The plague that broke out in the Chinese city of Wuhan last December has now spread to the four corners of the earth, and its coming ravages can only be glimpsed in the limited forecasting capacities of epidemiology. It’s a science that relies on predictive analytics and models that can be skewed by any number of confounding variables, so there’s little certainty about what’s in store for us all.
As the geopolitical upheavals set off by the pandemic shudder with a force without precedent since the Second World War, some things, however, are clear and plain. China’s most draconian lockdowns have been lifted. Beijing is claiming victory over the plague.
And the Chinese Communist Party is seizing what its senior officials are calling the “opportunity” of the pandemic to realize the party’s long-game objective of fully eclipsing North America and Europe in the global order.
Battered by the worst first-quarter economic performance since 1976, the Chinese economy is now being shifted into hyperdrive. Production is already back on track to achieve Beijing’s goal of making 2020 the year the country’s annual Gross Domestic Product doubles in size from 2010 to $13.1 trillion.
But Beijing isn’t just doubling down on its usual methods, which involve constraining access to China’s growing markets while securing technological and global supply-chain dominance in critical trade sectors, and otherwise resorting to crude foreign-policy strong-arm tactics to get its way.