NCP is undermining the economy

Severe impact

Most people do not realize the enormous impact and chain reaction. The NCP is undermining the economy, in China but also in the world. (NCP, previously called 2019nCoV)
If the epidemic can be under control and restrictions lifted by 1 April, that would be SUPER.
I am afraid that is too optimistic.
As for seminars, conferences, trade fairs, parties, big balls, and all: don’t count on it anytime soon.
Draw your own conclusions.
What I most fear: panic, social instability, paranoia, hysteria, overreaction, exaggerated restrictions, name it.

Eating at home, happy! TRUVAL: The Belgische FruitVeiling (BFV) is a cooperative of fruit growers, established in Sint-Truiden. Truval was chosen as the new name for the quality brand.
As for now, I stay in Beijing. Though I feel it’s worse than SARS when I was also here. I hope I can say, “I was wrong. All is well!.”

Supply chain affected

Already some factories outside of China have to stop production because the components they need from China are not arriving. Slowly those buyers will look for other suppliers, even unwillingly.
The same will apply to many export items such as consumer products. The problems that surfaced with the USA-China trade war will just get worse. Yes, few countries can compete with the efficiency and price levels of the Chinese supply chain but there are limits…

Foreigners and students

Many foreigners decided to go away or stay away because of the draconian restrictions and the fear to get sick. Then China will suddenly realize those annoying foreigners do contribute to the economy.
The education sector is already suffering, schools and universities to remain closed till 1 March (at least). That is not a big issue somehow but foreign families might get second thoughts of returning.

The service sector

Restaurants are forced to close. If they want to open, draconian measures. Max 3 people on one table. Distance between tables 2 m. Waiters to remain at safe distance to take orders. Restaurants cannot get their supplies, are prohibited access to their warehouses. As nearly all service staff is from outside Beijing, many can’t come back or are not (immediately) allowed to work. Or, they are afraid to go to work. So most won’t get any payment as most Chinese companies ignore the “laws”.
Want someone to repair the air conditioner, fridge, or do house repairs? Most are barred from working and/or barred from your compound.

Monday 10 February

China was supposed to get back to work on Monday but it was very, very subdued. Many companies and shops remain closed. Some of my favorite restaurants won’t open.
Morel’s Restaurant decided on Monday not to proceed with the opening and to wait at least one more week. Main reason: grocery deliveries as good as impossible due to often unreasonable bureaucracy and restrictions.

Renaat: we remain closed!
Legend Beer ordered not to open as “they receive too many guests”. Reopening date not clear, could be one or two weeks later, nobody knows.
Some restaurants continue to operate, such as Niajo, Hulu TRB (both in Sanlitun) and Caravan (Guanghua Lu), many focusing on home deliveries. But one must pick it up at the gate as deliveries cannot enter.

Is Beijing under lockdown?

I would say not really, certainly not like Wuhan.
But some restrictions are pretty draconian, no non-Beijing cars allowed, many compounds refuse visitors, some buildings under lockdown, access to many parts of the city (especially for transport of goods) seriously disrupted. But airport and railway stations are still open, however long-distance buses are stopped.
Smaller cities often impose meaningless house quarantines, even for people returning from overseas or from Beijing. Many of those restrictions are illegal says the central government…

Contamination issues

Chinese authorities announced on Monday that aerosol and fecal routes of infection remain unconfirmed.
Calls are now stronger to eliminate wildlife trade as China confirms the virus came from pangolins and bats as reported earlier.
All as reported in China Daily on 10 February.

“Ten days wait for the operation” “In China ten days to build a hospital”.

WHO is increasingly worried the virus could spread worldwide by people who never set foot in China. They said, maybe we have seen only the tip of the iceberg…
But compare: the lockdown of Wuhan alone equals the lockdown of entire Belgium. Imagine…

So what now?

The millions of Chinese in Wuhan and surrounding areas confined to their homes during the coronavirus outbreak have turned to the internet to alleviate boredom and do their work from home, boosting the fortunes of tech companies that offer services like mobile games, work conferencing and online health services.
While nobody knows how and when the health crisis will end, the business and tech landscape is likely to change by the time the crisis is over, creating a new set of winners and losers in China’s increasingly digitalized economy.

Exploring empty Beijing

Snow melting

After two days of snow and slippery roads the sun came out, time for exploring empty Beijing with the virus outbreak. It is supposed to be the last weekend before business is to start again on Monday 10 February. Not sure that will be a real event. Still so many restrictions in place and many people are not back yet.
Jumped on my bicycle and this time with my big helmet that provides real protection, including against the Wuhan coronavirus.
As temperature was well above zero C, roads were easier than 2 days ago (see the street close to my compound on 6 February).

The streets in normally traffic-clogged Sanlitun were very empty.
See the pics. For those familiar with this region, it shows Gongti Xi Lu, Gongti Dong Lu, Gongti Bei Lu, Sanlitun Nan Lu.

Not much open

The vast majority of shops, shopping centers and restaurants are closed, mainly imposed by the authorities. Soho Sanlitun completely dead, all locked up. Tai Koo Li still a bit in operation but really empty. The area of XL Bar and Restaurant totally fenced off, what the hell.
Some hardcore outlets are still open: Groovy Schiller’s, Lily’s American Diner, Mala Bocca (all strongly recommended). My usual Jenny Lou was open but I went again to Jingkelong Supermarket on Gongti Bei Lu. Busy, with basically everything available and at reasonable prices.
So, again filling up the fridge. Had lunch today with a steak from Jingkelong and (dried) mushrooms from Shanxi I found at home. All nice.

Fighting the virus

You read a lot of contradictory recommendations about masks and stuff, I take all that with a spoon of salt as we say.
See these interesting guidelines:

I also read a piece that says masks are often more dangerous than good. And that you throw away used masks after a short use and when wet. Etc. etc.
OK, allow me to dissent. Been using the same N95 mask for a few days. As pollution is rather mild, it does not become clogged. When I arrive home:
– booths, mask, gloves, scarf promptly go on top of the heating radiators (they are real hot) where they stay for hours. Virus killed.
– I do not touch my face before washing hands and that after emptying the shopping bags.
– I wash hands frequently, especially after touching the items from the supermarket. In the shops I use my (biking) gloves and very little my hands (except for Wechat pay on my mobile).

That’s basically it.

Jiayou jiayou China and Wuhan

I was asked to make some clip to show how I cope/feel with the coronavirus in Beijing.
See here a segment (supposed to be the final segment).

200205 homeclip2b

(click on it to view)
They wanted it in “our” language and I went for French as more people can understand than in my native Flemish. I am waiting for the link once they post them online (two media). Done with zero preparation and automatic recording on the mobile, being Home Alone.

Surviving the Wuhan virus

Life in Beijing

Some of my friends and relatives wonder how I am surviving the Wuhan virus in Beijing, being alone at home.
Well, it could be worse. I am fortunate to have a comfortable home near Worker’s Stadium, being pretty much near the center of foreign life here. And good Internet and IPTV (hundreds of channels).
We had two days of snow, a bit unusual for Beijing, bringing over 3 cm of snow. Roads are not cleared as usual, traffic is still a bit rare and walking is a bit slippery.
I decided to walk and not bike to Jingkelong supermarket, a shopping trolley in hand. Bad decision as the damned thing broke in the middle of my shopping, breaking several eggs (yes, very messy) and I had to carry the heavy bag all the way home.
The supermarkets are well stocked and prices remain reasonable. Everybody uses a mask.

Home sweet home

My compound is checking visitors, no more deliveries allowed, they must be picked up at the gate. Access still reasonably easy – other compounds can be pretty hostile.

I enjoy my cooking, all a bit creative. Big fun. I also dismounted our old gas stove trying to get it to work better, so I needed to clean the floors with the mess (yeah with a disinfectant!).
I am more or less able to respect my Keto diet, I do exercises at home. Result: still losing weight while I am eating really well.
Evenings are filled with watching some of my old VHS and VCD movies. Some great stuff rediscovered. Single Malt provided.
So, a Belgian bachelor can survive – as for now. Cross fingers.

Surviving virusland

The new Coronavirus

As reported earlier, Houston we have a problem. The reaction of the authorities is debatable. For sure, Wuhan government made a horrible mess. Millions of people left Wuhan to other parts of China and other countries before the government started acting instead of shutting down the news about it. The consequences could be rather disastrous for months to come. Surviving virusland will be a challenge.

The most shocking for me was the (in)famous New Year’s Eve Gala on 24 January, on all Chinese channels.

OK, my Chinese is too poor to appreciate any of this stuff but kitsch à la chinoise it is for sure. You get dizzy from all the overloaded effects and colors and whatever.
But for me it was like having a great party on a sinking ship, as nothing was wrong. Little or no mention at all about poor Wuhan. Nobody in the audience had a mask. Oh great. Al while they were placing in quarantine 20 to 30 million people, for a start. Separating families, making it impossible for people to get back home. A total disregard for the suffering of the people.

Of course the tone was, China is GREAT, everybody is HAPPY.
During the CCTV Gala the show switched to one of Wuhan’s main hospitals now to get an update from the nurses there who are spending their Chinese New Year night taking care of the many people infected with the coronavirus. According to the presenter, the switch was “very last minute.”. For the rest of the Gala, no word no indication.

Beijing restaurants and shops

Gradually Beijing restaurants and shops were closing for the Spring Festival exodus. Then it became worse with the new restrictions. Beijing is not yet isolated as Wuhan, trains and flight still operate while many people have difficulties to return to Beijing, where they live and work. One goes away for a few days, you take the minimum with you. Then you can’t go back. Where to stay, how to pay, missing your medicines, clothes, and all. Wonderful start of the New Year.

On 23 January I still had a nice lunch at LAD (Lily’s American Diner). they were to stay open.

Then I started to go to my favorite restaurants to order a lot and take home doggy bag to eat at home. Groovy Schiller’s Bar & Restaurant was one (pretty full), Legend Beer another (was very empty already, later closed). Morel’s Restaurant was closed and not sure when it will open.
Most of my usual shops were closed (but might reopen soon), such as Jenny Lou and April Gourmet. Got a lot from Jinkelong that was operating normally and was well stocked. Using my bicycle as a pick-up truck.
The pictures talk for themselves…

Home sweet home! As recommended I try to stay home as much as possible, cooking (I actually love it) and watch my old VHS and VCD movies.

Controls and masks

Some people managed to come back to Beijing by train. See the checking on arrival in Beijing West station.
Masks and alcohol (disinfectant) are all sold out. I have enough as I keep them … against pollution.
Some people invented new “masks”, see the pics. I thought it was a joke till people were spotted in Guangzhou using them. How they managed to breathe beats me.


How long will this mess last? No idea. I personally worry, reading recent reports, that we might continue to feel the impact till early May (actually another long holiday…).
The reason for the somber outlook is the history of the facts.
See this in-depth analysis of the new virus:

It mentions: “In December, 2019, a series of pneumonia cases of unknown cause emerged in Wuhan, Hubei, China, with clinical presentations greatly resembling viral pneumonia.” So while it started so early (first case was on 8 December 2019), authorities failed to act and the epidemic was allowed to spread for a period of more than forty days before any decisive action taken. As a result, thousands of people from Wuhan flew to Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore and Japan before the city was locked down. Wuhan Mayor reported 5 million have left the city, many to Henan and other Chinese provinces. So, specialists think many new cases could emerge in the next weeks and months.

As the virus spreads, anger floods Chinese social media. The sheer volume of criticism of the government, and the sometimes clever ways that critics dodge censors, are testing Beijing’s ability to control the narrative.
The Chinese government will never learn its lessons from killing so-called rumors and systematic cover-ups of “problems”.
As SCMP wrote on 26 January: “What is clear is that China’s initial mishandling of the coronavirus outbreak means that thousands have been infected, over a hundred have died, and the economy, already weakened by debt and the trade war, will take another hit. But perhaps the most tragic part of this story is that there is little reason to hope that next time will be different. The survival of the one-party state depends on secrecy, media suppression and constraints on civil liberties.”

Virusland is back

The new coronavirus

There we go again, virusland is back, a repeat of SARS that brought chaos and headaches right in the middle of the preparations for the 2008 Olympics. Orders from our then big boss Wang Qishan (then Beijing mayor): “I don’t want to know about it. Do respect the deadlines for building the stadia at any cost!”. And so we did, the rest is history.

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) was first “discovered” in Asia in February 2003. The outbreak lasted approximately six months as the disease spread to more than two dozen countries in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia before it was stopped in July 2003.More details, see

According to Wikipedia SARS started in November 2002 and in late 2017, Chinese scientists traced the virus through the intermediary of civets to cave-dwelling horseshoe bats in Yunnan province.

Wild animals as food

Because some Chinese ignore warnings not to eat exotic wild animals (often illegal), a continent is being shut down with immense economic losses and canceling family reunions. Great. The coronavirus is paralyzing China and no one knows for how long and at what economic cost, considering the losses in tourism, hotels, F&B, Spring Festival markets, manufacturing, trade, education…

It is now pretty certain the new virus comes from a market in Wuhan where also wild animals were being traded. The Huanan Seafood Market has a thriving wildlife trade, selling animals from foxes to wolf puppies, giant salamanders to peacocks and porcupines.

Xenophobic chatter about mainland Chinese and their eating habits has spread across the world since the first cases of the novel coronavirus. From SCMP article. Pic was all over the Chinese media.

Some say “Old habits are difficult to break. Not that long ago millions starved to death in China. At that time people were grateful to have anything  to eat.”. I don’t see it this way at all. It is the belief that “special meat” can bring exceptional effects for health (often sexual power). The more exotic. the better. E.g. dog meat supposed to be good in winter, bringing “warm” to the body. Bats (fruit bats in particular) are special for blood circulation and in case of strokes; also strong aphrodisiac; snake (especially the bile) for the lungs. I do not see the connection as such with the history of famines: I would then rather look at vegetables of all kinds where everything can be used. Vietnam has similar attitudes. It is also often to show off to say “I can afford this”. Or “I dare to eat”.

This needs to change

People seem to overlook that there is a need to stop the dangerous animal trade, not even to mention the issue of eating cats and dogs.

Remember? SARS-CoV is thought to be an animal virus from an animal reservoir, as mentioned above, that spread to other animals and first infected humans in the Guangdong province in 2002. China then banned in principle the sale of civet cats and other. The government should fire the Wuhan hygiene inspection team and others who turned a blind eye to the wildlife trade and let it happen again. The customs is so rigid for the import of food (e.g. French cheese and many other) while not dealing with local illegal animal trade.

Let’s hope that the draconian measures from the authorities will avoid worse. The government has ordered now to shut down all wild animal markets and closely monitor farms where those are also bred.


But will those measures last? Temporary restrictions will not solve the underlying problem, animal rights activist says.


Chinese creative mask (not recommended)(click to open the video clip)

Another article calling for action on the matter:

China coronavirus: Beijing should close down live-animal food markets to stop similar diseases emerging in future. As long as markets exist that sell exotic animals for food, the likelihood of other new diseases emerging will remain.