Jun Mai

Jun Mai

Mai is a contributor to Inkstone. He is an award-winning journalist covering China’s political and social news.

Not wearing masks a ‘big mistake’ in US and Europe, Chinese scientist says
People in the United States and Europe are wrong not to wear face masks in public during the Covid-19 pandemic, said the head of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. “The big mistake in the US and Europe, in my opinion, is that people aren’t wearing masks,” Gao Fu, the agency’s director-general, said in an interview with the journal Science. “This virus is transmitted by droplets and close contact,” he said. “Droplets play a very important role – you’ve got to wear a mask, because when you speak, there are always droplets coming out of your mouth.” Gao joined a chorus of researchers urging global health authorities to reconsider not recommending wider use of the face mask b
A Chinese tycoon criticized coronavirus response. Now he is missing
Friends of Ren Zhiqiang, the Chinese former property tycoon and outspoken critic of the country’s ruling Communist Party, are concerned about his whereabouts after losing contact with him for several days. The 69-year-old has been out of touch since an article he wrote criticizing the way in which Chinese authorities responded to the coronavirus outbreak was widely circulated online, they said. “I haven’t been able to reach Ren Zhiqiang since Thursday night … it’s been over 72 hours already,” Wang Ying, an entrepreneur and friend, said. Zhang Ming, a history professor at Renmin University in Beijing, said he too had been unable to contact Ren. “A citizen can’t just disappear, we need to know
Chinese officials thank the people after ‘gratitude education’ campaign backfires
Communist officials in the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak have praised local residents as heroes in an attempt to contain a public backlash sparked by the suggestion they should be grateful to the Chinese leadership.  The Communist Party chief of Hubei province, where more than 67,000 people have been infected by the virus since December, made the remarks on Sunday while visiting front-line medical staff in Wuhan.  “Wuhan is a city of heroes, and the Wuhan people are heroes,” said Ying Yong, who was appointed to the post last month in the middle of the coronavirus crisis.  “[Wuhan’s people] … have shown resilience and strong will … I hereby express my sincere gratitude to the people o
The system that allows China to build hospitals in days is also letting it down
Beijing has long said that the Chinese system of one-party rule and top-down decision-making has brought hundreds of millions of people out of poverty and is the most effective form of governance for the world’s most populous country. That same system acted in ways unheard of under democratic forms of government when faced with the brewing public health crisis brought on by the Covid-19 epidemic in the central Chinese city of Wuhan at the end of 2019.  They included the shutdown of a city of 11 million people, almost three times the population of Los Angeles, spread over an area five times the size of London. And that was just for starters. It does not take much imagination to speculate tha
Detained Hong Kong bookseller sentenced to 10 years
Hong Kong bookseller Gui Minhai has been found guilty of providing intelligence overseas, almost five years after he was first detained by Chinese authorities. Gui was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment and deprivation of political rights for five years by a Chinese court on Monday. A statement by the Intermediate People’s Court of Ningbo said Gui would not appeal at the end of the trial. Gui, a Swedish national, ran Causeway Bay Books in Hong Kong – an outlet known for selling gossipy titles about Chinese Communist Party officials.  He was one of five booksellers who disappeared in 2015. The Monday court statement also said Gui “agreed to restore his Chinese citizenship” in 2018, a move B
Xi’s China faces ‘crisis of Chernobyl proportions’
Long before it became synonymous with a viral outbreak, the central Chinese city of Wuhan had been at the heart of some key political events in the country’s modern history. It was where an armed uprising began in 1911 that ended thousands of years of imperial rule. It was where Mao swam across the Yangtze River in 1966, at the age of 72, in a publicity stunt that helped rally support for his Cultural Revolution. This winter, it was the starting point for an outbreak of a new coronavirus – which causes the disease now officially known as Covid-19 – that has rapidly spread across the country and beyond, killing more than 1,380 people and paralyzing cities. The crisis has been referred to as C
China wants people to get back to work. That may not be happening
China is facing a dilemma. The country is trying to get back to business after the extended Lunar New Year holiday amid fears that a mass movement of workers across the country will worsen the spread of the deadly coronavirus that has infected over 31,000 people. Allowing the workforce to return to their jobs is crucial both for sustaining economic growth and providing support to fight the outbreak, according to Lu Zhengwei, chief economist at the Industrial Bank in Shanghai. “It’s obviously desirable for employers who are now paying rent, salaries and social welfare for their employees, for nothing in return,” he said, adding that most small and medium enterprises in China could only last a
New coronavirus has infected more people in China than Sars did
The number of confirmed cases of the rapidly spreading coronavirus infection in mainland China has reached 5,974, health authorities said on Wednesday – a total surpassing the cases that the mainland had in the 2002-03 Sars epidemic that eventually killed almost 800 people worldwide. Severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) infected 5,327 people in mainland China in nine months and killed 349 people there, according to the World Health Organization. Separately, 299 people died in Hong Kong from the disease. The deaths from the new coronavirus infection have risen to 132, health authorities said on Wednesday. They have all been reported in mainland China, with 125 in Hubei, a landlocked provi
Mystery virus in China isn’t Sars or Mers, officials say
Health authorities in central China say a mysterious form of pneumonia that has infected dozens of people is not Severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) or Mers (Middle East respiratory syndrome). As of Sunday, officials in the city of Wuhan were still in the process of identifying the virus. A total of 59 people had been hospitalized with the as-yet unidentified form of pneumonia. In Hong Kong, which is connected with the mainland Chinese city via high-speed rail, there were a total of 17 suspected cases of the illness found in people who had returned from Wuhan. In Singapore, the Ministry of Health earlier said it had been informed of a suspected case, involving a three-year-old girl from
China faces ‘huge challenge’ in living up to US trade promises
China has released fewer details about its trade deal with the US than the American side has – a sign of caution as one government adviser warned it would not be easy for Beijing to live up to its commitments. “For China, committing to and carrying out the phase one agreement is a huge challenge,” Shi Yinhong, a Chinese government adviser and international relations professor at Renmin University, said. “China will need to buy something like $300 billion worth of US products in the next two years and lots more US agricultural goods. Does China need that amount of US soybeans?”  A fact sheet released by Washington on Friday said China and the US had reached a “phase one” agreement on nine are