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Posts Tagged ‘china’

So Where Did the Virus Come From?

Posted by hkarner - 1. Juni 2020

Date: 30‑05‑2020

Source: The Wall Street Journal By Matt Ridley

Research into the origins of the new coronavirus raises questions about how it became so infectious in human beings

New research has deepened, rather than dispelled, the mystery surrounding the origin of the coronavirus responsible for Covid‑19. Bats, wildlife markets, possibly pangolins and perhaps laboratories may all have played some role, but the simple story of an animal in a market infected by a bat that then infected several human beings no longer looks credible.

A study published in early May by scientists at the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Mass., and at the University of British Columbia has uncovered an unusual feature of the virus’s recent development: It has evolved too slowly. The genomes of viruses sampled from cases during the SARS epidemic of 2002‑2003 showed rapid evolutionary change during the early months of the epidemic, as the virus adapted to its new host, followed by much slower change later. By contrast, samples taken from recent cases of the new coronavirus, SARS‑CoV‑2, have comparatively few genetic substitutions compared with an early case from December. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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We Are Hong Kong

Posted by hkarner - 31. Mai 2020

Chris Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong and a former EU commissioner for external affairs, is Chancellor of the University of Oxford.

With his recent decision to impose a draconian new security law on Hong Kong, Chinese President Xi Jinping has ridden roughshod over the Joint Declaration and directly threatened the city’s freedom. Defenders of liberal democracy must not stand idly by.

LONDON – In my final speech as Hong Kong’s governor on June 30, 1997, a few hours before I left the city on Britain’s royal yacht, I remarked that, “Now, Hong Kong people are to run Hong Kong. That is the promise. And that is the unshakable destiny.

That promise was contained in the 1984 Joint Declaration, a treaty signed by China and the United Kingdom and lodged at the United Nations. The deal was clear, and the guarantee to Hong Kong’s citizens was absolute: the return of the city from British to Chinese sovereignty would be governed by the principle of “one country, two systems.” Hong Kong would have a high degree of autonomy for 50 years, until 2047, and would continue to enjoy all the freedoms associated with an open society under the rule of law.But with his recent decision to impose a draconian new security law on Hong Kong, Chinese President Xi Jinping has ridden roughshod over the Joint Declaration and directly threatened the city’s freedom. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Google’s removal of anti‑Beijing comments raises political eyebrows

Posted by hkarner - 30. Mai 2020

Date: 28‑05‑2020

Source: The Economist

The case of the vanishing comments

On may 26th Palmer Luckey, an American best known for making virtual‑reality headsets, alerted the world to an odd phenomenon. YouTube was deleting all comments which mentioned Wumao, slang for propagandists paid by the Chinese Communist Party (ccp) to flood online forums with pro‑ccp views. “Who at Google [YouTube’s parent] decided to censor American comments on American videos hosted in America by an American platform that is already banned in China?” Mr Luckey asked on Twitter.

Mr Luckey was not the first to notice this, but his tech heft drew an immediate response from the right of the political spectrum, with which he has had connections. Ted Cruz, a Republican senator from Texas, called it “very disturbing” and asked why YouTube was “censoring Americans on behalf of the ccp”. Jim Banks, a Republican congressman from Indiana, fired off a letter to Sundar Pinchai, Google’s boss. One would expect, he wrote, that the “spirit” of the First Amendment would be extended into the American firm’s online platforms. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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This Idiot Wants a War

Posted by hkarner - 29. Mai 2020

Date: 28‑05‑2020

Source: The Wall Street Journal By Rebecca Smith

Subject: U.S. Seizure of Chinese‑Built Transformer Raises Specter of Closer Scrutiny

A Chinese transformer weighing more than 500,000 pounds arrived by ship at the Port of Houston last summer, en route to an electrical substation in Colorado that funnels electricity to Denver.

It never made it there.

Instead, federal officials commandeered the electrical transformer, built by closely held Jiangsu Huapeng Transformer Company, at the port and had it trucked under federal escort to Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, N.M., according to people with knowledge of the matter.

What engineers at Sandia found still isn’t publicly known, nor why it was seized. The laboratory, operated by Honeywell International Inc., is under contract with the U.S. Energy Department and tasked with solving national‑security threats. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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The End of Europe’s Chinese Dream

Posted by hkarner - 28. Mai 2020

Date: 26‑05‑2020

Source: Project Syndicate by Mark Leonard

Mark Leonard is Director of the European Council on Foreign Relations. 

The COVID‑19 crisis has pushed Europeans‘ strategic thinking about China – already shifting because of three developments – past the tipping point. After years of pursuing closer bilateral economic ties, Europeans suddenly realize that they have become dangerously dependent on Chinese trade and investment.

BERLIN – A paradigm shift is taking place in relations between the European Union and China. The COVID‑19 crisis has triggered a new debate within Europe about the need for greater supply‑chain “diversification,” and thus for a managed disengagement from China. That will not be easy, and it won’t happen quickly. But, clearly, Europe has abandoned its previous ambition for a more closely integrated bilateral economic relationship with China.

In the past, when Europeans sought trade, economic‑, and foreign‑policy reforms vis‑à‑vis China, their hope was always to increase contact with the country while making the relationship fairer and more reciprocal. The basic goal was to expand bilateral trade and pry open the Chinese market for European investments. Even when the European Union toughened its approach toward China, its objective was still to deepen economic ties with the country. The creation of new EU instruments to screen investments and enforce antitrust measures were presented as regrettable but necessary measures to create the political conditions for closer cooperation. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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China Rules Out Animal Market and Lab as Coronavirus Origin

Posted by hkarner - 28. Mai 2020

Date: 27‑05‑2020

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Comments by Chinese scientists aim to counter what Beijing perceives as efforts from top U.S. officials to focus solely on China’s role in pandemic

China’s top epidemiologist said testing of samples from the Wuhan food market, seen on Jan. 24, failed to show links between animals being sold there and the coronavirus.

Chinese scientists in recent days said they had ruled out both a laboratory and an animal market in the city of Wuhan as possible origins of the coronavirus pandemic, in their most detailed pushback to date against allegations from U.S. officials and others over what might have sparked it.

The director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, at the center of allegations around a potential laboratory accident, Wang Yanyi, over the weekend told China Central Television that the coronavirus was significantly different from any live pathogen that has been studied at the institute and that there therefore was no chance it could have leaked from there. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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China raises US trade tensions with warning of ‘new cold war’

Posted by hkarner - 25. Mai 2020

Date: 25‑05‑2020

Source: The Guardian

Foreign minister accuses Washington of damaging relationship with Beijing 

Wang Yi, the Chinese foreign minister, said the US was ‘pushing our two countries to the brink of a new cold war’.

The prospects of a trade war between China and the western economies ratcheted up on Sunday as Beijing accused the US of pushing relations towards a “new cold war”.

“China has no intention to change, still less replace the United States,” China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, said on Sunday in the latest escalation in tensions between the world’s two largest economies. “It’s time for the United States to give up its wishful thinking of changing China and stopping 1.4 billion people in their historic march toward modernisation.”

He said US political attacks on China over the coronavirus and global trade matters “are taking China‑US relations hostage and pushing our two countries to the brink of a new cold war”. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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The Fable of the Chinese Whistleblower

Posted by hkarner - 20. Mai 2020

Date: 18‑05‑2020

Source: Project Syndicate by Stephen S. Roach and Weijian Shan

Stephen S. Roach, a faculty member at Yale University and former Chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia, is the author of Unbalanced: The Codependency of America and China. 

Weijian Shan, CEO of PAG, is the author of Out of the Gobi and the forthcoming Money Games.

 The more the United States struggles with the ravages of COVID‑19, the more President Donald Trump and his Republican Party will blame China. The facts hardly matter, as their exploitation of the tragic case of Wuhan doctor Li Wenliang shows: If Trump and the GOP think a conspiracy theory will win votes, they will run with it.

NEW HAVEN/HONG KONG – Public opinion in the United States pins the blame for the COVID‑19 pandemic squarely on China. After all, that’s where the virus started. And President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have fanned the flames by accusing China of covering up the outbreak and knowingly allowing the novel coronavirus to spread. But their supposed smoking gun, the tragic fate of the heroic whistleblower, Li Wenliang, fires only blanks.

Li, a doctor, was purportedly silenced and chastised by Chinese officials for warning on December 30, 2019, about a new virus in the Wuhan hospital where he worked. When it became evident that he was on to something serious – so serious, in fact, that it ultimately killed him – the Chinese government changed its tune and celebrated Li’s bravery. If only that had happened sooner, the argument goes, the world would have avoided this horrific pandemic.

But that’s not what happened. Li was a courageous young man. His actions, however, were relatively unremarkable. Indeed, his role has been distorted without regard for fact.

The first Chinese doctor to report a new virus was not Li, but Zhang Jixian, the 54‑year‑old director of the respiratory and intensive care departments at the Hubei Provincial Hospital of Integrated Chinese and Western Medicine, also located in Wuhan. On December 27, three days before Li’s actions, Zhang diagnosed a family of three suffering from a viral pneumonia of unknown type and immediately submitted a report to her hospital, which, in turn contacted the Wuhan Health Commission on December 29.

Contrary to the Western narrative, the initial response of local authorities was prompt, albeit not without error. Facts and dates are important here. One day later, on December 30, the Wuhan Health Commission sent an urgent warning to all medical institutions under its jurisdiction about the outbreak of a mysterious new pneumonia.

Within hours, the central government dispatched an expert working group from the National Health Commission to conduct on‑site investigations and organize a potential epidemic response. The team arrived early the next morning, December 31, and by 1 p.m. that day, the Wuhan Health Commission issued a public announcement about 27 pneumonia cases of unknown origin. The warning added that there was “so far no discovery of cases of obvious human‑to‑human transmission or infection of medical workers” – a mistake that would haunt China.

Following standard protocols for infectious diseases, the World Health Organization was informed immediately on December 31. The WHO’s Disease Outbreak News acknowledges receiving a report that day “… of cases of pneumonia of unknown etiology (unknown cause) detected in Wuhan City.” In other words, the WHO sounded a global alert only two days after Zhang’s hospital filed its initial report.

Li, an ophthalmologist, was not trained to diagnose complex respiratory diseases. He and a few other doctors probably saw the December 30 urgent notification from the Wuhan Health Commission. Out of understandable concern, they sent instant messages to friends a little before 6 p.m. that day, warning of a potential outbreak.

The message went viral. Local police then came in, having tracked Li’s warning through China’s notorious Internet surveillance. Yes, the police reprimanded Li on January 1 for spreading a rumor, and he signed a “paper of admonishment” on January 3. But this is not as disturbing as it may seem. At that point, no one, including Zhang and Li, had any insight into the true nature of the disease. Nor did the Wuhan police, who were understandably concerned about seemingly alarmist messages. But Li was not arrested or otherwise punished for rumormongering. Unfortunately, Li died of the coronavirus on February 6, the same day Zhang was officially honored as the real whistleblower.

So where is the smoking gun? After testing a stricken family for known viruses, all Zhang knew was that this ailment was different and sounded the alarm, which was enough to spur a quick response from officials at both the local and national levels.

The major early mistake – the failure to consider the possibility of human‑to‑human transmission – was a judgment error, which probably reflected an under‑reporting of cases. Sadly, that lesson has been lost on the US, which continues to suffer from a glaring deficiency of testing and a related undercounting of infections.

This is where the Trump administration’s conspiracy theory falls apart. COVID‑19 is a novel coronavirus – it had never occurred before. Local Chinese officials were just as confused as anyone at the first signs of this outbreak. And they remained confused for some time. Why else would they have allowed street parties and holiday travel out of Wuhan prior to the Chinese Lunar New Year? When China’s national health officials did comprehend the virus’s highly contagious nature, Wuhan was shut down and sealed off, on January 23, 2020. Moreover, contrary to the Trump administration’s cover‑up narrative, China did not deliberately keep US officials in the dark. The director of China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) briefed his US counterpart on January 3 – within a week of Zhang’s initial report.

While initial contact between the two CDCs was interrupted by the New Year holiday, the coordination between the two countries’ public health officials was much closer – and, as WHO Disease Outbreak documentation verifies, the time lags were considerably shorter – than is widely believed in the West.

The contrast with America’s response is striking. Whereas 27 days passed from Zhang’s initial report to the Wuhan shutdown on January 23, the US took exactly twice as long (54 days) to go from its first official diagnosis of COVID‑19 (January 20) to Trump’s declaration of national emergency (March 13).

Li’s death plays a central part in the conspiracy theories that drive the anti‑China discourse of Trump’s Republican Party. The “Corona Big Book,” a leaked 57‑page GOP Campaign 2020 strategy document is, in fact, filled with distorted accounts of the so‑called intimidation of Li. It makes no mention of Zhang.

Equally important to the GOP strategy is the charge that COVID‑19 was spawned in a lab at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Notwithstanding the rejection of such allegations by US and other Western intelligence sources, leading scientists, and Anthony Fauci, America’s foremost expert on infectious diseases, the GOP’s mendacious claims persist.

Whether it’s the lab in Wuhan or the alleged martyrdom of Li, the implications are the same:
the more the US struggles with the ravages of COVID‑19, the more desperate Trump and his loyalists are to blame China. In a political strategy laced with conspiracy theories, facts matter little.

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The Crisis of a Lifetime

Posted by hkarner - 13. Mai 2020

Date: 11‑05‑2020

Source: Project Syndicate GEORGE SOROS and GREGOR PETER SCHMITZ

Gregor Peter Schmitz is Editor‑in‑Chief of the Augsburger Allgemeine and the co‑author (with George Soros) of The Tragedy of the European Union. 

George Soros is Chairman of Soros Fund Management and the Open Society Foundations. A pioneer of the hedge‑fund industry, he is the author of many books, including The Alchemy of Finance, The New Paradigm for Financial Markets: The Credit Crisis of 2008 and What it Means, and The Tragedy of the European Union: Disintegration or Revival? His most recent book is In Defense of Open Society (Public Affairs, 2019).

Only one thing is certain about the post‑pandemic world: there is no way back to the globalized economy that preceded it. Everything else is up for grabs, including the rise of China, the fate of the United States, and the survival of the European Union.

GREGOR PETER SCHMITZ: You have seen many crises. Is the COVID‑19 pandemic comparable to any previous one?

GEORGE SOROS: No. This is the crisis of my lifetime. Even before the pandemic hit, I realized that we were in a revolutionary moment where what would be impossible or even inconceivable in normal times had become not only possible, but probably absolutely necessary. And then came COVID‑19, which has totally disrupted people’s lives and required very different behavior. It is an unprecedented event that probably has never occurred in this combination. And it really endangers the survival of our civilization. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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There is less trust between Washington and Beijing than at any point since 1979

Posted by hkarner - 11. Mai 2020

Date: 07‑05‑2020

Source: The Economist

What does that mean in practice?

When conducting war games between China and America, David Ochmanek of rand Corporation, a think‑tank, worries most about an invasion of Taiwan, the security of which is implicitly guaranteed by America. In one scenario the red team unleashes a “joint firepower strike” on Taiwan’s defence forces and on American forces, bases and command‑and‑control nodes in the Pacific, including on Okinawa and Guam. Many of the blue team’s planes are destroyed on the ground, and its runways disabled. China severs communication links as part of an effort to gain information superiority, part of a full‑spectrum strategy called “system‑destruction warfare”. Then comes the amphibious assault on the island. American submarines knock out some portion of the invasion force with torpedoes, but surface‑level carriers and frigates are hammered by Chinese anti‑ship missiles if they venture near the fight. “We always assume that the United States intervenes forcefully and early,” Mr Ochmanek says. But now, in contrast to years past, “I would not have confidence that we would succeed.”

The probability of such a world‑changing military conflict between the two countries remains mercifully low. But it is becoming something to ponder beyond simulations, a reflection of how grim their relationship has become. Lesser conflicts may be reignited this year—over trade, technology, espionage and propaganda and disinformation—while the American death toll from covid‑19 climbs. The world’s two largest economies, so long intertwined through trade and investment, are heading towards a partial decoupling. There is less trust between the two governments than at any time since the normalisation of relations in 1979. And as an election approaches in November, the chances of misunderstanding, miscalculation and provocation are escalating on both sides. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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