China could face ‘Tiananmen-like’ backlash for its handling of Covid-19, says report


MAY 5, 2020

With the coronavirus pandemic bringing the entire world to a standstill, China could face a “Tiananmen-like international backlash for its handling of the infection, according to an internal report by the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR), a think tank affiliated with the Ministry of State Security, China’s top intelligence body.

The report, sent by the Ministry of State Security to top Beijing leaders, including President Xi Jinping, in early April, revealed that “global anti-China sentiment is at its highest since the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown”, which could result in confrontation between China and the US, news agency Reuters reported.

“Relations between China and the United States are widely seen to be at their worst point in decades, with deepening mistrust and friction points from U.S. allegations of unfair trade and technology practices to disputes over Hong Kong, Taiwan and contested territories in the South China Sea,” the Reuters report said.

The news report said Beijing is taking these threats of a growing backlash from the US and other countries very seriously. According to the report, it was not clear as “to what extent the stark assessment described in the paper reflects positions held by China’s state leaders, and to what extent, if at all, it would influence policy.”

Criticism from around the globe

With US presidential election scheduled to be held later this year, President Donald Trump has been relentlessly criticizing China for its mishandling of the spread of the infection and accused its government of not telling other countries about the impending pandemic in time.

However, the US is not the only one pointing fingers at China. The Australian government has called for an investigation into the origins of the virus and how it spread, and France pulled up its Chinese ambassador for a publication on China’s embassy website that showed Western reaction to coronavirus in a negative light. 

Despite numerous accusations and allegations coming its way from across the world, China has continued to maintain that it has not suppressed any information about the virus to downplay its risks. While the country says it has curbed the spread of the virus within its borders and attempts to become a global leader in the fight against the pandemic, the growing backlash is an attempt to hold it accountable.

Three decades ago in early June 1989, Tiananmen Square in Beijing witnessed an uprising for more democratic reforms, free media and other demands. In the subsequent government crackdown, when Martial Law was declared, a number of people were killed, with reports ranging from several hundreds to several thousands.

The event led to a strong international response. The US imposed economic sanctions on China, the European Economic Community cancelled all high-level contracts and loans and many other countries publicly criticised and condemned the Chinese government’s actions.

Now, with several countries pointing a finger at China for not actively containing the spread of the virus and suppressing information, a similar post-Tiananmen situation may be in the offing, according to the internal Chinese memo.

As of 5 April, there have been 3,660,471 coronavirus cases and 2,52,681 deaths across the world.

Courtesy/Source: The Print