Covid-19 has been one of the worst possible threats the world has seen so far in the 21st century. Ever since the pandemic has started, we have seen the proactive and aggressive foreign policy of the Chinese authoritarian regime to defend its so-called China’s national ‘core’ interest. Being an economic superpower, China made sure to use all its influence in the international platforms to suppress any kind of criticism related to the mishandling of Covid-19.
Besides, we have seen examples of the Chinese Communist party’s coercive diplomacy, this coercive diplomacy enables to punish of any kind of undesired behavior and includes economic sanctions and non-economic sanctions. To put forward this kind of diplomacy, China-funded a huge amount of capital in their information warfare capabilities. President Xi’s foreign policy vision is much different from his predecessors, his policies are much more aggressive. The constant muscles flexing, which China has done in the South China Sea and other border areas with different countries can be seen as an example of this attitude. Many research scholars believe that President Xi Jinping has emerged as a grand figure after Mao in Chinese domestic politics. However, Covid-19 creates a different situation for the whole Chinese regime.
During the whole pandemic situation, China has been very persistent over information warfare to maintain its narrative all around the world. As we have seen, how China was able to change the worldwide narrative over the name of the virus and able to promote the Coronavirus instead of the Wuhan virus. China’s offensive propaganda includes the best state-sponsored media houses, think tanks, and even third party spokesperson all around the world. As an example, we all have seen a video circulating over the internet. Where a 1000 bed hospital was constructed in just 10 days, the video was shared all over the internet from all around the world. Besides, China continuously sent its doctors team to different nations to earn the goodwill of the respective countries. In the last few years under President Xi Jinping, the Chinese communist party made it very clear that they will use any kind of policies and techniques to ensure their control over everything through their authoritarian methods and ideology.
In 2003, China’s central military commission approved the 3 concepts of warfare and media manipulation is among one of them. After hiding the information about the initial outbreak of the Coronavirus, China later decided to counter all the allegations at any cost. We have seen how Beijing appointed Zhao Lijian as the spokesperson of the Chinese foreign ministry. Zhao Lijian has been very active on Twitter during the whole pandemic and attacked anyone who is trying to expose the Chinese regime for the mishandling of Coronavirus. Besides, the increasing number of papers from Chinese Think tanks are trying to change the origin of the virus. Earlier the Chinese foreign ministry accused American soldiers of the origin of Virus, later some of the scholars accused India and South East Asian countries of this virus. Information warfare has played a significant role to propagate the aggressive Chinese foreign policy in the backdrop of Covid-19.
Wuhan province was the worst affected area in China during the pandemic. The government suppressed any whistleblowers, who were trying to reveal the truth about the Covid-19. The death of the whistleblower Doctor Li Wenliang sparked anger among the common public. This was seen as one of the biggest political challenges in front of President Xi. Beijing then also censored online platforms and tried to control things through forcible methods. According to the Scroll media house, Yicai Magazine published a timeline showing the spread of the coronavirus in an article titled “If there was a possibility to sound the alarm on Wuhan, which day would it be?” However, the situation is still difficult for the Chinese communist party but they censorship on the internet manages all things together for them.
During the initial outbreak of the virus, the world was trying to manage their economies and their health system. Though the countries like the USA, Australia and Uk accused China of the spread of the Covid-19. Australia even demanded an international independent investigation for this very matter. Where one side majority of the country was struggling to restructure their health system and civil administration. On the other hand, China was playing its goodwill game by supplying the face mask and ventilator machines all around the world. Most of the countries refrain themselves from commenting over China’s mishandling of viruses. India is one of the nations who didn’t involve themselves in criticizing China. The USA accused China again and again and coined the term Wuhan virus in their official press briefings. The US president even termed it as the Chinese virus and demanded transparency about the investigation. However, The USA also pulled back its funding from the world health organization.
The world has also seen their over-dependence on the Chinese market and the supply chain based on China. Japan and Korea are among one of the major nations to decide the diversifications of their supply chains. Not only Covid but also the trade war between China and America made this situation more clear. According to the Gartner, Inc. survey of 260 global supply chain leaders in February and March 2020 found that 33% had moved sourcing and manufacturing activities out of China or plan to do so in the next two to three years. Survey results show that the COVID-19 pandemic is only one of several disruptions that have put global supply chains under pressure. Also, Japan has decided to diversify their supply chains in south-east Asia, especially among the ASEAN nations. All these factors gradually make a great business environment in south-east Asian countries.
The Covid-19 has taught us the importance of information warfare in order to set a particular narrative around the world. However, This tactic cannot fill up the major blunder of the Chinese communist party. In order to defend the National core interest, China has damaged its own reputation among the general public. This can be seen through the netizens who are demanding the idea of collaboration between India and Taiwan.