Week in Review for Friday, February 21, 2020 - SupChina
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Week in Review for Friday, February 21, 2020

Here are the stories that caught our eye this week:

  • The COVID-19 outbreak has reached its peak in China, at least according to official numbers, although the official numbers of infections and deaths continue to increase steadily.
  • Officials also made another change in COVID-19 diagnostic criteria. The new, stricter criteria are likely to lead to a further drop in the rate of reported new cases, reported Caixin.
  • The director of Wuchang Hospital in Wuhan, Liú Zhìmíng 刘智明, died Tuesday morning from COVID-19. As with the death of Lǐ Wénliàng 李文亮, initial reports of Liu’s death were quickly replaced with news that doctors were still trying to save him.
  • Beijing is dialing up the propaganda in an attempt to build confidence in the central leadership amid its efforts to contain the COVID-19 epidemic that has caused great disruption in the daily lives of ordinary citizens. Others are less optimistic about the economy returning to normal anytime soon.
  • Authorities have also cracked down on anyone questioning their approach. Police have detained Xǔ Zhìyǒng 许志永, “a prominent activist and legal scholar who issued a blistering attack on president Xi Jinping for mishandling the coronavirus crisis amid.” Law professor Xǔ Zhāngrùn 许章润, who also published a public critique of Xi, was placed under house arrest for days and is now barred from the internet. At least two citizen journalists in Wuhan are reportedly detained.
  • A disturbing video of female health workers in Gansu Province looking visibly upset as their hair was shaved off before leaving to assist COVID-19 relief efforts in Hubei prompted outrage on the Chinese internet, with users calling for women’s bodies to stop being used as “propaganda tools.”
  • New Xinjiang document leaks reveal further details of the government’s vast system of surveillance and its detention of Muslims. The documents show the largely arbitrary criteria officials use to determine whether detainees can be released from the “re-education” camps, and contradict official claims that the camps are intended to root out “extremism.”
  • Three Wall Street Journal reporters were expelled from China this week allegedly in retaliation for an offensive headline published by the paper on February 3. The three reporters had no involvement in the op-ed, and the move is more likely to be a retaliatory measure against the U.S.’s likely symbolic designation of five Chinese state media outlets as “foreign missions.”
  • The WSJ responded, stating that the real reason China expelled the journalists was to distract from the “public’s anger about the government’s management of the coronavirus scourge.”
  • The Trump administration is considering imposing a raft of new measures that would limit the transfer of U.S. technology to China, including the sale of an aircraft engine and further restrictions on Huawei.
  • Donald Trump tweeted out against his own administration’s frequent use of the “National Security excuse” in its justification of steel tariffs and tentative plans to ban the sale of GE jet engines to China.
  • A historic meeting took place between China and the Vatican in Munich last Friday. Pope Francis initiated the meeting and “was ‘eager’ to use the talks to explore ‘renewal or formalization’ of a provisional deal reached in 2018 to allow the Vatican to appoint bishops pre-approved by Beijing.”
  • Xiaomi launched a new high-end phone via livestream on Thursday. But the company also joined the ranks of other firms seeking financial support from the economic impacts of COVID-19, with the request of 5 billion yuan ($710 million) in relief loans. Smaller companies were not amused by the Chinese mobile giant putting out a begging bowl.
  • The NBA may slowly be regaining favor in China after its unprecedented punishment by Beijing last fall.
  • Chinese companies hoping to reopen after the COVID-19 shutdown are facing a barrage of administrative paperwork before they can get the all clear from the government.
  • Popular longtime opinion blog Dàjiā 大家 by Tencent News was suddenly shut down and had its entire archive of articles removed from the internet. The closure of the blog resulted in an outpouring of shock and sadness online.
  • A campaign by the Communist Youth League to stir up nationalist sentiment did not sit well with social media users, who instead hijacked the post to advocate for women’s rights.
  • China’s LGBT community has continued to make quiet progress in its campaign to legalize same-sex marriage, with the country’s top legislative body receiving a record number of pro-legalization submissions
  • Sony has been lambasted on Chinese social media as sexist after it featured an ad implying women are incapable of understanding camera lenses.
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