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Westlake Legal Group > Politics and Government

Spread of Virus Could Hasten the Great Coming Apart of Globalization

Westlake Legal Group 25virus-q01-facebookJumbo Spread of Virus Could Hasten the Great Coming Apart of Globalization Travel and Vacations Politics and Government International Trade and World Market globalization Global Warming Europe Epidemics Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Airlines and Airplanes

BRUSSELS — Globalization, that awkward catchall for our interconnectedness, was already under assault from populists, terrorists, trade warriors and climate activists, having become an easy target for much that ails us.

Now comes the coronavirus. Its spread, analysts and experts say, may be a decisive moment in the fervid debates over how much the world integrates or separates.

Even before the virus arrived in Europe, climate change, security concerns and complaints about unfair trade had intensified anxieties about global air travel and globalized industrial supply chains, as well as reinforcing doubts about the reliability of China as a partner.

The virus already has dealt another blow to slowing economies, and emboldened populists to revive calls, tinged with racism and xenophobia, for tougher controls over migrants, tourists and even multinational corporations.

Among all the challenges to globalization, many of them political or ideological, this virus may be different.

“We always forget that we’re at the mercy of nature, and when episodes pass we forget and carry on,” said Ivan Vejvoda, a fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna. “But this virus has put forward all these questions about the interconnectedness of the world as we’ve built it. Air travel, global supply chains — it’s all linked.”

As the virus spreads to Europe and beyond, Mr. Vejvoda said, “it makes China seem a bit more fragile and dependence on China as ‘the factory of the world’ more iffy.”

The rapid spread of the virus from Asia is “another straw on the camel’s back of globalization,” said Robin Niblett, director of Chatham House, the London research institution.

The political tensions between the United States and China over trade, as well as concerns about climate change, already had raised questions about the sense and cost of shipping parts country to country and the potential for carbon taxes at borders, he noted.

Coupled with the risk of a supply chain that is vulnerable to the breakout of the next coronavirus, or the vulnerabilities of an increasingly authoritarian China, Mr. Niblett said, “If you’re a business you have to think twice about exposing yourself.”

  • What do you need to know? Start here.

    Updated Feb. 25, 2020

    • What is a Coronavirus?
      It is a novel virus named for the crown-like spikes that protrude from its surface. The coronavirus can infect both animals and people, and can cause a range of respiratory illnesses from the common cold to more dangerous conditions like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS.
    • How contagious is the virus?
      According to preliminary research, it seems moderately infectious, similar to SARS, and is probably transmitted through sneezes, coughs and contaminated surfaces. Scientists have estimated that each infected person could spread it to somewhere between 1.5 and 3.5 people without effective containment measures.
    • Where has the virus spread?
      The virus, which originated in Wuhan, China, has sickened more than 80,000 people in at least 33 countries, including Italy, Iran and South Korea.
    • Who is working to contain the virus?
      The World Health Organization officials have been working with officials in China, where growth has slowed. But this week, as confirmed cases spiked on two continents, experts warned that the world is not ready for a major outbreak.
    • What if I’m traveling?
      The C.D.C. has warned older and at-risk travelers to avoid Japan, Italy and Iran. The agency also has advised against all non-essential travel to South Korea and China.
    • How do I keep myself and others safe?
      Washing your hands frequently is the most important thing you can do, along with staying at home when you’re sick.

Particularly now, with more countries using sanctions and economic interdependence “as a new form of coercive diplomacy, and it adds up to becoming more risk-averse toward globalization,” he said.

Globalization of disease is hardly new, noted Guntram Wolff, director of Bruegel, an economic research institution in Brussels, citing the massive deaths that followed the European arrival in the Americas, or the plague, which the now-canceled Venice Carnival in part commemorates.

“What’s different is that with the airplane things can spread very fast,” he said. The immediate impulse is to recoil and erect barriers. “We already see flight numbers down dramatically.”

Climate-conscious citizens were already discouraging discretionary air travel, as were digital technologies that allow remote participation and transmission of information.

“You wonder if perhaps the peak of the global aircraft boom has passed,” Mr. Wolff said. “Many people are asking if we really need to have that kind of regular daily travel by air to all parts of the world.”

In a way, this virus underscores the imbalance in globalization. Private-sector supply chains have become very effective. Air travel is comprehensive and never ending. So the private sector is constantly moving around the world.

But any sort of coordinated governmental response is often weak and disorganized — whether on climate change, health or trade. And efforts to strengthen globalized public efforts are attacked by nationalists and populists as infringements on sovereignty.

Nor can governments do much to unfreeze supply chains, and few governments in Europe have the financial flexibility to inject much extra money into the economy.

Theresa Fallon, the director of the Center for Russia Europe Asia Studies, agreed that much of the pushback may now be directed at China.

She recently returned from Milan, where officials are checking temperatures of travelers, doctors are careful about office visits and locals were visibly keeping their distance from Chinese tourists, she said.

“China’s growth has been a long, positive story but now gravity has hit,” she said, with the virus arising as “a kind of black swan that underlines how different China is.”

Many companies “are rethinking about putting too many eggs in the Chinese basket,” she said, especially as hopes of China becoming more like the West are fading.

“We see more centralization and lack of trust in China,” in its statistics and its ability to manage the crisis, she said. That was so even as Chinese leaders try to influence what they call “discourse management” with international institutions like the World Health Organization, in attempts to downplay the epidemic.

That crisis of confidence in China extends beyond China’s ability to handle the virus, said Simon Tilford, director of the Forum New Economy, a research institution in Berlin.

The lack of trust “will only reinforce an existing trend among businesses to reduce their dependency and risk,” he said.

But the spread of the virus to Europe will also have a significant impact on politics, likely boosting the anti-immigrant, anti-globalization far right, Mr. Tilford said.

“We already see a lot of populist concern about the merits of globalization as benefiting multinationals, the elite and foreigners, not local people and local companies,” he said.

Politicians who insist on control over borders and immigration will be helped, even as the virus transcends borders easily.

“Their argument will be that the current system poses not only economic but also health and security threats, which are existential, and that we can’t afford to be so open just to please big business,” Mr. Tilford said.

That argument may attract voters “who hate overt racism but fear loss of control and a system vulnerable to a distant part of the world,” he added.

The racial impact of the spreading virus is delicate, all agreed, but there.

“It’s always different when it happens in your own neighborhood, among people like yourself,” said Stefano Stefanini, a former Italian diplomat. “When it happens in Denmark or Spain or Italy you have more of a feeling that it happens among people who share the same lifestyle — so you can see it happening to you.”

But the virus also allows people to express hostility to the Chinese that they may have felt but had been reluctant to articulate, said Mr. Tilford. “There is already an undercurrent of fear of the Chinese in Europe and the United States because they represent a challenge to Western hegemony,” he said.

That fear is being stoked by the Trump administration’s campaign against Huawei, China’s telecommunications company, but also by reports of Chinese repression and censorship through the use of advanced technology.

Many Chinese living or traveling in the West have reported a quick spike in abuse and avoidance in public places and transport. “It’s a sign of how close to the surface these sentiments are,” Mr. Tilford said.

The media, too, shares this sense of cultural distance and difference, Mr. Stefanini and Mr. Tilford said.

Mr. Stefanini recalled debates in the Italian Foreign Ministry about whether to send condolence messages, depending on the numbers of deaths and how far away they occurred.

“Events in Australia get massive coverage, but mass floods and deaths in Bangladesh barely register,” Mr. Tilford said. The outbreak in China “feels distant geographically and culturally, with a touch of racism, as if we measure lives lost in a different way,” he said.

The Italian sociologist Ilvo Diamanti had a more philosophical concern. The spread of the virus to Italy “has called into question our certainties,” because “it makes defense systems in the face of threats to our security more complicated, if not unnecessary,” he wrote in Monday’s La Repubblica. “The world no longer has borders that cannot be penetrated.”

To defend against the virus, Mr. Diamanti wrote, “one would have to defend oneself from the world,” hiding at home and turning off the television, the radio and the internet. “In order not to die contaminated by others and become spreaders of the virus ourselves, we would have to die alone.”

This, he suggested, is “a greater risk than the coronavirus.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

As Coronavirus Cases Spiral, South Korea Raises Threat Alert Level

Westlake Legal Group merlin_169380729_67ac6d1f-10c1-46b2-b0ef-6fd6b8e0bec6-facebookJumbo As Coronavirus Cases Spiral, South Korea Raises Threat Alert Level Viruses Travel Warnings South Korea Politics and Government Moon Jae-in Epidemics Economic Conditions and Trends Daegu (South Korea) Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

SEOUL, South Korea — As South Korea struggles to contain a snowballing coronavirus outbreak, its president on Sunday raised the country’s alert level to the highest for the first time in a decade, which empowered the government to lock down cities, bar visitors from China and unilaterally restrict the movement of people.

In raising the alert level, President Moon Jae-in is effectively acknowledging that the virus is threatening to spin out of control, after the number of cases has jumped to 763 in a few days and the death toll has risen to six.

The world is closely watching South Korea, concerned that it has become another hot spot of infection outside China. Emerging outbreaks in South Korea, Iran and Italy have provoked fear that the epidemic could turn into a global pandemic, as countries impose more travel restrictions and containment measures.

The United States has raised its travel advisories for South Korea and Japan, warning about “sustained community spread.” Israel denied entry to 130 South Koreans on board a Korean Air flight that landed in Tel Aviv on Saturday, forcing them to return home on the same plane.

In recent days, the South Korean government has shut day care centers, banned outdoor rallies and postponed the reopening of schools in early March. Churches are asking congregants to stay home and pray online instead.

But Mr. Moon said South Korea faced a “wholly different situation” after the quickly expanding outbreak of the virus among members of a Shincheonji Church of Jesus in Daegu, South Korea’s fourth-largest city, 180 miles southeast of Seoul. More than half of all the patients in the country are either members of Shincheonji or their relatives and other contacts.

In Daegu, shopping districts, supermarkets and parks were empty as the government asked citizens to stay home.

On Sunday, South Korean officials said they had no immediate plan to bar Chinese visitors — as some conservative news outlets and other critics have demanded — or lock down any cities. But by putting the country on the highest alert, they showed their resolve to take more aggressive steps if needed.

This is the first time since 2009 that the country has been put on the highest alert; at that time, it was battling the swine flu spreading around the world.

“We should not be bound by regulations, nor should we shy away from unprecedented strong measures,” Mr. Moon said at an emergency government meeting on Sunday.

The alert, known as Level 4, will allow the government to allocate more money for fighting the virus and make it easier for health officials to acquire the personal data of people suspected of being infected, as well as outlaw religious and other gatherings.

  • What do you need to know? Start here.

    Updated Feb. 25, 2020

    • What is a Coronavirus?
      It is a novel virus named for the crown-like spikes that protrude from its surface. The coronavirus can infect both animals and people, and can cause a range of respiratory illnesses from the common cold to more dangerous conditions like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS.
    • How contagious is the virus?
      According to preliminary research, it seems moderately infectious, similar to SARS, and is probably transmitted through sneezes, coughs and contaminated surfaces. Scientists have estimated that each infected person could spread it to somewhere between 1.5 and 3.5 people without effective containment measures.
    • Where has the virus spread?
      The virus, which originated in Wuhan, China, has sickened more than 80,000 people in at least 33 countries, including Italy, Iran and South Korea.
    • Who is working to contain the virus?
      The World Health Organization officials have been working with officials in China, where growth has slowed. But this week, as confirmed cases spiked on two continents, experts warned that the world is not ready for a major outbreak.
    • What if I’m traveling?
      The C.D.C. has warned older and at-risk travelers to avoid Japan, Italy and Iran. The agency also has advised against all non-essential travel to South Korea and China.
    • How do I keep myself and others safe?
      Washing your hands frequently is the most important thing you can do, along with staying at home when you’re sick.

It will also empower health officials to control air, train and other public traffic around the country.

Health officials hope that the number of new patients connected to Shincheonji will drop significantly within a week or so. They have already screened most members of the church showing potential symptoms, and many have been tested for the virus.

“We are faced with a watershed moment in the case of the coronavirus,” Mr. Moon said. “The coming few days will be a critical time for us. This will be a momentous time when the central government, local governments and the whole people must wage an all-out, concerted response to the problem.”

Until now, South Korean officials had been reluctant to raise the alert level, worried that such a drastic measure would hurt the country’s already slowing economy, as well as undermine its image as a country safe for travel. In China where the virus originated, the economy has come to a standstill, while the country has been essentially cut off from the rest of the world.

South Korea’s economic troubles have deepened in recent weeks, with exports to China, its biggest trading partner, sharply dropping because of the outbreak. South Korean auto and other companies that rely on parts from China have also suffered.

Despite its extensive ties with China, South Korea had initially appeared to cope well in containing the spread of the coronavirus. After reporting its first case on Jan. 20, the number of patients remained low. By Feb. 15, the country had 28 cases and no deaths.

A few days later, the situation began to unravel, when an infected patient was found in the large congregation of the Shincheonji Church in Daegu, a city of 2.4 million. Since then, the number of patients has exploded, mostly among members of Christian church and people connected to them.

For now, the outbreak has been largely limited to Daegu and the surrounding North Kyongsang Province, which account for the majority of the infections. But several new cases have emerged in towns across South Korea, most of them Shincheonji worshipers who have attended church services in Daegu or people who have traveled to the city or have met people from there.

“A large number of people gathered in a very closed space, holding their prayer services together for one to two hours,” said Jung Eun-kyeong, director of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, referring to the Shincheonji church. “In such an environment, it was likely that even a few patients spread the disease to many people.”

Although health officials have frantically tried to track down church members and direct contacts, they acknowledged that it had become increasingly hard to establish the chain of transmissions once the community spread began. Shincheonji worshipers have been noted for their secrecy, often hiding their membership even to their parents, said former members and experts on religious sects.

In their efforts to contain the outbreak, officials have designated coronavirus-only hospitals and have required all people visiting regular hospitals with respiratory symptoms to be tested for the virus. With some towns fearing a lack of hospital beds, the government recently expedited the approval of newly built hospital wards so they could be quickly used to accommodate more patients.

Subway stations, coffee shops and movie theaters were all required to install hand sanitizers for customers to use. The government also empowered doctors to order a coronavirus test even if a patient doesn’t want it.

During a telephone call with President Xi Jinping of China on Thursday, President Moon sympathized with Beijing’s efforts to battle the virus, saying that “China’s difficulties are our own difficulties.”

More than 10,000 Chinese students are expected to return to South Korea in the coming week after winter vacations, as their South Korean universities are scheduled to reopen in early March. That has raised fears among some South Koreans.

On Sunday, officials said the Chinese students will be asked not to come to school for two weeks, officials said. The government also changed the opening day of kindergartens and high schools, to March 9, from March 2.

“We don’t agree with the argument that we are trying to catch mosquitoes while keeping the windows open,” Health Minister Park Neung-hoo said last week, dismissing the demand for a ban on Chinese visitors, as the United States and dozens of other countries have done. He said more people have been infected by South Koreans’ returning from China than by Chinese visitors.

The raising of the alert level came a day after thousands of older Christian activists dismissed his government’s appeals not to gather in large groups and pressed ahead with their weekly anti-government protest. They accused Mr. Moon of mismanaging the economy and being too friendly toward North Korea and China. At the protest, most of the participants wore masks but loudly chanted antigovernment slogans and “Amens.”

“We will defend South Korea even if we get infected with the virus and die,” said the Rev. Jun Kwang-hoon, who had organized the rally, shouted at the cheering crowd. “Those of you who are here are true Christians. Even if we contract the virus, the Lord will cure us.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Canada Oil-Sands Plan Collapses Over Politics and Economics

Westlake Legal Group 00oilsands5-facebookJumbo Canada Oil-Sands Plan Collapses Over Politics and Economics Trudeau, Justin Teck Resources Ltd Regulation and Deregulation of Industry Prices (Fares, Fees and Rates) Politics and Government Oil Sands Oil (Petroleum) and Gasoline Greenhouse Gas Emissions Canada Alberta (Canada)

A major effort to expand development of Canada’s oil sands has collapsed shortly before a deadline for government approval, undone by investor concerns over oil’s future and the political fault lines between economic and environmental priorities.

Nine years in the planning, the project would have increased Canada’s oil production by roughly 5 percent. But it would have also slashed through 24,000 acres of boreal forest and released millions of tons of climate-warming carbon dioxide every year.

Some Canadian oil executives had predicted that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet would approve the project by a regulatory deadline this week, though with burdensome conditions. But in a letter released Sunday night, the Vancouver-based developer, Teck Resources, declared that “there is no constructive path forward.”

The unexpected withdrawal relieves Mr. Trudeau of a choice that was sure to anger environmentalists or energy interests, if not both.

Conservatives were quick to blame Mr. Trudeau for the loss of a project that they said would have created thousands of jobs and given an economic lift to the western province of Alberta, the hub of Canada’s energy industry, which has suffered from low oil prices over the last five years. They suggested that the government felt pressure from weeks of protests by Indigenous groups opposing a natural gas pipeline, even though some Indigenous groups supported the Alberta project, known as the Frontier mine.

“It is what happens when governments lack the courage to defend the interests of Canadians in the face of a militant minority,” Alberta’s premier, Jason Kenney, said in a statement.

The chief executive of Teck Resources, Don Lindsay, said in a letter to federal officials that global capital markets, investors and consumers were looking to governments to put “a framework in place that reconciles resource development and climate change, in order to produce the cleanest products” — something that he said “does not yet exist here.”

While environmental concerns were part of government and company calculations, there was no guarantee that the Frontier project would have gone forward even if it gained final regulatory approval. Mr. Lindsay had said the company needed a deep-pocketed partner to help pay for the project, and higher oil prices.

Canada supplies nearly six million barrels of oil a day, making it the world’s No. 4 producer and the biggest source of American imports. The oil sands contribute over 60 percent of that output and are vital to the west’s economy. Canadian output continues to grow because of investments made when global supplies were tighter.

The oil sands are a watery mixture of sand and clay soaked with a dense, viscous form of petroleum known as bitumen. But in addition to being a fossil fuel, bitumen is difficult to extract and energy-intensive to process.

And when Teck Resources proposed the Frontier project, the energy world was very different. The American shale-drilling frenzy was in its infancy, and the Keystone XL pipeline was seemingly going to deliver the oil-sands output to the American market.

Now the United States has an abundance of relatively cheap oil, prodigious deposits are being tapped in Brazil, Norway and Guyana, and the Keystone project is still awaiting completion. Delays in pipeline approvals have prompted the Alberta government to mandate production cutbacks over the last two years to drain a glut of oil in storage.

Kevin Birn, a vice president and oil-sands expert at the consultancy IHS Markit, estimated that for a project like Frontier to break even, the price of West Texas intermediate oil, the North American benchmark, would need to average $65 a barrel over a decade or more of operations. That is roughly $15 above the current price, and other analysts put the break-even figure at $80 to $85.

But until Sunday night, despite a regulatory review that cost it hundreds of millions of dollars, Teck Resources refused to give up. The company argued that its project, at a cost of 20.6 billion Canadian dollars ($15.5 billion), would create 7,000 construction and 2,500 operational jobs and eventually generate more than 70 billion Canadian dollars in local and national government revenue.

Andrew Leach, a professor of energy economics at the University of Alberta, said some might read the project’s demise as a fatal blow to oil-sands development, but he interpreted Teck Resources’ decision as a pragmatic one.

“Teck was clear that it does not want a situation where one project has to answer for all of Canada’s climate policies and climate commitments,” he said. Moreover, he added, “global investors are not prepared to help a company the size of Teck to build a multibillion-dollar project. The global market was not prepared to be part of the political football.”

No new oil-sands mine has opened since 2018, but more than a dozen proposals are awaiting regulatory approval or investment decisions. Mr. Leach said some of those were economically and environmentally more viable than the Frontier project.

But resistance to new pipelines and high production costs have steadily reduced investments in oil-sands fields. There has been an exodus of international oil companies, including ConocoPhillips, Royal Dutch Shell and Equinor of Norway.

At the same time, there are questions about the market outlook. While world demand is roughly 100 million barrels a day, a figure that increases by 1 percent every year, the International Energy Agency projects that growth will begin to slow considerably in 2025. The agency says demand could fall to 67 million barrels a day in 2040, especially if governments increase regulation and electric cars become commonplace.

Reduced demand would focus production on places where it is cheapest, like Saudi Arabia.

“Companies like Teck are realizing that global capital markets are changing rapidly,” said Simon Dyer, executive director of the Pembina Institute, a leading Canadian environmental research organization. “There was never an economic pathway for this project under global demand scenarios consistent with the Paris climate agreement.”

A federal-provincial panel that reviewed the project, he said, “didn’t properly assess the climate impacts.” The national parks agency also raised concerns about the possible effect on a national park downstream that is a UNESCO world heritage site.

The Alberta Energy Regulator wrote in July that “there will be significant adverse project and cumulative effects on certain environmental components and Indigenous communities.” Nevertheless, it approved the project after finding it in the public interest.

Two federal officials — Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson and Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan — issued a joint statement welcoming Teck’s decision. “A strong economy and clean environment must go hand in hand,” they said.

Ian Austen contributed reporting.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Italy Battles to Contain Europe’s First Major Outbreak of Coronavirus

Westlake Legal Group 23coronavirus3-facebookJumbo Italy Battles to Contain Europe’s First Major Outbreak of Coronavirus Viruses Politics and Government Italy Epidemics Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

ROME — Government officials scrambled on Sunday to contain the first major outbreak of the coronavirus in Europe, locking down at least 10 towns near Milan, closing schools and canceling the iconic Venice carnival, as nearly 150 cases were announced in recent days.

The new cases are mostly in the Lombardy region, which includes Milan, and is one of Italy’s most densely populated areas. The spike — from fewer than five known cases before Thursday — has quickly made the country the biggest test of whether the virus can be successfully contained in an open European society.

The coronavirus crisis began in China in late December, and since then, more than 2,000 people have died worldwide, with most of the cases and fatalities in China. The country’s authoritarian government has taken extraordinary quarantine measures and imposed stiff restrictions on travel, but has still struggled to contain the virus.

In Asia, outside China, the hardest hit country has been South Korea, where there have been 602 confirmed infections and six deaths. On Sunday, President Moon Jae-in put the country on the highest possible alert, empowering the government to lock down cities and take other sweeping measures to contain the outbreak.

“The coming few days will be a critical time for us,” he said at an emergency meeting of government officials.

The same challenge now looms for Italy, Europe’s fourth largest economy, where the government, a wobbly, and often bickering, coalition between the Democratic Party and the Five Star Movement, has been in disarray for months.

Five Star has often muddied the waters on important health issues, like vaccinations, by embracing conspiracy theories and playing on voter distrust of government. Whether the government can coalesce and snap in place preventive measures to stem the further spread of the virus will be one of the biggest crises it has faced.

The government response has been aggressive so far, led by the health minister, Roberto Speranza.

Regional and municipal authorities throughout Italy enacted a series of restrictive ordinances after the government issued emergency measures late Saturday night. All public events in the Lombardy region have been canceled, whether “cultural, leisure, religious or sporting,” according to an ordinance issued by Attilio Fontana, president of the Lombardy region, drafted with the health ministry. Museums have been ordered to shut their doors.

Many other venues in Lombardy, aside from those providing essential services, have been closed, including most bars, night clubs and movie theaters, as well as churches. In some other regions, similar closings took place.

  • What do you need to know? Start here.

    Updated Feb. 10, 2020

    • What is a Coronavirus?
      It is a novel virus named for the crown-like spikes that protrude from its surface. The coronavirus can infect both animals and people, and can cause a range of respiratory illnesses from the common cold to more dangerous conditions like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS.
    • How contagious is the virus?
      According to preliminary research, it seems moderately infectious, similar to SARS, and is possibly transmitted through the air. Scientists have estimated that each infected person could spread it to somewhere between 1.5 and 3.5 people without effective containment measures.
    • How worried should I be?
      While the virus is a serious public health concern, the risk to most people outside China remains very low, and seasonal flu is a more immediate threat.
    • Who is working to contain the virus?
      World Health Organization officials have praised China’s aggressive response to the virus by closing transportation, schools and markets. This week, a team of experts from the W.H.O. arrived in Beijing to offer assistance.
    • What if I’m traveling?
      The United States and Australia are temporarily denying entry to noncitizens who recently traveled to China and several airlines have canceled flights.
    • How do I keep myself and others safe?
      Washing your hands frequently is the most important thing you can do, along with staying at home when you’re sick.

“We invite people to stay at home, to try and contain this phenomenon that we still don’t know, except that it isn’t aggressive but moves quickly,” Giulio Gallera, the official responsible for health for the Lombardy region, said during a televised news conference Sunday.

In Lombardy, 10 towns were locked down after a cluster of cases emerged in the town of Codogno, about 60 kilometers southeast of Milan. At least 50,000 people are affected by the lockdown. Residents were supposed to leave or arrive only with special permission.

On Sunday, police and armed forces personnel were deployed to monitor the entrances to the towns.

“Maximum precaution has been taken to protect citizens,” Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte of Italy wrote on Twitter Sunday.

Two military structures in Lombardy were being prepared to become isolation camps, while other military sites and hotels have been identified throughout the country. A military base in Rome has been housing evacuees from Wuhan, China, where the virus began, and the Italian passengers of the Diamond Princess, the cruise ship that has been under quarantine in Yokohama, Japan.

The outbreak in Codogno began after a 38-year old man known as “patient one” was admitted and diagnosed with the virus to the city’s hospital on Thursday. But the man had developed symptoms perhaps five days before that, potentially allowing the virus to spread.

Even more disconcerting is that health officials still don’t know how he contracted the virus because he had not been to China. But many cases in Lombardy, officials say, may be traceable to that one case.

At least five members of the hospital medical staff in Codogno and several patients have been infected. Other persons who tested positive include the man’s pregnant wife, a close friend, and others who spent time with them. The towns surrounding the ones where the man works and lives have been included in the shutdown.

Similar lockdown procedures will be applied if new clusters emerge anywhere in Italy, officials said. According to the government decree, local officials are obliged to “take all appropriate containment measures” in the case that someone has tested positive for the virus and the source of the contagion is unknown.

Quarantine measures will also be applied to anyone who has close contact with someone who has the virus.

Mr. Gallera, the health official for Lombardy, said hospitals were increasing intensive care facilities, and hotels and other structures were being identified as possible venues to isolate people with the virus.

“We are acting preemptively” to avoid managing a bigger emergency, he said.

“We are trying to contain a phenomenon, but it’s not a pandemic,” said Mr. Gallera.

The presidents of other northern Italian regions suspended all educational activities — from preschool through universities — for varying periods of time. In Milan, mayor Giuseppe Sala announced that schools would be closed for a week.

At least two trade fairs in Milan, cornerstones of the Lombard city’s economy, were postponed to a later date, though most of the women’s fashion shows, continued on schedule. Giorgio Armani held his show behind closed doors, to an empty room, live streaming the event instead.

Carnival is one of Venice’s major annual events and the canceling of events caught off guard many tourists who had thronged to the city before Tuesday’s final Mardi Gras celebration.

Two elderly people who tested positive to the coronavirus were in intensive care at Venice’s municipal hospital.

“The couple did not have contacts with the Chinese community,” Luca Zaia, president of the Veneto region, said, according to Italian media reports.

Also Sunday, the patriarch of Venice, the Reverend Francesco Moraglia, suspended all religious ceremonies, including Ash Wednesday celebrations that mark the beginning of Lent.

So far, three people have died from the virus including a 78-year-old man from Veneto who died Friday and an elderly woman who died in Crema on Sunday.

The third, a 77-year-old woman died in her home in the town of Casalpusterlengo, Lombardy, and tested positive for the virus posthumously. But Mr. Gallera told reporters Saturday that her health was compromised and that she may have died from other causes.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Coronavirus Lockdowns Torment an Army of Poor Migrant Workers in China

Westlake Legal Group 00china-migrants-1-facebookJumbo Coronavirus Lockdowns Torment an Army of Poor Migrant Workers in China Viruses Politics and Government Migrant Labor (Non-Agriculture) Labor and Jobs Hubei Province (China) Epidemics Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) China

Clutching a gray plastic suitcase filled with most of his belongings — a blanket, a toothbrush, a pair of white sneakers and a comb — Wang Sheng goes from factory to factory in southern China begging for a job. The answer is always no.

Mr. Wang, 49, used to be able to find work in Shenzhen, a sprawling industrial megacity. But factories are turning him away because he is from Hubei Province, the center of China’s coronavirus epidemic, even though he hasn’t lived there in years.

“There’s nothing I can do,” said Mr. Wang, who has only a few dollars left in savings, lives off plain noodles and rents a small room for about $60 a month. “I’m just by myself, isolated and helpless.”

China’s roughly 300 million rural migrants have long lived on the margins of society, taking on grueling work for meager wages and limited access to public health care and education. But now they are among the hardest hit as China’s leader, Xi Jinping, calls for a “people’s war” to contain the virus and the authorities impose controls across broad swaths of the country.

As outsiders, rural migrants, no matter where they are from, are an easy target. Many factories are afraid to restart operations in case their workers are carrying the virus, raising concerns that the government’s controls could smother the economy. Local officials have barred many migrants from crossing city lines. Landlords have kicked them out of their apartments. Some are crammed into hotels or sleeping under bridges or on sidewalks.

“We have struggled so much already,” Liu Wen, 42, a factory worker in Zhengzhou, a city in central China, who was evicted from her apartment because she had returned from her husband’s hometown in the southern province of Guangdong and her landlord worried she might be carrying the virus. She now is living with her husband and two children in a hotel. “Now we’ve lost hope.”

On Sunday, Mr. Xi acknowledged that the situation in China remained “grim and complex,” but urged party officials to not only continue their efforts to contain the virus but also to focus on restarting production.

“We must turn pressure into motivation, be good at turning crisis into opportunity, orderly restore production and living order,” he said.

But the strict lockdowns imposed across the country make it difficult for rural workers to return to cities; only about a third have done so, according to official statistics. Many workers are stuck in the countryside after traveling there last month to celebrate the Lunar New Year holiday.

Mr. Xi, already under scrutiny for the Chinese government’s slow and erratic response to the coronavirus outbreak, now faces pressure to quell anger among low-income families and dispel broader fears of an economic downturn. The party has long staked its legitimacy on the idea that it can deliver prosperity and protect the working class.

  • What do you need to know? Start here.

    Updated Feb. 10, 2020

    • What is a Coronavirus?
      It is a novel virus named for the crown-like spikes that protrude from its surface. The coronavirus can infect both animals and people, and can cause a range of respiratory illnesses from the common cold to more dangerous conditions like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS.
    • How contagious is the virus?
      According to preliminary research, it seems moderately infectious, similar to SARS, and is possibly transmitted through the air. Scientists have estimated that each infected person could spread it to somewhere between 1.5 and 3.5 people without effective containment measures.
    • How worried should I be?
      While the virus is a serious public health concern, the risk to most people outside China remains very low, and seasonal flu is a more immediate threat.
    • Who is working to contain the virus?
      World Health Organization officials have praised China’s aggressive response to the virus by closing transportation, schools and markets. This week, a team of experts from the W.H.O. arrived in Beijing to offer assistance.
    • What if I’m traveling?
      The United States and Australia are temporarily denying entry to noncitizens who recently traveled to China and several airlines have canceled flights.
    • How do I keep myself and others safe?
      Washing your hands frequently is the most important thing you can do, along with staying at home when you’re sick.

“The Chinese Communist Party leadership does not like to be criticized for neglecting or abandoning workers,” said Jane Duckett, the director of the Scottish Center for China Research at the University of Glasgow. “Their ideological underpinnings — Marxism-Leninism, socialism — lie in being a party of the ‘workers and peasants.’”

Ms. Duckett said the party was probably wary of discontent among workers. Mr. Xi has said that the government should watch employment closely and that companies should avoid large-scale layoffs.

The virus, which has killed at least 2,400 people and sickened nearly 77,000 in China alone, has brought parts of the Chinese economy, the world’s second largest, to a near standstill. While some factories have started up again in recent days, many are still closed or operating well below capacity, with parts in short supply and workers stranded hundreds of miles away.

Businesses across a variety of sectors — manufacturing, construction and transportation — have ordered their employees to stay home, usually without pay. That has created strains for many migrants, who earn barely enough to keep up with the rising cost of living in Chinese cities and often hold little in savings.

While wages are low, migrants can still earn more in the cities than they would in the countryside, where jobs are scarce. They are willing to go to cities for a shot at a better life, even if they must live in crowded workers’ dormitories or run-down apartments.

Yang Chengjun, 58, who lives in northeast China and sometimes works as a carpenter, says he and his son are living off the land now, relying on rice and vegetables they grow and struggling “just to stay alive.” Mr. Yang worries the family will run out of money within a month.

“The pressure on migrant workers was always great,” Mr. Yang said. “The epidemic adds insult to injury.”

Their struggles have been made worse by local officials who have helped fuel a perception that rural migrants pose a threat to public health and should be treated as potential carriers of the virus.

In some cities, migrants have been forced into quarantine in facilities run by the government, according to reports on social media. In others, like Wuxi in the east, workers from afar have been barred from entering and warned that they would be “seriously dealt with” if they resisted.

China’s strict population controls have worsened the plight of many migrant families.

The Mao-era household registration system, known as hukou, makes it difficult for people from the countryside to change their legal residence to cities. As a result, they are considered outsiders — even if they have lived in cities for decades — and have limited access to health care, schools, pensions and other social benefits.

As the coronavirus has spread, some workers who have come down with pneumonia and other symptoms say they have been unable to find affordable care in major cities.

While the government now provides free care to those found to have the coronavirus, many hospitals are overwhelmed and lack the resources to officially diagnose the virus. As a result, some migrant workers living in cities say they have been forced to pay thousands of dollars in medical expenses to treat sick relatives.

In Hubei, where the outbreak began in December, many workers worry that the economic pain will continue for months or longer. The province, which is home to more than 10 million migrant workers, remains shut off from the rest of China, and business has ground to a halt.

Huang Chuanyuan, a 46-year-old construction worker in Hubei, has stopped buying meat to save money. His employer, a Chinese construction company, told him that he had no choice but to wait at home.

“I don’t want to think about the future now,” said Mr. Huang, who has a wife and three children. “The more I think about it, the more stressed I get.”

As their struggles have mounted, some workers have pushed local officials to do more to help reopen businesses. But their pleas are often met with silence, as local governments work to contain the virus.

Mr. Wang, the migrant worker who has been going from factory to factory in Shenzhen, worries it may be months before he can find a job. He spends his days scouring online job ads and watching news about the virus.

Frustrated about his job prospects, Mr. Wang recently posted a poem on social media about the sense of isolation and distress he felt. He criticized the local government for not doing more to help workers.

“You suffer loneliness by yourself, but you are still discriminated against,” he wrote. “The Labor Department, now silent. And me: alone in Shenzhen.”

Albee Zhang contributed research.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Religious Groups in China Step Into the Coronavirus Crisis

Westlake Legal Group 00china-virus-religion-1-facebookJumbo Religious Groups in China Step Into the Coronavirus Crisis Wuhan (China) Taoism Religion and Belief Protestant Churches Politics and Government Faith-Based Initiatives Epidemics Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) China

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

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

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

“Ten years ago when you looked for this sort of faith-based giving and engagement you couldn’t really find it,” said Wu Keping, an anthropologist at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University in Suzhou. “Now people think of it as normal.”

But not all the efforts have been well received.

The Communist Party has long distrusted any organization, from churches to charities to civic groups, that it believes could come between the government and the Chinese people. The party a few years ago put in place new regulations to tighten already severe state control. Some recent contributions have been hampered by such pressures.

Earlier this month, seven underground Protestant churches in Beijing raised $10,000 to buy face masks and disinfectants for those in Wuhan, the city at the heart of the coronavirus outbreak, where more than 1,800 people have died.

After sending the shipment on Feb. 5, the police called in church leaders for questioning and told them to stop their activities, according to church members who asked not to be identified by name for fear of attracting additional government surveillance.

The Rev. Huang Lei, the leader of an underground church in Wuhan, said local officials have rejected their donations because they fear trouble with more senior officials for cooperating with what the government in Beijing considers to be illegal organizations.

“In China the government likes to control all channels for donating money,” Pastor Huang said in a telephone interview. “They don’t like civil society to participate, and especially not faith-based organizations.”

  • What do you need to know? Start here.

    Updated Feb. 10, 2020

    • What is a Coronavirus?
      It is a novel virus named for the crown-like spikes that protrude from its surface. The coronavirus can infect both animals and people, and can cause a range of respiratory illnesses from the common cold to more dangerous conditions like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS.
    • How contagious is the virus?
      According to preliminary research, it seems moderately infectious, similar to SARS, and is possibly transmitted through the air. Scientists have estimated that each infected person could spread it to somewhere between 1.5 and 3.5 people without effective containment measures.
    • How worried should I be?
      While the virus is a serious public health concern, the risk to most people outside China remains very low, and seasonal flu is a more immediate threat.
    • Who is working to contain the virus?
      World Health Organization officials have praised China’s aggressive response to the virus by closing transportation, schools and markets. This week, a team of experts from the W.H.O. arrived in Beijing to offer assistance.
    • What if I’m traveling?
      The United States and Australia are temporarily denying entry to noncitizens who recently traveled to China and several airlines have canceled flights.
    • How do I keep myself and others safe?
      Washing your hands frequently is the most important thing you can do, along with staying at home when you’re sick.

Still, many religious groups — particularly those that have registered with the government — have been doing just that.

According to recent figures from their websites, the China Buddhist Association has contributed $14 million to the fight against the coronavirus, the Protestant association $10 million, the Islamic association $4.5 million, the Catholic association $1.5 million and the Taoist association $1.9 million.

Some donations have been prompted by dissatisfaction with China’s large government-run charities. The Red Cross, the China Charity Federation, the Hubei Charity Federation and the Hubei Youth Development Foundation have donated the equivalent of $1.9 billion. But their work has been plagued by accusations of corruption, leading the national Red Cross to send a review team to Hubei Province, where Wuhan is.

These charities also often channel money from big businesses, while the donations from China’s religious organizations are led by grass-roots efforts supported by ordinary people, said Professor Wu.

The two Taoist temples that helped the town of Caohe received hundreds of small donations from believers, according to lists published on the temples’ social media accounts.

In the Chinese city of Wenzhou, the Rev. Wu Shengli of the Chengxi Protestant Church said the city’s Protestant churches were asked by local officials if they could donate roughly 1 million yuan, or about $143,000. He said that worshipers were glad to do it.

“People aren’t reluctant,” he said. “People are very willing to help out and the final amount will be higher.”

Susan McCarthy, a political scientist at Providence College who studies faith-based charities in China, said these kinds of donations can also help religious organizations prove their loyalty to the state.

“The government is happy if religious groups make contributions but is wary that they will use charity to expand their base and infiltrate society,” Ms. McCarthy said. “My sense is a lot of this is defensive, or to prove their patriotism.”

But for many believers, the nonmaterial aid is the most meaningful.

Even though all places of worship in China are closed as part of the effort to prevent the virus from spreading, temples and churches have been organizing prayer vigils, while halal restaurants in Wuhan have provided free meals and boxed lunches to medical staff at local hospitals.

The Changchun Taoist temple in Wuhan has held ceremonies to purify the land, a traditional Taoist ritual used when illness or ill fortune strikes a region.

“To know that they are in the temple, praying for us is comforting,” Wang Derui, a 42-year-old who used to regularly go to the temple to listen to lectures on traditional culture, said in a telephone interview. “We can’t go but they are sending up prayers on our behalf.”

Religion also inspired the songwriter Zhang Shuzhi to compose a piece that is meant to lift spirits — but also critique the social and moral ills that he believes underlie the outbreak.

Noting that the two new hospitals built in Wuhan in record time earlier this month were named after Taoist deities who punish evil, Mr. Zhang reread the Taoist classics, and then wrote his song.

Today people act without virtue
And blaspheme against heaven and earth
In the human world greed has broken out
And things are no longer in a normal state

The song is meant “to give people energy and strength,” Mr. Zhang said. It is also meant to help people “rise up despite the difficulties and fight the disease.”

Amber Wang contributed reporting.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Religious Groups in China Step Into the Coronavirus Crisis

Westlake Legal Group 00china-virus-religion-1-facebookJumbo Religious Groups in China Step Into the Coronavirus Crisis Wuhan (China) Taoism Religion and Belief Protestant Churches Politics and Government Faith-Based Initiatives Epidemics Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) China

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

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

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

“Ten years ago when you looked for this sort of faith-based giving and engagement you couldn’t really find it,” said Wu Keping, an anthropologist at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University in Suzhou. “Now people think of it as normal.”

But not all the efforts have been well received.

The Communist Party has long distrusted any organization, from churches to charities to civic groups, that it believes could come between the government and the Chinese people. The party a few years ago put in place new regulations to tighten already severe state control. Some recent contributions have been hampered by such pressures.

Earlier this month, seven underground Protestant churches in Beijing raised $10,000 to buy face masks and disinfectants for those in Wuhan, the city at the heart of the coronavirus outbreak, where more than 1,800 people have died.

After sending the shipment on Feb. 5, the police called in church leaders for questioning and told them to stop their activities, according to church members who asked not to be identified by name for fear of attracting additional government surveillance.

The Rev. Huang Lei, the leader of an underground church in Wuhan, said local officials have rejected their donations because they fear trouble with more senior officials for cooperating with what the government in Beijing considers to be illegal organizations.

“In China the government likes to control all channels for donating money,” Pastor Huang said in a telephone interview. “They don’t like civil society to participate, and especially not faith-based organizations.”

  • What do you need to know? Start here.

    Updated Feb. 10, 2020

    • What is a Coronavirus?
      It is a novel virus named for the crown-like spikes that protrude from its surface. The coronavirus can infect both animals and people, and can cause a range of respiratory illnesses from the common cold to more dangerous conditions like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS.
    • How contagious is the virus?
      According to preliminary research, it seems moderately infectious, similar to SARS, and is possibly transmitted through the air. Scientists have estimated that each infected person could spread it to somewhere between 1.5 and 3.5 people without effective containment measures.
    • How worried should I be?
      While the virus is a serious public health concern, the risk to most people outside China remains very low, and seasonal flu is a more immediate threat.
    • Who is working to contain the virus?
      World Health Organization officials have praised China’s aggressive response to the virus by closing transportation, schools and markets. This week, a team of experts from the W.H.O. arrived in Beijing to offer assistance.
    • What if I’m traveling?
      The United States and Australia are temporarily denying entry to noncitizens who recently traveled to China and several airlines have canceled flights.
    • How do I keep myself and others safe?
      Washing your hands frequently is the most important thing you can do, along with staying at home when you’re sick.

Still, many religious groups — particularly those that have registered with the government — have been doing just that.

According to recent figures from their websites, the China Buddhist Association has contributed $14 million to the fight against the coronavirus, the Protestant association $10 million, the Islamic association $4.5 million, the Catholic association $1.5 million and the Taoist association $1.9 million.

Some donations have been prompted by dissatisfaction with China’s large government-run charities. The Red Cross, the China Charity Federation, the Hubei Charity Federation and the Hubei Youth Development Foundation have donated the equivalent of $1.9 billion. But their work has been plagued by accusations of corruption, leading the national Red Cross to send a review team to Hubei Province, where Wuhan is.

These charities also often channel money from big businesses, while the donations from China’s religious organizations are led by grass-roots efforts supported by ordinary people, said Professor Wu.

The two Taoist temples that helped the town of Caohe received hundreds of small donations from believers, according to lists published on the temples’ social media accounts.

In the Chinese city of Wenzhou, the Rev. Wu Shengli of the Chengxi Protestant Church said the city’s Protestant churches were asked by local officials if they could donate roughly 1 million yuan, or about $143,000. He said that worshipers were glad to do it.

“People aren’t reluctant,” he said. “People are very willing to help out and the final amount will be higher.”

Susan McCarthy, a political scientist at Providence College who studies faith-based charities in China, said these kinds of donations can also help religious organizations prove their loyalty to the state.

“The government is happy if religious groups make contributions but is wary that they will use charity to expand their base and infiltrate society,” Ms. McCarthy said. “My sense is a lot of this is defensive, or to prove their patriotism.”

But for many believers, the nonmaterial aid is the most meaningful.

Even though all places of worship in China are closed as part of the effort to prevent the virus from spreading, temples and churches have been organizing prayer vigils, while halal restaurants in Wuhan have provided free meals and boxed lunches to medical staff at local hospitals.

The Changchun Taoist temple in Wuhan has held ceremonies to purify the land, a traditional Taoist ritual used when illness or ill fortune strikes a region.

“To know that they are in the temple, praying for us is comforting,” Wang Derui, a 42-year-old who used to regularly go to the temple to listen to lectures on traditional culture, said in a telephone interview. “We can’t go but they are sending up prayers on our behalf.”

Religion also inspired the songwriter Zhang Shuzhi to compose a piece that is meant to lift spirits — but also critique the social and moral ills that he believes underlie the outbreak.

Noting that the two new hospitals built in Wuhan in record time earlier this month were named after Taoist deities who punish evil, Mr. Zhang reread the Taoist classics, and then wrote his song.

Today people act without virtue
And blaspheme against heaven and earth
In the human world greed has broken out
And things are no longer in a normal state

The song is meant “to give people energy and strength,” Mr. Zhang said. It is also meant to help people “rise up despite the difficulties and fight the disease.”

Amber Wang contributed reporting.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Inside The Wall Street Journal, Tensions Rise Over ‘Sick Man’ China Headline

Westlake Legal Group 22wsj-letter-facebookJumbo Inside The Wall Street Journal, Tensions Rise Over ‘Sick Man’ China Headline Wall Street Journal Politics and Government Newspapers Mead, Walter Russell Letters Gigot, Paul A Freedom of Speech and Expression Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) China

More than four dozen journalists at The Wall Street Journal challenged their bosses and criticized the newspaper’s opinion side in a letter that was sent to top executives on Thursday, the day after China announced that it would expel three Journal staff members in retaliation for a headline that offended the country’s leaders.

In all, 53 reporters and editors signed the letter. They criticized the newspaper’s response to the fallout from the headline, “China Is the Real Sick Man of Asia,” that went with a Feb. 3 opinion essay by Walter Russell Mead, a Journal columnist, on economic repercussions of the coronavirus outbreak.

The letter, which was reviewed by The New York Times, urged the newspaper’s leaders “to consider correcting the headline and apologizing to our readers, sources, colleagues and anyone else who was offended by it.”

Describing the headline as “derogatory,” the letter was sent on Thursday from the email account of the China bureau chief, Jonathan Cheng, to William Lewis, the chief executive of Dow Jones and the newspaper’s publisher, and Robert Thomson, the chief executive of News Corp, the Rupert Murdoch-controlled parent company of Dow Jones.

Mr. Cheng, who did not sign the letter, wrote in a separate note that he was passing the letter along to the two executives, adding that he believed their “proper handling of this matter is essential to the future of our presence in China.”

The in-house criticism brought to the surface longstanding tensions at The Journal between the reporters and editors who cover the news and the opinion journalists who work under the longtime editorial page editor, Paul A. Gigot. As at other major newspapers, including The Times and The Washington Post, the news side and the opinion department are run separately.

Mr. Gigot oversees the unsigned editorials that represent the newspaper’s institutional voice, the op-ed columns like the one by Mr. Mead and the criticism in the arts and culture sections. He also hosts a program on Mr. Murdoch’s network, the Fox News Channel.

Foreign news media organizations in China tread a difficult path. The nation’s growing economic and political clout make it an essential story. Chinese officials covet attention from the global stage, and images of foreign reporters jotting down their comments at news conferences are a staple of state-controlled evening news shows.

The Chinese government uses visas for foreign journalists as leverage, doling out and retracting credentials as a way to influence news outlets. Foreign news media organizations face pressure to steer clear of sensitive topics like the wealth and political pull of the families of the country’s leaders.

Like many other international news organizations, The Times among them, The Journal is blocked online in China, and the “Sick Man” headline was brought to wide attention there by state-controlled media, amid nationwide concern over an epidemic that has infected over 76,000 people in China and killed more than 2,400.

  • What do you need to know? Start here.

    Updated Feb. 10, 2020

    • What is a Coronavirus?
      It is a novel virus named for the crown-like spikes that protrude from its surface. The coronavirus can infect both animals and people, and can cause a range of respiratory illnesses from the common cold to more dangerous conditions like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS.
    • How contagious is the virus?
      According to preliminary research, it seems moderately infectious, similar to SARS, and is possibly transmitted through the air. Scientists have estimated that each infected person could spread it to somewhere between 1.5 and 3.5 people without effective containment measures.
    • How worried should I be?
      While the virus is a serious public health concern, the risk to most people outside China remains very low, and seasonal flu is a more immediate threat.
    • Who is working to contain the virus?
      World Health Organization officials have praised China’s aggressive response to the virus by closing transportation, schools and markets. This week, a team of experts from the W.H.O. arrived in Beijing to offer assistance.
    • What if I’m traveling?
      The United States and Australia are temporarily denying entry to noncitizens who recently traveled to China and several airlines have canceled flights.
    • How do I keep myself and others safe?
      Washing your hands frequently is the most important thing you can do, along with staying at home when you’re sick.

China was sometimes described as the “sick man of Asia” at the end of the 1800s, in “the depths of what we now call China’s ‘Century of Humiliation,’” said Stephen R. Platt, a historian of modern China at the University of Massachusetts. The empire had then lost a series of wars and had feared being divvied up by imperial powers.

“Nobody in their right mind would confuse China today with China at the end of the 19th century,” Mr. Platt said. “I think that’s where the insult lies, this hearkening back to this terrible period and somehow implying that it’s all the same.”

On Wednesday, Geng Shuang, a spokesman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said in a transcript provided by the Chinese government that Chinese officials “demanded that The Wall Street Journal recognize the seriousness of the error, openly and formally apologize, and investigate and punish those responsible, while retaining the need to take further measures against the newspaper.”

The statement added that “the Chinese people do not welcome media that publish racist statements and smear China with malicious attacks.”

The Journal has not made a formal apology. The closest it came was when Mr. Lewis, the publisher, said in a statement on Wednesday that the headline “clearly caused upset and concern amongst the Chinese people, which we regret.”

Susan L. Shirk, the chair of the 21st Century China Center at the University of California, San Diego, said that there was reason for the newspaper to refrain from making an apology now that the Chinese government had demanded one.

“The Chinese government has been coercive in its demands for apologies from all sorts of international groups on issues that are essentially domestic political issues,” Ms. Shirk, a deputy secretary of state under former President Bill Clinton, said. “This has the effect of interfering in freedom of expression in our own countries.”

A majority of the reporters and editors who signed the letter are based in the newspaper’s China and Hong Kong bureaus.

They included the three journalists whom China ordered to leave the country on Wednesday: Josh Chin, the deputy bureau chief in Beijing and an American citizen; Chao Deng, a reporter, who is also an American; and Philip Wen, a correspondent and Australian citizen who reported on an Australian investigation of a cousin of President Xi Jinping of China as part of an inquiry into organized crime. The Chinese government gave the journalists until Monday to leave the country.

The letter argued that “the public outrage” over the headline in China “was genuine” and said the “Sick Man” headline should be changed online.

“We are deeply concerned that failure to take such action within the next few days will not only inflict further damage on our China bureau’s operations and morale in the short term,” the letter said, “but also cause lasting damage to our brand and ability to sustain our unrivaled coverage of one of the world’s most important stories.”

The letter also noted that people at The Journal had raised concerns about the “Sick Man” headline before China announced that it would revoke the journalists’ visas and order them out of the country. It also questioned whether the headline was “distasteful,” given the coronavirus outbreak.

A Dow Jones spokeswoman confirmed that the executives had received the letter and said in a statement, “We understand the extreme challenges our employees and their families are facing in China.” The company added that it “will continue to push” to have the visas of its three journalists reinstated.

Mr. Cheng, the China bureau chief, and more than a dozen others who signed the letter did not respond to requests for comment.

In addition to criticizing the headline, the letter took issue with an unsigned editorial published by the newspaper on Wednesday, after China’s announcement that the journalists would be expelled.

In the punchy style the editorial page is known for, it got right to the point: “President Xi Jinping says China deserves to be treated as a great power, but on Wednesday his country expelled three Wall Street Journal reporters over a headline. Yes, a headline. Or at least that was the official justification.” The editorial went on to argue that the Chinese government had revoked the reporters’ credentials to divert attention from its “management of the coronavirus scourge.”

The editorial acknowledged criticism of the headline but defended it as echoing a description familiar to American readers that cast the late Ottoman Empire as the “sick old man of Europe.”

Shen Yi, a lecturer on international relations at Fudan University in Shanghai, said The Journal’s headline displayed a sense of racial superiority. The language was similar to comments by Kiron Skinner, a former director of policy planning at the State Department, who had said that with China, the United States had “a great power competitor that is not Caucasian,” Mr. Shen wrote in a recent essay.

“The increasing prominence and scope of this sort of language gives you a feeling for the despicable thoughts that underlie it,” Mr. Shen wrote. “Even now, in the 21st century, some U.S. officials and elites still deep in their hearts know and understand the world through the framework of the suzerain and its colonies.”

Mr. Mead, the writer of the op-ed, suggested in a Twitter post on Feb. 8 that he was opposed to the headline, writing, “Argue with the writer about the article content, with the editors about the headlines.” He declined to comment for this article.

In defense of the headline, The Journal and its supporters have pointed to the right to free speech and the newspaper’s separation of its news and opinion departments. The writers of the letter said the main issue was “the mistaken choice of a headline that was deeply offensive to many people, not just in China.”

The Washington Post first reported on the internal debate at The Journal.

China’s announcement that it would expel the three journalists occurred one day after the Trump administration designated five major Chinese news organizations as foreign government functionaries, rather than journalistic entities, a move that drew the ire of the Chinese government.

The expulsions, the first since 1998, according to the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China, were condemned by the United States secretary of state, Mike Pompeo.

Journal leaders met with newsroom employees to discuss the headline before China condemned it. In one meeting, Matt Murray, the editor in chief, seemed to agree with the complaints, but said there was not much he could do about the headline because of the strict separation of the news and opinion sides. In a second meeting, journalists pushed Mr. Lewis, the publisher, to change the headline, to no avail.

The letter offered several examples of Journal reporters who said they were impeded while trying to do their jobs. A researcher interviewing people on the streets of Beijing was surrounded by a crowd and called “traitor,” the letter said; and a “senior doctor” in Hubei Province, where coronavirus seems to have originated, retracted an interview with the newspaper and told others not to speak with its reporters.

One of the journalists who signed the letter was Chun Han Wong, a Journal correspondent whose press credentials were not renewed by the Chinese government last year. Mr. Wong shared a byline with Mr. Wen on the article that described the legal scrutiny of the Chinese president’s cousin.

Austin Ramzy contributed reporting.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Ocasio-Cortez Builds Progressive Campaign Arm to Challenge Democrats

Westlake Legal Group merlin_162978612_5d685016-2ab3-432d-8247-85412699e955-facebookJumbo Ocasio-Cortez Builds Progressive Campaign Arm to Challenge Democrats United States Politics and Government Schumer, Charles E Sanders, Bernard Primaries and Caucuses Presidential Election of 2020 Politics and Government Ocasio-Cortez, Alexandria Newman, Marie (1964- ) Nadler, Jerrold Lipinski, Daniel Engel, Eliot L Endorsements Elections, Senate Elections, House of Representatives Eastman, Kara H Democratic Party Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Cuellar, Henry Cisneros, Jessica

WASHINGTON — Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Friday endorsed an all-female slate of progressive candidates through her new political action committee, using her clout in the insurgent left and the considerable campaign funds she has drawn to counter the Democratic establishment in key races around the country.

The endorsements of the congressional candidates — including one who is challenging Senate Democrats’ preferred candidate in Texas — amount to a powerful stamp of approval for a diverse group of newcomers. They also are a clear sign that Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, a celebrity of the liberal left, intends to leverage her influence among activists to try to reshape the Democratic Party.

The move also underlines the struggle among Democrats that is defining the race for the presidency, which is pitting Senator Bernie Sanders, the self-described democratic socialist, against more moderate candidates who are presenting themselves as better able to appeal to a broad section of voters in taking on President Trump. Ms. Ocasio-Cortez has traversed the country to campaign for Mr. Sanders, and her efforts to pull Congress to the left parallel his bid to deploy his progressive message to emerge as the Democratic nominee, an effort that has instilled fear in many centrist lawmakers who believe it could cost them their seats.

“One of our primary goals is to reward political courage in Congress and also to help elect a progressive majority in the House of Representatives,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said in an interview. “There’s kind of a dual nature to this: One is opening the door to newcomers, and the other is to reward members of Congress that are exhibiting very large amounts of political courage.”

Her own upset victory in 2018 over a 20-year Democratic congressman has inspired a slew of Democratic primary challenges across the nation targeting powerful incumbents — though many have little chance of winning. Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, who toppled a top party leader in her primary election, has carefully selected the races in which she is intervening with an eye for districts where her seal of approval would help the primary challenger prevail.

“Anyone can show up one day and say, ‘I support all these policies; that makes me a progressive,’” she said. “But one of the things that is really important to us is winning.”

In the committee’s first slate of endorsements, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez is backing seven women running for congressional seats, including Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez, a labor and voting rights activist who is running against the candidate endorsed by Senate Democrats’ campaign arm, M.J. Hegar, to take on a Republican, Senator John Cornyn. Three others — Teresa Leger Fernandez in New Mexico, Samelys López in New York, and Georgette Gómez in California — are running for open seats in Democratic districts; Ms. Gómez has also been endorsed by Mr. Sanders. Another, Kara Eastman, is challenging Representative Don Bacon, Republican of Nebraska, for a second time.

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez has already announced her support for primary challengers to a pair of her House Democratic colleagues: Marie Newman, who is running against Representative Daniel Lipinski of Illinois, and Jessica Cisneros, who is seeking to oust Representative Henry Cuellar of Texas.

Democratic strategists say that Ms. Ocasio-Cortez could shape the terrain for congressional candidates in powerful ways.

“We’ve never seen somebody break onto the scene with this amount of potential and ability to drive the conversation and drive financial commitments from supporters,” said Ian Russell, a former deputy executive director of House Democrats’ campaign arm. “The challenge for her is determining where she wants to spend her capital.”

Leveraging her name recognition and ability to bring in an avalanche of donations with a single post on Twitter, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez began the Courage to Change political action committee in January, pledging to elect “working-class champions” and explicitly framing the enterprise as a progressive counterweight to House Democrats’s campaign arm.

“When community leaders, activists, and working-class candidates try to run for office, organizations like the D.C.C.C. discourage them,” read a fund-raising pitch for the committee, using the acronym for the campaign arm, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “These potential progressive leaders are asked: ‘Can you raise $300,000 from your friends and family? If not, don’t bother trying.’”

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said she saw her role as breaking down the barriers to entry for the kinds of Democrats who should be serving.

“It’s important for us to create mechanisms of support because so much of what is happening in Washington is driven by fear of loss,” she said in the interview. “We can really create an ecosystem that makes people more comfortable into making the leap to make politically courageous choices.”

The endorsements reflect a careful calculus by Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, who came to Congress vowing to take down Democrats who were not sufficiently progressive, but she has since tempered that zeal. In both cases where she has thrown her support behind a challenger to a sitting lawmaker, the incumbents have broken with key Democratic orthodoxies; Mr. Lipinski opposes abortion rights, while Mr. Cuellar has an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association.

She has not yet endorsed a candidate vying to oust any of the party elders, including the leaders of several high-profile committees who are facing primary challenges, like Representative Richard E. Neal of Massachusetts, the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, who leads the Judiciary Committee, or Representative Eliot L. Engel of New York, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

The House Democratic campaign arm infuriated progressives last year when it formalized a policy barring campaign vendors from conducting business with a primary opponent of a sitting Democrat, a move intended to shield incumbents. Democratic leaders defended the policy, arguing it was reasonable to afford incumbents that level of protection.

Top progressive lawmakers in the House in January signed onto a temporary détente, but Ms. Ocasio-Cortez made clear she would continue to refuse paying the party dues and press forward with her own fund-raising.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has “always been the gatekeeper and to some extent it still is,” Mr. Russell said.

But, he added, “we are seeing new forces like AOC on the scene, breaking through the gates.”

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez raised $1.4 million in January, according to her campaign, with nearly 20,000 contributions directed specifically to the political action committee. The average contribution was about $17.

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s star power has already surged as she campaigns for Mr. Sanders, drawing thousands to rallies and raising larger questions about what she will do next.

“Alexandria is a real political talent,” said Representative Ro Khanna, Democrat of California, and an ally of Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s. “She has made an enormous impact on the Green New Deal, and I predict she will be governor or senator in the near future and then off to the races after that.”

Mr. Trump made a more provocative prediction this month, writing on Twitter that Ms. Ocasio-Cortez would mount a primary challenge to Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the minority leader, and win because of “how badly” he said Mr. Schumer had handled impeachment. A spokesman for Mr. Schumer declined to comment.

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said that she was not sure what her next move in politics would be — and that she sometimes wondered how long she would stay in politics. Until then, she said she would work to elect more people like herself to serve in the House and Senate.

“While I think sometimes a lot of people see this as a huge amassing of influence or power or money or what have you, my personal experience does not feel that way — it can feel very lonely,” she said. “I think my ambition right now is to be a little less lonely in Congress.”

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China Targets 3 Wall Street Journal Reporters as Media Relations Sour

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HONG KONG — China on Wednesday said it would revoke the press credentials of three Wall Street Journal reporters working in mainland China, in a significant escalation of Beijing’s pressure on the foreign news media.

At a daily news briefing on Wednesday, a spokesman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the credentials would be revoked in retaliation for a headline for an essay that ran in The Journal’s editorial pages earlier this month. The Chinese authorities had objected to its headline, which read, “China Is the Real Sick Man of Asia.”

Chinese officials have “demanded that The Wall Street Journal recognize the seriousness of the error, openly and formally apologize, and investigate and punish those responsible, while retaining the need to take further measures against the newspaper,” Geng Shuang, the ministry spokesman, said in a transcript provided by the Chinese government.

“The Chinese people do not welcome media that publish racist statements and smear China with malicious attacks,” he added.

The Journal identified the reporters as Josh Chin, its deputy bureau chief in Beijing and an American national; Chao Deng, an American; and Philip Wen, an Australian national.

A spokesman for Dow Jones & Company, publisher of The Journal, did not have an immediate comment.

Like other media organizations, including The New York Times, The Journal runs its news and editorial departments as separate operations, meaning none of the newspaper’s reporters in China would have been involved in writing the essay’s headline.

The move comes just months after Chinese officials effectively expelled another Journal reporter, Chun Han Wong, from mainland China. Officials did not provide a reason, but the expulsion came after he co-wrote an article about a cousin of China’s top leader, Xi Jinping.

It also comes less than one day after American officials in Washington said they would treat five government-controlled Chinese news organizations — Xinhua, CGTN, China Radio, China Daily and People’s Daily — as foreign government functionaries, subject to similar rules as diplomats stationed in the United States.

The opinion piece with the “Sick Man” headline was written by Walter Russell Mead, a professor at Bard College. It criticized China’s initial response to the coronavirus outbreak as well as the state of the country’s financial markets.

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