After a long time of silence, today I hope to discuss an important topic. All we know that the Covid-19 pandemic is the current challenge for the world. Originated from the Wuhan in China, Covid-19 affected almost every country in the world.
With this situation, people around the world, especially for the USA, had not a positive opinion about China. But China could successfully turn the situation into its advantage. Especially China could again strengthen their foreign relations with the rest of the world in the term of medical diplomacy.
Today we are going to examine how China did reboot their diplomatic relations with the rest of the world after the pandemic situation and what is the hidden agenda?
Even a powerful country like the USA, has failed to overcome this challenge. Also during the pandemic period, most of the countries showed how they fail to address the health crisis. This situation helped China to enhance its diplomatic influence and improve its international image. As International relations students, you will not surprise about the ability of China to identify the most sensitive and the weakest points of the countries.
When comparing with the USA, China successfully manipulated the situation domestically.
But the question is how does China improve its foreign relations using medical diplomacy and how does China achieve a global agenda through that. Let me show you.
Council on foreign relations have pointed out a good example that shows the Chinese Global agenda that try to achieve through medical diplomacy. During the Covid-19 outbreak in Italy, Chinese President Xi Jinping held a phone conversation with the Italian Prime Minister. With the promise to supply medical teams and supplies, President Xi Jinping did not forget to remind Italy to work to build a Health Silk Road.
When discussing the South Asian Region, Pakistan is one of the most vulnerable countries in the South Asian region that affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Also, Pakistan received test kits, face masks from China. Pakistan leaders expressed their gratefulness to Beijing and mentioned that this challenge could bring the people of the two countries even closer. When going through the Sino – Pakistan ties, we should not forget the significant position of Pakistan in the One Belt One Road initiative and the Sino Indian rivalry.
Another example that Praise the Chinese medical diplomacy was, the case of Serbian Prime Minister. He kissed the PRC flag to show the gratitude for the support from Beijing and criticized the European Union’s lack of reactivity and solidarity towards Covid-19.
But countries like Malaysia have a different view of Chinese medical diplomacy. The former Prime Minister Mahathir Bin Mohamad has criticized the Chinese investments in the country. On the other hand, the government renegotiated the China-backed Railway project. Also claims to the South China Sea for both countries should not forget. During the Covid-19 period, China stepped forward to provide safety equipment to Malaysia. Even the Malaysian government expressed their gratefulness for China, they have maintained a cautious approach towards Chinese medical diplomacy.
On the other hand, the poor accuracy rates of the Chinese masks and Suits partially damaged the position achieved by China through medical diplomacy. For example, Spanish and Turkish authorities said that the test from China with efficiencies of 32 – 40% cannot accept. Also in March, Dutch authorities informed about the return of 600 thousand pieces of equipment.
In conclusion, in the context of medical diplomacy of China, it wanted to act as a global leader to fight against the pandemic. Even in the BRI, China identified the necessities and the weaknesses of the other countries. For instance, providing loans for the development of infrastructure facilities could attract developing countries. Also during the pandemic period, China used medical diplomacy to rebuild its damaged image. By addressing the burning issues of the countries and non-interference for internal matters, China always tries to achieve its agenda to be Global power. Generally, China follows an economic approach to achieve their agenda. But at this time, we can say, China occasionally changed their path related to the situation. But the aim is the same.