China achieved zero domestic infection of COVID-19, Trump’s ‘Chinese Virus’ backfires!


 

 

 

 

 

 

COVID-19 happening in China doesn’t mean it originated in China

 

 

BEIJING: China on Thursday marked a major milestone in its battle against the coronavirus pandemic as it recorded zero domestic infections for the first time since the outbreak emerged, but a spike in imported cases threatened its progress.

The stark reversal comes as nations across the world have shut down in a desperate effort to contain the pandemic, with more people now infected and having died abroad than in China.

There were no new cases in Wuhan, the central city where the virus first emerged in December for the first time since authorities started publishing figures in January, according to the National Health Commission.

Wuhan and its 11 million people were placed under strict quarantine on Jan 23, with more than 40 million other people in the rest of Hubei province entering lockdown in the following days.

The rest of China also enacted tough measures to limit public gatherings.

There were eight more deaths in China all in Hubei raising the nationwide total to 3,245, according to the commission.

There have been nearly 81,000 infections in China but only 7,263 people remain sick with the Covid-19 disease.

The global number has shot past 200,000, with more than 8,700 deaths.

On March 10, President Xi Jinping visited Wuhan for the first time since the outbreak began and declared that the spread of the disease was “basically curbed”.

On the same day, Hubei officials allowed people to travel within the province for the first time since January, excluding Wuhan.

On Wednesday, Hubei authorities announced they were partially opening its borders to allow healthy people from low-risk areas to leave the province if they have jobs or residences elsewhere. This also excludes Wuhan.

Life has slowly started to return to normal in the rest of the country, with people back at work, factories up and running, and schools in some regions resuming or preparing to go back to class.

Second wave

But there is concern about a second wave of infections due to an influx of cases from abroad, with an average of 20,000 people flying into China every day.

Beijing and other regions are now requiring most international arrivals to go into 14-day quarantine in designated hotels.

The National Health Commission said there were 34 more cases brought in from abroad, the biggest daily increase in two weeks, with 189 in total now.

“We should never allow the hard-won and continuous positive trend to be reversed,“ Xi said at a Communist Party leadership meeting on Wednesday.

The disease is believed to have jumped from an animal to humans at a market that illegally sold wild game in Wuhan late last year.

There have also been questions about China’s official figures, as authorities changed its methodology to count infections, and the government has endured rare public criticism of its handling of the health emergency.

Local officials initially attempted to cover up the outbreak, with police silencing doctors who had raised the alarm about the emergence of the new virus as early as December.

One of the whistleblowers, Wuhan ophthalmologist Li Wenliang, died from the virus himself in February, sparking an outpouring of grief and anger on social media.

The first case emerged in Wuhan on Dec 1, according to Chinese researchers, but it was not until Jan 9 the country confirmed a “new type of coronavirus”.

Between Jan 5 and 17, China reported no new cases of the virus, even as Japan and Thailand declared first infections a period that coincided with annual political meetings in Wuhan and Hubei province. – AFP

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Trump’s ‘Chinese Virus’ backfires!

US President Donald Trump makes a statement for the press after a meeting with nursing industry representatives in the Roosevelt Room of the White House about the COVID-19 pandemic on Wednesday in Washington, DC. Photo: AFP

 

 

 

US President Donald Trump has referred to the novel coronavirus as “Chinese virus” at least eight times in tweets and media briefings within just two days, fueling widespread xenophobia and racist sentiment and even physical and verbal attacks against Asian Americans and undermining global efforts to contain the deadly virus.Trump’s comment, which is completely against science and facts, could also further promote already-growing populism and racism around the world amid the global pandemic that could plunge countries and regions that have been hit severely by the disease into further disarray and dark abyss, observers warned.

After tweeting several times “Chinese virus” to shift the blame to China, Trump insisted on calling it a “Chinese virus” because “it comes from China,” in response to a question from an American journalist on Wednesday. Growing numbers of Asian Americans have been frustrated by the labels of “Chinese virus” or “kung flu,” which risk turning them into a target of hatred and retaliation as the pandemic unfolds quickly in the country.

Trump started to use the term “Chinese virus” on Monday in six of his tweets, despite Vice President Mike Pence, head of the country’s coronavirus task force, still called it “coronavirus” on Wednesday. Trump stressed it is a Chinese virus twice in his opening remarks at a White House meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday. The White House even backed it up by tweeting that the “Spanish Flu, West Nile Virus, Zika and Ebola were named after places.”

The coronavirus pandemic has so far claimed 220,000 infections worldwide,

Apart from Trump, other US officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, GOP lawmakers Tom Cotton, Paul Gosar and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy have been using terms like Wuhan virus and Chinese virus in public, intentionally stigmatizing China and Wuhan.

Downplaying his racist rhetoric, Trump argued he wanted to be accurate as he believed the virus comes from China, totally ignoring the impact on the Asian community, according to observers, local residents and some influencers.

Photo: GT

 

Offensive and immoral

On Wednesday, Trump dubbed the coronavirus “Chinese virus” three times in an hour, according to media reports, which seriously infuriated not only Chinese people but also many Asian Americans. Given the rising crimes against Asian and Chinese communities, some urged Trump to resign as such blunt incitement of racism is so dangerous that it could tear the world apart.

Some even shared their personal stories on social media about being insulted or attacked because of their skin color, ethnic group or nationality since the outbreak, and some said they don’t feel safe and feel severely offended, because racist terms encourage xenophobia and discrimination, which could last longer than the pandemic itself.

Jordan Matsudaira, an Asian-looking professor in New York, said his “children are being called ‘coronavirus’ in school, and this is racist, vile and intentional,” in a tweet.

And Cenk Uygur, a Los Angeles-based online news show host, said as his wife is from Taiwan that his children’s classmates are already blaming them “for the virus” and some ask them if they eat bats, because of “racists and a**holes like Senator John Cornyn and Trump.”

A New York-based Chinese woman, who preferred not to be named, shared an anecdote with the Global Times on Thursday that when she drove and waited at a traffic light one day, an American originally from Mexico spat at her car window, shouting, “F**king virus Chinese,” which “made her really sick,” she said.

The Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab) said in a recent article that continuing calling COVID-19 Chinese virus could be used to denigrate a group and implicitly blame Chinese people for the outbreak, despite the World Health Organization’s stepped up efforts to push back against stigmatizing terms that needlessly divide COVID-19 rhetoric.

The WHO came up in 2015 with guidelines on naming diseases, claiming that geographic locations, people’s names, animal species or food, cultural, population, industry or occupational references and those inciting undue fear should be avoided in disease names, after the organization saw certain disease names provoke a backlash against members of particular religious or ethnic communities, according to its website.

Some American scientists and medical experts also showed their support for WHO’s naming of COVID-19, emphasizing that it should not spark any political debates.

Some prominent figures in Chinese science circles also joined in to fight the ‘Chinese virus’ slander. Rao Yi, president of Capital Medical University in Beijing, said in a WeChat article on Wednesday that according to the US government’s logic, the first AIDS case was reported in the US on June 5, 1981, so should AIDS be called an American venereal disease and HIV the “American venereal virus?”

And should the spirochete leading to syphilis, which is widely considered to have originated in North America and transmitted to Europe by the Spanish, be called “North American spirochete?” he asked.

“Those officials who called it ‘Chinese virus’ are among those who have the lowest moral standards,” Lü Xiang, a research fellow on US studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, told the Global Times on Thursday.

Take at look at what US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross on January 30 said about the deadly virus, that it would help accelerate the return of jobs to the US. That claim reflected their true intention and deeply-rooted wishes that the virus could only spread in China, from which they could take advantage of, Lü said.

However, observers warned that rising hatred toward certain ethnic groups, entangled in the rise of right-wing populism amid the outbreak, would accelerate divisions and confrontations across the globe, which would also be dangerous and harmful following racial animosity and deaths from despair amid the outbreak.

Shift the blame

Eduardo Bolsonaro, Brazilian congressman, said in a tweet that what’s happening now is HBO’s TV series “Chernobyl,” blaming China for the coronavirus outbreak, reflecting some countries’ relentless efforts to pass the buck to Beijing and hide their own incompetence in curbing the virus spread across local communities, analysts said.

On Wednesday, a Danish education studio was revealed to have published an insulting song to introduce the novel coronavirus to children that contained lyrics like, “I am a new virus, I come from China,” triggering a backlash on Chinese social media. The incident happened about two months after a major Danish newspaper published a cartoon with the five stars on China’s national flag replaced by five coronavirus images.

“It’s inevitable that populism would be prevalent in the future, and it has become a common practice that specific groups would be targeted by hostility and hatred, which would have severe consequences,” Zhang Yiwu, a cultural professor at Peking University, told the Global Times.

Still, some US politicians, including Democrats like Joe Biden, have publicly criticized such inflammatory coronavirus rhetoric, and Biden was quoted as saying in media reports that “labeling COVID-19 a foreign virus does not displace the accountability for the misjudgments that have taken place so far by the Trump administration.”

“This is also a tactic that these US politicians use to redirect public attention by shifting suspicions over their incompetence to hatred toward China, but it won’t work, and the collapse on Wall Street proves it,” Lü said.

Coronavirus: What’s behind Trump’s U-turn on China?

 

 

Read more:

No new Covid-19 cases in Hubei | The Star Online

Trump puts Asian Americans at risk with racist claim

Trump should stop his blame game and focus on epidemic prevention, because finding scapegoats cannot cover up the fact that he has not responded properly to the epidemic.

China turns corner as West slips up; reports zero Covid-19 …

 

China to firmly support its media to safeguard reputation, interests: Chinese FM

China supports its media in safeguarding their reputation and interests, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Thursday, adding that China is forced to take relevant countermeasures against American media reporters in China, based on the principle of reciprocity.

 


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A Look at USA 2009 H1N1 Virus Compared to China 2020 Corona Virus : Vicious, Political & Xenophobic Racist Attacks Against China Needs To Stop


 

加油中国!When the United States 2009 H1N1 swine flu emerged, an international emergency, a declared global pandemic, it eventually infected 60 million and initially killed a minimum of 18,449 cases that year. But the final story of the H1N1 global pandemic was far worse than that, with close to 300,000 deaths, according to the final tallies in 2012 reported by the CDC, as you will read below.

Which is why I am scratching my head at how bizarrely negative forces are attacking China and Chinese people as it engages a remarkably aggressive front addressing this Corona virus outbreak which started in Wuhan, central China. I am forced to ask and answer a few questions.

During 2009 H1N1 outbreak, I don’t recall xenophobic anti-America attacks across the globe, do you? In fact, do you recall it took six months for the U.S. to declare a national emergency? Did any government from the onset in April 2009 through the end in April 2010, including the month of June, when H1N1 was declared an international emergency global pandemic, then send out a notice to its citizens that they should leave the United States? Close their borders to American travelers? Nope, not a peep.

Like I said, something’s not right, folks. I am reading hateful vicious attacks on the Chinese government for their supposed intentional conspiracy to intentionally under report the number of infections, yet that is exactly and always the case with such flu outbreaks no matter what country and the CDC reports illustrate that crystal clear. The U.S. H1N1 swine flu numbers were vastly underestimated and updated three years later, because dear friends, that is the nature of such viral outbreaks which don’t care which country they started in. There is never enough man power, there are never enough test kits, there is never enough medicine or medical supplies. China is not trying to hide these hardships, they are well known, they are being reported on the news daily in China. There are always people who die, thousands of them whom we’ll never know if they actually died because of a particular virus. Those are the facts, not any problem unique to China’s healthcare system or government.

Its not a conspiracy, its just tragedy.

According to the June 27, 2012 research report followup three years later, it gets much more disturbing when you learn about the CDC’s final estimate of the H1N1 virus global death toll. You and I find at this at this article at the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy website, the CDC’s 18,449 total deaths number was “…regarded as WELL BELOW THE TRUE TOTAL, mainly because many people who die of flu-related causes are not tested for the disease.” So during the 2009 outbreak, was anyone accusing the American medical and government authorities of hiding the numbers? Were Americans with hidden cameras strolling into the Mayo Clinic to PROVE how many people were really dying? The absurdity of these vicious attacks are that whether or not a person specifically does have the Corona virus or some other viral bug presenting as pneumonia, the treatment is the same supportive treatment anyway.

Something’s not right here folks. The world should be applauding China’s unprecedented, broad, aggressive response. (WHO officials and many other government and healthcare officials across the globe are.) I am on the ground here in China READ IT HERE watching with my own eyes and it is quite incredible by any measure, not to mention an enormous economic sacrifice.

Instead of looking at the will of an entire system of government acting faster than any other government on the planet could, we are one month later, still busy bashing a few local government officials in Wuhan who should have told us a couple weeks sooner. And yes, that is true those local officials screwed up. And by the way, those officials are in deep trouble for it. Just like the recent Puerto Rican politicians who are in trouble when we learned they didn’t distribute hurricane emergency supplies that were sent to them to help during last year’s terrible hurricane. A disgrace. Individual people screw up all the time and hopefully justice gets served later, but that’s not an indictment of an entire country’s government. Secondly, on this point, every provincial government has sent out a notice to its government officials pretty much saying that if they are stupid enough to do the same, they will face the wrath of harsh punishment. I don’t doubt it for a moment. Lets contrast to what countless western politicians have gotten away with and remain in office to remind all of us that human error, stupidity and greed is not unique to any particular skin color or race or country. “What about…” reactions don’t help.

And here’s the mic drop for you: “The CDC researchers estimate that the H1N1 2009 pandemic virus caused 201,200 respiratory deaths and another 83,300 deaths from cardiovascular disease associated with H1N1 infections.” Total: 284,000 deaths. Shocking, isn’t it?

Was there a travel ban for any length of time to and from the United States?

Did China, Germany, Japan or any other country close their border to American travelers?

Today I noticed in the updates that following the United States Department of State policy suggesting U.S. citizens leave China, the United Kingdom embassy just released the same recommendation to subjects of the kingdom.

In 2009, did UK subjects in America get a notice from their kingdom to leave America? No.

Did the world suggest we isolate from America? Close the U.S. borders!? No.

Did Americans get xenophobically attacked and targeted by anti-American sentiments like the Chinese are experiencing now? Um, no.

Fascinating and disturbing to say the least. If you’re an expat currently in China, unless you’re in Wuhan, fact is that you’re most likely safer and more peaceful and more stable by simply staying put than by leaving right now. You couldn’t be safer than in this country, where almost everyone is staying home and dutifully isolating themselves with awareness. Not to mention that the Chinese government’s decision to safeguard the society, the families, the people, is coming at a devastating economic cost in the hundreds of billions.

I have a friend in Mesa, Arizona. He told me earlier that the big popular China City buffet, a huge busy place, has no customers. Does that make any sense at all?

Let’s test our ability to reason, to be rational:

If you were in Miami and you heard that there was a virus outbreak that started in Milan, in central Italy, would you cancel your dinner reservation at the Italian restaurant that night in South Beach? No. Would you buy a pizza next week at Joey’s Pizzeria in Delray Beach?

If you were in Singapore and you heard there was a virus outbreak in Dallas, Texas in the central United States, would you stop going to your favorite local Texas southern BBQ restaurant with the owner from Houston, in Singapore?

Would you avoid olive-skinned dark-haired Italian-looking people on the street in Chicago? Would you avoid big guys wearing cowboy hats, cuz they’re obviously from Texas in Singapore cuz there’s a virus in Dallas and they might have just gotten off the plane? There’s a strange senseless bullying extremism and activism in today’s society and you should do your best to avoid it and not be a part of it. It is fomented by a small group of extremist activists while definitely not supported by your average mainstream person who is simply exhausted by their outrage-inducing antics.

Finally, here are some straight up, sensible accurate descriptions of this Corona virus which started in Wuhan, China. Its not called the China virus and neither was H1N1 called the America virus. Whether two weeks or two months from now, this flu season type virus will have passed and the joy of Spring will have arrived. Just like every flu season. However, don’t misunderstand me. The extra caution and the remarkable response by the Chinese governments and people together to quell the spread of this virus was warranted because, yes it is correct that this corona virus is nastier than the usual annual flu bug, as was H1N1 in 2009. As of now, what we can confidently note the following regarding this Corona virus:

This Corona virus is highly contagious, it spreads quite easily. It binds to lung tissue and so in particular, likes to cause pneumonia, that’s what infection of lung tissue is. That’s more severe than a respiratory infection which is only in your throat or bronchial tubes.

The Corona virus currently has a 2% death rate. That’s a lot higher, around 20x higher, than a more typical annual flu virus with a death rate of 0.1%. However, a 2% death rate is still much lower by comparison to the SARS virus which had a 9% death rate or the MERS virus with a really nasty 37% death rate.

The Corona virus is causing severe symptoms in 10-15% of cases. 80% to 90% of deaths from this virus are happening in elderly patients, mostly with other existing health problems, not younger people. That characteristic by the way, is in contrast to the America 2009 H1N1 swine flu virus which in fact had a higher death rate amongst younger people including children rather than those over 60 years old.

China identified and shared the Corona virus genome in record times, in only days and of course, immediately shared it with all international health and disease organizations. Medical researchers are already discovering that certain existing anti-viral medications seem to be effective against this Corona virus.

Its impossible not to marvel at China’s broad and aggressive domestic response directed by the provincial level governments to restrict movement, restrict transportation, restrict business for a period of time combined with the voluntary dutiful cooperation of its 1.3 billion citizens who are in the majority quietly staying at home these weeks to let the virus pass; this model response is already being hailed by the international community as a remarkable unprecedented response setting a new standard in understanding what is possible for future outbreaks in whatever country they may occur. Is it inconvenient and costly. You bet.

Like I said, something’s not right with the way humanity is responding to what’s happening here. I haven’t put my finger on it because well, its certainly complex and the world is upside down in many other ways that I also can’t for the life of me understand or explain without ending up writing a very thick book.

But I do know this: It needs to stop. This vicious, political, xenophobic racist attacks and smearing of all things China needs to stop. Its really not helping anyone in the political corridors of Washington nor is it doing anything to help the man on the street who is just concerned with taking care of his family.

My family is originally from the Basilicata region of Italy, the little hillside Italian towns of Potenza and also, Grottola, which is just outside of Matera. They left their home country and moved to America where I was born, in Yonkers, New York. America became their home and it was my home until I left, too. Now over two decades ago, I left the United States, the country I was born in, the country that has plenty to admire and plenty to improve. But I left and I came to China and now China is my home. If you had asked me thirty years ago if this was my life plan on planet earth, I would have said you were nuts or a really bad fortune teller. But that’s how it has turned out. I am truly blessed with my lovely Chinese wife and our family living here in Shenyang in China’s northeast. You get my meaning? I am a mature adult like many with the powers of observation. I can easily see that whether we are talking about China or the United States or any other country, their societies and their governments have good points and bad points.

The xenophobia needs to stop now. Whether in a couple of weeks or months later, this nasty flu type Corona virus will begin declining and the joy of Spring will arrive. Between now and then if you don’t have anything good, anything supportive to say about China or Chinese people, how about you just keep your mouth shut.

Mario Cavolo, Shenyang.

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Cutting-edge satellite launched by private Chinese company: GalaxySpace


Galaxy Space plans to establish a low Earth orbit 5G constellation. Credit: Galaxy Space.

China’s most powerful low-orbiting communication satellite, also the biggest spacecraft ever built by a private Chinese company, was launched in Northwest China.

The GalaxySpace 1, designed and built by the Beijing-based startup GalaxySpace and launched yesterday, is also widely considered the country’s first 5G-capable satellite.

The 200kg satellite was lifted at 11.02am atop a Kuaizhou 1A rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in the Gobi Desert, according to a statement by GalaxySpace.

It has a transmission capacity of 10 Gigabits per second and uses multiple bands such as Q/V and Ka, the company said.

China has been going all-out to boost and promote 5G communication technology, regarding it as one of the major driving forces for future social and economic development.

China lofts 4 satellites into orbit with its second launch of 2020 …

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Liftoff of the Kuaizhou-1A light solid rocket from Jiuquan at 10:02 p.m.
Eastern Jan. 15 carrying the Yinhe-1 5G satellite. Credit: CASIC

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Time for real change for Malaysian education as glory stuck in the past and the delusion of Vision 2020


New decade, new Malaysian education: For the sake of our children and our future, Mazlee’s replacement should be a qualified and capable Malaysian – irrespective of race or religion.

Dr Maszlee forced to resign for failing to heed Cabinet orders

We need a new Education Minister with the right qualifications, a scientific mindset and a technocratic iron will to implement the critical changes.

I HAVE been a big critic of and objector to Maszlee Malik as Education Minister from day one.

I took no pleasure in it then nor do I take pleasure in it now. It just is. The wrong person must go and the right person must come in.

Education is far too important for a nation to be entrusted to those not competent in moulding the minds of our most precious resource, our youth. Education is where we develop this resource for either the success or the failure of our nation.

We do not have to look far to see success. A country with no natural resources, with a tenth of our population, can be a developed nation by sheer power of its human resources.

In 1965, Malaysia and Singapore went separate ways in more ways than one. Look at where they are and look where we are now. The lessons to be learned are abundant. Have the humility to know when we are wrong and they have been right all along. There is no need to look East. Look South.

“A nation is great not by its size alone. It is the will, the cohesion, the stamina, the discipline of its people and the quality of its leaders which ensure it an honourable place in history, ” said its architect, Lee Kuan Yew in 1963.

The education ministership is the leader in ensuring that our children and our youths are able to take the nation to the next level. It is just not at the very top have we got it wrong, again and again. We must have the humility to admit when we are wrong and have been wrong for more than 30 years. We must have the decency, discipline and courage to want to change so our future can be assured.

What did Singapore do right in education? When one looks at massive differences in results, one need not look at many things. One need only look at the fundamental deviation at the root.

One: Singaporean education is in English.

Despite more than 76% of its population being ethnic Chinese, the medium of instruction for its public schools is English. Have you ever heard the Singaporean government or its leaders talk about “memartabatkan” (to give dignity to) the Mandarin language? They have no time for such foolish ethnic pride.

They may find ways to conserve Chinese heritage but they have no interest or inclination to play to racial sentiments that would sacrifice the very essence that will ensure their children have the easiest access to the widest and latest conservatory of human knowledge since the late 19th century.

As such, accessibility of critical knowledge for their children and subsequent generations are assured from young and is continuous throughout their lives. It is so easy to do for those who have the best interest at heart and yet so difficult to do for those with foolish pride and Machiavellian political ambitions.

No mandatory Chinese calligraphy is needed to ensure Chinese heritage continues. No shouting of slogans of Ketuanan Cina and its preservation. That is confidence in your own ability to shape destiny. To hell with all that. Learn in English.

Two: Their education is secular. Because that is the essence of education

One of the greatest physicists and teachers of the 20th century, the late Nobel Prize winner Richard Feynman, famously said, “I would rather have questions that can’t be answered than answers that can’t be questioned.”

That, ladies and gentlemen, is what makes an education.

Singapore does not impose belief on its citizens. And that starts in education. Question everything and everyone. Anything that cannot be questioned has no place in the classroom of public education. That is called indoctrination.

You want to indoctrinate your children that the sky is filled with butterflies and angels in the morning, go ahead, but not on our time or our dime.

It is abhorrent the amount of taxpayers money and children’s time that have been wasted on indoctrination of belief. Indoctrination stops you from thinking, it is the complete acceptance of belief.

As Einstein said, “Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think”. Religion is not about thinking, its about accepting.

Religion – any religious indoctrination – has no place in public education. You do not find that in Singapore and you do not find that in any other developed nation. If you want to include religion in public education, do it as part of comparative religion in the social sciences context. Otherwise it is indoctrination. It is useless as education.

Belief, religion and its indoctrination must be the domain of parents, if they so choose, and not government. Otherwise the result is imposition, persecution and finally tyranny of belief upon the citizenry. And no nation will survive such tyranny.

There is a reason great men of history have warned us against such wanton imposition of religious beliefs and indoctrination of the masses. Thomas Jefferson once said, “In every country and every age, the priest had been hostile to liberty.”

We need to heed this warning.

Three: One word – Science.

I have said this again and again. Science is the salvation of a nation, especially today in the 21st century.

The triumph of human civilisation is the triumph of science. The ascendancy of humankind, each empire, each nation and people has been through their grasp of the “science” of their time and its application in their minds and lives.

Our education must be science-centric. No ifs or buts. There must be more basic science taught, learned, experimented with and exposed to our children from the day they start school until they leave it. In depth and breadth and in the number of hours spent on it. We must have truly competent and passionate teachers to carry out this duty.

Even as a lawyer, I have learned that the human mind and senses are limited. Nothing fools humans more than their minds and their own senses.

In just the last decade, more convictions of innocents due to so-called eye-witness testimonies, even multiple ones, have been overturned as a result of DNA evidence to the contrary. Why? Science has proven that human senses and minds can be easily fooled, especially by emotion and herd mentality. But science is objective, evidentiary knowledge.

We need to build a science-centric society and that starts with our primary and secondary education. From the beginning, Lee realised the importance of establishing Singapore as a leader in the field of science and technology in Asia. He did not care what your ethnicity or religion was, that was the priority. And look at the society he built. Modern in outlook and progressive in thought, to the point he could no longer really control the people.

Maybe that is what our leaders are afraid of. A questioning, educated, critical thinking masses.

We must halt this downward slide of epic proportions in Malaysian education.

A new education minister with the right qualifications, a scientific or science-centric mindset and a technocratic iron will to implement critical changes must be appointed. Nothing less can be acceptable to Malaysians. This must be our demand.

I believe the next appointment will be a critical test whether this Pakatan government is worthy of our consideration in the next elections or an alternative must be considered and pursued vigorously by the right-minded citizenry.

We need the new education minister to implement what is needed. Go back to the basics and have the will, courage and ingenuity to make tough changes against what I expect to be conservative political opposition, both racial and religious.

If the person is more interested in putting colleagues in religious brotherhoods ahead of qualified intellectual professionals in positions of authority in education, then we are all doomed.

If the person is more interested in telling and allowing teachers to carry on dakwah (Islamic preaching) instead of closing down separate canteens in schools, then our quagmire will continue.

Black shoes and hotel swimming pools. That is the legacy we have been left with.

We need to see the closing down of worthless tax-payer funded universities that carry the word science but are based on beliefs and scriptures. They make a mockery of our nation and society. They promote the dumbing down of our population and produce graduates that will have nothing to contribute but further destruction of the Malaysian civilisation. We need a shake down of epic proportions for Malaysian education to return it to its past glory and make future progress.

As such, unlike a certain racist and bigoted MP from PAS, who insists on a Malay Muslim candidate only for the post, we need a minister who is qualified, irrespective of race or religion. We just need a Malaysian who is capable, for the sake of our children and our future.

We need an education minister who understands what is essential education. It is not rocket science.

But like all things in Malaysian politics, I have stopped believing in the capabilities or integrity of most of our politicians and political leadership. How I hope that I am proven wrong.

I close with this quote from Carl Sagan, one of the foremost teachers of science: “We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology.”

That could very well describe our Malaysian education system and administration.

But 2020 has arrived, so it’s time for real change to happen.

Activist lawyer Siti Kasim is the founder of the Malaysian Action for Justice and Unity Foundation (Maju). The views expressed here are solely her own.

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Comment: Tough times for Chinese education


A glimpse of glory 

 We once had a vision of a future, but now that it’s here, we still seem stuck in the past.

Cutting edge: Schools in China have begun to emphasise the teaching of coding, robotics and AI in the great push to produce the best engineers and digital experts. — AFP

WE are already into 2020 and it’s the dawn of a new decade. But if we buy into the endless narrative of race and religion, it’s as if we haven’t moved.

Six decades after Malaysia’s independence, and we are still trapped in this blinding obsession with ethnicity, which has done nothing but consume so much of our time and energy.

When rationale flies out the window, and reasoning fails, some politicians and self-declared communal champions resort to bigotry ways.

And of course, the most unscrupulous sometimes tell our citizens they should leave the country if they are unhappy, although incredulously, some of these characters conveniently overlook how their forefathers came to Malaya nearly the same time as the rest.

If Malaysia is caught in the middle income trap now, with our inability to reach a higher level of income, that’s down to not having changed in how we’ve functioned economically for the past 40-odd years.

The middle-income trap concept refers to the transition of low income to a middle income economy.

We have failed to achieve the Vision 2020 objective of becoming a developed nation, and the architect of that plan, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, has blamed his successors for the failure.

Now, the Pakatan Harapan government – also led by Dr Mahathir – has unveiled the Shared Prosperity Plan for 2035. It remains to be seen if we will reach that goal, either.

But at the rate we are moving, it’s hard to ignore how the voice of hope has somehow hushed.

In fact, Vision 2020 set off bigger expectations and optimism, but now there seems to be a lack of purpose and leadership.

If Malaysia is facing a middle income trap, then we are also snagged in a political status snare because we are heading nowhere as a nation, as we recklessly hand racial and religious hardliners the wheel of the nation.

Unelected religious activists seem to be speaking more boldly than many elected representatives, who seem content to let these fringe personalities hog the headlines.

In the digital age, the decibel level has been cranked in social media, and comments posted by their fans to support these hawks have become more seditious and disturbing.

It’s hard to break free from that gnawing sense that they are allowed to continue because the government fears putting a leash on them.

Our Pakatan Harapan leaders, especially those from Bersatu, seem to lack the will to take on a centrist role, and worse, have attempted to compete with those playing the race and religion cards.

While these political shenanigans may gain domestic mileage, it doesn’t help Malaysia one bit because many see it as part of the inability to get our act together.

They see the vibrance and innovations of Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia, and want a slice of that pie. But anyone who has been to the cities of these three Asean countries will understand why they are selling their stories much better to investors.

Let’s be blunt – they are telling investors to forget Malaysia as they highlight our continuing basket case political mentality and actions, with its cyclical scripts in tow.

Who can take us seriously if we believe a group of retired communists in wheelchairs can threaten national security over a reunion, which looked more like their farewell dinner?

Even the communists in China and Vietnam – countries which have good diplomatic ties with Malaysia – have embraced capitalism unlike those in other established free markets. The only thing communist is their political structure, that’s all.

And we still hear some small-minded chauvinists calling for the closure of vernacular schools, claiming they are the root to disunity.

The cause of our fragmentation isn’t these schools (which have produced many great talents), but the resident bigots and extremists.

Framed against this backdrop, it has become even more pertinent for those in significant positions of influence to speak up against these tyrants.

In November, Singapore launched its National AI Strategy, with three objectives to ensure it becomes a global hub for developing, test-bedding, deploying and scaling AI solutions, as well as learning how to govern and manage the impact of AI.

Schools in China have begun to emphasise the teaching of coding, robotics and AI in the great push to produce the best engineers and digital experts.

But our school system continues to be weighed down by politics, religion and language.

For just awhile, can we ask ourselves why we have been so preoccupied and emotional over so many superfluous issues that do nothing to propel Malaysia to become a developed nation?

It’s a small world after all, and in 2020, the world has become increasingly inclusive and is culturally more open and dynamic. But if we continue the way we are, we will remain in the lower tiers of national progress.

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Vision without execution is delusion

Few countries peer far into the future, but in 1991, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir  Mohamad(filepic) declared Vision or Wawasan 2020. … Looking back, was it possible to achieve this breathtaking vision? In my humble opinion, definitely. How much of it has Malaysia achieved? The answer depends on who you talk to.
 

The ideal eyesight is 20-20 vision when we can see everything clearly and know exactly where to go.

Given that 2018 and 2019 have been years of great populist upheaval, geopolitical tensions, massive climate change and technology transformations, it is not surprising that our first year of the third decade of the 21st century is masked by the fog of uncertainty.

Few countries peer far into the future, but in 1991, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad declared Vision or Wawasan 2020, “the ultimate objective that we should aim for is a Malaysia that is, by the year 2020, a fully developed country in our own mould, according to the standards that we ourselves set”.

To set a five-year plan is common place; to lay out a vision 30 years to the future was breathtaking in audacity. Dr Mahathir himself laid out nine challenges to achieve by 2020: first, establishing a united Malaysian nation made up of one bangsa (race); second, creating a psychologically liberated, secure and developed Malaysian society; third, fostering and developing a mature democratic society; fourth, establishing a fully moral and ethical society; fifth, establishing a matured liberal and tolerant society; sixth, establishing a scientific and progressive society; seventh, establishing a fully caring society; eighth, ensuring an economically just society, in which there is a fair and equitable distribution of the wealth of the nation; and ninth, establishing a prosperous society with an economy that is fully competitive, dynamic, robust and resilient.

Looking back, was it possible to achieve this breathtaking vision? In my humble opinion, definitely. How much of it has Malaysia achieved? The answer depends on who you talk to. On the issue of advanced country status, Malaysia is one class below in the upper middle income bracket with a gross national income (GNI) range of US$3,996 to US$12,375 per year. High-income economies are defined by the World Bank as those with a GNI per capita of US$12,376 or more. The IMF estimates Malaysia’s 2019 GNI per capita at US$11,140, pretty near the top end of the upper middle-income range, so it is certainly within striking distance. Indeed, if the exchange rate goes back to roughly RM3.80 to US$1, Malaysia would attain high income status. On the issue of national competitiveness, Malaysia ranks 27th out of 141 nations surveyed by the WEF Global Competitiveness Index (2019). This is no mean achievement, as her financial markets are ranked 15th.

But with Malaysia’s Gini Coefficient about the same as the United States (41st), social equality is nothing to be proud of, but at least advanced countries have not also achieved fairness in income and wealth that they vaunt.

Malaysia is a country blessed with large natural resources relative to the population, located in the high growth zone of East Asia and an important contributor to the global supply chain. She faces the same difficulties and challenges of most emerging markets in how to position oneself in a global situation that is fraught with new and somewhat daunting problems of geopolitical tension, climate change and massive technology transformation.

As the example of high income, sophisticated Hong Kong economy has shown, no one can take economic freedoms and competitiveness for granted, because politics can change the game almost overnight. What most governments struggle with is how to prepare the population, both the working class and the young, to adapt to the emerging technologies through education and re-skilling.

So it is not surprising in this age of digital divide that the most contentious area of politics is often in education.

Actually, there is not so much a digital divide as a knowledge divide – we are divided by our ignorances of each other and our inability to appreciate that what is about to kill or marginalise us is global climate change, conflicts and disruptive technology.

But what separates us from working together is ideology, religion and ultimately identity, turbo-charged by fake news that says the other side is always the bad guy.

In other words, polarisation can be reduced from working together to deal with external threats, but internally recognizing that there are common, shared interests and objectives.

Personally, climate change is the existential threat, whilst there is little that small countries can do about Great Power politics.

But technology is what each country can adopt to deal with climate change and keeping up with competition. Small countries like Singapore, Sweden and Switzerland carry much more clout than their size because of their willingness to invest in technology. The real threat of artificial intelligence and Big Data is that only the few that have scale and willingness to invest in knowledge will be the big winners.

This explains why the US and China have the leading tech platforms, because they not only have scale, speed and scope, but also the focus to work on the AI breakthroughs.

But recognising the threats and opportunities is only half of the Vision thing.

Vision without execution is delusion.

Getting the execution right is then all about politics and the bureaucracy.

Boris Johnson’s election victory on Brexit showed that he had the correct vision that the British were tired of European bureaucracy that stifled their freedom of action.

But whether he can change the British business model means that he has to radically transform a British civil service that has followed EU laws and mindset. This is exactly what Carrie Lam has to do with the Hong Kong civil service that is operating behind the times.

MIT economist Cesar Hidalgo quotes the essence of the modern problem by citing top football coach Josef Guardiola as saying that “the main challenge of coaching a team is not figuring out a game plan but getting that game plan into the heads of the players.”

Any plan or vision must be internalised by the players, because only they can execute the plan in the game that is ever changing and uncertain. In short, no vision in 2020 can work until the political leadership understands that only by internalizing the diversity of the team can the team be a winner or at least not a loser.

Happy 2020.

The views expressed are the writer’s own.

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Blockchain: Internet of Value/ Currency of Trust; Private cryptocurrency a misallocation among blockchain technology, say research & economist


  • Blockchain embodies the internet of value. How will it revolutionize our lives and our pockets?

  •  And, we look at the qualities Blockchain needs to spark mass adoption.

Blockchain, one of the buzzwords in technology, is set to rise in China. Recently,
Chinese President Xi Jinping underscored the fledgling technology as the country increasingly views Blockchain as key to future innovation. Has a digital game changer arrived? How will a boom in Blockchain impact our lives? Today we delve into the world of the new technology and talk to Don Tapscott, co-founder and executive chairman of the Blockchain Research Institute, to find out more.

Currency of Trust

Blockchain has the potential to be revolutionary. But, what hurdles must it overcome before it can hit the mainstream? In London, we invited Patrick McCorry, founder and CEO of PISA Research, a grant funded by a group of Blockchain companies, to decode this ever-changing world.

Private cryptocurrency a misallocation among blockchain technology, says economist

Cryptocurrency is digital-based cash among the internet world nowadays. Born from blockchain, this kind of “currency” is blooming in terms of high privacy. Acknowledging that, Nobel Prize-winning economist and Harvard professor Eric Maskin commented that private cryptocurrency is a misallocation.

“The most important application of blockchain so far has been cryptocurrency, and that is a terrible misallocation. In my view, cryptocurrency, at least private cryptocurrency like bitcoin is a mistake,” said Maskin.

“Because the public currency like RMB and U.S. dollar are much more useful than private currency. [Public currencies] they preserve the power of central banks to conduct monetary policy. If no one is using the dollar, then the U.S. monetary policy is useless. So I’m worried about cryptocurrency only to the extent that it reduces the use of currencies like RMB or dollar,” he added.

He also pointed out that cryptocurrencies could interfere with central banks’ monetary policies.

Meanwhile, Maskin supports the idea that blockchain is a technology. He noted that it is one of the exciting developments that have come along in recent years.

“Blockchain can make all sorts of transactions much easier and much more secure. It can also ensure that only the information that people need to have gets transmitted,” said Maskin.

“Blockchain is a way for me to guarantee that only what you need to about me gets told. And that’s valuable in a world where we’re beginning to worry about privacy issues,” the professor explained.

Besides, Maskin supports building the country’s own digital currencies. With the backdrop of e-payment booming around the world, Maskin said the digital currency can make transaction easier but it won’t have all of the unpleasant side effects of these private currencies.

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Blockchain with Chinese characteristics

 

 

 

How to outsmart smartphone scammers ?


You carry your smartphone everywhere. But the way you use it could leave you vulnerable to specific forms of identity theft, including robocall scams and hackers looking to hijack your phone number. — AP

Your smartphone is your confidante, your hand-held connection to the world – and one of your biggest vulnerabilities.

Scammers can take advantage of day-to-day tasks that seem innocuous, like checking a bank balance or charging a phone at a public USB port, to exploit personal information for their profit.

To keep that data safe, start by understanding the threats you face. Your phone has three main areas of vulnerability: its hardware, its software and your phone number. Each carries a risk, and there are steps you can take to mitigate them. Hardware vulnerability

A four-digit passcode alone isn’t enough to secure your phone’s hardware from intruders.

One weakness comes from the charging port. Think twice before plugging into a public USB jack for a quick charge at a cafe or airport.

“Any time you’re using a mobile port, you can be vulnerable to viruses or malware if you’re sharing it with other people who are plugging in their devices,” says Lisa Schifferle, ID theft programme manager at the US Federal Trade Commission.

Using a public charging port at an airport is like “finding a toothbrush on the side of the road and deciding to stick it in your mouth”, Caleb Barlow, vice president of X-Force Threat Intelligence at IBM Security, recently told Forbes .

Hackers can modify these ports to install malevolent software, aka malware, on your phone. Once installed, it can transfer your phone’s data to hackers. The hacked USB ports can also directly suck up your phone’s information. To avoid the risk, use your USB cord with your own charging block that can plug into a standard electrical outlet, or use an external battery pack.

For daily security, go beyond the four-digit passcode if possible, says Gary Davis, chief consumer security evangelist at the cybersecurity company McAfee. “Passcodes aren’t as effective as biometrics, like fingerprint readers or facial recognition software, because people can do shoulder surfing to see your passcode and get into your phone” if they steal it.

Software and network risks

Scammers can target your personal information using unsecured wireless networks and software vulnerabilities.

Network risks: Be wary of public WiFi networks.

“We advise against using public WiFi, but if you’re going to use it, avoid logging in to sensitive accounts,” says Allen Spence, director of product leadership at IDShield, an identity theft protection company.

To protect yourself from inadvertently using insecure WiFi networks, adjust your phone settings to avoid auto-connecting to WiFi.

Software: Hackers can exploit vulnerabilities in phone software. Schifferle of the FTC suggests consumers routinely check for and download software updates for their phones, because updates often include security patches.

Phone number vulnerabilities

There are two common ways that scammers target your phone number: robocall scams and phone number theft.

Robocalls: US consumers fielded nearly 48 billion robocalls in 2018, according to an estimate from robocall blocking service YouMail. That was a 57% increase from 2017.

A common scam comes from supposed representatives of the US Social Security Administration requesting you give your personal information or your benefits will be cut. If you get a call from a number you don’t recognise, don’t answer. That’s the best way to ensure you don’t get caught up in a phone scam. And know that government agencies won’t call you out of the blue seeking your personal information.

“You should never give personal info or money unless you have initiated the call,” Schifferle says. If you answer a call and realise it may be a scammer, hang up, she advises.

If you suspect your personal information was stolen by scammers, file a report with the FTC at identitytheft.gov .

Phone number theft: Scammers are stealing phone numbers, which can leave you vulnerable to other forms of identity theft.

The scam is clever: A malevolent actor calls your cellphone carrier pretending to be you, and after confirming some key information such as your mother’s maiden name, transfers your phone number to their device. You may not find out this has happened until you go to make a call and find that your SIM card has been deactivated.

Because phone numbers are often used as security keys, hackers may be able to get into many other accounts once they have access to your phone account. Make it harder to penetrate by avoiding common security questions, Davis says. “When you set up your security questions and answers, make sure you’re using really challenging questions that are going to be hard to figure out.” – NerdWallet/AP – Source link 

RELATED LINKS:
NerdWallet: Do you need identity theft protection services? http://bit.ly/nerdwallet-compares-identity-theft-protection-services
Forbes: Why you should never use airport USB charging stations http://bit.ly/forbes-airport-usb-stations
FTC: Report identity theft https://www.identitytheft.gov/
Sean Pyles Of Nerdwallet, The Associated Press

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American anti-China Hawks ignited the trade war, are Trump’s advisors


Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

US President-elect Donald Trump appointed Peter Navarro, a strident critic of China, as head of the new National Trade Council on Wednesday. Most of the Trump’s views in his accusation against China during and after the election are influenced by Navarro. Moreover, Trump’s special adviser Carl Icahn and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross also take a hard line on the trade with China. The possibility of a potential trade war between China and the US after Trump takes office has come under heated discussion.

Trump’s Top China Expert Isn’t a China Expert

 

Peter Navarro doesn’t speak Chinese, and has scant in-country experience. Should that matter?

University of California at Irvine Economics Professor Peter Navarro, head of White House National Trade Council nominee for president-elect Donald Trump, arrives in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017. A top congressional ally to Trump said Thursday that Republicans will repeal Obamacare, including some funding provisions, quickly while a replacement plan is due in “six to eight months.” Photographer: Albin Lohr-Jones/Pool via https://foreignpolicy.com/2017/03/13/peter-navarro-profile-national-trade-council-donald-trump-china-expert

The issue needs to be considered in the backdrop of a major adjustment of the US policies toward China. At present, there is a glaring contrast between the economic prosperity and political stability in China and the economic downturn and political division in the US, which stings the US policy elites who are steadfast defenders of the US hegemony and its role as the world leader. Those elites tend to believe that the increasingly powerful China has not made the changes approved by the US and is trying to upend the international order shaped by the US.

Thus, it has now gradually become an expectation for the incoming US government to discard the long-standing engagement policy and adopt tougher or more confrontational policies toward China instead.

Against this backdrop, the trade topics closely associated with employment and welfare have become more sensitive but quite effective tools for the China hawks to create an unfriendly public opinion against China. The China-US trade disputes are no longer simply economic topics, but have strong political and strategic implications.

The manufacturing industry is not only the foundation for the US economic recovery, but also the key to solving the unemployment problem and guaranteeing social stability. The imbalance of China-US economic and trade relationship is considered by economists represented by Navarro as the critical reason for the weakening US manufacturing industry. They believe that the current close trade ties have boosted China’s rapid development, whereas the hundreds of billions of dollars of US trade deficit with China has led to the current economic woes in the US. They also blame the US manufacturing companies that moved their factories to China for the high domestic unemployment rate.

In other words, the field of trade, which has long been regarded as mutually beneficial, is now considered by advisers of the incoming US government to be detrimental to their country’s interests. The US maintains that a major trade policy adjustment needs to be urgently pushed forward to give China a head-on blow.

Although bilateral trade generally works by following WTO rules, the US policy elites, represented by Navarro, maintain that their country’s serious inherent economic problems are caused by both China, which fails to address bilateral trade problems impartially, and the US government, which neglects the American public’s demands. They keep overstating China’s negative role to the American public, and thus have made full preparation for a big policy change toward China in the coming years.

Given the current policymaking atmosphere in the US as well as Trump’s picks of advisers, the US has a strong desire to make a major confrontational policy adjustment in its trade with China in the future. However, it still remains uncertain if the adjustment will directly lead to a trade war.

The high interdependence of bilateral trade indicates that any form of trade war provoked by the US will ultimately hurt itself. It is probably difficult for the Trump team to figure out how much self-damage their country is able to withstand.

During the election campaign, Trump denounced the greediness of Wall Street magnates and promised to create new jobs, but, ironically, the officials he appointed after winning the election mostly came from the Wall Street.

China’s economic power is no longer as it was before, and its defining power over bilateral relations in trade and all the other aspects is stronger than ever. It is impossible for China to sit back and let the US destroy the mutually beneficial situation in trade. Instead, China will firmly push forward the future bilateral ties under the concept of building a new type of major power relationship.

In contrast to the uncertain US trade policies toward China, China’s policies toward the US are clear and concise: get rid of any barriers and push forward bilateral relations in a stable and mutually beneficial direction. The evolution of China-US relationship has always been a process of moving forward and addressing various conflicts along the way. It is hoped “the China-US trade war” will only be a verbal clash, instead of a clash in real action.

By Li Haidong Source:Global Times Published: 2016/12/25 13:43:39

The author is a professor with the Institute of International Relations at China Foreign Affairs University. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

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US anti-China hawks may yet scupper trade deal  

Right after the G20 summit in Japan, US Senator Marco Rubio made the headlines again by calling for legislation to continue the ban on Huawei, even after US President Donald Trump said he would lift some of the restrictions on US companies doing business with the Chinese tech giant.

Image result for US Senator Marco Rubio an Anti-China Hawk imagesSenator Rubio Prepares To Blast China …
forbes.com

 

Rubio is a salient representative of the US political extreme. Some US politicians appear to take advantage of the split in US society and are using their extreme political views to gain more voters as well as please different political groups. This actually reflects the increasingly prominent malfunction of US politics.
It is an important reason why China is concerned that the US-launched trade war against China will not end in the short term.

We believe there are rational people who know China well at the US government’s decision-making level. Even so, lawmakers like Rubio have gone too far. They are not messing with China but rather wearing down the credibility of US politics.

The US political system is becoming increasingly flawed. Many politicians deliberately act up to firmly oppose anything that would benefit China for the sake of being anti-China. That the political landscape is becoming extreme in the US is providing these politicians with the opportunity to play to their base if they show an open anti-China stance.

Rubio is one such politician. He paints himself as being hostile to China to draw attention. Despite the fact that the trade war and the Huawei ban are harming the interests of the US, Rubio insists on this excessively tough stance toward China because that could spark controversies which could end up favoring him.

This is what Rubio, an unsuccessful candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, needs to fulfill his political ambitions. Such narrow-minded thinking has de facto escalated the US-launched trade war against China.

Rubio doesn’t understand China and probably barely knows China’s history. But taking advantage of being anti-China, he can create hot debates and make headlines, and thus gain more assets for his political career.

Even though people who don’t know much about the world’s second-largest economy can be a senator in the US, it is a joke that someone like Rubio can pretend to be a China hand and comment on China’s policies. This is one of the key reasons for the ratcheted-up tensions between China and the US.

The fundamental split in the US political system provides openings for hawkish politicians who have long been hostile toward China. The US is now in the throes of the 2020 presidential campaign, when candidates vie with each other to make outrageous remarks to appeal to their supporters.

This marked increase in radicals in US politics makes it much more difficult for the US government to function normally and for Republicans and Democrats to reach compromises, especially on major issues.

Even though there are signs of China-US trade frictions turning around, as the US political system will not fundamentally change in the short term, China must remain vigilant and prepare for a long-term trade war, in case the hawks gain the upper hand.

By Xu Hailin Source:Global Times Published: 2019/6/30 19:53:39

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Xi-Trump G20 meeting in line with global expectations, agreed to restart trade talks; Trump meets Kim at Demilitarized Zone


Robot monks in Longquan monastery, Zhen Robotics delivery bots, the AI-powered Baidu Park in Beijing, are examples of how far China has come technologically. Its tech rivalry with America is at the heart of the US-China trade war that has embroiled companies like Huawei.

The agreement reached between Chinese President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart, Donald Trump, at the 14th G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, is in line with the best expectations of international public opinion. Given the fact that the Sino-US trade talks have run hot and cold in the past, opinions are divided over whether the new round of trade talks will successfully do the job.

The agreement has broken the deadlock between China and the US. However, Beijing and Washington still face the arduous task of implementing the consensus reached between the two presidents while overcoming differences during the negotiations.

During the meeting, Xi and Trump clinched a deal to restart economic and trade consultations between their countries on the basis of equality and mutual respect. The US side also agreed that it will not add new tariffs on imports from China. These deals add new possibilities to end the year-long trade dispute between the world’s two largest economies that has been deadlocked since May.

It is not a big surprise for Xi and Trump to reach such an agreement. The outcome is logical and guided by the principles of trade and economy. It is also in accord with the general expectations of the international community. Such a result is undoubtedly in the interests of both the Chinese and US societies as it frees people in both countries from the fear of an escalating trade war.

None of the business communities or general public in China and the US want a trade war against each other. In the US, the initiator of the trade war, the call to end the dispute is gaining more and more support. To sum up from all perspectives, the result of the meeting complies with the real expectations and desires of both societies.

Nevertheless, China-US trade tensions have not been completely settled. There is no winner in this current dispute. Public opinion in both countries will likely be critical of an “incomplete victory” against the other. It is a situation similar to the ice-breaking movement made by China and the US to solve trade issues last December. The US media has a tradition of thriving on criticism. In that case, some US media are expected to argue that Washington has made too many concessions to China. The Democrats will also take it as an opportunity to mount pressure on the US government. These uncertainties come from the US and are its own internal concerns.

The situation after resuming economic and trade consultations between the two countries is even more critical. It is worth noting that the Trump administration has repeatedly contradicted itself in the past. The complexity of the power structure of the US government, a divergence of opinion within the administration’s team and the need to win the 2020 presidential election are foreseeable reasons for its reneging. Not only has China been on the alert for such changes, but also the international community has learned from the US’ historically ambivalent attitude. It will take a while to see what the Trump administration will do this time.

As for China, it is important to keep a clear mind and strong determination in this situation. As it turns out, China’s perseverance in the fight against the trade bullying policy of the past few months has played an important role in reaching a positive result with the US side at the Osaka summit. China is willing to work with the US to find solutions. However, it’s getting more and more clear that China is not afraid of a trade war and will not be beaten by one. A strong image is essential for China to reach an equal and mutually respectful agreement in discussions with the US.

China is committed to a peaceful development policy. China has not been involved in any war, nor severe conflicts with other countries in the past 30 years. As a result, some people doubted the possibility of China standing firm and staying strong when confronted with strategic challenges. Now, they have a clear answer from China’s performance during this dispute. China is under the strong leadership of the CPC central committee and the Chinese government has the courage to take responsibility and make decisive decisions. Chinese society has actively responded to the government’s call, and the whole nation has shared the ups and downs of a difficult situation. Cohesion has been the collective belief of the Chinese public. External threats will not force their way into Chinese society.

China has no intention of benefiting from defeating other countries. China sincerely hopes that all parties will enjoy a win-win situation through interaction and cooperation. Diplomatic interactions between China and the US over the past few decades have served as a multiplier effect to boost their national interests. A trade war on a large scale is out of the expectations of both the Chinese government and Chinese public. There is no doubt that China is willing to push forward China-US economic and trade cooperation to keep pace with the times and bring the interests of both sides in line with each other. China has no strategic resistance to such cooperation.

However, the duress of unilateralism does nothing to help solve the problems between China and the US but rather it causes severe unrest and damage to both sides and the rest of the world. If China and the US can meet each other halfway and reach consensus on key issues, then the two sides will find a solution to the trade dispute that is acceptable to both countries and beneficial to the world.

After a lot of fine tuning, Chinese society has grown mature enough to deal with any profound changes there might be in the China-US relationship. Chinese people are well-prepared for any possible uncertainty in future trade talks. The path of China’s development will not always be smooth and that is accepted by the Chinese public. Chinese people will not be surprised by any potential turmoil in China-US economic and trade relations, and they know China will handle it accordingly.

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Trump meets Kim Jong Un at Demilitarized Zone 特朗普抵达板门店与金正恩会面

N. Korean glorious welcome for Predident Xi, China…

Calm attitude needed for future China-US trade negotiations

The meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump on sidelines at the G20 summit in Osaka broke the deadlock between the two countries sinceearly May. According to a briefing by the Chinese side, the two sides have agreed to restart trade consultations with the US declaring not to impose new tariffs on Chinese products. Trump said his meeting with Xi was “excellent” and “we’re right back on track.”
 At G20, Xi leads chorus for multilateralism

 US may lift ban on Huawei; industry representatives happy

World must contain capricious US actions

The G20 summit is being held in Osaka, Japan with the most pressing global tasks and anxieties on the table for the group of te world’s largest economies. We are in an era where advancement and problems coexist. Whether the problems can be seriously tackled depends, to a large extent, on the attitudes of the leaders in Osaka.


The G20 Question: Will there be a truce in the trade war?


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Chinese students have increasingly become interested in participating in math contests organized by elite US institutions. Photo: IC

The escalating China-US trade war, which has become a new cold war in technology, has made attracting talent an urgent task.

The recent call by the founder of China’s Huawei to enhance the country’s fundamental education system was echoed across Chinese society, while observers emphasized the importance of science and math.

In a recent interview with China Central Television aired over the weekend, Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei, whose company is now in the middle of the China-US trade battle, reiterated the importance of fundamental education and research instead of spending too much time talking about his company’s future.

The 75-year-old entrepreneur said that he cares about education the most because he cares about the country. “If we don’t attach importance to education, we’ll actually return to poverty,” he remarked.

Huawei’s founder Ren Zhengfei meets the media in Shenzhen, South China’s Guangdong Province, earlier this month. Photo: Courtesy of Huawei

The country’s development relies on culture, philosophy and education, which are fundamental, Ren said. And the escalating China-US trade war involves strength in science and technology, which comes down to the level of education.

His remarks put the focus on basic education.

Wang Lixin, vice mayor of Shenzhen, a city that is often seen as the new Silicon Valley as it gathers hundreds and thousands of high-tech firms, said at a recent conference that fundamental research is important to not only Shenzhen but the whole country.

“In the 1980s, we often said if you learn math, physics and chemistry well, you will achieve anywhere. Then we had doubts, as working in finance, economy or design would earn you more money. Considering the current situation, it’s time to bring up that slogan again,” Wang was quoted as saying in media reports on Sunday.

As part of broader efforts to strengthen science and technology, Shenzhen, which is now at the forefront of the China-US tech battle, where tech firms such as Huawei and DJI being targeted by the Trump administration are located, has vowed to invest one-third of its science and research funding to fundamental research, to the tune of over 4 billion yuan ($580 million), reports said.

On China’s Twitter-like Weibo, net users praised Ren’s call and considered improving the country’s education system as the most urgent task. “High-tech growth cannot be supported only by a huge amount of money. Only with continuous efforts in fundamental education can the goal be achieved,” a netizen said.

A mother surnamed Song, who lives in western Beijing’s Haidian district, said she has always insisted that fundamental education should not become a heavy burden for children. However, the escalating trade war, especially the Huawei incident, has made it more urgent to enhance the country’s overall STEM education, she believed.

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, and these academic disciplines are often seen as fundamentals for a country in a race for high-tech supremacy.

“I’m thinking about sending her to an afterschool training course on mathematics this summer,” she told the Global Times on Monday, referring to her 7-year-old daughter, who is now living at an increasingly competitive environment.

Fundamental research

As the world’s two largest economies spar over tech, Chinese industry representatives are considering enhancing fundamental education, including science and math, as a major task, especially after many Chinese parents have been complaining in recent months about the current dogmatic policies of stifling rising talent.

The authorities’ latest move to ease the schoolwork burden on primary and middle school students also weakened science and math education, and the ban on extracurricular coaching for Olympiad-style contests issued in 2018 will seriously affect the cultivation of talented students in STEM, analysts said.

“This one-size-fits-all approach will hurt fundamental education in the country and make our children fall behind their American counterparts in the future, which needs to be corrected,” Mei Xinyu, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, told the Global Times.

The Ministry of Education issued a guideline in December 2018 to ease academic burden in primary and middle schools. The guideline says primary and high schools are forbidden from hosting math Olympiads to recruit students. The move follows a change in policy on stopping the awarding of extra points to students who have won academic Olympiads or science and technology competitions.

But parents also applauded the government’s efforts to ease the children’s burden, while some advocated a happy-elementary-education approach.

Ren said he attaches great importance to fundamental research, and the country should invest more in developing mathematicians, physicists and chemists instead of just pouring money into industries.

The US clampdown on Huawei, as part of the China-US tech battle, will stimulate technological self-reliance while boosting scientific research and innovation, as US sanctions also exposed the country’s high-tech Achilles’ heel due to Huawei’s reliance on American technologies and core components reflecting the overall shortcoming in the sector.

It’s becoming more urgent for Chinese tech companies to attract talent, as the tech war will eventually become a battle for more talent, analysts said.

“Our country has to have an awareness of crisis, and to clearly see the real gap between China and the US in education,” Chu Zhaohui, a research fellow at the National Institute of Education Sciences based in Beijing, told the Global Times on Monday.

For instance, American students have a deeper understanding of natural sciences and mathematics, as they learn by following their own interests, he noted. “How to arouse the interest of Chinese students in science and technology, which will lead to better fundamental research, remains a challenge,” he said.

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US technology sector faces triple threat


Uncertainty over the future of US-China economic relations has derailed the once high-flying global equity market, which rose almost 15 per cent in the January-April period.

Clive McDonnell, head of Equity Strategy at Standard Chartered Bank, looks at the causes behind the decline.

The technology sector, now facing challenges on a number of fronts, is supposedly the main cause behind the decline.

While President Trump’s policies get blamed for a lot of events impacting global equity markets, he is probably less responsible for the upset in the technology sector than many would have you think.

There are three primary challenges facing the US technology sector:

1. The sector’s high overseas revenue share: over 60% of total revenue comes from

abroad.

2. The threat of regulation on accessing and using personal data.

3. Monopoly powers and the risk of an antitrust investigation.

Let’s consider each factor. US economic growth appears resilient in the face of weaker growth prospects in the euro zone and emerging markets.

However, since US technology companies generate more than 60% of their revenue from overseas, they are acutely sensitive to slower growth prospects outside the US. In the past, they have been able to offset slower growth in the euro zone with robust growth in emerging markets led by China.

The next downturn may witness slower growth in both regions, which would leave US technology companies exposed relative to US banks and utilities which have the lowest overseas revenue exposure amongst US companies.

Additionally, there is a risk that China responds in kind to the US President’s targeting of Chinese technology companies. There is also a risk that US dollar strength creates a negative effect on US technology sector earnings once overseas revenue is converted into US dollars.

The threat of regulation on accessing and use of personal data looms large for technology companies, particularly those in the social media space. Europe has been at the forefront of regulating use of personal data via the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

These regulations changed the balance of power between individuals and companies over the use of personal data. The rules give EU citizens more control over their personal data held by companies and the right to have their data removed from databases, the so-called “right to be forgotten” law.

The challenge for US companies is these rules cover their processing of personal data in Europe, regardless of the residential location of the individual generating the data.  

The rules give EU citizens more control over their personal data
held by companies and the right to have their data removed from
databases.

Similar to the long arm of US financial regulators – which impact banks regardless of where they are incorporated once they engage in US dollar transactions – European rules on personal data are impacting US technology companies in ways that are not covered by domestic laws.

The central business challenge for US technology companies, in particular those in the social media sector, is their business models are built on free access to consumer data in exchange for free use of their software, including search, email and productivity tools, such as those available on Google Drive.

If these companies lose unfettered access to personal data, they would likely start charging consumers for use of the same software.

This, in turn, will have a significant impact on their advertising revenues, as the precision they have been able to offer companies targeting customers would decline. No doubt their business models would evolve, but this could be at the cost of lower net margins relative to the near-20% margins they currently enjoy.

Finally, the perceived monopoly power of some of the sector’s leaders and the resultant risk US technology companies face from antitrust investigations is probably the biggest risk to the sector.

The definition of monopoly power in the US, focusing on the short-term price impact on consumers from company actions, has been unchanged for over 40 years.

Specifically, if company actions lead to higher prices, it could be designated as a monopoly (and importantly, the reverse also applies). This is relevant for technology companies as many have helped to lower prices for consumers.

The definition of monopoly power is changing. This is led by Lina Khan, a Legal Fellow at the Federal Trade Commission and an academic Fellow at Columbia Law School.

In a paper, entitled “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox (1)”, she challenged the current interpretation of antitrust law which is designed to curb monopolistic power. She proposed that lower prices were not necessarily good for consumers if prices were used as a tool to choke off competition and eventually restrict consumer choice.

The primary tool available to technology companies to manipulate consumer choices (and some would say restrict competition) is their search algorithm.

Whenever a social media or e-commerce company implements a change to their search algorithm, the ensuing uproar amongst its users and customers is a measure of the importance this tool has to drive sales and choices for consumers.

The search algorithm assumes unique power once a platform becomes dominant in an industry and consumers no longer look at other platforms as they believe that their chosen one offers them all the choice they need.

The risk is: their choices are being determined by companies who pay more to appear higher up the search results than those which pay less, even though the latter companies may offer lower prices.

If regulators’ definition of monopoly power evolves, as Lina Khan suggests, there is a risk of antitrust investigations against US technology sector leaders, with penalties ranging from fines to reversal of prior acquisitions.

The challenges facing the US technology sector have converged at a time when valuations are elevated and earnings growth has weakened.

They are shining a light on their business model, which can undoubtedly evolve, but may require changes that the market is not currently anticipating.

Clive McDonnell is Head of Equity Strategy at Standard Chartered Private Bank.

The views expresssed here are entirely the writer’s own.

 

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