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Leadership: Xi Jinping Made a Public Appearance on February 10

Xi Jinping made a high-profile appearance on February 10, He visited a local community, hospital and the epidemic control center and he also had a tele-conference with Wuhan.

Xi’s last public appearance was on February 5 when he met Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Some Western media commented that Xi might have been forced to make this appearance. The Chinese people have been suffering from this great epidemic, but there was no clear voice from the Central government saying who is actively managing the overall anti-epidemic effort. Xi, in his meeting with Tedros, the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) on January 28, said that he has been in charge all along.

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Source: BBC Chinese, February 11, 2020


Two Large Cities in China Introduced Laws to Allow Seizure of Private Property to Contain Coronavirus

The authorities in Guangzhou and Shenzhen, two of China’s top four mega cities (the other two being Beijing and Shanghai) were given the power to requisition private property when they deemed it necessary to contain the spread of the coronavirus. The standing committee of the People’s Congress in Guangzhou and in  Shenzhen made the announcement on February 11, 2020. Both cities are located in southern Guangdong province.

The private property which could be seized, according to decisions of the People’s Congress of each of the two cities, includes houses, facilities, transportation vehicles, and other equipment. Government officials also have the authority to order companies to produce supplies which they think should take priority in containing the spread of the coronavirus.

In 2007, China’s National People’s Congress passed a national law to protect private property. This is the first time local governments cited an emergency clause in the private property law stating that the property of companies and individuals can be requisitioned.

Local authorities have been given the power to quarantine suspected patients and to screen all residents. Continue reading

Death Count: On February 1, Tencent Reported 24,589 Deaths from Coronavirus

Tencent has been reporting the official numbers related to the novel coronavirus in China. For a long time, China has reported infection cases in the thousands or just ten thousand and death cases in hundreds.

However, on February 1, 2020, Tencent briefly reported a set of unusually high numbers. It reported that 154,023 had been infected and 24,589 had died. Then it adjusted the data back to much smaller numbers. On February 2, Tencent lowered the number back to 14,446 infections and 304 deaths.

It is unclear whether Tencent “accidentally” reported numbers that were accurate or much closer to the truth or the February 1 data was just a mistake.

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Public Opinion: Intellectuals in China Started Raising Their “Five Demands”

The night of February 6, 2020, saw the death of Dr. Li Wenliang, a Wuhan physician who alerted others about novel coronavirus a month ago. He then contracted the virus when working on the front-line treating patients. There was an outcry among intellectuals within the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) establishment. They cried out for freedom of speech.

Citizen News, a social diversity advocate news outlet based in Hong Kong, published an open letter signed by leading Chinese intellectuals with five demands:

  1. The Designation of February 6 as National Freedom of Speech Day (Dr. Li Wenliang Day).
  2. Starting now, fully implement the Chinese people’s right to freedom of speech granted by Article 35 of the Constitution.
  3. Starting now, no political forces or state machine should infringe on the Chinese people when they form associations or communicate among each other. The state organs must immediately stop censoring or blocking the content of social media.
  4. Grant equal rights to citizens in Wuhan city and Hubei province, the epicenter of the coronavirus. All coronavirus patients should be able to receive timely, proper, and effective treatment.
  5. Call for the National People’s Congress to convene an emergency assembly to discuss how to protect citizens’ freedom of speech and do not allow any police force to stop the planned meeting (China holds the National People’s Congress in early March every year).

Scholars associated with China’s leading universities, including Renmin University, Peking University, and Tsinghua University, have signed the open letter. South China Morning Post reported on February 12 that hundreds of Chinese, led by academics, have signed the petition.

China’s Human Rights Attorney Association also called for designating February 6 as “National Truth Day.”

On February 7, a “Notice to All Chinese” was sent out from “a group of Tsinghua University Alumni” with five appeals:

  1. Resolutely oppose putting political security above all else; that is the goal of an extremely selfish group.
  2. Resolutely oppose blocking discussion groups and individual accounts on social media.
  3. Resolutely oppose the current maintenance of the stability mentality and practice; oppose treating the people as the enemy.
  4. Resolutely oppose making this disaster a grand party to praise the party; going after the accountability of the officials and the system is a must.
  5. Resolutely oppose going backward; adhere to the abolition of the lifelong term of leaders that Deng Xiaoping started.

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Public Opinion: Mourning for Dr. Li Wenliang

The night of February 6, 2020, saw the death of Dr. Li Wenliang, the Wuhan physician who alerted others about novel coronavirus a month ago and then contracted the virus himself when he was working on the front line treating patients. His death triggered a public mourning and questioning of the communist regime’s policy of obscurantism.

Within Hours of Dr. Li’s death, the head of the Shanghai branch of People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the CCP central committee, wrote a poem that was widely circulated over Chinese social media. His poem read as follows: “We are angered by how your warning was treated as rumor, and how your death was not rumor [the state-run media denied Li Wenliang’s death for a few hours to buy time to squash the popular outcry] … Now, because of not believing your ‘whistle-blowing,’ the whole country has stopped functioning, and your heart has stopped beating. How many more severe prices do we have to pay to let your voice be heard across the oriental world?”

A comment stated, “Xi Jinping and other officials who hid the information about the epidemic should be tried.”

Another comment said, “It is a tragedy that a country only allows one voice. That will lead to disaster as well.”

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Death Count: Wuhan Has Unusually High Level of Sulfur Dioxide Gas

A twitter account Intelwave posted the following:

“Data from shows a massive release of sulfur dioxide gas from the outskirts of Wuhan, commonly associated with the burning of organic matters.

Current SO₂ levels are extremely elevated, at 1700ug/m^3, where 80ug/m^3 is considered dangerously high.

Poster extrapolated from the SO2 release data and estimated 14,000 bodies would have to be burned to reach this level of emissions. #coronavirus”

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Source: Twitter

HK01: U.S Manufacturing Sector Returned to Expansion

Popular Hong Kong new online media HK01 Network recently reported that, according to the just-released U.S. Institute of Supply Management (ISM) Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) Report, starting in January, the U.S. manufacturing sector stopped its five-month decline and returned to expansion. The January PMI number recorded was 50.9, which is the highest since last July. The new number beats the general expectation of 48.5 from economists. The much needed manufacturing boost injected significant positive energy to Wall Street since the sector had been a drag on the U.S. economy, which showed strong growth on employment and consumer spending. PMI is an indicator of financial activity reflecting purchasing managers’ acquisition of goods and services. A PMI number below 50 typically reflects a decline.

Source: HK01, February 4, 2020

DW Chinese: China May Delay Purchasing U.S. Goods

Deutsche Welle Chinese Edition recently reported that China may delay the schedule for purchasing U.S. goods as agreed in the recent U.S.-China Trade Agreement (Phase One). According to the agreement, the promise of acquiring U.S. goods starts to take effect on February 15. However, with the spread of the coronavirus outbreak in China, Chinese authorities effectively closed down a large number of factories and even entire cities in response to the disease. Larry Kudlow, Whitehouse Director of the National Economic Council, confirmed this potential delay on Tuesday, February 4. Based on estimates, China is expected to purchase US$76 billion additional U.S. goods in the first year of the Agreement schedule and a US$123 billion additional purchase is scheduled for year two. The agreement does not have clear details on how to resolve issues caused by a reasonable delay. So far, the coronavirus has caused widespread delays for Chinese manufacturers to be able to reopen their factories after the Chinese New Year.

Source: DW Chinese, February 5, 2020

PLA Central Military Commissions Issued “Thirteen Strictly Forbidden” Rules

On February 10, 2020, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Central Military Commission issued new, much stricter regulations on the relationship between the PLA command and the local civil government.

Three departments of the Central Military Commission, including the Political Work Department, the Logistics Support Department, and the Discipline Inspection Commission, jointly issued the “Notice on Strict Regulations on Military-Civil Government Interactions” (“Notice”). The “Notice” listed thirteen “strictly forbidden” items, including:

  • It is strictly forbidden for PLA units to accept visits and donations from local civil units, enterprises, and individuals, in the form of money, marketable securities, and other payment vouchers;
  • It is strictly forbidden for PLA units to accept visits and donations from local civil units and individuals that may affect the execution of PLA official duties;
  • It is strictly forbidden for PLA units to request visits from local civil governments and set standards for their visits or ask them for money or supplies in the name of military-civilian joint construction, job needs, and serving the military officers and soldiers.
  • It is strictly forbidden for PLA units to accept cars that the local civil unit or individuals donate;

There have been commentaries that the PLA did this to prevent the military units and local governments from forming alliances. There have been reports that some local governments defied Beijing’s direction on the fight against the novel coronavirus epidemic. Continue reading

RFA Chinese: China Protested against Taiwanese Vice President Elect

Radio Free Asia (RFA) Chinese Edition recently reported that the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a “solemn” statement protesting against the visit of Lai Ching-te to the United States. Lai is the current Vice President Elect of Taiwan which, not long ago, just had its presidential election. Lai attended the February 6 National Prayer Breakfast, which President Trump, Vice President Pence, Secretary of State Pompeo, Defense Secretary Esper and House Speaker Pelosi also attended. Lai also visited the White House National Security Council one day earlier. Lai declined to comment on the details of his visit. Chinese Ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai did not attend the Breakfast. This is the first time a Taiwanese Vice President Elect has visited the White House since the U.S. ended its formal relationship with Taiwan. The Whitehouse also declined to comment on Lai’s visit. China asked the U.S. to “stop sending wrong signals” to the representatives of the Taiwanese Independence Movement.

Source: RFA Chinese, February 6, 2020