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Thread: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Wuhan Pneumonia

  1. #241
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    Aug 28

    Aug 12, 2020 2:35am PT
    China’s ‘Eight Hundred’ Lines up August Release in North America, Australia, New Zealand
    By Patrick Frater


    Courtesy of Huayi Bros.

    Chinese war action film “The Eight Hundred” will open in theaters in North America, Australia and New Zealand at the end of the month, a week after it becomes the biggest local film this year to open in Chinese cinemas..

    Handled by Huayi Bros., the controversial film will release in China on Aug. 28. Overseas, CMC Pictures has set Aug. 28 as the date for an outing in English-language markets.

    Fixing the date was a delicate balance. It has become common practise in recent years for commercial Chinese films to aim for day-and-date releases that are coordinated with the mainland Chinese outing.

    That approach not only minimizes piracy, but also allows the overseas distributor to capitalize as much as possible on the Chinese marketing efforts, and the assumption that Chinese diaspora audiences are in touch with Chinese social media. A long delay potentially risks the chance that North American-based Chinese diaspora audiences would choose to watch the film on Chinese streaming platforms instead.

    CMC says it is still trying to build out its release pattern. Key cities in North America, notably New York and Los Angeles, are still closed due to coronavirus control restrictions. The same is true in Victoria State and Australia’s second most populous city Melbourne.

    But in Canada, Australia and New Zealand “The Eight Hundred” has the advantage of coming after Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” which will be the first major Hollywood movie into theaters in several months and act as an ice breaker. That strategy does not hold up in the U.S., where “Tenet” is scheduled for Sept. 4.

    Until Tuesday, when four new cases were uncovered in Auckland, New Zealand had gone over 100 days without a locally transmitted COVID-19 case, and most cinemas had reopened. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern ordered a level 2 alert for most of the country, meaning that indoor gatherings must be limited to 100 people. For Auckland, the return to a level 3 alert means that cinemas re-closed from noon on Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020.

    Local crime drama, “This Town” topped the box office over the past weekend with over NZ$200,000 earned from 114 screen release by Madman Entertainment. The film had shot in Hawkes Bay from a screenplay by David White and Henry Feltham, directed by White and produced by Kelly Martin, Aaron Watson and White.

    The $80 million “Eight Hundred” was produced by Huayi Brothers and is directed by Guan Hu (Mister Six”). It was also the first Chinese film to be entirely shot with Imax cameras.

    Its story centers on the sacrifices made a ragtag group of Chinese soldiers in 1937 Shanghai as imperial Japanese troops advanced. Their operations were once praised by Mao Zedong himself as a “classic example of national revolution.” But its Shanghai Film Festival premiere last June was halted at the last minute, and its July commercial outing cancelled, after intervention by a group of Communist Party scholars and experts. They said that the film had mis-stepped in its portrayal of the rival Kuomintang Party, which ruled China until it lost the civil war against the Communists in 1949 and fled to Taiwan.

    The Chinese film industry has been harder hit by the COVID-19 fallout than most other business sectors. Cinemas were closed from Jan. 23 until July 20, and some are still only now reopening their doors. To date most films released in Chinese theaters have been re-releases and a mix of small-scale local and international titles. Nationwide box office over the past weekend was flat at an aggregate $17 million.
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  2. #242
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    15 cents

    AMC Theatres to Reopen Next Week at 15 Cents Per Movie
    AMC Theatres announced 100 theaters will reopen on Aug. 20 with the cost of 15 cents per ticket.
    By David Crow
    |
    August 13, 2020


    AMC Theatres
    Photo: Noam Galai / Getty Images

    “Movies in 2020 at 1920 Prices.” That is the amusing slogan AMC Theatres trumpeted Thursday in relation to their confirmation of 100 movie theaters definitely reopening across North America. With this reopening signaling one-sixth of their U.S. locations being ready for business in a week’s time, AMC will charge only 15 cents per ticket on the first day of the rollout.

    The pricing is an amusing gimmick that harkens back to when going to the movies was not only safe but also the primary form of populist entertainment in the U.S. Indeed, if one was to argue, like director Christopher Nolan has, that cinema is the most democratic form of art, it’s with those kind of prices that it became possible. Of course by Aug. 20 none of the intended studio wide releases on which theaters are resting hope will be out to reawakening audiences’ appetites.

    Indeed, The New Mutants, the first major studio wide release since March, does not open until Aug. 28. And Tenet, the real tentpole that theaters are banking on to be truly must-see, does not open in “select U.S. cities” until Sept. 3. Even Solstice Pictures’ Unhinged, which stars Russell Crowe as a maniac driver, doesn’t bow until Aug. 21.

    But the novel approach of returning to ‘20s era prices in a different decade is a gambit designed to get those who really miss moviegoing to try AMC locations out on the first day, likely by watching old favorites such as Nolan’s Inception, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary. Of course it’s trying to get audiences to try it during the heat of the coronavirus pandemic.

    Despite infection rates going down in May, infection rates have increased again this summer, particularly in states like Florida, Georgia, Arizona, and California. For that reason, movie theaters remain mandatorily closed in more than 10 states, and in major moviegoing markets like New York City.

    Still, AMC Theatres is pledging that the reopening will come with new safety features which include reduced capacity seating to enforce social distancing, new ventilation systems in the theaters, and an emphasis on no-contact ticket buying and concessions. Perhaps in AMC’s biggest acceptance of the current health crisis though is the theater chain agreeing to require moviegoers to wear masks… but that only came after backlash to the initial announcement that mask-wearing would merely be a guideline and AMC did not want to wade into the “politics” of hard science.

    Still, on Aug. 20 you can expect to get some version of the 1920 experience. Just hope it isn’t the 1919 one when the Spanish Flu still was hanging on.
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  3. #243
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    National Day Oct 1

    Aug 17, 2020 12:00pm PT
    Peter Chan’s Volleyball Drama ‘Leap’ to Hit China Over National Day

    By Rebecca Davis


    "Leap"

    Peter Chan’s hotly anticipated biographical sports drama “Leap” is set to hit China on Sept. 30, becoming the first of the Chinese New Year blockbusters canceled due to COVID-19 to set a theatrical outing.

    Local animation “Jiang Ziya: Legend of Deification,” which was also originally scheduled to premiere over the lunar new year, will premiere the day after. They will both hit theaters over the China’s patriotic National Day holiday that begins Oct. 1, typically one of the busiest movie-going weeks of the year.

    They will compete against the patriotic anthology film “My People, My Homeland,” a sequel to last National Day’s “My People, My Country,” and Chinese comedy “Coffee or Tea?,” as well as a local animated take on the classic “Mulan” legend.

    The fact that major new local blockbusters are now willing to set release dates is a signal of renewed confidence in China’s box office, as cinemas slowly get back on their feet after six months of closures. Theaters are still currently only allowed to sell up to 50% of their available tickets to enable social distancing.

    Seven major films were expected to release Jan. 24 over the lunar new year holiday, but all were pulled just before their premieres as COVID-19 swept the country and made mass cinema-going look less and less feasible. Theaters were officially ordered shut by authorities just afterwards.

    Of those titles, “Leap” is the first to set a theatrical release date. The others include helmer Dante Lam’s “The Rescue,” Wanda’s “Detective Chinatown 3,” Stanley Tong’s Jackie Chan-starring “Vanguard” and two animations, “Jiang Ziya” and “Boonie Bears: The Wild Life.”

    Xu Zheng’s “Lost in Russia,” which was thematically tied to the lunar new year holiday, stoked controversy by deciding to skip theatrical altogether and release for free via ByteDance’s video platforms, including Douyin (China’s version of TikTok), Toutiao and Watermelon video.

    “Leap” tells the story of the Chinese women’s national volleyball team and their tribulations over the course of decades. It features Huang Bo (“The Island,” “Crazy Alien”) and Gong Li, who stars as the legendary coach Lang Ping.
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  4. #244
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    $119 m

    Aug 23, 2020 12:22pm PT
    ‘The Eight Hundred’ Marches to $119 Million Total at Chinese Box Office
    By Rebecca Davis


    Courtesy of Huayi Bros

    “The Eight Hundred” has marched out ahead of all competitors at the China box office with earnings reminiscent of pre-COVID times, grossing $75.7 million over its opening weekend, according to data from industry tracker Maoyan. This brings its cume since last week’s previews up to $119 million.

    Helmer Guan Hu’s retelling of a historic standoff between Chinese and Japanese soldiers in 1930s Shanghai is the first truly new blockbuster to hit the China market since coronavirus shut cinemas down in late January. In the five weeks since Chinese theaters reopened in late July, the titles available to viewers have been either re-releases of older fare, or Hollywood films that released months ago in other countries and have already circulated amongst many viewers illegally online.

    “The Eight Hundred” should have released last summer, but was pulled at the last minute due to censorship concerns. The version now in theaters is 13 minutes shorter than the one that would have screened last year.

    Chinese commentators have attributed its explosive success to “an upsurge of people’s patriotic enthusiasm during the pandemic period.”

    On the more populist Maoyan app, where the title has a 9.2 out of 10 rating, people mostly said they liked the film because it was emotionally stirring. When selecting key phrases to describe why they enjoyed it, they chose “moving plot,” “a rousing ending,” and many “tearjerking moments” as factors far more than they selected other factors like “good script,” “good creativity,” or “good production values.”

    “A blood-boiling patriotic education film, which allows us us to once again feel the bloody fighters’ feeling of connection to their home country!” wrote one of the most popular user reviews.

    Another said bluntly that to complain about the film was unpatriotic and therefore unacceptable, writing: “Only people who are ****** would go about insulting [this film], people who don’t even know which country’s people they are,” using stars to denote an unfavorable descriptor.

    All other titles this weekend trailed far behind “The Eight Hundred,” with only two others crossing the $1 million mark.

    Its closest competitor was a 4K restored re-release of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” which grossed $4.2 million this weekend, its second in theaters. This brings its 2020 China cume up to $24 million.

    Newer Hollywood films didn’t fare much better. “Onward,” which debuted in China mid-week on Wednesday, Aug. 18, grossed $1.96 million in its first weekend in theaters to come in third. Its current cume for the territory is now $2.7 million.

    Meanwhile, “Trolls World Tour” premiered Friday to a weekend gross of merely $554,000.

    Other Hollywood films also did only a whimper of business, including “Bad Boys for Life” ($414,000), “Interstellar” ($370,000), and fellow war film “1917” ($214,000).

    A factor contributing to their poor performance is that most of the screenings were allocated to “The Eight Hundred.” That film accounted for an average of 60% of total screenings nationwide over the weekend, while “Trolls” had around around 4%, “Onward” around 6%, and “Harry Potter” around 11.5%.

    The ratio of how many screenings will be given to one film over another may be subject to much backroom wheeling and dealing, but ultimately comes down to cinemas’ own belief that a particular title will make them money.

    Now that “The Eight Hundred” has broken the ice, other local blockbusters will likely be encouraged by its performance to start setting release dates again. Already upcoming are two competitive Chinese new year titles that had previously been pulled due to COVID: animation “Jiang Zi Ya” and Peter Chan’s volleyball drama “Leap,” both set to debut during early October National Day holiday.
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  5. #245
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    Finally some good news

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    The Miracle of Breeding a Panda Cub During a Pandemic
    By Robin Wright
    August 22, 2020


    The National Zoo used eight hundred million frozen sperm to help its aging panda matriarch, Mei Xiang, defy the one-per-cent chance she would give birth.Photograph by Linda Davidson / The Washington Post / Getty

    In a year of tortured politics, nationwide protests, and a highly contagious pandemic, our troubled republic finally has something to celebrate. Washington, D.C., has a panda cub. Mei Xiang, a mellow matriarch who weighs in at two hundred and thirty pounds, gave birth to a tiny, hairless pink cub weighing just ounces, at 6:35 p.m. Friday, at the National Zoo. The wee panda, the size of a butter stick, introduced itself with a howling squawk. The birth defied the zoological odds—Mei’s advanced age, the life-long failure of her partner panda, Tian Tian, to figure out how to mate, the zoo’s inability to extract fresh sperm from him fast, and, especially, the many complications from the covid-19 pandemic. A week after the pandemic forced the National Zoo to close, on March 14th, Mei began to ovulate. Most of the zoo’s staff were ordered to stay at home or reduce hours. In a race against time, a small team of reproduction specialists—all willing to risk the rules of social distancing—thawed eight hundred million sperm to artificially inseminate Mei, knowing that it probably wouldn’t work. “It’s overcoming the odds, and if there was ever a need for a sense of overcoming the odds, it’s now,” Brandie Smith, the zoo’s deputy director, told me. “People need this. It’s the story of hope, and the story of success, and the story of joy.”

    The average lifespan of a panda—the world’s rarest and most endearing bear—is between fourteen and twenty years in the wild, according to the World Wildlife Fund. (The panda is its logo.) Mei is twenty-two years old. “Given her age, she had less than one-per-cent chance of giving birth,” Smith said. Only one older panda in recorded history—anywhere in the world—has had a cub. She was twenty-three; she lived in China, the homeland of the world’s pandas.

    Pandas are notoriously poor at reproduction, which is one of the many reasons they were long endangered. Today, there are less than two thousand in the wild. To encourage sex, panda handlers in China have even tried giving males Viagra and showing them “panda porn”—videos of other pandas having sex—to the breeding pairs. Females only go into estrus once a year—and only for twenty-four to seventy-two hours. Unlike with humans, and many other mammals, including leopards, gazelles, and antelope, zoologists do not know how to induce or manipulate pandas’ fertility cycles. “We have to wait for nature to take its course,” Dr. Pierre Comizzoli, one of the zoo’s veterinary specialists in species preservation, told me.

    This year’s timing couldn’t have been worse. Helping a panda reproduce is labor-intensive. Just determining if and when Mei goes into estrus is tricky, and even harder during a pandemic. The zoo has to collect her urine—with a syringe off whatever surface she pees on, when the two-hundred-and-thirty-pound bear isn’t looking—to test her hormone levels at the endocrinology laboratory. This year, her hormones peaked on March 22nd, during lockdown.

    The zoo veterinary team had to move fast, because mating wasn’t possible. In 2004, when Mei hit puberty, the zoo tried to get her and Tian Tian to breed naturally. But Tian kept pushing Mei’s body down, rather than lifting it up to penetrate properly. The zoo got creative. It built wooden platforms and tried plastic cylinders to boost her body into the right position. But the two giant bears never did consummate. So the zoo, which has pandas, in large part, to study the reproduction and the preservation of the species, turned to artificial insemination.

    In the past, trying to get Mei pregnant has required two teams employing the same equipment and catheters used for intrauterine insemination of humans—with a catch. “These are wild animals,” Comizzoli, who leads the operation, said. “You have to sedate them. They are big carnivores.” One team would sedate Tian and extract fresh semen. “Always better to get fresh semen, whatever the species,” Comizzoli, who has also successfully artificially inseminated an elephant, noted. A second team would anesthetize Mei, empty her bladder with one catheter, then deposit the semen in her uterus with another. Pandas also have notoriously small uteruses. “It goes extremely fast,” he said. “It takes a matter of minutes to inject the semen.”

    The pandemic changed all that. The zoo assembled only one, smaller team. “This year, we wanted to minimize the number of procedures, so we had to go with frozen semen in our cryopreservation bank,” Comizzoli said. It had been there for five years. To help widen the genetic pool, the zoo has in the past inseminated frozen semen from pandas in China as well as Tian’s semen—double inseminations to increase the odds of a pregnancy. (Some artificial inseminations in China have used semen frozen from pandas who have since died.) But the three cubs Mei has produced since 2005 have all been from Tian’s fresh semen.

    The zoo’s team risked their lives to inseminate eight hundred million sperm cells—from the billions the zoo has stored—hoping that one would reach and fertilize the one or two eggs that Mei produced. The zoo was skeptical. “The truth is that we know, in terms of biology, that after the age of twenty, it’s pretty advanced for reproduction,” he said. “Our female is at that time of life when, yes, there are less chances of carrying a healthy fetus.” Even at a younger age, Mei’s offspring had problems; only three of her six cubs have survived.


    An overhead blackandwhite view of the panda Mei Xiang sitting in an enclosure with hay on the floor after giving birth
    Mei Xiang, after giving birth to her panda cub.Photograph from AP / Shutterstock

    But on August 14th, Mei let zookeepers do a rare ultrasound in exchange for some of her beloved honey water; she usually balks at the latter stage of a pregnancy or pseudo-pregnancy (of which she has had several). It revealed fetal tissue. “We are totally surprised,” zoo spokeswoman Pamela Baker-Masson said, in an announcement. “Reproductively speaking, this is like a miracle.” The pregnancy was big news across Washington, too. Views on the zoo’s popular panda cam soared by twelve hundred per cent. On Friday, after news got out that she was in labor, the system repeatedly crashed.

    Since China gifted the first pair of pandas to the United States, in 1972, the bears have become the city’s unofficial but beloved symbol—replacing both the donkeys and elephants that symbolize the parties that rule (at least technically) from the capital. Over the past week, the zoo set up a nursery, complete with three incubators, outside Mei’s nesting den. They prepared for the possibility of her having twins—and rejecting one. Twice, she has given birth to two cubs and one has died. Panda mothers often will nurse and pay attention to only one cub.

    The contingency plan was to keep one in the incubator and try to swap it every few hours to let her nurse both. “If she has two, our plan is to swap,” Smith told me. “You have to sneak up on a giant panda and reach your hand under her belly and take one of the cubs off her. This is a bear that can crush a femur. It’s a dangerous endeavor.” If Mei refused to nurse one of the cubs, then the zoo would hand-raise it until it was viable on its own. The previous cub, the mischievous and spirited Bei Bei, had a twin, but it soon died despite the zoo’s efforts.

    The future of Washington’s pandas is uncertain. The new cub—whose gender may not be known for weeks—arrived in the midst of contract negotiations with China. The pandas are technically owned by China and leased to the zoo. Mei and Tian originally cost a million dollars a year; now the zoo pays half a million annually. Each cub has to be turned over to China by its fourth birthday, under the zoo’s existing agreement with China. Bei Bei, an adventurous bear who dared fate by climbing high into trees even after he reached two hundred pounds, went back last November. The current lease on Mei and Tian expires on December 7th. The National Zoo, one of the few free animal parks in the United States, has to raise the funds to pay its panda fees to China, plus cover the costs of facilities, staff, food, and panda health care—including artificial insemination. Each panda eats some forty pounds of bamboo a day. For all the celebrating, the new cub was also bittersweet for Washington. “No matter what, this will be Mei’s last cub. It’s the end of an era,” Smith told me. “We’re a little melancholy because these pandas have meant so much to the city, to the zoo, and to us as individuals.”



    Robin Wright has been a contributing writer to The New Yorker since 1988. She is the author of “Rock the Casbah: Rage and Rebellion Across the Islamic World.”
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  6. #246
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    How far would you go to see Tenet on the big screen?

    Aug 26, 2020 10:58am PT
    ‘We’ll Do Anything to See ‘Tenet”: Meet the Fans Taking Flights for Christopher Nolan’s Latest
    By Manori Ravindran


    Melinda Sue Gordon

    California resident Tyler Tompkins booked a plane ride to see “Tenet” weeks before movie tickets to Christopher Nolan’s latest sci-fi epic even went on sale.

    The round-trip flight from Los Angeles to Austin, a three-hour Spirit Airlines journey in time for the Sept. 1 screening, set him back $220. And that’s without accounting for the cinema stub itself, popcorn or soda. His plan? Land in the Lone Star state (where movie theaters have reopened), book it to the AMC Barton Creek Square, and see the movie — twice — before returning straight home.

    “I’m seeing the movie like three hours after I land. That’s the whole purpose of this trip,” says a breathlessly excited Tompkins, who’s traveling with three others. “My friends think I’m crazy, going all the way across the country to watch it, but we want to show support for this film and we’ll do anything to see it.”

    Though 65% of cinemas across the globe are now open, according to Gower Street Analytics, some international fans keen to see rare 70MM IMAX screenings of the film, and Americans in states with shuttered movie theaters, like Tompkins, are willing to cross state and country lines to be among the first to see “Tenet” on the big screen.

    The 24-year-old cinephile moved from Austin to Los Angeles earlier this year with a group of friends, all hoping to break into the film industry as writers, directors and producers. Then, the global pandemic happened, and any glimmer of entry-level work dried up. Tompkins, an evangelical Nolan fan who’s been anticipating “Tenet” for months, gets by working as a server at Yard House in Marina Del Rey. As the situation grew dire for California’s cinemas, he began quietly putting money aside in case an inter-state journey was an option.

    “When we were certain the film was coming out in the U.S. and I saw the theater I used to go to all the time in Austin was showing the movie on Sept. 1, I immediately bought a plane ticket,” says Tompkins.

    The trip will be his first flight since the coronavirus crisis hit, and his first cinema outing, too. Tompkins, who graduated college in 2018, describes the summer anticipating “Tenet” as an “emotional rollercoaster.” “We’re just happy it’s finally happening. Nolan and Warner Bros. are taking a huge chance on this $200 million movie. We want to make sure we support it in any way possible.”

    Tompkins is aware some may balk at the lengths — and perceived risks — he’s taking to see “Tenet,” but there’s little trepidation on his part. Friends who’ve flown since March have assured that face coverings are diligently worn on flights, and AMC’s socially distanced seating plans put him at ease.

    “I’m not too worried,” he shrugs. “If I get sick, that’s my problem, but I want to make sure I don’t get anyone else sick, so I’ll be following the precautions.”

    Another Los Angeles-based fan set to take flight for “Tenet,” who spoke to Variety on the condition of anonymity, likens the experience to “Star Wars” fans camping out for tickets, or Apple users queueing for new iPhones. “It’s stupid, yes,” says the 30-year-old university administrator who’s flying to Salt Lake City over a long weekend, “but it’s something I’m interested in.”

    The film junkie, who plans to catch the film at an IMAX with Utah’s Megaplex Theatres, was able to pay for his flight with air miles, forking out a nominal $13 in taxes and fees. Thanks to free lodging with friends, he reckons he can get by on $50 over the weekend ahead of his Aug. 31 screening, for which he’s taken Monday off.

    Such trips come as the U.S. exhibition sector creaks back to life, with movie theaters in Florida, Texas and Georgia now screening films such as “Unhinged,” which played 1,823 venues in North America last weekend. However, major markets like New York, California and New Jersey remain shuttered, and many are critical of all non-essential travel, let alone for an out-of-state movie.

    “Travel can be a way of spreading vectors and it does give me pause,” he says. “But in general? I think people have been very selfish. People are drinking, gambling, touching cards and chips in casinos, yet there’s less shame for that than a handful of movie nerds who are doing this.”

    There’s a wider principle at stake, too. “This [release] will be a referendum on whether or not theatrical for large blockbusters can happen, and I don’t want these films to go the way of ‘Mulan,’” he says. “If a film is shot for IMAX, I’m interested in seeing it on a large-format screen.”

    Indeed, the lure of IMAX cinemas, especially those equipped to show crisp 70MM prints — the wide high-resolution film gauge once used to project classic films — has prompted some global fans to cross country lines. However, Europe’s resurgence of COVID-19 and knee-jerk government regulations are foiling plans across the continent.

    Lukáš Meinhart, a cinema manager based in Prague, Czech Republic, says the pleasure of seeing a Nolan film in “the biggest analogue format out there” is “absolute perfection.” This year, the feat is especially challenging as London’s BFI IMAX — where Tom Cruise caught an early screening of “Tenet” on Tuesday — is the only IMAX in Europe showing “Tenet” in 70MM.

    Keen to take his wife Bettina, who is based in Vienna, Austria, Meinhart booked London flights out of neighboring Slovakia for mid-September — a trip that will amount to around €300 ($350). However, the U.K. last week removed Austria from its “travel corridor” list — a roster of countries permitting safe travel without a 14-day quarantine period — meaning the couple would need to self-isolate for two weeks upon arriving in London, which they’re not prepared to do.

    “Either they open the borders [again] for Austria by mid-September, or not,” the 29-year-old says warily. “I can either cancel the flights and spend time somewhere else with my wife, or take my brother.” Further complicating matters is whether a cautious BFI IMAX will even screen the film into September.

    “I was pretty sad about it,” says Meinhart. “I just wanted to share it with my wife — to show her what cinema means to me.” Bettina Meinhart says she simply “can’t understand the travel regulations against Austria,” and suggest politics may be involved.

    And yet, the couple regrets nothing. “We shouldn’t stop making plans to realize our dreams, to visit another country and experience something else,” Lukáš Meinhart says. “We should be aware of the regulations, but it shouldn’t limit us.”

    In Paris, France, Franck Laniel similarly found himself in the coronavirus crosshairs. A devout supporter of the BFI IMAX, he booked his Sept. 5 cinema tickets as well as passes for the Eurostar train between London and Paris on Aug. 12. “But by Aug. 13, I started seeing that the British government was putting in quarantine measures [for France]. It was just unbelievable,” says the 43-year-old. “I was devastated.”

    France was plucked off the travel corridor list on Aug. 15, meaning Laniel, who’s traveled to London for every BFI IMAX screening of Nolan’s films since 2012, can’t enter the U.K. without his one-day trip, costing the director of photography and his partner around €179 ($211), becoming a two-week stay in a hotel room.

    “I’ll now have to book either another ride to London…which I obviously won’t need if the movie is no longer available at [the BFI IMAX],” complains Laniel.

    But echoing a familiar refrain, the hassle is worth it for Nolan. “He’s taking lengths to shoot in IMAX so, as far as I’m concerned, if he’s going to do that much work, I’ll try and make the effort to see it in IMAX,” says Laniel.

    “If the movie industry doesn’t realize there’s a difference between a movie made for TV, and a film made for theaters, the business is really going to feel the pain in the coming years.”

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    China is back

    When covid first struck, I thought it would hobble the rise of China's film industry. Now it looks like it was just what was needed to eclipse Hollywood.

    Aug 27, 2020 7:05pm PT
    China Is World’s First Market to Achieve Full Box Office Recovery, Says Analytics Firm
    By Rebecca Davis


    The Eight Hundred
    Courtesy of Huayi Bros

    China this week became the first global market to make a “full box office recovery” according to targets developed by the U.K.-based film industry analytics firm Gower Street, the company said Thursday.

    The firm created five targets to track and compare the paths of different territories’ exhibition sectors back to recovery. The indicators move from stage one — a point when a significant majority (80%) of cinemas are ready to resume operations — to stage five, in which business over the course of a week is equivalent to that of the top quartile of weekly earnings from the past two years.

    After reaching this stage five goal, a particular market “should react as normal, with an ebb and flow dependent on the release calendar,” Gower Street explained.

    To reach that target, post-COVID China needed to generate a weekly box office of $184 million (RMB1.27 billion). According to data from Comscore Movies, China hit this target just five days into the week starting Friday, Aug. 21, having taken in $189 million (RMB1.31 billion) by the end of the day Tuesday.

    China’s national box office for the full week was $252 million (RMB1.74 billion), more than 18% greater than that of the equivalent week in 2019, which saw earnings of around $209 million (RMB1.44 billion).

    More than 90% of Chinese cinemas by market share are now open, although they continue to operate with capacity restrictions allowing them to sell only half their available tickets.

    Despite these limitations, China’s performance stands out worldwide at a time when nearly 65% of global cinemas by market share are now back in business in the wake of COVID-19 closures, up from 55% a week ago, Gower Street said.

    The global box office so far in 2020 is just $6.88 billion, a fraction of the $27.2 billion three year average year to date score. Nevertheless, sales are increasing, with the $200 million collected globally this week marking a rise of 54% from the one previous. China, said Gower Street, was “undoubtedly the driver” of this growth.

    This week’s success was due to massive sales for local war film “The Eight Hundred,” as well as Tuesday’s Qixi Festival, a type of Chinese Valentine’s day, which saw the release of popular local time-travel rom-com “Love You Forever,” which grossed more than $39 million on its opening day.

    Giving the box office a further mid-week boost, local romantic drama “Wild Grass” and Greta Gerwig’s Oscar-winning “Little Women” also premiered Tuesday, debuting to the tune of $5.5 million and $1.5 million on day one, respectively, according to data from Maoyan.

    This week’s box office tally accounts for nearly a third of all ticket sales in China to date this year, with “The Eight Hundred” alone accounting of 27% of the national 2020 box office as of Wednesday. The film has grossed $210 million (RMB1.45 billion) and Maoyan now projects a total of $459 million (RMB3.16 billion).

    ADVERTISEMENTSCROLL TO CONTINUE READING
    The Chinese market’s revival comes just in time for Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet,” which is set to further galvanize recovery once it premieres in the country on Sept. 4. A re-release of his “Inception” will compete with “The Eight Hundred” once it hits cinemas on Friday.

    Disney’s “Mulan” has yet to receive an official release date in the territory, but is expected to hit theaters in the near future.

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    The Many Obstacles of Mulan

    My latest feature for Den of Geek: The Many Obstacles of Mulan



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  9. #249
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    Coronavirus (COVID-19) Wuhan Pneumonia

    How is it we don't have a Hungry Ghost Festival thread here? Has it always been posted on the Taiwan-Ghost-Month-Doritos. This year's fest is interesting because of the corn moon.

    Covid-19 in the afterlife: Hong Kong shop sells joss paper face masks just in time for Hungry Ghost Festival
    Wednesday, 19 Aug 2020 12:34 PM MYT
    BY MELANIE CHALIL


    Social media users had a field day mocking the idea of face masks for the dead. — Picture via Facebook/Chris Goh

    KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 19 — It’s no surprise that joss paper shops sell just about anything for those who want to ensure their deceased loved ones are comfortable in the afterlife.

    But one shop in Hong Kong is taking things to the next level by selling joss paper face masks, just in case the Covid-19 pandemic finds its way into the spirit world.

    An image of the colourful paper face masks was first posted on Facebook’s Complaint Singapore page by Chris Goh.

    “Ghost month coming soon, anyone need mask can PM (private message) me,” he wrote, referring to the upcoming Hungry Ghost Festival.

    The traditional festival which falls on September 2 this year sees living descendants honouring deceased ancestors by a myriad of rituals, including burning joss paper in the form of material items such as clothes, money, houses and cars.

    According to Mothership Singapore, the Chinese words xian ren kou zhao are seen on the masks’ plastic packaging which roughly translates to ‘ancestor’s masks’.

    One joss paper mask reportedly costs S$10 (RM30).

    Hilarious comments soon poured in as social media users couldn’t get past the irony of selling face masks for those in the underworld.

    One user pointed out that these joss paper masks for the dead might be a useful gift for those who refuse to wear a mask to remind them of their mortality in the face of a pandemic.

    “Good, I need this as a present to those who refuse to wear a mask,” the comment read.

    “[I] didn’t know there’s Covid-19 there,” one Facebook user said.

    “Ghosts also must have social distancing,” another replied.

    “Is there no lockdown or circuit breaker down there?” one person said mockingly.
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  10. #250
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    This is ironic because it was touted that the original source was a bat...

    QUARANTINE LOCKDOWN
    Source: Robert Pattinson Has COVID-19, Halting The Batman Production
    Vanity Fair has learned from a well-placed source that the star came down with the virus just days after shooting resumed.
    BY ANTHONY BREZNICAN
    SEPTEMBER 3, 2020


    Robert Pattinson's first look for The Batman.
    Robert Pattinson is said to have tested positive for the coronavirus, causing filming of The Batman to be halted just days after the superhero drama resumed work at studios outside of London.

    Warner Bros. would not comment on any individual worker’s health, sharing only this statement: “A member of The Batman production has tested positive for Covid-19, and is isolating in accordance with established protocols. Filming is temporarily paused.” Vanity Fair confirmed through a highly placed source that Pattinson was the individual who became sick.

    The production previously shut down, along with most other entertainment industry work, back in March when the quarantine lockdown first hit.

    Pattinson’s representative did not immediately return a request for comment.

    In the new movie, directed by Planet of the Apes filmmaker Matt Reeves, Batman is in his second year of vigilantism, and is trying to solve a series of gruesome serial killings. The case causes him to cross paths with Paul Dano’s The Riddler, Zoë Kravitz’s Selina Kyle (before she becomes the criminal Catwoman), and the underworld figure Oswald Cobblepot, nicknamed The Penguin behind his back, played by Colin Farrell.

    Jeffrey Wright co-stars as Commissioner James Gordon, Andy Serkis plays Bruce Wayne’s loyal butler Alfred, and John Turturro is the gangster Carmine Falcone.

    “It’s a criminological experiment. He’s trying to figure out what he can do to finally change this place. You see that he’s charting what he’s doing, and he’s seeing he isn’t having any of the effect that he wants to have yet,” Reeves said recently at the DC Fandome event that revealed the new trailer. “The murders start to happen, and the murders start to describe a history of Gotham. It only reinforces what he knows about Gotham, but opens up a whole world of corruption that went much further.”

    The movie is planned for release in 2021.

    This story has been updated with new information.
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  11. #251
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    Wider deficit

    Economy / China Economy
    US trade deficit with China wider than May 2016, when Donald Trump accused China of ‘greatest theft in history
    The US trade deficit with China was 9.15 per cent wider in July 2020 than May 2016, when President Donald Trump accused China of ‘raping’ the US on trade
    After narrowing in the early months of the year due to coronavirus shutdowns, the deficit has recovered in recent months

    Finbarr Bermingham
    Published: 10:25am, 4 Sep, 2020


    US President Donald Trump has vowed on the campaign trail to eradicate a yawning trade deficit with China that he claimed showed the inequities in the global trading system. Photo: Bloomberg

    The United States’ trade deficit with China has crept back up close to pre-coronavirus levels after narrowing when the outbreak battered the Chinese economy.
    The deficit with China – the gap between the amount the US buys from China and what it sells – was US$31.62 billion in July, just 3.46 per cent lower than US$32.8 billion in July 2019, data released by the US Census Bureau on Thursday showed.
    But the rate at which it has grown in recent months will rattle US President Donald Trump, who vowed on the campaign trail in 2016 to eradicate the yawning gap that he claimed showed the inequities in the global trading system.
    In quarterly terms, the deficit climbed 36.8 per cent from the first three months of the year to the second, even if it is markedly lower in year-to-date terms than it was last year, due to a shutdown of China’s export engine in the early months of the year, when it was the first to be hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
    But perhaps most tellingly, the US trade deficit with China was 4.36 per cent wider last month than it was in July 2016, when Trump was on the campaign trail raging against it. Last month’s deficit was 9.15 per cent wider than May 2016, a month when Trump accused China of “raping” the US on trade.
    “Do not forget. We’re like the piggy bank that is being robbed. We have the cards. We have a lot of power with China,” Trump said at the time, during a campaign rally in Fort Wayne, Indiana. “Because we cannot continue to allow China to rape our country. And that is what they’re doing. It’s the greatest theft in the history of the world.”
    That rhetoric has not entirely subsided in the intervening four years, with tensions between the US and China now at their highest level for 40 years. Trade is seen as the one sticking plaster holding the relationship together, but even that is stuttering along, rather than powering home.
    Reuters agricultural columnist Karen Braun reported that US exports of soybeans to China between January and July 2020 were the lowest since 2004, and while August’s volumes have bounced back with an 18 per cent rise year on year, they are the lowest since 2008 if last year was excluded.
    Enormous purchases of American agricultural products in recent weeks have not stopped China from being well short of meeting its obligations under the phase one trade deal, which remains electorally important for Trump, given that key exporting states such as Iowa, Nebraska and Minnesota are considered in play in November’s poll.
    The overall US trade deficit jumped to its highest level in 12 years in July, as imports soared and exports grew by a smaller margin.
    US imports from Taiwan also jumped to record levels in July, helping to add to the overall trade deficit.
    Economists have said that prioritising the reduction in the trade deficit is a fool’s errand, since the economic profile of the consumption-driven US means it will naturally buy more goods from cheaper, lower-end manufacturing hubs.
    Everyone recognises that the overall direction of the economy is grim
    Christine McDaniel
    The fact that it narrowed by 32 per cent from a year earlier in the first quarter was not a cause to celebrate, critics said, because it represented a collapse in consumption in the US and a collapse in manufacturing in China due to the coronavirus.
    “Needless to say, everyone recognises that the overall direction of the economy is grim. But this is what reducing the trade deficit looks like: relative to our exports, we import less. Today, we are importing less because Americans are consuming less during an economic shut down,” wrote Christine McDaniel, a senior research fellow with the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, in April.
    On Monday, China will release its official trade data for August, which is expected to show continued recovery in the export-led economy.




    CONVERSATIONS
    Finbarr Bermingham

    Finbarr Bermingham has been reporting on Asian trade since 2014. Prior to this, he covered global trade and economics in London. He joined the Post in 2018, before which he was Asia Editor at Global Trade Review and Trade Correspondent for the International Business Times

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  12. #252
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    I should change the title of this thread from 2020 to 2021

    Tokyo Olympics will go ahead 'with or without Covid' - IOC's Coates
    AFP
    Martin PARRY
    AFPSep 6, 2020, 10:50 PM



    Tokyo's postponed Olympics will go ahead next year regardless of the coronavirus pandemic, IOC vice president John Coates told AFP Monday, vowing they will be the "Games that conquered Covid".

    The Olympics have never been cancelled outside of the world wars and Coates, speaking in a phone interview, was adamant that the Tokyo Games will start on their revised date.

    "It will take place with or without Covid. The Games will start on July 23 next year," said Coates, who heads the International Olympic Committee's Coordination Commission for the Tokyo Games.

    "The Games were going to be, their theme, the Reconstruction Games after the devastation of the tsunami," he said, referring to a catastrophic earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan in 2011.

    "Now very much these will be the Games that conquered Covid, the light at the end of the tunnel."

    In a landmark decision, the 2020 Olympics were postponed because of the global march of the pandemic and they are now set to open on July 23, 2021.

    But Japan's borders are still largely closed to foreign visitors and a vaccine is months or even years away, feeding speculation about whether the Games are feasible at all.

    Japanese officials have made clear they would not delay them a second time beyond 2021.

    There are signs that public enthusiasm in Japan is waning after a recent poll found just one in four Japanese want them to go ahead next year, with most backing either another postponement or a cancellation.


    - 'Monumental task' -

    Coates said the Japanese government "haven't dropped the baton at all" following the postponement, despite the "monumental task" of putting the event back a year.

    "Before Covid, (IOC president) Thomas Bach said this is the best prepared Games we've ever seen, the venues were almost all finished, they are now finished, the village is amazing, all the transport arrangements, everything is fine," he said.

    "Now it's been postponed by one year, that's presented a monumental task in terms of re-securing all the venues... something like 43 hotels we had to get out of those contracts and re-negotiate for a year later.

    "Sponsorships had to be extended a year, broadcast rights."

    With much of that work underway, or accomplished, a task force has been set up to look at the different scenarios in 2021 -- from how border controls will affect the movement of athletes, to whether fans can pack venues and how to keep stadiums safe.

    The group, comprising Japanese and IOC officials, met for the first time last week.

    "Their job now is to look at all the different counter-measures that will be required for the Games to take place," said Coates, the long-time president of the Australian Olympic Committee.

    "Some countries will have it (Covid) under control, some won't. We'll have athletes therefore coming from places where it's under control and some where it is not.

    "There's 206 teams... so there's a massive task being undertaken on the Japanese side."

    Tokyo 2020 chief Toshiro Muto on Friday repeated that organisers hoped to avoid a Games without spectators -- an option that has been mooted given Japan is still limiting audiences at sports events.

    While the country is cautiously reopening its economy, with professional baseball, football and sumo resuming in front of limited numbers of fans, the nation continues to see a steady stream of new coronavirus cases.

    Japan has already ploughed billions of dollars into the Olympics, with the delay only adding to the cost.

    Coates said the IOC was doing its part, putting in "something like an extra $800 million to support the international federations, whose income isn't happening this year, and national Olympic Committees".

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  13. #253
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    75% capacity

    The U.S. is a long way from that now...

    Sep 15, 2020 4:16pm PT
    China’s Cinemas to Soon Operate at 75% Capacity, as Pandemic Restrictions Ease


    By Rebecca Davis


    "Leap"
    China announced on Tuesday that it will soon relax pandemic-related restrictions currently placed on cinemas and allow venues to sell up to 75% of their available tickets.

    Chinese cinemas are currently limited to just half capacity, but can shift over to selling 75% of their available tickets from Sept. 25, the China Film Distribution & Projection Association said in new guidelines released on their official social media accounts.

    The move is a boon to struggling exhibitors, who have suffered through six months of shutdowns this year and only re-opened their doors in late July. It also comes after the release of Hollywood tentpoles “Tenet” and “Mulan,” but just as major Chinese blockbusters are set to bow over the upcoming National Day holiday.

    Chinese authorities are seeking to ramp up cinema-going ahead of that period, when a slew of patriotic films will hit theaters, intended to boost morale and feelings of national pride.

    Notably, Peter Chan’s “Leap,” a volleyball drama starring Gong Li that was initially supposed to launch over Chinese New Year, has shifted its originally scheduled release five days earlier to stand out from the crowd, and is now set to debut on Sept. 25 — the same day the new guidelines will come into effect.

    Eight other films will fight for attention in what is turning out to be an unexpectedly competitive battle. Most notably, they include two other Chinese New Year blockbusters, the hotly anticipated animation “Jiang Ziya: Legend of Deification” and Jackie Chan-starrer “Vanguard,” as well as the patriotic omnibus film “My People, My Homeland” and, incongruously, the 1999 Japanese road movie “Kikujiro,” starring, written and directed by Takeshi Kitano.

    The new pandemic rules require continued vigilance from cinemas on coronavirus prevention, stating that key public areas such as lobbies, corridors and screening halls should be disinfected with spray no less than twice a day, while places like toilets, vending machines and seats in public areas should be wiped down at least five times a day.

    Tickets will remain sold online-only, via reservations attached to people’s real names, and retrieved without human contact via vending machines.
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    A token gesture

    sign of the times...

    TheHill.com
    House passes resolution condemning anti-Asian discrimination relating to coronavirus

    BY JULIEGRACE BRUFKE - 09/17/20 01:34 PM EDT 426


    House passes resolution condemning anti-Asian discrimination relating to coronavirus
    © Greg Nash
    The House passed a resolution Thursday condemning “all forms of anti-Asian sentiment as related to COVID-19” in a 243-164 vote.

    The measure came amid Democratic lawmakers repeatedly blasting President Trump for referring to coronavirus as the “Chinese virus,” alleging the rhetoric has led to an influx of discrimination against Asian Americans.

    The measure — spearheaded by Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.) — highlighted that the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have stated that connecting the name of a virus to the geographic location where it originated perpetuates a stigma.

    Proponents of the resolution said it is necessary to combat bigotry as instances of harassment and violence against the Asian community have increased since the start of the pandemic.

    “Sadly this bigotry is being fueled by some in Washington, and you would think, I thought this would be almost unanimous consent to condemn violence against Asian Americans. Even from the White House itself, which uses dangerous, false, and offensive terms to describe the coronavirus,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said on the floor ahead of the vote.

    “The World Health Organization and the CDC, the Centers for Disease Control, have explicitly warned against linking infectious diseases to specific ethnicities because of the stigmatizing effects, which has serious impacts on health and defeating the virus. As the CDC medical officer has said, stigma is the enemy of public health," Pelosi said.

    Republicans condemned the resolution as partisan posturing, arguing that Democrats have misplaced priorities by bringing a nonbinding resolution to the floor when Congress has yet to come to a consensus on a coronavirus relief bill or government funding legislation.

    GOP lawmakers believe Democrats haven’t been hard enough on China. Others have dismissed the idea that calling the coronavirus by a name citing its origin has racist undertones, noting that other diseases like Ebola and the West Nile virus were named after where they originated.

    Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said that the measure was an attack on the president and doesn’t believe it shows an anti-Asian bias, noting that Democrats on the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and Nonproliferation used the term “Wuhan coronavirus” in a hearing notice in January.

    “Someone should have told the Democrats you can't use that term. But in the new woke world you can't state the truth. As Mr. Collins pointed out, did the virus start in China? Yes. Did it start in Wuhan, China? Yes. Did China lie to the United States about the severity and origins of this virus? Yes. Did China lie to the world about the virus? Yes, they did. Did the World Health Organization lie to the United States? Yes, they did,” Jordan said.

    President Trump has stood by his use of the term, telling reporters in March that it’s “not racist at all. It comes from China; I want to be accurate.”
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    164

    Divisive...

    POLITICS
    164 Republicans Voted Against a Resolution Condemning COVID Racism Against Asian Americans

    BY CHRISTINA ZHAO ON 9/17/20 AT 6:31 PM EDT

    The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives on Thursday passed a resolution to condemn racism against Asian Americans "related to COVID" with both sides of the aisle voting mostly along party lines.

    The resolution, passed with 243 lawmakers in support, calls for officials to denounce all acts of anti-Asian sentiment and discrimination amid the pandemic. The measure, sponsored by Democrat Grace Meng of New York, also requests that law enforcement take actions to better address hate crimes against Asian Americans, such as to "expeditiously investigate and document" anti-Asian incidents and to maintain data to trace impact.

    Though the resolution passed, 164 Republicans voted against it. The party dismissed the measure as "woke culture on steroids" and accused Democrats of merely attempting to extend their efforts to rebuke President Donald Trump months before the November election.

    Democratic Rep. Mark Takano of California called the Republicans "disgraceful" and accused the president of "fueling racism and inspiring violent attacks on Asian Americans and Asian immigrants."


    The House of Representatives votes on the second article of impeachment of US President Donald Trump at in the House Chamber at the US Capitol Building on December 18, 2019 in Washington, DC.
    CHIP SOMODEVILLA/GETTY


    As COVID cases continue to rise in America, Trump has repeatedly blamed China for the pandemic. He often uses terms such as "Chinese Virus," "Wuhan Virus" and "Kung Flu" to associate the disease with the Asian nation, where it was first detected.

    While the House measure didn't name Trump, it does say that such inflammatory language has fanned the flames of racism and anti-Asian American stigma.

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused Trump of demonizing China to distract citizens from his allegedly dismal coronavirus response and Russia election meddling. She also noted that the president's rhetoric comes amid a "disturbing epidemic of hate and discrimination" against Asians.

    The U.S. has experienced a surge in racially motivated hate crimes against Asian Americans since the COVID outbreak was first identified last December in Wuhan, China. In July, the University of Colorado Denver School of Public Affairs released a research report establishing how the disease has perpetuated domestic xenophobia, racism and fear of foreigners.

    Republicans defended their vote by insisting that Trump's aggression was directly toward the Chinese government and not to Asians. In March, the president clarified that Asian Americans should not be blamed for the "Chinese virus" amid escalating reports of violence against the community. "It is very important that we totally protect our Asian American community in the United States and all around the world," he said.

    Republican House Minority Leader of California rejected the resolution as a "waste of time" and distraction from stimulus deadlock.

    "At the heart of this resolution is the absurd notion that referring to the virus as a Wuhan virus or the China virus is the same as contributing to violence against Asian Americans," he said," which I will tell you no one on this side of the aisle supports."

    Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan accused the Democrats of using the measure as an "opportunity" to score political points.


    Newsweek reached out to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy for further comment.
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