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Police officers wearing face masks patrol at a container port in Qingdao, China. Police officers wearing face masks patrol at a container port in Qingdao, China, Feb. 19, 2020 (Chinatopix photo via AP Images).

Will COVID-19 Achieve the Decoupling That U.S. China Hawks Seek?

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Toward the end of his second term in office, former U.S. President Barack Obama said in an interview with The Atlantic that “we have more to fear from a weakened, threatened China than a successful, rising China.” It would be hyperbole to claim that the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak will create the weakened, threatened China that Obama warned about. But it could give us a glimpse.

The draconian measures China took to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus that emerged from Wuhan, the capital of central Hubei province, seem to have prevented a worst-case scenario for now. But as Howard French detailed in his WPR column last week, the government’s initial efforts to downplay the danger of the outbreak by silencing whistleblowers, as well as the brutality with which it subsequently enforced a quarantine on Wuhan and other cities in central China, have created a backlash of public outrage and mistrust. ...

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