Covid-73

Dan O'Heirity

Beijing Has Killed Hundreds of Thousands of People

I am going to start with some CCP virus figures in order to contextualize what I have to say about China’s ongoing arrogance towards the rest of the world. Whilst it was always going to be the case that there would be a second wave of the CCP virus, one that would impact what this article from Nine News refers to as the “low and middle income countries”, the anticipated second waive has now arrived with 106,000 new cases of the CCP virus being reported in a 24 hour period, the greatest number of cases to be reported in a single day. As of today, 23rd March 2020, there are 5,304,033 confirmed CCP virus cases across 213 countries and territories with a total of 340,044 deaths.

I have intermittently reported CCP virus figures per country for number of confirmed cases and number of fatalities since I began writing these blog posts and over the last couple of weeks it has been clear that the spread of the virus has slowed in some of the countries – Italy and Spain for example – that were hit hardest in the early stages of the pandemic. It has also been clear from the figures that some countries that had “escaped” the spread of the virus in the early stages of the pandemic are now being hit hard. For example, according to a live data source, Brazil has now reported 332,382 confirmed cases of the CCP virus along with 21,116 deaths. These figures place Brazil second in the world for number of confirmed cases.

Russia has reported 326,448 confirmed cases and 3,249 fatalities placing it second in the world for total number of confirmed cases. It is also interesting to note that the fatality rate for Russia is currently 0.99%, significantly lower than the fatality rate in the early days of the pandemic across Europe. Other countries that have seen a significant increase in number of confirmed cases and number of fatalities include India with 124,794 confirmed cases and 3,276 fatalities. This gives a fatality rate of 2.2%. Peru has 111,698 confirmed cases and 3,244 confirmed fatalities giving a fatality rate of 2.9%. Countries to watch in terms of a potential significant increase in confirmed cases in the not too distant future include India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, South Africa and Mexico.

China Gloats Over the Covid-19 “Independent” Inquiry

China’s arrogance has, once again, come to the fore through China gloating over the fact that the so called “independent inquiry” into the origins of the Covid-19 virus will occur on China’s terms. Just how China managed to achieve this feat is uncertain. However, it was necessary because China’s attempt to bully Australia into silence in calling for an independent inquiry into the origins of the CCP virus did not work out. Australia stood firm in the face of multiple threats including threats not to send Chinese students to Australia, to stop Chinese tourists coming to Australia and to place tariffs on key Australian exports to China. Now China is threatening Australia’s iron ore exports with talk of conducting “quality control checks” of iron ore exported from Australia to China.

I would tend to agree with stories that I have read over the past week or so that essentially argue that Australia is being held up as an example to the rest of the world of what will happen to countries that do not do Beijing’s bidding. China has followed through on a number of its threats including placing an 80% tariff on Australian barley and ceasing to import beef from 4 Australian abattoirs. There will no doubt be further actions on the part of China to punish Australia. These will be catastrophic for the Australian economy in the short term but surely China’s arrogance and bullying should make a single point crystal clear to Australia. Australia had become over reliant on China as a trading partner, and China has now shown its true face in punishing Australia for not doing what China wanted it to do viz, to remain quiet on the matter of calling for an independent inquiry into the origins of the CCP virus.

China Has Set Its Sights on Taiwan and Hong Kong

China and Taiwan

China’s “State Council Information Office”, has spoken out on the matter of Taiwan, in terms of a national defence white paper. The speaker at the “State Council Information Office” gathering states that, “Any attempt to seek Taiwan Independence is a dead end and China will not allow any part of its territory to be separated“. Furthermore, the People’s Liberation Army will “defeat anyone attempting to separate Taiwan at all costs.” Taiwan’s “Mainland Affairs Council” responded that, “China’s statement is a provocation [and] Taiwan has never belonged to the People’s Republic of China.” Taiwan also called upon Beijing to give up its “threat of force”. Taiwan’s “Mainland Affairs Council” has obviously, and on many occasions, rejected China’s claim that Taiwan is a part of China.

This recent post from the Mainland Affairs Council website makes the same point in the context of rejecting erroneous comments made by China’s “Taiwan Affairs Office” on Taiwan’s membership of the World Health Organization. A document that is available on Mainland Affairs Council website states that, “Taiwan has never been part of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) either historically or under documents in international law. The 23 million people of Taiwan have never accepted the “one China principle” unilaterally established by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). “. However, if you go to the United Nations Statistical Division website, you will see that Taiwan does not appear in their list of Countries or areas / geographical regions. Rather you will find entries for China, China, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and China, Macao Special Administrative Region.

China and Hong Kong

China is also seeking to behave exactly how it wants to behave by establishing a new legal framework in Hong Kong. China has been seeking to exercise a degree of direct control over Hong Kong for some time. For example, in 2019 China sought to pass a bill that would have allowed the extradition of criminal suspects to China where the courts have a 99% conviction rate. In the timeline around the proposed Bill, the new extradition law was proposed on February 19th, 2019. The proposal led to mass demonstrations in Hong Kong. On the 30th May, Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam proposed concessions to the bill limiting the range of extraditable offences. However, protests continued and on the 15th June 2019 Carrie Lam announced that the introduction of the Bill had been postponed indefinitely. The extradition Bill was formally withdrawn on 23rd October 2019.

During this timeframe 15 high profile pro-democracy protestors were arrested. Figures also came to light showing that one third of protesters arrested since June 2019 were children. In terms of the actual figures, of the 2,379 people arrested, 750 were under eighteen and 104 were under sixteen. Getting back to Beijing’s current moves on Hong Kong, the 2020 proposal could see, “laws [that] would ban secession, foreign interference, terrorism and all seditious activities aimed at toppling the central government and any external interference in the former British colony”. I think that it would be more than fair to conjecture that Hong Kong could see itself in a situation very similar to the situation of the Uighur minority in China. Such a state of affairs would include mass detention justified in terms of fighting terrorism and heavy surveillance across Hong Kong to control and intimidate the Hong Kong people.

I wrote this journal entry yesterday, May 23rd 2020. Today, May 24th, I came across a story from ABC News on China’s plans to bring Hong Kong under its rule. The story from ABC News puts China’s announcement regarding setting up a new legal framework in Hong Kong in context by saying that, “six months of mass protests against closer legal ties to the mainland appear to have convinced China’s leader, Xi Jinping, that winning local support is futile“. Take a look at this photo story for a history of the protests. The ABC story reports the new legal framework in the same terms as the story reported in the previous paragraph. However, this story goes a little further in explaining how China might implement the security laws this time round. There are two options. First, China might go through Hong Kong’s legislature which, according to this story, is dominated by pro-Beijing parties. The second option would be to draft up the laws in Beijing and instruct the Hong Kong government to implement the laws.

The other new piece of information in the ABC story is that China will, “seek to install “national security education” in the city’s schools” because the schools are not deemed to be sufficiently patriotic to China. As reported by ABC news, China has tried to interfere in Hong Kong’s education system before when in 2012 “the government attempted to implement a moral and national education program. The program consisted of controversial lessons on appreciating mainland China.” There were mass protests and the proposal was withdrawn. In this new proposal, and as reported by “The Diplomat” China will re-write the curricula that are delivered in Hong Kong schools. China will also surveil teachers in these schools, something that has already been encouraged by “Former Chief Executive [of Hong Kong] CY Leung [who] posted on Facebook encouraging residents to report teachers who have low moral standards to authorities“.

The Pandemic is Not the Real Worry

My interpretation of what is going on right now is that China has tested the appetite of the world for standing up to Beijing and the world has been found to be wanting in this respect. The World Health Assembly resolution for an independent inquiry into the origins of the CCP virus provides a perfect example of a world not prepared to stand firm on the resolution in the face of China’s bullying. This bullying is most obvious in terms of China’s treatment of Australia. However, as discussed in this post, China seems to have its sights set on both Taiwan and Hong Kong and one wonders what the world will do should China, for example, pass new security legislation in Hong Kong. Would the world just stand by and watch or would there be some sort of backlash against China? If so, which countries would seek to take action against China and what exactly would they be able to do. Questions and more questions but one thing is sure. China is not going to stop.

First Published May 23, 2020

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