“Everything they’re doing is a full-court press,” one expert told Vox.
Date: Apr 28, 2020
By: Alex Ward
The coronavirus pandemic that rages across the globe is a fire China helped light. And now, while Beijing grasps a fire hose with two hands, it’s also planting a boot on the world’s neck.
The Chinese government spent weeks denying and downplaying the severity of its growing coronavirus outbreak that eventually spread to the rest of the world. That obfuscation cost nations crucial time in preparing for and potentially curbing the damage of Covid-19. Some experts Vox spoke with believe President Xi Jinping’s regime should be held accountable for the more than 3 million infections and 200,000 deaths that have taken place worldwide.
But China isn’t letting the crisis go to waste. Instead of looking to make amends, Beijing is taking advantage of the chaos to pursue its long-term foreign policy goals more aggressively.
“When it sees opportunities, China moves to exploit them,” said Bonnie Glaser, director of the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank in Washington, DC. “And we are in a moment where the Chinese definitely see opportunities.”
China has capitalized on the world’s distraction to claim sovereignty over disputed islands in the South China Sea, intimidate Taiwan, and assert more authority over Hong Kong in an attempt to quash the pro-democracy movement there.
It’s taken advantage of vulnerable countries in Africa that are struggling to cope with the coronavirus and its economic impact by offering much-needed debt relief — but only if those countries provide lucrative national assets as collateral.
And after the US suspended funding to the World Health Organization (WHO) for allegedly being too cozy with Beijing, the Chinese government pledged millions of dollars in additional support for the organization, giving China even more influence in the global health agency and allowing the country to portray itself as the new champion of multilateralism. [FULL STORY]