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Countering China’s Grand Narratives
Commuters wear protective masks as they exit a train at a subway station during Monday rush hour on April 13, 2020 in Beijing, China
Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

Countering China’s Grand Narratives

John Lee

COVID-19 has not suspended tensions between America and China but exacerbated them. That much, at least, is clear from the recent spat arising from the Donald Trump administration’s use of the term “China virus” or “Wuhan coronavirus,” which was denounced as “racist” and “xenophobic” by Chinese officials. In returning fire, Beijing branded the American response to the pandemic as “sloppy” and “inadequate” and lauded its own draconian measures in locking down much of the country as evidence of the superiority of its authoritarian system.

That boast is better understood as an attempt to deflect attention away from the fact that failures in accountability and governance allowed COVID-19 to spread throughout China and the rest of the world in the first place. Moreover, it is arguable that governments in South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, and Hong Kong responded more effectively than China without the draconian measures adopted by Beijing.

Still, the point is that propaganda is an important, perhaps even decisive, weapon in shaping the environment to one’s liking. And it is China, not America, that has been winning the battle of narratives in the region.

Read the full article in The American Interest

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