China has laid out a long-term diplomatic strategy to exploit pandemic

At the height of the global pandemic, the Chinese foreign ministry prepared a lengthy, authoritative strategic doctrine to exploit the situation.

Attributed to the “thought” of Communist Party leader Xi Jinping, the strategic doctrine statement expressed no remorse, shame, or sympathy.

The doctrine, published in April, came with official propaganda talking points and orientation for diplomatic messaging.

In a formal statement attributed to the “thought” of Xi Jinping and the regime’s strategic vision about coronavirus diplomacy, the Chinese Foreign Ministry refers to Xi consistently by his Communist Party title, “general secretary,” and not his state title of “president.” This ostensibly diplomatic strategy is thus shown to adherents as a doctrinal Party document.

The document is only about raw power, reflecting the propaganda themes documented to this point in the Center for Security Policy’s China pandemic timeline. This is a major official Party document, which binds all Party members, so it merits careful examination. The official translation in English refers to Chinese Communist Party (CCP) as “CPC.”

The main points of the strategy follow, with subheads added in bold:

  • Official doctrine with Xi Jinping’s explicit authority. The document’s title, over the name of Foreign Minister Wang Yi, is: “Following Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy to Build a Community with a Shared Future for Mankind Through International Cooperation Against COVID-19.”
  • ‘Looking out for each other … building a global community with a shared future.’ “The COVID-19 outbreak has dragged the whole human race into a fierce war with a highly infectious disease on a global scale. Facing the sudden and unprecedented attack of a virus unknown before, the Chinese people are pulling together with the whole world. Looking out for each other in these trying times, mankind have written a new chapter of building a global community with a shared future.”
  • Xi’s authority is cited again. “On both fronts, domestic response and international cooperation, we have followed the guidance of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era and Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy, fully brought to bear the strengths of our system of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and acted as a responsible major country. This has won high recognition from the international community.”
  • Karl Marx’s partner is cited next. “Fredrich Engels noted, ‘There is no great historical evil without a compensating historical progress.’ Human history is a story of mankind wrestling with various diseases and disasters, always emerging stronger and more resilient. Unequivocally, COVID-19 cannot arrest the Chinese people’s determined march toward national rejuvenation. And it cannot impede the progress of human civilizations.”
  • Xi is cited a third time, with CCP Central Committee. “Since the outbreak began, the CPC [sic] Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core has put the people’s well-being front and center, acted with a strong sense of responsibility to the world, and rallied all ethnic groups in China for launching a people’s war [sic: this is a Maoist term for total warfare among the population], comprehensive campaign, and containment operation against the virus.
  • The world thanks Xi and CCP, which safeguards ‘international public health security.’ “Through massive, nation-wide efforts and enormous sacrifice, we have brought the domestic outbreak well under control, and made important progress in the war. Throughout the fight, we have received heart-warming help and support from the international community, and we have played an indispensable role in safeguarding international public health security.”
  • Xi and CCP helped save the world from the pandemic. Original in bold: “China made a robust response and contributed substantially to the global fight against the outbreak.
  • Xi Jinping ‘personally’ planned and directed everything. “General Secretary Xi Jinping has described this outbreak as a major test, and has been personally directing and planning China’s response efforts.”
  • PRC is the most ‘open and transparent.’ “By swiftly taking the most comprehensive, rigorous and thorough measures, the Chinese government set up an open and transparent national system for collective outbreak control in the shortest possible time.”
  • The official narrative of Xi’s action timeline. “With great resolve, we made the courageous and momentous decision to suspend outbound travels from the city of Wuhan and Hubei Province. We endeavored to ensure early detection, early reporting, early quarantine, and early treatment. We saw to it that severe patients were admitted to facilities with the best resources and best professionals for effective treatment. After more than two months of strenuous efforts, China emerged as one of the first countries to stem the outbreak. New cases in China have been sporadic for a month now. Travel controls on Hubei and Wuhan have been lifted. And domestic transmission has been largely stopped.”
  • ‘First country’ to alert world, China ‘a crucial line of defense for the world.’ “As the first country to alert the world about the virus and to grapple with a serious outbreak early on, China served as a crucial line of defense for the world. Fighting off the virus with strength, ingenuity and sacrifice, China shared important experience with the world and boosted global confidence in an ultimate victory.”
  • China’s back in business while the rest of the world is shut down. “While battling the outbreak, China has managed to restore its economy and society step by step to a normal order. Across the country, 98.6 percent of big industrial plants have resumed production, and 89.9 percent of employees on average are already back to work. In March, China’s manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) rallied 16.3 percentage points from February. The early economic reopening of China, ‘the world’s factory,’ has significantly eased the strained global medical supplies. It will also help bring the world economy back to normal at an early date.”
  • Beijing ‘blazed a trail’ for global cooperation. This section of the document gives the CCP version of virus diplomacy. Original subtitle in bold: “China offered constructive proposals and blazed a trail for international cooperation against the outbreak.
  • Key sentence, citing Xi: ‘The virus respects no borders or nationalities.’ “General Secretary Xi Jinping pointed out that the virus respects no borders or nationalities, and can only be defeated when the international community fights in unity.
  • Xi promotes cooperation among world leaders. “Since the outbreak began, General Secretary Xi has engaged in intensive and important discussions with other world leaders to promote international cooperation on combating the virus.”
  • Litany of Xi’s meetings. “By 12 April, General Secretary Xi Jinping held meetings or talks with Prime Minister of Cambodia, President of Mongolia, President of Pakistan and Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO). He had 36 phone calls with 29 leaders of countries and international organizations, including Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Belgium, the Republic of Korea (ROK), South Africa, Ethiopia, Brazil, and Chile, and Secretary-General of the United Nations. He sent messages of sympathies to more than ten foreign leaders and heads of regional organizations, including the ROK, Italy, Iran, France, Germany, Spain, Serbia, and the European Union. Through these interactions, he demonstrated China’s firm and sincere commitment to solidarity with the whole world, boosted global confidence, and led the way for international cooperation against the outbreak.”
  • Xi’s four proposals to G20 for ‘all-out global war against the outbreak.’ “At the Extraordinary G20 Leaders’ Summit on COVID-19, General Secretary Xi Jinping set out four proposals for fighting an all-out global war against the outbreak, forging a collective response of control and treatment, supporting international organizations in playing active roles, and strengthening macroeconomic policy coordination. He also highlighted many areas of practical cooperation, such as vaccine and therapeutics development, opening up access to an online COVID-19 knowledge center, promoting comprehensive, systematic and effective control and treatment protocols, launching a G20 COVID-19 assistance initiative, jointly ensuring the stability of global industrial and supply chains, and convening a high-level meeting on global public health security. These initiatives showed the direction for international efforts to tackle the outbreak. They have been highly commended by the international community. In addition, Premier Li Keqiang also talked on the phone with multiple foreign leaders, and attended the Special ASEAN Plus Three Summit on COVID-19, which re-energized anti-epidemic cooperation in East Asia.
  • Xi’s regime has been responsible and supportive. Original subtitle is in bold: “China shouldered its responsibilities and provided strong support to other countries. General Secretary Xi Jinping pointed out that enhancing international cooperation in fighting COVID-19 is a telling testament to China’s role as a responsible major country and its commitment to building a community with a shared future for mankind. Since the start of the outbreak, China has placed great importance on and stayed actively engaged in international cooperation.”
  • Worked closely with WHO and even gave some money. “We worked closely with the WHO and relevant countries, and contributed US$20 million to the WHO. We released the information on the outbreak at the earliest possible time. We speedily identified the genome sequence of the virus and shared it with all others. Thus we have created conditions for other countries to discover and contain the virus as early as possible.”
  • Statistics of ‘aid from China.’ The document spells out various meetings with countries and international organizations and adds, “Although fighting the virus in China remains a formidable task, we have been doing all we could to provide assistance to other countries and actively engage in international cooperation. The Chinese government and non-government actors have sent, and are sending, many shipments of urgently needed medical supplies to over 140 countries and international organizations. We made best use of our strong production capacity, and timely reopened the market and export channels for medical supplies.”
    • ‘Aid from China’ and ‘Made in China.’ “To date, more than 60 countries, regions and international organizations have signed commercial [sic] procurement contracts with Chinese exporters. Between 1 March and 10 April, China exported around 7.12 billion masks, 55.57 million protective suits, 3.59 million infrared thermometers, 20,100 ventilators, and 13.69 million goggles. ‘Aid from China,’ together with the already well-known ‘Made in China,’ provide a steady driving force for the global efforts in fighting the virus.”
  • Xi Jinping is the consensus-builder ‘for mankind.’ The document positions the official line to show that Xi Jinping was the decisive leader for China’s model to handle the coronavirus outbreak, that his regime is now building “consensus for mankind,” and that all the world is praising the regime. The heading in the document, in bold, is “China made clear its positions and helped build important consensus for mankind to stem the outbreak.” Highlights:
    • ‘Strong leadership of CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core.’ “China’s victory over the virus is attributable to the strong leadership of the CPC [CCP] Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, to the science-based, transparent, well-planned and forceful measures taken by the government, to the unity and fortitude of the 1.4 billion people, and to the great solidarity, assistance and support from other countries.”
    • ‘History will give its objective and impartial verdict’ which no one can distort. “China has spoken up with its actions. And history will give its objective and impartial verdict. No one could discredit or distort these facts or truths. To defeat the virus, mankind needs to choose confidence over panic, unity over division, and cooperation over scapegoating. This is the position that China has made clear since the virus broke out in different parts of the world.”
    • Xi: Unite the world against diseases which are ‘enemy’ of human race. “General Secretary Xi Jinping pointed out that severe infectious diseases are the enemy of the whole human race and therefore what is needed most is a resolute, concerted and joint response from the international community.”
    • Foreign Ministry builds global agreement with CCP position. “With this in mind, the Chinese foreign minister has stayed in close contact by phone with dozens of his counterparts around the world. Chinese diplomats and missions abroad are actively reaching out to the international community by way of receiving interviews, making speeches, and writing articles. More and more countries have come to appreciate and agree with China’s position.”
    • Keep focus: Don’t ‘label’ virus, don’t ‘politicize,’ don’t ‘stigmatize’ China. “It has become a common voice and consensus in the international community to reject any attempt at labeling the virus, politicizing the response, and stigmatizing any specific country.”
    • To belabor the point, Xi Jinping is in total control. “In face of this situation, we on the diplomatic front have been earnestly implementing the important instructions of General Secretary Xi Jinping and the decisions and directions from the CPC Central Committee and the State Council. We have scaled up efforts to maintain political integrity, think in big-picture terms, follow the leadership core and keep in alignment, to enhance confidence in the path, theory, system and culture of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and to firmly uphold General Secretary Xi Jinping’s core position in both the CPC Central Committee and the CPC as a whole and firmly uphold the CPC Central Committee’s authority and its centralized, unified leadership.”
    • Fighting a ‘smokeless yet fierce war’ to leverage CCP diplomatic strategy. “We have taken a proactive, responsible, creative and courageous attitude to fulfill our mission with regard to fighting the virus on the diplomatic front, so as to secure an enabling environment for the victory at home, contribute our part to the international cooperation, and add another dimension to major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics. In fighting this smokeless yet fierce war, we have come to understand even more of the following:
      • ‘First, we must unswervingly uphold the centralized, unified leadership of the CPC.’ [Note: The subtitle is bold in the original document.] “The CPC is a political party that strives for the well-being of the Chinese people as well as the progress of mankind. Since the start of the outbreak, the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core has stayed on top of the situation and made strategic planning accordingly.”
      • CCP’s top body made ‘timely and meticulous arrangements.’ “The Standing Committee of the Political Bureau met ten times to address the outbreak. The Central Leading Group on Responding to the Novel Coronavirus Disease Outbreak was set up as early as possible. In-depth assessments were made about the defining features of the various stages of the outbreak and its trajectory at home and abroad. And timely and meticulous arrangements were made on key aspects of our outbreak response.”
      • Xi Jinping ‘personally set the direction’ for China’s virus crisis. “General Secretary Xi Jinping has made important instructions and observations on the outbreak-related external affairs. He personally set the direction for outbreak-related external work with his head-of-state diplomacy, and championed international cooperation with his leadership and sense of responsibility, demonstrating great composure and resolve in the face of crises.”
      • Communist Party diplomats ‘in particular’ are most loyal. “People on the diplomatic front, CPC members in particular, have readily thrown themselves into the front-line external work related to the outbreak. They have stood their ground, and dutifully carried out their missions in the domestic and international fight against the virus. Their actions spoke volumes about the core values of China’s diplomats – loyalty, dedication, and sacrifice.”
      • Communist Party’s ‘centralized’ leadership is best. “What has happened since the outbreak shows that the centralized, unified leadership of the CPC not only forms the political underpinning for a successful outbreak response at home, but also gives us the confidence to work with other countries to defeat the virus.”
  • ‘Second, we must unswervingly put people first in our work.’ The text in bold is the original subhead. “General Secretary Xi Jinping repeatedly stressed the need to put people’s lives and health front and center in our response to the outbreak. He instructed us to give more guidance and support for overseas Chinese citizens, to convey to them the care and solicitude of the CPC and the government, and to take effective measures to protect the safety and health of our fellow compatriots.”
    • Xi issues all instructions. “Acting on these instructions, we on the diplomatic front have prioritized people’s interests in our work, and mobilized all the resources and spared no effort to this end.”
    • All that’s done for Chinese nationals abroad. This section of the document lays out how the Chinese government takes care of Chinese citizens abroad, including delivering emergency equipment, providing consular services, chartering repatriation flights, “give top priority to Chinese students over seas,” and so forth.
      • ‘Bringing overseas Chinese closer to the heart of the motherland.’ “We took nearly 170,000 calls in less than two months on the 12308 consular protection hot-line platform, bringing overseas Chinese closer to the heart of the motherland.”
      • More glory and praise for the Party. “All these steps have been applauded by our fellow compatriots both at home and abroad, which gives us more motivation to do better in the days ahead.”
  • ‘Third, we must unswervingly pursue the grand vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind.’ The text in bold is the original subhead. This section supports Xi Jinping’s 2013 “Chinese Dream” strategy for China to become the dominant world power under the Communist Party. Sections:
    • Vision from Xi Jinping’s Chinese Dream. “This is a vision that General Secretary Xi Jinping put forward seven years ago. Seven years on, the sudden onslaught of an outbreak across the world has made it clearer than ever that all countries are in the same boat and rise and fall together. It has also made us realize the importance and urgency of expediting our efforts toward this goal.”
    • More global ‘solidarity and support to Chinese leaders.’ “At the most trying stage of China’s fight against the outbreak, leaders of over 170 countries and 50 international and regional organizations and more than 300 foreign political parties and organizations offered solidarity and support to Chinese leaders through letters, phone calls, and statements. More than 70 countries and international organizations sent supplies and other assistance to China. People of different nationalities rooted for Wuhan and for China in various languages. The profound friendship will always be remembered and cherished by the Chinese people.”
    • ‘Chinese people’ then helped save the world. “Today, in the face of a growing outbreak in the world, the Chinese people empathized and reciprocated. One after another, we organized video conferences to share our control and treatment experience without reservation. ‘One after another, we sent teams of experts to the front-line countries. One after another, we mobilized manufacturers to produce at full speed protective gear badly needed by the world. And one after another, we shipped medical supplies to every corner of the globe.’ As a line of an ancient Chinese poem goes, ‘Fear not the want of armor, for mine is also yours to wear.’ In this spirit, the Chinese people and the whole world have written together an epic of international humanitarianism. This is the best example of a community with a shared future for mankind.”
    • ‘Diplomatic front must allow the guidance of Xi Jinping…’ “As COVID-19 continues to spread in the world, global efforts to fight the virus have come to a critical point. We on the diplomatic front must follow the guidance of Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy, and prepare ourselves, in both thinking and actions, for volatility in the external environment for a long period of time. China will work with the international community to win this global war against the disease.”
  • World must unite around China to improve ‘global governance.’ This section of the document describes how China will play a central role in fighting world health crises, says that the entire world must stand together with no differences of opinion, places everything in the context of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, and insists that blaming the Chinese government will never be supported. There is no expression of any sense of responsibility for the virus outbreak. It is apparent that the Chinese regime is officially dispensing with its disinformation that the US military started the epidemic, so as to bury the “blame game” question that has backfired on Beijing. This section of the document is filled with Western virtue-signaling buzzwords. The sections below contain the original numbered subheadings in bold and within quotation marks:
    • ‘First, it is important for the world to make a unified response to contain the virus as soon as possible.’ “The outbreak is a common challenge to us all. Not even a single member of the international community should be missing in our joint endeavor to overcome this challenge.”
      • ‘Contribute to a stronger global defense.’ “China will continue to explore the possibility of setting up joint response mechanisms with other countries, step up information sharing, and carry out cooperation in such areas as research and development of medicines and vaccines, all in an effort to cut off cross-border contagion as quickly as possible and contribute to a stronger global defense against COVID-19.”
      • Better neighbor. “China will engage in close communication with neighboring countries to put in place regional emergency liaison mechanisms aimed at responding more quickly to public health emergencies.”
      • More assistance to Africa and elsewhere. “China will continue to do its best to assist countries in urgent need, and help Africa and other developing countries strengthen their public health systems and enhance preparedness.”
      • ‘Fulfill our shared [sic] responsibility.’ “China stands ready to work more closely with other major countries on COVID-19 to fulfill our shared responsibility to shield the world from wind and rain.”
    • ‘Second, it is important to uphold multilateralism and improve global governance on public health.’ “Since the start of the outbreak, the WHO has actively performed its duties and upheld an objective, science-based and unbiased position. It has been instrumental in rallying and coordinating the efforts of various countries to cope with the outbreak and seek closer international cooperation. The work of the WHO has been widely applauded by the international community. China will continue to provide unfailing support for the WHO to play its role in the global cooperation against COVID-19 and in building a health community for mankind.”
      • Strengthen cooperation with G20. “China will stay in close contact with other G20 members to strengthen cooperation on anti-epidemic assistance and convene a high-level meeting on global public health security in due course.”
      • Reinforce Belt and Road Initiative. “China will take further steps to boost health cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative and work with its partners for a ‘silk road of health.'”
      • ‘Stronger and better global governance system centered around UN.’ “In the age of economic globalization, traditional and non-traditional security issues are putting mankind under one test after another. China will uphold multilateralism and work for a stronger and better global governance system centered around the UN.”
    • ‘Third, it is important for all parties to reinforce coordination and cooperation and build international consensus on fighting COVID-19 in solidarity.’ “Given the ferocity of this outbreak, solidarity is the only right choice for all countries. To defeat an enemy that respects no borders, solidarity and cooperation are the most powerful weapons the international community can wield. It is imperative that all parties pull together to steer the internnational cooperation on COVID-19 onto the fast track.”
      • Blaming the Chinese regime will divide the world and hurt everyone. “In a crisis like this, complaining, finger-pointing or scapegoating is not the way to get countries to stay focused on their battle against the outbreak. Such a move will very likely divide the international community, erode the gains from international cooperation, and ultimately hurt the shared interests of all.”
      • ‘Reject ideological bias’ and ‘work toward a global village.’ “China will stand alongside the overwhelming majority of countries to reject ideological bias and form the biggest possible synergy to combat the virus. We will also take this joint fight as an opportunity to promote greater care for the planet we all call home, and work toward a global village where all share the same interests and future.”
    • ‘Fourth, it is important to better coordinate macro policies and counter the downward pressure on the world economy.’ “The outbreak has taken its toll on every aspect of global production and demand, and ratcheted up the risk of a global recession. In response, China will work on both epidemic control and socio-economic development, and restore normalcy to work and life at a faster pace in the midst of ongoing containment efforts. China will stay the course of scaling up its reform and opening up, and play a constructive role in stabilizing the world economy.”
      • Look toward ‘post-COVID-19-era.’ “At the global level, China will promote better coordination on macroeconomic policies, and call on all parties to cast their eyes on a ‘post-COVID-19 era’ and do whatever it takes to keep global industrial and supply chains stable and promote trade and investment liberalization and facilitation. We must work together to make sure that the world economy can see the rainbow after the storm and emerge with a more balanced and sustainable growth.”
      • China will defeat the virus first under ‘Comrade Xi Jinping.’ “There will be a day when the outbreak is over and mankind prevail. We are confident that under the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, China will be the first to win a full victory against COVID-19. We are convinced that with solidarity and cooperation among countries, mankind will stand the test of this outbreak.”
      • China will be more friendly if this goes according to plan. “We believe that when the outbreak is over, China’s friendship with the world will grow stronger. China’s cooperation with the world will become more solidly based. The notion that China shares the same future with the world will win the heart of the people. And countries will take bigger and more solid steps toward a community with a shared future for mankind!”

About J Michael Waller

J. Michael Waller is Vice President for Government Affairs at the Center for Security Policy. His areas of concentration are propaganda, political warfare, psychological warfare, and subversion. He is the former Walter and Leonore Annenberg Professor of International Communication at the Institute of World Politics, a graduate school in Washington, DC. A former instructor with the Naval Postgraduate School, he is an instructor/lecturer at the John F Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg.