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A member of a Chinese honor guard wears a face mask at Tiananmen Square in Beijing A member of a Chinese honor guard wears a face mask at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, Feb. 4, 2020 (AP photo by Mark Schiefelbein).

Beware of China’s Coronavirus Propaganda

Thursday, March 26, 2020

The war of words between Chinese officials and President Donald Trump has been furious in recent days, as each side tries to push its own agenda amid the coronavirus pandemic. It would be a mistake, however, to view this crossfire as mutually retaliatory. These are two separate messaging campaigns, each pursuing different, self-interested objectives.

China, where the novel coronavirus outbreak started months ago and spread rapidly before it turned into a global pandemic, is engaged in a multiprong effort to rewrite history and emerge empowered from this global crisis. Draconian lockdown measures in Wuhan and its surrounding province appear to have snuffed out much of the virus’s ability to multiply within the Chinese population. Official figures show only a trickle of new cases now, even as the rest of the world struggles with a tsunami of coronavirus infections that is overwhelming hospitals. The stage is set for China to project a triumphant air and get to work on crafting its public relations message for both domestic and international consumption. ...

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