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Generational Dynamics Web Log for 4-Feb-2020
4-Feb-20 World View -- China's Foreign Ministry blames America for coronavirus 'panic'

Web Log - February, 2020

4-Feb-20 World View -- China's Foreign Ministry blames America for coronavirus 'panic'

The Timeline for the coming months

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from

China's Foreign Ministry blames America for coronavirus 'panic'

China's premier Li Keqiang, wearing a green medical mask, meets hospital workers in Wuhan on January 29 (AP)
China's premier Li Keqiang, wearing a green medical mask, meets hospital workers in Wuhan on January 29 (AP)

China's official figures are that there are more than 20,000 confirmed cases of Wuhan coronavirus, and 426 deaths (2.1%).

Many people believe that those figures are low, that there are already tens or hundreds of thousands of cases, many of them in rural areas where they wouldn't be found, and some of them mild enough so that the patient did not see any need to report it. If there are thousands more cases, then the death rate will probably be lower than 2.1%.

50 million people are on lockdown, and are forebidden from leaving their villages. 24 provinces and cities are on lockdown or near lockdown (Anhui, Chongqing, Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hebei, Heilonjiang, Henan, Hunan, Inner Mongolia, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Jilin, Liaoning, Ningxia, Shaanxi, Shandong, Shanghai, Shanxi, Suzhou, Xi'an).

Factories in those provinces are being told not to restart operations until at least February 10. So half of China is shut down, with more than 80% of national GDP and 90% of exports.

One factory owner in Shandong said that he won't be allowed to open unless he has a stock of two face masks for each worker every day. He has 1,500 employees, so that's a lot of face masks.

So one might say that China is in a panic. Nonetheless, they're refusing to permit American CDC officials to visit Wuhan to help out, and they're refusing to allow the US to fly Americans in Wuhan back to America.

China is being congratulated by many international officials for taking the harsh steps necessary to stop the threat of the virus spreading further. But on Monday, China became harshly critical of the United States for imposing some travel restrictions on people traveling to the US from China.

So China's foreign ministry spokesman on Monday said:

"But as far as I know, the US government has not provided any substantive help to the Chinese side yet. On the contrary, it was the first to withdraw its consulate staff from Wuhan, the first to suggest the partial withdrawal of embassy staff, the first to announce a ban on entry by Chinese citizens after the WHO made it clear that it doesn't recommend and even opposes travel and trade restrictions against China. What the US has done could create and spread panic. ...

[[Question]]: You just severely criticized the US government response to the outbreak. We understand the second US flight is experiencing delay - is it due to the lack of Chinese government authorization as some say?

As I just said, the US was the first to evacuate its consulate staff in Wuhan via charter flight. Further arrangements need to be coordinated based on a variety of factors including Wuhan airport capacity to receive supplies."

So China has taken its own draconian measures to prevent the spread of the virus, but when the US and other countries do it, it causes panic.

The above statement could definitely be seen as a threat. China has a standard playbook of reacting to a disliked policy of another country by jailing citizens of that country for weeks or months without charges. The statement seems to be demanding "substantive help" in return for allowing American embassy personnel to leave Wuhan. No one who follows the news from China on a regular basis can have any doubt that this kind of extortion by the CCP thugs is a real possibility. China is blocking access from US CDC officials who want to help, and so it's not known what "substantive help" China is demanding.

Social unrest in China

When China's government says that the US is causing fear and panic what's the purpose of that message? I doubt that any American care at all what that latest name-calling China is directing at America this week. So what's the point?

The fear and panic messages are directed at Chinese people, many of whom are now blaming Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for mishandling the crisis.

Concern is growing among the CCP thugs that the Wuhan coronavirus health crisis could lead to enough social unrest to threaten the CCP itself. At the very least, the crisis is the greatest political challenge that Xi Jinping has faced since he took power in 2012.

There's a certain irrestible irony about this. Xi Jinping has for years tried to protect himself by ordering an increasingly brutal and violent crackdown on peaceful protesters, Christians, Buddhists, Muslims, and Hong Kong activists, and now is facing a threat -- Wuhan coronovirus -- that he can't control with his usual arsenal of beatings, torture, rape and jailings. That fact alone should provide some moral lessons to the dictator in fear of losing the Mandate from Heaven.

Food prices are soaring in Wuhan, and pictures on social media show empty shelves in supermarkets. Restrictions on transport are hindering efforts to bring food and medicines into Wuhan, and as popular discontent increases, CCP officials are desperately trying to find the source of the photos of empty supermarket shelves.

The city of Wuhan has a population of 11 million, but as the virus spread, millions of people fled the city before it was finally locke down on January 24. Outside Wuhan, people from Wuhan are being told that they're not welcome, and they're being barred from entering other cities. Some places are refusing entry to cars from Hubei Province, where Wuhan is located, and gas stations are refusing to fuel cars with Wuhan license plates, while hotels are refusing to accommodate guests from Hubei.

The threat of social unrest goes outside the borders of China. Already there are reports that Chinese people in public are being targeted with insults in some countries, because of increased xenophobia caused by potential spread of coronavirus. If coronavirus spreads to other countries, it could lead to social unrest in countries, such as those with projects in China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), where enclaves of Chinese cities have to coexist with locals.

The Timeline for the coming months

It's clear from listening to analysts and experts that, at this time, no one knows how long this crisis will continue, or whether it will metastasize into a larger worldwise pandemic.

Those who hope that the worst will be over by March 1 are probably dreaming or lying, but at least it is possible that by March 1 we'll have answers to some important questions.

First, there have been no major outbreaks of the disease outside of China. Most cases have been in people who had just returned from a trip to China, rather than in someone who was affected by another person outside of China. So by March 1, we should know whether there are going to be outbreaks in any other countries.

This depends on a question that is still largely unanswered: How easily can the disease pass from person to person? The crucial question, still unanswered, is whether a person who has not yet shown symptoms infect another person.

If a person has to show symptoms before he can infect another person, then it should be possible to limit the spread in most countries. Standard techniques of quaranteeing people with symptoms and using contact tracing to find other possible cases should be effective. However, if a person can infect another person without showing symptoms, then these standard techniques won't work. By March 1, we should know the answer to this question.

Either way, the best outcomes should be possible in America, the West, and other developed countries. Underdeveloped countries in Africa, and elsewhere probably don't have the medical infrastructure and resources to contain an outbreak. The Ebola outbreak in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been ongoing for months, and has been mostly contained only with the help of a massive international effort. If there are multiple outbreaks of coronavirus in multiple countries, the resources to control them will not be available.

A related subject is that the Ebola breakout in eastern DRC is being contained with the help of millions of doses of a vaccine for Ebola that has recently been developed. Several companies are working on a vaccine for Wuhan coronavirus, but development, testing and production of such a vaccine will require over a year.

Globally, there are about 2,000 new cases of Wuhan coronavirus every day. That number has not yet shown any sign of peaking and falling, at this time. By March 1, it will hopefully have begun to do so. So we should know by March 1 whether that is happening.

Some analysts are saying that we should know within a week or two. Chinese cities with large outbreaks were locked down on January 24, and there is a two-week incubation period. Therefore, according to this reasoning, within the next week or two the number of new cases should start falling. We shall see.

Another thing that we don't know is whether the virus can spread easily only in winter, and will be blocked by warm summer weather. If so, then the pandemic should be over by May or June, although it may reappear in the southern hemisphere after that.

The 'Black Swan' events after the Wuhan coronavirus

The Wuhan coronavirus pandemic in China is being called a "Black Swan" event because it was completely unexpected and unplanned, and because it could have devastating consequences.

It mean lead to other "Black Swan" events.

First, China's economy is being devastated, and the effects are overflowing into all the countries in the region. China is injecting $713 billion of money into China's economy in the hope of preventing the worst. However, with so much debt in China and beyond, it's possible that missed payments in China and region will force businesses into bankruptcy, resulting in a chain reaction of missed payments and missed deadlines, and a global financial crisis. That's one additional "Black Swan" possibility.

Second, China's social fabric is extremely fragile, and the number of anti-government protests has been growing for years. As I've written in the past, China's history is filled with anti-government rebellions and coups that have occurred with regularity for millennia. The last two massive rebellions began in China's south, near Hong Kong. Mao Zedong's Long March that led to the Communist revolution civil war (1934-49) started in the south. The massive Taiping Rebellion (1852-64), which was led by a Christian convert who believed he was the son of God and the younger brother of Jesus, began in the south and spread north. It's now been 71 years since the end of the last rebellion, and so China is overdue for its next rebellion, and that would be another possible "Black Swan."

To prevent this, the CCP is mounting a campaign of blaming the United States. Most Chinese people know that the CCP is corrupt and full of crap, so this is unlikely to work.

John Xenakis is author of: "World View: War Between China and Japan: Why America Must Be Prepared" (Generational Theory Book Series, Book 2), June 2019, Paperback: 331 pages, with over 200 source references, $13.99


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