Category : China

(WSJ) China Targets AI, Chips Among Seven Battlefronts in Tech Race With U.S.

China upped the stakes in its tech race with the U.S. as leaders laid out plans to speed up development of advanced technologies from chips to artificial intelligence and quantum computing over five years.

In a draft economic blueprint unveiled at the country’s annual legislative gathering, officials said they would boost research and development spending by more than 7% annually over the five years to the end of 2025. That will account for a higher percentage of gross domestic product than in the previous five-year period.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said in a speech Friday that China will revise regulation and policies to support the flow of venture capital into startups, free up bank lending and extend tax incentives to encourage research and development.

Economists and industry analysts say China’s 14th five-year plan stands out for its emphasis on advanced technologies and innovation. It also included China’s vision for 2035, when the country expects to have “significant breakthroughs on core technologies and seeks to be among the most innovative nations globally.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., China, Science & Technology

Meir Soloveichik for Eric Liddell’s Feast Day–Finding God in the Olympic Footrace

While Americans rightly exult in the achievements of U.S. medalists, “Chariots of Fire” also serves as a reminder that athletics and even patriotism only mean so much. When Liddell is informed that a qualifying heat takes place on Sunday, his Sabbath, he chooses not to compete in that race. The camera cuts from athletes at the Olympics to Liddell reading a passage in Isaiah: “Behold the nations are as a drop in the bucket . . . but they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings, as eagles. They shall run, and not be weary. They shall walk and not faint.” David Puttnam, a “Chariots of Fire” producer, wrote me that the verses were “specifically selected by the actor, the late Ian Charleson, who gave himself the task of reading the entire Bible whilst preparing for the film.”

The Isaiah passage is liturgically important for Jews: Parts of it are declaimed in synagogue on the Sabbath when we read God’s command to Abraham to leave the center of civilization and found a family, and a faith, in a new land. Isaiah reminds Jews that Abraham’s children have encountered much worse than what Harold Abrahams experienced. While most nations now rest on the ash heap of history, the biblical Abraham’s odyssey continues. The countries competing in today’s Olympics come and go, while those who “wait upon the Lord” endure.

“Chariots of Fire” also offers a message for people of faith who have grown troubled by the secularization of society and the realization that they are often scorned by elites. Like Liddell, we may be forced to choose religious principle over social success. Hopefully, however, we will be able to use our gifts to sanctify this world. As Liddell’s father told his son in the film: “Run in God’s name, and let the world stand back in wonder.”

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Posted in --Scotland, China, Church History, Missions, Sports

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Eric Liddell

God whose strength bears us up as on mighty wings: We rejoice in remembering thy athlete and missionary, Eric Liddell, to whom thou didst bestow courage and resolution in contest and in captivity; and we pray that we also may run with endurance the race that is set before us and persevere in patient witness, until we wear that crown of victory won for us by Jesus our Savior; who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in --Scotland, China, Church History, Missions, Spirituality/Prayer, Sports

(WSJ) From Lightbulbs to 5G, China Battles West for Control of Vital Technology Standards

Nearly every product in American homes, from lightbulbs to couches, windows and Wi-Fi routers, conforms to standards and measurements of a global system established to ensure quality and seamless operation.

Industrial standards, created by the U.S. and its allies over decades, form an invisible matrix of rules that underpin the global marketplace. Mundane though it may sound, this uniformity is critical to international trade in how it guarantees that bolts, USB plugs and shipping containers can all be used interchangeably world-wide. The standards reflect the consensus of international panels long dominated by Western technical experts.

China now wants to take the lead in fields of the future. To the consternation of many Western countries, Beijing is employing state funding and political influence to try to define the norms for all manner of cutting-edge technologies that span telecommunications, electricity transmission and artificial intelligence.

“Dominance of technical standards underpinning information and communications technologies and other emerging fields is integral to Beijing’s ambitions,” said Congress’s U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission in its annual report in December.

China’s efforts are driven by the desire to outdo the West, as well as amass profits.

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Posted in China, Science & Technology

(Reuters) U.S. ‘deeply disturbed’ by reports of systematic rape of Muslims in China camps

The United States is “deeply disturbed” by reports of systematic rape and sexual abuse against women in internment camps for ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims in China’s Xinjiang region and there must be serious consequences for atrocities committed there, the U.S. State Department said on Wednesday.

A BBC report earlier on Wednesday said women in the camps were subject to rape, sexual abuse and torture. The British broadcaster said “several former detainees and a guard have told the BBC they experienced or saw evidence of an organized system of mass rape, sexual abuse and torture.”

Asked to comment, a State Department spokeswoman said: “We are deeply disturbed by reports, including first-hand testimony, of systematic rape and sexual abuse against women in internment camps for ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang.”

The spokeswoman reiterated U.S. charges that China has committed “crimes against humanity and genocide” in Xinjiang and added: “These atrocities shock the conscience and must be met with serious consequences.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Islam, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Religious Freedom / Persecution

(BBC) ‘Their goal is to destroy everyone’: Uighur camp detainees allege systematic rape

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Article content may not be suitable for some blog readers–KSH.

Posted in China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Violence, Women

(Bloomberg Businessweek) An Economist’s Guide to the World in 2050

Who really won the Cold War? Maybe China.

In 1972, Cold War logic pushed President Richard Nixon into an unlikely alliance with Mao Zedong—bringing China back into the mainstream of the world economy. In 1991, the collapse of the Soviet Union encouraged “end of history” hubris that blinded the West to the consequences of China’s rise.

Fast forward to 2020 and China has emerged as a major global power, its single-party rule and state-dominated economy the cause of alarm in foreign capitals—and pride in Beijing. By 2035, Bloomberg Economics forecasts, China will have overtaken the U.S. to become the world’s biggest economy and perhaps also its most powerful political actor.

China’s rise is just one part of a larger shift that’s already under way and looks set to accelerate in the decades ahead.

Bloomberg Economics has used a growth accounting framework—adding up the contributions of labor, capital and productivity—to forecast potential GDP through 2050 for 39 countries, from the U.S. to Ghana. We’ve used that data to map some of the key geographic and political shifts in store for the world economy.

The results suggest that a remarkable period of stability, stretching from the end of World War II through to the early 21st century, is coming to an end. The center of economic gravity is shifting from West to East, from advanced economies to emerging markets, from free markets to state controls and from established democracies to authoritarian and populist rulers. The transition is already upending global politics, economics and markets. This is just the beginning.

Much could happen to throw our projections off track. The Covid crisis is demonstrating how pandemics can reconfigure the global economic map. Wars, natural disasters and financial meltdowns can do the same. So could policy choices on globalization and climate change. Still, absent a crystal ball, forecasts of potential growth provide the most reliable basis for thinking about the long term.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., China, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Politics in General

(The World) Undeterred by ICC decision, Uighurs hail EU, UK steps toward holding China accountable

After more than 70 years of Chinese rule over the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, there’s mounting evidence that in recent years, their occupation has intensified into an environment of strict surveillance, with more than a million Uighurs held in internment camps.

Reports show many are forced to pick cotton and work in factories that supply international brands and that some Uighurs are even subjected to forced sterilizations and organ harvesting.

For several years, Beijing repeatedly denied those allegations, while companies like Nike said they’ve made sure they’re not using Uighur slave labor. But some recent developments suggest 2021 may see a breakthrough in the Uighurs’ long struggle for justice, with help from a new group of international lawmakers.

“I’m accusing the Chinese authorities of the worst crime of the 21st century. I am also accusing the international community for being a part of this crime, for abetting it through its silence,” European Parliament Member Raphaël Glucksmann of France said during a Dec. 17 debate, through an interpreter. “I’m also accusing Nike and other multinational corporations that are taking advantage of slavery.”

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Posted in China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Islam, Religion & Culture, Religious Freedom / Persecution

(Noema Magazine) James Crabtree–China’s Radical New Vision Of Globalization

But then came the interesting part. “Since the beginning of this year, I have said on many occasions that we must promote the formation of a new development pattern, in which domestic and international cycles are the mainstay, and the domestic and international dual cycles promote each other,” Xi said. To an outsider, this might seem unremarkable, cloaked as it is in the elliptical phraseology that often marks Chinese economic ideas. But the “dual circulation” strategy Xi outlined actually represents a radical new understanding of globalization and of China’s place within it.

More than just a buzzword, dual circulation describes the deeply pessimistic worldview that has settled over Beijing. Once China’s leaders saw opportunity in globalization. Now, they expect the U.S. and its allies to deny China the technology it needs to build “a modern socialist country” by mid-century, meaning a wealthy superpower fit to rival the U.S. Although likely to be less pugilistic, Beijing rightly believes an incoming Biden administration will also press forward with policies designed to stop advanced technologies finding their way into Beijing’s hands. Chinese thinking has long valorized self-reliance, dating back to ideas developed by former Chinese leader Mao Zedong during the country’s civil war, which ended with the foundation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. Now, Trump’s tariffs, as well as his campaigns against companies like Huawei and TikTok, have given new impetus to the modern form of self-reliance Xi dubs “internal” development.

Many experts have noted a changing Western consensus on China, as leaders in Washington abandoned the idea that economic modernization would inevitably lead to political liberalization in Beijing. But there has been a comparable shift in China’s internal conversation on the West too. Beginning with semiconductors but potentially expanding to all manner of other areas, China now expects it will have to develop technologically on its own. Xi’s new theory now sits at the heart of the country’s 14th five-year plan, which covers development from 2021 to 2025, and was unveiled in draft form in October. The result will accelerate China’s decoupling from the West, while also increasing the importance of trading links forged with other parts of the world — for instance, via Xi’s signature Belt and Road Initiative. Put more bluntly, while the world was distracted by the drama of the U.S. presidential election, Xi quietly unveiled an economic strategy fit for a new Cold War. Both for China and for globalization itself, the results are likely to be profound.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, China, Defense, National Security, Military, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Politics in General

WSJ front page–Xi’s China ramps up drive to squelch dissent

On a summer day in 2016, a posse of men surrounded Lu Yuyu on a street in China’s southwestern city of Dali. He said they wrestled him into a black sedan and slid a shroud over his head. His girlfriend was pushed into a second car, screaming his name.

Mr. Lu had for years posted a running online tally of protests and demonstrations in China that was closely read by activists and academics around the world, as well as by government censors. That made him a target.

While China’s Communist Party has long punished people seen as threats to its rule, government authorities under Chinese leader Xi Jinping have engaged in the most relentless pursuit of dissenters since the crackdown on the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests, according to academics and activists.

“Over the past eight years under Xi, authorities have become hypersensitive to the publicizing of protests, social movements and mass resistance,” said Wu Qiang, a former politics lecturer at Beijing’s Tsinghua University.

“Lu’s data provided a window into social trends in China,” Mr. Wu said, and that made him a threat to the party. China Labour Bulletin, a Hong Kong-based group that promotes worker rights, used Mr. Lu’s posts as the primary source for its “Strike Map,” an interactive online graphic tallying worker unrest.

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Posted in China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Psychology

Marco Polo’s “China Forecast 2025” report says that by 2025, China’s technology ecosystem will have matured and be on par with Silicon Valley

The starring role that China plays in this drama makes understanding its general trajectory—from the economy to domestic politics and technology development to energy policy—of immense interest and import to the world, and particularly for its peer competitor the United States.

So what kind of China should be expected by 2025? That singular question animated this effort to forecast the country’s path forward over the medium term.

Our simple answer: A China that will be near-majority middle class for the first time, with increasing technological parity with Silicon Valley and a less carbon-intensive energy landscape, all under the aegis of a stronger Xi Jinping and his vision of governance. Achieving these outcomes will require trade-offs, in this case a China that will likely redouble on domestic priorities and moderate its appetite for global adventurism.

This view of a more capable yet more outwardly cautious China is based on a composite of four scenarios across specific functional areas, bounded by the timeframe through 2025. It is also predicated on several macro assumptions and key factors that are likely to determine China’s behavior over that time period. In other words, this forecast exists within a defined scope, the elements of which are explained below.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, China, Economy, Globalization, Politics in General, Science & Technology

Sunday [London] Times–German spy chief Gerhard Schindler: China is poised to dominate the world

China is close to “world domination” and Europe must wake up to the danger, a former head of Germany’s foreign intelligence agency has told The Times.

Gerhard Schindler, who led the Federal Intelligence Service (BND) from 2011 to 2016, said Germany needed to curb its “strategic dependence” on Beijing and ban Huawei from its 5G mobile phone network.

He also warned that Angela Merkel’s liberal approach to the 2015 migrant crisis had left Germany with a “large reservoir” of young Muslim men susceptible to violence and jihadist ideology, and that the true scale of the danger was only now becoming clear.

In his new book Wer hat Angst vorm BND? (Who’s Afraid of the BND?), Mr Schindler, 68, argues that Germany has hobbled its spy agencies with unnecessary red tape and neglected some of the most serious threats to its security.

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Posted in China, Europe, Germany, Globalization

(WSJ) In Xi Jinping’s China, Nationalism Takes a Dark Turn

The wave of nationalism sweeping through China, amplified by party propaganda, the political ambitions of Xi Jinping and the country’s success in containing Covid-19, is taking a darker turn, with echoes of the country’s Maoist past.

Angry mobs online have swarmed any criticism of China’s leaders or a perceived lack of loyalty to the country. Targets are being harassed and silenced. Some have lost their jobs.

Among those who have been attacked this year are public figures who have raised questions about officials’ early handling of the coronavirus. They include a writer from Wuhan named Fang Fang, who wrote online about the struggles of local residents and accused government officials of being slow to respond to the outbreak.

Thousands of Chinese internet users called her a traitor. An anonymously written poster hung at a Wuhan bus station told her to “shave your head or kill yourself to atone for your sins against the people”—and a photo of it spread widely online. A famous tai chi master called on allies to assault her, using their “clenched fists of justice.”

Fang Fang later issued a plea to her fellow citizens on the Twitter -like platform Weibo: “China cannot return to the Cultural Revolution.”

Chinese politics researchers say surging nationalism is in part a natural response to the country’s rising stature around the world. Some Chinese people say their feelings are rooted in genuine pride for their country.

The government has also taken a heavy hand in stoking the sentiment.

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Posted in China

(Nikkei Asia) Minxin Pei–The four albatrosses weighing down Xi Jinping

Xi Jinping may be in denial, but it has become increasingly clear that his risky bets have plunged the country into a deepening geopolitical hole.

Since he became the general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party in late 2012, Xi has launched several major initiatives abroad and escalated political repression at home.

As a result, Xi now finds himself weighed down by four cumbersome albatrosses; the South China Sea dispute; the Belt and Road Initiative; Xinjiang; and Hong Kong. Unless he reverses course, Xi will face an increasingly unified Western coalition threatening the survival of his regime.

To be sure, there are different reasons behind each of these liabilities. Both BRI and the South China Sea are classic examples of strategic overreach that can be traced back to when Xi assumed the top CCP leadership post in late 2012, when the prevailing view in Beijing was that China should seize the opportunity to assert its growing power and influence while the West was still reeling from the 2008 global financial crisis.

Even though China was growing more assertive before Xi’s rise, under his leadership Beijing has not only adopted more confrontational tactics — such as its militarization of a chain of artificial islands in the South China Sea — it has sought to construct a Sino-centric order as a credible competitor to the existing U.S.-led order. To quote Xi, the world should have a “China option.”

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Posted in China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General

(SA) Jesus made “a sinner and a killer” in Chinese textbook

Disturbing reports from China say Communist Party officials have rewritten the story of the woman caught in adultery from John 8, claiming Jesus stoned the woman to death.

The incident in John 8:3–11 is a powerful testament to Jesus’ forgiveness and his divinity. The account says a mob had surrounded a woman accused of adultery. After facing down the crowd seeking to stone her, Jesus tells the Pharisees, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her” (v7).

After the crowd leaves, Jesus stands up and says: “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more” (v10-11).

Reports from Roman Catholic sources and carried by the religious liberty group Bitter Winter say this event in the gospel has been drastically changed in a textbook published by the University of Electronic Science and Technology Press. The book is reportedly used in ethics and law courses in Chinese secondary vocational schools.

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Posted in Books, China, Christology, Religion & Culture, Theology: Scripture

(NYT) China Is Collecting DNA From Tens of Millions of Men and Boys, Using U.S. Equipment

The police in China are collecting blood samples from men and boys from across the country to build a genetic map of its roughly 700 million males, giving the authorities a powerful new tool for their emerging high-tech surveillance state.

They have swept across the country since late 2017 to collect enough samples to build a vast DNA database, according to a new study published on Wednesday by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, a research organization, based on documents also reviewed by The New York Times. With this database, the authorities would be able to track down a man’s male relatives using only that man’s blood, saliva or other genetic material.

An American company, Thermo Fisher, is helping: The Massachusetts company has sold testing kits to the Chinese police tailored to their specifications. American lawmakers have criticized Thermo Fisher for selling equipment to the Chinese authorities, but the company has defended its business.

The project is a major escalation of China’s efforts to use genetics to control its people, which had been focused on tracking ethnic minorities and other, more targeted groups. It would add to a growing, sophisticated surveillance net that the police are deploying across the country, one that increasingly includes advanced cameras, facial recognition systems and artificial intelligence.

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Posted in Anthropology, China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Science & Technology, Theology

(Wa Po) State Department rebukes China as one of the worst abusers of religious freedom

A State Department official singled out China on Wednesday as one of the world’s worst offenders of religious freedom, saying it backslid the most last year as thousands more people of faith were subjected to imprisonment and forced labor.

The accusation by Sam Brownback, the ambassador of international religious freedom, represented the latest salvo in an exchange of recriminations between Washington and Beijing. In recent months, tensions have grown as the two countries have sparred over the coronavirus, Hong Kong, press freedoms and trade. China has accused the United States of hypocrisy amid nationwide protests over the killing of George Floyd and other African Americans who have died in police custody, and the Trump administration’s response to massive demonstrations.

The State Department used Wednesday’s annual Report on International Religious Freedom to increase the crescendo of criticism of China, which has been designated a “country of particular concern” on religious freedom since 1999.

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Posted in China, Religion & Culture, Religious Freedom / Persecution

([London] Times) China plans free childcare and tax cuts as birthrate falls to 70-year low

China may cover much of the cost of childcare, from birth to college graduation, to help reverse a decline in the birthrate.

In advance of the National People’s Congress, the rubberstamp legislature that convenes on Friday in Beijing, an influential policy advisory body has suggested that wide-ranging financial support be offered to families to address the falling birthrate in the world’s most populous country, including providing income tax cuts for new parents.

“In recent years the birthrates have plummeted, and the subsequent social and economic problems have become more severe by the day,” the China Democratic League said. It is proposing a series of subsidies to help with childcare costs and even payments to grandparents so they are rewarded for helping young parents to look after their offspring.

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Posted in Anthropology, Children, China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Politics in General

(Economist) The financial world’s nervous system is being rewired–And it is not America that is doing it

China has gone furthest. In 2015 it launched cips, an interbank messaging system to ease international payments in yuan. It uses the same language as swift, allowing it to talk to other countries’ payment systems. For now just 950 institutions use it—less than 10% of swift’s membership. But “what matters is it’s there,” says Eswar Prasad of Cornell University.

The real revolution is happening in low-value transfers. Like swift, the network of American card schemes is tricky to displace. Member banks and merchants trust each other because they adhere to tested rules. They also like the convenience of the schemes’ settlement platforms, which compute “net” positions between all banks that they square up at the end of the day. So rival schemes struggle to make a dent. In 2014, fearing sanctions could block it from using American schemes, Russia created its own, which now accounts for 17% of domestic cards. But its 70m tally is dwarfed by Visa and Mastercard’s 5bn. Size is not a problem for UnionPay, China’s own club. Just 130m of its 7.6bn cards were issued outside the mainland, however, where it is mostly used by Chinese tourists.

A mightier threat comes from a state-led revamp of domestic payment systems. Eager to reassert control over key infrastructure, some 70 countries have rebuilt their local plumbing to enable near-instant bank transfers at the tap of a screen. Europe is the most advanced, having fused local networks into a bloc of 35 countries and more than 500m people. South-East Asia is also trying to stitch its systems together. On March 5th India and Singapore connected theirs for the first time.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., China, Economy, Globalization, Science & Technology, The Banking System/Sector

(1 News NZ) China’s ambassador to Australia says calls for inquiry into Covid-19 origins are ‘dangerous’, could spark boycotts

China’s ambassador to Australia told a newspaper that the Australian government’s pursuit of an independent international inquiry into the coronavirus outbreak could spark a Chinese consumer boycott of students and tourists visiting the country, as well as sales of major exports including beef and wine.

Ambassador Cheng Jingye told The Australian Financial Review in an interview published today that Australia’s push for an inquiry was “dangerous” and predicted it would fail to gain traction among global leaders.

“Resorting to suspicion, recrimination or division at such a critical time could only undermine global efforts to fight against this pandemic,” Cheng said.

Cheng did not accept that the virus had started in a “wet market” in the city of Wuhan, saying the scientific jury was still out on its origins.

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Posted in China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Health & Medicine

(Science Magazine) COVID-19 vaccine protects monkeys from new coronavirus, Chinese biotech reports

For the first time, one of the many COVID-19 vaccines in development has protected an animal, rhesus macaques, from infection by the new coronavirus, scientists report. The vaccine, an old-fashioned formulation consisting of a chemically inactivated version of the virus, produced no obvious side effects in the monkeys, and human trials began on 16 April.

Researchers from Sinovac Biotech, a privately held Beijing-based company, gave two different doses of their COVID-19 vaccine to a total of eight rhesus macaque monkeys. Three weeks later, the group introduced SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, into the monkeys’ lungs through tubes down their tracheas, and none developed a full-blown infection.

The monkeys given the highest dose of vaccine had the best response: Seven days after the animals received the virus, researchers could not detect it in the pharynx or lungs of any of them. Some of the lower dosed animals had a “viral blip” but also appeared to have controlled the infection, the Sinovac team reports in a paper published on 19 April on the preprint server bioRxiv. In contrast, four control animals developed high levels of viral RNA in several body parts and severe pneumonia. The results “give us a lot of confidence” that the vaccine will work in humans, says Meng Weining, Sinovac’s senior director for overseas regulatory affairs.

“I like it,” says Florian Krammer, a virologist at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai who has co-authored a status report about the many different COVID-19 vaccines in development. “This is old school but it might work. What I like most is that many vaccine producers, also in lower–middle-income countries, could make such a vaccine.”

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Posted in China, Corporations/Corporate Life, Health & Medicine

(WSJ) China’s Progress Against Coronavirus Used Draconian Tactics Not Deployed in the West

U. S. and European leaders are looking at China’s progress in curbing the coronavirus pandemic to guide them on how to beat the virus within their own borders.

They may be drawing the wrong lessons, doctors and health experts say.

The cordon sanitaire that began around Wuhan and two nearby cities on Jan. 23 helped slow the virus’s transmission to other parts of China, but didn’t really stop it in Wuhan itself, these experts say. Instead, the virus kept spreading among family members in homes, in large part because hospitals were too overwhelmed to handle all the patients, according to doctors and patients there.

What really turned the tide in Wuhan was a shift after Feb. 2 to a more aggressive and systematic quarantine regime whereby suspected or mild cases—and even healthy close contacts of confirmed cases—were sent to makeshift hospitals and temporary quarantine centers.

The tactics required turning hundreds of hotels, schools and other places into quarantine centers, as well as building two new hospitals and creating 14 temporary ones in public buildings. It also underscored the importance of coronavirus testing capacity, which local authorities say was expanded from 200 tests a day in late January to 7,000 daily by mid-February.

The steps went beyond what’s envisioned in many hard-hit Western cities. As a result, many doctors and experts say the recent lockdowns in the U.S. and Europe may slow the rise in new infections—if properly enforced—but still won’t be enough to stop it or prevent many hospitals from being overwhelmed, as they were initially in Wuhan.

“A lot of the lessons have been lost,” said Devi Sridhar, professor of global public health at the University of Edinburgh. “A lockdown helps buy time: The only way it will work is if you actually backtrack and start figuring out who has the virus.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., China, Globalization, Health & Medicine

([London] Times) Chinese scientists destroyed proof of virus in December

Chinese laboratories identified a mystery virus as a highly infectious new pathogen by late December last year, but they were ordered to stop tests, destroy samples and suppress the news, a Chinese media outlet has revealed.

A regional health official in Wuhan, centre of the outbreak, demanded the destruction of the lab samples that established the cause of unexplained viral pneumonia on January 1. China did not acknowledge there was human-to-human transmission until more than three weeks later.

The detailed revelations by Caixin Global, a respected independent publication, provide the clearest evidence yet of the scale of the cover-up in the crucial early weeks when the opportunity was lost to control the outbreak.

Censors have been rapidly deleting the report from the Chinese internet.

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Posted in China, Health & Medicine

(NPR) WHO Official Says Coronavirus Containment Remains Possible

“China has 31 provinces, thousands of cities,” notes Aylward. “And it was only a few cities where they took those draconian measures. In the vast majority of them, they … really went back to fundamentals of public health.”

These included ensuring that there was enough testing capacity to quickly identify cases, isolating infected patients, tracing anyone who had contact with them and, when necessary, placing those contacts in quarantine facilities so they wouldn’t get infected by the sick person or spread the disease further. Also, in places where clusters of cases were emerging, authorities prohibited mass gatherings.

“That’s how they stopped it in the areas with over 1.3 billion people,” says Aylward. “We spent two weeks on the ground looking at the data. Every other province [beyond Hubei, where Wuhan is located] had hundreds, if not thousands, of cases, not unlike the situation you see in European countries or in the U.S. These are massive provinces with tens and even a hundred million people in them.”

In short, Aylward says, “it wasn’t a lockdown everywhere. That’s the wrong way to portray China’s approach to the disease. And that’s leading to some fundamental confusion and failure to do the right things.”

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Posted in China, Globalization, Health & Medicine

(WSJ) One Doctor’s Life on the Coronavirus Front Lines. ‘If We Fail, What Happens to You All?’

A few days later, a technician in the imaging department discovered he had been infected. Sick patients began pouring in. Soon dozens of staff were sick at Zhongnan, and other Wuhan hospitals, as well.

Most days, Dr. Zhang reviewed chest X-rays, a relatively low-risk job. Some days, she’d don a hazmat suit and tend to patients herself.

Worried she might bring the virus back home, and overloaded with work, she began sleeping on an office sofa. She barely had time to eat and shower.

She figured her parents, who lived in her home, could take care of her daughter. Her husband was living and working hundreds of miles away and unable to join them after authorities announced a strict quarantine of Wuhan in late January.

Then Dr. Zhang’s 69-year-old mother admitted to feeling sick. Dr. Zhang convinced her parents to get tested for the virus. For her mother’s first visit to the hospital, Dr. Zhang had her meet nearby, so her mother could put on protective gear before going in.

Both parents came up negative using the nucleic acid test, a finicky diagnostic tool test that regularly produced false negatives. Their CT scans told a different story.

“When I saw it, I knew,” Dr. Zhang said, recalling her mother’s first chest scan. “My heart sank.” Her father, who had been reluctant to get tested, had a lung infection that turned out to be even worse, though he showed no obvious symptoms at the time.

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Posted in China, Globalization, Health & Medicine

(Science Mag) China’s aggressive measures have slowed the coronavirus. They may not work in other countries

Chinese hospitals overflowing with COVID-19 patients a few weeks ago now have empty beds. Trials of experimental drugs are having difficulty enrolling enough eligible patients. And the number of new cases reported each day has plummeted the past few weeks.

These are some of the startling observations in a report released on 28 February from a mission organized by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Chinese government that allowed 13 foreigners to join 12 Chinese scientists on a tour of five cities in China to study the state of the COVID-19 epidemic and the effectiveness of the country’s response. The findings surprised several of the visiting scientists. “I thought there was no way those numbers could be real,” says epidemiologist Tim Eckmanns of the Robert Koch Institute, who was part of the mission.

But the report is unequivocal. “China’s bold approach to contain the rapid spread of this new respiratory pathogen has changed the course of a rapidly escalating and deadly epidemic,” it says. “This decline in COVID-19 cases across China is real.”

The question now is whether the world can take lessons from China’s apparent success—and whether the massive lockdowns and electronic surveillance measures imposed by an authoritarian government would work in other countries. “When you spend 20, 30 years in this business it’s like, ‘Seriously, you’re going to try and change that with those tactics?’” says Bruce Aylward, a Canadian WHO epidemiologist who led the international team and briefed journalists about its findings in Beijing and Geneva last week. “Hundreds of thousands of people in China did not get COVID-19 because of this aggressive response.”

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Posted in China, Globalization, Health & Medicine

(Stat News) A single coronavirus case exposes a bigger problem: The scope of undetected U.S. spread is unknown

The discovery that a California woman was likely infected with the novel coronavirus by a previously unrecognized case in her community is proof of an enormous problem the country is facing at the moment, according to public health experts. It’s clear that the virus is spreading undetected in the United States — but how broadly it’s spreading is an utter mystery.

Before Thursday, a perfect storm of problems in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s development of test kits — and the agency’s reluctance to expand its recommendation of who should be tested given the limited availability of kits — meant very little testing has been done in the country. As of Wednesday, the CDC said that 445 people had been tested — a fraction of the number of tests that other countries have run.

The new case in California makes it clear the virus is spreading undetected in at least one area of one state. The woman is not believed to have traveled outside the country and had no contact with a known case. As her condition worsened — she is on a ventilator — health officials in California asked the CDC to test her for the virus. Because she had not been to China and had not been a contact of a known case, the agency said no.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., China, Globalization, Health & Medicine

(NYT) Coronavirus Weakens China’s Powerful Propaganda Machine

Exhausted medical workers with faces lined from hours of wearing goggles and surgical masks. Women with shaved heads, a gesture of devotion. Retirees who donate their life savings anonymously in government offices.

Beijing is tapping its old propaganda playbook as it battles the relentless coronavirus outbreak, the biggest challenge to its legitimacy in decades. State media is filling smartphones and airwaves with images and tales of unity and sacrifice aimed at uniting the people behind Beijing’s rule. It even briefly offered up cartoon mascots named Jiangshan Jiao and Hongqi Man, characters meant to stir patriotic feelings among the young during the crisis.

The problem for China’s leaders: This time, it isn’t working so well.

Online, people are openly criticizing state media. They have harshly condemned stories of individual sacrifice when front-line medical personnel still lack basic supplies like masks. They shouted down Jiangshan Jiao and Hongqi Man. They have heaped scorn on images of the women with shaved heads, asking whether the women were pressured to do it and wondering why similar images of men weren’t appearing.

One critical blog post was titled “News Coverage Should Stop Turning a Funeral Into a Wedding.”

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Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Media, Politics in General

(NYT) C.D.C. Officials Warn of Coronavirus Outbreaks in the U.S.

The coronavirus almost certainly will begin spreading in communities in the United States, and Americans should begin preparations now, officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Tuesday.

“It’s not so much of a question of if this will happen anymore but rather more of a question of exactly when this will happen,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said in a news briefing.

In the event of an outbreak, communities should plan for “social distancing measures,” like dividing school classes into smaller groups of students, closing schools, canceling meetings and conferences, and arranging for employees to work from home.

“We are asking the American public to prepare for the expectation that this might be bad,” Dr. Messonnier said.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., China, Globalization, Health & Medicine

(NYT) Religious Groups in China Step Into the Coronavirus Crisis

Earlier this month, the hard-hit town of Caohe, near the center of the coronavirus outbreak in central China, received an unexpected gift: a large donation from a Taoist nunnery 550 miles away. Another Taoist temple, this one in Caohe itself, contributed tens of thousands of dollars worth of medical equipment to help those sickened by the virus.

“The moment believers heard the news, they called us and asked how to help,” said a nun who organized one of the fund-raising drives.

In temples, mosques and churches, China’s religious believers have jumped into the national battle against the coronavirus. They have offered prophecies and prayers, ceremonies and services, as well as donations totaling more than $30 million. Their efforts reflect the country’s decades-long religious revival, and the feeling among many Chinese that faith-based groups provide an alternative to the corruption that has plagued the government….

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Posted in China, Health & Medicine, Religion & Culture