China is botching its response to its pandemic

The first public relations coup for China was having it called COVID-19.

It won this PR sideshow by bullying everyone into thinking that Wuhan Flu or China Virus was racist. it’s not.

But so weak is the west that we bow to whichever petty tyrant plays the race card.

China knows this and it is very dangerous.

About a decade ago there was a popular theory that as China’s power grew, it would seek to enter the world’s institutions such as the WHO, the World Bank and the IMF and learn to play by the rules of countries like the world’s great powers, the US, UK, France and Russia (which then was a little less roguish).

This has proven to be an exercise in folly.

China has not sought to play by the world’s rules. Instead, China has sought to bend the world’s institutions to its will. Yes, the first example if the WHO to which it lied. Out and out, no doubt about it lied.

When it come sot traditional aid organisations like the World Bank and IMF, China has decided to bypass them altogether. It didn’t want the World Bank so it created its own to spread aid, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. And then there’s the Belt and Road Initiative, a vast network of railways, roads, pipelines, ports, and telecommunications infrastructure that will promote economic integration from China, through Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, to Europe and beyond.

It also gives aid. The World Bank tends to tie aid to economic or social reform. China has no such qualms, so its aid can keep tyrants in power. its aid typically focuses on South-South partnerships in the developing world; comes without conditionality; is predominantly bilateral; and includes not only grants and interest-free and concessional loans, but also other forms of official government funding. A number of training programs have supported public health, agriculture, and governance.

China’s programs are small but attractive as they come without strings – except a bit of love to China.

They have also created groups like the Confucius Institutes.

As of January 2018, there were more than five hundred institutes scattered around the world. The centers, nonprofit organizations affiliated with China’s ministry of education, provide Mandarin language courses, cooking and calligraphy classes, and celebrations for Chinese national holidays. The institutes echo cultural associations like the United Kingdom’s British Councils, France’s Alliance Française, Germany’s Goethe Institute, and Spain’s Cervantes Institute. The Confucius Institute partners with universities, typically with a minimum of $100,000 in annual support for programming, while Confucius Classrooms are established with primary and secondary institutions.

Of course, we know they’re in Australia. Teaching our primary school children. There are 14 at Australian universities and six at primary and secondary schools. After some were closed in NSW, they are only open in Victoria now. Victoria has also signed up to the Belt and Road Initiative.

These are ‘soft power’ plays, a term coined by Harvard University scholar Joseph Nye Jr. in 1990. It’s the means by which a country gets other countries to “want what it wants”.

China is getting very good at this. but when it doesn’t work, they unleash the hounds.

China gets ruff

Peter Hartcher in the Fairfax papers has a fantastic examination of the battle being waged at the moment between the Australian Government and the Chines ambassador to Australia, Cheng Jingye.

It really highlights that China is only prepared to play nice while it is getting what it wants. As Hartcher notes, he’s taken off the mask:

Ambassador Cheng has openly threatened Australia with trade boycotts.

Why? Because Prime Minister Scott Morrison last week dared to suggest an inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic. “The Chinese public is frustrated, dismayed and disappointed with what Australia is doing now,” Cheng said in an interview with The Australian Financial Review’s Andrew Tillett, published on Monday.

“If the mood is going from bad to worse, people would think, ‘Why should we go to such a country that is not so friendly to China? The tourists may have second thoughts.

But that’s not entirely the case. Chinese tourists wouldn’t decide not to come to Australia; the Chinese Government would decide that Chinese tourists can’t get visas. The tap would be turned off. Overnight.

Chengs is saying that an inquiry into Kung Flu would be dangerous.

This is a perfect example of how the west and China are butting heads. It’s the western way when you botch something up, to get to the bottom of what happened, how it happened, what can be done to avoid the problem in future and then move on.

In a dictatorship, that doesn’t work. Who’s to blame? The party. Oh, that won’t end well because the party is never wrong.

Penny Wong, to her credit as Labor’s foreign affairs spokesperson is backing the government in rejecting these threats from China:

“I’d make the point that the Chinese ambassador spoke about not wanting to resort to recrimination, division and suspicion and what I’d say is that’s precisely why we are supporting a call for an independent inquiry into the origin of the virus,” she said. “We have to press what is right, what we believe is right, for us and for the international community, and making sure that humanity understands how this virus started is the right thing to do.”

Hartcher concludes by making the point that it shows how silly Australia has been to put all its eggs in the China basket, but the beauty of this current crisis is that it has woken many in the world to the dangers of believing and trusting China.

Companies are leaving China and the US Government is prepared to pay for companies to leave (ironically they probably have to sell bonds to China to get the money … )

If you only thought government were the petty tyrants …

You should get to know Ku-ring-gai Chamber of Commerce secretary Peter Vickers:

A chamber of commerce on Sydney’s north shore has been forced to back down from comments demanding local businesses refuse entry to customers and staff who had not downloaded the COVIDSafe tracing app.

Ku-ring-gai Chamber of Commerce secretary Peter Vickers said he emailed between 1500 to 2000 businesses across its local government area on Monday directing them to ensure their customers had downloaded the app.

“It is very important that all businesses inform both their team members and customers that any visitors to businesses in Ku-ring-gai must be carrying a mobile phone with the Covidsafe app operating on it,” Mr Vickers said in the email.

“Staff and customers should not be admitted to your premises unless they have the app operating.”

But Mr Vickers followed this email with another in the early hours of Tuesday morning, after some of the email’s recipients informed him that such a direction was illegal.

The federal rules governing the app’s operation state that a person must not coerce another into downloading the app, or refuse them entry or services on the grounds they have not done so.

What a shame was hasn’t fined. He seems such a stickler for rules, he might have liked the penalty.

Reagan with Johnny Carson

Thanks to listener Vaughan for this clip.

It really highlights the genius of both Reagan and the awfulness of the modern media. Carson was usually considered a Democrat but in the 1970s opposite sides could have a civil and fruitful conversation. And it’s hard not to be impressed with Reagan, both his sincerity and his charm.

it’s well worth the watch.

If you have a video suggestion, send it to feedme@dailybreakdown.com.au.

FEATURED IMAGE: Photo by Melissa Walker Horn on Unsplash