Coronavirus and the Wet Markets of China (Bruin Economics Journal)

Recently, a piece of news that has rocked the world and brought humanity to a point where we feel that we might be at the point of no return is the news of a deadly virus called 2019-NCOV. It was on December 31, 2019, that the Chinese government alerted the World Health Organisation (WHO) about a new virus that was spreading in the city of Wuhan. The symptoms of this strange illness were fever, dry cough, and pneumonia and soon deaths were reported much to the consternation of the world population.

A piece of information that was available to the public was the term “wet markets” of China. If in 2019, a deadly pandemic had spread from the wet markets of Wuhan, then in 2003, a very similar virus had emerged from a wet market in Foshan, China. The earlier disease was SARS which too spread across the world, killing nearly 800 people. This time, of course, the pandemic has been much worse in its impact as the count of infected victims as of August (2020) is 739,770. What is interesting is the common theme of Chinese wet markets which lie at the source of both viruses which put global health at risk.

The similarities between the two pandemics raises the question: Why do new viruses keep emerging from China?

A great number of body parts of rare wildlife species like pangolins, tigers, rhinos and bears land up in the wet markets of China. Not only dead animals, but live ones are also caged and sold under shockingly unsustainable conditions. Most of this wet market trade caters to the demand for Chinese Traditional Medicine (TCM). To cater to the popular demand for TCM as well as everyday consumption, animal farms have developed across China, as part of a Chinese practice when traditionally undomesticated animals are placed in an agricultural setting for purposes of breeding.

As the aftermath of the coronavirus reveals, almost 20,000 wildlife farms raising species like, civet cats, peacocks, ostriches and porcupines were shut down across China. The closure of the farms has exposed the unknown size of the animal farming industry. As a 2017 report by the Chinese Academy of Engineering reveals, the value of the operations of the wildlife-farming industry was at a startling £57bn.

Despite the protests of NGOs like WWF and PETA, the practice of animal farms and illegal trafficking of animals and birds have continued. Though apparently the Chinese government has been responsible for creating several laws which strengthen the regulations on selling, purchase and trade of animals and animal products, they have not really been effective. This is primarily because the laws have loopholes which prevent proper execution. Thus, China’s first law regarding the protection of wild animals was the 1988 Wildlife Protection Law (WPL) which stated that animals in China were for human consumption, domestication and acted as resources owned by the state which merely led to a spike in wildlife trade and the unsustainable use of animals. Similarly, the 2016 WPL allowed for the sale, purchase, and utilization of protected wildlife for purposes of “scientific research, captive breeding, public exhibition and performance, and protection of cultural relics.” ( This led to the WPL not prohibiting commercial captive wildlife breeding which further convoluted legal systems and led to increased laundering of illegal products.

Interestingly, though the wildlife farming industry is a tiny part of China’s gigantic GDP, the industry has an enormous lobbying capability. It has been conjectured that it is the rich minority who buy the wildlife products for themselves and for further business, and it is due to the lobbying by the rich that the Chinese government has allowed these illicit markets to grow. However, according to the Chinese leadership, the government has been supportive of the idea of “wildlife domestication” only because wildlife trade plays a critical part in rural development, eco-tourism and poverty alleviation. This is commensurate with the idea of the government’s commitment to the idea of common prosperity for all. The Chinese government has attempted to deliver the benefits of economic and social development to its entire population and according to the authorities, the poverty alleviation programme has already lifted more than 500 million people out of poverty in China after three decades of economic reforms.

It is true that the underdeveloped rural areas of China rely heavily on the wildlife industry and farming for economic development and the Chinese government recently has outlined a plan to completely eliminate poverty in rural areas of China by 2020. Hence, an abrupt ban on wildlife trading could potentially trigger a mass rural unemployment and the government’s failure to meet its poverty alleviation targets. Thus, it is going to be a tricky balance between environmental sustainability and human economic development.

During SARS, which was caused by Civet cats, China had banned the trade and selling/purchasing of all wild animals. However, post-SARS, the wildlife trading laws were relaxed and soon wild animals were being traded through China’s borders once again, leading to the question of whether after the 2019 pandemic, will the bans on wildlife trading, selling, purchasing consumption remain effective?

Written by Ananya Sengupta, Student at UWCSEA East


[Presented by the UCLA Undergraduate Economics Society.]


A Rainy Day (Journal Writing)

Today felt like the longest day of my life. I figured it would be because I’ve had my Global Politics orals marked in my calendar for months which just so happens to be on my birthday, and with everything that happened with Ryan last week, I didn’t really have the guts to look at him in the face. You would think that most people hurt you unintentionally, but clearly Ryan had no regard for my emotions. Sometimes when you expect something bad to happen, you can kind of list it off so it doesn’t seem so awful and I guess that how I thought it would be today. 


I usually eat lunch in the canteen with my friends but today I’d really rather not see anyone considering all of Ryan’s friends have been watching my every move, finding more reasons to make snide comments, so I thought I’d just buy a bunch of food and hideout in the library and revise for my upcoming Spanish quiz. I had just sat down and taken my notes out when Amanda walked in. I suppose you could say she’s the reason why Ryan and I aren’t talking in the first place. (That’s not the first time I’ve blamed her for something and I’m trying awfully hard to not write an entire essay as to why she’s a menace.) Of course, I was looking up mid-chicken-noodle-slurp when she walked in and she looked right at me. I felt this surge of rage in my body, but she didn’t seem to notice my glaring eyes at all. She walked up to me grinning, and if there was a way to make me feel even angrier about the whole thing, that was it. She clutched her sandwich in hand and stared apologizing for ruining my relationship, while I stared at my notes for another 15 minutes not reading anything at all. 


I suppose it’s immature of me to blame absolutely everything that happened in the past month on her (Perhaps I could thank her from saving me from a sinking ship), but from the second I saw her I knew it would be a bad day. I was trying ridiculously hard to memorise the tenses for the exam and I was hung up on the simplest of vocabulary, one of those moments where you know the word in English but my brain completely shut off. My mother always said to write everything down so the ideas aren’t jumbled in my head but I really only had 10 minutes left of lunch and I had just finished the first side of my notes. 


I didn’t have time to freak out, I was supposed to finish my lunch, memorising and restraining myself from hurling my chair at Amanda’s face, but I was panicking anyways. I ran straight to class without batting an eye-lid at Amanda. Staring at the first question for at least 15 minutes before realising what I was looking at, and then realising that I had no idea what I was supposed to do. We were supposed to translate the sentences and write a short descriptive about our opinion but I couldn’t even tell what topic the question was based on. Miss Huntley eventually said that we had 20 minutes left and I had only managed to finish translating the lines into Spanish. 


I came out of the test after 3 pm and I slumped down to the closest bus stop. It had just rained and the wind was strong enough that some of smaller trees had fallen, with leaves swimming in puddles even though the sun was shining bright and hard. I didn’t know whether I should be holding a grudge against both Amanda and Ryan, but it, in the end, it never matters what I decide. There’s always going to be rainy days, but I suppose what really matters is how often the sun shines. 


Grade 5: Drowning Dreams Book Launch

Something that inspired me to start writing poetry was the Grade 5 exhibition. My mother, an author at the time (2013)  had recently published her book ‘A Gentleman’s Word’. Our family had always enjoyed reading and writing and basically studying literature not as a subject but more as a passionate hobby. As a child, I was constantly introduced to different genres of books and naturally, I tended to enjoy them.  The idea of poetry was introduced during the last unit in English class which coincidently happened to be at the same time as the exhibition. My friends (Hazel and Alex) and I were thinking of innovative ways to represent the issue of contaminated water as well as the social consequences. Hence, the idea of writing a poem from the viewpoint of a child suffering from the outcomes of the Haiti earthquake.

Personally, I think that poetry is a type of literature which tends to agitate and awaken the creator’s and the reader’s emotions as well as imagination.

Frankly, I feel that it helps to open my feelings and find what I am trying to maybe unconsciously hide, like my insecurities or terrible past experiences.  A reason as to why I continue to write poetry is because it helps me to express and reflect the conflicts that happen within family and friends. A specific event that triggered my interest in writing poetry was when my mesho (uncle) had passed away in 2010. At the time, I was seven years old and I remember sitting on the couch, facing the corpse and looking at everyone wailing and not feeling anything at all, though as I distinctly remember, he was very close to me. I was never able to comprehend what had happened at the moment and all I can remember now is the sound of obnoxious sobbing and screaming.  Yet, when we started the poetry unit, all the suppressed emotions of grief and shock seemed to have surrendered their defenses and had scattered themselves over the paper.

Note: My poetry from this period is up on my portfolio blog under Primary Poetry.

Images from the book launch:

Image result for drowning dreams ananya sengupta


Mum, Aunt, Rai and I,

Reached the hospital.


Big and tall,

Big and tall.

All rooms were dark,

No light to be seen.


We were led to him,

My dearest uncle.


He smiled,

I leaned over him,

On the hospital bed.


I didn’t know what to say.

I looked into his pale eyes,

Like the colour grey.


Wires stuck out of him,

Some pipes filled with blood,

Some with medicine.


I whispered,

Don’t go,

Don’t go.

Don’t leave us alone,

Stay with us forever.


But tonight was the night,

He had to leave.


His eyelids fluttered,

And they suddenly closed.

His relaxed body,

Said goodbye.


Don’t go,

Don’t go.

Stay with us forever.


We started to weep,

Like princesses in danger,

Needing help to be saved from the ogre.


Tomorrow was the day,

The day of the funeral.


My lips sealed through,

the whole ceremony.


We all stare at the dead body,

Wrapped in crystal white.


We all cry,

No words.

His family’s love,

Dies together.


The whole day we stand,

by the faithfull man,

The one who played with us,

His arms like green leaves.


I remember, I remember.


It was time,

They picked up the body.

And laid it in the van,

To burn into smoke and ash.


We all cried,

Our love died.


Don’t go,

Don’t go.

Stay with us forever.


I whispered once again,

“You may be gone infront of me,

But you aren’t gone from here,

My heart”

Love never dies.

You will never go.

You will never go.


Here we are,

On a freezing cold surface.

The thick  fog covers my face.


I am as cold as ice.

Wearing a sweater, under a sweater,

Under a coat.


I shiver.


He fastens the belt,

I hold on.

It’s an enclosure.


I have 15mins,

I need to do my best.


A ladybug flutters past.

A good luck sign.


He lets go,

I jump.


I jump high into the sky,



I smile.

The ladybug was right,

I am having fun.


I close my eyes,

I am flying.


I am flying,

Higher than the rain clouds that held me down.

I am flying, I smile.


The cold wind blows against my face.

I repeat to myself:


“I am happy, I am calm, I am free

I am happy, I am calm, I am free.”

WASABI ATTACK: Primary Poetry

Once my cousin said to me,

“Which one is crazy,

The wasabi or the soya seeds?”


Of course,

We are in the oldest,

And biggest,

The humungous, most favourite mall.

Of all.


By the fountain,

She never notices my

Cruel, sly smile.


“Of course,

Dear cousin.

Take a bite,

Slurp it all up,

Slurp up the wasabi.”


“Oh go on now,

It’s ever sooo sweet.

Just like sugar,

Mildest in taste.”


Silly as a goose.

She opened the packet.



She squeezed it into her mouth,


Stuffing it all in.


Her face went red.

Redder than tomatoes.

She jumped high,

Into the sky.

Nearly hitting her head on the ceiling.


She screamed like a mandrake.

Instead screachier.

She roared like a tiger.

Instead louder.

She howled like a wolf.

Instead longer.


Her hair ripped open,

Like a tornado.


It lashed me in the face


She caught me by the collar.

Lifted me high in the air.

Her face up close to my nose.

With steam out of her ears.



She shouted

And flung me into the fountain.


By golly was I wet,

All soaking head to toe.


“You should be in here lady!

You are the one with the red tomato face! ”

IN THE LAND OF NAROZ (Oz and Narnia): Primary Poetry

There was once a girl named Dorothy,

Who was often called the canary,

Because she had the perfect voice.

Like a golden harp it sounded,

Like butterflies flying in green air.

So she had no choice,

But to attract men wherever she walked.

She walked down the lane that looked completely insane.

The yellow bricked road,

She knew not to take,

But took it to lose the faces.


When she walked on and on,

Until she saw a change.

Nothing was normal around her ‘coz

She was in the Land of Naroz .


Dorothy realized she needed to break the spell,

Not just because of all the men.

But also because of the White Witch in her den.


The great cat Aslan,

Came to her help,

So mighty and strong,

Not falling for this spell.


He shook his mane,

As the dark side came.    

The 4 Kings and Queens,

Susan, Lucy, Edmund and Peter,

Armed with bows and arrows, swords and dagger.


To get through the war,

They fought the evil.

To0 much blood on the floor,

So much that the bright green hill,

Had turned into a hill,

Covered in red.

And Aslan had burned the Witch’s den.

The fire filled the den and claimed victory for all the men.


And finally the war was over.    

The spell was broken forever.

Dorothy was no longer as beautiful,

And spoke in a normal voice.

All the men walked away,

Seeking no beauty in her.


They all celebrated!


As they celebrated,

Sparkles formed around Dorothy,

She found herself rising  into the sky.

She floated across and waved good bye!


And poof!

Dorothy dissapeared.

Smoke swirled around the majesties.

But out of the smoke the Witch’s face emerged,


While the White Witch came towards them,

Her magic ring was still not destroyed, Aslan remembered.  

LOST IN A MAZE: Primary Poetry

Here I am stuck in a maze


this way, that way, this way, that way

When will we get out I cried

Just we’ll find a way out

He said


The Glass

Watch out

Be carefull dear father

Bump, Bump,Bump,Bump


Finally we are out of the maze

He looked at me

While I stood

As still as a tree;

As white as paper that was made

Just like today


My favourite place in all, my grandmother’s place.

The smell of the kitchen and the smell of the couch,

Remind me of daisies just lying about.


The touch of the old iron gate,

Like the warm feel of an abandoned ship.

The chipping walls crackle when you touch them gingerly.


When my grandmother cooks sweetdishes,

The dishes are flavours from heaven.

The colours of the rainbow flash through your head.

Fireworks burst everywhere.

You could jump in glee,

Or sit still and laugh “heehee!”.


The space is of love and arguments,

On the bed,

One pair of hands holding a snake,

Two pairs of hands climbing the ladders.

I scream and shout in boredom,

My sister cries and finally wails.  

Super Granny has won the game!


When a sunrise strikes,

The world lightens up,

A flock of white pigeons swoop down on the terrace.

Grandma gently casts the grains,  

The baby pigeons feed themselves,

Moving closer for more.

The feel of the wings,

Smooth as rose petals,

Sprinkled with water.


Walls of happiness surround this place,

The softness of the light, dim and fragile.

The hand of a person reach out to say,

I love you dear one, please don’t go away.


When you leave this lovely space,

The halls will darken, with evil taking its place.

The happy enclosure that was once there before,

Has disappeared in smoke, for no one lives there anymore.


I wonder, I wonder, I wonder.


What really happens when a pirate plunders?

I wonder what happens when you suck air from a floating balloon?

Do you blow up into the sky?

And land in a spaceship with a nasty disguise?


I wonder, I wonder, I wonder.


I do wonder about letting water flow around your house,

Flooding and splashing right through the walls.

Then switch on the freezer right I say,

And the whole house freezes right up and away!

So we ice skate around, graceful as dolphins by the bay.


I wonder, I wonder, I wonder.


What happens when a girrafe swallows spagetti?

Does it get tangled around him and create a wreck?

Or just slip like string right down his long neck?


I wonder, I wonder, I wonder.


If you were trapped in a solid block of ice,

And slipped downward right into the Niagara Falls.

What would happen if you suddenly hit a rock?

Would the block break and set you free,

Or squash you like a pie, with chocolate icing that is very tasty?


I wonder, I wonder, I wonder.


How does it feel when you are sent to the gallows?

Does it hurt with pain for the longing of the sun?

Or does it muffle the cries of help heard by no one?


I wonder, I wonder, I wonder.

What would happen if you met Robinson Crusoe and Friday?

Would you fall on them in shock?

Or would you tease and bully in a tone of mock?


I wonder, I wonder, I wonder.


If you had a pegasus,

Would you fly in the sky and reach for the stars?

Or would you let him graze and poop in a yard?


I wonder, I wonder, I wonder.


If a ghost rambled through your brain,

What would you do?

Would you squeal, shriek or shout in pain?


I wonder, I wonder, I wonder.


What if a dragon swallowed your parents?

Would you barge right into his mouth,

And live inside the dragon’s belly,

To have fun and watch a lot of telly?


I wonder, I wonder, I wonder.


What would be the wonders of the world?

What goes beyond the life of human beings as we know it.

If we step out of our enclosed space and into the wild?