Opinion

Opinion

The coronavirus may have invited the next global financial crisis
The US Federal Reserve has just cut interest rates by half a percentage point and the Reserve Bank of Australia by a quarter of a percentage point, while some expect the European Central Bank, with interest rates already at zero, to directly fund small and medium-sized enterprises. These central banks are acting like they can save the world, but markets are unconvinced. It seems that the central banks, after playing markets like maestros with quantitative easing and extremely low-interest rates, have finally met their match in Covid-19. Central bank moves are sustaining the largest financial bubble in human history. After 2008, these banks helped the global economy recover by jacking up asse
America’s initial coronavirus response does not inspire confidence
New York has finally cottoned on to the threat posed by the coronavirus.  On Friday, my wife and I went to stock up on tinned food and enough hand sanitizer to make Howard Hughes call an intervention, and business was proceeding as normal. Since then, Covid-19 has caused six deaths on US soil, and stores across the city are packed out with folks – mostly white and black – preparing for what will either be the apocalypse or an excellent opportunity to catch up on Netflix (my wife, who is Chinese, was delighted to note that New York’s Asians prepared long before everyone else). (Where did the coronavirus come from? How to prevent infections? Here’s what we’ve learned so far about the coronavir
The spectacular fall of Chinese swimmer who called himself ‘king’
“I am the king,” Sun Yang said at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. He was referring to his position in the 1,500m freestyle and his rivalry with Australian swimmer Mack Horton, but he could have been talking in general. Much like the other “Sun King,” Louis XIV of France, China’s superstar swimmer has surrounded himself with a court of flatterers and sycophants. That is why Sun, 28, only talks to state-run media Xinhua and CCTV, plus two or three Chinese print journalists, as he knows the coverage will be positive. Heaven forbid there was any negativity, or worse: people preferred rival Ning Zetao, as some fans and media did. This and the literal embrace of swimming’s governing body – Sun was hug
I’m a Chinese student in Britain. I was asked if I had ‘Ching Chang disease’
As soon as I walked into the train carriage, a whole family packed up their belongings and shuffled nervously to the next one. It happened on a train from Oxford to London earlier this month. I am an ordinary postgraduate student but for the fact, extraordinary in these times, that I’m Chinese. As the coronavirus outbreak spreads around the world, I have been experiencing a different epidemic – one of racism and xenophobia. I felt unwelcome. For the first time in years, I was self-conscious of my status as the person of color in a white space, the alien in a culture whose values I share. I expected a better Britain than the one in which two of my Hong Kong friends, walking on a Manchester st
Global trade was breaking down. Then came the coronavirus
The still-evolving coronavirus outbreak has already disrupted trade and economic performance both regionally and globally. Perhaps the most insidious impact of the virus stems from China’s pre-eminent position as a producer of intermediary products that feed into global supply chains. China accounts for almost one-fifth of world manufacturing and Chinese intermediary products are predominant in the electronics, car, machinery and textile sectors. Subtracting Chinese inputs from these supply chains will, in some instances, cause production to grind to a halt, as has been the case for Hyundai Motor in South Korea. In other instances, alternative or workaround solutions will be found but they w
6 ways the coronavirus crisis will change China’s relations with the world
Viruses and epidemic diseases might originate in one country, but they have neither nationality nor loyalty. Instead of confining themselves permanently to one breeding ground, they travel far and wide, crossing one border after another. And globalization helps them travel further, and faster. This is why we have seen the novel coronavirus, which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan and causes the disease now officially known as Covid-19, spreading wildly across the globe. This is also why we see the whole world sharing the price of the epidemic with China, whether it is in human casualties, economic losses or societal fallout, as a local health scare develops into a pandemic on a nationw
Why we can’t think straight about the coronavirus (and what to do about it)
The ongoing novel coronavirus crisis is an opportunity to reflect on how we respond to risk and uncertainty, as well as how governments should communicate risks, in an environment of uncertainty and incomplete and imperfect information. Behavioral scientists have long contended that people often find it very difficult to think in statistical or probabilistic terms, so have highlighted a number of ways in which people’s responses and behaviors depart from what rational choice models predict. Consider this thought experiment, which is sometimes known as the “Linda problem.” Linda is single, outspoken, and deeply engaged with social issues. Which is more likely: A) Linda is a bank manager; or
‘No Mandarin allowed’: dining in ‘Hongkongers-only’ restaurants
A restaurant in Hong Kong posted this on Facebook: “From now on, we will only serve Hongkongers. Only Cantonese and English are allowed when placing orders. We do not serve Mandarin speakers.” An edited version of the post later said, “Update: Taiwanese people are allowed.” When I was standing in front of the restaurant with my friend, both of us from mainland China, we were anxious and a bit embarrassed. “Let’s order in Cantonese, and then we can speak Mandarin with each other,” I said, in Cantonese. She agreed. The coronavirus outbreak, which started in mainland China and has spread to Hong Kong, has become the latest fuel in the anti-mainland sentiment in the former British colony. The g
Why don’t Chinese women want more babies? It’s not just about money
It is often presumed that government policies are the main factors determining birth patterns in China. This may not be the case anymore. By the end of 2015, China ended the controversial one-child policy, allowing couples to have two children. A baby boom was expected. But it hasn’t materialized and it is very unlikely that it will. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the birth rate in 2019 fell to 1.048, the lowest on record since the founding of the People’s Republic, except in 1961 when millions lost their lives in a widespread famine. After the Chinese Communist Party took power in 1949, Chairman Mao Zedong foolishly encouraged women to produce more children, believing that
Outbreak brings out the awesome power of China’s model – and its devastating ills
China is effectively in a lockdown. From big cities to little villages, almost every community is under quarantine to a varying degree, or at least faces some travel restrictions.  There is little information on how long this will last. One thing for sure is that the government is willing to keep the country in lockdown until the virus outbreak comes under control. A government mobilization on this scale is unprecedented. This shows the awesome power of the China model. With government power at the center of everything, it can mould society in a way not possible in any other large or even mid-sized country. It has grass-roots party cells to implement quarantine policies in every urban compou