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World Press Freedom Index: Where Countries Ranked

Major Taiwanese news group Eastern Media International recently reported that, not long ago, Reporters Without Borders released the rankings for the 2022 World Press Freedom Index. Taiwan rose from 43rd last year to 38th. It is now ahead of Japan, South Korea and the United States. Hong Kong fell all the way from 80th last year to 148th this year. China ranked 175th out of 180 countries. The Index showed that Nordic countries are still at the top, with Norway and Denmark taking the top two places Both have high ratings of over 90. The five countries sitting at the bottom are North Korea (180th), Eritrea (179th), Iran (178th), Myanmar (176th), and China (175th). The United States ranked 42. The Reporters Without Borders report pointed out that the authoritarian regimes, which strictly control the media, used their asymmetrical position to launch propaganda wars against democracy, intensifying the confrontations with the democratic nations. Every year, Reporters Without

Borders ranks 180 countries and territories on the degree of freedom for journalists.

The situation is classified as “very bad” in a record number of 28 countries in this year’s Index, while 12 countries, including Belarus (153rd) and Russia (155th), are on the Index’s red list (indicating “very bad” press freedom situations) on the map. The world’s 10 worst countries for press freedom include Myanmar (176th), where the February 2021 coup d’état set press freedom back by 10 years, as well as China, Turkmenistan (177th), Iran (178th), Eritrea (179th) and North Korea (180th).

Source: ETToday, May 3, 2022

City of Yiwu Launched a Level II Emergency Response to Covid-19

Well-known Chinese news site Sina (NASDAQ: SINA) recently reported that The Covid Prevention and Control Administration of Yiwu City, Zhejiang Province issued a notice declaring a Level II Emergency Response to the pandemic. Level II requires the close-down of all indoor businesses, such as movie theaters and bars. The city applied strict control at key highway entrances and exits. All residential communities in the city will be under close-down management, and 24-hour Covid test certificates are required for entry and exit. All of the city’s middle schools, primary schools and kindergartens are temporarily closed. Public areas, government buildings and company buildings also require 24-hour Covid test certificates. Known as the World’s Supermarket, Yiwu is the world’s largest wholesale market for small commodities. At present, the market has an operating area of more than 6.4 million square meters, with 75,000 booths, offering over 2.1 million kinds of small commodities. Products are sold to more than 210 countries and regions around the globe. In 2021, the volume of express delivery services in the City of Yiwu reached a total of 9.29 billion pieces. The government expected a certain level of impact on the performance of transportation and logistics.

Source: Sina, April 27, 2022

Government: Shanghai Volunteers Found Someone Took Their Identifies and their Compensation

Recently, when people in Shanghai tried to register themselves as volunteers, they found their names had already been registered. Someone had taken their identities, completed the registration process, and collected the compensation meant for volunteers.

For example, a woman found from the official volunteer website that she did 26 hours of volunteer work in 2017, but she was pregnant at that time and never did that work. An elementary student found she “was registered” in November 2019 when she was seven; a son found that his aging father did 16 hours of volunteer work in 2018 though his father had been sick and had mobility problems.

There were also many fake volunteer identities and fake incidents of participation in work during the COVID lockdown. A man reported to the authorities that he found out that he “was registered” as a volunteer in two groups. One was with the Huangpu District Yuyuan Street Neighborhood Volunteer Service Center, which pays each volunteer at least 50 Yuan (US $7.5) for each event. He had never received any money. Another man said volunteers in his neighborhood receive 120 Yuan each day and some other regions are even paid 400 Yuan.

On March 3, Xinhua reported that 5.2 million people in Shanghai, or over 21 percent of the permanent population there, had registered volunteer accounts.

Editor’s note: Obviously in Shanghai, someone has stolen people’s identities to register volunteer accounts and then collected money based on their fake registration. Since this involves repeated payment distributions from the government, it is unlikely that the authorities knew nothing about it.

1. Epoch Times, April 27, 2022
2. Xinhua, March 3, 2022

Government: Beijing Plans to Keep the “Zero-COVID” Policy Until the 20th Party Congress

Two sources indicate that Beijing plans to continue its “Zero-COVID” policy and not switch to the coexistence approach at least until after the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) holds its 20th National Congress later this year. The “Zero-COVID” policy has created mounting humanitarian crises in China, especially during the ongoing Shanghai lockdown.

Joerg Wuttke, President of the E.U. Chamber of Commerce in China, said during an interview with the Swiss, German-language daily newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ), “(I)n closed meetings – especially in ministries that deal with the economy and businesses – I meet very well-informed and open-minded top politicians. They know what Zero Covid means for the economy. It’s just that they can’t use this knowledge to bring about policy change at the moment. Until the 20th Party Congress, which will take place later this year, they will stick to the Zero Covid policy. President Xi wants to be confirmed for a third term, so he cannot change his narrative this close to the finish line. The president has maneuvered himself into two dead ends at once: He can’t change his Covid policy, and he can’t change anything about his friendship with Vladimir Putin.”

A news commentator from Epoch Times stated that he had received the meeting minutes of an official COVID information meeting on April 25. The keynote speaker was Jiang Rongmeng, a member of the National Health Commission’s COVID Expert Group and Vice President of Beijing Ditan Hospital. Jiang is a real medical expert in the CCP inner cycle: he went to Wuhan during the lockdown, is an expert in the Beijing Emergency Management Bureau, and is one of the main authors of the “COVID Treatment Plan.”

Jiang listed five pre-conditions for China to change its Zero-COVID policy:

  1. Medicines need to be available, which won’t be ready within six months.
  2. 80 percent of the elderly are vaccinated, which is possible to achieve in six months.
  3. There are enough isolation beds, which is easy to do.
  4. There is enough ICU capacity [throughout China], which is unlikely to happen. China lags far behind the United States and Europe on this and it is impossible to catch up in a short term. It is easy to buy equipment but it takes 5 years to train an ICU doctor.
  5. Public opinion needs to be reset. Now people are scared of COVID and many will go to the hospital even if they have a low temperature when switching to the coexistence policy, which will deplete the hospital’s capacity.

These conditions indicates that Jiang does not think China is ready to change its COVID policy in the next six months due to its own situation.

Related postings on Chinascope:

1. NZZ, April 30, 2022
2. Epoch Times, April 27, 2022

Shanghai’s Infectious Disease Expert Calls on Authorities to Stop “Zero-COVID” Policy

On April 27, Epoch Times reported that Miao Xiaohui, a leading infectious disease expert in Shanghai, issued a post on April 23 calling on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) authorities to stop its “zero-COVID ” policy, so as to reduce the secondary disasters that the approach has caused.

Miao was the vice president of Changzheng Hospital, which is affiliated with the Second Military Medical University of China. Concurrently he was the director of the Department of Infectious Diseases at the University. He made it clear that the “zero-COVID ” approach was ineffective and lacked any scientific basis. He said that a number of neighborhoods in Shanghai had been locked down and controlled for nearly one month, that that period exceeds the three longest incubation periods for the Omicron virus and is “completely inconsistent with the basic laws of infectious disease epidemics.”

The “zero-COVID ” approach has triggered a large number of secondary disasters. One example is that many people’s deaths should not have occurred. “Let’s stop it!” He appealed.

As early as April 8, Miao even publicly pointed out that, under the strict lockdown, the “zero-COVID ” policy will lead to a run-on medical resources. He called for concern about the additional deaths and for settling the situation as soon as possible. He believed that, during the Shanghai lock-down period, because of the run-on medical resources, a number of chronic non-infectious diseases, infectious diseases, and acute diseases, plus a 66 percent increase in the suicide rate due to psychological stress, will result in a severe number of additional deaths that should not be ignored.

(Since the lockdown of Shanghai, many hospitals have been closed. This has led citizens to lose access to basic medical services and, as a result, many have lost their lives due to the lack of timely treatment. Some people spontaneously counted the list of dead persons in Shanghai who “died not from the COVID-19, but because of it.” By April 27, the number of deaths reached 176. For example, Yu Hongsan, a senior notary at the Shanghai Oriental Justice Office, suffered an asthma attack and passed away on March 19 because an ambulance could not get to him in time. By April 28, The total death toll from COVID-19 in Shanghai was 337 .)

The need for and the cost of the “zero-COVID ” approach and the lockdown of the city should be considered carefully, Miao stated. In order to reduce the crowding for the use medical resources, he suggested that asymptomatic infected people may be isolated at home; re-checked as to whether the universal nucleic acid testing is absolutely necessary; and hospitals should not be closed completely. It should be noted especially that nucleic acid testing can increase the problem of cross-infection.

On April 24, Ding Xian, former Party Secretary of the Jing’an Branch of the Shanghai Huashan Hospital, also pointed out the shortcomings of the “zero-COVID” strategy:  “Repeated nucleic acid testing, overwhelming burdening of staff, and a most serious cross-infection pattern, where science has been thrown in the trash.”

Yin Youkuan, the former deputy director of the Department of Infectious Diseases at Huashan Hospital of Shanghai indicated in an April 22 post that the number of positive cases will increase by 3 to 4 percent for every full staff nucleic acid test done. He took a community in Shanghai as an example where originally there were no positive cases. However, after a few days of nucleic acid testing, 83 positive cases emerged. He pointed out,”That’s what the staff brought in.”

At present, Shanghai has implemented a so-called “Hard Quarantine” in a closed and controlled area. This means that the doors in the whole building are locked from the outside and residents can only move around inside their own apartments.

Source: Epoch Times, April 27, 2022.                                                                                                                                

Propaganda: The CCP Fakes a Calm Scene While Beijing Went Through Crazy Stocking up

Shanghai has showcased to China and the world how big the humanitarian disasters are that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) can create and does not care about, when it is imposing its strict lockdown to fight the COVID-19 virus.

The city of Beijing recently reported increased COVID cases. The CCP is known for hiding its COVID numbers, so the actual infection count in Beijing is unknown. Residents in Beijing, learning from the Shanghai disaster, started a wave of buying out everything from the grocery stores in order to prepare for a possible lockdown which the authorities might announce anytime soon. They were thinking ahead so they would not be caught without food.

Similar to other stores, CCTV employees also emptied the grocery store inside China Central Television (CCTV).

On April 24, Liu Xin, a news anchor at the China Global Television Network (CGTN), the overseas propaganda arm of the CCTV, posted a message with her relatively true thoughts (without much of the CCP’s message) on Twitter: “Beijing’s Turn, but we are getting ready. I stocked up too, for the first time in two years. Let the tough times come.” She also posted pictures of empty shelves

However, buying out everything in a hurry does not reflect the intention of the CCP’s propaganda. The CCP wants to project a calm, stable scene. It does not want panic scenes and does not care about the reality of whether people have stocked up enough food and supplies.

So a day later, Liu deleted her earlier message and posted a new one on Twitter: “Overnight, the very same shop got filled up again with fresh products. It’s just a matter of what you want to buy, not what you can! It was completely unnecessary for me to overthink last night.” She also posted pictures of shelves fully loaded with vegetables.

Also on April 25, a former CCTV reporter Wang Zhi’an posted on Twitter, “The CCTV has its own grocery store. My former colleague told me that the CCTV’s employees emptied that store, with nothing left. After the crazy buying, these anchors sat down in front of the TV camera and told the audience, ‘Beijing residents, you can live a good life; there is no need to rush to stock up.’”

Source: Epoch Times, April 27, 2022

Record Number of College Graduates: 10.76 Million in 2022, Creates Complex and Severe Problems

Well-known Chinese news site NetEase (NASDAQ: NTES) recently reported that government statistics showed that, in 2022, the number of new urban laborers in need of employment in China will reach around 16 million, a new high for recent years. Of those 10.76 million are college graduates. That is the highest number in history. On April 7, Vice Premier Hu Chunhua presided over a symposium on the employment situation. He pointed out that, at present, because of the Covid pandemic and other factors, the employment challenge is “complex and severe.” Zeng Xiangquan, director of the Employment Research Institute of Renmin University of China, found that after the outbreak of the pandemic in 2020, the proportion of college graduates choosing “slow employment” increased, and more graduates took the initiative to withdraw from the labor market. Now the supply of postgraduates is increasing, but employers are facing difficulties, which will push up the current unemployment rate. 2022 could be the most stressful year ever for college graduates. Just as the number of college graduates has reached its peak, the number of traditional employment “placement services” that help on the demand side has shrunk significantly. The industries hit really hard were real estate, education and training, as well as the Internet. Large-scale layoffs occurred in many mega information technology companies. In the financial field, since 2017, strengthening government supervision has become the main focus of the financial world. While deleveraging and reducing risks, the financial industry has slowed down and the employment opportunities in the industry have also declined as a whole. Private enterprises have contributed to 80 percent of China’s job market. However, due to a number of factors such as the pandemic and a reduced demand, the number of employees,  especially from small, medium and micro enterprises, has dropped significantly. In reality, the structural contradictions are more severe than the contradiction between supply and demand. With the change in young people’s career preferences, the mismatch of “workers who can’t find work, and businesses that can’t find workers” will worsen.

Source: NetEase, April 14, 2022

China Blocks Lyrics of its own National Anthem

The lockdown of the city of Shanghai has given rise to a great deal of public discontent. Many people are using social media to express their frustration due to the shortage of supplies and the dysfunction of Chinese government. The popular microblogging platform Weibo has blocked several trending topics related to this issue over the past few days, including even the first line of China’s national anthem,  March of the Voluntary Army, which reads “Rise up, people who do not want to be slaves.”

It is not the first time Beijing have blocked content from the national anthem. The death of Dr. Li Wenliang, the “whistle blower” at the beginning of the Wuhan outbreak in 2020, triggered outrage among netizens against the authorities. At the time, the same anthem lyrics were blocked for “containing radical current affairs or ideology.”

Western observers and journalists are caught between laughter and tears over the Chinese censors’ move.

Tim Culpan,a Bloomberg journalist tweeted, “Patriotism in China is a tricky balance.”
Henry Gao, a professor from Singapore Management University asked, “So when will the whole national anthem be censored?”
While Financial Times reporter Eli Meixler thought it “Unreal,” American economist Chris Balding commented, “Revolutions always eat their creators.”

Source: Voice of America, April 18, 2022