The 1948 Marshall Plan saw the United States give over $15 billion in western Europe in an attempt to ensure the containment of the Russian threat. Is Covid-19 China’s Marshall Plan? Stage one: plant fear. Stage two: Help countries with mask and sow discord. Stage three: Be the savior of third world countries.
American supremacy in the world since the Second World War has been rooted in its unique capacity to get things done internationally by persuasion or by the threat or use of force. But the inability of Washington to respond adequately to Covid-19 shows that this is no longer the case and crystallises a perception that American competence is vanishing. The change in attitude is important because superpowers, such as the British Empire, the Soviet Union in the recent past or the US today, depend on a degree of bluff. They cannot afford to put their all-powerful image to the test too often because they cannot be seen to fail: an exaggerated picture of British strength was shattered by the Suez Crisis in 1956, as was that of the Soviet Union by the war in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Source
The coronavirus crisis is the equivalent of Suez and Afghanistan for Trump’s America. You couldn’t design a crisis to be a more perfect counter to the American toolkit, especially now. It can’t be defeated by dronestrikes or nukes, it can’t be defeated by money, it can’t be defeated by diplomacy — what it really requires to be defeated is for people to be humble, obedient and orderly. Meanwhile America has never been more arrogant or disorganized as in the last few years.
Democratic and despotic rulers will, at least at first, be strengthened by the pandemic, since in times of acute crisis people want to see their governments as saviors who know what they are doing.
But demagogues like Trump and his equivalents around the world are seldom much good at handling real crises, because they have risen to power by exploiting ethnic and sectarian hatreds, scapegoating their opponents and boosting their own mythical achievements.
Now society say “I check” and the soaring unemployment across all western countries, the ICU packed with sick people and the death rates just show how the US and Europe are not prepared for the virus. What’s going on behind the scene is a terrible war for control of information.
In my opinion, this whole information turmoil with COVID19 is controlled by the Chinese regime, and its goal is for China to gain the position of a new world hegemon.
First stage: Fear
China, in my opinion, decided to cause global confusion, from which they want to emerge victoriously as the strongest economy on our globe, gaining in addition the glory of the first victim and at the same time an efficient and friendly state, providing help to those in need.
The first stage of Chinese activities was to show the whole world an epidemic at home. It was about causing fear, which is why the reports sent were drastic. We were bombarded with images of medical personnel in almost space suits. We also saw crowds of people in space costumes decontaminating streets and buildings, and even specialized vehicles spraying something along the roads.
They showed ‘sick’ people locked up in solitary confinement, entire ‘dead’ cities, dead bodies in sacks, and heroic doctors and journalists who, contrary to the regime, revealed ‘the truth’. At the same time, it was not forgotten to emphasize the efficiency and effectiveness of the Chinese state. In the reports there was time to show modern cities, highways, railways. There were also modern hospitals, including those built in six days …
Even then it gave me a lot to think about. After all, in the course of history, including in recent decades, China has never bothered even with millions of victims.
Having doubts about it, I refer to the reading about the great hunger in China, about the cultural revolution, about persecution for faith, politics, or even for giving birth to children without state permission.
With all this in my mind, it was hard to believe me in the current sensitivity of the Chinese authorities and concern for society. I was also surprised by reports of production being suspended. After all, the number of dying, sick or quarantined persons was by no means significant in comparison with the total number of Chinese residents.
What surprised me most, however, was that information about the virus came out of China at all. The regime has always cared so that the world would not learn about any Chinese problems. He has all the media in his hand, including the Internet, which can be turned off at any time inside the country or cut off from the world network.
He showed this during the riots in Hong Kong, turning off the Internet in the surrounding provinces just in case. So if the world received information about the virus in China, it was a planned strategy. To show numbers not too low — to scare the world and not too high — to show that China has it under control.
Second stage: Mask Diplomacy and Infowar
The second, current stage began when the epidemic was moved to Europe and the US. Since then, drastic relations spread throughout the world from Italy and Spain. Sure, before I finish this article, they will start coming out from the next countries.
At the same time, as he took it away, China put a gag order on any epidemic news from their mainland. This is another, in my eyes, evidence of an information attack by China. Even if they have plenty of sick people, they will now build their image of an efficient state that dealt with the pandemic and now they are ready to restart heir economy and readiness to help.
They have already demonstrated this “help” in Italy. More than 10 flights containing millions of masks will be heading to the Czech Republic this week; Chinese leader Xi Jinping has pledged medical supplies and resources for countries ranging from Serbia — whose president called Xi his “brother and friend” — to Italy. China’s wealthiest man, Jack Ma, promised 2 million masks to be distributed across European countries, including Spain, Italy, Belgium, and France. Even China’s much-maligned flagship tech company, Huawei, has offered to donate significant volumes of personal protection equipment to Ireland. Source
At this point they create a lot of information that they are donating and helping their western friends. Because mass donation of masks and supplies to ailing hospitals and local charities are pivotal in rehabilitating China’s historically maligned and recently ignominious image in particular areas. They show how they are able to provide help when the EU has “done nothing for their partners” (The EU Is Abandoning Italy in Its Hour of Need) At the moment China approached Helsinki, Tallinn, Brussels, The Hagues, Paris, London, Dublin, Rome, Madrid, Athens, Warsaw, Bratislava, Prague, Budapest, Sofia, Bucharest, Zagreb, Belgrade (Berlin is missing from that list, aint it weird?). Xi Jinping did not call the leaders of France, Germany, Serbia, and Spain out of benign good will. While Xi acknowledged France and Germany, given their strategic prominence and hegemonic positions within the EU, he tactically opted to engage Spain and Serbia — the former as an economically and medically ailing nation within the EU, and the latter as a country outside the EU, which has continually remained on the periphery of the pan-European association. China’s relatively cold treatment of states that have historically maintained distance from it reflects the overarching political fiction that has guided Chinese foreign affairs for decades — qinshu youbie, make sure to distinguish between friend and foe. The symbolic show of force doubles as a warning not only to those who rebuke China’s offerings, but also to those who have persistently sought to isolate the country — only to now find themselves on the receiving end of the stick.
Capitals Special Edition - How effective is China's 'mask diplomacy' in Europe?
European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen warned on Wednesday (25 March) that the economic hardship caused by the…
But what’s even more devious is that most of this help provided by China was bought by affected countries and the help is defective. Yesterday, Netherlands recalled ‘defective’ masks bought from China and Italy had to pay for the supplies they received from China. Or the Spanish newspaper El País reported that microbiologists found that tests it bought from a Chinese company called Bioeasy could correctly identify virus cases only 30% of the time.
So the information about how China is helping everyone is being promoted and upvoted but any information about any other help or how Xi is selling the facemask and not really donating them is being buried. Buried under fake news of “dolphins in Venice” Or how a dying priest gave his respirator to another patient. (Source)
Now everyone is concentrated on how the US has world’s most COVID-19 cases but can I recall you that according to the USSR only 31 people died as an immediate result of Chernobyl? So do you trust the numbers coming from China? A country that has concentration camps for the Uyghurs?
China's Mask Diplomacy
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The second feature of China’s mask diplomacy is its emphasis upon establishing long-term dependence relations and patronage networks. As a part of the country’s “Go Out Strategy,” China has come under significant criticisms for its alleged “debt trap diplomacy.” The argument goes that China deliberately lures countries into its international projects and loans with seemingly lucrative, short-term returns, but in fact entraps these states in persistent and sovereignty-constricting loan arrangements. Source
Through offering emergency relief at critical junctures such as natural disasters and public health crises, including during the COVID-19 pandemic, China gains unrivaled and significant access to the critical infrastructure within the states that open themselves up to China, as well as the opportunity to foster sentiments of gratitude and tit-for-tat reciprocity among mid-level, rising bureaucrats (e.g. mayors and provincial leaders). More importantly, perhaps, by enabling regular and steady importing of Chinese technology and supplies, Chinese technocrats could effectively expand the market shares of nascent industries like biotechnology and medical equipment, indirectly boosting the revenue of state-owned enterprises or pivotal components of its Made in China 2025 strategy.
The third feature is to sell it together with disinformation and the media blitzkrieg brings a new narrative: “The origin of the virus is unknown. It could have come from anywhere in the world. China has been a model in handling the sensitive issue. Beijing can now advise the world how to go about it.” One of the first shots came from the Chinese Embassy in Australia, which emailed local journalists, accusing them of “politicizing the Covid-19” by saying it originated in China “without any supporting facts.”
Zhao Lijian was called upon to serve as spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and already made such statements: “CDC was caught on the spot. When did patient zero begin in US? How many people are infected? What are the names of the hospitals? It might be US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Be transparent! Make public your data! US owes us an explanation!”
The Communist Party mouthpiece The Global Times was not left behind. An Op-Ed stated: “Amid the raging Covid-19 epidemic, some Western countries have shown their true colors.” The writer elaborated: “Some Western media outlets have blamed China for the virus’ going global and made a big deal out of China’s ‘delays’ during the outbreak’s initial stage. Now that the novel Covid-19 crisis continues to unfold across the world, it’s obvious to see which country’s handling has been more efficient and effective.”
The Editor of Bitter Winter, an Italian website studying China’s Human Rights, recounted: “Some days ago, I opened my email and found a message from a Chinese colleague asking whether I was safe from the ‘Italian virus’. Source
Third stage: Savior of Third World countries
The IMF recently declared Africa the world’s second-fastest growing region, and many are predicting that it is well on its way to becoming a $5 trillion economy, as household consumption is expected to increase at a 3.8% yearly clip to $2.1 trillion by 2025. The attention of the world is now drifting towards Africa, with comparisons to 1990s-era China are no longer coming off as radical projections. China has likewise become a central player in Africa’s urbanization push, as a huge percentage of the continent’s infrastructure initiatives are being driven by Chinese companies and/or backed by Chinese funding.
“You could say that any big project in African cities that is higher than three floors or roads that are longer than three kilometers are most likely being built and engineered by the Chinese. It is ubiquitous,” spoke in 2019 Daan Roggeveen, the founder of MORE Architecture.
But the African sentiment to China was not always positive.
This has included claims that China is in Africa only to access natural resources, that it wants to buy up Africa’s land, and that it mainly employs Chinese rather than local labour, although some researchers describe these claims as “myths”. Other critics have argued that many Chinese companies provide sub-standard services and products and under-sell and weaken local competitors. China has also been severely criticised for its willingness to work with autocratic or less-than-transparent regimes, as in Zimbabwe and Zambia, for example.
In three of five African regions, China either matches or surpasses the United States in popularity as a development model. With the virus ahead, China will use this to become popular in five out of five regions.
Right now, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres says he fears “millions and millions” of coronavirus cases in Africa, where the youth will not be spared. He called on wealthy countries to help the developing world, for their own sake. He says at least three trillion US dollars, around 10 percent of the world’s GDP, is needed to slow the spread of the coronavirus for vulnerable countries in the Global South. “Africa is in urgent need of test kits, masks, ventilators, protective suits for health workers,” said Guterres. “We can still prevent the worst in Africa but without a massive mobilisation we will have millions and millions of people contaminated, which means millions of deaths,” adding that Africa’s booming youth population will not be spared. Source
So the plan for China is to be the savior of third world countries, to create its own Marshall plan. In recent weeks, China has already donated hundreds of thousands of surgical masks and test kits to the Philippines and Pakistan, sent teams of medics to Iran and Iraq, and extended a $500 million loan to help Sri Lanka combat the virus. The African Union already received 2,000 test kits from the Chinese government and is expecting another 10,000 of them along with other crucial medical supplies needed to fight the spread of Covid-19 across the continent. Jack Ma, pledged a total of 1.1 million coronavirus test kits, 6 million masks and 60,000 medical protective suits and face shields the African continent. On Sunday 22 March, Ethiopia received 1.5 million test kits, 5.4 million face masks and tens of thousands of medical supplies. Source
Already african websites are writing:
China always said a friend in need was a friend indeed, and our continent needs China’s help more than at any other time in recent history.
The US is panicking it does not have enough, although it has 200 000 for a population of 327 million. Its Society of Critical Care Medicine estimates 960 000 patients will need ventilator support.
Our only hope is that China will facilitate a stock of extra ventilators for South Africa, either as a donation or at reduced prices. As a senior Chinese official told me recently, only China and Cuba can help South Africa.
China has also proven its resolve to assist the rest of the continent with combating the scourge of Covid-19.
As China continues to prove itself a friend in times of grave need, not only to Africa, but countries around the world, it is developing a unique leadership position in the fight against Covid-19 which may, ultimately, alter global power relations. China is showing us the true meaning of ubuntu — I am because you are — and showing itself to be a responsible global leader not only concerned with the needs of its own citizens. The world will not forget the assistance which China provided when the stakes were high. Source
And what China get’s from it? China needs what Africa has for long-term economic and political stability. Over a third of China’s oil comes from Africa, as does 20% of the country’s cotton. Africa has roughly half of the world’s stock of manganese, an essential ingredient for steel production, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo on its own possesses half of the planet’s cobalt. Africa also has significant amounts of coltan, which is needed for electronics, as well as half of the world’s known supply of carbonatites, a rock formation that’s the primary source of rare earths.
What happens now?
China has already shown the world how important they are. Even Americans have learned that aspirin in their pharmacies depends on supplies from China. Now the Chinese, in subsequent information attacks, will build and consolidate the belief that only they are able to help the world and will offer this help, displacing the United States at every opportunity.
The strategic goal of this war is to reduce the United States to a local power with influence only on the continent of North America.
This was probably written for many operational purposes, among which is depriving the dollar of the role of the basic currency in international transactions and the creation of new economic unions and international organizations under the leadership of China.
In the face of this, all countries will be forced to take care of their position, supplies, military security, etc. again. This is a topic for tons of studies for specialists to which I leave it.
I will only add my belief that the traditional war, the energy, with tanks, bombs, etc. are unlikely to threaten us on a global level, but the likelihood of such conflicts locally increases.
I think that in the third stage of Chinese activities, the takeover leadership scheme that has been known for centuries will be repeated. A ‘victim’ will be created — they will be entire nations and states that are suffering the effects of the crisis.
Chinese propaganda will show what nations or countries could have, what they deserve and what they have lost. Then comes the time to indicate “guilty” of this state of affairs. They will probably be the United States or the Western value system.
Finally, it is time to point out the “savior”, which will be the People’s Republic of China, with its organization of the economy and society. China will gradually take over global hegemony.
What can we do?
Because we are dealing with an information war, we need to take action on its front, i.e. take care of what is going on in our heads and rationalize individual and social behaviors.
First of all, don’t give in to fear and panic. We should select the information we receive and not believe in everything. Simple logic is enough for this selection in most cases.
I recommend that you keep in mind that China is regime. It has achieved economic successes on an unprecedented scale, but still totally enslaves individuals in a way that people from the Western circle of civilization will not be able to stand.
In my opinion, they can only be stopped by an effective information campaign, explaining to the public that this virus is nothing out of the ordinary.
Immediate, universal and easy access to masks, aprons, disinfectants, tests, etc., “props” that would calm the society would also be helpful. The media are competing in tragic reports, and the government probably does not even try to carry out such a campaign. So it will get worse.
However, let’s not go crazy! What the government does not do, we can do ourselves in our immediate surroundings. Let’s try to live normally and, above all, run our businesses. Many of them are completely insensitive to the virus. In others, you can easily implement simple procedures to act.