Now China suddenly started to retract its zero-Covid strategy, strategic analyst Ian Johnson looks back at how the country got itself into this unprecedented mess at the Prospect. The economic slowdown and high unemployment “are all underlying issues that actually make the government’s challenge greater than first appears,” says Ian Johnson.
How will people remember the Wuhan lockdown, two years ago at the start of the global coronavirus crisis, asks CFR-scholar Ian Johnson in a debate at the NYU’s Institute for Public Knowledge on the book “The Wuhan Lockdown”, by Yang Guobin. How successful has the state been in suppressing the knowledge of this hiccup in communist rule in Wuhan, Ian Johnson asks the author.
In the early days, KFC and McDonald’s tried to conquer China’s consumers with a standard US menu. Now diversification and localization have become a key feature in the success of both fast-food chains, although the road has not been without bumps, says marketing expert Ashley Dudarenok to the Panda Daily.
Not authoritarian rule but solid support from China’s citizens allowed its government to beat the Covid-19 and effectively deal with the coronavirus crisis, argues Singapore-based journalist Ian Johnson, in the New York Review of Books. He uses the Wuhan Diary: Dispatches from a Quarantined City by Fang Fang, to show the government did not silence critics but did win majority support by its people, helped by indeed heavily manipulated media in China.
Journalist and academic Ian Johnson reviews a documentary of artist Ai Weiwei with hidden footage of the coronavirus crisis in Wuhan for Plataformamedia. “The public needs to understand that this film is about China,” Weiwei said in a telephone interview with Ian Johnson. “Yes, it is about the coronavirus lockdown, but it is an effort to reflect what ordinary Chinese have experienced.”
Journalist Ian Johnson, author of The Souls of China: The Return of Religion After Mao interviews author and journalist Yuan Ling after he got into quarantine in his home province Shaanxi. “The virus has already had a deeper impact on the people than even the  Sichuan earthquake [that killed 69,000],” Yuan Ling tells Ian Johnson on the phone, for the New York Review of Books.
Shanghai-based business analyst Shaun Rein was with his family on a well-deserved holiday as the fallout of the corona virus crisis caught up with his trip. Panic is spreading over the world, especially now in the US. Rein is back in Shanghai and feels himself more safe than in some of the countries he has been in over the past few months, he tells at CGTN, although there is a lot room for improvement in China too.
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.
The national fight against the coronavirus has also triggered off help in temples, churches and mosques, writes author Ian Johnson of The Souls of China: The Return of Religion After Mao in the New York Times, but not all help has been appreciated. Religious groups have been donating large amounts of money, a feature hard to imagine even ten years ago, he writes.