China & Coronavirus — How Many Elites Will Allow Themselves to Feel ‘Anti-China Sentiment’?

Political News


People pass by portraits of Chinese President Xi Jinping and late Chinese chairman Mao Zedong as the country is hit by the coronavirus, Shanghai, China, February 10, 2020. (Aly Song/Reuters)


Beijing faces a wave of anti-China sentiment led by the United States in the aftermath of the pandemic and needs to be prepared in a worst-case scenario for armed confrontation between the two global powers, according to people familiar with the report’s content, who declined to be identified given the sensitivity of the matter.

The report was drawn up by the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR), a think tank affiliated with the Ministry of State Security, China’s top intelligence body.

No doubt, the Chinese government deserves every denunciation, sanction, snub, and consequence that it gets as a result of how it handled the outbreak of the coronavirus. Grassroots outrage, throughout the world, will drive that “anti-China sentiment” and push policies in directions opposed to Beijing.

But if the past few months have taught us anything, it is that a lot of powerful people in the West really want to minimize the disruption to existing Chinese relationships overseas.

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Before the outbreak, Joe Biden insisted, “they’re not bad folks, folks. But guess what, they’re not competition for us.” Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz called China an American ally and shrugged that his company is not in “a position to proactively effect social and political change” in China. America, sure, but not China. Mike Bloomberg insists the Chinese Communist Party listens to the public, and the news organization that bears his name buried reports that could embarrass Chinese leaders.

Even now, Bill Gates argues China did a lot of things right when the outbreak started and investigating China’s handling of the virus early on is a waste of time. The editor of The Lancet medical journal happily appeared on Chinese state-run media, declaring, “China isn’t responsible for this pandemic.” American media institutions regularly repeat the implausible claims of Chinese state media with bizarre credulity. Politico helpfully informs us on Twitter, “Trump is getting roasted on Chinese Twitter for his virus response” — without mentioning that Chinese social media is monitored and censored.

Just about every corner of corporate America built its long-term strategies on access to the billion Chinese in that country’s market, and basically reorganized themselves and their entire corporate culture to ensure that no little matter like concentration camps or brutal crackdowns in Hong Kong could disrupt their good relationship with officials in Beijing. A lot of elites in the West and around the world invested their fortunes and their reputations on staying on the good side of Xi Jinping.

If there is going to be a future American or Western conflict with China — militarily, proxy war, through espionage, or ideological like the Cold War — it will be one where the majority of the leaders in the West are, at best, conscientious objectors. Or they may simply decide that they prefer Beijing’s side.


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