Week in Review for Friday, February 14, 2020

Here are the stories that caught our eye this week:

  • COVID-19 is the name given by the World Health Organization to the illness caused by the strain of coronavirus that continues to spread across China and the world.
  • Xí Jìnpíng 习近平 visited a hospital in Beijing and talked with doctors in Wuhan via a video link, as the Chinese economy struggled to restart after an extended Lunar New Year holiday. The daily rate of new cases of COVID-19 started to slow on the same day that Xi declared there were “positive changes” in the epidemic situation, but a day later, new diagnostic criteria greatly expanded the reported number of cases in Hubei Province, making long-term trends in the epidemic difficult to verify.
  • Two top local officials got sacked: Jiǎng Zhāoliáng 蒋超良 was replaced by Shanghai Mayor Yīng Yǒng 应勇 as Hubei’s new Communist Party secretary, and Mǎ Guóqiáng 马国强 was replaced by Wáng Zhōnglín 王忠林 as Wuhan’s Party secretary.
  • The Chinese government offered to turn its facial recognition database over to Huawei to enable the company to develop a rival to Apple’s Face ID. Doug Guthrie uses this example to explain how the Chinese government co-opts private companies on SupChina.
  • The latest, scathing essay by Xǔ Zhāngrùn 许章润, who has become perhaps China’s most prominent dissenting voice against the rule of Xí Jìnpíng 习近平, is about the coronavirus epidemic under Xi’s leadership. Scholar Geremie Barmé has translated the essay — read it on ChinaFile.
  • Across China, hilariously aggressive propaganda banners about COVID-19 have been spotted. SupChina collected a few of the most grimly amazing.
  • Danke and Ziroom, two of China’s biggest online home rental platforms, have apologized for engaging in exploitative business practices during the COVID-19 outbreak after coming under fire from apartment owners and tenants.
  • A Wuhan filmmaker, who goes by the name @蜘蛛猴面包 (zhīzhū hóu miànbāo) on Weibo, has created a video series named Wuhan Diary, offering a glimpse into the impact of the outbreak on ordinary people, such as food vendors and delivery workers, and the commendable volunteering work happening in the city.
  • Chén Yuèliáng 陈越良, head of the community governance division at the Ministry of Civil Affairs, was lambasted as ungrateful and unreasonably demanding on the Chinese internet after he suggested that Alibaba and Tencent ought to create tools to help the government with the COVID-19 outbreak. Both companies have already donated hundreds of millions to support outbreak response efforts.  
  • Members of China’s Muslim Hui minority are being swept into internment camps along with Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and Kyrgyz, growing evidence suggests.
  • President Duterte has moved to end Philippines-U.S. military engagement. A formal end to this engagement would be a major win for China.  
  • State Grid, a Chinese state-owned electric utility monopoly, is not only the largest utility company in the world, but also a “hidden giant” in the AI industry, writes Lǐ Shāng 李熵 with translation by Jeffery Ding.
  • The U.S. filed a superseding indictment against Huawei. “The superseding indictment charges Huawei with conspiring to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and conspiring to steal trade secrets from six U.S. technology companies in order to grow the company,” reported Reuters.  
  • A new documentary sheds insight into the personal struggles faced by single women in China. The film, Leftover Women, premiered on PBS on February 10.  
  • Xià Bǎolóng 夏宝龙 has been named the new head of the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office. The former Zhejiang Communist Party chief “gained a reputation as a hardliner overseeing the suppression of Christian churches in the eastern province five years ago,” per the South China Morning Post.  
  • China’s blockchain industry is booming following earlier signals from Xí Jìnpíng 习近平 that Beijing is supportive of the technology, despite its crackdown on the country’s decentralized cryptocurrency industry.
  • Matthew Chitwood documented his 36-hour train journey with migrant friends as part of what is known as the “spring migration” over the Spring Festival holiday period.
  • Mads Vesterager Nielsen has documented how COVID-19 thwarted his road trip plans and led him on a roundabout 1,000-mile-long trip back to Beijing from the Gansu-Sichuan border region.