Russia was recently named by Bloomberg News as a new “supplier” of coronavirus to China. The Chinese Foreign Ministry says as many as 100,000 Chinese citizens are trying to leave Russia for their homeland, transiting through the Far Eastern Russian city of Vladivostok and outside of official checkpoints since Beijing suspended border crossings on April 9. Authorities in China’s Heilongjiang province, bordering Russia, claimed to have recently registered 79 Covid-19 cases among returning citizens. (in Russian, Current Time TV)
The Ukrainian An-225 Mriya, the largest aircraft in the world, landed at the Almaty airport in Kazakhstan on April 11 en route to China to pick up medical supplies to combat the coronavirus in Europe," says a statement from Antonov, the owner of the aircraft. No other details were provided. Five of the aircraft operate as part of the Strategic Airlift Interim Solution (SALIS) in cooperation with NATO and the EU. (RFE/RL Ukrainian Service)
RFE/RL’s Balkan Service has used official data from the Serbian government, Russian embassy, and European Union to produce two infographics that counter Chinese narratives by showing that the EU is the leading provider of pandemic-related assistance to Serbia, and that Serbia is the top recipient of EU support in the Western Balkan region. (RFE/RL Balkan Service)
Kyrgyzstan has asked China for debt relief as it struggles with the economic shocks of the coronavirus pandemic. President Sooronbai Jeenbekov's office said on April 14 that the request was made "considering the negative impact of the infection on the macroeconomic situation."
While Turkmen officials continue to deny any cases of COVID-19 inside the country, mass testing has begun at schools and public organizations in the Lebap province, and is scheduled to begin in Ashgabat on April 21. RFE/RL broke the story that Turkmenistan received thousands of testing kits from China. (in Russian, RFE/RL Turkmen Service)
Rare criticism by an Iranian Health Ministry official of China's controversial COVID-19 figures has angered hard-liners in Tehran, some of whom asked if he was speaking on behalf of the country's archrival, the United States. Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur said on April 5 that China's statistics about the coronavirus are "a bitter joke."
A copy of an official directive now deleted from a number of Chinese universities and institutions informs researchers that any academic papers relating to the coronavirus pandemic are now subject to review by authorities. The directive was still visible on a cached version of a page on the website of Shanghai's prestigious Fudan University on Tuesday. (Radio Free Asia)
Eric Yuan, CEO of Zoom Video Technologies, acknowledged in a live-streamed broadcast on April 8 that the company had made “missteps” amid a surge of users working from home during the coronavirus pandemic, including routing traffic through China, raising security and privacy concerns. (Radio Free Asia)
RFE/RL Bulgarian Service Director Ivan Bedrov spoke on the EU Scream podcast about China's showy -- and effective -- Coronavirus public diplomacy. “China sends a plane to Bulgaria -- something you can see and touch.” By contrast, the EU’s promise of trillions of euros is “beyond imagination” for the average citizen, he said. The result is public misunderstanding of the EU’s role in assisting Bulgaria, perpetuation of an anti-EU narrative, and a threat to public health.
PODCAST: AFPAK File: What Is Driving Beijing's Response To The Coronavirus In Afghanistan And Pakistan?
As Beijing appears to be reining in the spread of the coronavirus, it has stepped up efforts to assist other countries, including Pakistan and Afghanistan, that are fighting the pandemic.Yun Sun, China program director at the Stimson Center, told the AFPAK File Podcast, “Chinese efforts are narrowly targeted at furthering its strategic objectives, aimed at the natural outgrowth of a more assertive foreign policy.” Other participants were RFE/RL Afghan Service’s Mustafar Sarwar, VOA Afghanistan/Pakistan bureau chief Ayesha Tanzeem, and Michael Kugelman, senior associate for South Asia at the Wilson Center.
Global rights activists have criticized China's appointment to a United Nations human rights panel. The country was appointed on April 15 to a panel that selects the U.N. Human Rights Council's investigators who monitor human rights, including abuses of the freedoms of speech, the right to health, enforced disappearances, and arbitrary detention, the NGO U.N. Watch said in a report. (Radio Free Asia)
Kazakhstan’s Foreign Ministry has officially protested an article published on a Chinese website titled 'Why Is Kazakhstan Eager To Get Back to China?'" The article's author wrote that Kazakhstan is located on territories that historically belong to China.