Amid the disruptions of the global COVID-19 pandemic, China is seizing the opportunity to “leapfrog” the U.S. economy, according to a report by Horizon Advisory, China expert and independent strategic consultancy firm. While other countries are scrambling to contain the pandemic, Beijing extends its soft power as it plans to ramp up production in strategic industries in order to control global supply chains.
The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) initial cover-up and delayed response over the CCP virus outbreak, which began in Wuhan city in November of last year, created an epidemic across China and unleashed the first global mass pandemic since the 1918 influenza.
The Trump administration’s three-year strategy to decouple China from American high-tech supply chains was succeeding. But chaos from COVID-19 lockdowns of U.S. businesses and schools have now presented the CCP with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to achieve its goal of supplanting the United States as the world’s leading economic, diplomatic, and military power, according to Horizon Advisory.
Beijing is already working hard to bolster its image around the world by claiming that it successfully curbed the spread of the CCP virus.
Despite China and Hong Kong censors banishing 13 New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post journalists, the New York Times website is parroting the CCP’s propagandists’ alternative reality spiel with a recent opinion piece titled: “China Bought the West Time. The West Squandered It.”
China watcher Curtis Ellis commented on the CCP’s new playbook:
“After covering up the novel infection and unleashing it on the world, Beijing’s rulers bought up the world’s supply of protective gear and respirators. Then they sell these critical goods to Italy while portraying themselves as the heroic humanitarian savior of the world, not unlike a pyromaniac who takes credit for calling the fire department.”
Ellis said that as the economies in the West shut down due to the pandemic, Beijing uses the opportunity to extend its soft power and tighten its grip on global supply chains.
The Horizon Advisory report has documented statements and writings from CCP officials and leading players in state-run industries.
On March 12, Song Zhiping, representative to the 15th Party Congress, former party committee secretary, and chairman of the state-owned China National Building Materials Group Corporation declared:
China will “turn crisis into opportunity: It will transform and upgrade and strengthen its position in the international industry chain.” Chinese enterprises “must not just resume production. They must also boost economic development and exposure to the world in order to speed up the adjustment of the industrial structure, to enhance competitiveness in the international industrial chain, and to build an advance strategic positioning.”
The CCP Central Committee identifies industries to “seize in the adjustment of the international industrial chain while fighting the epidemic and resuming production.” These include 5G construction, urban high-speed rails, urban rail transit, new energy vehicles, big data in infrastructure, artificial intelligence, automobiles, electronics, ships, aviation, power equipment, and machine tools.
The Chengdu municipal government echoed the Party line on March 5, calling on enterprises and individuals to focus on turning crisis into opportunity: “Make full use of the important window after the epidemic and focus on the strategic opportunities such as the new technological revolution it will bring about, the new international market demand, and the shortcomings of supply which will need to be filled ….Deeply integrate into the global supply chain system in the fields of biomedicine, electronic information, intelligent manufacturing, and agricultural products.”
Beijing’s post-pandemic plan and the industries mentioned above are in line with its longstanding “Made in China 2025” strategy for global dominance of crucial industries.
Han Jian of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and director of the Ministry of Civil Affairs’ China Industrial Economics Association put it more succinctly on March 4: “It is possible to turn the crisis into an opportunity—to increase the trust and the dependence of all countries around the world of ‘Made in China.’”
The Council on Foreign Relations has described ‘Made in China 2025’ as “the central villain, the real existential threat to U.S. technological leadership.” It warned that the CCP would achieve its goals by promoting foreign acquisitions, mandating forced technology transfer agreements, and committing cyber espionage.
The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mishandling allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic.