The Wuhan virus pandemic has dealt a major blow to China’s reputation across the globe. The virus is said to have emerged from the wet markets of Wuhan and has so far infected over three million with over 200,000 deaths. To put things into perspective, it all transpired because China tried to censor all the noise around the virus when it surfaced first in late 2019 and when things spiraled out of control, the communist regime colluded with its lackey WHO to further spread its lies whilst misleading the entire planet.
When media and activists started whistle-blowing China’s sinister backdoor tactics, Beijing came all out with its medical aid diplomacy—a subset of its larger diplomatic offensive charm. The China Communist Party (CCP) known for its propaganda started using every other PR trick in the book to mitigate the flak.
Looking for new avenues to further salvage its reputation the CCP turned to China’s richest man, Jack Ma, the billionaire founder of Alibaba. Starting in March, the Jack Ma Foundation and the related Alibaba foundation began airlifting supplies to Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and even to politically sensitive areas including Iran, Israel, Russia, and the US.
Interestingly, there is a clear pattern in his donations that follow the guidelines of CCP. Ma’s donations have not gone to a single country that has formal ties with Taiwan, China’s arch-nemesis, and diplomatic rival.
The West has used Billionaire philanthropy for good effect in the past and China was quick to lap on to this tried and tested technique. Nudge a billionaire around, use his capital, and garner all the positive PR.
Although the Communist Party has an uneasy relationship with billionaires, viewing them as both a necessary evil of private sector-led growth needed to boost incomes and a potential threat if they become too powerful—Jack Ma has been conveniently made a pawn of Jinping’s shrewd tactics.
When Ma stepped down as Chairman in 2018 from Alibaba which had been his baby, many around the circuit speculated that it was because of his growing stature in global politics which irked Xi Jinping and he forced him to cede the position.
The medical kits fiasco is relatively fresh in the minds of readers. Spain, Czech Republic, Turkey, The Philippines, and Ukraine were some of the many countries that had returned the faulty test kits sent by the government of China. Off Late, even India had a joust with China’s faulty rapid test kits too.
The CCP received a lot of backlash for putting profits over delivering standard products and it further dented China’s image.
Nevertheless the Chinese government riding on Ma’s generosity has been able to put the controversies to bed. Chinese ambassadors are frequently on hand at airport ceremonies to receive the medical supplies shipped over by Ma and inadvertently the billionaire has become the face of China’s goodwill campaign.
Jack Ma’s influence can be gauged from the fact that he is on a first-name basis with several world leaders and that makes him even more valuable to Beijing as China tries to repair its battered image. The amazon of East—Alibaba has the capability to fulfill overseas consignments because of the vast network of delivery it possesses.
President Donald Trump — who had earlier blamed Beijing for failing to provide enough information about what he had called the “Chinese virus” — said Ma was “a friend of mine” and “we appreciate it very much.”
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo had also thanked Ma for the delivery of 1,000 ventilators to the state in early April, cementing the notion that China is the Good Samaritan.
China’s richest person is now playing a prominent role in philanthropic efforts that are effectively helping President Xi Jinping improve the country’s image overseas after Covid-19 spread around the world.
While the ‘benevolent’ Ma became a ‘messiah’ around by giving away medical supplies, the dragon continuously ripped nations from behind.
Several reports had emerged in January and February when the COVID-19 cases were at its peak in Mainland China, Xi Jinping through his proxies in Australia and several other countries hoarded billions of medical equipment.
China in total imported more than two billion masks and 25 million pieces of protective clothing from overseas between January 24 and February 29 before the Wuhan virus outbreak reached pandemic levels.
Jack Ma is merely a façade put up by the Chinese to construct a favourable narrative around the world. China’s wider reputation is benefiting from the charitable work of Ma and other wealthy Chinese entrepreneurs but the truth is–Beijing owns the world repatriations and no matter how much it hides behind its PR overdrive frenzy, the reality is evident for everybody to see.
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