Editor’s note for Monday, April 6, 2020

Dear Access member,

China’s global propaganda effort to COVID-19 sanitize its mistakes and promote its beneficence does not seem to be working:  

Last week South African mining magnate Blessings Ramoba tweeted:

The South African economy has already lost billions of rands due to Wuhan Virus. The Chinese government must cancel the debt owed by South Africa as a sign of remorse. Where is South Africa going to get money to pay them back, in addition to causing the deaths of our innocent citizens? 

Yesterday, Harry Cole, deputy political editor of the British tabloid Mail on Sunday, tweeted:

Britain should pursue the Chinese government through international courts for £351 billion [$430 billion] in coronavirus compensation, a major study into the crisis has concluded.

See also the Wall Street Journal: Britain falls out of love with China (paywall).

Indian news website Republic World says:

Pakistan’s ‘all-weather friend’ China had promised to send top-quality N-95 masks to the country affected by Coronavirus. However, [the masks] later turned out to be made from underwear, a Pakistani news channel reported.

In Nigeria, public health authorities are struggling “to dispel rumors that donated Chinese test kits are infected with COVID-19,” reports the China Africa Project.

Some Chinese citizens are also unconvinced. From the excellent blog Credible Target:

Here is [a translation of] the essay by Rèn Zhìqiáng 任志强, the piece which he shared with friends a few weeks ago, and which has him detained. It is smart, outspoken and plainspoken, filled with anger over the Party’s failures and Xi’s personal refusal to accept responsibility, as well as concerned about the future of his country. It is no holds barred stuff.

There are also voices calling for friendship and cooperation, at least between the U.S. and China, where the greatest faultline in the COVID-19 blame game lies. China’s ambassador to the U.S. Cuī Tiānkǎi 崔天凯 writes in the New York Times that China and the U.S. must cooperate against the coronavirus, while New York governor Andrew Cuomo thanked the Chinese government for facilitating a donation of 1,000 ventilators to the state. In Foreign Policy (porous paywall), Wendy Cutler and Daniel Russel argue that “COVID-19 might be a rare chance for the two countries to come together—if they can listen to their better angels.”

It’s hard to be hopeful though, if you listen to this podcast interview with former New Yorker correspondent in Beijing Evan Osnos: The coronavirus has pushed U.S.-China relations to their worst point since Mao.

SupChina online events this week:

Wednesday, April 8: Tech and business in China in the time of COVID-19: A fireside chat with Cornell professor Christopher Marquis.

Friday, April 10: A Sinica Podcast 10th anniversary celebration: Kaiser Kuo and I invite you to discuss the changes that have taken place in China and its relationship with the world over the last decade: we’ll take as many questions as you have.

Our word of the day is timeline: 时间线 shíjiān xiàn.

—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief