As the coronavirus hits big parts of the world outside China, at the China Speakers Bureau we are looking at alternatives in video conferencing. In the past we worked with Google Hangouts, but our mostly conservative event organizers preferred to stick to real life meetings, and we abolished this tool.

But times are changing, and the internal debate at the CSB on exploring video conferences as an alternative for real-life meetings has popped up again. Currently we are looking at two tools: Zoom and Tencent Meetings. Zoom has become fast the preferred choice for many outside China, and we have already good experiences with them. But Tencent Meetings (VooV) is also emerging, and even helping the United Nations in setting up public conferences.

The coronavirus or Covid-19 had kept the world in its grip since the beginning of 2020, first as a China problem, but then fast expanding to the rest of the world.

At the China Speakers Bureau we organize China experts for a global audience, and our speakers have started to speak out on the impacts of that crisis, countries dealt with the crisis, and how China will deal with the major economic fallout of this global disruption.
Are you interesting in discussing more options of speakers to deal with the corona crisis? Do get in touch.

Last week we saw a resumption of economic activities in China, and hoped our speakers’ business would be up to steam before the summer, including a few months for event organizers to get their act together. But recent developments show that the coronavirus crisis might only be starting in the rest of the world, as European countries and the US have started to lockdown their economic activities to stop the spread of the virus. Together with gloomy assessments of the lackluster way those countries deal with the crisis, our first analysis might have been too optimistic.

China and South Korea might be starting to resume their economies, the rest of the world is getting further into lock-down mode. After Italy, the rest of Europe and the United States are only at the beginning of the corona virus pandemic. And for sure nobody in those countries is in de mood to prepare for a life after the current crisis.

At the China Speakers Bureau, we do start to look ahead, also as more events are cancelled and international flights still seem in a unstoppable free fall. But one thing is sure: even when timing is unclear, this crisis will be disappearing in the months to come, even when experts already predict a second wave of patients after the summer. In our line of business the average lead time between inquiries for speaker’ assignments and execution is on average three months, and we do not want to start for resumption of our business until the pandemic has officially stopped.

The medical magazine The Lancet was one of the first Western media to point out the rest of the world could learn from the way China had dealt with the corona crisis. The severe lock-down of Wuhan and Hubei province, and the extended deployment of medics from the rest of China, was then still seen as too draconian to be used on other parts of the world.

Now Italy is in a lock-down and medical care in Northern parts are in crisis, while the rest of Europe looks surprised. “They are in a crisis,” said a shaken Dutch doctor on Dutch TV last night, after he made a phone call to a colleague in Milan. Displaying confidence in your own capabilities sometimes becomes a handicap.

China, with the exception of Hubei province, might be getting back to normal, the rest of the world is still bracing for a further outbreak of the coronavirus. Northern Italy shows remarkable similarities with the early weeks of the crisis in Wuhan: cramped medical facilities, expanding quarantine measure to stop the spread of the virus, and much uncertainty in countries and regions that still try to control the crisis. In China numbers of new patients are dropping, so – unless you might distrust those figures – its heavy-handed approach seems to be working at this list. But global stress on international economic relations seem far from over.
With all the justified criticism on the way China dealt the with coronavirus in the early weeks, the country did make some right choices later in the crisis as containment of the health issues was more important than keeping up the economy. More surprising it is that countries with a more developed health care system like Italy seem utterly unprepared for a major outbreak of the virus. Even a very solid country like Switzerland sees the number of coronavirus patients going up fast.

A clip with presentations by London-based Shirley Ze Yu, going around in the world. China has emerged as the second-largest economy in the world but has a hard time telling the world its story. Dr. Shirley Ze Yu is one of the very few exceptions in profiling herself as a solid China-voice, giving an alternative viewpoint on a mostly Western take on the developments of China and the world economy. Shirley Ze Yu is LSE scholar, fellow at Harvard Kennedy School and former Chinese national television (CCTV) news anchor Shirley Ze Yu.

The China government is trying to push positive news in the way it handles the coronavirus crisis, but the economic fallout is only shaping up as the panic moves to other parts of the world. Airlines, shipping lines and other logistics and hospitality providers are maintaining the reduction on services, as demand is not yet picking up. Some logistic providers contemplate resuming services only in June, although they do not wish to confirm that less-favorable scenario.

Europe has become the latest victim of the coronavirus panic, and the number of patients rises, while numbers in the Americas are still low, but expected to go up too.

With all possible caveats: early signs do indicated the coronavirus is slowly retreating in China. That might reverse, as workers are slowly returning to work, and quarantine measure are partly revoked. Meanwhile, the rest of the world, notably South-Korean, Japan, Iran and Italy are fighting their own hot spots of the coronavirus and the fears of a global pandemic outbreak are all but over. 
When you follow our social media feeds at Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn, you might notice that our China news – not related to the coronavirus – is growing since the weekend, and that is a good sign too. But still, we do not expect the event industry to pick up before May, and much might depend not only on China and the success of its quarantine measure, but also how the virus is developing in the rest of the world.

As the severe economic challenges caused by the coronavirus or Covid-19 show a less favorable development, scientists still argue on how to count patients, and how to assess the medical situations. Revealing was an article in Nature discussing the difference between positive-tested patients and confirmed ones, and how to count them in must-quoted public statistics.

Those debates have a profound impact on the assessment of the disease, the fear for mortality, government action and in the end how long the economic standstill might last. 

While messages from the coronavirus are mixed, to put it mildly, the current economic crash course might only be over by April/May, in the most optimistic scenario. Numbers of infected people and deaths by COVID-19 still vary to much to support any scenario at this stage, while it is also unclear whether the rest of the world can contain the virus.

Footage from metro subways still show empty carriages, as the central government tries to encouraged migrant workers to return to their workplaces, local governments – including the big cities –  advise returning migrants to put themselves in a social quarantine for two weeks to be sure they do not carry the virus. The dilemma is obvious: different government make different choices when it come to prevent major economic damage or keeping their cities save from the virus. 

Economic damage to China and the global economy has been limited up to now as two weeks in the Coronavirus crisis were anyway a holiday, and a week extension was doable. Apart from the consumption industries who go a firm hit during lunar festival, expectations were high most of the manufacturing and services would resume on February 10, although our event industry was expected to see longer delays as international flights, traffic and other operations need likely months to recover.