Coronavirus: China wants to lead the fight against Covid-19, but can it overcome the mistrust?
With the United States gripped by a domestic struggle with Covid-19, China appears to have stepped into its shoes as a global provider.
Over the past two months, Beijing has sent medical teams to 16 countries, to share their knowledge and expertise with officials and health workers on treating and containing the deadly coronavirus. In most cases, the visits have been in tandem with large shipments of vital supplies, such as test kits and personal protective equipment.
According to its foreign ministry, China has provided medical supplies to more than 125 countries and four international organisations, as well as holding 70 videoconferences with experts from more than 150 countries.
On Thursday, Beijing donated a further US$30 million to the World Health Organisation, after contributing US$20 million in early March. US President Donald Trump announced a freeze on American contributions to the United Nations health agency on April 15.
Francoise Nicolas, director of the Centre for Asian Studies of the French Institute for International Relations in Paris, said that while China wanted to be seen as a responsible power, sending aid alone would not change how it is perceived on the world stage.
“They’re trying to make the world forget the initial big mistake [of covering up the outbreak],” she said.
Also, the current trend of Chinese diplomats fervently defending their country against its critics was likely to backfire, Nicolas said.
“Pushing a very aggressive narrative may actually turn out to be totally counterproductive and destroy the potential positive effects that sending medical equipment and teams may have,” she said. [...]