Hidden infections and faulty tests: The fraying edges of Beijing’s PR campaign

China’s “mask diplomacy” is finding immediate success in some quarters. Eric Olander of the China Africa Project says that China’s soft power in Africa, for instance, is rapidly rising relative to the U.S. in recent days.

However, stories of unreliable data within China, and unreliable test kits sent from China to other countries, continue to raise questions about whether an international audience will buy Beijing’s story in the long run.

“The situation in Hubei’s capital Wuhan could be worse than the official figures make out,” the Financial Times reports, anonymously citing local medics, nurses, and disease specialists who say there are “hidden infections,” corroborating previous reporting from Caixin.

In Europe, “mask diplomacy” may be outright backfiring in some instances, as European leaders are reportedly miffed at China’s loud trumpeting of its generosity, after Beijing had earlier insisted on only quietly accepting aid from the EU.

Talk of faulty test kits from China is spreading in the Czech Republic, Spain, and Turkey, according to Middle East Eye. In Spain, the Chinese Embassy was put on the defensive — see in the Global Times ‘Flawed’ test kits sold to Spain produced by unlicensed company: Chinese embassy.

—Lucas Niewenhuis