Journal Article : China’s External Propaganda during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Jabin T. Jacob, ‘“To Tell China’s Story Well”: China’s International Messaging during the COVID-19 Pandemic’, China Report, Vol. 56, No. 3 August 2020. 374-392.

Abstract

The Covid-19 pandemic has dented China’s image as an efficient Party-state given how an effort to cover up the outbreak and the resulting delays in reporting led to the virus spreading beyond its origins in Wuhan in Hubei province to the rest of the country as well as rapidly across the world. This article examines China’s massive external propaganda effort launched as part of the effort to repair the damage to its global image and interests. It notes how China has not let the situation stop it from pursuing its traditional foreign policy and security interests, including, of competition with the United States. The article also argues that it is the ruling Communist Party of China’s concerns about its legitimacy at home that has determined the nature and scale of Chinese responses to the pandemic outside its borders.

Read the full article here.

Winning and Losing in Iran

Iran’s relations with both India and China are of long standing and significant in different ways to Tehran. Under pressure from US economic sanctions while also being locked in conflicts of varying intensity with its Arab neighbours as well as with Israel, Iran has had few countries it could bank on for political and economic succour. India and China have fitted this bill occasionally and the difference really has been in terms of who has been able to do it for longer stretches and to greater effect.

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An Opportunity to Rethink India’s Economic Policies

India has in recent months taken some initial steps against predatory Chinese capital and technologies in its economy. Without quite naming China, the Indian government has both tweaked FDI rules to limit acquisition of Indian companies without government approval and banned a few score apps of Chinese origin on national security considerations. These are welcome decisions that have long been called for and should not have waited for either a pandemic or tensions on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China.

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A Foreign Policy without Foreign Languages

India is famed as a country with multiple languages and dialects with most Indians being able to understand if not also speak at least two. For a substantial number that number can go up to three and more. Educated Indians also usually have a fascination with French as a ‘foreign language’, though technically, it is spoken or followed at least by older generations in Pondicherry and other former French possessions and a medium of instruction in several schools.

But it is part of a general blindness about all but the developed world that most Indians who wish to learn French do so because they are interested only in France and things French. They almost never think that the largest number of French speakers in the world – and therefore, also a great number of opportunities – exist in Africa. But because Africa and Africans are looked down on by the general Indian population, such possibilities escape them. Spanish and Portuguese are other languages spoken widely in the developing world but arguably have fewer takers in India than German does. 

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