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After Coronavirus, China’s Relations With the World Will Never Be the Same

by Keith B. Richburg

Leaders of countries long friendly to China because of economic concerns—and willing to turn a blind eye to its atrocious human rights record and abuses like holding a million Muslim Uyghurs in concentration camps—are demanding Beijing be held to account.

As the novel coronavirus has spread from its original epicentre of Wuhan into a global pandemic, China’s ruling communist party is pushing a new narrative.

After some initial missteps by local officials, this narrative goes, the central government took charge and defeated the virus with tough, resolute measures. Western countries are now suffering because of their lax response and the inferiority of their cacophonous democratic systems compared with China’s one-party model. Other countries should learn from China’s success, and the Middle Kingdom is now generously sending expertise and badly needed equipment to the hardest hit places. China’s healthcare workers are heroes. And by the way, the virus may actually have originated with the US military, not in China.

It’s a message being slavishly promoted in the party-controlled state media, parroted by Chinese diplomats around the world, and perhaps even believed by a significant percentage of Chinese citizens subjected to decades of brainwashing by relentless propaganda and an education and indoctrination system that extols the virtues of party rule.

But around the world, this narrative is being met with derision and outright hostility.

The alternative narrative, gaining increasing currency, is that China’s central leadership in Beijing knew early on about the severity and extent of the mysterious new virus in Wuhan and lied to the world in a massive cover-up. In those early crucial days, China barred experts from the World Health Organization and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. President Xi Jinping received a grim assessment on 14 January about the Wuhan virus becoming a pandemic, according to reporting by the Associated Press, but the public was not warned until a week later. The late January lockdown of Wuhan came far too late, after more than half the city’s 11 million residents were allowed to leave for the Lunar New Year holiday.

Source: The National Interest

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