeking to overthrow the Chinese government. Even putatively progressive news outlets have joined the frenzy, with The Nation and Democracy Now uncritically parroting these studies, while making no mention of their ties with the US and Western governments and military contractors. Furthermore, both these media outlets interviewed members of the World Uyghur Congress-affiliated Uyghur Human Rights Project, while making no mention of their deep ties with the US' regimechange establishment. The three reports quoted in the recent "forced labor" stories were authored by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, Center for Strategic and International Studies and Adrian Zenz. While the Western media presented the reports as impartial, a closer look raises serious doubts over their credibility. On March 1, ASPI published a policy brief, titled "Uyghurs for sale: 'Re-education' forced labour and surveillance beyond Xinjiang".The paper triggered a fresh round of accusations against China in the Western media. While ASPI describes itself as "an independent, non-partisan think tank", it is in fact a right-wing, militaristic outfit founded by the Australian government in 2001 and is funded by the country's Department of Defence. While the Western public views stories about alleged "forced labor "as shocking journalistic exposés, they are, in fact, the direct products of an orchestrated PR campaign backed by US and some European countries' governments, NATO, and arms manufacturers, all of which stand to benefit handsomely from the intensification of a new Cold War. ^ top ^

Xinjiang railway freight up 16.1 pct in Q1 (China Daily)
Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region saw its railway freight volume in the first quarter of 2020 totaling more than 40.3 million tonnes, up 16.1 percent year-on-year, according to railway authorities. Xinjiang railway departments have quickened their pace to resume work as the spread of COVID-19 has been basically contained in China. So far, a loop line within Xinjiang has resumed operation and continues to expand its business. Thirty-seven cargo trains of the line were back to work in March, delivering 39,600 tonnes of daily necessities and other materials within the region, according to China Railway Urumqi Bureau Group Co., Ltd. The company said it adopted flexible and tailored transport measures on different products and raw materials to improve the capacity and efficiency of transportation in Xinjiang. ^ top ^



CE: RTHK must uphold 'one country, two systems' principle (China Daily)
Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor stressed on Tuesday that Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK), as a public broadcaster and a government department, must uphold the "one country, two systems" principle. Lam made the remarks in response to a question raised by an RTHK journalist during an interview with a high-ranking official of the World Health Organization (WHO) about the possibility of granting Taiwan membership to the WHO. The RTHK program has drawn criticism for the way it handled very sensitive issues of national sovereignty and territorial integrity. Lam said that as a public broadcaster, RTHK could not claim exemption from observing the principle of "one country, two systems". "Either as a public broadcaster or government department, RTHK has to fulfill the very important and fundamental principle of upholding 'one country, two systems'", the CE told reporters ahead of a weekly Executive Council meeting. She noted that the Charter of Radio Television Hong Kong is clear in requiring the public broadcaster to deepen Hong Kong people's understanding of "one country, two systems" through its programs. Speaking at a special meeting of the Finance Committee at the Legislative Council later on Tuesday, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau Tang-wah said the program should have been edited before it was broadcast. RTHK is a government department reporting to the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau. Director of Broadcasting Leung Ka-wing had to take responsibility and supervise the program's editorial content. Yau stressed that these restrictions did not affect the freedom of speech of RTHK. But while RTHK enjoys a high degree of editorial independence, it is not above the law, he added. Yau said that the incident had involved the cardinal principle of national sovereignty and territorial integrity. The program has clearly breached the one-China policy, and not just with one question, he said. As a government department and a public broadcaster, RTHK has a responsibility to respect and uphold the "one country, two systems" principle, explained Yau. He noted that the mission of RTHK as a public service broadcaster includes encouraging a sense of citizenship and national identity through programs that contribute to the understanding of the community and nation, and promoting an understanding of the concept of "one country, two systems". In an earlier statement, Yau stressed that the RTHK reporter's question was inappropriate. "It is common knowledge that the WHO membership is based on sovereign states. RTHK, as a government department and a public service broadcaster, should have a proper understanding of the above without any deviation," Yau's statement said. ^ top ^

Commissioner of Chinese foreign ministry in HKSAR calls for accurate understanding of Basic Law (China Daily)
The Commissioner of the Chinese Foreign Ministry in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) on Monday called on the international community to fully and accurately understand the HKSAR Basic Law and earnestly support its implementation. Commissioner Xie Feng received via video a courtesy call from new consuls-general of Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, the Dominican Republic and Pakistan in Hong Kong, during which he shared with the consuls-general several key points about the HKSAR Basic Law. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the promulgation of the HKSAR Basic Law, and the practice of "one country, two systems", which is to remain unchanged for 50 years, has entered its medium term, Xie noted, adding that "taking stock of the past 23 years, we can find that at the crux of the strife in Hong Kong over the decades is often a failure to understand the Basic Law comprehensively and accurately." "In particular, activists trying to sow trouble in Hong Kong and China at large have deliberately distorted the principles of the Basic Law, and obstructed the comprehensive and accurate implementation of the instrument," Xie said. "They have even played the victim, and accused instead the central government and the HKSAR government of violating the Basic Law and the policy of 'Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong' and eroding Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy," he said. "Therefore, it is imperative for us to get the basics straight and set things right." The Basic Law codifies "one country, two systems" into law with concrete provisions and institutional arrangement, Xie said, noting that to fully and accurately understand it, it is important to grasp the relations between the Constitution and the Basic Law, between "one country" and "two systems", and between the central government's overall jurisdiction and the HKSAR's high degree of autonomy, he said It is also important to realize that safeguarding national sovereignty, security and unity is crucial for comprehensively and accurately implementing "one country, two systems", and is a constitutional obligation of the HKSAR under the Basic Law, he added. Xie emphasized that as supporters of the "one country, two systems" policy and stakeholders in Hong Kong's prosperity and stability, members of the international community should fully and accurately understand the Basic Law and earnestly support its implementation. "Only when the Basic Law is implemented in a comprehensive and accurate manner, and the systems and mechanisms related to implementing the Constitution and the Basic Law in the HKSAR are improved to keep abreast with the times, can we ensure greater success of the endeavor of 'one country, two systems'," said the commissioner. ^ top ^

Carrie Lam rejects bipartisan calls to turn down pay rise amid Hong Kong's coronavirus-fuelled financial downturn (SCMP)
Hong Kong's embattled leader has dismissed calls from across the political spectrum to take a voluntary pay freeze, after it was revealed her annual salary had increased to HK$5.21 million (US$672,000). Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor's 2.36 per cent pay rise, up from HK$5.09 million in the 2019/20 financial year, means she continues to be one of the highest-paid political leaders in the world. In a media briefing on Tuesday morning, Lam was asked if she would heed lawmaker demands to turn down the increase. "My first priority right now is to finalise as early as possible the package of relief measures under the second round of anti-epidemic funding," she said. Hong Kong budget deficit to increase next year, finance chief Paul Chan say 20 Jan 2020. The chief executive also pointed out that she and the city's other politically appointed officials had recently donated one month's pay to the Community Chest of Hong Kong for charity purposes, adding she would consider similar ways in future "to demonstrate solidarity with the people of Hong Kong". The Legislative Council has been scrutinising the government budget, unveiled in February, ahead of an expected final vote in early May. According to the public spending blueprint for 2020/21, Lam's annual salary increased by HK$120,000. An increase the city leader clarified had taken effect in July, taking her salary to HK$434,000 a month. Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has announced that country's ministers will forgo three months' salary. Photo: Reuters Lawmakers from both the pro-establishment and pan-democratic camps were furious, demanding she take her cues from foreign officials and impose a pay cut instead, when the city is fighting against the deadly Covid-19 pandemic. In Singapore, the government of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced in February that political office holders in the city state would take a month's pay cut. That was followed in March by the announcement of another two-month pay cut in what was termed a show of solidarity with Singaporeans experiencing economic hardships due to the pandemic. Food and beverage industry posts first annual decline in revenue since Sars 6 Feb 2020 South Korean Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun also said last month that his country's ministers and deputies would yield 30 per cent of their monthly salaries through June, equivalent to 10 per cent of their annual pay. On Tuesday, Lam said the July pay adjustment was made according to a pre-existing mechanism that lawmakers themselves had voted to approve in 2017. "It's not the case that officials raised the salary increase in the Legislative Council [because they are scrutinising] spending," she said. Coronavirus crisis to hit economies worldwide, Hong Kong finance chief warns 8 Mar 2020 A spokesman for the government issued a statement on Monday night, saying the Legislative Council Finance Committee in 2017 approved an adjustment mechanism that – from July 1, 2018 – took into account the average annual Consumer Price Index. At a Legco finance committee meeting on Monday, pro-establishment lawmakers joined the opposition in slamming Lam for failing to stop her own pay increase. Lawmaker Michael Tien Puk-sun, of the political group Roundtable, said it was "very ridiculous" for Lam to accept a salary increase while the city's business sectors are facing difficulty. New People's Party lawmaker Eunice Yung Hoi-yan also said the government should bear the responsibility to overcome hardships with citizens. ^ top ^



Taiwan adds three COVID-19 cases, totals at 379 (Xinhua)
The total number of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in Taiwan has increased by three to 379, the island's epidemic monitoring agency said Wednesday. Two of the new patients, both women, were believed to have contracted the virus during their visits to Spain and Indonesia. The third woman was believed to be infected locally, the agency said in a press release. The infection source of the local case remained unclear, the statement added. Among the island's confirmed COVID-19 cases, 326 were imported. A total of 67 confirmed patients have recovered, and five died. To close loopholes of quarantine rules, the agency announced a new fine of 300,000 new Taiwan dollars (about 9,964 U.S. dollars) on those who are under home quarantine but refuse to follow social distancing such like inviting friends to visit or throwing parties. According to the agency, the number of people taking COVID-19 tests has surged after the four-day tomb-sweeping holiday that saw an increasing flow of travelers across the island. On April 6 alone, about 1,800 people took tests due to suspected symptoms, up from 800 to 900 in previous days, the agency said. Sanitation workers and security guards. In late March, Xinjiang reopened all primary and high schools, the first provincial-level region in the country to do so amid the coronavirus outbreak. ^ top ^

Taiwan separatists use COVID-19 to poison cross-Straits ties (Global Times)
The song "Fight as One" by pop singers Eason Chan from Hong Kong and Jolin Tsai from Taiwan in support of medical staff and people around the globe fighting the COVID-19 pandemic has received cyber violence from Taiwan separatists as the extremists said this is a "foreign propaganda from the Chinese mainland." Chinese mainland experts noted that the separatists were using the pandemic to poison cross-Straits ties and the society of the island has already been radicalized. The cyber violence against the song was just another example to prove the island's society was already radicalized by the separatist authority and many people were atomically being hostile to anything about the mainland,analysts said. The separatists ignore the humanitarian principle, and the pandemic has been used as a good chance for the separatists to push their political purpose worldwide, they noted. The English video by the state-owned Yunnan Media Group was uploaded on YouTube on Friday and had received more than 470,000 views as of Tuesday, but most comments were negative. The song, which expressed support and gratitude toward medical staff and people battling the pandemic, was criticized harshly by Taiwan's web users who noted the "Chinese national flag appeared in the video" and "foreign children held up paintings thanking China for its assistance to their countries." "The producer was a mainland media group and the two pop stars were serving a propaganda mission," the online critics argued. Li Xiaobing, a Taiwan studies expert at Nankai University in Tianjin, told the Global Times Tuesday that "in the past, when the mainland was facing a huge disaster, like the 2008 Wenchuan Earthquake, Taiwan-based pop stars did a lot of public welfare programs in support of the mainland, and at that time, no one got criticized and the ideological difference between the two sides could be laid aside. "But today, any support for the mainland from Taiwan-based singers can be treated as a 'betrayal of Taiwan' on the island - even a song that doesn't mention Taiwan at all." The angry online response to the song demonstrated a "radicalized" atmosphere on the island, Chinese experts said. When the mainland was suffering the most serious situation in January and February, the separatist Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) authority banned export of medical masks to the mainland. On April 1, the DPP authority announced a donation of 10 million masks to the US and European countries even as people in Taiwan were only allowed to buy nine masks per person per two weeks, Taiwan-based media reported. "There is nothing wrong with donating masks to people in need, but the DPP authority shows very different attitudes toward the mainland and the West," said Li. That was why people in the mainland felt "disgusted," Li said. "The mainland has massive production capacity and is already the logistics base of this global fight and we don't need masks from Taiwan, but still, Taiwan separatist behavior is poisoning the ties with the mainland." Some separatist Taiwan media outlets use the term "Wuhan virus" or "China virus" for COVID-19 even after US President Donald Trump stopped using the phrase and most mainstream media outlets dropped it to avoid discrimination against specific region or country. "We are being treated as a family member in Beijing, but the authority in Taiwan just refused us to come back, and the media of my hometown even keep saying stigmatizing words to the mainland every day without any help," Joseph Lam, a Taiwan student at a Beijing-based university, told the Global Times. "Their radicalism can't even accept a song which just talks about love and encourages people to be strong. What a shame." Chinese mainland experts warned the pandemic was being used by the DPP authority and separatists of the island to maximize their political purpose such as hyping Taiwan's non membership of the World Health Organization and exaggerating Taiwan's "contribution" and "performance" to the global fight. Li, the Tianjin-based expert, noted that some voices from the West dubbed mainland assistance "mask diplomacy," but in fact Taiwan is the one who actually using masks for politics such as making some politicians in France urge WHO to accept Taiwan as a formal member. Chinese Embassy in France has released an open letter on its website on Monday to condemn such behavior. According to the island's regional leader Tsai Ing-wen's announcement on April 1, the authority will donate 7 million masks to Europe and 2 million to the US. And according to the French health ministry, the mainland will provide 1 billion masks to France. New York State and Chinese IT firm Huawei also donated thousands of masks and personal protective equipment to the US, even the firm is still under sanctions and unfairly treated by the US government. Li said some US and European politicians and media did not show gratitude to the mainland and remained critical and suspicious over China-made products, but they treated Taiwan as a "true friend." Chinese mainland experts noted that Taiwan separatists won't achieve their purpose eventually and there was no chance for them to join any international organization as a formal state. But the separatists can successfully make people on the mainland resent them and lose hope of a peaceful solution to the Taiwan question, they warned. ^ top ^

Taiwan's green camp shows narrow-mindedness by targeting virus fight song (Global Times)
"Fight as One," a song jointly sang by Eason Chan from Hong Kong and Jolin Tsai from Taiwan, has been targeted by the island's green camp media, which supports the secessionist government, and some overly sensitive people on the island. The song, produced by Yunnan Media Group and a production team including members from the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan, is an ode that aims only to encourage people to fight together to contain COVID-19. Its aim is to inspire people to overcome the disaster and embrace a bright future. How did Jolin Tsai become a thorn in the eyes of the green camp for recording a charity song about the virus fight? The green camp is somehow dismayed that a photo in the music video features images of doctors did not include doctors from Taiwan. The video also shows some young kids hold a drawing board with the word "China," and this too has been deemed unacceptable to the green camp. The secessionist forces in Taiwan are shamelessly seeking personal gain. They view the song, which calls for solidarity in the global pandemic fight, from the narrow-minded perspective of "Taiwan independence" and have immediately labeled it "political incorrect." When people on the mainland talk about being united against the pandemic, entanglement across the straits rarely comes to mind, if ever. It's obvious that Yunnan Media Group teamed up with the stars to increase the popularity of the song. The producers had no intention of targeting Taiwan. Cross-Straits ties have nothing to do with the theme of the song and there is nothing wrong with using a photo meant to picture worldwide solidarity in the virus fight. For the green camp, the first thing that came to their mind is where is Taiwan? Has Taiwan been somehow dwarfed? This knee-jerk response is unbecoming. I sincerely encourage people in Taiwan's green camp to be more broad-minded. Mainlanders are not complicated. We go straight to the thing we want to accomplish; we have no ulterior motive or plan to trap others. Some people in the green camp in Taiwan are far too sensitive and hysterical. The attack on Jolin by the green camp will likely make her feel uncomfortable and concerned. People everywhere else will like the song, because it expresses the shared emotions of all people and conveys their goodwill of mutual support. There is no reason for people to dislike the heartfelt tune. Those in the green camp who oppose the song should feel ashamed of themselves. They need to broaden their horizon and open their mind and keep pace with the world. ^ top ^

Mainland game developer ends cooperation with Taiwan agent over virus reference (Global Times)
The use of "Wuhan virus" by Taiwan game players to refer to the novel coronavirus has led to the Chinese mainland-based game developer terminating cooperation with the island's regional agent, and such behavior has been criticized by observers as purely discriminatory rather than so-called freedom of speech. Mainland game developer Seasun Entertainment announced on China's Twitter-like social media platform Sina Weibo on Sunday that it terminated cooperation with its Taiwan regional agent Wanin International, after island players called the coronavirus "Wuhan virus" on the Chinese national day of mourning for COVID-19 victims, which took place on Saturday. The mainland firm temporarily closed the game, a Wuxia-themed online game known as JX3, on Saturday morning. Some Taiwan-based gamers were upset by this arrangement and vented their dissatisfaction on Weibo. Some even called the coronavirus "Chinese Wuhan virus" in the chatroom after the game resumed online. These comments were captured in screenshots by other gamers and reported to the developer. Consequently, the mainland firm suspended for 10 years some accounts of players who made these inappropriate comments, and it condemned such speech early on Sunday. "In terms of the national interest, the bottom line cannot be touched," according to the company's statement. However, the Taiwan agent later announced its support for the players' right to speak, threatened to end cooperation with the mainland firm, and re-activated the suspended accounts. The mainland game developer announced it would terminate cooperation with its Taiwan client 22 minutes after the post. Chinese cyberspace security expert Zhu Wei, a communications researcher at the China University of Political Science and Law, told the Global Times on Monday that the actions of some Taiwan residents and media outlets to wrongly name the virus went beyond "freedom of speech" and hurt the feelings of Wuhan residents who suffered a lot amid the epidemic. As the World Health Organization officially named the virus COVID-19, such speech could only lead to regional discrimination, Zhu noted. ^ top ^



Chinese enterprises quicken steps to resume production (People's Daily)
China's official Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) rose to 52 percent in March, up 16.3 percentage points from February, according to data jointly released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing. As a month-on-month economic indicator, PMI reflects the short-term changes in economic activity. Generally speaking, 50 percent separates monthly growth from contraction. When PMI is above the 50-point mark, it indicates an expanding manufacturing economy, and when the figure is below 50 percent, it reflects that the economy is generally contracting. "The data can be interpreted to mean that half of the manufacturing enterprises embraced positive changes in production and business operations in March," according to Zhao Qinghe, a senior statistician with the NBS. Statistics from Chinese steel trading website indicated that the country's steel trading volume stood at 880,000 tons in February, only 30 percent of last year's average level. However, the figure increased explosively in March. With positive changes taking place in domestic epidemic control and prevention, downstream manufacturing and construction industries resumed production at a faster pace in March, noted Gong Yingxin, secretary of the Party committee and senior vice president of Gong disclosed that the daily steel trading volume on the platform has reached 160,000 tons, four times that in February, and the platform's trading volume has generally recovered to last year's average. Crown Advanced Material Co., Ltd. is a manufacturer of multifunctional composite materials based in Yichun of east China's Jiangxi province. In March, it kicked off the second phase of a project of protective film, solar backboard and lithium battery aluminum plastic film production with a total investment of one billion yuan ($141.6 million). "Our orders have expanded by 30 percent year-on-year since we resumed production. In March we delivered orders worth $4.5 million to our overseas clients," said Yan Hongjia, president of the company. China made positive progress in coordinating epidemic control and economic development in March, and enterprises have been resuming production at a faster speed, said Zhao. However, the single-month rise doesn't necessarily mean the production and operation have been back to pre-outbreak levels, according to head of the Service Survey Center with the NBS, who told People's Daily that the upturn of economy only comes when the PMI moves up for at least three consecutive months. A survey indicated that enterprises still face significant pressure to further boost production and operation despite the expanding PMI, Zhao pointed out. In March, 41.7 percent of manufacturing enterprises reported insufficient capital provisions, up 2.6 percentage points from the previous month and 52.3 percent reported sluggish market demand, 4.1 percentage points higher than February. Zhongjie Footwear Co., Ltd. in Yifeng county, Yichun of Jiangxi province mainly exports shoes to Europe and the U.S. Due to the global spread of the pandemic, its export orders for the following months have shrunk by 40 to 50 percent, which brings a monthly loss of nearly 4 million yuan to a single branch factory of the company alone. "We had planned to recruit 300 workers at the beginning of March to complete orders placed before the outbreak, however, we didn't expect the pandemic to exacerbate so quickly overseas. Many of our foreign clients have been cancelling or postponing orders since mid-March," said He Jiating, head of the company. The NBS statistics indicated that the index of new export orders and the import index of Chinese enterprises ticked up to 46.4 and 48.4 percent, respectively in March, but were still mired in contraction. To match effective supply and effective demand is an important criterion to evaluate the effectiveness of production resumption. In promoting resumption of work and production, the demand side must be improved, and supply-side structural reform should be deepened in a solid manner. In addition, targeted measures should be rolled out based on market demand, so as to avoid inefficient and blind development, and reduce overstaffing, wasting of materials and inefficient circulation of capital. Doing so, the losses caused by the epidemic can be minimized and the foundation for further economic recovery is consolidated. Currently, epidemic control and the economic situation are seeing major new changes, both in China and abroad, Zhao said. The country faces huge pressure brought by imported cases of novel coronavirus disease, which challenges its economic development, especially the recovery of the industrial chain. Therefore, PMI data need to be further observed. ^ top ^

Coronavirus: China yet to meet key phase one trade deal target due to Covid-19 lockdown (SCMP)
China has yet to deliver on a key component of its phase one trade deal with the United States, with the coronavirus pandemic proving an obstacle to implementation. The intellectual property protection action plan – viewed in Washington as a cornerstone of the deal – was supposed to be delivered 30 working days after the agreement came into force on February 15. Thirty working days theoretically expired at the beginning of April, and no plan has been released. However, with much of the Chinese economy on lockdown after a protracted Lunar New Year holiday in late January and February, the definition of "working days" has become a bone of contention. Rather than ask for an extension, China is understood to have argued that the action plan is not in fact late, because the number of actual working days in China was greatly reduced due to the shutdowns. This has caused "frustration" at the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR), said two people familiar with the affair. The US side is said to be upset because the plan is expected to be based on a previously negotiated text, which was dramatically set aside when talks collapsed in May last year, meaning it should be relatively easy to deliver compared to other parts of the deal. "Remember there is not that much trust between the two sides. If they do not carry out the execution, everything is laden with more meaning," said Kenneth Jarrett, senior adviser at Albright Stonebridge Group and former US Consul General in Shanghai. "We must be mindful that intellectual property protection was at the core of the initial Section 301 tariffs – this is the first real test." A source briefed on China's delivery of its phase one commitments, meanwhile, said that in terms of intellectual protection, "China has done the best it can given its capacity. There will not be any surprise in the action plan, it is very likely to repeat what it has promised before". The source confirmed that the coronavirus pandemic has had an impact on the implementation process. We must be mindful that intellectual property protection was at the core of the initial Section 301 tariffs – this is the first real test Kenneth Jarrett Despite the delay, China was unlikely to backtrack on its guarantees of intellectual property protection, said Kyle Sullivan, China practise lead at advisory firm Crumpton Group. "Basically all the things agreed to in the action plan are things that China wants to do anyway," he said. "The [US Trade Representative] has very clear expectations about China's intellectual property rights commitments. For China, the action plan is low-hanging fruit, unlike realising the agricultural purchase agreements. Thus, it is a bit disconcerting that they have not followed through yet." Both sides have remained in contact throughout the pandemic's surge, despite the sometimes fiery rhetoric between officials over the origin of the virus. The bulk of negotiators' conversations have focused on China's agricultural purchases, with experts suggesting that as with trade talks in 2019, negotiators are eager to draw a distinction between trade and commercial issues and the thornier geopolitical tensions. A call between senior – but not the top – negotiators was postponed two weeks ago after it emerged that Presidents Xi Jinping and Donald Trump were to speak by phone on March 27. The call has been rescheduled to happen this week. On agricultural purchases, US officials are understood to be content with China's progress towards buying American products and opening the domestic market to US firms. A spate of announcements in February saw China lift bans on some pet food products, chipping potatoes, infant formula, poultry and beef products. It also started buying up US farm goods, including pork, sorghum, soybeans and wheat, a trend which continued through March. During the week ending March 26, China bought 131,000 metric tonnes of soybeans, 18,900 metric tonnes of pork, 60,000 metric tonnes of wheat and 77,000 metric tonnes of sorghum. Fears that the current Covid-19 containment measures taking place in the US would hurt the agricultural trade are yet to materialise, but the acid test will be later in April, when the commodities that were bought in March have to be put on ships. Nonetheless, most analysts remain sceptical that the targets are achievable. "For the US, it is OK, we do not see any delay at the moment," said Rosa Wang, analyst at Shanghai-based agricultural research firm JCI China. "We are more concerned about the logistics in South America, in Brazil and Argentina. We have a soybean supply shortage in China and some of the crushers have had to close their doors." Darin Friedrichs, senior Asia commodity analyst at INTL FCStone in Shanghai, said that soybeans from Brazil are currently "loading fine" and there is "probably 10 million tonnes-plus in transit already". Any damage to the supply chain there would only hit Chinese markets in 40 days, given shipping time. US-based analysts, meanwhile, do not expect any major disruption to the agriculture supply chain with farmers still able to get seeds and rural logistics in particular moving relatively smoothly. "Unlike our competitors in South America, where there are ongoing restrictions on moving grains and oilseeds from growers to export terminals, there have not been any noteworthy issues moving bulk agricultural exports in the US as the government deems our supply chain for food as an essential industry," said Rob Hatchett, an agricultural economist at Doane Advisory Services in St Louis. "Issues would most likely develop in the container market due to backlogs at ports around the world," he added. "But if China is going to meet phase one targets then bulk shipments will be required." ^ top ^

Cross-border e-commerce gains traction (China Daily)
Cross-border e-commerce is set to play a bigger role in revitalizing foreign trade, judging by the string of measures enacted by the public and private sectors to salvage the segment ravaged by the novel coronavirus outbreak. China announced plans on Tuesday to establish new pilot zones for cross-border e-commerce, support the processing trade, and host an online version of the Canton Fair, its signature export fair, as some of the latest responses to curb the contagion's effect on trade activities. In addition to the 59 cross-border e-commerce pilot zones already set up, China will establish 46 new ones and exempt retail export goods in all pilot zones from value-added tax and consumption tax, while encouraging companies to jointly build and share overseas warehouses. It took just three months for the fifth, or this latest, batch of pilot cross-border e-commerce zones to materialize, a reflection of the importance the country attaches to traditional trade being hampered by the virus, said Zhang Zhouping, a senior analyst on B2B and cross-border activities at the Internet Economy Institute, a domestic consultancy. "The latest policy roll-outs will not only expedite the development of cross-border trade at the national level, but also boost economic vitality in respective cities and help local governments attract more investment in the future," said Zhang. The private sector has quickly followed suit, with e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd unveiling a series of special measures to bolster cross-border trade by facilitating buyers and sellers using digital infrastructure. In a 16-point circular unveiled by Alibaba on Tuesday to help small and medium-sized enterprises weather the novel coronavirus storm, much of the effort concentrated on boosting foreign trade, which has been affected by the virus in the form of squeezed demand and disrupted global supply chains. For instance, the company said it will open up resources of its Ali-Express, Lazada, and Tmall World sites, all of which are targeting overseas consumers, to help SMEs broaden the reach of customers. To help export-driven enterprises acquire new clients, Alibaba has vowed to help them build online pavilions and showrooms, roll out digital commercial markets featuring local specialties as well as digital industrial zones. As China is among the quickest to flatten the virus curve and is expected to see early signs of economic recovery, the company has pledged to help export enterprises navigate the domestic market, recruiting them as suppliers for Tmall Supermarket and Taobao Xinxuan (a private-label goods market). It will also set up a dedicated "export zone" on, a platform traditionally facilitating domestic wholesale business, and offer a fast-track procedure for export-oriented small and medium-sized enterprises to set up virtual shops with corresponding support. AliExpress, Alibaba's business-to-customer site selling to overseas market, has just come up with an initiative to directly bridge domestic manufacturers with the overseas customer requirements. The initiative, in tandem with a string of local governments in China, aims to launch online investment attraction venues and use livestreaming measures to promote domestic offerings and seize opportunities overseas. "To help export-oriented enterprises weather the storm and turn crisis into opportunities, we have teamed up with local governments to bolster exports and create new business opportunities for SMEs backed by our digital infrastructure," said Wang Mingqiang, general manager of AliExpress. Partnering local authorities include Sichuan province, Fujian province and Suzhou city of Jiangsu province, and AliExpress expected the number to finally top 100 under the initiative. Buying and selling of industrial products via online platforms could well be the "next blue ocean" in China's e-commerce sector, according to a joint report by consultancy Bain and Alibaba in January. The market value of industrial products e-commerce is slated to hit 2.3 trillion yuan ($333 billion) in 2024 from 700 billion yuan last year. ^ top ^

China expands medical supply output, export (Xinhua)
China is expanding exports of medical supplies to help with the global fight against the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic with rising production capacity basically meeting domestic demand, officials said Wednesday. As of Sunday, the daily production capacity of medical protective suits had topped 1.5 million, with that of N95 face masks over 3.4 million, Cao Xuejun, an official with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), told a press conference. The output of protective suits and medical face masks stood at over 842,000 and 1.8 million respectively by mid-March, earlier data showed. Major enterprises tracked by the ministry can produce 290,000 protective goggles and face coverings and over 410,000 infrared thermometers daily, said Cao. Chinese companies have provided 18,000 ventilators to other countries, among which more than 4,000 were invasive ventilators, according to Cao. China's weekly production capacity of invasive ventilators, one of the most sought-after medical devices amid the epidemic, stood at around 2,200 units given sufficient supply of key parts, less than one-fifth of global capacity, said Chen Kelong, another MIIT official. Challenges remain for Chinese companies to significantly boost ventilator output both for now and in the long-run due to supply chain disruptions from the epidemic, said Chen. China had exported 3.86 billion face masks, 37.52 million protective suits, 2.41 million infrared thermometers as of Saturday from March 1. ^ top ^

China's economy resilient despite short-term COVID-19 impact: experts, media (Xinhua)
Japanese media and experts have noted that people and logistics in China have begun to regain vitality, as the economy is showing signs of a speedy recovery from the temporary impact of COVID-19. Previously, the Chinese government had kept economic activities including production and consumption to the minimum level necessary so as to curb the COVID-19 outbreak, said Kokichiro Mio, a researcher at Japan's NLI Research Institute. Now that the epidemic in China is dwindling, China is trying to normalize its economic activities, he said, noting that the Chinese economy is gradually getting out of a contraction. If the flow of people and logistics returns to its previous level, the speed of economic recovery will be amazing, he said. According to Nikkei's report, about 80 percent of the Japanese companies surveyed said their factories in China have returned to normal production levels. Kyodo News Agency recently reported that since the end of March, Toyota Motor Corporation's four vehicle factories in China have all resumed normal operations, with their production capacity recovering to the levels they were before the Chinese New Year holiday. In addition, global logistics also show the recovery momentum in China. According to Orbital Insight, an American satellite-data analysis company, Shanghai has seen a surge in the number of ships leaving its port since mid-March, while inland waterway shipping in cities like Chongqing has also shown growth. Many Japanese companies are pinning their hopes on China to take the lead in global economic recovery, and are anticipating a recovery of domestic demand in the Chinese market. Trendexpress, a Japanese firm that focuses on China's consumer market research, used a variety of data to describe the characteristics of China's "stay at home economy" to Japanese companies and assumed that people's spending habits would change after the pandemic ends. The company said although International Women's Day, which has been dubbed the "queen's day" by retailers in China, fell amid the outbreak of COVID-19 this year, sales of more than 20,000 brands participating in promotional retail events in China on the day doubled from the previous year, with both old and new brands experiencing a sales surge. Takashi Kodama, head of the economic research department at the Daiwa Institute of Research Group, said progress in China's economic recovery is worthy of attention. If private consumption in China, which is less directly affected by the deterioration of the global economy, can recover quickly, it will give hope to other countries, as well as the global financial markets, he said. The Chinese government and information technology companies have worked closely to combat COVID-19 with advanced technologies, offering an opportunity to enhance the country's digital economy, said Jin Jianmin, a senior fellow at the Fujitsu Research Institute in Tokyo. The outbreak of the novel coronavirus has brought challenges to China's economic development, but only with short-term impact on industries and markets, Jin said. ^ top ^



Foreign Minister meets WHO Representative in Mongolia (Montsame)
On April 6, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia D.Tsogtbaatar received World Health Organization /WHO/ Representative in Mongolia Sergey Diorditsa. While expressing gratitude to the WHO for its effective guidelines and assistance to support COVID-19 battle, Minister Tsogtbaatar exchanged views with Mr. Sergey Diorditsa on boosting regional cooperation, including the role and contributions of the WHO to combat global infectious diseases. In turn, WHO Representative Sergey Diorditsa informed about ongoing cooperation of the WHO with Mongolia's Ministry of Health aimed at ensuring participation of all stakeholders in the health care, training medical professionals and improving the healthcare system. After pledging to study the initiative put forward by the Foreign Minister on enhancing the regional partnership and the role of the WHO to fight infectious diseases spreading around the globe, he expressed his willingness to continue work with Mongolia in this area. ^ top ^

President delivers speech at opening of regular parliamentary session (Montsame)
President of Mongolia Khaltmaagiin Battulga gave a speech at the opening of regular session of the State Great Khural, convened at noon today. The Head of state addressed timely matters regarding the coronavirus spread and the precautions. Highlighting the pandemic's toll on the world economy, President Battulga mentioned that, in Mongolia, 10 thousand people lost their jobs, resulting in the fall of income for roughly 40 thousand people. Therefore, the President said, it has become certain that Mongolia will go through this global crisis, as well, and called on the policymakers to "immediately formulate, plan and implement a package of precautions for overcoming the crisis with minimum amount of risks". President Battulga once again warned the politicians of their reckless and unlawful acts with aims to achieve maximum coverage prior to the elections.The President proposed following precautionary measures for overcoming the crisis and minimizing its risks: 1st. Making clarifications on the state budget by distributing the funds to measures for protecting economic stability of the people, containing the coronavirus outbreak and ensuring smooth operation of the healthcare, through cutting all tolerable costs; 2nd. Postponing the regular parliamentary elections due this summer; 3rd. Founding an Anti-Crisis Fund to promote enterprises and businesses, who is bearing all hardships on their shoulders, at urgent notice, and formulating associated rules and regulations. 4th. Developing an action plan for ensuring sustainable living environment for all, especially for children, improving welfare, reducing unemployment, buffering its impact on people's livelihoods, ensuring abundant supply of consumer goods; and 5th. Calling a National Security Council Meeting for the matter of immediately organizing a compact and skillful structure, comprising academics and specialists to prepare for and overcome the coming crisis, while eliminating ineffective expenditure of resources. To conclude his address, the President wished the people of Mongolia lives full of health and happiness.  ^ top ^


Sun Mengqi Eleanore
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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