Beijing continues its efforts to prevent a second wave of COVID-19 within China’s borders: The top Xinhua story today says that General Secretary Xí Jìnpíng 习近平 “chaired a leadership meeting to make new arrangements on implementing regular epidemic prevention and control measures and fully advancing work resumption” (see in Chinese here).
Propaganda is also an important priority of leadership, though state media might not say so directly.
- Domestically, a new target of state media ire is the writer Fāng Fāng 方方, who documented life in Wuhan under lockdown and published an article in Caixin, titled, “Thank the government for controlling the virus? No, they should be thanking us.” Today the Global Times published pieces attacking Fang Fang in English and Chinese.
- Internationally, “whether Beijing is praised or pilloried could determine the fate of its ambitions for global leadership,” writes the New York Times (porous paywall). However, “foreign leaders, even in friendly nations like Iran, have questioned China’s reported infections and deaths. A top European diplomat warned that China’s aid to the continent was a mask for its geopolitical ambitions, while a Brazilian official suggested the pandemic was part of China’s plan to ‘dominate the world.’”
- India also seems unsettled, despite a Chinese charm offensive — including no incidents on the two country’s disputed land border for months. Harsha Kakar, a retired Major-General of the Indian Army, writes in The Statesman that “China is desperate for allies especially when the global backlash starts, which will happen soon.” Tanvi Madan, a Brookings Institution expert in Indian foreign policy, told Axios that “Indians are very upset with China” for its censorship and propaganda.
However, China’s coronavirus diplomacy appears to be having more positive results in Italy and Israel:
- Beijing speaking. How the Italian public broadcasting TV fell in love with China / Formiche
- Israel, too, turns to China for COVID-19 help / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
Meanwhile, yet another report casts doubt on China’s official numbers. From Wuhan, Sophia Yan of the Telegraph reports (porous paywall):
Adding to fears that the death toll may be far higher than reported, crematorium workers spoke of extraordinary increases in their workload…
Hospital staff have also complained of little transparency in the process for recording and reporting infections to the authorities.