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Is it Right to Hold China Accountable for Covid 19?

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Global speculation about China’s role in this pandemic

Let me make one thing clear, I do not believe that Covid 19 has been a man-made biological weapon, created in a Chinese laboratory, or any laboratory, for that matter.

There seem to be growing speculation and conspiracy theories by the day however-Australian and American governments alike, putting China and the WHO in the crossfire. Scott Morrison was astounded as to why wet markets in China have re-opened.

America and Australia-such beacons of democracy.

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Yet, Can we hold China accountable at all for the global pandemic? Is there something to answer for?

Last night, Trump announced that he had seen evidence to show China had created the virus in a lab.

Even if there was a conclusion, that the virus was man made-and there has not been quite the opposite. How would it be known to be from a Chinese lab? Does it come with a sale tag?

It goes without saying that Trump has a chip on his shoulder about China, and even more so now that his response to the pandemic will ultimately decide upon the upcoming election.

Why he seems to think China is a scapegoat, to be the most effective game-changer; is a discussion for another day.

China’s figures as it stands for the global pandemic, are currently at 84,373 cases and 4673 deaths. This is far from believable. For a country where the first outbreak was recorded, and that had to shut down for almost three months it is not tangible that they would have only seen, just under 5000 deaths. In the United Kingdom alone, we are in the 9th week of the outbreak, the 6th week of lockdown, and already we have nearly 27,000 deaths, and we are nowhere near the population of China at 1.4 billion (Wikipedia, 1st May 2020).

It is widely known that China has an oath to secrecy and reputation-ally hides the truth, even in the face of a global pandemic. You only need to look at the social media coverage coming out of China to see how heavily it is being policed and censored on a daily basis. (BBC News, 7th February 2020) They did however report the virus to the WHO on 27th December 2019 (Express, Hardtalk, Sackur, 1st May 2020), and their reaction was totalitarian-they have apparently seen no new cases, enabling the country to re-open. However, how much this is true, is questionable.

Yet a country that censors the thoughts and feelings of its’  own people on such a level, during a crisis that will have taken their families cannot be trusted.

Of course, we cannot confirm whether China did indeed have more deaths than those reported, but we can listen to the stories. Pictures of corpses lying in cities, forgotten and alone. And transmissions of doctors crying out a warning for the rest of the world-silenced by China’s republic (BBC News, 7th February 2020), before China had decided to report the disease. There seem to be different reports as to when the Chinese doctor: Dr. Li Wenliang blew the whistle, some say the 27th of December and some on the 30th. Whenever it was, the Chinese authorities did not report to the WHO until 31st December (Express, Hard Talk, Stephen Sackur). In the meanwhile, accusing Dr. Li of salacious rumors. The man has since died.

I think it is fair to say that Dr. Li would not have taken to the media if he believed the Chinese government to have taken what he had to say seriously. Chinese culture very much upholds status and power above all else.

There have also been reports via the morning tv program ‘This Morning’ with Phillip and Holly: whereby a British ex-pat living in China, contracted the disease in November. The Chinese authorities may have known about this virus for a month.

The UK Ambassador for China has denied the virus to have emerged from Wuhan on the BBC’s Hardtalk program, the epicenter of the Chinese outbreak. The UK ambassador did not answer the journalist’s question, put to him during the Hardtalk program. Stephen Sackur asked if the ambassador agreed whether it was important to review the Chinese reaction at the beginning of the outbreak in Wuhan, which led to a pandemic. The ambassador answered that they would have to “agree to disagree”. The ambassador is speculative about whether the virus originated in Wuhan. Yes, this is speculative, but Sackur was asking him if he thought the response in China needed to be reviewed. Perhaps that was a more difficult question to sidestep. He then went on to say that China had reported the outbreak as early as they could-in reference to the same question.

 The fact is, we cannot say for certain by all means, that the pandemic originated in China-there have been symptom-related reports in Dubai as early as September last year and other locations; but we can say there is evidence that the epidemic was not dealt with quickly enough. This may have prevented the disease from even spreading, or having the ground to reproduce.

One thing that can be said, I do think the Chinese dealt with the virus admirably, once they did act: building hospitals in a week and closing down their entire 1.4 billion population-who were not even allowed out for food. This was all coordinated through designated community managers. Something to be admired, and reflected upon in our own handling, for future times to come.

Where the virus originated, we may never know, yet we are all affected by this and we must all come together on this. It will not be beaten by accusations and what has been seen as growing racism towards the Chinese. Reports of tourists being spat upon, not to mention the growing unease I witnessed prior to the lockdown in the UK.

Yes, it is not the first time that a highly infectious disease has come out of China and has come out the wet markets that are so integral to this ancient, and largely agricultural nation.

It is of no surprise either, that such a scenario would arise when coagulating both wild animals and water, which were present at the Wuhan wet market. (Marron, National Geographic, 16th April 2020).

SARS, back in 2003, also came out of a wet market in China. (Ellis, Vox, 6th March 2020) Bird Flu in 2013 also emerged in China, and it was also linked to wet markets. (WHO

It is not rocket science to pertain this: water is a haven for bacteria and I have witnessed what these wet markets are like; having lived in Thailand for three years. Everything is washed down at the end of the market: tables, chairs, floor, drapings, everything-with the discarded food-before people have left, and you could easily be wearing sandals. You can imagine then, that anything infectious-if it can live in water, can travel, and can immediately spread if it makes the jump from animal to surface. Polio anyone?

I also understand the significance behind the wet market, which is a fresh food market: serving the deep culinary traditions of old cultures.

In contrast, we are now in a different time. 

We all have to be held accountable, not just the Chinese. The very those that blame the Chinese, have also got some questions to ask of themselves.

The UK Chinese ambassador-Liu Xiaoming said:

“This is not the first time that some politicians want to play world police. This is not the era of ‘gunboat diplomacy. This is not the era when China was still a semi-colonial and semi-feudal society. This is the third decade of the 21st century. Those people cannot understand it. They think they still live in the old days when they can bully China and the world. If the WHO does not act their way, they stop their support and criticise the WHO to be ‘China-centric’. That’s simply not right. (The Guardian, Wintour, 30th April 2020)

That is simply not right.

It is widely being reported and remarked upon, that the WHO has allowed the re-opening of wet markets in China, however, the WHO is not able to control governments and can only advise. They are currently advising the ban of wild animals in wet markets, and regulations in order to run them.

Misinformation is almost as contagious as Covid 19, it would seem. 

At the end of the day, China is responsible for its’ people and how they run their wet markets, for as we have all experienced-we are all connected and it has a knock-on effect upon us all. They are accountable in their practices and in their response-which are both admirable and questionable. Hopefully, they will be able to come to terms with this.

They are not alone.

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What Xi Jinping Aims, Acquires – The Return of Persistent President

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President Xi Jinping

The results of China’s presidential election were known to the entire globe, and especially to the citizens of China. In the wake of the recently concluded party congress in Beijing, Xi Jinping has established himself as the kingmaker.

Xi Jinping was a driving force behind the repeal of presidential term limits in 2018, which opened the door for him to hold the position of leader for life if he desires.

Xi Jinping has broken the previous history by accepting a third term as party leader and significantly enhanced the concentration of power at the organization’s top.

But what does the persistent president’s return means for China and the world? Here’s a detailed insight.

“The World Development needs China…”. – Xi Jinping 

After being elected as president of China for the third consecutive term in a closed-door election, Xi Jinping stated in his first address to the audience, “China cannot develop in isolation from the world. The world’s development also needs China,” 

This quote shows how China focuses on its growth to have a more prominent global effect as a superpower. 

Additionally, Xi Jinping, with the proceedings of the new term, wants to focus on achieving economic, industrial, and technological goals. That will give the Chinese economic and technological sector a competitive edge to become the next prominent superpower.

Video by cgtn

However, the road ahead toward leading China as a top superpower for Xi Jinping needs to be smoother. There are unresolved domestic problems, economic difficulties, and hostile international relations with neighbors like Taiwan and India. One of his biggest concerns would be his relationship with rival America

Nevertheless, Xi Jinping continues to hold the view that despite numerous challenges in becoming a superpower, the Chinese people would always support and remain steadfast on this side. 

“On the road ahead, no matter high winds, choppy waters, or even dangerous storms, the people will always be our most solid support and strongest confidence,” 

President Xi Jinping

Two Countries Share a Friendship with ‘No Limits’ – Xi Jinping on Relationship with Russia 

Mr. Putin will need China, said Alicia Garcia Herrero, head economist for Asia Pacific at Natixis. Russia must continue importing semiconductors from China to keep military, industrial, and civil needs operational. 

Due to restrictions from US and European alliances, Russia has no choice but to export chips from China to operate for civil and military purposes. 

Chip export from China to Russia more than doubled to roughly $50 million in the first five months of 2022 compared to a year earlier. While exports of other components like printed circuit boards also witnessed a double-digit percentage increase.

However, Xi Jinping raised concerns over the Russia-Ukraine war during his visit to an international summit in Uzbekistan with President Putin.

The focus, though, was on Putin’s oblique acknowledgment of Chinese “concerns” regarding the invasion. 

“We highly value the balanced position of our Chinese friends when it comes to the Ukraine crisis,” 

Putin, Russian Presidnt

Nevertheless, China has been cautious in its interactions with Moscow to avoid falling victim to any potential sanctions and alienating other nations, such as those in Central Asia, with China forging economic links.

Yet, with the ongoing trade across two borders of China and Russia, Xi Jinping’s thought over Russia’s invasion clearly — supports the friend firmly in the backend while criticizing and commending Russia in front of the world.  

“Regard science and technology as our primary productive force” – Xi Jinping

The most potent president of decades in China, Xi Jinping, at the opening of the meeting, straight away displayed China’s powerful ambitions and reliance on science and technology

Violating a tradition that had been in place for 40 years, six out of politburo’s 25 members now have a background in science. Compared to just one person in the previous politburo, who had no members with education or experience in science or technology. 

And there was a significant turnaround of the party’s top leadership after Xi Jinping was reinstated as general secretary for a third term.

Xi Jinping’s choices emphasize building up Beijing’s powerful military and technological capabilities so that China can defend or resist any pressure from the US and its allies, especially when it comes to enforcing territorial claims over Taiwan. 

Moreover, China is also expected to prioritize research and development in aerospace and space science. To boost the aerospace and space science workforce, China aims to bring back Chinese scholars who are currently abroad or hired by foreign researchers. 

Such initiatives and endeavors unequivocally show China’s priority for science and technology in the years to come. In 2021, China spent around 2.8 trillion yuan, 2.4% of China’s GDP, on Research and Development. 

However, the current five-year plan for the nation sets a target of an annual increase of more than 7% every year. 

“China must strengthen the unity of all ethnic groups.”

As western countries continue to charge Beijing with committing genocide against the predominantly Muslim Uyghur population in the region, China’s president, Xi Jinping, visited Xinjiang for the first time in eight years.

A supra-governmental group subject to US sanctions, the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC) was inspected by the president, who lauded the organization’s “excellent progress” in reform and growth.

Nevertheless, President Xi Jinping’s visit to the Xinjiang area comes out as more deliberate than opportunistic as the ruthless tactics employed by the Chinese government against the Uyghur minority in the northwest Xinjiang province have been brought to light by a cache of leaked documents and images.

Uyghurs are allegedly forced to unlearn their culture and religion via a network of institutes run by Chinese authorities in the area. The exposed documents state that

China has a shoot-to-kill policy for Uyghurs who attempt to flee the internment centers. The materials also go against the Chinese government’s claim that the Uyghurs willingly attend the facilities.

However, China’s Foreign Ministry has rejected the allegation and said the Media is spreading lies and rumors.

Though China was seriously condemned by the UN and western countries, knowing such ruthless behavior of China towards minorities is nothing new. Such criticism compelled President Xi Jinping to travel to Xinjiang, a region he hadn’t been to in eight years. 

However, the future of the oppressed Uyghur Muslims and other minority communities under Vi Jinping’s third term is still uncertain.

Read More: Modern Uyghur ‘Genocide’ in Xinjiang China

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Will China Invade Taiwan? The Looming Danger of World War 3 Explained

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Taiwan's Military

While the world is engulfed in the Ukraine-Russia war, global inflation, food shortage, and scorching heat, China is preparing to conclude its long-simmering plan to invade Taiwan.

Here’s an in-depth report:

Will China Invade Taiwan: An Overview

China’s goals for Taiwan are well known. Tensions between the two nations have been stoked for years by opposing perspectives over the sovereignty of the little island country. And now, they are reaching boiling point.

Beijing sees Taiwan as a breakaway province even though it has never been a part of China. Moreover, the so-called reunification with Taiwan has been a top priority for the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, ever since he came to office. And he hasn’t ruled out using force to do this.

Taiwan’s military, which has 169,000 active soldiers, is outnumbered by its superpower neighbors’ million-strong army by over a 20 to 1 margin. And, with the looming danger of China’s invasion of Taiwan; expert fear, the world is inching closer to a World War situation.

Why does Taiwan Matters to the World?

If China were to Invade Taiwan, two nuclear power heads, China and the US, could war head to head into what could escalate into world war three.

But why is Taiwan so important for the world, especially for the US?

South China Sea Dispute

The South China Sea is one of the most important regions for global trade because over 30% of the world’s shipping passes through the passage, which amounts to $3.37 Trillion in trade per year. The sea also homes 11 billion barrels of untapped crude oil and 190 Trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

And most important of all, the country controlling this region will have significant military benefits.

For years, China has been keenly taking control of the region. To an extent, where the Sino military has created an artificial island to claim the South China Sea as its own.

artificial island by China
China’s artificial island on the South China Sea

So, if China succeeds in invading, it will have the upper hand in the second most important region in the world, handing China significant military dominance in the area.

US’s Promise in Question

The US does not recognize Taiwan as an officially different state. But, the Taiwan Relations Act 1979 does require the US to aid Taiwan in self-defect. President Bidden also testified that in case of Chinese assault, Washington would protect Tawain with force.

Though Biden has framed US support for Taiwan in terms of ideals, such as the defense of democracy against despotism, many analysts point out that Washington also views the island as strategically significant.

Furthermore, if China invades Taiwan, the US will be forced to reciprocate to honor its promise. Failing to do so would put Washington in question even with its strongest allies, including NATO.

Taiwan: The Semiconductor Hotstop

From laptops to game consoles and automobiles, most of our electronic equipment is powered by semiconductors chips manufactured in Taiwan.

Taiwan alone has 63% of the market share in the global semiconductor industry. By one measure, TSMC (Taiwan semiconductor manufacturing company) holds over 54%. It’s a vast industry worth over 100 billion USD in 2021.

Therefore, Taiwan is the world’s semiconductor hotspot that powers significant tech companies, including Apple, Intel, and Nvidia. And, with China in control of Taiwan, it will directly take over one of the world’s most vital industries.

Can China Takeover Taiwan By Force?

The People’s Liberation Army has significantly improved under president Xi Jinping to an extent where invading Taiwan is possible.

However, one key determiner is how close PLA is to mastering the skills required to deploy thousands of troops to Taiwan by air or sea, take over the island and push over to size crucial areas like railways, ports, and communication.

However, even if LPA- the biggest military force in the world- wanted to annex Taiwan, doing so would be fraught with danger.

While subjected to naval and aircraft bombardment, the Sino military will have to cross Taiwan bay with over 100,000 soldiers. And, even if the military were to reach Taiwan’s coast; landing aircraft to unload armored personnel carriers, artilleries, and tanks would be a challenge because of the island’s rocky shoreline.

The invasion will further provoke large-scale combat between the US and China.

Taiwan Brace for China’s Invasion

With China’s aggressive military power demonstration near Taiwanese borders and Nancy Pelosi’s visit, the Taiwanese authorities are preparing for the invasion. Now, allies are pumping in more military aid while the neighbors are arming with new fighter jets.

According to Chinese officials, live-fire sea and air exercises are being conducted in six different regions around Taiwan. The drill includes over 100 planes, including ten warships, bombers, and fighter jets.

Six Chinese military drill zones in south china sea
Six Chinese military drill zones (Source: Al Jazeera)

However, Taiwan is also setting the stage for strong retaliation.

Last week, Taiwan conducted its largest ever military drills that stimulated the repulsion of an invading force. City across Tawin shut down for thirty minutes for nationwide military exercises.

And now, with China set to orchestrate fresh military drills near Taiwan; the island nations say, “Our military will be ready but will not ask for war.

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Cobalt Mines: China Taking Over the Fuel of the Future

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Congo Cobalt Mines

Green energy and electric vehicle is the future of a sustainable world, and one of the critical components powering the dream of a more sustainable planet is Cobalt. The blueish-grey chemical has risen to prominence as a vital component of lithium-ion batteries, the technology that will fuel the smart technology revolution.

As more countries electrify their vehicles, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has become an increasingly important supplier of the vital energy source in EVs, Cobalt. Cobalt is a crucial component of electric car batteries, and Central Africa provides two-thirds of the world’s supply.

Often referred to as the fuel of the future, Cobalt is undoubtedly the key to the growing electric vehicle industry. But who controls cobalt?

Cobalt: The Fuel of the Future

The use of Cobalt in the green energy industry is as diverse as it is enduring. Having tripled in price in just a decade, Cobalt has formed the cornerstone of some of today’s essential applications, from hard metals, jet turbines, orthopedic implants, and electric vehicles.

However, the supply of this critical chemical element is expected to become increasingly complicated. In 2017, the DRC produced 67 percent of all worldwide Cobalt mined. Because the DRC is related to concerns of corruption, child labor, and human rights violations, this is a challenge for enterprises with customers that require high levels of supply chain due diligence.

Furthermore, the DRC’s new punitive cobalt tax policy may lead large miners like Glencore to halt or stockpile output in the nation until the government agrees to better conditions, resulting in further market shortages. Furthermore, Cobalt is produced as a by-product of copper and nickel mining, and the world’s sole primary cobalt mine exists.

But, China’s influence on the Cobalt industry has increased drastically over the years. So, how is China taking over the fuel of the future?

China is Taking Over the Fuel of the Future: Cobalt

China’s approach to financing state-owned enterprises may be causing significant inefficiencies in the economy. Still, it also gave them unrivaled supremacy in essential minerals necessary for new technology like Cobalt.

According to Darton Commodities, China now controls roughly 85% of global cobalt supplies.

This includes a three-year arrangement with Glencore, the world’s largest cobalt producer, to sell 52,800t of cobalt hydroxide to Chinese chemicals business GEM. This is almost a third of Glencore’s entire expected production for this period.

Mine Worker Entering the Mine

Furthermore, after purchasing the Tenke Fungurume Cu/Co mine (TFM) from Freeport McMoRan in 2016, China Molybedenum (CMOC) is the largest shareholder in the DRC’s Tenke Fungurume Cu/Co mine (TFM). The mine is the only supplier to Finland’s Kokkola refinery, distributing to Japanese and Western technological companies.

Several smaller Chinese companies own cobalt holdings, such as Comika Mining/Wanabao Mining, Congo Dongfang Mining, and Hunrui Cobalt. According to Darton Commodities, Chinese refinery output accounted for 58 percent of world refined cobalt output in 2017, with the remaining 98 percent imported, primarily from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The DRC: China’s Key to Winning the Green Energy Race

Local Chinese upstream production and cobalt resource exploitation account for just 23% of the global electric car supply chain. On the other hand, China dominates one downstream and two mid-stream production stages. Moreover, China accounts for 66% of cathode and anode manufacture, 80% of chemical refining, and 73% of lithium-ion battery cell production in the worldwide EV supply chain. As a result, China relies on Congolese Cobalt to dominate the world market.

The importance of the DRC and the draught report’s consequences stem from the link between Cobalt, batteries, electric vehicles, and global politics. Over 70% of the world’s cobalt deposits are located in the DRC. Also, the DRC houses the world’s eighth-largest cobalt mines

However, Chinese battery manufacturers will struggle to keep up with the country’s booming electric vehicle sector and the government’s geoeconomics aspirations if they don’t have an ample supply of Cobalt. In addition, the possibility of Congolese officials reopening the Sicomines investment agreement may throw global markets into a tailspin. However, the DRC is a vital link in a significant high-tech supply chain as one of the world’s poorest countries.

Children Working in the Mines in Congo
Source: InfoCongo

If China can acquire Cobalt in the DRC, it will control global supply networks for a material that is highly concentrated geographically. This will help China dominate the reusable battery materials and electric vehicles market. However, China’s Dual Circulation Plan and worldwide climate policy may suffer substantial defeats due to the discoveries in this new draught report.

The Hurdles Ahead for China

According to US Geological Survey estimates released in 2019, the DRC holds over 51% of world cobalt deposits.

Roskill forecasts that the central African country generated roughly 90kt Co in different intermediates in 2020, accounting for nearly 70% of global cobalt feedstock production.

Prior to the current declaration, Chinese businesses already owned over 40% of the cobalt mining capacity in the Democratic Republic of Congo as a consequence of decades of investment and development in the nation, with multiple resource-for-infrastructure deals inked and implemented since the 1990s.

China’s need to achieve a balance between internalizing supply chains and leading international investment is exemplified by the Sicomines incident.

The Dual Circulation Strategy tries to accomplish this by maintaining one foot in the global system and the other firmly planted in China. Sicomines are a key component of this method.

China can grow its EV market and local consumer culture by importing raw resources like Cobalt, which allows the country to be independent of international tides. Electric car production can also help Beijing gain an image as a climate change leader on the world stage.

The Congolese government’s examination of Sicomines is unlikely to jeopardize China’s geoeconomic goals. Still, it does provide insight into China’s essential sectors, economic strategy, and the challenges it will confront in securing strategic supply chains.

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