Bruno Macaes, writing for the National Review, posits the idea that China, where the coronavirus originated, is plotting to take advantage of the damage the pandemic is causing countries in the west.
The idea is that China can easier take the hit that the coronavirus pandemic wrought and can then enhance its power in relation to the United States and the rest of the world. Think of it as the ultimate example offered by Saul Alinsky of never letting a crisis go to waste.
“What started as a catastrophe for China is shaping up to be a moment of strategic opportunity, a rare turning point in the flow of history. Suddenly, the protests in Hong Kong, carrying a mortal threat to political stability in the mainland, became a physical impossibility. More important, the pandemic set in motion a global competition, to contain the virus, for which China and the Chinese Communist Party seem uniquely prepared.”
Beijing believes that its centrally controlled society, which features government control of information, positions it to better deal with the coronavirus pandemic and then use it to become the go-to country for rendering aid to other countries.
The communist party does not have as much of a regard for human life as do governments in western countries, which means it can accept larger casualties while keeping its economy intact.
In the meantime, countries such as the United States and Italy are more willing to take an economic hit to preserve more human lives. Western countries are more willing to keep their citizens in lockdown while their economies slide to Great Depression levels of unemployment and economic decline.
The first way that China is attempting to take advantage of the pandemic is by claiming that it has the problem in hand while pointing to continued chaos in the United States and Europe.
Beijing is undoubtedly lying about the true extent that the coronavirus has damaged China and continues to do so. However, many in the West, in absence of alternate information, may believe Beijing’s line.
China is also making a play for helping other countries with their pandemic problems by providing protective equipment, ventilators, and even medical experts. This effort has been less than successful since much of this equipment has turned out to be faulty, rousing anger in Europe.
Secondly, the longer that American and European companies are shuttered due to the coronavirus pandemic, the more opportunities that Chinese firms will have to take advantage of. “If the freeze in Europe and America continues for much longer, Chinese companies will be able to dramatically expand market share and replace Western-led value chains. Just yesterday Chinese authorities announced that manufacturing activity expanded in March, defying expectations of a contraction.”
Finally, if the pandemic cripples the military and economic power of the United States and other western countries, China would be positioned to fill the vacuum, expanding its power at the expense of its rivals.
“At that point, China would have a unique opportunity to step in, provide aid, and refashion these countries in its image. It would look like a repeat of the Marshall Plan and the beginning of the American world order after the ravages of World War II. “
The fly in the ointment, as the old saying goes, is that the Chinese government may have underestimated the economic strength and political cohesion of its western rivals, especially the United States.
The Atlantic, not known to be overly friendly to President Donald Trump. Recently ran a story that suggested that the president has been right all along about China’s antagonism. Trump will be able to counter China’s moves and start to repair the American economy after the pandemic is contained.
Also, Forbes suggests that Beijing may have overestimated the extent to which it has been able to contain the pandemic within China. The country is showing a new rise in coronavirus cases, calling into question the ability of the government to contain the pandemic.
In short, regarding the West, the coronavirus pandemic may be a case of that which does not kill us makes us stronger. Western scientists will prove treatments and ultimately a vaccine that will put the pandemic in the rear-view window.
In the meantime, China may wind up being the country that needs help while being blamed for causing the pandemic and then making matters worse by lying about its true extent.