What are you searching for?
GIGA Focus Asien

Vom Krisenherd zum Krisenheld: Chinas Umgang mit COVID-19

Number: 4 | 07/2020 | ISSN: 1862-359X


The onset of the new coronavirus epidemic in Wuhan in late 2019 and the ensuing worldwide pandemic have put massive political pressure on the Chinese leadership. Official communications by the party-state authorities in response to this pressure indicate that the crisis might have a lasting impact on China’s domestic and foreign policy stances.

  • Parts of the Chinese populace as well as intellectual and party elites have criticised the opacity in dealing with the virus early on. Critics have targeted not only local but also central party-state authorities under the leadership of Xi Jinping.

  • The switch to national crisis mode has served to contain the disease, as well as internal criticism. Besides stepping up its censorship, the party state has employed the full repertoire of positive propaganda – framing disease control as a patriotic war, with Xi as heroic commander-in-chief.

  • In late April, domestic mass media started to actively report about international criticisms of China, to discredit United States accusations about the People’s Republic as fake news, and to mirror the offensive behaviour of Chinese diplomats abroad, thereby bolstering the legitimacy of domestic crisis management under Xi.

  • At the same time, the party state’s external communication suggests that the Chinese leadership’s foreign policy strategy is increasingly following a two-dimensional “united front” logic: while antagonistic notions of strategic rivalry seems to steer relations with the US, political communications vis-à-vis the European Union still appear to be dominated by a tactical benignity.

Policy Implications

The German EU Council Presidency is facing a critical juncture in the second half of 2020. The PRC is pressuring the EU to make the choice either to continue multilateral collaboration according to China’s vision of a “community of common destiny for mankind” or to risk ending it by insisting on the existing “rules-based” international order. The Chinese leadership appears to no longer be interested in accommodating the EU’s more differentiated and compartmentalised approaches to multilateralism. Instead, triggering one diplomatic crisis after another in the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic, the PRC seems to be undermining the chances of multilateral collaboration step by step.



References



Suggested Citation Style

Holbig, Heike (2020), Vom Krisenherd zum Krisenheld: Chinas Umgang mit COVID-19, GIGA Focus Asien, 04, July, urn:nbn:de:0168-ssoar-68450-6

Imprint

The GIGA Focus is an Open Access publication and can be read on the Internet and downloaded free of charge at www.giga-hamburg.de/en/giga-focus. According to the conditions of the Creative-Commons license Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 this publication may be freely duplicated, circulated and made accessible to the public. The particular conditions include the correct indication of the initial publication as GIGA Focus and no changes in or abbreviation of texts.

The German Institute for Global and Area Studies (GIGA) – Leibniz-Institut für Globale und Regionale Studien in Hamburg publishes the Focus series on Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and global issues. The GIGA Focus is edited and published by the GIGA. The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the institute. Authors alone are responsible for the content of their articles. GIGA and the authors cannot be held liable for any errors and omissions, or for any consequences arising from the use of the information provided.

GIGA Focus

In the various editions of the GIGA Focus, the GIGA publishes its research findings and concise analyses of current events. Four editions cover politics, economics, and society in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East, respectively. A transregional edition examines global trends.

Picture of blue lock

Open Access

The concept of "open access" has empowered the GIGA to virtually eliminate the financial, technical, and legal barriers normally faced by many of those seeking to access the institute’s research findings. This publication strategy ensures that people all around the world have equal opportunities to keep up with scholarly advances.

GIGA Online Catalogue

Users can search the IZ’s collections online. These include, for one, the World Affairs Online (WAO) database, which offers more than one million titles on international relations and area studies – 100,000 of which come with links to full texts online. The WAO is one of the largest social science literature databases in Europe. The catalogue is available to users in German and English.