GSM Association CEO John Hoffman has announced the world’s biggest mobile phone show will not take place this year due to concerns over the coronavirus outbreak sweeping across China and much of Asia.
Hoffman’s statement reads, in part:
“Since the first edition of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in 2006, the GSMA has convened the industry, governments, ministers, policymakers, operators and industry leaders across the broader ecosystem.
“With due regard to the safe and healthy environment in Barcelona and the host country today, the GSMA has cancelled MWC Barcelona 2020 because the global concern regarding the coronavirus outbreak, travel concern and other circumstances, make it impossible for the GSMA to hold the event.
“The Host City Parties respect and understand this decision.
“The GSMA and the Host City Parties will continue to be working in unison and supporting each other for MWC Barcelona 2021 and future editions.
“Our sympathies at this time are with those affected in China, and all around the world.”
It was just another blow to normalcy since the coronavirus outbreak was confirmed by China’s government. But even a full month into the world’s response, Treasury Secretary told the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday that another three to four weeks of data will be needed to assess the full economic impact of the disease.
Still, he didn’t expect the impact to extend beyond 2020. That same level of optimism help stock markets soar on Wednesday. In part, this fueled by the heavily optimistic face the Chinese government has put on the outbreak and its national response.
China reported its lowest number of new coronavirus cases in two weeks on Wednesday. This came as China’s most senior medical adviser predicted the outbreak would end by April. The 2,015 new cases reported raised the total worldwide level to 45,175 confirmed cases. There have been 1,115 deaths, according to official numbers released by the Chinese Health Ministry.
But the World Health Organization is not as optimistic. Just 24 hours after telling world public health officials to consider coronavirus “Public Enemy Number One,” WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus said the coronavirus outbreak “could still go in any direction.”
But, despite Beijing’s best efforts, cracks are forming all around the Communist Party of China. The Chinese-language version of The Epoch Times reports that dozens of party officials in Wuhan have been diagnosed with the coronavirus. Additionally:
“A staff member of Xiangyang 991 Hospital confirmed to the center that a confirmed armed police officer was hospitalized. Among them, 1,500 Chinese soldiers and 1,000 armed police are being quarantined.”
The Epoch Times also reports sources in China say hundreds of sailors, particularly those in the submarine service, have also been sickened by the coronavirus. The epidemic has become such a problem the submarine service was forced to cancel planned training with its new nuclear-powered submarines.
It further reports the People’s Liberation Army navy, air force, army, and rocket army have all been forced to scramble to set up new procedures to deal with the epidemic. While new infections are supposed to be reported immediately to health officials, the regulations stipulate that any infections involving military secrets must be kept confidential—meaning many more soldiers and party officials could be affected and no one knows it.
The South China Morning Post is reporting the coronavirus is also wreaking havoc on the government’s artificial intelligence-powered mass surveillance program. Wearing face masks has obscured the system’s ability to monitor specific people—particularly those who have been ordered to home quarantine.
In several instances, those who wanted to avoid the quarantine were able to move about at large with impunity for weeks. During that time, they went to shopping malls, dined in restaurants, and played mahjong in crowded entertainment centers—effectively making them “super spreaders.”
In one instance, a family ordered to be quarantined evaded security forces and took part in a Lunar New Year celebration with family in a village of 6,000 people in another city. Half the village population was in attendance.
The SCMP reports:
“The family slipped through all measures of screening and, according to information later posted by some fellow villagers on the Internet, exchanged greetings at the banquet with guests at 100 tables. Seven people were later confirmed infected, more than 4,000 villagers quarantined and five cadres sacked for negligence, according to local media reports.”
And now, even mainstream researchers and epidemiologists are accepting that it’s entirely possible the coronavirus could affect the vast majority of the human race. If it does, as TruNews has reported, more than 50 million people could die before the pandemic is brought back into control.
In the midst of the chaos, the push for greater freedom of speech in China is gaining momentum, despite Beijing’s censorship efforts. Inspired by the death of whistleblower Dr. Li Wenliang, who tried to sound the alarm about the coronavirus at its earliest stages, but was punished by Communist Party officials, an online petition is now circulating to make Feb. 6—the day of Dr. Li’s death—a national day of free speech.
Chen Yixin, a protégé of President Xi Jinping who is described as “the man with the emperor’s sword,” was dispatched to Wuhan last weekend. Beijing appears to be pinning its hopes on his ability to introduce new measures that will maintain social stability—including heavy controls on media and people expressing views online.
In the meantime, those who originated the free speech petition are reportedly being censored or called into local police stations to be officially reprimanded for “spreading rumors”—just as Li was punished. Despite the government pressure, more and more evidence of a widespread collapse of social order has emerged on the Chinese social media platforms Weibo and WeChat.
(Photo Credit: Reuters/TruNews)