How China is playing the distraction game at LAC to hide Wuhan virus weakness at home

Edited By: Gravitas desk WION
New Delhi Published: Jan 25, 2021, 11:38 PM(IST)

Indian army soldiers walk past their parked trucks at a makeshift transit camp before heading to Ladakh, near Baltal. Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

Beijing tried to kill two birds with one stone by creating tensions at the Indian border. China hoped to also mask the headlines in India on India's vaccine diplomacy.

After two border provocations in seven months both in the middle of the Wuhan virus pandemic, China has tried to play the distraction game.

On June 15, the world was distracted by the Wuhan virus pandemic, however, China tried to capitalise on the crisis. It clashed with Indian troops with the hope of grabbing some land.

Now, seven months later, on January 20, China has tried to play the same trick again. This time it clashed with Indian troops at Naku la to distract the world from the crisis back home.

China wants to change the headlines. On January 14, China had recorded its first Wuhan virus death since May. The healthcare situation has gone downhill since with 1,800 active cases in China. There has been a spike in daily cases. On January 24, China recorded 124 new cases, just the day before it was 80.

It was the worst wave of new infections since March 2020. China currently has at least 19 million people under lockdown as infections have spread to the provinces of Hebei, Jilin and Hei long Jiang. The latest outbreak is in the cty of Tonghua with 500,000 residents in home quarantine.

The situation is so bad that even Chinese mouthpiece the Global Times is having a hard time covering up.

"Under pressure from the online public outcry, deputy mayor Jiang Haiyan issued an apology on behalf of the city's party committee and the government of Tonghua at a Sunday press conference for the inconvenience caused by inadequate distribution of daily necessities for residents," it said.

The lockdown has resulted in food and medicine. There has been mounting anxiety and anger against the Chinese Communist Party. Authorities in Tonghua had to put out a circular stating that it has "sufficient reserves of basic materials such as grains, oils, vegetables".

It said: "the general public must maintain a good attitude, fight the nationwide fight against the epidemic". China does not want anyone to know about rising frustration with the CCP at home so it is decided to create problems at LAC.

Beijing tried to kill two birds with one stone by creating tensions at the Indian border. China hoped to also mask the headlines in India on India's vaccine diplomacy. While China has been orchestrating the world's biggest cover-up, India has been driving the world's largest vaccination programme.

India has also gifted vaccines to seven countries. At least two others have received commercial shipments and 92 countries have reportedly approached India for Wuhan virus jabs from Brazil to Bangladesh- countries are heaping praise on India.

These are the same countries that China hoped to sell its vaccines. Beijing wanted to capitalise on the crisis, however, that dream has now been killed by India's vaccine diplomacy. China is now issuing consolation notes. China's foreign ministry said there should not be vicious competition or confrontation when it comes to vaccine supply.

"There are currently multiple COVID-19 vaccines available worldwide. It is up to each country to decide independently which vaccine to choose,"  Zhao Lijian, Chinese ministry of foreign affairs spokesperson, said.

From vaccines to investment, countries do not want anything to do with China. In 2020, India's FDI increased more than China's - 13 per cent as opposed to China's 4 per cent - these numbers must have been frustrating for China.

FDI in India rose by 13 per cent boosted by investment in the digital sector and a border clash was the perfect way to take attention away from India's successes.

Distraction is the Dragon's favourite tool. In 2020, China used the pandemic as a distraction to pursue its long-term foreign policy. It claimed sovereignty over disputed islands in the South China Sea and intimidated Taiwan. It quashed freedom in Hong Kong and tried taking advantage of an undefined border with India.

In 2021, China is using distraction again to hide an outbreak at home, the only difference is this time the world knows better!

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