Week in Review: Friday, April 24, 2020

Here are the stories that caught our eye this week:

  • Political leaders in Australia, Britain, France, Germany, and the United States have called for investigations or greater transparency from Beijing about the origins of the virus, prompting China’s ambassador to the U.S., Cuī Tiānkǎi 崔天凯, to counter-accuse the U.S. of a lack of transparency in its own response to the pandemic.  
  • A woman from Hubei’s Xiaogan City was arrested by local police after she organized protests against management failures of her residential community during the coronavirus outbreak. The city is among the hardest hit by COVID-19.
  • China is increasingly using Russia-style disinformation tactics, six U.S. intelligence officials told the New York Times. Chinese agents reportedly tested a novel strategy of texting existing fake news messages to spread panic about COVID-19 in the U.S. in mid-March, the officials said.
  • China’s ambassador to Russia, Zhāng Hànhuī 张汉晖, came under fire on the Chinese internet after he described Chinese citizens seeking to return from coronavirus-stricken Russia as “morally condemnable.” 
  • China’s GDP is expected to grow “just 1.3% in the current quarter on a year earlier,” according to a new Reuters poll of economists, while Xí Jìnpíng 习近平 reiterated the need for China to reach its 2020 poverty alleviation goals in spite of COVID-19’s economic ramifications.
  • The People’s Bank of China launched pilots of its digital currency in four cities — Shenzhen, Suzhou, Chengdu, and the new city of Xiong’an — as it looks set to become the first central bank to officially launch its own digital currency.
  • A Chinese child-raising consulting agency giving unscientific and dangerous parenting advice to new moms made the news following the death of a baby whose mother had been following the agency’s recommendations.
  • The Qingdao Forest Wildlife World zoo announced this week that it had halted animal performances permanently and replaced them with educational programs, reflecting growing awareness of wildlife welfare and conservation issues.
  • Canadian athleisure brand Lululemon has upset Chinese consumers after its global art director, Trevor Fleming, promoted a “Bat Fried Rice” shirt on his personal social media account. While Lululemon quickly apologized and fired Fleming, many Chinese internet users have called for a boycott of the apparel retailer.