The Problem With China’s Victory Lap

The Chinese Communist Party is trying to present itself as a global leader in pandemic response. If it declares success too early, it may lead the world back into disaster.

The Atlantic
Date: March 28, 2020
By: Kathy Gilsinan

KEVIN FRAYER / GETTY IMAGES\

On January 24, a few days after the United States confirmed its first coronavirus case, President Donald Trump expressed his gratitude for China’s “efforts and transparency” in combatting a virus that the country’s leadership tried for weeks to cover up. On behalf of the American people, Trump wrote, “I want to thank President Xi!”

By then, the pandemic was on its way to wreaking havoc on the U.S. economy and its citizens’ way of life—not least because of the actions of Xi Jinping’s own government. Yet in February, Trump again praised for Xi on Twitter, writing that “he is strong, sharp and powerfully focused on leading the counterattack on the Coronavirus … Great discipline is taking place in China, as President Xi strongly leads what will be a very successful operation.”

Since then, cases have skyrocketed across the United States, which now has the highest number of confirmed cases anywhere in the world, with more than 100,000 people infected. Yet Trump’s comments reflect a propaganda victory for Xi. And as the U.S. approaches the height of its outbreak, scrambling to spend trillions of dollars to save its economy, asking other countries to make up for its device shortages, soliciting doctors from overseas, and still struggling to bring stranded citizens home, it has no credible claim to be the responsible superpower leading everyone out of the crisis. Xi, the ascendant authoritarian with a massive surveillance state and a ruthless security apparatus at his disposal, wants to pick up the mantle.    [FULL  STORY]

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