March 12, 2020

How China set forth the global coronavirus crisis into motion

By Kristine Lee and Ashley Feng

As the shroud of crisis began to lift at the center of the coronavirus epidemic in China, Beijing launched a campaign to project an image of global leadership while the United States and countries across Asia, Europe, and the Middle East have taken on water. In a call with the Italian foreign minister last month, the Chinese foreign minister his hope that their “joint fight against the outbreak” would catalyze the creation of a “silk road” of health care, alluding to President Xi Jinping’s marquee Belt and Road economic strategy. Chinese diplomats have proselytized Beijing’s deft handling of the outbreak, as their diplomatic agencies sent hundreds of thousands of masks and thousands of testing kits and other medical supplies to Iran and South Korea at the end of last month.

Beijing’s blustering is more pernicious than false advertising. After its early mismanagement of the outbreak, China is brazenly leveraging what is now a global crisis to advance its narrow aims. As Beijing jockeys for leadership in existing international organizations and tries to mobilize alternative platforms, it is systematically undercutting these institutions’ ability to provide independent, objective, and transparent assessments that the world needs in times of crisis.

Read the full article in The Hill.

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