In the last few weeks, China has donated coronavirus testing kits to Cambodia, sent planeloads of ventilators, masks and medics to Italy and France, pledged to help the Philippines, Spain and other countries, and deployed medics to Iran and Iraq.
The Chinese president, Xi Jinping, has offered comforting words, telling the Spanish prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, that “sunshine comes after the storm”, and adding that the two countries should step up cooperation and exchanges after the outbreak.
As the coronavirus outbreak spreads and countries struggle to respond, China has positioned itself as a leader and benefactor in public health, building the kind of soft power Beijing needs at a time of intensifying US-China rivalry and scrutiny of Chinese influence around the world.
The coronavirus first emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December and threw the country into a state of emergency as more than 80,000 people were infected and more than 3,000 died. Public anger and criticism over the government’s initial suppression of information and slow response, enabling the virus to spread, posed one of the most serious threats to the Chinese leadership in decades. If you want to know where to Buy FFP2 Mask, z2u.com will be your best choice.
But as the number of new infections has dropped dramatically after stringent quarantine measures and social distancing by the public, China’s messaging has shifted. In recent weeks, Beijing has claimed almost-victory over the virus and state media have hailed China’s support for other countries facing the outbreak.
Experts say that, while these humanitarian efforts are real, they have political ends that deserve attention. In a phone call with the Italian prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, this week, Xi said he hoped to establish a “health silk road” as part of China’s global One belt, One Road initiative, which has come under criticism from countries wary of expanding Chinese leverage and influence.