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“If You Are Angry, Stand Up”: Beijing Scrambles To Tamp Down Unrest As Furious Chinese Take To Social Media

“If You Are Angry, Stand Up”: Beijing Scrambles To Tamp Down Unrest As Furious Chinese Take To Social Media

Summary:

  • Fatalities in China reached a single-day high of 86 on Friday, raising the national death toll to 724
  • WHO reported 31,481 confirmed global cases on Friday, up by 3,000+ cases from Thursday; SCMP says total cases closer to 35k
  • First American citizen has died
  • First Japanese citizen suspected of succumbing to virus
  • France elevates travel advisory to orange after 5 Britons fall ill in ski resort
  • Roundup of suspected infected in Wuhan continues
  • Beijing appoints Xi protege to help lead virus response
  • Vigil for Dr. Li held in Hong Kong
  • China blocks Foxconn plan to reopen factories

* * *

Update (1500ET): The NYT just published its latest critical piece about the Chinese government’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak. This one centers on President Xi’s decision to stay out of the limelight over the past two weeks, instead leaving the crisis to his No. 2, Premier Li Keqiang, who has been charged with leading the committee of senior officials tasked with overseeing the government response to the outbreak.

One academic quoted in the article explains that the government’s botched handling of the outbreak could be the biggest threat to Xi’s rule during his tenure so far, and that the changes he’s imposed on the Chinese constitution could make it difficult for Xi to avoid blame.

“It’s a big shock to the legitimacy of the ruling party. I think it could be only second to the June 4 incident of 1989. It’s that big,” said Rong Jian, a writer about politics in Beijing, referring to the armed crackdown on Tiananmen Square protesters that year.

“There’s no doubt about his control over power,” he added, “but the manner of control and its consequences have hurt his legitimacy and reputation.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Third US Coronavirus Case Confirmed In Orange County, 40 Reported In Shanghai

Third US Coronavirus Case Confirmed In Orange County, 40 Reported In Shanghai

Hundreds of medical personnel are rushing to Wuhan following yesterday’s tragic death of Doctor Liang Wudong, of the ENT department of Hubei Xinhua Hospital, who died Saturday while fighting to suppress the virus. The South China Morning Post reports that 1,350 medics (presumably from the PLA) have already arrived in the city, and another 1,000 are expected to arrive soon.

As the number of confirmed cases surges past 2,000, China is scrambling to build not one, but two, SARS treatment-model hospitals in Wuhan (remember, Wuhan is a massive city of 11 million). Authorities have told the press that they expect both hospitals and their combined 2,300 beds to be operational within half a month.

Even though researchers have purportedly cast doubt on the theory that the coronavirus didn’t make the jump from animals to humans thanks to a shady food market that trafficking in live wild animals, officials in Beijing announced Sunday that the sale of live wild animals, including bats and snakes, at markets, supermarkets, restaurants and e-commerce platforms. But we thought eating bats was a delicacy and an ingrained cultural practice not to be criticized or stifled?

As we reported last night (Sunday morning in Beijing), health officials in Hubei Province confirmed thirteen more deaths on Saturday, while another was reported in Henan Province. Perhaps most alarmingly, last night, we learned that a patient has reportedly succumbed to the virus in Shanghai as well. In that case, the victim was an 88-year-old man who was suffering from preexisting health issues. AFP adds that 40 cases have been confirmed in the city: 37 stable, one critical, one recovered, and one (88yo man with comorbidities) died. They are also investigating 95 additional suspected cases.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Beijing Condemns Washington’s Interference After Latest ‘Freeop’ In South China Sea

Beijing Condemns Washington’s Interference After Latest ‘Freeop’ In South China Sea 

The endless back-and-forth of provocations between the US and China in the South China Sea continued apace on Thursday as Bejing condemned the latest US “freedom of navigation” operation near a set of disputed reefs in the South China Sea, according to the SCMP.

On Wednesday, the guided missile destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer sailed within 12 nautical miles of Fiery Cross and Mischief reefs, the two biggest artificial islands – or, as Steve Bannon calls them, ‘stationary aircraft carriers’ – in the disputed Spratlys.

According to the SCMP, it was the first time an American warship had challenged two Chinese military outposts at once in a “freedom of navigation” operation. On Thursday, Senior Colonel Li Huamin, spokesman of the People’s Liberation Army’s Southern Theater Command, accused Washington of “acting as a hegemony in ignorance of the international laws and rules” and urged itto stop its “provocative actions” to avoid an “unpredictable incident.”

Suggesting that the mission almost resulted in a confrontation, Li said the PLA Navy and Air Force monitored and warned the destroyer, ultimately driving it out of Chinese territory.

Meanwhile, Reann Mommsen, a spokeswoman for US 7th Fleet, said US forces operated in the Indo-Pacific region on a daily basis, including in the South China Sea, and that these operations were simply to make sure the US can still operate in accordance with international law.

“All operations are designed in accordance with international law and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail and operate whatever international law allows,” she said.

Beijing claims most of the South China Sea, an area rich in resources and through which trillions of dollars in trade passes each year. Despite international court rulings contradicting this claim, Beijing has occupied the Paracel Islands, built up the Spratlys, and assigned significant military forces to them.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

DHL Sounds Alarm On Collapsing World Trade: “Significant Downturn” Underway

DHL Sounds Alarm On Collapsing World Trade: “Significant Downturn” Underway 

A new quarterly report from logistics company DHL, measured global air and sea cargo trade volumes between March and June, found trade data continues to deteriorate in the US and China as there is still no resolution to end the trade war, reported South China Morning Post(SCMP).

Chinese imports were “losing significant momentum,” the report stated, indicating the epicenter of the slowdown was situated in basic raw materials, capital equipment and machinery, and consumer fashion goods. The loss of momentum in DHL trade data has also been confirmed in official Chinese import data releases.

The report indicated that the US trade outlook is more dangerous than China: DHL expected a “significant downturn, driven by heavy losses in exports outlook.” DHL said both air and sea freight have plunged into negative territory in 2Q19, with extreme weakness in basic raw materials, chemicals, and technology.

“The declining outlook for US exports indicates that, so far, the US is missing its goal of strengthening its export economy with a harsher trade course against China,” DHL said.

DHL’s Global Trade Barometer measured air and sea container freight for seven countries, which together accounted for more than 75% of world trade

The report focused on early-cycle commodities to detect turning points in global trade flows — goods such as automobile bumpers, touch screens for smartphones, and brand labels for clothes.

If shipments of early-cycle commodities edged down, DHL was able to forecast lower demand finished goods.

“The data is expressed as a figure, with a reading above 50 indicating a positive outlook over the three month period, and below 50 a negative. For the US, air trade fell from 53 in March to 45 in June, while sea trade fell from 57 to 43. In the case of China, air trade fell from 57 to 51 over the same period, while sea trade fell from 55 to 47,” said SCMP.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Could China dump its US Treasuries to fight the trade war? A contrarian view is emerging in Beijing

Could China dump its US Treasuries to fight the trade war? A contrarian view is emerging in Beijing

  • As trade war escalates, market talk is emerging that Beijing will use monetary weapons to retaliate as ‘last resort’
  • China’s US Treasury holdings in March dropped by US$10.4 billion while foreign exchange reserves rose to highest level since August
Traders work as US President Donald Trump is seen on television on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York. Photo: Bloomberg

Traders work as US President Donald Trump is seen on television on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York. Photo: Bloomberg

As American pundits and polls dismiss the idea that China would dump its massive holdings of US Treasury debt as retaliation against US tariffs, a contrarian view is emerging in Beijing that the government may use the securities as a “weapon of last resort”.China’s US$1.12 trillion holdings account for just 5 per cent of total US national debt, which may mean any material damage on the US economy stemming from a bond sales would be limited. In addition, even if it did cause market volatility, China’s remaining holdings would also be hurt, which the Chinese may view as a move that is too risky, US sceptics have said.

“While we think China will continue to sell Treasuries, as it has for most of the last year, we do not think that the pace at which they sell will increase as a direct response measure for tariffs. Rather, we believe that the pace at which they sell Treasuries will continue to track the pace at which they see capital inflows,” said Matthew Hornbach, an analyst at Morgan Stanley.

However, with Beijing vowing to fight “to the end” and the US preparing to place a 25 per cent tariff on a further US$300 billion of Chinese imports, China may have “no choice but to sell” its US Treasury holdings, according to some analysts and reports widely distributed on China’s social media.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

“It Will Be A Cold War”: APEC Summit Ends In Unprecedented Chaos After Dramatic US-China Showdown

One day after vice president Mike Pence and China’s president Xi Jinping clashed after exchanging sharply worded barbs in a showdown between the two superpowers, on Sunday the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit ended in unprecedented chaos and disarray, without agreement on a joint communique for the first time in its history as the escalating rivalry between the United States and China dominated proceedings and reflected escalating trade tensions.

Competition between the United States and China over the Pacific was also thrown into focus with the United States and its Western allies launching a coordinated response to China’s Belt and Road program, Reuters added.

One diplomat told Reuters tension between the U.S. and China, bubbling all week, erupted when the Chinese government’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, objected during a leaders’ retreat to two paragraphs in a draft document seen by Reuters. One mentioned opposing “unfair trade practices” and reforming the WTO, while another concerned sustainable development.

“These two countries were pushing each other so much that the chair couldn’t see an option to bridge them,” said the unnamed diplomat. “China was angered that the reference to WTO blamed a country for unfair trade practices.

Sunday’s dramatic conclusion was foreshadowed by accusations that Chinese officials had attempted to strong-arm officials in Papua New Guinea, which was hosting the event, into issuing a statement that fitted what Beijing wanted. The Chinese vigorously denied the claims. When asked about the impasse, Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill was quoted by the South China Morning Postsaying: “You know the two big giants in the room, so what can I say?”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

China’s Senior Leadership Prepares For Economic Collision In Spring 2019

China’s senior leadership has just signaled for more stimulus, as its economy and stock market prepares for a possible economic collision in early 2019 from the trade war with the United States.

The Communist Party’s Politburo, a group of 25 people who oversee the Communist Party of China headed by President Xi Jinping, finally admitted on Wednesday that there was “growing downward pressure” on the economy with “profound changes” in the economic environment, Xinhua news agency reported.

This statement from the communist party was a massive shift from three months ago when the Politburo said there had been “noticeable” changes in the economic environment, reported the South China Morning Post.

It is the first time the leadership has shown public concern about China’s rapidly slowing economy since the trade war began earlier this year.

Calls for more stimulus came after disappointing economic data showed the country is headed for turmoil next year. The purchasing manager report showed widespread deterioration across the country could spill over into the rest of the world.

The Politburo said there were “a lot of difficulties with certain enterprises and the emergence of risks accumulated over long periods of time.”

“We need to attach great importance to this situation and be more forward-looking to respond in a timely manner,” the statement said.

“We have to enhance reform and opening up to focus on core problems with targeted solutions … We must get our own things done and firmly seek high-quality growth.”

Officials have already tried a handful accommodative policies, ranging from tax cuts to regulatory support, rather than loading up the ole’ fiscal cannon as seen in prior slowdowns. Bloomberg notes that investors seem unpersuaded by the drip-feed approach with the yuan near decade lows and regional stock markets in correction territories to soon bear markets.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Top Communist Party Official Threatens Military Intervention Over Pence’s Support For Taiwan

With the on-again-off-again trade war detente back in “off again” mode as China is once again refusing to bow to the US’s demands for concessions, and with military tensions simmering in the background as the US seriously considers withdrawing from the INF, the Communist Party’s top defense official demanded that the US end its aggressive policy toward China during a speech at the Xiangshan security forum in Beijing in front of a crowd of 500 foreign delegates from 74 countries (including the US).

According to the South China Morning Post, Wei Fenghe, the Chinese defense minister, criticized Washington for “seriously damaging the Sino-US relationship and mutual trust” by accusing China of interfering in the midterm elections and by characterizing China’s “debt diplomacy” as a neo-colonialist tool for acquiring foreign resources for its “One Belt, One Road” initiative.

Without referencing Pence by name (the Vice President delivered one of the most sweeping condemnations of China’s foreign and economic policies during a speech earlier this month), Wei articulated China’s “anger and resolute opposition” and demanded that the Trump Administration drop its aggressive posture toward China. “We strongly call on the US to remedy the mistakes, stop damaging China’s interests and the Sino-US relationship.”

The remarks followed similarly hostile remarks directed at Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who became embroiled in a dramatic confrontation with China’s foreign minister during a recent trip to Beijing.

China

In the latest sign that the Trump Administration’s friendly stance toward Taiwan has rattled China, Wei, reiterating a threat made by numerous senior Chinese officials, warned that the mainland wouldn’t hesitate to bring the full brunt of is military to bear against Taiwan – and any country aiding the Taiwanese – if its rogue province tries to formally break away from the mainland.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Violence, Public Anger Erupts In China As Home Prices Slide

Last March, we discussed why few things are as important for China’s wealth effect and economy, as its housing bubble market. Specifically, as Deutsche Bank calculated at the time, “in 2016 the rise of property prices boosted household wealth in 37 tier 1 and tier 2 cities by RMB24 trillion, almost twice their total disposable income of RMB12.9 trillion.” The German lender added that this (rather fleeting) wealth effect “may be helping to sustain consumption in China despite slowing income growth” warning that “a decline of property price would obviously have a large negative impact.”

Naturally, as long as the housing bubble keeps inflating and prices keep rising, there is nothing to worry about as the population will keep spending money buoyed by illusory wealth appreciation. It is when housing starts to drop that Beijing begins to panic.

Fast forward to today, when Beijing may be starting to sweat because whereas Chinese property developers usually count on September and October to be their “gold and silver” months for sales, this year has turned out to be different. As the SCMP reports, not only were sales figures grim for September, but the seven-day national holiday last week also brought at least two “fangnao” incidents – when angry, and often violent, homeowners protest against price cuts offered by developers to new buyers.

These protests are often directed at sales offices, with varying levels of intensity – from throwing rocks to holding banners and putting up funeral wreaths. The risk, of course, is that as what has gone up (wealth effect) will come down, and as home ownership has remained the most important channel of investment for urban households in China in the past decade, price cuts have become increasingly unacceptable and a cause for social unrest.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Can US-China trade war rivalry reverse the worst economic trends in both countries?

“Trump Won’t Back Down”: Bannon Warns Trade-War Will Be “Unbearably Painful” For China

Steve Bannon – who claims to have helped President Trump draft the battle plan for the ongoing trade war, says that Trump’s strategy is to make the conflict “unprecedentedly large” and “unbearably painful” for Beijing, according to an exclusive interview with the South China Morning Post.

The ultimate goal, says Bannon – is not just to force China to give up its “unfair trade practices,” but to “re-industrialize America” since manufacturing used to be the core of the nation’s power. Bannon also criticized the “Made in China 2025” plan for Beijing to catch up with the West in 10 key tech sectors – saying that Chinese firms were relying in generous government support to reduce future technological reliance on the West.

Bannon, who claimed to have helped Trump draw up the trade war plan, said that in the past, tariffs had been limited to imports of between roughly US$10 billion and US$30 billion but the sheer magnitude of the more than US$500 billion in question this time had “caught Beijing off guard”.

“It’s not just any tariff. It’s tariffs on a scale and depth that is previously inconceivable in US history,” Bannon said.

He said Beijing had relied on “round after round of talks” to take the momentum out of the US punitive measures, but the delaying tactics would not work.

“They always want to have a strategic dialogue to tap things along. They never envisioned that somebody would actually do this.” –SCMP

Bannon says he and Trump were convinced that the US would win a trade war, and that Chinese elites were worried about the same, with “so many senior Chinese officials exhausting all channels” in order to move their money out of China and snap up West Coast and New York real estate.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

China Using Bird Drones To Spy On Border Muslims

Over 30 Chinese military and government agencies have been using robotic bird drones to spy on the population – particularly in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region which borders several countries and has a large Muslim population, reports the South China Morning Post.

One part of the country that has seen the new technology used extensively is the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region in China’s far west. The vast area, which borders Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, is home to a large Muslim population and has long been viewed by Beijing as a hotbed for separatism. As a result, the region and its people have been subjected to heavy surveillance from the central government. –SCMP

Unlike traditional unmanned aerial vehicles with rotor blades or fixed wings, the bird drones actually mimic the flapping action of a bird’s wings in order to climb, dive and steer.

The machines in China’s current robot flock replicate about 90 per cent of the movements of a real dove, the person said, adding that they also produce very little noise, making them very hard to detect from the ground, and are so lifelike that actual birds often fly alongside them. –SCMP

Each “bird” is fitted with a HD camera, GPS antenna, flight control system and data link with the capability to communicate with satellites. The flapping mechanism consists of a pair of crank rockers connected to an electric motor, while the wings are able to slightly deform when moving up and down – providing both lift and thrust.

The “spy bird” program, code-named project “Dove” is led by Northwestern Polytechnic University professor Song Bifeng – a former scientist on China’s J-20 stealth jet program decorated for his service to the People’s Liberation Army, according to information on the university’s website.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

US Deploys Three Carrier Battle Groups To Face-Off Against Chinese Aircraft Carrier In South China Sea

Last week, we reported that satellite images had captured China’s only aircraft carrier in deployment, the Liaoning, flanked by 40 other warships and submarines, conducting unprecedented live-fire drills in the South China Sea. This massive Chinese naval exercise was observed for the first time, with China watchers pointing out that such a forceful display of deterrence was highly unusual for the People’s Liberation Army Navy. Perhaps in light of recent events, it was merely a warning.

Li Jie, a Beijing-based naval specialist, said, “it was the first time the Liaoning had taken part in live-fire drills. This will test the Liaoning’s real combat strength as well as joint-operations skills between the aircraft carrier and warships from other fleets.”

“China wants to show the outside world its determination to defend the fruits of its economic reforms over the past 40 years,” Beijing-based military analyst Zhou Chenming said.“Like the US, China’s military might is one of the government’s political tools to protect the country’s national interests.”

Now, according to the South China Morning Post, as Beijing flexes its naval war muscle, the US is preparing for its own “show of force” naval drill in the Asia-Pacific region, and in close proximity to the Liaoning. The Pentagon is reportedly sending an unprecedented three aircraft carrier battle groups to the region, with the USS Theodore Roosevelt flotilla arriving in Singapore sometime early next week.

Separately, the USS Carl Vinson and its fleet have just paid a first visit to the Vietnamese coastal city of Da Nang since the end of the Vietnam war, a move Chinese military experts said was aimed at countering Beijing’s influence in the region.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

“China Should Prepare For Nuclear Conflict”: Beijing Warned To Be Ready As War On Korean Peninsula “Possible At Any Time”

“China Should Prepare For Nuclear Conflict”: Beijing Warned To Be Ready As War On Korean Peninsula “Possible At Any Time”

Chinese government advisors and a senior military officer warned Beijing that it must be ready for a war on the Korean peninsula, with the risk of conflict higher than ever before, the SCMP reported on Saturday. They also warned that Beijing, once seen as Pyongyang’s biggest ally with influence over its neighbor, was losing control of the situation.

“Conditions on the peninsula now make for the biggest risk of a war in decades,” said Renmin University international relations professor Shi Yinhong, who also advises the State Council, China’s cabinet. “North Korea is a time bomb. We can only delay the explosion, hoping that by delaying it, a time will come to remove the detonator,” Shi added on the sidelines of a Beijing conference on the crisis.

Shi said US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un were locked in a vicious cycle of threats and it was already too late for China to avert it. However, at best, Beijing could delay a full-blown conflict. Also addressing the conference was Wang Hongguang, former deputy commander of the Nanjing’s Military Region, who warned that war could break out on the Korean peninsula at any time from now on until March when South Korea and the United States held annual military drills.

“It is a highly dangerous period,” Wang said. “Northeast China should mobilise defences for war.”

The warnings continued: Yang Xiyu, a senior fellow at the China Institute of International Studies affiliated with China’s foreign ministry, said conditions on the peninsula were at their most perilous in half a century. “No matter whether there is war or peace, regretfully, China has no control, dominance or even a voice on the issue,” he said. China might already be preparing for the worst.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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Chinese Navy Begins Live-Fire Drills Off Korean Peninsula

Chinese Navy Begins Live-Fire Drills Off Korean Peninsula

Earlier this week, Seoul asked the US to delay joint military exercises with Japan until after the Winter Olympics, ostensibly to avoid provoking North Korea ahead of the 2018 Winter Games. The timing of the request is suspicious – having coincided with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s announcement that the US has offered to begin talks with the North “without preconditions.” While State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert walked back Tillerson’s statement the next day, insisting the North cease its weapons tests before talks can proceed, it is possible such a delay – if undertaken – could be construed as an opening gambit.

US drills in the region have stopped, though it’s unclear whether the US will abide by South Korea’s request. However, the brief lull in the area was interrupted Thursday when local media reported that China has decided to hold military drills of its own.

According to the South China Morning Post, China is now conducting a live-fire exercise off the North Korean peninsula, and is expected to last for four days. In addition to citing security concerns, Beijing also criticized the US for pushing the region toward nuclear war.

The drill in the Bohai Sea started on Thursday afternoon and will last until 4 pm local time next Monday, according to a notice issued by the Liaoning Maritime Safety Administration.

Beijing cordoned off an area of some 276 square kilometers near Lushun in Liaoning province, an important naval base for the People’s Liberation Army’s North Sea Fleet, which is responsible for defending the Bohai and Yellow Seas off the Korean peninsula.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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