Has the Outbreak Woken Up the Europeans?

Welcome to the China Angle. I am Simone Gao.

In a sense, the pandemic is a world war. In the European war zone, a sort of Winston Churchill is needed, one who sees what’s really at stake at this time, and is able to act courageously and single mindedly to defeat the enemy in both the short- and long- term. Besides the virus itself, the pandemic is a warning, a wake up call about Communist China. If it failed to wake up the Europeans, I am afraid that what would really do a long-term disservice to Europe would not have been the armies of the Nazi party, but the money of the Communist regime. Mingling with the Communist Party has not only plunged us into this physical and financial plight, but also corrupted humanity to its core.

America has largely woken up, now it is Europe’s turn. How are they doing? Let’s explore in this episode of the China Angle.

Part 1: The False Image of a Savior

The Chinese Communist Party, or CCP, had already been slowly creeping into Europe for years before the outbreak hit. Now, it is portraying the role of an infallible savior. If you don’t agree with them. Here is what happens.

On April 24, when the New York Times reported that Beijing was threatening the European Union about a new report. That report is titled “Short Assessment of Narratives and Disinformation around the COVID-19 Pandemic.” It was written by the European External Action Service, which is part of the EU. The report pointed out that both China and Russia spread disinformation about the pandemic. According to the Times, the original wording said China deflected blame and acted to improve its image. However, when the EU report was published, the same day as the Times article, all language against China had suddenly become much softer. One paragraph about China’s world-wide disinformation was reportedly removed all together. The following day, Politico published an article citing three sources who said that Chinese diplomats pressured the EU to tone down the language. However, a spokesperson from the action services told The Hill that the claims are false. Nonetheless, there is already evidence that the regime has carried out disinformation campaigns on Western social media, and it may also be influencing the WHO.

If the claims are true, why would the CCP work to water down the report? In this case, it’s because the CCP can not have their image soured as they attempt to swoop in and provide all the medical equipment that European countries need to weather the pandemic. Communist ideology outwardly purports itself as the savior of humanity, and this behavior is right in line with that narrative. The party, in fact, is only acting to save itself, no matter the cost to the rest of the world.

But what about these non-communist nations in Europe, or even ones who have had their countries and culture ravaged by communism? As we already know, the CCP, or any communist regime for that matter, maintains image above all else. But why would other nations go along with it? Well, that all comes down to one word: money.

Part 2: Blood and Gold, Communism’s True Colors

The CCP needs money. It needs the rest of the world to buy its products. A telling example, and another change of disguise, happened recently with a previous China “hot topic”: Huawei. The founder and former CEO, named Ren Zhengfei, is out. His daughter is Meng Wanzhou; she is the CFO of Huawei who is still under arrest in Canada. According to Chinese state media reports, Ren and five other senior officials all left their positions on April 10th. Why, at a time when Huawei is attempting to push 5G to as many countries as possible, would so many senior managers leave?

Well, the answer may exactly be just that. Huawei may be attempting to change its image, to put on a new disguise so that it can distance itself from its CFO being under house arrest for months. After all, Huawei has marginally lower quality 5G services at a much cheaper price, since the CCP subsidizes it so heavily–all it needs is a clean image. Even though the United States has warned time after time of Huawei’s national security concerns, some nations have their eyes on the same thing as the communist salesman: money.

China promises these countries all the material benefits they could want, from infrastructure to high-tech telecommunications. It comes at a price much more reasonable than the country could manage itself. On top of that, if China swoops in, appearing to be a savior and offering medical supplies during a disaster, that may be just the trick to get an uninformed bureaucrat prepared to sign away his country. But, has that actually happened?

Well, China’s Belt-and-Road initiative, also called BRI, which some analysts have described as debt-trap diplomacy, is already happening inside Europe. For reference, the countries shown in red have accepted BRI investment from China. The deeper the red, the larger the BRI investment is compared to other Chinese investment. But what does the BRI do?

The BRI offers massive infrastructure projects to foreign nations. In most cases, they are nations which can not manage such massive projects on their own. However, the debt of some of these projects far outweighs the country’s ability to make money and repay it. This debt has already been traded-in by some countries for land ownership; China is indirectly buying up a country’s land with the BRI.

So in Europe, who is the CCP victimizing, and how are they doing it? The BRI investment could indeed serve as a guide.

With that in mind, let’s look at some instances of countries who are not going along with the CCP narrative. In this illustration, countries in green have had news reports showing their stance at least somewhat against the CCP. Yellow nations have mixed responses, and nations in red have had reports of close partnerships with the communist regime.

Recently, Sweden closed all of the Confucius institutes inside its borders, according to Swedish media. These institutes appear as cultural education programs, but are actually proxy-propaganda centers for the CCP, located inside university campuses. Further, Sweden has ended all of its sister-city agreements with China. Relationships between Sweden and China first began turning poor when a Chinese-Swedish author vanished while in Thailand. He later was sentenced to 10 years in prison inside China. Money seemed to not sway Sweden, as it has received the 8th most foreign investment from China of all European nations, according to World Bank Numbers [From 2000-2018]. Further, Sweden is not part of the BRI.

Another example is Ireland. Ireland purchased a 200 million Euro shipment of personal protective equipment from China. 20% of that was deemed unusable. Another 15% was deemed only suitable as backup. Ireland’s Health Services said that if future quality was not guaranteed, then there would be no future PPE business. Ireland has received the 14th most investment from China, but none of it was for the BRI.

Further, Denmark has taken a clear stance with respect to the pandemic. A political cartoon published in one of Denmark’s newspapers replaced the stars on China’s flag with coronaviruses. The Chinese embassy in Denmark called for the image to be censored, yet Denmark’s Prime Minister defended the newspaper’s freedom of speech. Denmark is also not involved in the BRI, and has the 25th most investment from China.

Others include Britain, who has no BRI investment, and has said that it will not be “business as usual” with China in the future. However, the foreign ministry said that Huawei won’t necessarily be removed from the UK. That stance on Huawei may be explained by investment, as Britain has by far the most Chinese investment–over 22% of all Chinese investment in Europe–according to Heritage Foundation data. It also has the second highest GDP in Europe.

Only Switzerland and France have not taken BRI money and taken a stance friendly with China; Switzerland shut down a pro-Tibet protest in a small mountain town. Switzerland has the second most Chinese investment, but by far the highest investment per capita. For every Swiss citizen, China has invested over $72,000 in Switzerland.

France appeared to quietly resolve a spat between President Macron and the Chinese consulate, which insulted France’s response to the outbreak.

As for the BRI (Belt and Road Initiatives) nations, none have taken an open stance against China, with some directly siding with the communist regime. Serbia’s president said there was a “steel friendship” between his country and China. About 83% of all China’s investment into Serbia has been through the BRI. Serbia also has the 10th most Chinese investment in Europe, but has the 27th highest GDP on the continent. China’s total investment in Serbia is 20 times the country’s GDP.

All the other nations which have received 100% of their Chinese investment from the BRI have not taken an openly critical stance of the regime. Most of them are in South-Eastern Europe.

Could it be that Chinese money is keeping these nations tongue tied? What we can say for sure is that China is using the current disaster for political maneuvering, ultimately to ensure its survival. Its subsistence for years has been feeding off the outside world, by exporting mass quantities of low-priced products. Now it is attempting to use the disaster to its advantage. This has been the China Angle, I’m Simone Gao, thanks for watching.

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