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.
Fighting the Covid-19 virus and saving the economy might not go very well together, says political analyst Victor Shih in Al Jazeera. While there is very little international supply chains can do at this stage, as Chinese governments make decisions, says Victor Shih, the message for the long run is: diversify.
China’s Hubei province shocked the world as the number of confirmed coronavirus patients spiked because it started to use different way to diagnose patients. Political analyst Victor Shih sees it as a proof that the government is using different sets of tools to manipulate the number of patients and deaths, he tells to Reuters.
China is not yet one week back from lunar holidays, and the fallout of the coronavirus is not yet clear. We have seen major events being relocated, delayed or even cancelled, speakers being stuck inside or outside China, and potential audiences unable to move around. Meanwhile we are exploring an alternative option, that might help some event organizators: follow the lead from China, and get your speaker online.
Even when the virus might reduce its destructive path over the next two weeks, resuming events might be affected till the end of April, early May. Those are – with June – our most busy months in helping event organizers to get the right speakers in place, before the traditional summer break kicks in.
China’ struggle against the coronavirus has been on the front pages worldwide on the past weeks. Western CEO’s of companies with operations in China have been calling for calm and try to convince their audiences all is well for those operations. The question is whether that is more than wishful thinking.
China has been into lunar festival mode over the past weeks and all offices and factories would have been closed anyway. Damage might have been obvious in the consumer industry as even outside Wuhan many inhabitants kept off the streets. But the major question is now, as the lunar festival holidays end, whether China’s massive work force returns to their workplaces.