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.

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.

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.

China is profiling itself as a stabilizing actor on in world politics, after the US killing of Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani, says political analyst Victor Shih at the South China Morning Post. However, China’s presentation of itself as respectful of the sovereignty of other nations does not square with numerous examples of China looking to use its economic sway to influence other nations’ diplomacy or politics, Shih said.

One of the major global initiatives by China was the massive Belt and Road Initiative, reviving the old silk roads. In May 2017 a major international conference showed what our experts were already expecting: now all roads lead to China. Even countries who suffered from difficult relations with China, including both Koreas, appeared in Beijing.Larger than the former Marshall Plan after the Second World War, OBOR is going to redefine global trade.

The trade talks between China and the US might be moving into the right direction, but tensions on other issues are abundant, for example on US demands to stop importing oil from Iran. Professor Sara Hsu explains why China will not comply with the demands of the US.

China threatened Canada with severe consequences after it arrested Huawei’s CFO Meng Wanzhou on the request of the USA. Business analyst Shaun Rein, author of The War for China’s Wallet: Profiting from the New World Order, spells out what those consequences could be for AFP.

China owns Asia, after the US under Donald Trump decided to leave the continent, argues super-investor Jim Rogers, author of Street Smarts: Adventures on the Road and in the Markets, at AMTV. The US moved out, and now you see the Chinese everywhere, in Russia, in Iran, just because they have no competition anymore. “You should invest in markets others hate,” he says.

ZTE got itself into trouble by violating a ban on using American components for products it exported to Iran and North-Korea. The punishment – no US components for ZTE for seven years – might kill the Chinese company, who cannot work without them. What did the auditors do, wonders Beida auditing professor Paul Gillis on his weblog.

China’s close to one trillion US dollar investment program One Belt, One Road (OBOR) is facing serious pitfalls that could stop it from succeeding, writes financial analyst Sara Hsu in the Huffington Post. Insufficient due diligence is just one of a range of potential barriers, she writes.