It appears that Chinese President Xi Jinping feels the chill.
Did it finally dawn on him that other countries got a little ruffled after China unleashed a pandemic on the world and then lied about it? They also got a little touchy when China sent an aircraft carrier task group and warplanes to simulate a siege on their mutual ally, Taiwan, in April and then forced an overhaul of Hong Kong’s electoral system. Perhaps they’re also upset about the human rights abuses against the Uyghurs and, of course, the theft of their valuable intellectual property.
And about a thousand other reasons.
Chinese state media outlet Xinhua News Agency reported that Xi would now like to project a “credible, lovable and respectable China” to the world.
In what the South China Morning Post called a “study session of the Politburo,” Xi told senior leaders the country needs to “make friends extensively, unite the majority and continuously expand its circle of friends with those who understand and are friendly to China.”
The Post acknowledges that “negative perceptions of China [are] at record high levels in many parts of the world” and says the Chinese President hopes “to repair the country’s coronavirus-hit image and win a battle of narratives with the US and its allies.”
The BBC reported that Xi called on the Communist Party news agencies to send the message that the government wanted “nothing but the Chinese people’s happiness and good fortune.”
The article noted that Xi’s remarks amount to a “rare admission of Beijing’s isolation.”
Perhaps the fact that the world has now opened their eyes to the lab leak theory has something to do with it. Because it may be impossible to ever prove that COVID originated from the lab at the Wuhan Institute of Virology without China’s cooperation, their refusal to provide that information should prevent any country from trusting them again.
Does Xi believe that the world will instantly put aside the tremendous damage that China has caused in the last year and a half and the belligerence with which they have acted? Unfortunately, as far as the spineless, conflicted President Joe Biden is concerned, he may be right.
It will be hard to forget the defiant and cutting tone of the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian in the early months of the pandemic. Zhao was behind the conspiracy theory that the virus was brought to Wuhan by the U.S. Army when 300 soldiers traveled there in mid-October 2019 for the Military World Games. On March 12, 2020, Zhao sent the following tweet:
2/2 CDC was caught on the spot. When did patient zero begin in US? How many people are infected? What are the names of the hospitals? It might be US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Be transparent! Make public your data! US owe us an explanation! pic.twitter.com/vYNZRFPWo3
— Lijian Zhao 赵立坚 (@zlj517) March 12, 2020
Or his sarcastic successor, Hua Chunying. Below, she taunts a State Department official on Twitter with a reference to George Floyd.
"I can't breathe." pic.twitter.com/UXHgXMT0lk
— Hua Chunying 华春莹 (@SpokespersonCHN) May 30, 2020
Or the unbelievably undiplomatic treatment of U.S. diplomats at the March meeting in Alaska by the Chinese Director of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs Yang Jiechi.
Or top Chinese General Xu Qiliang’s refusal to acknowledge Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s three attempts to contact him in May.
The international friendships Xi claims to seek should only be possible after some form of amends. Perhaps some ownership of the pandemic, for starters.
However, some nations, dependent on China for trade, may accept his olive branch. Other nations, with weak, possibly compromised leaders like Joe Biden might also fall in line.
This is precisely the type of situation that many of us had feared prior to the election. We were concerned that his son’s, his brother James’ and possibly his own past business dealings with China would prevent him from putting America’s interests first, making him a national security risk.
Will Biden give China a pass? Unfortunately, he might.