Wednesday, February 26, 2020

The coronavirus, a "major test" for the centralization of power embodied by Xi Jinping

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President Xi Jinping himself recognizes this: the Covid-19 epidemic constitutes "A major test for the Chinese system and governance capacity" from the country. Clearly, for the centralization of power that he embodies, like none of his predecessors, since Mao Zedong. By what it reveals about the functioning of the Chinese Communist Party, the health crisis therefore has an important political dimension.

By dedicating its "front page" in early February to the coronavirus "Made in China", the german weekly Der Spiegel caused a scandal. But for some, the virus is indeed the fruit of corruption and concealment, two of the driving forces of Chinese communism. Obviously, Beijing thinks exactly the opposite. Epidemics originate almost everywhere in the world and the superiority of the socialist system makes it possible to combat them more effectively than democracies do.

Read the latest information: over 5,000 new cases in China, end of quarantine for 181 French returnees

For propaganda, by leading " a war " against the virus, China "Contributes to improving the health of the world". This is all the more questionable since, despite the transparency displayed by Beijing, China refuses to host international health missions, which the United States is beginning to blame it for. For its part, the World Health Organization (WHO) has so far obtained only an exploratory mission arrived Monday in the Chinese capital.

Humiliation

Internationally, Covid-19 (name given by the WHO to the disease caused by the coronavirus, now called SARS-CoV-2 by experts) has already damaged the image of a China, a great power modern, praised by Xi Jinping. Today, Chinese freedom of movement around the world is limited as it has never been in forty years. Except that, this time, it is no longer the Communist Party which prohibits the Chinese from going out but the foreigners who prevent them from entering or impose a quarantine on them. A real humiliation.

From Kazakhstan to Italy, even the countries participating in the "Silk Roads" – the keystone of Beijing's soft power (policy of cultural influence) – close their borders to the Chinese. On January 15, Deputy Prime Minister Liu He signed a trade deal with Donald Trump at the White House. Today, he is said to be turned back by the immigration authorities.

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Nothing says, moreover, that Beijing will be able to honor the commitments made during this first agreement. According to Bloomberg, the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (Cnooc), China’s largest importer of liquefied natural gas (LNG), has canceled all orders due to the virus, citing force majeure. Imports of LNG from the United States were one of the main commitments made by China on January 15.

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