If the West is still facing Covid-19 crisis, domestic socio-economic and political crisis, China is promoting its strategy to contrast the virus in those countries considered strategic for Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative. In fact, China has risen as the winner in the management of Covid-19 crisis. Beijing has been capable of exploiting the virus for its international geopolitical purposes meanwhile the West has proved the incapacity to face a pandemic which threatens society, economy, and democracy.
Since the beginning of the spread of Covid-19, the People’s Republic of China has contrasted the spread of the virus in its country transforming its experience into a geopolitical means to improve Beijing’s presence and cooperation with strategic countries in the West. China has also used the pandemic to manage and almost totally resolve the domestic political crisis in Hong Kong and has apparently silenced those initiatives aimed at contrasting Beijing’s ethnic policy in Xinjiang – East Turkestan against the Uighurs.
By contrast, most of the countries in the West are adopting strong restrictive measures to counteract the pandemic exasperating Western citizens and damaging business activities. Yesterday the French President Emmanuel Macron imposed a new lockdown, last Sunday the Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte approved a new parliamentary decree which established an ‘economic curfew’ for several business activities related to the field of tourism, while in Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel declared the beginning of a semi lockdown. Moreover, in the United States, the pandemic has become one of the main topics of the presidential campaign which opposes Donald Trump and Joe Biden because the current US President has been accused of misjudging and mismanaging the pandemic.
The West has proven its incapacity of balancing the strategy to counter Covid-19 among economy, medical needs, and democracy. In the past Western governments hugely criticised Beijing for restrictive measures and policies against democratic values and human rights but nowadays the same Western governments are adopting coercive measures to contrast the virus causing grave consequences to their economies. In fact, in the last month, we have seen different manifestations in the European countries against governmental confining measures which have negatively affected business and small and medium entrepreneurs.
At the same time, Chinese state media are broadcasting images of normal life in Wuhan and Beijing is promoting its Covid-19 counter-strategy to the world with the aim of boosting cooperation with those countries which play a strategic role in the Belt and Road Initiative.
Why this matters? Because China has increased its strategic communication and diplomatic activities in the West to influence people and convince the audience that a partnership with Beijing might reduce or definitely defeat the pandemic. If the Chinese government will manage to ‘conquer the hearts and minds’ of the Western population, Chinese companies will become more involved in the US and EU economies binding their governments with financial funds and foreign investments. More Chinese involvement in the Western economies conceals Beijing’s final goal of becoming the global superpower capable of controlling the international community and market.