US is now the new epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic with active cases over 85,505 patients!


 Coronavirus death toll, infections and recoveries 

WHO Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) -Get the latest information from the World Health Organization about coronavirus.

Donald Trump again struggled to reassure a fearful nation on Thursday as it emerged the US now has the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the world. News that America had surpassed virus hotspots China and Italy with 82,404 cases of infection, according to a tracker run by Johns Hopkins University, broke as the president was holding a press conference at the White House.

His instinctive response was to question other countries’ statistics. “It’s a tribute to the amount of testing that we’re doing,” Trump told reporters. “We’re doing tremendous testing, and I’m sure you’re not able to tell what China is testing or not testing. I think that’s a little hard.”

Trump later spoke to the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, by telephone and had what he described on Twitter as a “very good conversation”. The two leaders discussed the coronavirus in “great detail”, adding that: “China has been through much & has developed a strong understanding of the Virus. We are working closely together. Much respect!”

 

 

FORT DETRICK, THE UNITED STATES BIOLOGICAL WARFARE LAB IS WHERE CORONAVIRUS ORIGINATED


FORCED TO SHUT DOWN WHEN VIRUSES LEAKED AUGUST 2019
US SOLDIERS WERE INFECTED
300 HUNDRED CAME TO WUHAN ON PRETENSE OF TAKING PART IN THE WORLD MILITARY COMPETITION – WON NOT ONE MEDAL

SPREAD OUT IN WUHAN WITH SOME VISITING THE WET MARKETS

 
Listen to Saddam Hussein was in a 1990 meeting with his cabinet, telling them how America was threatening Iraq with Corona Virus. This prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that Corvid-19 is a US biological weapon. 

 

 US CONSULATE IN WUHAN FULLY EVACUATED WITH BIOWEAPON DRUMS LEFT IN GROUNDS
WEEKS LATER FIRST VICTIM OF CORONAVIRUS APPEARED IN WUHAN
US FOUND TO HAVE 5 STRAINS, WUHAN HAS ONE
PROVING THE UNITED STATES IS THE ORIGIN OF THE CORONAVIRUS
August 6, 2019, the US’s main biological warfare lab at Fort Detrick was issued a “ceast and desist” order because of violation of safety standards and protocol, and leaks.
August – September 2019, “statewide outbreak” of a mysterious respiratory emerged in the US, causing severe respiratory diseases in a few hundred people. This was blamed on vaping although people had been vaping for more than a decade without such outbreaks. Officials were unable to find any relation to a specific vaping device and addictive.
August 2019 – Jan 2020, the US CDC reported that the US is gearing up for one of the worst flu seasons ever, with 12000 deaths. On 12 March 2020, the CDC director admitted that some COVID-19 deaths were misdiagnosed as the flu because COVID-19 were found when they did posthumous tests.
October 18 – 27, 2019, the 2019 Military World Games was held in Wuhan. The US sent a contingent of 350 athletes. They did not win any medals. The athletes toured Wuhan.
November 2019, the Chinese press reported that five athletes who had suffered from infectious disease had been discharged from hospital.
November 2019, Wuhan locals were detected with COVID-19, with a spike of such terms in local social media. This coincided with the post-incubation period after the Military World Games.
December 1, 2019, the first confirmed case of COVID-19 was detected in Wuhan.  Subsequently more than 80000 people will be infected. Of the first 41 cases, 34% were not related to the wildlife market.
Daniel Lucey, an infectious disease specialist at Georgetown University, claimed that because there is an incubation time between infection and symptoms surfacing, and the presence of infected people with no links to wildlife market, the virus could not have originated from the wildlife market. Kristian Andersen, an evolutionary biologist at the Scripps Research Institute, agreed with the assessment.
Genotype assay of COVID-19 revealed 5 variants/strains (group ABCDE) of the virus. Most regions in the world have 1-2 COVID-19 variants including Hubei (mainly group C), and UK (Group 😎. US is the only country with all 5 variants (Group ABCDE). In Virology
101, the region with the most variants is the origin of the disease.
25 Jan, 2020, Japanese couple went for a 10 days vacation in Hawaii. On the second week they fell ill. On return to Japan they were tested and confirmed to have COVID-19.
Italy lab confirmed that the strain of COVID-19 is different from the one circulating in China, and that the circulation of the virus is not so recent, and had been spreading undetected for weeks.
China’s coronavirus expert Dr Zhong Nanshan, the discoverer of SARS, said that although COVID-19 was detected in China, it doesn’t necessary mean that it originated from China.
As of March 12, 2020, the US had only tested 10000 people, and COVID-19 was confirmed in 1600 of them. As a comparison South Korea tests 10000 people a day, but the disease rate trajectory is the same as the US. This suggests that there is a great number of infected people in the US, just that they were not tested.

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Covid-19 reaches the West


https://youtu.be/F_Jq7ItdHtA

Tourists wearing protective masks walks by the Duomo in central Milan on February 27,2020 amid fears over the spread of the novel Coronavirus. – The number of COVID-19 infections in Italy, the hardest hit country in Europe, hits the 400 mark late on February 26, with 12 deaths. (Photo by Miguel MEDINA/ AFP)

But keep cool, negative volatility will likely be followed by positive volatility

The coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak has officially reached Western shores.

Since last week, the virus has spread to Europe, Brazil and the Middle East.

New cases have emerged across Europe.

There have been more than 81,000 people infected with nearly 3,000 deaths so far.

Just the previous Wednesday on Feb 19, stocks in the US were complacently at record highs, never mind that Asian markets were roiling and taking huge hits, thanks to the coronavirus that first took roots in Wuhan, China.

Asia has been battling this disease since January. Markets have been volatile but have since recovered as the number of infections have reduced and governments have been diligent at handling the disease.

It is like the domino effect, with the same reactions, panic and emotions that happened throughout Asia now migrating to the West.

It is almost deja-vu, seeing the fear and market reaction, no doubt the impact to the Dow and S&P 500 has a significantly larger impact.

The Covid-19’s largest impact is the fear it has transmitted with rapid speed.

In the US, stocks fell for a sixth straight day on Thursday, with the S&P 500 price index falling 4.4% and bringing this pullback officially into correction territory. On a six-day basis, the Dow Jones was down 13.4% at 25,766.64.

This plummet followed California governor Gavin Newsom’s revealing on Thursday that the state was monitoring 8,400 people for potential Covid-19 infections.

Adding to the bleak outlook, Goldman Sachs slashed its profit outlook and warned the outbreak could cost Donald Trump his reelection in November.

The MSCI all-country global index has dropped more than 7% over this six-day period. Considering stocks were at record highs the previous Wednesday, this is very harsh and painful.

Why, Tesla was all the hype earlier in February. It was US$901 on Feb 21, and new higher target prices were being touted by analysts, nevermind that the stock still didn’t have a price to earnings ratio.

In the last five days, Tesla’s share price had tumbled more than US$200 or 32.7% as of Thursday to close at US$679.

Don’t panic

For the average investor, panic has likely set in.

Whose confidence level would not be shaken with a 12% decline in the S&P 500 in six trading days?

Now talk of a 20% decline is starting to emerge.

Meanwhile the 10-year US treasury yield dropped below 1.3%, remaining in record-low territory.

The downward spiral in oil also continued with WTI crude toppling 2.71% to trade at US$47.41 per barrel on Thursday. Brent oil hovered at the US$51.42 level. So just barely two months into 2020, it is Covid-19 which has been responsible for crushing markets and dismantling profits across the globe.

Many have already slashed market forecasts for the year.

In the past two market stories featured on StarBizweek, readers would know that Fisher MarketMinder thinks that fears over the virus’ market impact are overdone. It thinks that this is part of a longer-running pattern prevalent throughout this bull market.

“The stock market will do what it does – rise and fall.

“If you’ve got a plan based on your risk tolerance and investment horizon, don’t let fear make you swerve in the wrong direction and lose traction.

“Panic is never a good investment strategy, ” says Fisher MarketMinder.

It adds that Covid-19 is grabbing attention because it is new and somewhat novel, but that doesn’t mean its economic effects far outweigh more familiar diseases.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that there were 34,200 deaths in the United States from influenza during the 2018-2019 flu season.

For infections of Covid-19 outside of China, the mortality appears very low.

Furthermore, the people who are dying tend to be the old and immuno-suppressed or otherwise sick.

“Supply chain disruptions as officials work to contain the outbreak probably dent growth temporarily, but markets are efficient and likely pricing in these expectations as companies issue statements.

“Short-term volatility could linger, but patience should pay off, in our view, ” it adds.

As legendary investor Ben Graham once said, stocks are a voting machine in the short term and a weighing machine in the long term.

“Sentiment wins in the short term, but fundamentals matter most over more meaningful stretches.

“The ‘why’ and ‘how much’ behind sentiment swings strike us far less important.

“The emotional swing itself is what matters.

“Market fundamentals likely didn’t change on a dime seven days ago, ” says Fisher MarketMinder.

Thursday’s drop simply put US stocks back at mid-October levels.

Furthermore, the world hasn’t fundamentally changed.

While there is no way to know when this drop will end or how much further it will fall, no drop is permanent.

“Whether the rebound starts in days or weeks, whether it is fast or slow, if you have held on thus far, we think you ought to reap the good that comes with the bad.

“Corrections hurt your long-term returns only if you don’t participate in the rebounds that follow them.

“Selling may feel good at a time like this. But when you remove emotion from the equation, all it does is transform a market decline into an actual portfolio loss, ” says Fisher MarketMinder.

Another investor who is cheering is one of the smartest investors in the world, Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway.

He says the stock market rout we’re witnessing today is “good for us.”

“We’re a net buyer of stocks over time, ” he says on CNBC.

“Most people are savers, they should want the market to go down.

“They should want to buy at a lower price.”

Buffett’s comments came as Dow futures were down by about 800 points or 3% on Monday as stocks around the world plunged as the Covid-19 outbreak escalated.

Regarding the coronavirus specifically, Buffett made clear that he is “not a specialist.” And he warns that “a very significant percentage of our businesses one way are affected.”

However, he reiterates that investors should be more focused on the long term, not the short term.

“If you’re buying a business, and that’s what stocks are… you’re gonna own it for 10 or 20 years, ” he says.

“The real question is has the 10-year or 20-year outlook for American businesses changed in the last 24 hours or 48 hours?” the legendary investor asks.

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Covid-19, politics and house prices

The good, the bad and the ugly: Chinese hits back at U.S. claim of “Huawei threat” ….


Chinese diplomat hits back at U.S. claim of “Huawei threat”

 Chinese FM: U.S. accusations against China are ‘lies’

US warnings about China are lies, Foreign Minister Wang says

It takes all kinds to dominate in a world obsessed with economic might and political power.

AS a young boy growing up in the 1960s, I watched many Western movies and TV shows about cowboys and Red Indians, and as expected of a naïve and ignorant kid, I cheered for the “good” guys – the cowboys.

And because they were portrayed as such, the Red Indians were the “bad” guys to me. They were the savage lot, while the Caucasian men were the civilised group trying to help them. And routinely, the Red Indians would be defeated.

As I reached my teenage years and read more about the West, I realised that my supposed heroes were the ones who robbed these natives of their land, violated treaties and consigned the Red Indians to living on reservations.

The most famous Red Indian, Geronimo, the head of the Chiricahua Apaches, and his men were arrested and despatched to Florida as prisoners of war. Some of them were even discarded at crocodile-infested swamps.

Fast forward to contemporary Hollywood movies – the modern-day bad guys are always the Russians, Albanians and Arabs.

They are usually portrayed as one of brutal spies, criminals, human traffickers, drug dealers and terrorists, and in more lurid plots, all the above.

In The Equalizer, Denzel Washington, who plays a former intelligence agency man latterly driving a cab, goes after sadistic Russian gangsters and predictably, decides to kill all of them – in equally brutal ways.

In the John Wick movie series, Keanu Reeves also goes ballistic going after some Russians.

For some reason, all these ex-operatives are reclusive, divorced or widowed, still connected to their agencies, and as always, their loved ones get harmed (mostly killed) by the Russians, which invariably leads them to needing to settle the score.

Albanians hit the big time after the 2008 movie, Taken, which starred Liam Neeson, who plays Bryan Mills, another retired CIA operative whose teenage daughter and friend get kidnapped by human traffickers (Albanians) while holidaying in France.

In Taken 2, the 2012 sequel, the film follows the family to Istanbul, only to be kidnapped yet again, along with his former wife, by the father of one of the men he killed while saving his daughter two years previously.

It wasn’t just the Albanians who suffered from bad press as until today, my wife still refuses to go to Istanbul – as a result of the movie.

Fortunately for me, I have been to Albania. It’s a beautiful country with good people, and nothing like what the movies depict.

In the case of Arabs, we are accustomed to seeing them portrayed in poor light. They were womanising oil sheikhs at one time and are now mostly barbaric terrorists. Scenes with them are stereotypically sound tracked to the call of the Azan.

Mexicans, typically, are drug dealers. Likewise, Colombians, Cubans and Venezuelans. Well, in the movies, at least.

The hip hop loving African Americans in the United States, with their bling and bad attitude, are a dangerous lot. And thanks to their racist slurs, smaller Asians like us avoid antagonising them.

The latest bad guys are the Chinese. However, Hollywood isn’t quite ready to cast them as the standard stereotype because they are explicitly aware of mainlanders having plenty of clout.

Experts predict that by 2020, China will be the world’s largest cinema market, with box office revenue expected to leap from US$9.9 billion (RM41bil) in 2018 to US$15.5 billion (RM65bil) by 2023, according to a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). In the first quarter of 2018, China surpassed the US in box office revenue for the first time.

It has been reported that China is presently Hollywood’s biggest foreign market, and according to projections by PwC, this year, the Chinese box office will likely rake in US$11.05 billion (RM46bil) compared to ticket sales in the US, which is expected to amount to US$2.11 billion (RM8.8bil).

So, unlike with other nationalities, Hollywood won’t mess around with the Chinese anytime soon.

Failed Hollywood movies, like The Terminator: Dark Fate, which starred Arnold Schwarzenegger, were rescued by the box offices in China.

Hollywood understands the power of money well. In fact, Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight wasn’t even submitted for Chinese approval because of a dubious Chinese businessman character in the 2008 Batman movie. But in the Western media, whether in the US, Europe or Australia, China is being painted negatively, in a blatantly concerted way.

Everything from Huawei, to face recognition and to Xinjiang, and now Coronavirus, China has been the bogeyman.

The elephant-in-the-room theory is that the US wants a “freed Tibet” because it’s angling to build an air base that can send jets into China within minutes.

Adding to the spin doctoring, rioters and vandals in Hong Kong are relentlessly referred to as pro-democracy protestors to burn in the minds of the audience that they are the good guys.

HK policemen are painted as brutal when, ironically, tougher tactics are applied elsewhere, including by the American police.

The US is disturbed by the South China Sea, although it’s thousands of miles away and isn’t even a claimant. It’s strange when you think it has military bases in the Philippines and the vicinity.

The disdain for China even turned comical at some point. When a group of Vietnamese were found dead in a UK truck last year, newsfeeds initially revealed they were Chinese.

As the media scrambled for answers, one reporter, who was pressed for an answer, told his live audience that they could possibly be Chinese who fled to the UK because of their protests over the Xinjiang issue.

The underlining reason is simple – the Western media no longer wants to report about China in a balanced way, resenting its growth to become an economic power in just 30 years as it sits behind the US as the second largest economy in the world.

The narrative is the same: China should be feared and doubted, while Chinese scholars in the US ought to be treated as spies. And advanced technology better than that in American products be branded spying devices.

Hostility towards China has intensified and with the outbreak of Covid-19, there is no silver lining, what with spins of resenting Chinese president Xi Jinping, concealing figures of casualties, cover up, poor food preparation and filthy eating habits. And there’s also the racist perception that Chinese people are to be avoided and cooked up stories of uprising against Xi Jinping.

Of course, there’s also the twisted religious angle – that the Chinese are being punished, either for their eating habits, or again, the treatment of Muslims in Xinjiang.

The war against China is being waged in various fronts because it is deemed to have threatened the international order dominated by the US and its allies.

It doesn’t matter if the US is led by Donald Trump or a Democrat president, which could be worse, because the end game against China will simply be the same.

The Coronavirus epidemic has damaged the image of the Chinese. Their invincibility and ascent have taken a knock, so Xi Jinping must prove that China can beat this killer virus soon.

It’s a bad time for China nationals still travelling, but then again, even ethnic Chinese elsewhere are affected.

The average American believes everything they watch on CNN or Fox TV. No one should be surprised since only 45% of Americans – or 41.8 million – have been overseas. That’s an improvement, being 9% more than in 2018.

There is a far bigger picture here, one rooted in the concept of master and servant.

Not too long ago, China was a far-away mysterious country where cheap toys, low grade garments and fireworks came from. In the last couple of decades, the most populous country learnt technology well from the west, like how Japan did in the 1980s.

Today, the republic is on the cusp of achieving world domination. And that’s not a point lost on any superior or inferior nation.

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Chinese varsities hold seven top spots in world ranking


Beijing: Universities from the Chinese mainland have secured seven of the top 10 positions in the Times Higher Education’s Emerging Economies University Rankings 2020 for the third straight year.

Tsinghua University maintained its position at the top in the listing of institutions from emerging economies.

Peking University was in second place for the second year running.

Zhejiang University and the University of Science and Technology of China remain in third and fourth place, while Shanghai Jiao Tong University climbed from eighth to sixth. Fudan University was listed in seventh place, while Nanjing University was ninth.

Other institutions in the top 10 include Moscow State University (fifth), National Taiwan University (eighth), and The University of Cape Town (10th).

Phil Baty, chief knowledge officer at Times Higher Education, said: “China’s success in our Emerging Economies University Rankings reflects its rapid rise on the world higher education stage. With the Double First Class Initiative driving improvements across participant universities, we expect it to continue to establish itself as a major global player in providing world-class higher education over the coming years.”

The Double First-Class Initiative refers to fostering “world-class universities” and “world-class discipline”. — China Daily/ANN

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Seven Chinese universities in top 10 in QS Asia rankings …

 

Top Universities in China 2019 | Top Universities

 

Meet Mainland China’s Top 10 Universities 2019

New ranking — get to know the top 10 universities in Mainland China for 2019! Get the full results: http://bit.ly/MainlandChina19Y #QSWUR

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Covid-19 outbreak likely to peak by next month


“Do you ever see the American and other Western media blaming the American democratic political system for failing to address the deaths from influenza and pneumonia?” – Tan Teng Boo: 

Recovery rate has also been gaining momentum

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians have a higher chance of being involved in a car accident than being infected by the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), according to Capital Dynamics Sdn Bhd managing director Tan Teng Boo.

The number of deaths per 100,000 people for car accidents in the country is 21.25 persons while for Covid-19 in China, it is 0.04 persons per 100,000.

As of Tuesday, there were 74,424 Covid-19 cases with 1,874 deaths globally. A total of 13,100 people have recovered.

Tan expected Malaysia’s gross domestic product (GDP) to grow at between 3.5% and 4.0% this year, given various external challenges.

He expected the Covid-19 outbreak to peak soon, either by this month or the next month, considering that the recovery rate has also been gaining momentum at 14,689 cases globally as of yesterday.

Tan said once the outbreak has peaked, China would be able to stabilise from the epidemic and the country’s economic situation could improve.

This is especially with China being the biggest source of economic growth for the global economy for the last 15 to 20 years.

Tan said that based on statistics, the common flu is a deadlier menace.

The Centre of Disease Control and Prevention estimated that from Oct 1, 2019 through Feb 8, 2020 there have been between 14,000 and 36,000 flu deaths.

Tan said that tens of thousands of Americans die from influenza and pneumonia every year.

“Why are the other countries not banning flights to the United States or why are the people not quarantined? Do you ever see the New York Times or The Washington Post write about this?”

“Do you ever see the American and other Western media blaming the American democratic political system for failing to address the deaths from influenza and pneumonia?”

He added that the Covid-19 outbreak is happening in China because it is still a developing country, the largest in the world. Despite 40 years of robust economic growth and development, China is still far behind the United States in gross domestic per capita.

The rate of a disease’ ability to spread would depend on if (a) the people have been vaccinated, (b) have had the disease before or (c) if there is no way to control the disease.

“In the Covid-19 outbreak, conditions a and b apply and are beyond the control of the Chinese government. The measures taken by the Chinese authorities are essentially aimed at overcoming condition c,” he said.

If the Chinese government did not quarantine the major cities in the Hubei province on Jan 23, the situation could have been worse.

“Imagine just half of the infected people traveling all over the place? Imagine how many thousands of people would be infected in Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, the UK, US, Australia and many more.

“Imagine as a result, the New York stock market tumbles, or Singapore, Hong Kong, Paris and London and many popular Chinese tourist destinations filled with empty shops. Imagine the adverse impact such a widespread crisis would have on the global economy,” he added.

He pointed out that investors should get the facts right in order to have an accurate perspective.

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China announces biggest drop in new virus cases in almost a month

https://www.thesundaily.my/world/china-announces-biggest-drop-in-new-virus-cases-in-almost-a-month-HC2026382

Flu outbreak reveals US’ true colors

While people in China and around the world are actively cooperating to combat the novel coronavirus pneumonia (COVID-19) outbreak, some US politicians and media are making accusations against China, questioning the effectiveness of its response to the epidemic. However, the US sees frequent outbursts of influenza, and its government
not only reacts with extremely low efficiency but also remains silent. The contrast has revealed a US double standard.

US politicians aim to turn COVID-19 combat into political war against China ‘vicious’

Some US politicians, including Rick Scott, are trying to turn a public health disaster that nations should face together into a political war against China.

Why doesn’t the Wall Street Journal have the courage to apologize?

Obviously, the WSJ should realize that it has made a stupid mistake. However, it still refuses to apologize and squarely face up to the error, let alone shoulder the responsibility of a respected news outlet.

 

 
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Death of western democracies?


I told you so’: Trump showing off a copy of USA Today’s front page featuring his acquittal in the Senate impeachment trial, as he arrived to address the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington. — Reuters

ANGOLA, Haiti and Cambodia are “Banana Republics”: countries where the rule of law has been traduced by a man or woman or group seeking their own aggrandisement.

There is a new addition to this list: the United States of America. As one of the oldest and proudest of the world’s democracies, this country’s appalling downgrade is testament to one man’s work.

His name is Donald Trump and he is the 45th President. TV reality show star, charlatan and bigot, Trump has tweeted his nation’s principles – as articulated by the Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights – into a pulp.

Of course, he had help. He has been ably assisted by a coterie of men and women known as “Republicans”. In the years to come, as historians pore over the catastrophe that is the Trump Presidency, tracking its dismal, neo-fascist trajectory, one of the most important dates will be his acquittal by the US Senate from impeachment charges of abuse of power and obstructing Congress on Feb 5,2020.

The Americans have demonstrated that the highest office in their land and the most powerful in the world – the Presidency – can be manipulated for personal gain, that their political elite will actively enable this.

Across the Atlantic, a buffoonish Old-Etonian turned hack journalist turned politician Boris Johnson has parlayed Brexit to not only propel himself to 10 Downing Street but also persuade the UK’s working-classes to vote against their own interests.

Membership in the European Union was more than just about common markets and free movement. It was limiting, but that’s precisely the point: all its members accepted the EU’s strictures to create confidence and hence, the conditions for peace as well as development in their continent.

All of that has gone out of the window now.

If the Yanks who want to “Make America Great Again” are living in a Banana Republic – their British cousins who want to “regain control” via Brexit exist in a posh-boy rerun of Downtown Abbey crossed with 1917 and the Raj Quartet.

What happened? How have centuries-old democracies become so fragile and even self-destructive?

First: inequality has gotten out of hand. The neoliberal, trickle-down economic policies launched by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher in the late 1970/80’s fuelled a massive shift in prosperity from workers and the middle-classes to owners and shareholders. Real wages stagnated and tax policies benefited the recipients of dividends not generated by their own labour.

Subsequently, more centrist leaders (such as Bill Clinton, Tony Blair and Barrack Obama) maintained much of the same policies. And the numbers don’t lie.

When Thatcher came to power in 1979, the UK manufacturing industry employed 6.8 million people – by 2016 this had fallen to 2.6 million.

In 2017, three of the US’ richest individuals collectively held more wealth than the bottom 50% of their country’s population –160 million people. Gini coefficients (a measure of inequality) are shooting up on both sides of the Atlantic.

Moreover, the advent of social media allowed fake and demagogic information to be spread quickly as well as unchecked, shifting the national discourse and mood almost at will.

Meanwhile, ethnic and religious minorities as well as women – rightfully – sought greater representation in the public life and culture of the West.

However, the failure of the Anglo-American elite to address the above-mentioned inequalities led the white-majority working classes to feel that their leaders were more interested in playing identity politics than protecting them.

At the same time, a refugee crisis emanating from the Middle East and North Africa (in the US, the refugee crisis is predominantly Latino) heightened white anxieties over being displaced in their own countries.

This gave the opportunity for Trump and other demagogues to rise. Economic inequities and cultural insecurities fuelled white nativist impulses.

It’s not clear if the progressives can blunt this wave (Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn failed dismally) and the chaos in Iowa Democratic Party caucuses only underlines the gloom.

We, in Southeast Asia must learn from the fragility of these Northern Atlantic democracies.

Their mistakes aside – democracy is still the best way forward – especially for multi-racial and multi-religious countries.

What’s key is to avoid the pitfalls the West fell for. We must address the growing inequality of our societies. Growth alone will not bring stability and peace.

A 2018 World Bank report found that Indonesia’s Gini Index worsened from 30.0 in the 1990s to 38.1 in 2017. Singapore (45.8 in 2016), Malaysia (45.5 in 2008) and the Philippines (44.4 in 2015) all had Gini Indexes above 40: signs of higher income inequality.

Leaders ignore warning signs like this at their peril. We must invest in our people: their safety, health, education and skills.

Next, social media must be brought to heel. Hate speech and deliberately provocative postings must be curbed without resorting to undue repression.

The obvious racial and religious fissures in our societies must be managed very carefully. Common ground needs to be found – or created – between our majority and minority communities.

And we must remain engaged: both informed about the issues and vigilant against cynical manipulators of our insecurities.

It may seem like a daunting task when our former colonial masters and role models have failed so miserably. There is no choice. We cannot join the Americans and the British in rubbish dump of history

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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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Curbing coronavirus while targeting China | Free Malaysia …

 


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US seeks selfish gains as China goes all out to curtail coronavirus spread


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Fight the virus, not China:

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While China marshals a collective effort to combat the outbreak of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), some Western countries, led by the US, are seizing the opportunity to stir up trouble and attack China’s system.

The truth is, US system is not nearly as efficient as the Chinese system. The US method of resolving problems is to procrastinate. For example, US President Donald Trump’s administration simply chooses to build a border wall to resolve illegal immigration issues.

Trump wanted to build the wall, but Democrats in the US Congress oppose it. Such a situation leads to procrastination and public complaints. Various interest groups often have different demands and goals on major issues. Thus, the US is often inefficient in resolving problems, including the spread of influenza in the US.

The US always calculates economic cost when responding to public health issues and emergencies. For example, when the wildfires swept across California in 2018, the local government paid inmates only $1 an hour to fight the fires. In many parts of the US, even firefighting has been privatized and handed to profit-seeking corporations. This basic service now depends on how much people can pay. For the Chinese government, people’s safety is top priority. Only by completely eliminating the spread of the virus can the Chinese government fulfill its responsibilities.

The US also tends to hype the human rights issue. The New York Times claimed that China’s lockdown of the city of Wuhan, in Central China’s Hubei Province “would almost certainly lead to human rights violations.”

The statement is immoral and distorts the truth. Essentially, public health issues are not an issue of human rights. There must be efficient prevention and control.

During the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, the US did not conduct inspections at airports and borders as soon as it could, which failed to contain the spread of the disease. During Hurricane Katrina in 2005, people’s houses were damaged by floods and robberies were rampant.

Why didn’t the US talk about human rights then? When facing the challenge of survival, the rights of individuals must be subordinated to the needs of majority. This is the same in both Eastern and Western ethics. When it comes to life and death, we must first solve the problem of survival before considering how to live more comfortably.

Although the US claims to be tolerant of diverse opinions, criticizing China is mainstream political discourse. Whenever something goes wrong in China, many US media outlets and politicians consistently attribute the problem to China’s system.

China is fighting the 2019-nCoV with confidence. However, some remarks emanating from the US are quite negative, a result of Washington’s prejudice, double standards, and binary opposition mind-set.

Some US politicians tend to interpret non-political issues with a political thinking. They are unaware that such problems require global efforts. Certain US accusations against China are morally indecent, which may negatively influence the world’s efforts to jointly address the 2019-nCoV and other similar public health issues.

Attacking China’s system clearly deviates from the general trend in which all countries around the world join hands to cope with public health issues. Such a move reflects that some US politicians lack a conscience and a spirit of self-reflection, especially so when considering the US itself has failed to properly handling similar problems.

While the 2019-nCoV remains so far unchecked, all countries and regions should coordinate and cooperate to cope with the challenges of bringing it under control. The US should pay more attention to exchanging experiences with China to avoid similar outbreaks, rather than politicizing the issue and placing blame.

Tackling the 2019-nCoV requires a systematic approach, and internal and external efforts must be jointly made. China should first handle its internal affairs. In the course of dealing with the epidemic, despite some twists and turns, the country’s general direction is very clear – to defeat the virus and restore public confidence.

This crisis needs a national effort. Relevant policies and resources should be made and allocated step by step, leading to a sustainable and virtuous cycle. This is the fundamental direction we need to respond to outside doubt.

Meanwhile, we should also publicize our fruitful work in an effective way, and inject the international community with more confidence in China’s actions.

China should work with other countries and regions to cope with the 2019-nCoV and make timely and prompt counterattacks against forces with evil intentions. In this way, the world will see which countries are really working on public health issues, and which have ulterior motives. This is also an efficient way to respond to some US politicians’ groundless attacks against China, so that their accusations collapse onto themselves.

The article was compiled by Global Times reporters Li Qingqing and Yan Yunming based on an interview with Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations, China Foreign Affairs University. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

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万万没想到!武汉告急!最先对中国动手的竟是这7国!3大无耻行为暴露真实面目!这笔帐中国人永不忘记!

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared on Thursday (local time) in Geneva the novel coronavirus outbreak a global public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC), putting pressure on China amid the deadly virus battle, as more countries are likely to issue travel advisories and impose trade restrictions.

 

Chinese analysts said although there is no need to exaggerate the impact of the declaration, the country needs to focus on containing the spread of the pneumonia as its top priority, as countries would adjust travel and trade policies based on the changing situation, and a complete recovery also depends on progress made during China’s nationwide fight against the virus.

The WHO emphasized that the declaration was not a vote of no confidence on China. Over the past few weeks, the WHO has witnessed the emergence of a previously unknown pathogen, which has escalated into an unprecedented outbreak, and which has been met by an unprecedented response, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press conference on Thursday.

After considering multiple factors, WHO designated the coronavirus as a PHEIC. However, WHO continues to have confidence in China’s ability to control the outbreak.

Following the PHEIC declaration, the US State Department warned Americans not to go to China, becoming the first country of issuing travel alert to its citizens, despite the WHO emphasized on Thursday that it did not suggest other countries impose travel and trade restrictions on China.

A US State Department notice said travelers should be prepared for travel restrictions with little or no advance notice. Commercial carriers have reduced or suspended flights to and from China.

Those currently in China should consider leaving using commercial means, it said, noting that the department has requested all non-essential US government personnel to defer travel to China because of the novel coronavirus. The travel warning is the highest Level 4 – Do Not Travel – in the US.

At least 98 novel coronavirus cases have been reported in 18 countries outside of China, including eight human-to-human transmissions in Germany, Japan, Vietnam and the US. The majority of the cases outside of China involved people who had traveled to Wuhan, or were in contact with someone who had visited the city, according to the WHO.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO. Photo: VCG

Damage to both sides

The US travel warning may cause other nations to follow, considering its geopolitical influence, some Chinese analysts forecast, reminding other countries to heed the WHO advise.

The US is overreacting and the warning would greatly hurt global tourism and hinder people-to-people exchanges, Ni Feng, deputy director of the Institute of American Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

Ni predicted that other Western countries may follow the US in issuing travel restrictions to China.

Zeng Guang, chief epidemiologist of the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention, noted that the US government’s move shows its unilateralism, which is unsurprising.

The WHO clarified that they did not suggest other countries impose travel and trade restrictions on China. The advise was made based on multidimensional considerations and global public health interests, which the US ignored, Zeng told the Global Times.

The US government had ordered the departure of all non-urgent US personnel and their family members from Wuhan, Central China’s Hubei Province, the coronavirus’ epicenter, on January 23.

Some foreign airlines have suspended flights to China including Air Canada, United Airlines, British Airlines and IndiGo.

Imposing restrictions on personal exchanges between the US and China would significantly weigh on US interests in China, considering the huge presence of American companies in China, said Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations of the China Foreign Affairs University.

“It may also trigger a humanitarian crisis, as American citizens have married Chinese people, and if they are forced to leave, many families would be separated,” Li said.

Many US companies are becoming increasingly entrenched in China, including major US-listed firms such as Tesla, Starbucks, Apple and Boeing, therefore restricting personnel exchanges between China and the US would also have an impact on the US stock market, according to analysts.

The US government had also issued travel alerts on previous public health incidents declared by the WHO, including the H1N1 virus that caused an influenza pandemic in 2009, Ebola outbreak in West Africa and polio in 2014, media reported. During the Ebola outbreak, the State Department alerted US citizens to follow screening procedures and travel restrictions, and reduce air travel to countries including Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Mali.

People make protective suits at a medical company in Hefei, east China’s Anhui Province, Thursday. To help fight the outbreak of pneumonia caused by the novel coronavirus, workers of some medical material companies rushed to work ahead of schedule to make protective equipment. Photo: Xinhua


Top priority

According to the International Health Regulations (IHR), if the WHO declares a PHEIC, the director-general shall issue temporary recommendations, including health measures regarding people, baggage, cargo, containers, conveyances, goods and parcels to prevent or reduce the spread of the disease and avoid unnecessary interference to international traffic.

However, temporary recommendations are non-binding advisories issued by the WHO and are on a time-limited, risk-specific basis, according to IHR.

When WHO declared the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo as a PHEIC, the organization emphasized it was essential to avoid the punitive economic consequences of travel and trade restrictions on affected communities, in a statement published on its website in July 2019.

Under the IHR, countries implementing additional health measures going beyond what WHO recommends will be required to provide a public health rationale and justification within 48 hours of implementation for WHO to review, WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told the Global Times on Thursday.

The WHO is obliged to share information about measures and the justification received with other countries involved, Jasarevic said, noting that countries are asked to provide public health justification for any travel or trade measures that are not scientifically based, such as refusal of entry based on suspected cases or unaffected persons to affected areas.

Chinese analysts said it was not necessary to overreact or interpret the news as a hostile attitude toward China from the global community. The shared priority is to prevent the deadly virus from spreading across the globe.

“Indeed, it may place extra pressure to China, with both economic and political implications,” said Shen Yi, director at the Research Center for Cyberspace Governance of Fudan University.

“But it depends on how China continues fighting the epidemic in order to help its economy recover,” Shen said, noting that the WHO decision has little influence on how other countries handle economic ties with China amid the pneumonia outbreak.

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New strategies needed for Malaysian tourism


Cautious visitors: Tourists seen wearing face masks as they enter Malaysia through the Johor Baru Custom, Immigration and Quarantine Complex recently.

IT’S an unfortunate start to Visit Malaysia Year 2020 with the outbreak of the coronavirus putting a tumble to travelling, and it’s a tad more ominous that mainland China tourists have been our key market.

The Chinese government has already placed its faith in Malaysia by launching the Malaysia-China Year of Culture and Tourism 2020 to boost bilateral ties and friendship between the Asian nations.

However, the World Health Organisation’s declaration of a global health emergency has further dented the promotional efforts of Tourism Malaysia. To suggest minimal impact on Malaysia is a fallacy, to put it mildly.

Tourism revenue has always been regarded low hanging fruit, and with the improved performances of 2019, this year was supposed to kick off with more tourist arrivals.

Malaysia reported its half-year tourism results, until Aug 2019, declaring that tourist arrivals reached 13.35 million, up 4.9%, while tourist receipts improved 6.8% over the same period in 2018.

Tourism Malaysia’s data summary indicates the travel industry had contributed RM41.69bil in revenue to the country’s economy from January to June in 2019.

Apparently, the performance also saw growth in terms of per capita expenditure, rising by 1.9% to RM3,121.6, while the average length of stay climbed by 0.4 nights to 6.2 nights.

The top 10 source markets for arrivals were Singapore (5,381,566), Indonesia (1,857,864), China (1,558,782), Thailand (990,565), Brunei (627,112), India (354,486), South Korea (323,952), the Philippines (210,974), Vietnam (200,314) and Japan (196,561).

There are plenty of day trippers from Singapore and Indonesia, given our close proximity.

So, the numbers from China are significant. It’s glaring that East Asian and Asean arrivals continued to dominate the share of tourist arrivals to Malaysia with a 70% contribution.

The medium-haul market and long-haul market represented 20.8% and 9.2% share, respectively.

Tourism Malaysia reported that the top five countries with highest receipts were Singapore (RM11.56bil), China (RM7.09bil), Indonesia (RM5.71bil), Thailand (RM1.70bil) and Brunei (RM1.52bil).

The five countries with the highest average length of stay were those from Saudi Arabia (10.5 nights), France (8.7 nights), Germany (8.3 nights), Netherlands (8.1 nights) and Canada (7.7 nights).

In 2018, Malaysia registered 25.8 million tourist arrivals and RM84.1bil in tourist receipts. For 2019, tourist arrivals reached 28.1 million with tourist receipts of RM92.2bil.

While Malaysia, like most countries, has understandably become concerned with China’s continuing struggle with the virus, it’s crucial we maintain our renowned hospitality when interacting with Chinese tourists.

Chinese travellers have heeded caution by staying home, and for those travelling, the last thing they’d want is to feel unwelcome, or even discriminated.

News reports have already filtered in that Chinese tourists – and in some cases, even Singaporeans – have been asked to leave restaurants and tourist spots in some countries.

Our Prime Minister has made the right move by announcing that the decision to close mosques and tourist attractions to travellers, given the novel coronavirus outbreak, is not government policy.

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad went so far as to describe such moves as irresponsible, saying the government never declared that mosques or museums were closed to tourists because they could be infected by the coronavirus.

“This is not a government policy and it is an irresponsible act, ” he told a press conference after chairing the weekly Cabinet meeting last week.

Among the mosques that have closed temporarily to tourists are the Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin mosque and the Putra Mosque in Putrajaya, as well as the Federal Territory mosque in Kuala Lumpur. They have since been opened.

Dr Mahathir also warned the public against spreading fake news meant to stir ill feelings between races.

Closing mosques to non-Muslims also doesn’t make sense when there are many Chinese citizens who are Muslims. The fact is there are more Muslims in China than Malaysia. However, unlike people, this virus doesn’t discriminate and will make victims of any race or religion.

Thermal detectors

So, it will be more effective and sensible to install thermal detectors at these popular mosques, and place medical personnel there to monitor the situation.

Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Mohamaddin Ketapi has rightly said that tourists, particularly Chinese nationals, should not be discriminated and said tourists coming into the country would have been screened at the entry points, including airports.

Recently, West Sumatra Governor Irwan Prayitno drew flak from netizens after amateur video recordings of him welcoming Chinese visitors in a well-attended parade at the Minangkabau International Airport in Padang went viral on Twitter, amid concerns over a domestic coronavirus outbreak.

A video uploaded on Sunday by Twitter user @dedetsaugia, in which Irwan could be seen addressing the tourists, has been viewed over 2.1 million times and retweeted over 6,000 times at the time of writing. As reported by kompas.com, Irwan welcomed the foreign visitors after they were declared healthy in a medical examination conducted with thermal scanners installed at the airport.

“The arrival of these tourists is expected to increase the number of foreign tourists visiting West Sumatra in the future, ” Irwan was quoted by Antara news agency.

“We cannot reject foreign arrivals when they have prepared all the required documentation. We have taken anticipatory measures by conducting a detailed check-up.”

The reaction of these netizens is in bad taste, and reeks of xenophobia. Credit to the West Sumatra authorities for showing much greater grace.

Asean and East Asian tourists will continue to dominate our tourist arrivals.

Like SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, which hit Hong Kong and southern parts of China in 2003, the coronavirus appears to be a winter phenomenon. Over 700 people died then. China is now still in a cold season, although it’s already spring.

But this time, unlike 2003, it has happened during the Lunar New Year festival when millions travel home, across China, to be with their families. The CNY season is also a time for many Chinese to holiday abroad.

According to Wuhan officials, there are still over 4,000 Wuhan tourists overseas as of Jan 27, and certainly, this can’t be comforting for many.

China has adopted a more transparent approach this time, unlike in 2003, when it didn’t reveal the health threat until five months after the SARS outbreak.

This time around, it has done things differently by updating the world on developments with the epidemic.

Last week, the Chinese Embassy here even started a Whatsapp group – with a long list of media people – where everyone is kept informed, and the channel is used to share information, verify reports and keep the local media in the loop.

While China is fighting against time to battle the virus, it isn’t likely that this will drag on until the summer season.

Although this is very much a Wuhan problem, many travellers have postponed plans to fly and even going as far as avoiding crowds.

Malaysia is a country with a hot climate and open spaces, but that hasn’t stopped many of us from wearing masks as a precaution. Never mind that our streets and MRT aren’t congested unlike how it is in Japan, China or Hong Kong.

My relatives from Singapore called to say they were no longer coming to Kuala Lumpur for a CNY reunion! Talk about over-reaction!

For sure our tourist numbers will be hit, but Malaysia can’t afford to wait.

It must work on the right markets for us to meet the numbers and ensure the success of Visit Malaysia Year.

Mohamaddin has downplayed the fear that tourism numbers will decline, saying the loss in tourism revenue from the ban will be minimal, and added that the ministry will not revise its campaign target of getting 30 million visitors this year.

“The travel ban will only cause a small impact as it is only for those from Wuhan. But people from other countries such as Australia and England are still able to visit Malaysia. So, the target remains as it is, ” he said.

Of course, Malaysia will be affected. Australians, Britons and Americans may stay longer when they visit Malaysia, but their numbers are negligible, and they are certainly not the biggest spenders.

In fact, for 2017, the East Asia market showed a 6.3% growth, while other markets saw a decline, i.e., Asean markets dropped by -3.9%, Europe (-1.7%), Americas (-4.3%), Oceania (-5.4%) Central Asia (-6.4%), Africa (-7%), West Asia (-12.3%) and South Asia (-13.3%).

Asean, or the short-haul market, dominated with a 75.1% share of total tourist arrivals and brought a total of 19,478,575 tourists to Malaysia. The medium-haul market share was 19.1%, with 4,948,123 tourists, while the long-haul market share was 5.9%, with a total of 1,520,389 tourists.

For 2017, the top 10 tourist source markets for Malaysia were Singapore with 12,441,713 tourist arrivals, Indonesia (2,796,570), China (2,281,666), Thailand (1,836,522), Brunei (1,660,506), India (552,739), South Korea (484,528), Japan (392,777), the Philippines (370,559), and Britain (358,818).

For China, the market surpassed the target for this region with an increase of 7.45% to 2.28 million arrivals, while an increase of flight frequency by AIRASIA X made Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu choice destinations for Koreans.

Arrivals from Indonesia and China, which made up Malaysia’s second and third largest respectively, have been increasing. In 2018, the number of Chinese tourists visiting Malaysia climbed by 29% year-on-year, while the number of tourists from Indonesia increased by 17%.

This is a good time to re-design our strategies and engage with stakeholders – including tour operators, food and beverage outlet owners, hoteliers, mall operators and media – to see how we can support Visit Malaysia Year 2020.

We should also seek the support of famous Malaysians like Tan Sri Michelle Yeoh, Datuk Lee Chong Wei, Datuk Jimmy Choo, Henry Golding and others to be our Tourism Ambassadors since they have millions of fans worldwide.

We are all rooting for a resounding success.

The views expressed here are the writer’s own.

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