Chinese Regime Seeks to Use Pandemic to Fulfill Ambitions, Report Says

By Frank Fang
Frank Fang
Frank Fang
Frank Fang is a Taiwan-based journalist. He covers U.S., China, and Taiwan news. He holds a master's degree in materials science from Tsinghua University in Taiwan.
March 26, 2020Updated: March 26, 2020

While many countries around the world still struggle to contain the outbreak of the CCP virus inside their borders, Beijing seeks to take advantage of the global health crisis to advance its economic goals, according to a new report.

Horizon Advisory, a U.S.-based independent consultancy, reviewed recent policies and notices announced by Chinese central government agencies, regional governments, and research institutes. Its report, published March 15, found that Beijing has been formulating strategies since February to fulfill its ambitions while the pathogen was spreading across the country.

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 mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic.

Promote Chinese Manufacturing

“Beijing intends to use the global dislocation and downturn to attract foreign investment, to seize strategic market share and resources—especially those that force dependence [on China],” the report states.

This would include promoting the use of Chinese technologies, such as telecom company Huawei’s 5G infrastructure.

This month, several Chinese officials expressed their views on how the pandemic could provide economic opportunities for China.

On March 4, Han Jian, director of the China Industrial Economic Association, which operates under the Ministry of Civil Affairs, wrote on state-run media Xinhua Daily, “It is possible to turn the [pandemic] crisis into an opportunity—to increase different countries’ trust and dependence on ‘Made in China.’”

The next day, the municipal government in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, told a local daily about its economic plan, as it relates to the virus.

“Make 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 Chengdu government stated. It also called for local sectors to be more “deeply integrated” into the global supply chain, pointing to the importance of developing local sectors such as robotics and biomedicine.

On March 12, a commentary by Song Zhiping, a former representative to China’s rubber-stamp legislature, the National People’s Congress, and former chairman of state-owned company China National Building Materials Group, published in state-run newspaper People’s Daily said China will “turn crisis into opportunity.”

As global industrial chains face the challenge of “reorganization” following China’s epidemic, Chinese firms should enhance their competitiveness, he wrote.

In addition, the State Council, a Cabinet-like agency, has stressed that the following areas be promoted: 5G construction, ultra-high-voltage electricity, urban high-speed rails, new energy vehicles, big data infrastructure, artificial intelligence, and industrial internet, Song wrote.

Grand Plan

These highlighted sectors are the same ones that are considered priorities in China’s state planning under economic policies such as “Made in China 2025” and “China Standards 2035.”

China rolled out the industrial plan “Made in China 2025” in 2015, with the aim of making China a global competitor in 10 tech sectors by 2025. In late 2018, Beijing rolled out “China Standards 2035” to accelerate efforts to become leaders in burgeoning tech sectors such as big data, artificial intelligence, and the internet of things (IoT).

In February, before explicit discussions about leveraging the outbreak appeared in state-run media, Beijing announced state support for industries that had to shut down, amid nationwide lockdown measures to prevent the virus from spreading.

Beijing stated that strategic sectors would be prioritized to receive state funding, according to a Feb. 9 announcement by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

Horizon Advisory also pointed out ways that Beijing planned to secure foreign investment post-epidemic, “to pursue its strategic ambition.”

For example, a March 9 notice issued by China’s National Development and Reform Commission asked regional authorities to carry out specific tasks to ensure that foreign companies and local supply chains resume production as soon as possible, such as coordinating and accelerating foreign investment projects that “align” with government policies.

Ties with Europe

Meanwhile, the Chinese regime plans to make use of the pandemic to court closer relations with European countries.

“Beijing intends to reverse recent U.S. efforts to counteract China’s subversive international presence; at the same time to chip away at U.S.-Europe relations. In other words, Beijing will use COVID-19 to accelerate its long-standing, strategic offensive,” Horizon Advisory wrote, pointing to recent remarks by Chinese professor Tian Feilong, a deputy professor at Beihang University.

Tian, in a March 12 article published on an online academic platform called China-US Focus, stated: “Europe may fall into an economic downturn under the blow of the epidemic. Unprecedented mutual needs and opportunities in China-EU economic cooperation will emerge and deepen, including in 5G industries.”

Tian added that the downturn would prompt European countries, Russia, and China to form a new “economic order,” cooperating more with each other and less with the United States.