News & Politics

China Hoarded PPE, Then Demanded Countries Praise China in Order to Get It Back

Xie Huanchi/Xinhua via AP

In January, Chinese consulates across the world issued an urgent call for personal protective equipment (PPE) in order to fight the new coronavirus epidemic. Chinese government data shows that Beijing imported 2.4 billion pieces of protective equipment, including 2 billion masks. When the pandemic hit other countries — now short on PPE to fight the virus — China demanded governments praise the Middle Kingdom in exchange for much-needed relief.

Georgette Mosbacher, the U.S. ambassador to Poland, told The New York Times that the Chinese Communist Party extorted President Andrzej Duda to call Chinese President Xi Jinping to thank him for aid. “Poland wasn’t going to get this stuff unless the phone call was made, so they could use that phone call” for propaganda, Mosbacher said.

Over the past two months, high-ranking government officials from various countries have offered effusive praise to China for its assistance, Axios reported. The Italian foreign minister credited China with saving lives in Italy, the Serbian president kissed the Chinese flag while welcoming a shipment of medical supplies, and the Mexican foreign minister tweeted, “Gracias China!!!” with a photo of a plane delivering Chinese aid.

It appears the praise did not come out of nowhere.

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In addition to Poland, Germany also appears to have gotten the quid pro quo demand. The German newspaper Die Welt Am Sonntag reported that Chinese officials approached the German government, plying them for positive statements about China’s coronavirus response.

The strategy appears to be widespread. “Often, Chinese officials tell counterparts abroad that they must publicly thank China in return for the shipments, say Western officials, executives and analysts with knowledge of the exchanges,” The New York Times reported.

“What is most striking to me is the extent to which the Chinese government appears to be demanding public displays of gratitude from other countries; this is certainly not in the tradition of the best humanitarian relief efforts,” Elizabeth C. Economy, the director for Asia studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, told The Times. “It seems strange to expect signed declarations of thanks from other countries in the midst of the crisis.”

These efforts are likely to backfire, however.

“The fairly aggressive party-state effort to ‘tell a good China story’ actually increases public awareness that these propaganda efforts on the Chinese side are going on,” Thorsten Benner, director of the Global Public Policy Institute in Berlin, told Axios. “They are shooting themselves in the foot by being so pushy on this.”

Yet this effort only adds to a long list of malfeasance from the Chinese Communist Party regarding the coronavirus crisis.

The British think tank the Henry Jackson Society (HJS) laid out a digestible timeline of the virus’s spread and China’s lies about the disease and failure to contain the spread.

“From the outset, the CCP tried to censor attempts by Chinese citizens to identify and publicise the truth concerning the origins, nature and dangers of the virus. Not all of these censorship efforts succeeded, and a considerable body of independent, corroborative data came to light,” the HJS report explains.

According to unpublished, unconfirmed Chinese government reports seen by the South China Morning Post, the first recorded case of the coronavirus dates to November 17, 2019, weeks before The Lancet‘s claim that the first recorded case came on December 1. By December 8, the SCMP documents recorded between 1 and 5 new cases. By December 27, the SCMP documents showed 181 confirmed cases, and a friend of coronavirus whistleblower Dr. Li Wenliang recalled that his medical department first reported the new outbreak to the Wuhan Center for Disease Control on the 27th.

On December 30, Dr. Li sent a message to his friends about the outbreak, and the police responded by investigating his friends. The authorities forced Dr. Li to pledge not to spread “disruptive rumors.” Meanwhile, by that date, the SCMP documents recorded 266 cases. Li would go on to die of COVID-19 after contracting it from his patients. On December 31, China finally reported the outbreak to the WHO, while claiming there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission.

On January 1, 2020 a Hubei official ordered coronavirus tests halted and samples of the virus destroyed. On January 14, the WHO reported some human-to-human transmission, but quickly retracted the claim, citing Chinese sources. Wuhan was not put under lockdown until January 22-23. On January 26, Wuhan’s mayor admitted that 5 million people had already left the city.

On January 7, the CCP’s journal Qiushi began publishing timelines of President Xi Jinping’s efforts against the outbreak. A transcript of a speech Xi gave on February 3 referred to a statement he had made on January 7 at a meeting of the CCP Politburo Standing Committee, when he had “issued requirements for the prevention and control of the new Coronavirus.”

Xi Jinping could have acted to shut down Wuhan as early as January 7, two weeks before the city was shut down. A University of Southampton study found that if strict quarantine measures had been introduced three weeks earlier, the coronavirus’s spread would have been reduced by 95 percent.

As the coronavirus spread across the globe, China’s Communist Party put out a video encouraging Italians to hug Chinese people to prove they weren’t racist — while China was lying about the true danger of the virus. Chinese companies also sent faulty medical gear and coronavirus antibody tests to European countries. As PJ Media’s Stephen Green reported, the Communist Party is also preventing U.S. companies from shipping their own medical gear back home, where it is sorely needed. Meanwhile, Xi attempts to blame the U.S. for the virus.

A new report compiled by the “Five Eyes” intelligence agencies of the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Britain added further evidence of China’s lies and malfeasance regarding the coronavirus. The State of Missouri has already filed a lawsuit to hold China accountable, and there is a growing chorus of voices demanding the U.S. sue the Chinese Communist Party in international court.

China’s despicable quid pro quo of demanding praise in exchange for much-needed PPE is disgusting and only highlights the need to hold Beijing accountable.

Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.

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