mandag 17. februar 2020

Backstory - 'This is a special time': Reporting from the edge of China's virus lockdown

It was a late afternoon on a blue-sky day in Jiujiang, a city that borders Hubei, the central Chinese province worst hit by the coronavirus.We were riding in our taxi along a main road en route to our next destination, a large bridge over the Yangtze river, which we heard had been shut down by a checkpoint as transport links with Hubei were all but severed.

Then we noticed a police car driving alongside us. A voice over the car’s loudspeaker ordered our driver to pull over.So began what became a routine of questionings and brief detentions by local officials during a 12-day reporting trip around the border regions of Hubei as we set out to document how lives of people there had been disrupted by the epidemic. On the roadside, a police officer checked our press passes and passports. Then another came to check, and another after that. Eventually, we were told to leave our taxi. There were questions about our reporting plans.

5G and Huawei: The UK and EU Decide

The U.K.’s decision in late January to allow “high-risk vendors” to equip parts of its 5G telecommunications networks permits the continuing involvement of Huawei, a company described by U.S. legislators and officials as an arm of the Chinese state. The decision has been widely portrayed as a sacrifice of the U.K.’s security and that of partner nations to short-sighted material greed. It has been blasted in the U.K. Parliament and by critics abroad, who have blamed it on post-Brexit fear of retaliation from China and the clout of “Beijing-backed business interests.”

In fact, the controversy reflects deeper disagreements over engineering and security design for 5G networks, and about whether the basic problem involved is one of risk management, or of fundamental incompatibility with the Chinese political system in which Huawei operates.

Over 1,700 frontline medics infected with coronavirus in China, presenting new crisis for the government

Ning Zhu, a nurse in Wuhan, the central Chinese city at the heart of a deadly coronavirus outbreak, is restless. Instead of helping on the frontlines, she has been under self-quarantine at home for weeks, after a chest scan on January 26 revealed that she had a suspected case of the novel Coronavirus.
Zhu was told to wait for a nucleic acid test that would provide the final verdict, but it never came. 

"Right now, it's really a problem. Our hospital already has more than 100 people who are quarantined at home," she told CNN over the phone. An additional 30 medical workers have been confirmed to have the virus, she said. "If the tests are fine, we can go back to work. I actually don't have any symptoms, there's just a slight problem with my CT scan, it seems there's a bit of infection," she said.
Zhu estimates that of the 500 medical staff at the hospital, more than 130 may have been stricken by the virus, which has so far infected more than 60,000 globally. She declined to publicize the name of her hospital and asked to use a pseudonym as she was not authorized to speak to the media.

The US is finally evacuating Americans from the Diamond Princess. Here's why that's made them mad

The US plan to evacuate Americans and their families from the Diamond Princess cruise ship appears, on its face, to be the case of a powerful government coming to the aid of its most vulnerable citizens. But the decision has prompted anger from some exhausted passengers, who believe the move could actually set back their ability to return to normal life -- just as that option was within their grasp.

Thousands of people have been stuck in their cabins under mandatory quarantine aboard the Diamond Princess, which is docked off the Japanese port city of Yokohama, since February 3. With 356 confirmed cases of coronavirus on board, 70 of which were announced Sunday, the ship has the largest concentration of novel coronavirus cases outside mainland China. On February 19, the controversial quarantine period was set to finally end. Until Saturday, the US government seemed on board with that plan. The consensus among government agencies, which had been communicated to the more than 400 Americans aboard, was that remaining on the ship for the quarantine period was the best course of action.

‘This may be the last piece I write’: prominent Xi critic has internet cut after house arrest

The Chinese professor Xu Zhangrun, who published a rare public critique of President Xi Jinping over China’s coronavirus crisis, was placed under house arrest for days, barred from social media and is now cut off from the internet, his friends have told the Guardian.

Xu’s passionate attack on the government’s system of controls and censorship, Viral Alarm: When Fury Overcomes Fear, was published this month – a rare, bold expression of dissent from the liberal camp under Xi’s rule.

A friend of Xu’s who spoke on Sunday on the condition of anonymity to avoid reprisals said police placed Xu under house arrest soon after he returned to Beijing from his lunar new year break at his home town in Anhui province. “They confined him at home under the pretext that he had to be quarantined after the trip,” the friend said. “He was in fact under de facto house arrest and his movements were restricted.”

Chinese activist arrested after calling Xi Jinping 'clueless' on coronavirus crisis

The Chinese authorities have detained a prominent activist and legal scholar who issued a blistering attack on president Xi Jinping for mishandling the coronavirus crisis amid a nationwide crackdown on speech freedom. Xu Zhiyong, a former law lecturer and founder of the social campaign New Citizens Movement, was taken away by police on Saturday evening while he was seeking refuge at the home of a lawyer in the southern city of Guangzhou, activists Ye Du and Hua Ze said.His host Yang Bin, her husband and son were also taken away for “hiding criminals” but were released after 24 hours, they said. Yang has reportedly posted comments online demanding officials be held responsible for the whistleblower doctor Li Wenliang who died this month.

A staff member who answered the phone at the Shilou township Public Security Bureau in Guangzhou refused to comment. Xu published an essay early this month, which called on China’s president to resign for his lack of ability to govern China, citing the coronavirus crisis and the mishandling of the Hong Kong pro-democracy protests – a dangerous move that guarantees official anger.

søndag 16. februar 2020

Chinese banks disinfect banknotes to stop spread of coronavirus

China is disinfecting and isolating used banknotes as part of efforts to stop the spread of the coronavirus that has killed more than 1,500 people, officials have said. Banks use ultraviolet light or high temperatures to disinfect yuan bills, then seal and store the cash for seven to 14 days – depending on the severity of the outbreak in a particular region – before recirculating them, China’s central bank said at a press conference. The virus, which has infected more than 66,000 people in China and spread to more than two dozen other countries, has sparked a rush to disinfect public places and minimise contact between people.

‘This may be the last piece I write’: prominent Xi critic has internet cut after house arrest

The Chinese professor Xu Zhangrun, who published a rare public critique of President Xi Jinping over China’s coronavirus crisis, was placed under house arrest for days, barred from social media and is now cut off from the internet, his friends have told the Guardian. Xu’s passionate attack on the government’s system of controls and censorship, Viral Alarm: When Fury Overcomes Fear, was published this month as a powerful debate on freedom of speech convulsed the country.

The death on 7 February of whistleblowing doctor Li Wenliang, who had tried to warn colleagues about the virus but was reprimanded and silenced by security forces, had triggered an outpouring of grief and anger and an unusual public discussion about censorship.“Li’s death has thoroughly exposed the ills of the party’s governance and control; this has a huge impact on people’s minds,” said Hong Zhenkuai, an independent historian who is currently working outside China, as a visiting scholar at Tokyo University.

The mechanisms that normally constrain Chinese journalists have also eased slightly, with some of the most powerful stories about life in quarantined Wuhan and the latest news about the evolution of the outbreak coming from mainland newsrooms like that of magazine Caixin.

US to evacuate Diamond Princess passengers, as global coronavirus cases top 69,000

The novel coronavirus has infected more than 69,000 people globally, mostly in mainland China. The death toll is 1,669, including four people outside mainland China. President Xi Jinping knew about the coronavirus outbreak in early January, he said in a speech this month. Xi says he "issued requirements for the prevention and control of the new coronavirus" on Jan. 7.

70 more coronavirus cases were confirmed on board the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise liner in Yokohama, Japan, bringing total infections to 356. A flight evacuating US passengers is due to depart later Sunday -- those on board will face another quarantine once they land. A Chinese tourist who tested positive for the virus died in France, health officials confirmed on Saturday. There's been a spike in numbers this week -- including 15,000 in one day -- because China changed how cases are tabulated.

Chinese students spend billions overseas. Coronavirus travel bans will leave some countries seriously out of pocket

If it weren't for the novel coronavirus outbreak, Xu Mingxi would have been in class at a prestigious New York university this week. Instead, the 22-year-old has spent the past three weeks confined to his family's apartment in Wuhan, the Chinese city at the center of the outbreak, which is currently on lockdown to prevent the virus spreading. But even if Xu could leave home, the United States -- where he's studied for the past four-and-a-half years -- won't let him in.

Over 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) away in Beijing, Alex -- who asked not to use her real name for fear of online retribution -- is in a similar situation. She's spent the past two weeks at home with her mom and grandpa, being delivered groceries by community leaders. She's worried she won't be able to fly to Sydney to study later this month and may have to delay her law degree by a semester.
As novel coronavirus spreads, over 60 countries have imposed travel restrictions on Chinese citizens, hoping to limit their exposure to the virus that has killed more than 1,600 people, almost all in mainland China, and infected over 68,000 worldwide. Both Australia and the US have put temporary bans on foreign nationals who visited China in the 14 days prior to their arrival.

Coronavirus: Why Singapore is so vulnerable to coronavirus spread

Several international cases of the coronavirus from the UK to South Korea can be traced back to Singapore and some countries are now advising against travel to the international hub. But while Singapore has been commended for its management of the crisis, the tiny city-state faces unique challenges.

Changi airport in Singapore is one of the most interconnected hubs in the world. In fact, there's a flight taking off and arriving every 80 seconds here, making it more connected than JFK and San Francisco in the US and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. But the scenes there these days are very different. Dozens of thermal scanners dot the terminals, automatically taking the temperature of passengers as they enter and exit Singapore. Travellers are checked for fever, cold and cough symptoms - airport staff on the lookout for any sign of the coronavirus.

Coronavirus: China announces drop in new cases for third straight day

China has announced a drop in new cases from the coronavirus outbreak for a third consecutive day. On Sunday, authorities reported 2,009 new cases and 142 more deaths nationwide. New cases spiked earlier in the week after a change in the way they were counted but have been falling ever since. In total more than 68,000 people have been infected in China, with the death toll standing at 1,665.

Outside of China there have been more than 500 cases in nearly 30 countries. Four people have died - in France, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Japan.

She Escaped One Of China’s Brutal Internment Camps For Muslims. Now She Could Be Sent Back.

It was snowing the day that she stepped out from the heavy iron gates of the Chinese internment camp where she had spent much of the 39th year of her life. Tursunay Ziyawudun was free — but the beauty of the soft snowfall blanketing the farmland only made her empty and sad. She thought, she later said, that she had lost the ability to feel.

Ziyawudun, 41, is one of just a handful of Uighur Muslims who have made it out of one of China’s now-notorious camps for Muslim minorities and gone abroad — to neighboring Kazakhstan. After nearly 10 months locked up without ever being charged with a crime, Ziyawudun was released in December 2018. In Kazakhstan, Ziyawudun thought she was finally safe after months of nightmares, interrogations, and ritual humiliations at the hands of camp officials. Her long hair was lopped off, she was forced to watch endless hours of state propaganda on television, and every second of her life was filmed by security cameras. Each night, she had struggled to sleep, terrified she might be raped.

lørdag 15. februar 2020

‘This may be the last piece I write’: now a Xi critic’s words ring true

The Chinese professor Xu Zhangrun, who published a rare public critique of President Xi Jinping over China’s coronavirus crisis, has now been barred from social media, and his friends have not been able to contact him for several days, they told the Observer. His passionate attack on the government’s system of controls and censorship, Viral Alarm: When Fury Overcomes Fear, was published last week as a powerful debate on freedom of speech convulsed the country.

The death on 7 February of whistleblowing doctor Li Wenliang, who had tried to warn colleagues about the virus but was reprimanded and silenced by security forces, had triggered an outpouring of grief and anger and an unusual public discussion about censorship. “Li’s death has thoroughly exposed the ills of the party’s governance and control; this has a huge impact on people’s minds,” said Hong Zhenkuai, an independent historian who is currently working outside China, as a visiting scholar at Tokyo University.

USA konfronterer Kina: – Beveger seg raskere i gal retning

På Sikkerhetskonferansen i München lørdag morgen gikk USAs forsvarsminister Mark Esper til et voldsomt verbalt angrep mot Kina. – Kina beveger seg raskere i gal retning. Mer undertrykkelse av folk nasjonalt, råere økonomisk press, og et mer aggressivt militær uttrykk, som er min største bekymring, sa Esper i en presentasjon i München lørdag formiddag.

Over lang tid har amerikanerne advart sine allierte i Europa mot Huawei og kinesisk teknologi i det nye 5G-nettet. I München i 2019 sa USAs visepresident Mike Pence at USA ikke kunne ha sikkerhets-samarbeid med land som kjøpte kinesisk teknologi til sine 5G-nett, av frykt for tapping av informasjon og manipulering.

Solberg uenig med USA om Kina: Vil trekke dem med

Statsminister Erna Solberg (H) mener det er lite konstruktivt at USA angriper Kina og løfter landet som den største trusselen akkurat nå.– Vi må passe på at det som snart er verdens største økonomi med så mange mennesker trekkes inn slik at vi snakker med dem og stiller tydelige krav, sier Solberg til VG i München. Solbergs reaksjon kommer etter at Mark Esper, den amerikanske forsvarsministeren, tok et knallhardt oppgjør med det kinesiske lederskapet på Sikkerhetskonferansen i München lørdag formiddag. – Kina er vår store bekymring nå, sa Esper.

Norsk idrett blir ikke hørt i Kina-saken

Idrettspresident Berit Kjøll sa onsdag til TV 2 at styret i Norges idrettsforbund (NIF) er samlet i synet på at bruk av spillemidler fra Norsk Tipping er innenfor definisjonen av «idrettslige formål» når de brukes til å finansiere idrettsavtalen mellom Norge og Kina inngått i 2017.

Under denne avtalen har blant annet 200 kinesiske utøvere innen flere idretter fått komme til Norge for å trene, og flere norske idrettsprofiler har vært engasjert på trenersiden. Norges regjering har vedtatt at 3,2 millioner kroner av spillemidlene fra Norsk Tipping skal brukes til å finansiere avtalen, som blant annet har som formål å hjelpe kinesiske utøvere før OL på hjemmebane i 2022.

Når idrettspresidenten sier at styret stiller seg lojalt bak denne beslutningen, er det etter flere henvendelser til norske politikere med bønn om at disse pengene heller blir tatt av fagdepartementenes budsjetter og ikke av midler som er øremerket norsk idrett.

One Wuhan family’s tale of quarantine, followed by infection … and tragedy

Liu Mengdi, 25, has been keeping a diary of the past few weeks as the coronavirus has ravaged her home town of Wuhan. “Today is the sixth day of the Wuhan lockdown [the city has been under quarantine for the last three weeks]. I thought my family, prevented from going out, would at least be safe,” she wrote on 29 January from Italy, where she is in her last year of university. “It never occurred to me they would not be able to escape this.”

Liu’s 54-year-old father, Liu Daoyu, who developed a sore throat and cough five days earlier, had just tested positive for the virus. Her 90-year-old grandfather, Lei Ruting, was showing even more serious symptoms: a fever that wouldn’t relent and breathing difficulties. “Everyone in the family is extremely worried,” she wrote. Still, she ended her entry on a positive note: “We believe everything will be okay. Thank you to the frontline people fighting this. Thank you to those who have helped us.”