Beijing could soon face a wave of hostility equivalent to that of the Tiananmen backlash due to its involvement in the CCP coronavirus outbreak, a recent report presented by the Ministry of State Security states. The report, prepared by the think-tank China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR) was submitted to top Chinese officials, including President Xi Jinping.
A repeat of Tiananmen?
“Global anti-China sentiment is at its highest since the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. As a result, Beijing faces a wave of anti-China sentiment led by the United States in the aftermath of the pandemic and needs to be prepared in a worst-case scenario for an armed confrontation between the two global powers,” according to Reuters.
The report went on to warn that Washington views China’s rise as a challenge to Western democracies and was trying to “undercut” the Chinese Communist Party by eroding public confidence. It proposes that the viral outbreak could trigger resistance against Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) infrastructure projects. America might also increase military and financial support in Asia, countering China’s plan to dominate the region. About 30 years ago, the U.S. and other Western powers had placed sanctions on China with regard to arms sales and tech in the wake of the Tiananmen incident. Even though Beijing is more powerful now, the chances of some kind of sanction remain high.
Many in the Chinese intelligence community see the report as the Chinese version of the Novikov Telegram, which is a 1946 document sent by the Soviet ambassador to Washington that accused the U.S. of being a military and economic threat following the Second World War. The Novikov Telegram eventually set the stage for a Cold War between the two nations. As such, the present Chinese report could be seen as a trigger for increased ambivalent action against anything American by Beijing.
U.S.-China relations were already on weak grounds prior to the COVID-19 pandemic due to the trade conflict. The viral outbreak has only added fuel to the conflict between the two superpowers. While China has been accused of remaining secretive about the outbreak, the Trump administration has been calling for proper investigation into the source of the outbreak as well as holding the Chinese regime accountable for the crisis.
Even if the world succeeds in stemming the spread of the virus, it seems as if an extended Cold War between America and China is inevitable. The U.S. government is already looking into decoupling itself from China, banning Chinese tech and moving American manufacturing out of the Asian nation. In return, China is seeking to turn countries in the BRI project against the U.S. so that they entirely remain dependent on Beijing.
Holding China accountable
Rep. Senators Lindsey Graham and Doug Collins recently introduced the COVID-19 Accountability Act in the Senate and the House respectively. The bill proposes that the President certify to Congress that China has provided a complete accounting to any COVID-19 investigation led by the U.S., its allies, or UN organizations like the WHO. This has to be done within 60 days. China should also close all wet markets that have the potential of damaging human health, as well as release all pro-democracy Hong Kong protestors who were arrested in the CCP coronavirus crackdown.
In case the Trump administration is unable to certify these things, he will have the right to impose sanctions on China. Such sanctions can include visa revocations, travel bans, prohibiting Chinese firms from getting listed in U.S. stock exchanges, barring American financial institutions from lending to Chinese businesses, and so on.