Chinese President Xi Jinping after having been re-elected for an unprecedented third term in power is back to his agenda to assert global ambitions. For this he, perhaps, is keen to repeat the strategy of using Covid-19 pandemic, this time with new variants, writes Gopal Misra
Now firmly saddled in China’s unpredictable murky politics, a confident President Xi Jinping by getting a third term, violating the country’s constitution and after dumping his peers in the polit bureau, is back to his agenda for asserting Dragon’s global ambitions, perhaps, outshining, Sun Yat-sen or Mao Zedong, the legendary leaders of China. For this he, perhaps, is keen to repeat the strategy of using Covid-19 pandemic, this time with new variants, accompanied by the belligerence of the People Liberation Army (PLA) supported by ‘hawks’ serving various think tanks of Shanghai’s academic circles etc.
The spread of pandemic is not just a health issue, but it has become a part of geo-economics and finally the Chinese assertion of a superpower.
Further emboldened by more than three-hour long US President Biden-Jinping summit at Bali in November 2022, the two leaders appear to be catering to their respective domestic constituencies. Therefore, it is not surprising that his political opponents, especially of the Republican Party leaders, accuse the octogenarian American president of indulging in the public relations exercise, which could also be ‘serving his family’s ‘financial interests’ instead of restoring peace between Ukraine and Russia. Irritated by his ambivalent attitudes, there are echoes of initiating impeachment proceedings against Biden in 2023. All these developments are taking place amidst the reports of new variants of Corona-19 being spread again from China.
In spite of the rhetoric of curtailing China’s economic power, the Biden administration, the USA’s allies in NATO, especially France and Germany, accuse him of serving the financial interests of his country’s military-industrial establishment at their cost. In European media, the last minute nuclear sub-marine deal with Australia in 2022 is being frequently cited as an American greed at the cost of France, its NATO ally, which had almost finalized a massive submarine deal with the Kangaroo country. Also, his administration has shelved the international investigation regarding the spread of the Covid-19 virus demanded by the Trump administration.
The apprehension among democratic countries is quite natural across the continents that the Biden administration appears to be in no mood to tell China to see reason and adhere to the international protocol. The reason, perhaps, is that the production units of the American corporate in China are having liberal supply of Russian gas, while the rest of Europe is being deprived of the precious energy supply this bitter winter.
The democratic world is rightly apprehensive that China would repeat a new aggressive posture. During the Covid-19 Pandemic, China had ended the concept of two systems within a country in Hong Kong. The then US President, Donald Trump, had decided to ‘punish’ China for its mischief, but the American corporate prevented any substantive action against China. The Indian PM, Narendra Modi, too had played the role of a peace-maker on the reported advice of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. Xi Jinping had promptly reciprocated the Indian peace initiative with the PLA’s aggression on the India-Tibet borders in the Galwan valley of Ladakh. Similarly, the Chinese have reignited a new confrontation with India, this time, in Arunachal Pradesh.
The Implications of the New Virus
It is quite reassuring that in India, while the protocols needed for tackling this new menace are being worked out, that there is a caution but no panic. In recent weeks, the Indian social media, and now the mainline newspapers are abuzz with the reports regarding the re-emergence of the deadly man-made Corona Virus, but most of the scientists in India consider it just a rumour, as part of a bid to create Panic in the country, However, the Union Health Ministry and the related organizations such as Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) are keeping a vigil on the reported spread of a new strain of this deadly virus, again originating from China.
Interestingly, the democratic world is also being hit by the Chinese proxies in America. It is quite known that China has already established about 100 Confucius Institutes, thus penetrating the American universities. Similarly, through liberal doses of advertisements and even by buying shares in American newspapers and channels, Chinese have strong lobby in America. With this soft power, China could pressurise the American media without any difficulty.
They frequently publish the emergence of new variants of the Covid-19, but they seldom publish about the alliance of the international pharmaceutical giants and the laboratories engaged in creating treatments as well as new strains. With the earth’s population crossing the eight billion mark, it could be a part of some American corporate agenda to contain the population with new variants of man-made viruses.
American funds and tycoons like Bill Gates, in an interview on a video channel had indicated, but later he denied having ever said to use viruses for containing the population. However, the emergence of the new variants might enable international pharmaceutical giants to make huge profits by developing and selling vaccines.
In India, the worry is that any lockdown might hit the countri’s economy as well as she has to take further precautions against any Chinese aggression. India being a frontline state having nearly 300 kilometres of her borders with Tibet, now under the Chinese occupation, has to be cautious and alert.
Could it be just a repeat of the Covid-19 pandemic, which had a new strain Alpha initially detected in the United Kingdom? Later, it had spread to 192 locations worldwide. It contains several key mutations in the spike protein – the key the virus uses to gain entry to human cells – that mark it out from the original Wuhan strain. Another is N501Y mutation, which is more contagious.
The COVID-19 vaccines and monoclonal antibody treatments remain highly effective against these new variants, because they could slip past the body’s immune defences by evading neutralising antibodies generated through vaccination or previous infection.