Links for March 19, 2020


On Wednesday morning, Americans for Free Trade, a group of more than 160 business associations, urged Trump to consider relief from duties as one of the emergency measures his administration is rolling out. “These tariffs are taxes that Americans pay,” the group said in a letter.

Hours later, Trump — who declared himself a “wartime president” — publicly slashed those hopes.

“There’s no reason to do that. China is paying us billions and billions of dollars in tariffs,” Trump said in a news conference. “I can’t imagine Americans asking for that.”

Trump’s tariffs leave the U.S. short on vital medical supplies / WSJ (paywall)
“Chad Bown of the Peterson Institute for International Economics calculates that the Trump administration has imposed new taxes on almost $5 billion of medical exports from China, totaling about 26% of U.S. health-care imports.”

China is set to unleash trillions of yuan of fiscal stimulus to revive an economy expected to shrink for the first time in four decades amid the coronavirus pandemic, while a planned growth target is likely to be cut, according to four policy sources.

The ramped-up spending will aim to spur infrastructure investment, backed by as much as 2.8 trillion yuan ($394 billion) of local government special bonds, said the sources. The national budget deficit ratio could rise to record levels, they added.

Beijing is likely to have to lower its economic growth target for 2020… Chinese leaders are considering proposals from advisers to cut it to as low as 5% from the original target of around 6% agreed in December, they added.

Chinese social media app TikTok has named a group of external technology and safety experts as the founding members of its content moderation committee, the latest move in an attempt to ease U.S. concerns over its data security and potential for blocking or deleting content at Beijing’s request.

The committee…will be tasked with advising on and shaping the app’s content policies related to child safety, hate speech, misinformation, bullying and other potential issues, TikTok said in a statement on Wednesday.

The council will be chaired by Dawn Nunziato, a professor at George Washington University Law School and co-director of the Global Internet Freedom Project.

Unloading holdups in China and delays on the return of vessels when the outbreak was largely limited to Asia have left shippers waiting for hundreds of thousands of containers to move their products. But as the disease goes global, the port of Fuzhou is starting to quarantine incoming ships from countries including the U.S. for 14 days. That threatens to exacerbate the crunch.


  • Researchers found that on average, infected people expel virus particles from their bodies for a relatively long period of 20 days, even before symptoms appear.
  • Findings indicate longer quarantine periods may be needed for patients, according to researchers from the China-Japan Friendship Hospital.

More than 99% of Italy’s coronavirus fatalities were people who suffered from previous medical conditions, according to a study [in Italian] by the country’s national health authority…

The average age of those who’ve died from the virus in Italy is 79.5. As of March 17, 17 people under 50 had died from the disease. All of Italy’s victims under 40 have been males with serious existing medical conditions.


The Foreign Correspondents’ Club [FCC] of Hong Kong said it is “alarmed” at the announcement that U.S. nationals at the three newspapers will be banned from working as journalists in Hong Kong, given that Hong Kong has its own system under which press freedom is a right according to the law.

“Under the Basic Law, all decisions about employment visas for foreign nationals in Hong Kong, including journalists, have been made independently by the Immigration Department,” the FCC said in a statement.

“If that system has changed, it would represent a serious erosion of the One Country, Two Systems principle,” it said…

China will extend financial assistance amounting to $500 million to Sri Lanka to help the island nation combat COVID19 that has affected 50 persons so far. One patient has recovered, authorities said.

Sri Lanka and China enjoy strong ties, including development cooperation in key infrastructure projects in the island.

Local governments across China might find it hard to make ends meet this year, as coffers already straining amid slowing growth and tax cuts are put under extra pressure by the coronavirus outbreak.

China missed its fiscal revenue growth target last year, with growth falling to its slowest pace for over 30 years. Both the central and local governments saw revenue growth decline from the previous year.


Normality appears to be returning to China’s eastern metropolis. The roads are gridlocked. Metro stations are crowded once again with commuters. Over the past week, only 13 new COVID-19 cases have been confirmed citywide — all of them imported.

But for many Shanghainese, the crisis feels far from over. The pandemic continues to shape their lives in myriad — and sometimes distressing — ways.

Since 2013, the man who styles himself as China’s first pet detective has helped more than 1,000 pet owners track down missing cats and dogs. Sun’s business has boomed in recent years as China has emerged as a nation of animal lovers. Nearly 100 million [in Chinese] Chinese households now have a pet — up 44% since 2014 — and the country’s pet market grew over 18% year-over-year to reach 200 billion yuan [in Chinese] last year.