BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:
Didi resumes controversial carpooling service
Didi has resumed late-night hours for carpooling service, Hitch / TechNode
Ride-hailing giant Didi has resumed limited nighttime operations of its carpooling service Hitch [after suspending the service in 2018 following two separate incidents in which drivers on the platform raped and murdered their female passengers] in some cities across China, while implementing stricter identity checks for drivers and passengers.
Xiaomi and Realme ask to be ‘essential commodities’ in India
Xiaomi wants to be exempted from an ecommerce ban in India / TechNode
“Chinese handset makers including Xiaomi and Realme are asking the Indian government to list smartphones as an essential commodity so that they can be sold on ecommerce platforms during the nationwide lockdown in India.”
JD.com eyes cloud
Chinese ecommerce giant takes aim at rival leader Alibaba in cloud / CNBC
“JD.com, a major Chinese e-commerce company, is looking to become the technology platform of choice for U.S. customers in [the Chinese] cloud computing market [which is] dominated by Alibaba”
Before you buy masks in bulk from China…
Buying face masks and other PPE from China: Not for the faint of heart / China Law Blog
“Many times we are finding that the company that claims to be the Chinese factory making the PPE in China is really just a broker hoping to be able to secure product if and when it gets an order or maybe it is just a con artist planning to keep the money no matter what.”
SCIENCE, HEALTH, AND THE ENVIRONMENT:
COVID-19 research updates
New Chinese research may point to possible role of children in coronavirus spread / SCMP
Children tend to get less severe symptoms when they contract COVID-19 and cases can be harder to detect than in adults, new research in China has found, as health experts, parents and officials weigh the risks of sending their kids to school.
A study of 36 cases in children in the eastern province of Zhejiang found that 10 — or 28 percent — had no symptoms, while seven had mild upper respiratory symptoms, according to a paper published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases on Wednesday.
People in the U.S. and Europe should be wearing masks — Chinese CDC
Not wearing masks to protect against coronavirus is a ‘big mistake,’ top Chinese scientist says / Science
In an interview with Science, George Gao (高福 Gāo Fú), director-general of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), advises:
The big mistake in the U.S. and Europe, in my opinion, is that people aren’t wearing masks. This virus is transmitted by droplets and close contact. Droplets play a very important role — you’ve got to wear a mask, because when you speak, there are always droplets coming out of your mouth. Many people have asymptomatic or presymptomatic infections. If they are wearing face masks, it can prevent droplets that carry the virus from escaping and infecting others.
- More Americans should probably wear masks for protection / NYT (porous paywall)
While wearing a mask may not necessarily prevent healthy people from getting sick, and it certainly doesn’t replace important measures such as hand-washing or social distancing, it may be better than nothing, Dr. Atmar [an infectious disease specialist at Baylor College of Medicine] said.
The problems with China’s end-of-life care
China’s struggles with hospice care / New Yorker (porous paywall)
Jiayang Fan writes:
The early stages of the coronavirus pandemic brought to light some of the dysfunctions of China’s medical system, including underinvestment in primary-care clinics and overreliance on huge, rigidly bureaucratic urban hospitals. But, if the coronavirus exposed the country’s health-care challenges in their most acute form, the quieter crisis in end-of-life care reveals a chronic underlying condition, whose symptoms are at once brutally economic and deeply cultural. Prosperity and medical advances have transformed the way Chinese people live, but they have done little to address the question of how they should die.
POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:
Taiwan all ready for PLA attack
Taiwan military is prepared for any Chinese attack, says defense minister / SCMP
- Chang Guan-chung [张冠群 Zhāng Guānqún, Taiwan’s vice defense minister] tells legislators that any attempt to attack the island during the current coronavirus outbreak would be “condemned worldwide.”
- PLA warplanes have approached Taiwan on a number of occasions during the past two months.
Hidden Chinese overseas loans worth $200 billion?
Hidden Chinese lending puts emerging-market economies at risk / WSJ (paywall)
Carmen Reinhart, a Harvard University economist and former IMF official who has studied China’s lending practices…was part of a team that over the last two years pieced together a data set of Chinese loans. A resulting study by Ms. Reinhart and economists Sebastian Horn and Christoph Trebesch concluded more than $200 billion of Chinese overseas loans — around half of all its cross-border lending — was hidden from public view. Around a dozen of the poorest countries owed debts to China equal to 20% or more of their annual GDP, the research estimated.
U.K. to ramp up scrutiny of China
New MI5 head promises to focus on China and harness AI / Guardian
Insiders said that McCallum [Ken McCallum, a career MI5 officer, will take the top job at the U.K. agency next month] wanted to be clearer about the threat posed by China — particularly in terms of industrial espionage and cyberwarfare — in the belief that the level of spying by Bejiing in the U.K. was not appreciated more widely.
But the agency recognizes that its concerns about China, which predate the coronavirus crisis by many months, also need to be set against the fact that the vast country also remains an important economic partner for the U.K.
MI5 is expected to continue to support the decision to allow Huawei to supply 5G mobile phone equipment.
Have more COVID-19 whistleblowers been disappeared?
60 Minutes Australia on Twitter: “Just two weeks ago the head of Emergency at Wuhan Central hospital went public, saying authorities had stopped her and her colleagues from warning the world. She has now disappeared, her whereabouts unknown.”
Bill Bishop on Twitter: “Ài Fēn 艾芬 has “disappeared”? Is that confirmed anywhere else?”
See also: Coronavirus: Wuhan doctor speaks out against authorities on the Guardian.
Chén Qiūshí 陈秋实’s Twitter account, apparently operated by a supporter: “Who’s Chen Qiushi? Where’s Chen Qiushi? When will we see him again? Chen Qiushi has been out of contact for 51 days after covering coronavirus in Wuhan. Please save him!!!”
Will COVID-19 lead young Chinese to political engagement?
Coronavirus crisis awakens a sleeping giant: China’s youth / NYT (porous paywall)
Angry and agitated, many young Chinese are pushing back on the government’s efforts to conceal its missteps and its resistance to allowing civil society to help…
The outbreak has prompted a generational awakening that could match the defining effects of World War II or the 2008 financial crisis and that could disrupt the social stability on which the Communist Party depends.
Anti-Chinese COVID-19 abuse continues…
NY attorney general launches hotline for people to report discrimination related to coronavirus / NBC
“New York State Attorney General Letitia James has launched a hotline for New Yorkers to report hate crimes and discrimination amid rising reports of anti-Asian harassment amid the coronavirus outbreak… [The hotline] will help provide resources to victims and could lead to civil investigations.”
Coronavirus prompts surge of hate speech toward Chinese on Twitter, report says / SCMP
“Tech start-up detects 900% uptick in abuse directed at China and individuals of Asian origin on platform.”
FBI warns of potential surge in hate crimes against Asian Americans amid coronavirus / ABC
…As COVID-19 xenophobia rises in China
‘They see my blue eyes then jump back’ — China sees a new wave of xenophobia / Guardian
Over the past few weeks, as Chinese health officials reported new “imported” coronavirus cases almost every day, foreigners living in the country have noticed a change. They have been turned away from restaurants, shops, gyms and hotels, subjected to further screening, yelled at by locals and avoided in public spaces.
Hong Kong pro-democracy figure arrested
Dubious arrest of pro-democracy politician / Human Rights Watch
Hong Kong authorities’ arrest of a pro-democracy figure for “seditious intent” heightens concerns of a renewed crackdown on the 2019 protest movement, Human Rights Watch said today. On March 26, 2020, police arrested district councilor Cheng Lai-king [郑丽琼 Zhèng Lìqióng], 60, at her home two days after she reposted a message on Facebook that revealed a police officer’s identity.
Many injured in train accident in central China
Over 120 injured after landslide derails train in Hunan / Sixth Tone
A train traveling from the eastern city of Jinan to Guangzhou in the south of China was derailed Monday morning near Chenzhou, in the central Hunan province.
The accident has resulted in one death and over 120 injuries, four of them serious, according [in Chinese] to a local fire and rescue department.
On Monday afternoon, Chenzhou authorities said [in Chinese] the accident was the result of a landslide after several days of rain in the area. When the train collided with debris covering the tracks, one carriage caught fire and six carriages were derailed.
Op-ed: Cooperate first, quarrel later
The U.S. and China should fight the coronavirus together now, and quarrel later / SCMP
James Heimowitz and Dorinda Elliott of the China Institute write: “There will be time to dwell on how much China’s initial cover-up and the U.S. government’s slow response to COVID-19 cost the world. But first, the U.S. and China must work together to fight the crisis.”
Op-ed: China owes Italy ‘war’ reparations
Why we, Italians, are angry with China — and want ‘war damages’ / Quint
Francesca Marino writes:
We should not let China benefit from the Wuhan virus. This virus has been unleashed upon the rest of the world by the endemic failures of the Beijing regime: lack of transparency, lack of democracy, aggressive economic strategies, imperialistic designs. We should hold China responsible and ask Beijing for reparations, economic and moral reparations. We should ask for war damage: because what else is this if not a war?
SOCIETY AND CULTURE:
China cracks down on porn
China cracks down on ‘nth room’ child porn sites / Sixth Tone
In an announcement [in Chinese] Saturday, the National Office Against Pornographic and Illegal Publications said it is cracking down on individuals producing and selling pornographic materials, including child pornography. The move comes after domestic media outlet The Beijing News exposed [in Chinese] five websites — all currently offline — offering pornographic material that exploited children in a way similar to a case in South Korea.
- See also: Pornhub bans Chinese word for ‘rape’ after online campaign on Weibo on SupChina.
Wuhan mental health hotline
Coronavirus calling / 1843
“A mental-health hotline helped residents of Wuhan stay sane during weeks of lockdown. Night after night, Dù Míngjūn 杜洺君 was the person receiving their calls.”