China (Continuación)

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 »

Equipo médico otorgado por China llegó a Ciudad de México a principios de este mes. Credit Carlos Carrillo/Reuters

“Gracias China!!!”, tuiteó Marcelo Ebrard, secretario de Relaciones Exteriores de México, el primero de abril. En el tuit aparecía una foto del avión que llevaba 100.000 cubrebocas, 50.000 kits de pruebas y cinco respiradores artificiales donados por China. Es probable que en México llegue a haber hasta 700.000 casos potencialmente mortales de la COVID-19, y el país solo tiene 5500 respiradores. Aunque esta inminente catástrofe humanitaria sin duda afectará a Estados Unidos, que comparte con México una frontera de 3218 kilómetros y sólidos lazos comerciales, es Pekín, y no Washington, el que está acelerando el envío de cientos de respiradores para ayudar al país a mitigar su vulnerabilidad.…  Seguir leyendo »

Chinese president Xi Jinping and US president Donald Trump in Beijing, China. Photo by Thomas Peter-Pool/Getty Images.

So far, there has been a noticeable worsening of relations that had already soured in recent years – the latest step being President Donald Trump’s suspension of US funding for the World Health Organization (WHO) in response to accusations of Chinese interference in its operations.

Should the world now simply prepare for a period of intense and extended hostility? As director of a policy institute founded 100 years ago in the shadow of the First World War, I believe we must do all in our power to avoid a return of the global strategic rivalries that blighted the 20th century.

Deepening suspicions

Of course, the outcome does not lie only in the hands of the US and Europe.…  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 »

Relatives attend the funeral of Benedict Somi Vilakasi at the Nasrec Memorial Park near Johannesburg on Thursday. Vilakasi, a Soweto coffee shop manager, died of covid-19 on Sunday. (Jerome Delay/AP)

The covid-19 pandemic has dealt a severe injury to Africa’s development prospects and worsened the conditions of its poor and vulnerable. Although there are calls for voluntary international aid to support the continent during this difficult time, this is far from the best solution.

The continent must be accorded damages and liability compensation from China, the rich and powerful country that failed to transparently and effectively manage this global catastrophe. Africa’s economic gains since the last global crisis have been eroded. It is time to make offending rich countries pay the poor ones a global risk burden tax for delaying their rise out of poverty.…  Seguir leyendo »

Así como la crisis del COVID-19 avanza estrepitosamente también braman los debates sobre el papel que jugó China en ella. En base a lo que se sabe, es claro que algunas autoridades chinas cometieron un grave error a fines de diciembre y principios de enero, cuando intentaron impedir que se divulgara información sobre el brote del coronavirus en Wuhan, silenciando inclusive a los trabajadores de la salud que quisieron hacer sonar la alarma. Los líderes de China tendrán que convivir con estos errores, aun si logran resolver la crisis y adoptar medidas adecuadas para prevenir un futuro brote.

Lo que resulta menos claro es por qué otros países piensan que de alguna manera los beneficia seguir refiriéndose a los errores iniciales de China, en lugar de trabajar para encontrar soluciones.…  Seguir leyendo »

Medical staff on their rounds at a quarantine zone in Wuhan, China. Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images.

As the COVID-19 crisis roars on, so have debates about China’s role in it. Based on what is known, it is clear that some Chinese officials made a major error in late December and early January, when they tried to prevent disclosures of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, even silencing healthcare workers who tried to sound the alarm.

China’s leaders will have to live with these mistakes, even if they succeed in resolving the crisis and adopting adequate measures to prevent a future outbreak. What is less clear is why other countries think it is in their interest to keep referring to China’s initial errors, rather than working toward solutions.…  Seguir leyendo »

If there is going to be a silver lining to the covid-19 crisis, it should involve the plucky democracy of Taiwan getting the international support it deserves. The country of 23 million people has dealt with the pandemic as well as any. As of Tuesday, Taiwan had 393 confirmed cases and six deaths, extremely low numbers for a nation on China’s doorstep. Taiwan is now even helping the rest of the world as well by churning out millions of face masks and sending them all over the globe.

Like other countries that responded effectively, Taiwan had a bad experience with SARS in 2003, so it was better prepared for an epidemic.…  Seguir leyendo »

Over the past week President Trump has repeatedly rebuked the World Health Organization, arguing that “they missed the call” on the novel coronavirus pandemic. On Tuesday, Trump announced the U.S. would halt funding for the global health organization, pending a review of WHO’s pandemic response. This follows a report in Monday’s Washington Post that U.S. officials are “expected to recommend … how to dock or condition payments to the agency as Republicans in Congress seek documentation of WHO dealings with China.” Various points of contention include the relative size of U.S. contributions to the organization and an alleged pro-China bias.

International organizations like the WHO are not a sideshow to power politics — they are a crucial arena of struggle.…  Seguir leyendo »

An airlifter of the Russian Aerospace Forces prepares to fly to Serbia carrying equipment and professionals during the COVID-19 crisis. Photo by Russian Defence Ministry\TASS via Getty Images.

Both Russia and China have mounted combined charm offensives and disinformation campaigns on the back of the pandemic. Shipments of ‘aid’ – reportedly of questionable utility and quality – have gone hand in hand with a concerted effort to deflect any blame from China for the early spread, and an ongoing drive by Russia to undermine states’ confidence and have sanctions lifted.

These concurrent operations have very different objectives, as Russia seeks to subvert international order while China is continuing its bid to demonstrate global leadership – but in both cases, they are seeking long-term gains by exploiting the inattention and distraction of their targets.…  Seguir leyendo »

Aunque la crisis de la Covid-19 es, sobre todo, sanitaria, no deja de lado las rivalidades geopolíticas actuales, que persisten e incluso muestran más vehemencia desde hace varias semanas. La rivalidad comercial entre China y Estados Unidos, que arrastra desde hace más de dos años, y a la que se ha unido una rivalidad tecnológica (sobre todo en el caso de la red 5G de Huawei), sigue siendo palpable. El acuerdo comercial preliminar llamado de “fase 1”, firmado hace tres meses y cuyo propósito era calmar las próximas negociaciones comerciales, más ambiciosas, está empezando a entrar en vigor ahora, con un retraso que se debe en parte a la crisis, y no marca el fin de las disputas entre Pekín y Washington.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Chinese Communist Party manipulates its statistics. This is neither an opinion nor a revelation: it’s a simple fact, critical to understanding China today. Chairman Xi Jinping demands that Chinese journalists prioritize loyalty to the Party over truth or accuracy. Li Keqiang, who now runs China’s economy as the premier, once smilingly told the U.S. ambassador that most Chinese statistics are “for reference only,” and that statistics on gross domestic product especially are “man-made.”

Up until a few months ago, this felt like a domestic Chinese issue. Sure, American investment firms have always struggled with finding accurate data. American journalists have sometimes repeated misleading Chinese statistics.…  Seguir leyendo »

Workers disinfect a passenger train outside Kolkata, India, after it was converted into an isolation facility to deal with the coronavirus. (Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters)

It didn’t take long before India’s response to the coronavirus was tainted by the kind of discrimination and Islamophobia that has characterized the nationalist administration of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The hashtags #CoronaJihad and #BioJihad have inundated Twitter recently. It all stems from cases of covid-19 reported at a Muslim event.

On Sunday, the Indian government linked more than a thousand cases to the Tablighi Jamaat, a Muslim missionary group that held its annual meeting in a community center in Nizamuddin from March 8-10, days before India declared a health emergency and called for a national lockdown. While most people, including Muslims, agree that holding the annual meeting was irresponsible and endangered many lives, the event has faced a disproportional amount of criticism while generating a cascade of vitriol.…  Seguir leyendo »

Pendant que le monde se confine et enterre ses morts emportés par le Covid-19, le président chinois Xi Jinping triomphe. La propagande présente sans relâche le commandant suprême victorieux de «la guerre du peuple» contre le coronavirus.

Et pourtant, après l’épidémie du Sras en 2003, après celle de peste porcine, après les divers virus qui ont attaqué les poulets et les autres catastrophes sanitaires qui sont nées en Chine populaire, nous pensions que les autorités de Pékin auraient tiré des leçons. Et nous sommes aujourd’hui obligés d’admettre que les logiques du pouvoir chinois ne sont pas celles attendues par la France et l’Europe qui en ont fait un partenaire privilégié.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hace apenas un mes, China estaba al centro de la epidemia del coronavirus COVID-19. Cada día se informaba de miles de nuevas infecciones. Los hospitales estaban colapsados. La población moría de a cientos. Nadie podía salir de sus hogares. Pero el draconiano confinamiento ordenado por el gobierno parece haber funcionado: la enfermedad parece ahora bajo control. Y, aparentemente, las autoridades chinas han pasado por alto sus lecciones más básicas.

Para ver esto, vale la pena revisar cómo manejaron la crisis. Tras enterarse de que un nuevo coronavirus había surgido en Wuhan, en la provincia de Hubei, el primer instinto de las autoridades locales fue, como sabemos, suprimir la información.…  Seguir leyendo »