Showing posts with label China. Show all posts
Showing posts with label China. Show all posts

31 March 2020

Why Widespread Coronavirus Testing Isn’t Coming Anytime Soon

By Robert P. Baird

This past Thursday, Donald Trump visited the National Response Coordination Center for a teleconference with the nation’s governors about how to handle the covid-19 pandemic. The center, which is situated inside the headquarters of the Federal Emergency Management Administration, in Washington, is designed, in the agency’s words, to coördinate “the overall Federal support for major incidents and emergencies.” Trump—along with Mike Pence, and several other Cabinet and sub-Cabinet officials—sat around a table in a gray-walled conference room, while the governors were patched in from around the country. The governors said their states needed personal protective equipment (P.P.E.) for health-care workers, ventilators for patients, block grants for their balance sheets, and the National Guard to build hospitals and distribute food. They also needed tests. Kristi Noem, of South Dakota, said that her state’s public-health laboratory—the only lab doing covid-19 testing in the state—had so much trouble securing reagents that it was forced to temporarily stop testing altogether. “We, for two weeks, were requesting reagents for our public-health lab from C.D.C., who pushed us to private suppliers, who kept cancelling orders on us,” she said. In order to get her public-health lab the reagents it needed, Noem said, “we had to get a little pushy with a few people.”

Trump and his team sought to reassure the governors. Admiral Brett Giroir, an assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services, who was appointed two weeks ago to coördinate the federal effort to get testing back on track, said, “We’re very effectively transitioning to large-scale testing by leveraging all components of our American health-care system, including C.D.C. and the state public-health labs, health care and hospitals, and large commercial labs.” Giroir told the governors that, in the twelve days between March 2nd and March 14th, more than ten million tests had been made available in the U.S. And, citing numbers from the F.D.A., he suggested that another seventeen million would be added by March 28th. “We have plenty of tests on the back side. We have plenty of supplies on the front side,” Giroir said. Pence, too, emphasized that “now tens of thousands of more tests are being performed literally every day,” while Trump, responding to Noem’s difficulties securing reagents, told her not to be concerned. “We got you, Kristi,” he said. “There is tremendous supply.”

China’s Coronavirus Information Warfare

By Valérie Niquet

In recent weeks, with new cases of COVID-19 virtually disappearing from its territory, China has embarked on a massive campaign to change the global narrative and perception of the pandemic. This campaign is waged on the front line of the information war — another war, based on the control of public opinion, launched by the Chinese authorities and led by President Xi Jinping alongside the “people’s war” against the virus itself.

The elements of this campaign are well known. The general narrative goes like this: There are doubts about the origins of the virus, and China has demonstrated its effectiveness in managing the crisis. Its authoritarian system is validated in the face of the supposed ineffectiveness of democratic values.

For Beijing, the control of information becomes a priority after an initial relaxation designed to provide a safety valve for a population facing a major humanitarian crisis. Already severe in China, this control has now been reinforced. Above all, the regime is also trying to silence all foreign experts guilty of deviating from the “official line,” denounced in the Chinese media as “anti-Chinese elements.”

US Marine Corps Unveils Transformation Plan Focused on China

By Steven Stashwick

The U.S. Marine Corps wants to undertake a radical, decade-long transformation of its force to fight the sort of war it envisions might happen against an adversary like China, which Marine leaders describe as the U.S. military’s “pacing threat.”

The commandant of the Marine Corps, General David Berger, came into the job last summer determined to remake a force that had spent 20 years fighting largely as an adjunct of the army in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, and return it to its maritime roots to face new threats in the western Pacific. The new vision is expected to be released this week.

The plan reflects a shift in the Marines’ outlook on what will be the hardest and most important missions in a future war. Traditionally, the Navy has provided control over the seas for the purpose of safely delivering marines ashore. The new concepts reverses the Marines’ role to one of helping the Navy control sea lanes that are expected to be under increasing threat from advanced missiles and growing adversary fleets from coastal bases.

In an essay on his vision from last December, Berger said that “the design of our force, how we organize for combat, our equipment, and our war-fighting capabilities, are no longer aligned to the potential adversaries America faces.” He said the new initiative would reshape the Marine Corps to focus on maritime warfare, denying use of the seas to adversaries, and ensuring freedom of action for U.S. forces. He warned that this reshaping would require shedding some traditional Marine capabilities in favor of new ones.

A U.S. Grand Strategy for the Post Pandemic World

by Muqtedar Khan

The COVID-19 pandemic could transform the world. Many geopolitical experts are concerned that this crisis, more than any other this century, has the potential to permanently reconstitute the global order. Some are even arguing that while the United States is abdicating global leadership during the current pandemic, China is using it to reinforce its growing status as the alternate destination for economic aid, medical and scientific support, and leadership for many nations, including Western and developed nations like Italy. Some commentators claim that China is using the crisis to dethrone the United States as the global superpower. 

While it is difficult to predict the overall death toll, socio-political disruption, and the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, a few things are already manifest. The main vehicle of COVID-19’s destructive impact will not be through its potentially significant death toll but rather through its economic fallout. There will be a sustained global economic recession that will impact some countries harder than others. All major powers – the United States, China, Europe, and Russia will come out bruised and battered by the pandemic, and in the Middle East, Iran – the only counter-hegemonic player – will be definitely downsized in economy and state capacity. While the United States’ soft power has declined in the age of Trump, the crisis now tarnishes the larger-than-life images of Xi Jinping of China, Narendra Modi of India, and other populist leaders. Even European nations’ aura of good governance and exemplary healthcare systems has lost its shine. The pandemic is proving to be a great leveler. 

The Great Disruption is a Great Opportunity

How China Built a Twitter Propaganda Machine Then Let It Loose on Coronavirus

by Jeff Kao

Is the United States Prepared for COVID-19?

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Kalen Keegan, a college student at the University of Nebraska Omaha, immediately noticed when her Twitter account unleashed a torrent of posts in Chinese. “My other account got hacked👍🏽,” the soccer player posted on a replacement account. The new author tweeting as @Kalenkayyy had strong views on geopolitics — all aligned with the Chinese Communist Party. It was obsessed with the protests in Hong Kong, offered uncritical praise of the Hong Kong police and accused demonstrators of fomenting a “color revolution” backed by an “anti-Chinese American conspiracy.”

As the coronavirus outbreak led to a lockdown of Wuhan and its surrounding cities in late January, the Hong Kong posts were suddenly deleted. The account continued to post relentlessly in Chinese, but it now focused on the burgeoning epidemic. About a month later, her Twitter profile began to change in other ways. The reference to her college disappeared and her headshot was replaced by a generic photo of two people kissing. By the end of the week, her Twitter transformation was complete. @Kalenkayyy was now a Chinese propaganda-posting zombie account belonging to someone purportedly named Kalun Tang.

COVID-19 Fiscal response: What are the options for the EU Council?


As the COVID-19 pandemic intensifies, and now that Europe has become one of its epicentres, voices are raised among EU countries in support of a common and significant European response to deal with the health situation and the related economic crisis currently unfolding.

Many options are currently discussed in policy and academic circles: ESM credit lines, ‘corona-bonds’, a euro-area Treasury, and even one-off joint expenditures. But, at this stage, those various options are relatively fuzzy, and they sometimes mean different things to different people. This blog post aims to distinguish and explore the pros and cons of each of these possible options at the current juncture.

Option 1: Hoping that the status quo will be sufficient

Euro-area countries finance their necessary expenditures to fight the health crisis and the resulting economic crisis, through a significant increase in national borrowing (now unconstrained by the EU fiscal rules). This is supported by massive ECB QE to ensure that all euro area countries have an easy and cheap access to market funding.

With its announcement of the Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme (PEPP) on March 18, the ECB has already put in practice this first option. As a result, spreads have substantially decreased on the next day and stabilised at a lower level since then.

Democratic Taiwan rises to virus challenge despite Beijing's hostility

By Daniel N. Hoffman 

If you’re looking for a silver lining in the dark cloud that is the COVID-19 outbreak, you might want to consider Taiwan’s extraordinary response to this increasingly dangerous pandemic.

Taiwan’s highly urbanized population of 24 million citizens live about 80 miles from mainland China. Some 1.25 million Taiwanese citizens either live or work on the mainland, and the island-state last year welcomed almost 3 million Chinese visitors.

Taiwan’s government is under siege from Beijing, whose official “one China” policy aims to force unification if peaceful reconciliation fails. Ruthlessly seeking to prevent international recognition of Taiwan, China ruthlessly blocks Taipei’s membership in international bodies such as the World Health Organization (WHO), which officially considers Taiwan a part of China.

Taiwan thus risks missing out on critical health information from WHO since the message must first pass through China’s strict state-sponsored censorship.

Donald Trump Offered to Help North Korea on Coronavirus. Why Not Iran?

by Ted Galen Carpenter

The coronavirus outbreak has already had effects that go far beyond public health issues. It has impacted Washington’s relations with numerous countries, adversaries and allies alike. 

Nowhere is that more evident than in the Trump administration’s policies toward North Korea and Iran. Interestingly, though, the administration’s treatment of those two countries is a study in contrasts. 

As my Cato Institute colleague Doug Bandow notes, the pandemic has totally eclipsed Washington’s usual concerns about North Korea’s behavior. U.S. policymakers have obsessed about Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs and ambitions for decades, but their attention is now, understandably, focused elsewhere. President Trump has not entirely ignored Pyongyang during this crisis, however. He sent a letter directly to North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un offering U.S. aid in combatting the epidemic. 

IDF Involvement in the National Management of the Coronavirus Crisis

Meir Elran, Gadi Eisenkot, Carmit Padan
Source Link

Israel's management of the coronavirus epidemic is proving to be one of the most challenging events since the establishment of the state. To judge by the emerging indications, this is a fourfold crisis, relating to public health, the economy, the national mindset, and politics. Given the intensity of the crisis and its likely intensification, the IDF has begun preparing for active and broad participation in the national effort to manage the crisis. First steps have already been taken, mainly by the Homefront Command (HFC). This article aims to examine the ramifications of involving the military in the management of the campaign, and to propose recommendations regarding its potential greater involvement.Basic Assumptions for IDF Activation in a Protracted Crisis

Israel is in the midst of an unfolding event that has the potential to pose a grave risk to personal, social, and national security. As it progresses under severe and unfamiliar directions, the challenge may well spiral into a protracted crisis with far reaching consequences, to the possible extent of a national disaster. Accordingly, every national resource must be mobilized for the national effort.

30 March 2020

Without Mass Testing, the Coronavirus Pandemic Will Keep Spreading

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When a patient arrived at a Chinese hospital with acute respiratory distress in mid-December 2019, there was uncertainty about what was causing these symptoms. Known pathogens were quickly ruled out: It was not SARS, MERS, or influenza—and, quickly, a novel coronavirus was detected. When doctors tried to raise the alarm, police threatened them, and health officials initially said they had no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission.

When China finally informed the World Health Organization of the outbreak through its China office on Dec. 31, 2019, it was clear the government was privately worried that it was not going to be easy to contain or manage.

By Jan. 23, China had 571 cases and a death toll of 17. Infectious disease specialists who create predictive models of epidemics immediately sounded the alarm about the new coronavirus disease—known as COVID-19—noting that China could experience 100,000 new infections per day with hundreds of millions of people becoming infected. By the following day, the central government of China had imposed a lockdown in Wuhan and other cities in Hubei province affecting 56 million people.

Pandemic Panic: Can Governments Protect Jobs and Markets?

The COVID-19 virus has infected populations around the world and slammed the global economy. While it is unclear where the coronavirus pandemic is headed, experts believe that it will lead to a worldwide recession.

Mauro Guillen, professor of international management at Wharton and the creator of an online course on the coronavirus crisis that the school plans to launch on March 25, believes that the challenge on the economic front is whether policy makers can find a way to prevent firms from laying off workers and if they can help calm panicky markets.

As more state governments in the U.S. have adopted a shelter-in-place strategy in recent weeks to contain the pandemic’s spread, media reports suggest that the Trump administration might be cooling off on the idea. Predictions that unemployment in the U.S. could jump to more than 20% and a Goldman Sachs forecast that GDP could shrink by 24% in the second quarter is believed to have prompted rethinking about social distancing. Guillen, however, believes that the U.S. could learn from China’s experience in this regard. “The Chinese experience indicates that social distancing and shelter in place work,” he says. 

What It Will Take to Save Economies From the Coronavirus Pandemic

Daniel McDowell 

Editor’s Note: WPR has made this article, as well as a selection of others from our COVID-19 coverage that we consider to be in the public interest, freely available. You can find all of our coverage of the coronavirus pandemic here. If you would like to help support our work, please consider taking advantage of our subscription offer here.

In 1873, Walter Bagehot, a prominent businessman in British high society and a journalist who served for 16 years as editor-in-chief of The Economist, wrote a treatise on banking and finance in which he left his most enduring mark on the world. In “Lombard Street: A Description of the Money Market,” he laid out a playbook for policymakers facing an unfolding economic and financial crisis. When up against such a challenge, Bagehot asserted, leaders must enact a policy response that is both swift and large. “By that policy,” he argued, “they allay the panic; by every other policy they intensify it.”

Economic policymakers around the world today find themselves facing an incredible challenge. As the novel coronavirus spreads, governments are swiftly implementing drastic measures to limit the scope of the pandemic, including banning public gatherings, closing national borders and shuttering all non-essential businesses.

How to Think About China


Analyses of China’s rise and future were important before the global pandemic—now, even more so. Three current volumes offer a mixed bag of insights and missed opportunities.

In the acknowledgments to his new book, the Singaporean diplomat turned academic Kishore Mahbubani confesses that he “knew that it would be a challenge to find an American publisher.” This struck me as quite incredible. The appetite for books on China in this country shows no sign of being slaked. Alarmism sells: think titles like The Hundred Year Marathon: China’s Secret Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower or China’s Vision of Victory. The coronavirus outbreak and the morally reprehensible finger-pointing it has inspired in Washington and Beijing bode well for the sales of future books on China. We already have articles on the need for decoupling and China’s use of the pandemic to reshape the global order. Savvy publishers are probably soliciting book-length versions right now, and I glumly expect to be reviewing a title like China’s Coronavirus: How Beijing Won a year or two hence. So it is unsurprising that PublicAffairs snapped up Mahbubani’s Has China Won?: The Chinese Challenge to American Primacy and, given all that has happened over the last couple of months, it will be unsurprising if the book sells even better than expected.

China’s Defense Spending Is Larger Than It Looks


Accounting for true purchasing power, Beijing’s military budget is about 87% of America’s.

An early lesson emerging from China’s handling of the COVID-19 emergency is that Beijing still manipulates data to fit its desired narrative. This has long been the case in China’s defense budget, where the party-government omits and withholds data to project a non-threatening image of its People’s Liberation Army. However, there are ways to cut through some of the mangled information.

If you account for differences in reporting structure, purchasing power, and labor costs, you find that China’s 2017 defense budget provided 87 percent of the purchasing power of American’s 2017 defense budget

This runs counter to the conventional wisdom that the United States spends more on its military than the next 12 countries combined or that China lags annual U.S. military spending by close to $400 billion. Those misleading comparisons are based on simply converting Beijing’s reported defense budget from yuan to dollars by applying a market exchange rate. That produces a distorted picture. We must take into consideration several key factors to arrive at an accurate understanding of just how much Beijing is investing in its military.

Where is the US government getting all the money it’s spending in the coronavirus crisis?

Louise Sheiner and David Wessel

The U.S. government and its counterparts all over the world are spending trillions of dollars in response to the COVID-19 crisis, borrowing trillions of dollars to do so. Here are some answers to questions we’ve been hearing and discussing.

Where is all the money the U.S. is spending coming from?

Savings: The world has been and still appears to be awash in savings, one big reason interest rates on U.S. Treasury debt–and debt of many foreign governments–were so low before COVID-19 hit. This suggests that there is ample room to increase borrowing now at a relatively low cost.

Portfolio shifts into U.S. Treasury debt: People and institutions with savings are particularly eager to invest the money in U.S. Treasury debt right now. At times of crisis, institutions, individuals, and foreign governments often prefer the safety of Treasuries instead of putting their money into the stock market, corporate bonds, or real estate. For instance, billions of dollars have moved from money market mutual funds that invest in corporate short-term IOUs to money market funds that invest solely in U.S. government debt. This makes it easier for the U.S. Treasury to borrow more without being forced to pay much higher interest rates.

The PLA Insight: 46: PLA & the Virus; PAP in HK; PLA & US Universities; SCS’s Escalation Ladder; China’s “World-Class” Forces; Space Power, and more


The Big Story: PLA: Xi’s Comrade against the Virus

Xi Jinping ordered the Chinese military to join the race for developing the world’s first vaccine for Covid-19. Major General Chen Wei, a top medical virologist with the Academy of Military Science, was authorised to start clinical trials last week. The Chinese scientists are working on the nine possible treatments, and Tianjin-based CanSino biologics are the frontrunners in China for developing the vaccine. Chen is credited with helping develop treatments during the 2014-16 Ebola outbreak and a nasal spray to protect medical workers during the 2002-03 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARs) outbreak.

The PLA has also been at the forefront of the logistical supply in Hubei and surrounding provinces since January 23. More than 10,000 personnel are deployed in Hubei province since then, and their job is to control the supply of the medicines and essential commodities. The effort is primarily led by the PLA’s newly formed Joint Logistics Support Force (JLSF). But despite being in the epicentre of the outbreak since the past two months, the PLA claims that not a single army personnel is infected by the virus. This seems rather absurd and highly unlikely. Hong Kong’s Ming Pao Daily claims that a group of 200 PLA soldiers attached with the PLA’s airborne Corp in Xiaogan city near Wuhan, and 300 personnel from the PLAN’s submarine unit in Sanya were quarantined.

Eye on China is a weekly bulletin offering news and analysis related to the Middle Kingdom from an Indian interests perspective.

I. Tricky Recovery & Narrative Contest

Once again, there are multiple strands to the Covid-19 outbreak story from China. There’s official reports of no new domestic cases; steps at reviving the economy; international outreach and propaganda; and much more.

Official Case Data: Caixin reports that Chinese health authorities reported no new confirmed or suspected cases in the outbreak epicenter of Hubei for the second straight day on Friday. A total of 39 new infections were reported Thursday on the mainland, all imported from overseas, bringing the total number of imported cases to 228. What’s more the death toll in Italy now has surpassed the death toll in China. Yet that doesn’t mean that the things are all clear in China. For instance, Shao Yiming, a prominent virologist who is chief HIV/AIDS expert at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, says that “Covid-19 is ‘smarter’ than SARS and MERS, with a relatively low fatality rate, more mild cases and a longer incubation period. It also has a very important characteristic ― high infectivity…” this along with other features “means it’s difficult to eradicate at once and may come back seasonally.”

Saving Our Own: COVID-19 Presents Challenges and Opportunities in Technology

Rohan Seth, Shambhavi Naik

Passengers wear face masks as a precaution against COVID-19 at the Secunderabad Railway Station in Hyderabad on March 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar A.)

The unprecedented spread of the COVID-19 outbreak is overwhelming healthcare systems across the world. In less than three months, the virus has impacted 177 countries or territories (including cruise ships) infecting over 2,30,000 people and killing over 11,000. The rapidity of community spread has left policymakers and bureaucrats scrambling for ways to bolster an overworked healthcare system. Another impending concern is of people who are struggling to adjust to a self-isolation way of life.

With the pandemic existing at this scale, state capacity alone may not be enough to respond effectively. Struggling in the face of an invisible threat, states have to co-opt technology to augment their arsenal for a long haul fight against coronavirus.

There are three phases in which technology can be effective - one in the detection of COVID-19 positive individuals; second in enforcing quarantine conditions and finally on facilitating the non-infected individuals to stay-at-home.

Why Germany's Coronavirus Death Rate Is Far Lower Than In Other Countries


Young people gather in the Volkspark am Friedrichshain in Berlin on March 18. Germany's fatality rate so far — just 0.5% — is the world's lowest, by a long shot.Markus Schreiber/AP

As confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Germany soared past 10,000 last week, hundreds of Berliners crowded Volkspark am Friedrichshain to play soccer and basketball, and to let their kids loose on the park's many jungle gyms.

The conditions seemed ideal for the spread of a virus that has killed thousands. Indeed, as of Wednesday, Germany had the fifth-highest number of cases.

Yet Germany's fatality rate so far — just 0.5% — is the world's lowest, by a long shot.

"I believe that we are just testing much more than in other countries, and we are detecting our outbreak early," said Christian Drosten, director of the institute of virology at Berlin's Charité hospital.

As Europe has become the epicenter of the global coronavirus pandemic, Italy's fatality rate hovers around 10%. France's is around 5%. Yet Germany's fatality rate from COVID-19 has remained remarkably low since cases started showing up there more than a month ago. As of March 25, there were 175 deaths and 34,055 cases.

Combating COVID-19 Without China

By Bonnie Girard

As China charges the United States military with creating the coronavirus COVID-19 and seeding a global pandemic, Washington is leading its own efforts to unite scientific communities in the rest of the world to share information and resources in a race to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus and develop a vaccine to prevent it in the future.

In the United States, that collaboration is being headed by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). Calling its efforts “Scientific Diplomacy,” the OSTP is coordinating with science leaders and advisers in countries around the globe to focus scientifically-based solutions on the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Leading the effort for the White House is the president’s science adviser, Director of OSTP Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier. Droegemeier is a member of President Donald Trump’s White House Coronavirus Task Force.

According to the OSTP, Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and several member nations of the EU have all engaged in teleconferences with the United States this month, seeking to ensure that maximum resources are mined for information on the novel coronavirus, and then directed at combating the illness and its spread.