Links for Monday, March 16, 2020

BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:

  • Shanghai’s top spots welcome back limited numbers of visitors, while Nanjing government announces $45.3 million plan to boost consumer spending.
  • Hubei, which reported just four new coronavirus cases on Friday, gets in on the act with a relaxing of travel restrictions for some citizens.

The quest for entertainment among millions confined to home translated into a big boost for Tencent’s marquee games, Honor of Kings and Peacekeeper Elite. That helped the company gain $25 billion of market value up to March 5, before a global market rout torpedoed the stock along with the rest of the market.

…Beijing has now clamped down on trading wild animals due to the coronavirus, potentially destroying the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of [bamboo rat] farmers.

“Many breeders are poor farmers living in mountainous areas, and have no other income,” said Cheng Bujun, who runs a rat farm in the Guangxi region. “Some of them are disabled or elderly who can hardly find jobs in cities.”

Popular short-video app TikTok said it would halt using China-based moderators to monitor overseas content and shift that work to those outside of China.

The decision will result in the transfer of more than 100 China-based moderators to other positions within the company, according to people familiar with the matter.

Monday marks the 50th day since Beijing banned outbound group tours on January 27 in an effort to contain the coronavirus, which triggered massive booking cancellations in major travel destinations for Chinese tourists such as Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia and elsewhere in Asia.

SCIENCE, HEALTH, AND THE ENVIRONMENT:

Children infected with the new coronavirus tend to recover from the illness, with most showing at worst mild symptoms, according to two small-scale studies by Chinese researchers.

The studies appear to support earlier research that the coronavirus takes less of a physical toll on children than older people.

  • Primates found to have developed antibodies after being infected with COVID-19 — a discovery that suggests the immune system will fight back against the disease.
  • Scientists have been puzzled by case of patients apparently being reinfected with the disease, but this study suggests that may not be the case.

The new ship, once built, would be able to provide medical help abroad during an epidemic, as well as be used for evacuations. The design of its quarantine functions could also be modularised and replicated on Chinese warships, said Sòng Zhōngpíng 宋中平, a Hong Kong-based military affairs commentator.

POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:

Beijing said it was providing better food and allowing more deliveries during the coronavirus outbreak for two Canadians detained in China on spying charges that were seen as retaliation for Canada’s arrest of a Chinese [Huawei] telecoms executive…

“The authorities have provided better food for all the detainees, including Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, so as to help strengthen their immunity,” the embassy’s statement said. “Second, given the relevant detention centers have been totally enclosed due to the epidemic, to ensure their contacts with the Canadian consular agencies in China, the frequency of transference of letters and parcels to Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor has been increased as interim arrangements.”

ZTE, the Chinese telecom giant that pleaded guilty three years ago to violating U.S. sanctions against Iran and North Korea, is the subject of a new and separate bribery investigation by the Justice Department, according to two people briefed on the matter.

The new investigation, which has not been reported previously, centers on possible bribes ZTE paid to foreign officials to gain advantages in its worldwide operations.

As of Friday, Taiwan has reported 50 confirmed cases of coronavirus, and one death, out of a population of around 23 million.

In a paper this month in the Journal of the American Medical Association, or JAMA, Wang and two colleagues listed 124 actions that Taiwan’s authorities took starting in December when they sensed the looming threat — and the rest of the world seemed to be looking the other way.

“From her first visit to a Massachusetts hospital on March 3 to her fourth visit on March 11, when a CT scan showed infections in her lungs, the woman — who was running a high fever — was denied a coronavirus test three times,” Páng Xīnghuǒ 庞星火, deputy director of the Beijing Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said during a press conference [in Chinese] Saturday. The woman had arrived in Beijing Thursday afternoon with her husband and son, who are being treated as suspected cases.

Update: Beijing police announced [in Chinese] Monday that the woman who returned to the capital after allegedly being denied COVID-19 tests in the U.S. is under investigation for lying to the flight crew, and that she could face charges of impeding outbreak control efforts.

SOCIETY AND CULTURE:

[W]omen have made huge contributions to the battle against COVID-19…Unsurprisingly, their heart-wrenching stories have been covered widely in domestic media, often powerfully. Yet several efforts to valorize female medical workers by the country’s “mainstream” media — a constellation of largely state-backed outlets uniquely well-positioned to set the public agenda — have fallen flat, arousing public ire for their reliance on outdated tropes like female suffering or extreme collectivist self-sacrifice.

“Mulan” fans in mainland China on Friday welcomed the news that Disney will postpone the global release of the new live-action blockbuster, happy that they’ll likely now get the chance to see the film in theaters in sync with the rest of the world.

Chinese fans took to social media on Friday to express their relief that the film had been pulled — both for health reasons, and out of fears of piracy and spoilers as the last ones to get a theatrical release.

A Shanghai-based infectious disease doctor has shot to fame during the coronavirus outbreak for his outspoken, down-to-earth talk about the disease…

The 51-year-old first started getting attention at the end of January when he told media he assigned doctors who were Communist Party members to work at a hospital on the front line of the coronavirus outbreak in Shanghai. The decision was non-negotiable, he said.

  • Soccer stars from Wuhan stranded abroad
    The stranded stars of Wuhan F.C. / NYT (porous paywall)
    “For more than 60 days, Yao and his teammates on Wuhan Zall F.C., a team in China’s top soccer league…have spent the last six weeks in temporary exile on the palm-fringed Costa del Sol, counting the hours, dreaming of home.”