Peru Should Distance Itself From the Chinese Regime Amid Virus Outbreak

July 21, 2020 Updated: July 29, 2020

Commentary

In June, Latin America became the center of the CCP virus pandemic. Peru is the second-most hard-hit country in Latin America after Brazil.

As of July 21, Peru has over 353,000 confirmed cases and 13,187 deaths, according to data compiled by John Hopkins University. Peru has the second-highest number of confirmed cases in Latin America and is the sixth-highest in the world (excluding China and Iran, where official statistics are unreliable).

Interestingly, the government has fostered closer ties with the Chinese regime since the virus began spreading throughout the world.

Peruvian Foreign Minister Gustavo Meza-Cuadra was invited to a dinner by the CCP’s ambassador to Peru on Jan. 30. He said that China was a good friend and Peru’s largest trading partner and source of investment. “Peru firmly supports China in its fight against the epidemic and has full confidence in the ability of the Chinese government and people to overcome the epidemic as soon as possible.”

On Feb. 10, the Peruvian Foreign Ministry issued a communique, saying that the Peruvian government supports the CCP government’s efforts to fight the virus. It also reiterated its support for the CCP and expressed willingness to work together to cope with the pandemic’s challenges.

On March 6, Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra announced on television that Peru had confirmed its first case of the CCP virus. On March 18, the president imposed a nationwide nighttime curfew.

On the evening of Apr. 30, Chinese leader Xi Jinping had a phone call with Vizcarra, according to several Chinese state media reports. Xi said China hopes to advance international cooperation against the epidemic and indicated that China was willing to work with Peru to jointly build the “Belt and Road” and promote a “China-Peru comprehensive strategic partnership,” according to state media. The Belt and Road is the Chinese regime’s flagship foreign policy initiative, with the aim of gaining influence through financing infrastructure projects around the world.

Vizcarra responded by thanking China. “I fully agree with what Xi said. The epidemic shows the importance of building a community of a shared future for mankind,” Chinese state media quoted him as saying.

The epidemic has since spun out of control. Since May 26, the number of new infections per day has reached 5,700 or more.

On May 29, Xi and Vizcarra exchanged letters and jointly put forward proposals to “strengthen practical cooperation” in fighting the epidemic. Peruvian lawmaker Merino de Lama also said that cooperation in the fight against COVID-19 would bring the relationship between the two countries to a new level.

On March 15, Mario Vargas Llosa, 83, a Peruvian Nobel Prize laureate in literature, published a commentary in a major newspaper in Spain, El Pais. He pointed out that the CCP virus originated in China, and the CCP delayed informing the world about the outbreak during its early stages. Llosa wrote that if it wasn’t for China’s undemocratic political system, the global pandemic would not have happened. Doctors in China, he wrote, initially tried to warn of the virus, but were silenced.

“Do those idiots still think that the Chinese model—the authoritarian free market —is a model for the third world? Let’s hope this pandemic opens the eyes of the ignorant, ” he wrote.

It is clear that Llosa’s views differ greatly from those of the Peruvian authorities and deeply disgraced the CCP.

In a statement posted on its website, the Chinese embassy in Peru accused Llosa of “irresponsibly attacking China, with absurd and outrageous arguments.”

Shortly after Llosa’s article was published, the CCP’s media at home and abroad criticized Llosa in unison. Chinese e-commerce platform Dangdang.com took down all of Llosa’s titles from its website that day.

Born in 1936, Llosa is a Peruvian writer and poet. He has written novels, plays, essays, poetry, literary criticism, and political essays. He has also directed plays and films, and hosted radio and television programs. In 2010, he was awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize in literature for “his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual’s resistance, revolt, and defeat.” He also ran for President in Peru in 1990, but lost in the second round of voting.

The CCP is now likely to seek a closer relationship with Peru as the latter has signaled its support for the CCP’s pandemic efforts.

Peru’s economy has been hit hard by the pandemic. Economic activities in Peru fell 40.49 percent in April from a year earlier, according to INEI, Peruvian government’s statistics agency. Mining, which accounts for 60 percent of the country’s exports, has been sharply curtailed by COVID-19 restrictions. The economy contracted by 13.1 percent.

Carlos Castillo, the Archbishop of Lima, warned that Peruvians are at risk of hunger due to the economic crisis caused by the local epidemic.

Peru’s government, and its people, may pay a heavy price if they fail to recognize the nature of the CCP’s ambitions and the hidden dangers of cooperating with it.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.