China running a disinformation campaign on Covid-19, say British analysts


London: A Britain-based think tank on Friday organised a webinar to discuss China’s disinformation campaign on Covid-19 and its waning influence around the world.

The virtual seminar, organised by The Democracy Forum, was held under the banner, “COVID-19 pandemic: China’s accountability and implications for the country’s foreign policy and internal stability”

Veerle Nouwens, a researcher from Royal United Services Institute voiced that China was building a fake narrative around the pandemic and was desperately trying to shift the blame on others for what it was clearly culpable.

“They have been involved in spreading conspiracy statements and theories: Be it that Covid-19 may have started in Italy and whether the US military brought Covid to China and that this was actually the origin of the Covid pandemic,” said Veerle.

“We have seen studies from various think tanks that there has been an uptick in the Chinese disinformation campaigns on online platforms. We have seen of EU recognising that covid has been from Chinese sources,” Veerle added.

In the seminar, Veerle also opined that Beijing has now resorted to ‘wolf warrior’ diplomacy in order to threaten who were parting ways with it in one manner or the other.

Underscoring the dent suffered by the Chinese economy, the experts were largely of the view that Beijing’s decision will shape its destiny.
Meanwhile, Charles Parton, a senior researcher at the same British defence and security think tank, claimed that China will never become a superpower.

“Domestic demand has been flaccid; the external demand has been even more flaccid. The real question that arises now is how China is going to keep up the economy as well as employment. There lies a considerable room for instability in the future,” Parton said.

China, where the deadly virus originated has been criticised from all around the corner. While some have accused it of being complicit, others have held it culpable for the spread.
Such is the impact that even the countries that were all-weather friends of China are questioning its integrity.

Rana Mitter, a professor of the History and Politics of Modern China at Oxford University, said that China’s reputation and the influence had both been damaged by the virus.

“Covid-19 has significantly weakened China’s position in the wider world, even in the global south, including places like Nigeria which have been quite favourable to Beijing, now see the mainland as the source of the pandemic outbreak. Now they don’t see China’s triumphalist language about it that it’s people’s war as being a good explanation for why they suddenly find themselves in such difficulty,” Mitter said further.

China has not just suffered diplomatic losses but its manufacturing sector and trade too have been severely hit post-pandemic outbreak.

A number of foreign companies are also considering shifting their manufacturing headquarters from China to other countries, preferably India. (ANI)