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China Doesn’t Want to ‘Live With’ Covid. But It May Have To

“How lucky I was born in China,” a young Chinese scholar declared last month in his WeChat. He was proud: Following the worst domestic Covid-19 outbreak since Wuhan, China had brought daily new case counts down to a few dozen.

The case numbers — when contrasted with the United States, which has less than a quarter of China’s population yet daily average cases above 130,000 — might not seem too concerning on their own. But they illustrate that China’s zero-infections policy is no longer working as designed. At the outset of the pandemic, the policy successfully drove down cases — and was adopted by other countries — but the Delta variant changed the game and shows that this strategy no longer fits.…  Seguir leyendo »

‘In order to open its borders, China will first have to vaccinate its population.’ People queue to receive the Covid-19 vaccine in Guangzhou in Guangdong province, China. Photograph: Reuters

In March 2020, I wrote that life was returning to normal in China, but that other countries faced a longer wait. I did not imagine that this longer wait would extend until the summer of 2021. Meanwhile, China has returned to and maintained an essentially pre-Covid state – becoming a kind of parallel universe. In the last year, I have hiked in five provinces, organised a week-long in-person meeting in a tropical botanical garden involving scientists from 20 academic institutions, and attended scores of live music and dance events, featuring maskless musicians playing to packed, maskless crowds. GDP in the first quarter of this year grew 18.3%; in the EU, it fell 0.6%.…  Seguir leyendo »

Security personnel keep watch outside the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan, China, on Feb. 3. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

Ingrained narratives are hard to correct. In his biographical essay “Why Orwell Matters,” Christopher Hitchens quotes George Orwell on the “power of facing unpleasant facts.” Orwell knew it was difficult but important to pull back from our political affiliations, biases and past conclusions to reckon with uncomfortable realities and potentially explosive questions — questions such as: What if Robert Redfield is right about the Wuhan labs?

Before Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during the coronavirus outbreak, endorsed it, the mere discussion of the still-unproven theory that the covid-19 outbreak might have been connected to human error at a research laboratory in the Chinese city of Wuhan was considered taboo.…  Seguir leyendo »

El presidente Xi Jinping y el gobierno chino han controlado la información sobre la pandemia de la COVID-19 al tiempo que dicen cooperar con un equipo de investigación de la Organización Mundial de la Salud. Credit Nicolas Asfouri/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

El presidente Xi Jinping y el gobierno chino han controlado la información sobre la pandemia de la COVID-19 al tiempo que dicen cooperar con un equipo de investigación de la Organización Mundial de la Salud. Credit Nicolas Asfouri/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Los estragos atroces de la pandemia del coronavirus son evidentes en todos los rincones del mundo. Por lo mismo, también debería ser evidente que se necesita hacer todo lo posible para averiguar el momento y el lugar en el que el virus dio su fatídico salto de animal a humano. Con esa intención, un equipo de la Organización Mundial de la Salud (OMS) viajó hace unas semanas a Wuhan, China, donde se identificó por primera vez el coronavirus.…  Seguir leyendo »

Finally. After two million dead, 188 countries infected, $28 trillion in lost output and incalculable suffering, a team from the WHO is on the ground in Wuhan to investigate the origins of coronavirus. Police detectives refer to a “golden hour” in an investigation, when evidence is fresh. Here we are in the not-so-golden 9,487th hour and — weak “hurrah” — they’re in.

All but the most optimistic know how this will go. It’s a year since Wuhan’s wet market was closed, floors scrubbed and samples burned. Since the start of the outbreak the WHO has seemed under the Chinese thumb, reciting the Communist Party line and hailing Xi Jinping’s “rare leadership”.…  Seguir leyendo »

Xinhua/Xiao Yijiu/Getty Images Actors from the People’s Art Theater of Wuhan performing in a drama about medical staff fighting Covid-19 in Wuhan, September 2020

On January 31 I received a knock at the door of my Beijing apartment. It was the manager of lease renewals clutching a stack of flyers.

“Mr. Zhang, you’re feeling well?” she asked, using my Chinese surname.

“No fever yet.”

She laughed—foreigners and their comments.

“I know you don’t have the illness, but we want everyone to be safe. Here.” She handed me two copies of the flyer, one in Chinese and the other in English.

They were written by the Beijing municipal government and offered practical tips on how to protect oneself from the coronavirus. It had been eight days since the city of Wuhan had gone into full lockdown and seven since Beijing and other cities across China had declared a public health emergency.…  Seguir leyendo »

Un cambio de paradigma está teniendo lugar en las relaciones entre la Unión Europea y China. La crisis del COVID-19 ha desatado un nuevo debate al interior de Europa sobre la necesidad de una mayor “diversificación” de la cadena de suministros y, por ende, de una desvinculación controlada de China. No será una tarea fácil y no sucederá en lo inmediato. Pero, claramente, Europa ha abandonado su ambición previa de una relación económica bilateral mucho más integrada con China.

En el pasado, cuando los europeos exigían reformas comerciales, económicas y de política exterior respecto de China, su esperanza siempre consistía en mejorar el contacto con el país logrando, al mismo tiempo, que la relación fuera más justa y más recíproca.…  Seguir leyendo »

The U.S. government is reportedly set to accuse China’s state-run hacking groups of attacking U.S. research institutions and pharmaceutical companies to steal novel coronavirus data, treatments and vaccines. This ought to be a wake-up call. The truth is that the United States has yet to use its strongest tools to punish and deter China from its widespread and continuing use of state-sponsored cybercrime.

The mere fact the Chinese government is attempting to steal coronavirus information should make clear that the blame for the lack of U.S.-China cooperation on the pandemic lies primarily on the Chinese side. China has restricted its own researchers from sharing coronavirus research and has refused to hand over early virus samples.…  Seguir leyendo »

Lights in rooms at the Taipei Grand Hotel display the word 'ZERO' to mark Taiwan's reporting of no new novel coronavirus cases on May 3. (David Chang/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

The communist government in Beijing has responded to the coronavirus pandemic with crackdowns, coverups and intimidation. The democratic government in Taipei has taken a starkly different approach, one based on pragmatism, science and generosity. The contrast between the two leads to the inescapable conclusion that Taiwan is a much better partner for the United States than the People’s Republic. It’s long past time we started treating it that way.

Earlier this week, deputy national security adviser Matt Pottinger delivered a speech in Mandarin to commemorate the 101st anniversary of the founding of what’s known in China as the May Fourth Movement, when student protests in cities around China in 1919 spawned a generation of scholars and activists who believed in promoting science and democracy above the closed system controlled by Chinese elites at the time.…  Seguir leyendo »

A finales del siglo XIX, más de 100.000 chinos vivían en las Filipinas españolas. Esta comunidad aportó figuras notables a la economía, la política y las artes del archipiélago. Sus éxitos provocaron la aparición de sentimientos sinófobos. Se manifestaron en peticiones de expulsión de los chinos o de limitación de su número. El racismo jugó un papel clave en esta campaña antinmigración.

Colaboradores del Diario de Manila como Pablo Feced labraron carreras denostando a los chinos. A su juicio, China era “un inmenso pudridero que irradia podredumbre” (12-7-1889). Feced también publicó el libro Filipinas: esbozos y pinceladas (1888), donde describe las “viviendas hediondas” del barrio chino de Manila como “centros de infección”.…  Seguir leyendo »

Tema

Conviene estudiar las campañas de desinformación de Rusia y ser consciente que China está aprendiendo rápidamente de ellas.

Resumen

En enero, al comienzo de la crisis del COVID-19, los medios de comunicación rusos financiados por el Kremlin difundían las narrativas fabricadas por los medios oficiales chinos sobre el origen del virus. Sin embargo, a partir de marzo, cuando los países europeos empezaron a introducir medidas de emergencia, Rusia comenzó a aplicar las mismas tácticas de desinformación utilizadas en sus campañas anteriores, con el objetivo de cuestionar la credibilidad de las instituciones democráticas de la UE y de EEUU y su capacidad para gestionar la crisis sanitaria.…  Seguir leyendo »

Figura 4. España: aliado preferido fuera de la UE

Resumen

En el debate sobre si el COVID-19 va a catapultar o erosionar la influencia internacional de China, el caso español apunta, por el momento, a que no habrá un cambio cualitativo de las relaciones entre los dos países. Esto no significa que la crisis no sea relevante para la evolución de las relaciones bilaterales, que lo es, sino que está potenciando diferentes tendencias que se contrarrestan entre sí. China se ha significado como un socio imprescindible de España a la vez que se evidenciaban algunos de sus problemas de gobernanza y las limitaciones de su cooperación. Esto hace que haya aumentado la percepción de una amenaza china en España a la vez que se identifica a China como el segundo aliado preferido por los españoles fuera de la UE.…  Seguir leyendo »

Como advirtió Graham Allison de la Universidad de Harvard, “cuando una potencia en ascenso como Atenas o China amenaza con desplazar a una potencia reinante como Esparta, que había dominado a Grecia durante un siglo, o los Estados Unidos, básicamente deberían sonar las alarmas”. Hoy en día, las campanas de alarma suenan tan fuerte que no están dejando oír las ideas que podrían hacer que Estados Unidos y China escapen a lo que Allison llamó la “Trampa de Tucídides”.

Tres son los caminos que hay por delante: uno puede ser un callejón sin salida, otro llevará a la ruina y el tercero podría producir una recuperación global.…  Seguir leyendo »

Africans in Guangzhou have been refused entry by hospitals, hotels, supermarkets, shops and food outlets. Photograph: Alex Plavevski/EPA

“Clean up the foreign trash!”. “Don’t turn our hometown into an international rubbish dump.” “This is China, not Nigeria!” Resembling the anti-migrant racist hatred you frequently see on UK social media, these are just a few examples of countless anti-African rants from Weibo users in China in a surge of popular racism over the past month.

Despite the huge amount of censorship on China’s social media, none of these posts have been removed. Migrants from sub-Saharan Africa have become the primary target of suspicion, racial discrimination and abuse amid public fear of a second wave of Covid-19. And this intolerance has peaked in Guangzhou, a city of 12 million people in the highly industrialised Guangdong province.…  Seguir leyendo »

There’s a booming market in conspiracy theories about the origins of the novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China. But the Chinese government has no one to blame but itself for this explosive debate. They have put the truth on lockdown.

China has an obligation here: For its own sake, and the world’s, it should promptly begin a serious, credible investigation into how the covid-19 pandemic began. Such an inquiry is essential to understand how to treat the disease and prevent future eruptions. To make this probe trustworthy, China should invite international scientists to take part.

Top scientists I contacted over the past week were skeptical about theories that are spinning about deliberate Chinese attempts to engineer the toxic virus.…  Seguir leyendo »

A worker, wearing a protective suit amid concerns about covid-19, collects information from a driver at the entrance of a commercial complex in Beijing on Wednesday. (Greg Baker/AFP/Getty Images)

Since my column last week revealing safety concerns regarding the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), some Western scientists have come to the defense of the lab and its scientists. Their perspectives are important, but many of them seem to overlook a crucial point: that all scientific research in China must ultimately subordinate itself to the dictates of the Chinese Communist Party.

This shouldn’t be a controversial assertion. This has been the case for decades, and the message has been amply reinforced by the party’s efforts to cover up the covid-19 outbreak. The Chinese government has systematically thwarted scientific investigation that would either implicate or exonerate the lab — or shed light on alternative theories.…  Seguir leyendo »

En momentos en que el coronavirus sigue haciendo estragos por el mundo, hace falta una clase particular de genio maligno para conseguir que Estados Unidos esté en el banquillo de los acusados, mientras crece la cifra de muertos y se extiende la devastación económica. Y sin embargo, es lo que está haciendo el presidente Donald Trump.

Pero primero lo primero. En todos los países, trabajadores médicos y personal de apoyo han estado en la primera línea del combate a la pandemia en beneficio de todos nosotros. Comenzando por los valientes médicos y enfermeros chinos que arriesgaron sus vidas y fueron silenciados por los mandos políticos locales cuando trataron de hacer sonar la alarma, hemos visto ejemplos similares de coraje profesional en todas partes.…  Seguir leyendo »

Dos años antes de que la pandemia del nuevo coronavirus pusiera patas arriba al mundo, funcionarios de la embajada de Estados Unidos visitaron varias veces un centro de investigaciones chino en la ciudad de Wuhan y enviaron dos advertencias oficiales a Washington sobre la insuficiente seguridad del laboratorio, el cual estaba realizando estudios riesgosos sobre los coronavirus en los murciélagos. Los cables han fomentado el debate dentro del gobierno estadounidense acerca de si este u otro laboratorio de Wuhan fueron el lugar de origen del virus, aunque aún no existen pruebas concluyentes al respecto.

En enero de 2018, la embajada de Estados Unidos en Pekín tomó la inusual medida de enviar repetidas veces a científicos diplomáticos estadounidenses al Instituto de Virología de Wuhan (WIV, por su sigla en inglés), el cual en 2015 se había convertido en el primer laboratorio de China en conseguir el nivel más alto de seguridad en investigación biológica internacional (conocido como BSL-4).…  Seguir leyendo »

A man carries a kite with a red cross along the Bund as skyscrapers of the Pudong Lujiazui Financial District stand across the Huangpu River during sunrise in Shanghai on March 20. (Qilai Shen/Bloomberg) (Qilai Shen/Bloomberg News)

As China emerges from the coronavirus crisis, global health officials suggest the nation has implemented a successful model to manage the pandemic. But what do people in China think about how Beijing managed the crisis?

Our research, conducted before and after the outbreak, offers some unique insights into Chinese citizens’ views of their government’s covid-19 response. Contrary to some analyses, the results are less optimistic that the state can manage national disasters and emergencies alone. Rather, Chinese citizens believe assistance from civil society organizations is needed at times of national crisis.

Chinese citizens see a role for civil society organizations

We conducted two waves of online surveys looking at civic participation.…  Seguir leyendo »

People gather on a street in the "Little Africa" district in Guangzhou, China, in March 2018. (Fred Dufour/Afp Via Getty Images)

In early April, the director-general of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, accused Taiwan of launching a “campaign” of racist attacks against him. “When the whole black community was insulted, when Africa was insulted, then I don’t tolerate it,” he said, adding, “people are crossing the line.” (The Taiwanese heatedly denied Tedros’s claim.)

Meanwhile, in a devastatingly ironic overlap, many in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou have decided to blame the thousands of Africans living there for spreading the novel coronavirus. Some restaurants barred black people, while officials forced black people into more onerous quarantines than Chinese and white foreigners — including occasionally confiscating passports — regardless of where they’ve recently traveled.…  Seguir leyendo »