Anti-China sentiments from different countries continue to emerge as the COVID-19 pandemic ravages the world.
The most notable from these anti-China sentiments came from the United States (US) with no less than President Donald Trump who repeatedly called the COVID-19 coronavirus as “Chinese virus”.
Trump also accused the World Health Organization (WHO) China-centric and blamed the organization for getting every aspect of the COVID-19 pandemic wrong. One of the major contributors to WHO’s fund, the US has stopped funding per Trump’s order.
In Japan, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso said that lawmakers have started tagging the WHO as the Chinese Health Organization.
Taiwan gave the WHO warnings about the disease as early as December 2019 but the organization chose to ignore them. The WHO recognizes self-governing Taiwan as part of China.
In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte’s critics lambasted his pro-China stance. Recently, Duterte thanked Chinese President Xi Jinping for helping the country in its anti-COVID-19 efforts.
However, critics point out that the Duterte administration has been turning its blind eye to China’s nonstop exploitation of the West Philippine Sea despite the pandemic.
In South America, Brazilian Education Minister Abraham Weintraub tweeted: “Geopolitically, who will come out stronger from this global crisis? Who in Brazil is allied with this infallible plan for world domination?” Weintraub implied China as the main actor behind COVID-19.
Eduardo Bolsonaro, son of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, also used the term “Chinese virus” and criticized China for its handling of COVID-19. Meanwhile, President Bolsonaro has played down COVID-19’s threat, sabotaging the quarantines throughout his country.
In Africa, governments, media outlets, and citizens expressed their anger toward Chinese discrimination against Africans. The city of Guangzhou has put African students and expatriates under forced COVID-19 testing and 14-day self-quarantine, regardless of travel history.
In effect, Chinese landlords and hotels evicted a large number of African nationals, leaving them homeless. Governments of Ghana, Nigeria, and Uganda summoned their respective Chinese ambassadors on the matter.
Many leaders and ordinary people around the world start to believe that China is taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to strengthen its position in several areas. For example, China right now makes a lot of money by manufacturing and supplying personal protective equipment (PPE) to many countries.
While seen as a diplomatic and humanitarian move, China’s donations and financial assistance to countries affected by COVID-19 can also be interpreted as a lure similar to a debt trap. China might be offering assistance to these countries in exchange for pro-China trade deals or even national assets.
Whatever will be the outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic, countries around the world, including the Philippines, should be more careful when dealing with the Asian giant.