‘Beijing used Covid-19 pandemic to launch misinformation campaign

‘Beijing used Covid-19 pandemic to launch misinformation campaign

Washington DC [USA], June 19 (ANI): While the is world grappling to contain the Covid-19 pandemic and its tragic repercussions, China has used the outbreak to launch a global campaign of misinformation, further its economic coercion through the Belt and Road Initiative and continue military expansion efforts in the South China Sea, according to US-based think tank.

The Hudson Institute in the report titled ‘Global Survey of US-China Competition in the Coronavirus Era’ noted that China’s attempt to exploit the pandemic for political, strategic and economic gain is problematic in the current environment, yet it is consistent with and a continuation of China’s long-term strategy.

The report outlined China’s network of influence across South Asia and the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) goal to limit defiance from India, the region’s major power. “As the coronavirus pandemic slows economic growth in the region, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and other South Asian countries caught in China’s debt-trap diplomacy will see their dependency deepen in the coming months, while India’s historic wariness of Beijing continues to deepen,” it said.

According to the Hudson Institute report, the real counter to China in South Asia is India. “In South Asia, unlike Southeast, East or Central Asia, there is a natural hegemon — India. China cannot cast it aside easily. India has traditionally viewed China as an equal, rather than a superior and has been wary of Beijing’s aims and suspicious of China’s advances into its periphery. To this day, an ongoing territorial dispute with China mars relations. All of this creates a competitive rather than collaborative dynamic.”However, the report asserted that India would need the support and assistance of allies like the US and Japan. If the US wants India to play the role of regional security provider and Washington would like to “restructure” global supply chains and reduce dependence on China, then helping boost India’s economic and military capabilities would be critical.

As per the Hudson report, American and Japanese companies relocating from China may wish to consider the strategic benefits of India.

The report also reviews China’s diplomatic efforts in Africa, where initial positive impressions soured after reports of discrimination against a large African community in China’s Guangzhou.

“The quick reversal of China’s coronavirus diplomacy in Africa highlights the obstacles facing an autocratic state attempting to wield soft power, particularly in countries where citizens are willing to question the impact of Chinese investment, involvement and influence on their societies,” it said.

In the long-term, the pandemic will fuel growing political instability in Africa, providing China with additional opportunities for influence, the report further noted. “The US should align its strengths directly with the emerging African voices of opposition to China and support their demand for more capable, just and transparent governing institutions,” it said.

Beijing’s geopolitical interest in the Arctic continues unabated, the report noted. China continues with the objectives of the “Polar Silk Road,” launched in January 2018, to extract natural resources, establish its own transportation infrastructure and convert its growing economic power into political influence, it stated.

The report also outlined how the political and economic fallout from the pandemic has led to a growing wariness of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s intentions across South Korea and Japan, while Beijing’s pressure tactics in Hong Kong and against Taiwan have increased tensions with its neighbours in North-East Asia.

The report argued that stronger US bilateral relations with South Korea and Japan would help establish a free and open regional security environment and should begin with expanded cooperation on high technology and supply-chain security.(ANI)