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State of American History, Civics, and Politics

Can China Leverage the Coronavirus to World Leadership?

It's not a comet. It's not an asteroid. It's not an alien. It's not a hoax. Photo : via reuters / Centers for Disease Control

When the coronavirus first erupted in Wuhan, China, the Chinese government deployed the Trump playbook. It denied that there was a problem. It repressed those who sought to tell the truth. It questioned the whistleblowers. It unleashed the China Hannitys. There was no coronavirsus. There was no coverup. Fake News.

The real situation was illuminated in the title of an article by Li Yuan, the Hong Kong based reporter for The New York Times “China’s Rifts Laid Bare by Outbreak” (January, 29, 2020, print). She quoted a Chinese newspaper editor who wrote:

The local government’s tolerance level of different online voices is way too low…Government agencies have weakened he checks-and-balance function of the Chinese news media.  

She cited two online comments made in response to the coronavirus:

“The current system looks so vibrant, yet it’s shattered completely by a governance crisis,” one user wrote on the social media site Weibo.

“We gave up our rights in exchange for protection,” the user wrote. “But what kind of protection is it? Where will our long-lasting political apathy lead us?”

Comments like this led her to conclude:

From the outside, China’s Communist Party appears powerful and effective. It has tightened its control over Chinese politics and culture, the economy and everyday life, projecting the image of a gradually unifying society.

The coronavirus outbreak has blown up that facade.

My own blog February 4, Kobe and Coronavirus: Meaning for World War IV expressed a similar negative perspective on the Middle Kingdom’s outlook. At the point, the conditions. The coronavirus was rampant with no end in sight. In addition to the medical emergency, there were the economic consequences which were impossible to gauge not only for China but for the rest of the world increasingly dependent on China.

Following the thread of Li Yuan’s articles, she subsequently wrote:

China Targets the Coronavirus, and Farmers Pay a Price (Jan. 31, 2020, online)

Coronavirus Crisis Shows China’s Governance Failure (Feb. 4, 2020, online)

Widespread Outcry in China Over Death of Coronavirus Doctor (Feb. 7, 2020, online)

In Coronavirus Fight, China Sidelines an Ally: Its Own People (Feb. 19, 2020, print)

The coronavirus outbreak has exposed the jarring absence in China of a vibrant civil society — the civic associations like business groups, nonprofit organizations, charities and churches that bring people together without involving the government.

Think of it as the nervous system that helps a society move smoothly and briskly — something Benjamin Franklin recognized over 200 years ago when he organized Philadelphia’s first volunteer fire department, first public library and first charity hospital. “It is prodigious the quantity of good that may be done by one man, if he will make a business of it,” he wrote in 1783.

Score one for America!

Coronavirus Weakens China’s Powerful Propaganda Machine (Feb. 27, 2020, print)

Beijing is tapping its old propaganda playbook as it battles the relentless coronavirus outbreak, the biggest challenge to its legitimacy in decades.

The problem for China’s leaders: This time, it isn’t working so well.

Online, people are openly criticizing state media.

Could the China Hannitys be failing? Are the mainland Chinese (not Hong Kong Chinese) failing to be good little obedient national Communists? What is the Chinese government to do?

Evidently, the Chinese government did something. A different New York Times reporter, Javier Hernandez, provided an entirely different perspective than the continual negative drumbeat of Yuan.

China, in Propaganda Push, Boasts of Response to Crisis (February 29, 2020, print)

According to this article, the Communist Party “is trying to rehabilitate its image as a model for the world.

SOME COUNTRIES SLOW TO RESPOND TO VIRUS read one headline. Gosh, I wonder what country the Chinese meant. As of February 29, in the United States, the corona virus was still a hoax, round three of the media-mob/Deep-State attack in the attempt to undermine the duly elected President of the United States. So claimed the American President and his propaganda outlet.

Hernandez reports that the Party officials were now trying to spin the coronavirus crisis as a testament to the strength of China’s authoritarian system and, of course, to its leader, Xi Jinping.

Mr. Xi has appears eager to reframe the crisis as a triumph for the party and for a vindication of his efforts to strengthen its control over everyday life in China.  

Can you imagine an American President trying to rewrite history as the Chinese leader has to show he is the hero and savior who knew all along it was a pandemic?

The China Hannitys claim that it is the United States political system that is not capable of dealing effectively with an outbreak. Whether or not they could make that claim in we had an adult in the White House is undetermined.

In March, the tide seems to be turning from the failure of China in January to a position of world leadership. The slowing of new cases of the coronavirus to zero in China matches the claim the American President made weeks ago about the 15 cases in America also soon to disappear like a miracle. The number now exceeds 10,000, no, now 11,000, no, now 11,600 and rising. The miracle is nowhere in sight. We still have to spike.

It is easy to understand why China thinks it is in a position not only to gloat but to magnanimously offer assistance to countries in need. Remember the Marshall Plan? Now it is the Chinese who have the masks and testing kits the rest of the world needs including the United States. It is not only in 5G where the United States is second and not really competing, it is on the coronavirus battlefield as well.

Xi Jinping’s victory appearance in Wuhan on March 9 was that of leader strutting his stuff. While other nations (Iran and Italy) and rival America are just beginning to gear up to confront the coronavirus, China is looking back on its triumph, looking ahead on its desire to move forward, and looking around at its willingness to help the less fortunate among the world. Other countries make talk about 40-70% of its population becoming infected – not in China.

There is no talk of 500 million Chinese being infected by the coronavirus.
There is no talk of 75-100 million Chinese requiring hospitalization.
There is no talk of 10-20 million Chinese requiring ventilators.
There is no talk of 5 million Chinese dead from the coronavirus.

True, there is no vaccine so there always is the problem of resurgence.

As prophecies go the infamous article China Is the Real Sick Man of Asia by Walter Russell Mead (Wall Street Journal, February 3, 2020, online) seems to have missed the mark.

The mighty Chinese juggernaut has been humbled this week, apparently by a species-hopping bat virus.

At present, the Chinese juggernaut has survived the virus and is ready to revive its economy…which will be a challenge give the dire straits of its customers. By contrast, it is the United States which has been exposed as the sick man of the world. It was in denial for two months and is poorly prepared to even test yet alone treat those infected and it is only beginning to prepare for the economic challenge and changes to daily life which will ensue.

These changes have led to an extraordinarily surreal moment in coverage by the government propaganda network in the United States. Suddenly the American Hannity is woke to the reality of the crisis. Suddenly he is aware of the consequences when a leader fails to act during that critical first month. Suddenly he has berated and castigated the Chinese Hannitys for their deceptive and dishonest coverage of the coronavirus as propaganda arms of the government. The American Hannity has taken the Chinese government to task for its cover-up and lies. He identified China as contributing to the current medical emergencies in Iran and Italy visited by Chinese because the government failed to tell the truth. People were dying as a result and the American Hannity blamed the Chinese Hannitys and the government for them.

In effect, the American Hannity’s message was:

If a drug manufacturer similarly had covered up the truth, it would be criminally negligent.
If an airline manufacturer similarly had covered up the truth, it would be criminally negligent.
If a car manufacturer similarly had covered up the truth, it would be criminally negligent.

Shouldn’t a government be held to the same standard? How many people have died and will die because the leader of a country was in denial and sought to repress the truth? How many people still don’t recognize a crisis exists because for months that is what their Lord and Savior, the Chosen One, Blessed be his Name and his propaganda apostles have told them? How many jobs will be lost due this criminal negligence?

The American President has said the United States is in war, that we will triumph over the invasion, the invaders from China. He is right to recognize that it is a war but he has failed to identify the enemy. The coronavirus like 5G and the newspaper reporters is a battlefield but the war is with China.

For three years our immature child President got to play at being President. Now he has to face three crises at once:

1. the national medical emergency unprecedented save perhaps for the flu epidemic of 1918
2. the economic collapse unprecedented save perhaps for the Depression
3. the battle between the City on a Hill with China for world leadership  – Who Will Win World War IV?

In a blog only a week ago, I commented on how much fun our Dear Leader has doing the penguin walk at professional political wrestling arenas (One Small Step for the Penguin-Walk President or One Giant Leap for the Fox President?). It reflects his idea of what adults expect a president to be. Do you think once such rallies are possible again, he still will perform the penguin walk? Do you think he is starting to realize that there is more to being president than he knew? Do you think he understands that even though he is not an adult, Americans want a president who acts like one?

World War II marked the emergence of the United States as the center of the world. It had supplanted England as world leader symbolized by the United Nations headquartering in New York. Now that city struggles with its increasing number of coronavirus cases and Times Square, the crossroads of the universe is empty. Instead the coronavirus witnesses the emergence of a new world order where all roads lead to China. Does Bonespur Boy have the right stuff to go into the arena and triumph in America’s moment of need?

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