Analysis

China’s virus response condemned in the court of public opinion

Two major global reports reveal that the world’s second-largest economy has lost the battle for ‘hearts and minds’

China has a real image problem in the eyes of the rest of the world.

Under President Xi Jinping and the ruling Communist Party, the country has lost the battle for “hearts and minds” in the international community.

Two major polls by The Guardian’s YouGov-Cambridge Globalism Project and the Pew Research Center illustrate concerns about China’s lack of “transparency” during the Covid-19 crisis.

Released at the end of October, the Globalism Project surveyed 26,000 people from 25 countries and was the most in-depth poll on public opinion about the pandemic response.

“China appears to have lost hearts and minds over its handling of [the] coronavirus with most people believing it was responsible for the start of the outbreak and was not transparent about the problem at the outset,” The Guardian reported.

1.2 million killed

The deadly virus has so far infected more than 44 million people globally and killed nearly 1.2 million after first surfacing in the Chinese city of Wuhan back in December. 

A month later, the first cases of Covid-19 in the world’s second-largest economy were officially recorded.

“China’s handling of the pandemic and the overwhelmingly negative attitude will disappoint Chinese diplomats, who have expended huge energy to deflect blame and paint the country as altruistically helping others to recover,” the London-based Guardian stated.

As for the statistics, the poll was a brutal condemnation of Xi’s administration in the court of public opinion.

Every nation surveyed, apart from China, “overwhelmingly believed” that Covid-19 was first detected in China.

The majority of the 25 countries also felt that there was a lack of “transparency” by the “Chinese government” when the new strain was “first detected in the country at the end of 2019.”

“Overall, the poll suggests there is a receptive global audience for the next US president, if he chooses, to construct an international alliance to challenge China’s growing political dominance, and to question the moral values of its leadership,” The Guardian said.

Earlier this month, a similar “negative” view of China’s standing in the world was expressed in a poll conducted by the Pew Research Center.

The 14-country survey was scathing about the way Beijing handled the pandemic with “distrust in Xi” reaching “unprecedented highs in the nations” involved in the survey. “Views of China have grown more negative in recent years across many advanced economies, and unfavorable opinion has soared over the past year,” the Pew Research Center survey said.

‘Sour grapes’

“Today, a majority in each of the surveyed countries has an unfavorable opinion of China. And in Australia, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United States, South Korea, Spain and Canada, negative views have reached their highest points since the Center began polling on this topic more than a decade ago,” it added.

In response, the results were described as “sour grapes” by the staunchly nationalistic Global Times, which is owned by the Communist Party’s official mouthpiece, the People’s Daily.

“Many Western countries have not focused on figuring out effective measures to contain the virus but rather on blaming China. However, this kind of public opinion manipulation cannot conceal the fact that their ineptitude has killed hundreds of thousands of people,” it said, dripping in bile and belligerence.

Still, at least the state-owned media mentioned it, and not many polls would have predicted that.

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