We set up a ‘brain trust’ in the Cafe in order to write a combined sitrep for The Saker Blog about the Coronavirus. The new name in the taxonomy is COVID-19 but let’s stick to Novel Coronavirus for now. It is of course too early to come to any conclusions, but we can start isolating the discernible high level trends and perhaps get an early glimpse as to what effect the outbreak may have geopolitically and economically, although it is very early days.
We will not attempt to look at the technical picture here – the numbers of recoveries, the death rates and the infection rates, rates of transmission, life of virus on surfaces and so on because the technical picture is not yet clear and all data is in a state of flux with opposing and inconsistent reports from all sides.
One cannot expect otherwise as the world is still shooting at a rapidly moving target in terms of statistical ground and epidemiological analysis.
In addition, we have professional organizations like the WHO and the CDC not really in lockstep and giving different pronouncements on a professional level. It is too early to draw conclusions.
What people are saying:
Let us look for a moment as to what ‘people are saying’.
What ‘people are saying’ runs the gamut from messages received in meditation, prayer, even channeling, and this information is being put out there as valid for everyone else in the face of no definitive information you can hang your hat on.
Every talking head on youtube has suddenly turned into an expert, both on China and on the Novel Coronavirus. Every uninformed blockhead has now turned into a specialist. Every Twitter feed out there now considers itself an insta-influencer.
Most of the western alternative news medias have suddenly decided to follow their governmental lead on China, and the message is overwhelmingly that Brutal China is indeed very Brutal and very Bad.
Wuhan was on the point of massive riots, Hong Kong Style against their government
The Chinese government is lying and not reporting correctly. The death rate is much higher.
The Chinese Defense Forces are riddled with virus infected soldiers, and they are being contained somewhere else. There is no information on this excepting wild speculation.
Every non-flattering video from China is being passed along salaciously; usually grainy and one cannot really figure out where it is from – no markings, road signs, store names or anything where anything can be identified. The scuttlebut is that these mostly security camera videos and actively distributed by Falun Gong. Your guess on this is as good as mine.
As you can see from this list, and it is by no means exhaustive, all over the show, and there are literally 10’s more of these
What the timing indicates
The timing is suspicious no matter how you look at it.
Manufacturing usually shuts down or goes slow over Chinese New Year / Spring Festival which can last as much as 15 days. So, economically, this was a good time for a virus (if China ‘did it’).
On the other hand, this holiday gives rise to the greatest migration of people on our planet which also makes it an ideal time to infect a population (if someone outside of China ‘did it’).
The timing so close to the signing of the of the US/China Phase I Trade Agreement, which the Chinese referred to as only a ‘cease fire’ in the trade war, and the US referred to as a great breakthrough, is suspicious. The Chinese were indicating that they are very hesitant to even go to a phase II negotiation. And of course, there is a black part of the actual agreement that we do not know about.
The Main Tropes
1. The main trope out there is that this is a bioengineered bioweapon. But right at that point opinions diverge so widely that one can only ask questions, and not conclude anything.
2. The second trope is that people are being arrested widely. We’ve seen reports of arrests in Canada and in the US, and out of Harvard. Here is but one.
3. The third trope is that China is “The Sick Man”, and we hate them for dumping this virus on the rest of us. Let me just say that the level of invective against China is not only unprecedented, it is also suspicious. Rebranding of the Coronoa Virus to the Chinese Virus is proceeding apace, even though it has a formal name now – COVID-19. In my life I have never seen such an overt manipulation of the common headspace such as this, since ‘weapons of mass destruction’.
4. The fourth trope is that the US, on a public and governmental basis has decided to vilify China, correctly or incorrectly. Note Mr Pompeo. Is he only taking an opportunity that is presented to him, or does he know more than what we think?
5. The fifth trope is that the civilizational fear against China is suddenly out in the open for everyone to see. It is almost a morphic resonance of fear expressed against China and that China is the culprit. However, we don’t really know who the culprit is actually. We don’t even know if there is a culprit.
Is China the culprit, or is China the victim, or is this a virus that spread from animal to human or has it escaped from some or other lab by accident (or on purpose)? We do not know any of this and this trope just creates more FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt).
6. The sixth trope is that China is wrong no matter what she does. Quarantine and even forced quarantine is expressed by the blockheads of Brutal China Cracking Down on Their People, without thinking what is actually necessary to do for this kind of outbreak, no matter where it comes from. One after the other video supposedly from China showing the so-called Brutal Chinese government is distributed with relish, with nary a thought that you and I are actually being protected by these heavy handed tactics. The snoflakes are out in force talking about human rights, yet, by the looks of things, China is going all out protecting the many.
Because there is a strange consistency in what the State (used generally) says, and what the alternative media says, this is more worrying than anything else. On the one hand nobody can believe the State, and on the other hand alternative media is reproducing and disseminating the message of the State.
7. The seventh trope is that the few voices, even here on The Saker Blog, that try to look at this realistically are drowned out in the general societal willingness to believe the worst. Viva free speech!?!
The formal state, and the western alternative media are generally in lockstep on this issue.
China is now attempting to go back to work. We do not know how successful this is, but some are trying to measure the actual air pollution to try and figure out if China has gone back to work, or not. Economically China has also given guidance to business, saying that this event is a force majeure, known colloquially in contractual terms as ‘an act of God’, and therefore they can renegotiate contracts, delivery dates and completion.
Let us look at what is clear.
China is fighting for its life. The death-toll or even containment is not truly visible in any numbers as yet. This will have tremendous impact on supply lines and not only on China’s economy, but all parts of the international supply chain, upstream and downstream. China is acting on expressed unhappiness of their people. They are firing those who do not perform, who put red-tape in the path of directly fighting this virus. It may look brutal to lock people into their homes, but how many do they save by this action? Where do these get food? It is in the Chinese media that food gets delivered. This is something that the western youtube pundits (and their a-hole brothers) forget to report, although this is open and publicized in the Chinese media.
This is a catastrophe. It is not a flu, it is not a common cold, it is not something that 5G brought onto China, it is not God punishing the Godless red commies. Whatever it is, it is a catastrophe with world-wide consequences. We do not know enough to come to any meaningful conclusions except to say that considering the timeline, we are right to be suspicious and we may be right to prepare with the basic masks, gloves and limited public exposure, i.e., not visiting large gatherings, for a period of time.
If this virus continues, it will have societal impact that may be severe – we won’t shake hands, we won’t hug babies, social interaction will be vastly compromised, and a few more common contact methods like music concerts or sporting activies for humans will be left by the wayside.
If it continues much beyond the current level, the extensive economic fallout cannot be estimated. You and I and no analyst in the world can truly get their arms around the economic fallout and the breakdown of worldwide supply chains. Who knows, we may be out of a specific little part for a normal service of a vehicle, we may be out of medicines (the idea of the many people that are taking anti-depressants and such types of medicines having to go cold-turkey is quite scary, and there may be a severe shortage of simple medical equipment, like masks and gloves that are even now getting hard to source – just try buying masks on Amazon).
In the current analysis and according to what we have available, we do not yet know enough to be meaningful. Much more than that is pure speculation and gives rise to other agendas being seeded into the public narrative.
What is clear, is that fear, uncertainty, and doubt is rife and people are terrified...