Chinese President Xi Jinping displayed his expansionist ambitions within a year of taking over as General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) when he launched the ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) that traverses through Asia, Europe and Africa, connecting dozens of countries. The first country that partnered with China on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) was Pakistan, when the US$ 62 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), comprising of a wide range of infrastructure projects, was signed with much fanfare in 2015. Due to its expanse, the CPEC, often referred in Pakistan as the flagship project of the BRI, provides the observer with a ringside view of the actual objectives and expectations of Xi Jinping from his dream initiative.
A new expression has recently appeared in the media and international diplomatic circles: ‘wolf warrior’ a term for the new and very assertive Chinese diplomats, who use Twitter and other social media platforms to prey on any person, legal or physical, which criticizes China or the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). This aggressive Chinese diplomacy has drawn particular attention in recent times due to China’s strenuous efforts to distance itself from any association with Covid-19 or accusations of responsibility for the spread of the virus. But the phenomenon is not entirely new. Because, for years, Chinese diplomats have tended to be more and more aggressive.
China’s policy of corrupting the political class of a country, especially those that are economically fragile, is well known. Many countries in Africa, South & South East Asia and Latin America have fallen prey to these Chinese machinations and some are now neck deep in Chinese debt.
The modus operandi often adopted by China to make inroads into economically weaker nations, whether in Asia, Africa or Latin America, has been to strike deals with corrupt Heads of State. This enables Chinese companies to not only further their business interests in that country but the Chinese State to surreptitiously penetrate the nation’s polity, with the objective to ensure its long-term influence. The Himalayan nation of Nepal is emerging as a classic example of this Chinese machination where the ruling Nepal Communist Party, led by Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has been seen to blatantly advance Chinese interests, to the extent that it has made many senior members of his party uncomfortable.
Paris and Beijing are intensifying contacts and initiatives aimed at defusing the effects of the diplomatic crisis that broke out between both countries in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, following “aggressive publications” issued by the Chinese embassy in Paris, denounced by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as fake news.
The Covid 19 pandemic exacerbates anti-Chinese resentment in the countries of Central Asia. But, despite the grumbling of the populations, the local governments, financially vulnerable with regard to Beijing, struggle to oppose Chinese Neo-Imperialism.
On April 16, three French senators, Christian Cambon, Olivier Cadic and Rachel Mazuire, all members of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defense and the Armed Forces published a study tilted “Disinformation, Cyber attacks and cyber surveillance: The other COVID-19 war” that recommends for the Government to set up a cyber reaction force to fight against “false news” and respond to the strategy adopted by certain foreign powers to influence online readers.