China’s wolf warriors are believed to be guilty of Covid



The fall in China-Australia relations sounds like a small detail in the big picture of world affairs. But this is a corner of the canvas that deserves a lot of attention. It provided an early indication of China’s extreme sensitivity to international calls for an investigation into the origins of Covid-19.

The deterioration of the relationship between Beijing and Canberra has been surprising. In 2014, President Xi Jinping gave a speech in the Australian parliament celebrating a new trade deal and the “vast ocean of goodwill between Australia and China”. But over the past year, China has imposed tariffs and other measures on Australian wine, food and coal, and Chinese officials have accused the country racism i war crimes.

The origins of the dispute can be as significant as its development. Late last year, Chinese diplomats released a dossier 14 grievances against Australia. Problems included blocking foreign investment agreements and funding “anti-China” research. But he highlighted a particular complaint.

Looking at him chronology of the dispute, it is clear that the time when China really rose was when Canberra demanded an independent investigation into the origins of Covid-19. Scott Morrison, the Australian prime minister, even called for international experts to receive “arms inspector-style powers” ​​in conducting his investigation. Ambassador of China to Canberra answered warning that this perceived insult could trigger a boycott of Australian products by Chinese consumers. Months later, the Chinese government itself had taken the initiative by imposing tariffs.

Beijing finally accepted a World Health Organization investigation. But the inspectors were a lot limited in what they could see. China’s obvious desperation to control the narrative caused a headwind suspicions of those who believe the country has something to hide.

In reality, guilty conscience is not the only plausible explanation for Beijing’s response. The broader difficulty is that China’s reaction to any criticism of the outside world appears to be a toxic mix of threats, sharp rhetoric, and secrecy. This applies whether the subject is Xinjiang, Taiwan or Covid-19.

This style of “Wolf Warrior” Diplomacy it is often counterproductive. But it is also an inevitable product of a domestic system that demands confidence in President Xi and enforces this demand with censorship and repression. It is unrealistic to expect a closed and paranoid system at home to be flexible and open in its engagement with the outside world. Even many aggressive messages from Chinese diplomats can be aimed primarily at ordinary citizens or heads of households. The goal is to show that the Xi government is defending China.

When investigating Covid-19, the Chinese government was also indirectly shielded by Donald Trump. The fact that the former president of the United States is widely regarded as a liar and that he had a clear political motive for blaming China for the pandemic easy to fire all suggestions of a lab leak in Wuhan as another far-right conspiracy theory.

Joe Biden’s more cautious approach is paradoxically more threatening to Beijing, as he has more credibility, both at home and abroad. The US President has openly done so admitted that their intelligence agencies are divided on the theory of laboratory leaks. It can really be confirmed by the consequences. Even if the Biden administration tried to limit the consequences of this finding, there would likely be lawsuits in U.S. courts, demanding major reparations in China. The White House’s efforts to maintain a delicate balance between confrontation and cooperation with China would be left out of the water.

The stakes for China are very high. Over the past year, China has been successful changing the narrative about Covid-19. After initially faltering with the impact of being the first to be hit, Beijing has managed to highlight China’s success in containing the disease, compared to the high death toll in the west.

The news of the new US investigation suddenly puts Beijing in place. Faced with this immensely difficult situation, China will need all the friends it can find. But the Xi administration and its wolf diplomats have spent the past year alienating potential partners. The last time was the decision of the European Parliament to do so freeze the ratification of a major investment agreement between China and the EU – after the imposition of Beijing sanctions on European officials and institutions, which was a response to EU sanctions imposed on Xinjiang.

Relations with India have also steadily deteriorated over the past year. For New Delhi, the crucial moment it was China’s aggression on the Himalayas last year that resulted in the deaths of troops on both sides. Leading Indian analysts believe that the pressure Beijing was feeling on the Covid-19 in the summer of 2020 may have been a key factor in the decision to escalate tensions.

There is a clear risk that if China feels cornered on the Covid-19, it will respond again with aggression or with the search for some kind of international diversion. The impetus to understand how the pandemic began is inevitable and necessary. It is also dangerous.


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