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CUSEF Express - May 12, 2022

2022-05-12
Daily highlights of developments that affect China and the U.S.
Daily highlights of developments that affect China and the U.S.

China says WHO chief’s comment ‘irresponsible’

  • A Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson said the recent comment by Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on China’s COVID policy was “irresponsible” and urged him to view the policy objectively and rationally.

  • When briefing the press on Tuesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) director general said the organization “don’t think that it [China’s dynamic-zero COVID approach] is sustainable considering the behavior of the virus and what we now anticipate in the future.” Ghebreyesus praised China for its responses to the pandemic at the beginning of the outbreak.

  • Shanghai re-tightened its COVID measures this week by spraying disinfectant in the homes of infected people and closing down the subway system, bringing the infection number sharply lower. A research paper published in the journal Nature Medicine estimated that, in a no-restriction scenario, an Omicron wave from May to July could cause 1.55 million deaths in China.

China takes efforts to keep economy afloat

  • With the pressure on the Chinese economy mounting, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, at a weekly State Council executive meeting on Wednesday, urged (En/Ch) to adopt employment-oriented fiscal and monetary policies to keep the economy intact.

  • The COVID pandemic has boosted food and transportation prices and tamed production activities in the country, resulting in a 2.1% year-on-year increase in the consumer price index (CPI), the fastest since December, and the producer price index (PPI) continued to slow down at 8.0% in April. The inflation, however, is much lower than the 8.3% rise in the U.S.

  • The ongoing Ukraine crisis also poses risks to China’s food security. The country’s agriculture ministry recently asked provincial authorities to inspect the “destruction” of wheat fields (毁麦), including diverting the current crops into silage, which is usually made from corn. The harvest of winter wheat next month also fuels uncertainty about the food prices.

  • The expectation of ongoing inflation, shrinking productivity, and rising unemployment together contribute to a gloomy prospect under the current COVID policy. However, some argue an even worse situation otherwise. Reports by media outside of China reflect increasing skepticism about the disparity in the Chinese government over the COVID and other policies.

Killer robots stir worries

  • The alleged deployment of artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled weapons by both Russia and Ukraine in the war has raised the worries about the abuse of lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS). Israel, Russia, South Korea, Turkey, Australia, the UK, China, and the U.S. are leading the race. The call for nonproliferation of the game-changing LAWS has been ever stronger in recent years.

Finland to join NATO ‘without delay’

  • Finnish President Sauli Niinistö and Prime Minister Sanna Marin said in a joint statement that “Finland must apply for NATO membership without delay.” The government could approve the application as early as Monday after a debate over the weekend.
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