The Health Belt & Sanitary Road: China from the guilty loser to the superior winner

Op-ed by Žikica Milošević

THE PAINFUL START OF THE YEAR

When it all started, it looked like a very bad year for China. In Taiwan, the victory of pro-independence candidate was against the Beijing wishes. The protests in Hong Kong were escalating, and then they were simply… not de-escalating quickly enough. The American sanctions and the barriers put in front of the Chinese tech giant Huawei seemed painful, and the unpleasant questions about the Uyghur minority in the Autonomous Region of Xinjiang-Uyghur were irritating, the say the least. In the meantime, China was restlessly building its Belt&Road Initiative, also know as the “New Silk Road” – giving countries much-needed infrastructure, without asking too many questions about the democracy and the governance style.

AND THEN CAME THE VIRUS

Then, the coronavirus appeared in Wuhan. Officially, it appeared on the local wild animals market, but we are still not sure what really happened. China responded clumsily: with ignoring and even denying the epidemics. But it was just a start. China got a grip quickly, and started with imposing harsh measures all over the country, especially in Hubei Province and Wuhan City proper. It was unimaginable. And the whole world was “it’s OK, they eat bats and rats, cats and dogs, who cares”, or “well, it is great, the epidemics will slow China down further, from 6.1% GDP growth (the smallest growth in decades) to an even smaller figure. China imposed lockdown and the world continued cheerfully.

THE VIRUS IS NOT “CHINESE”, IT IS HUMAN

President Trump single-handedly changed the name of corona virus to “Chinese virus”, trying to blame China for everything, forgetting it is not Chinese, it is human. And it was not like SARS, or MERS, or ebola, or zica, or pig flu, or bird flu or whatever. All these viruses were more or less limited to the “Third World” countries: South Asia, Middle East, Latin America, Africa. COVID-19 was the first to spread all over the world, hitting such countries like Spain and Switzerland the G-7 countries like Italy, France, Germany, the UK and especially the USA, which is now the most infected country. Now they are ordering 100,000 bags for the dead and estimating the death toll to 240,000 in the pessimistic variant. The Devil is playing its fiddle in the Western yard.

THE CHINESE HELP

And then, China miraculously, with very austere measures, got out of the pandemics. And then they offered their help to the world. First Italy, then the others. They sent ventilators, masks, medics. Thet became the planetary leader in the fight against the coronavirus. And everybody quickly forgot how they humiliated the Asian students and tourists in January and February, showing the worst racism. Now, China is the saviour. It is organised, experienced, skillful and willing to help. China produces half of the world’s ventilators. Italy profitted from signing 17+1 Initiative: China was quick in sending help, the EU was slow. It showed, just like in the case of Serbia, that the friendship with China pays off handsomely. The EU has woken up, but the newest mantra is: China is the first to help, they not how to get out, they did it. China was big enough to be able to help virtually everyone.

THE ENDGAME

China has a new role: the role of the saviour of the world. The media in the world are emphasising this fact, and the Chinese media are gloriously shining. When someone mentions that China was the first to spread the virus, all the others are shutting them up. It is simply a past perfect tense. January is another galaxy, past millennium. Now is what matters. And China rules this “now”. And it will rule the future. Apart from being the “Saviour of the World”, Xi Jingpin and the Communist Party will enhance its role in the Belt&Road initiative, being one of the last remaining countries able to invest anywhere for a while. The EU mentions the negative GDP growth ranging from -2.5% to -4.5%, depending on how optimistic or pessimistic the analysts are. Some mention double-digit falls. In lame terms, it is -10% or even worse. China will have +1% or simply 0%. The worst in the last 40 years, but it will be the only country which will not enter the recession in 2020. Not even the oil-rich countries which avoided the 2008-2010 crisis like Qatar or Azerbaijan will have the chance since the oil is painfully cheap now. China will not be able to pull the world economy out of the crisis like 10-12 years ago, since the demand is low in the world. It will rely on its internal demand. The internal spending will strengthen the Chinese population and economy, after the boost in their pride.

THE END OF RACISM

As a friend of my, living in China, mentioned today: the West was unprepared for the pandemics for one main reason – it was too racis. To quote him: “We are clean people, civilised. We avoid dirty animals. We don’t eat wild animals, bugs, frogs. We are democracy and the standard. We are superior. We are out of reach. We can test a new vaccine in Africa. We are better. It can’t possibly happen to us.” Yet it happened.

And instead of making vaccines and preparing meds, the West prepared weapons and invented enemies in Russia or China. Militarily. Economicly. China, Japan and Korea were hit by several viruses in the past 20 years, so they had procedures. They were prepared. And they were “orientally humble”. Now they will take over the world, in economy and in moral superiority. Or at least, they will do it partially. And the West will painfully learn not to be so falsly superior.

China has gone all the way from the guilty loser to the superior winner. In just 3 months. Live with that, and make a better world, more equal world.

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