China’s Coronavirus Outbreak

Here’s an overview of China’s Coronavirus

Currently, leaving not only the city of Wuhan infected, but also other international cities vulnerable, China’s coronavirus is continuing to spread unabated. Patient zero appeared on December 31st last year, and the SARS-related respiratory disease quickly grew at an alarming rate. Today, this virus reached a shocking number of  42,000 confirmed infections over 28 countries. Most of the stores and businesses in China are closed, and other Asian countries closed down major department stores and places that usually hold a high population. In such, the Coronavirus became a global health concern all around the world. 

After the virus contaminated a handful of people in Wuhan, scientists and the World Health Organization were quick to identify the disease and its origin. Researchers found out that bats were New Coronavirus’ reservoir host. Although scientists are not sure how it was transmitted, they predict that it either transmitted to other animals, eventually leading up to us, or was sold in illegal black markets (as China consists of a lot of black markets for animals). 

Although scientists and the WHO were able to recognize the vaccine, the Chinese government denied proposing an action to prevent the disease from mushrooming to other countries. Due to its rapid outbreak, there were only a few ways in which the government could respond (they could only use thermometers and workers to look for potential patients). In such, people from Wuhan and other cities that had Coronavirus patients immediately took refuge in nearby countries, positioning South Asia and East Asia in danger. People were readily able to leave as it was difficult to differentiate the new Coronavirus to a regular cold. In social media, there were constant stories of how patients escaped Wuhan by taking fever-reducer drugs, indicating how easily people could get away from the government’s eye.

Currently, the control of the disease is still in the process as more confirmed patients are found all over the world. Although the world has a better grasp of what Coronavirus really is and ways to prevent it, it is still difficult due to its subtle symptoms and contagious characteristic, making everyone paranoid. To make matters worse, there has been racism against Asians from Caucasians that discriminate Chinese. People were trying to find a scapegoat for this crisis as their lives were put into danger. Korean social media is also quick to criticize foreigners from China. In addition to social issues, there have been political conflicts; for instance, many younger generations are criticizing President Moon for opening doors to Chinese tourists despite the virus. This phenomenon is happening to other countries as political parties clashed in these types of problems. Coronavirus is bringing political, social, and economic problems to our society. 

Many experts compare this crisis to that of MERS and SARS. Although this virus is less lethal than those two, its rate of contagion is much higher. The only way to keep ourselves safe is to wash our hands and wear masks. Stay safe!

Featured Image Source: Al Jazeera

-Mark Park (’20)-

Tumult in the South China Sea

The territorial disputes in the South China Sea haven’t gotten any quieter. If anything, there’s a significant risk of the region becoming a bigger problem than it has to be.

These days, President Trump’s order to retaliate against the chemical attack on civilians in Syria through a military strike is on the front page of every news medium. However, there is a cold yet equally as volatile conflict going on in a different part of the world: the South China Sea.

On April 6th, 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines moved Filipino military troops to the islands claimed by the Philippines in the South China Sea, which consist of about 50 islands and reefs in the Spratlys, nine of which the country is currently occupying. Tensions are high in the region as the major stakeholders in the region – Vietnam, Taiwan, China, Malaysia, and Brunei – react to the Philippines’ bold move, particularly China.

Over the past few years, China has been asserting its authority in the South China Sea by converting natural reefs and shoals into artificial islands for both military and civilian use. China has already nearly completely transformed the once-untouched Fiery Cross Reef into an airbase, with 200 Chinese troops present on the island in 2014 and that number has most likely increased greatly to accommodate both more troops and support forces.

Fiery Cross Reef
PC: Center for Strategic & International Studies / Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative

Furthermore, according to the Center for Strategic & International Studies, “China appears to have built significant point-defense capabilities, in the form of large anti-aircraft guns and probable close-in weapons systems (CIWS), at each of its outposts in the Spratly Islands…It now seems that these structures are an evolution of point-defense fortifications already constructed at China’s smaller facilities on Gaven, Hughes, Johnson, and Cuarteron Reefs.” This indicates a sharp increase in a Chinese military presence in the South China Sea, with Chinese warships already seen in the area conducting patrols at a near point-blank range to warships from the United States doing the same.

President Duterte’s resolute desire to firmly maintain the Philippines’ claim of islands in the region has not changed; according to CNN, Duterte stated that “We tried to be friends with everybody but we have to maintain our jurisdiction now, at least the areas under our control. And I have ordered the armed forces to occupy all these…” whilst on a visit to Palawan Island. This indicates Duterte’s ambition to follow China’s example of militarization in the region, as he has suggested that the Philippines forcibly reinforce its territorial claims in the South China Sea by erecting buildings on the disputed islands, both military and civilian.

Filipino Military.jpeg
PC: Reuters / Ritchie B. Tongo

Many maritime law and strategic experts following the dispute in the South China Sea have stated that it is inevitable for at least one nation in the region to respond to any provocative claims of the islands possibly with force. This may escalate to violence, which is highly undesirable in any scenario by any nation. One can only hope that the nations involved in the South China Sea dispute can come to a reasonable compromise to stabilize and deliver relative peace to the region.

– Daniel Park (’17)

Featured Image: Philstar Global

Sources: https://amti.csis.org/chinas-new-spratly-island-defenses/

http://edition.cnn.com/2017/04/06/asia/philippines-duterte-south-china-sea/

China’s Economic Recession: Tragedy Hits Africa as a Result

Severe recession has hit the nation of China; and it’s resulting in a chain reaction of economic hardships in multiple other countries.

A nation’s economic growth can be measured by making use of its GDP (gross domestic product), which takes into account the country’s consumer spending, investment, government spending, and net export all in terms of dollar values. The country’s net export is what is most influenced by other countries and their economic well being, as it takes into account both import and export statuses. Take, for example, the two nations of Nigeria and South Africa. South Africa had relied heavily on China to purchase their iron ore, as South Africa is China’s biggest exporter of iron ore. However, this over-reliance on China’s purchase of their commodity has indeed, backfired, as China’s demand for iron ore has plummeted over the years. As stated by China’s capital city, Beijing, “imports from the continent [of Africa] had fallen almost 40% in 2015”. On the other hand, Nigeria’s economy has also plummeted overtime, as the country’s staple export, oil, has not been selling well. Both issues share a core element, in which neither of them are due to the nation of Africa itself. Nevertheless, Africa and its economy has still been affected – negatively, in fact – and there seems to be no end to this downfall at the moment.

The most hard hitting issue in regards to South Africa, per say, is the decline of South Africa’s currency: rand. South Africa’s currency has descended to record lows, and this decline has indeed, correlated with China’s decline in demand of commodities. The decline in demand of commodities has only lead to a “worldwide fall in prices of raw materials,” because they could not sell the resources had they not made the prices cheaper, hence the decline in currency. Additionally, according to New York Times author Norimitsu Onishi, South Africa is currently experiencing “the worst drought in a generation”. Due to this environmental hindrance, the country can neither produce nor export agricultural products they usually do, thus must import those products, such as corn. However, going back to the issue with the currency, the weak rand only makes it harder for them to import corn – or anything, for that matter.

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“Copper mine in Africa. China’s economic slowdown leads to a decrease in commodity prices.” (New York Times)

Africa’s severe financial conditions does not stop here. The nation of Nigeria, Africa’s both biggest economy and oil producer, is also facing similar problems like those of South Africa. Profit that comes from selling oil accounts for 80% of Nigeria’s profit. However, due to a recent crash in crude prices, Nigeria’s economy has also tremendously weakened. Like South Africa, Nigeria is also experiencing collapse in their national currency, naira, because the nation’s central bank has restricted the sale of American dollars in order to protect its “shrinking foreign reserves”. Nigeria’s economy has grown by 3% in the year of 2015, after the nation’s expansion of 6.3%. But with the rather threatening status quo that Nigeria is facing, it seems as though they can no longer be satisfied with such a minor growth.

The two countries, as they are both developing ones, must prosper enough so that they no longer have to rely heavily on other nations for their economic success. As the two countries are both soon to hit recession, unemployment rates will likely soar, as well as other major issues to consider such as lack of resources. The continent of Africa as a whole is also currently under threat, as it must face “a slump in mining, as well as manufacturing and agriculture”. The key for them to once again, place their hands upon welfare and boom, is to advance enough so that they no longer require the help of other countries. However, this is easier said than to be done. No accurate predictions can be made as to how long Africa will be in a slump, with many economic downturns. For now, one can only hope for the recession they are to face this year to be not as severe as, say, the Great Depression that hit the United States of America less than a hundred years ago.

– Leona Maruyama (‘17)

Featured Image: New York Times

Chinese Government Strengthens the Great Firewall

“Brick by brick, the Great Firewall extends.”

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China is notorious for its censored internet. Ranging from social networking sites such as Facebook to specific keyword searches on Google, Chinese citizens are restricted in their online activities. Recently, China has further strengthened its Great Firewall yet again.

 

Numerous sites we use for granted are unaccessible for Chinese citizens. Websites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Google – some of the most widely used social platform – are a few of the many restrictions.

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chinadailymail.com

It was reported on January 28th, 2015, that the Chinese government started to strengthen and increase its security of virtual private networks, more commonly known as VPNs. This system allows its users to evade the Great Firewall to access blocked sites and search up sensitive keywords. This change would be detrimental not only to individuals but also to companies that require communication through essential but blocked social networking sites.

 

Winger Chen, a CEO of a food and beverage consulting company residing in China, learned to work around the unstable connection and slow internet. He has considered this new change to be disastrous to the continuation of the company. He has mentioned that he is “100% reliant” on the service that Google, one of the most strictly blocked sites, provides, and that it would be nearly impossible to run his company without the assistance of the VPN.

 

Statistics in 2014 from CNN illustrate that 56% of companies operating in China have shown negative views on the internet censorship, in contrast to a lower 39% in 2010. This result leads to strong evidence that the increase in censorship and security in China is becoming a problem to not only the citizens’ lives but also the companies. The problematic issue with this is that the companies bring economic benefits to the nation. Hence, restricting internet access for companies might result in negative effects for the country as well.
China has been recognized for its rapid bursts of growth in the economy over the past years. Its widespread role over global markets is certainly perceivable to the world. However, in other areas, China still has room for improvement. Many citizens hope that the Chinese government revise restrictions pertaining to the internet. The world will keep a constant eye on the Great Firewall for any according changes.

 

Yan, S. (2015, January 28). China crackdown makes it harder to get around the Great Firewall. Retrieved February 8, 2015.

 

– Serim Jang (’16)

Header: Michael Cambon/WAN-IFRA