Political Impact of COVID-19 in China

Updated: Jun 8, 2020


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) as a respiratory illness that can easily spread from person to person. Transmission can occur between people up to six feet from each other through coughing, sneezing, or even breathing. Symptoms include coughing, fever, and shortness of breath, although transmission is possible when the virus is in its incubation period and an individual is asymptomatic. There is no vaccine or anti-viral treatment currently available.

COVID-19 originated in Wuhan, China in December of 2019. Evidence has mounted that the Chinese government attempted to hide the pandemic by silencing medical professionals and censoring the internet. This dishonesty has caused widespread anger across the communist nation. Dissent has been widespread amongst citizens, so much so that even the skilled censors employed by the central government are struggling to keep the clamp down on anti-government speech. This has culminated in the disappearance of Chinese billionaire Ren Zhiqiang after he spoke out against the communist party and General Secretary Xi Jingping's response to the pandemic.

What It Means: 

A weakened home-front can significantly affect the effectiveness of China's foreign policy. Not only is General Secretary Xi Jingping's legitmacy and image at stake; the entire Chinese system may be at risk. Nation-states and firms from across the globe are now reassessing their relationship with the nation, as global supply chains are threatened and its human rights record comes to light. 

More importantly for the global order, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused some to doubt the success of globalization. A global supply chain that gets things where their needed just in time, open borders, and international trade has created a weak and unstable system. Some experts have argued that now is the time to return to global economic structure that was created after the Second World War, where state's had the ability to trade abroad but could ensure security at home.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the United States Army, Department of Defense, or the United States Government.