As the editor-in-chief of China’s state-controlled tabloid “The Global Times” took to an op-ed to criticise Wuhan’s local party officials and central health authorities, international observers began to wonder whether they were confronting sophisticated propaganda aimed at laying responsibility away from the Politburo or whether the government was letting controversial material slip to blow off (some) discontent in a controlled fashion.
On May 1, 2020, North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un made his first public reappearance after a 20-day absence during which international speculation about his health had been running rampant.
As the Covid-19 pandemic strikes hard, protests in Hong Kong appear to have abated. Distant seem the days when yellow umbrellas and balaclavas saturated global media. And yet, just like at the start of what has now come to be known as the 2019 “global protest wave”, Hong Kong remains at the frontline of political contestation worldwide.
There will be two reasons why the convening of China’s parliament, the National People’s Congress (NPC) will be unique this year. The first is that it will be the first time this meeting has been delayed from its March slot since the 1980s, when it started to be held with something like regularity as part of the Deng era institution building reforms. The second is that it will be the first that might turn out to be genuinely revealing and information. The cause for both of these happens to be the same: COVID-19.
George Orwell’s predictions in 1984 came several decades too early, but they hit the mark. In a heartbeat, Orwell’s dystopic digital authoritarianism might have translated into reality, to the point that nowadays we no longer cast a curious look at the tracking apps on our phones or the video surveillance cameras in shops or buses. This is particularly true for China, where social surveillance has deeper philosophical roots than in Western societies.
Popular mobilisation is one of the key recurring elements that have characterised Chinese politics since Mao Zedong founded the People’s Republic of China in 1949 and has entered Beijing’s political grammar as a well-established practice. It has featured prominently even after the reform era initiated by Deng Xiaoping, for instance after the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.
During the last four decades, China experienced impressive economic growth, becoming one of the leading powers of the global economy. After a century of humiliation imposed by Western and Japanese colonial powers, today the country is demonstrating a strong desire to achieve its national rejuvenation (guojia fuxing).
The South Korean parliamentary elections held on 15 April were the first major vote after the global outbreak of Covid-19, which had in the country one of its earliest epicentres outside China. Yet even with voter temperatures being taken before entry and social distancing implemented at polling places, last week’s vote is likely to be remembered more for its results than for the conditions under which it took place.
On 15 April 2020, South Korea will hold its 21st parliamentary elections. In the pre-Covid-19 era the ruling Democratic Party (DP) and opposition United Future Party (UFP) were ready to contest elections based on their policy agenda. The former advocated completing the ‘Candlelight vigils reforms’, whereas the latter called for an assessment or even indictment of the economic and foreign policies of the Moon Jae-in administration.
The healthcare industry has been thrust into the forefront of a health crisis that has brought even the most powerful governments to their knees: the Covid-19 respiratory disease.
Bound by an oath to heal the sick, healthcare professionals spend their days confronting a deadly and highly contagious illness while the rest of the world watches, bunkered in their homes.