China is using the economic downturn to buy out sick
Italian industries instead of helping the European country fight COVID19
The Corona Virus which US President Donal Trump referred to as ‘Chinese Virus’ has created havoc with lives and economies the world over. Largest Western economies like the Britain, France, Germany and USA are struggling to save their lives and also their financial health. China has been proved to be the source of COVID19 beyond doubt, but countries are too busy managing their own affairs which is why China seems to be left off the hook. Though this is indeed not the time to exact revenge against the Communist country, the world should be wary of the machinations of the Hans in trying to exploit the present situation.
While China reported about 3500 deaths due to COVID19 which many believe to be much higher, the Communist country seems to be up and running while all other countries are struggling. The IMF has termed the present slowdown as 'worse than the global financial crisis' and the world is staring at a recession. But China has ramped up production in the recent weeks and is exporting medical equipment in order to drive its recovery. If China emerges a winner from the global downturn, the prospects for the future of the world will be alarming.
Chinese Supreme leader, Xi Jinping, has invoked ruthless state power to combat coronavirus, and has also made sure that dissenting voices were silenced which gave the Chinese a huge advantage.
With no new deaths officially reported in the last few days, China which failed to alert the world at the earliest opportunity to this new strain of Coronavirus is flaunting its triumph over it. Consequently, the Communist country is trying to make best of the opportunity by buying assets, sick companies and leveraging its financial muscle in countries struggling to fight the virus which it unleashed.
Tragedy Turned into business Opportunities
China is using the economic downturn to buy stakes in sick industries and extend its stranglehold. Seeing the thrust from Chinese companies to buy stakes in European companies, several countries have been trying to safeguard their interests against the distress takeovers.
In early March this year, even as coronavirus was sweeping out of Wuhan, China's Jingye group gained a foothold in a UK strategic industry when it bought the British Steel plant at Scunthorpe and on Teesside. China already has a foothold in the British tech industry having managed to wrest control of the Chinese operations of Cambridge-based Arm Holdings from its Japanese owners.
Some 200 Italian business are now controlled by Chinese owners, according to La Repubblica, while China’s central bank holds stakes in several Italian blue chips like Fiat, Telecom Italia, Generali, and Eni, among others.
European Bankers have recently seen a spike in requests from Chinese firms for buying huge stakes in potential companies in Europe. Many of the potential buyers are Chinese state-owned enterprises which are looking to buy stakes in industries from airlines and hoteliers to soccer leagues which are seeking funding aid as their businesses came to a halt due to the pandemic and has stopped their cash-flow. Bloomberg reported that Fosun International Ltd. last month said that the Chinese conglomerate will seek out investment opportunities around the world as the “once-in-a-century” Corona virus pandemic sparks an asset-price downturn.
China’s investment in Africa's natural resources and infrastructure dwarfs that of the West and of principal development institutions such as the World Bank. Beijing is also taking on the role once adopted by Britain as the world's 'port champion', building facilities in West Africa and Sri Lanka and taking over the port of Piraeus in Athens from Greece's government. The Corona virus Pandemic has made these countries sicker giving another opportunity for China to strengthen its hold over its assets in these countries.
Seeing the thrust from Chinese companies to buy stakes in European companies, several countries have been trying to safeguard their interests against the distress takeovers. Italy, the country with the highest Covid-19 death toll in Europe, has announced measures such as Golden Power protections against foreign takeovers. Spain has already imposed new rules on foreign direct investment. Germany too plans to bring in new rules that enable the government to block deals that present “potential interference” to the country’s interests, protecting local companies from takeovers by entities based outside the European Union.
China's has never made its commercial global ambitions a secret. Its 'Belt & Road' initiative unveiled in 2013 aims to be the world's biggest infrastructure and development project, with investment in 70 or so countries and international organisations. With the down slide in the economies due to COVID19, Chinese stranglehold on the countries which are part of the B&R project will further increase.
COVID19, China, Wuhan Corona Virus
Ren Zhiqiang, a prominent Communist Party member, who referred to Chinese leader Xi Jinping as a "clown" for his handling of the coronavirus outbreak, had gone missing in mid-March after writing an essay critical of Beijing's handling of deadly pandemic.
The Chinese government says that he is being investigated on suspicion of a "severe violation of discipline and law” but his friends say that he might have ‘disappeared’ permanently.
Ren Zhiqiang is a former head of state-run real estate conglomerate Huayuan Group and a party member who has become known for speaking out on sensitive topics such as press censorship. Ren's friends said that he has been missing since mid-March, after publishing an online essay that criticised the leadership's handling of the virus outbreak that originated in December in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.
A one-sentence notice issued earlier this week by the party-government joint disciplinary watchdog body in Beijing's western district said Ren was undergoing a "review and monitoring investigation", but gave no details and did not mention Ren's article or previous statements. The phrase "serious disciplinary violations" is often used by Chinese authorities regarding graft investigations.
Ren's article, deleted by China's censors now, is an example of the various criticisms of Xi and the party's handling of the emergency that have appeared online. However, even the online space where Chinese can exercise a modicum of free speech is under the close watch of party monitors. Anyone who exceeds their brief and limits set by the Communist party, is either subjected to harassment until he/she tows the party line or ‘disappears’ like Ren Zhiqiang.
Supplied faulty medical equipment
From healthcare to trade and from currency manipulation to internal repressions, China is using the tragic deaths and the Pandemic to further its influence.
China has also been accused of trying to sell its sub-standard and defective medical equipment in order to further its influence and also make business deals at a time when people are dying.
Thousands of testing kits and medical masks imported by Spain, Turkey and the Netherlands are below standard or defective, according to the authorities in these countries. This has happened when Europe has reported hundreds of thousands of cases of coronavirus and more than 10,000 deaths.
China is using the economic downturn to buy stakes in sick industries and extend its stranglehold. Seeing the thrust from Chinese companies to buy stakes in European companies, several countries have been trying to safeguard their interests against the distress takeovers
Last week, Dutch health ministry announced it had recalled 600,000 face masks which had arrived from a Chinese manufacturer on 21 March, and had already been distributed to front-line medical teams. Dutch officials said that the masks did not fit and that their filters did not work as intended, even though they had a quality certificate.
Spain’s government encountered similar problems with testing kits ordered from a Chinese company. It announced it had bought hundreds of thousands of tests to combat the virus, but revealed in the following days that nearly 60,000 could not accurately determine if a patient had the virus.
Turkey also announced that it had found many of testing kits ordered from Chinese companies were not sufficiently accurate and failed to detect the Coronavirus infection.
Finland too revealed that Two million protective masks purchased from China have turned out to be unsuitable for use in hospitals. Finland's Health minister Aino-Kaisa Pekonen earlier this week said this was a disappointment for them. Finland has spent over 600 million euros for purchasing protective equipment. After the disappointment with Chinese masks, Finalnd government announced it has made arrangements with three domestic companies to begin manufacturing 200,000 masks a day, with production due to begin at the end of this month.
The United Kingdom too earlier this week revealed that all 17.5 million Coronavirus antibody test kits the country ordered from China are unreliable when used outside “severely ill” populations. There were even accusations of a consignment of such test-kits being contaminated with the Corona virus which made the British PM Boris Johnson very angry. UK has already said that it will seek refunds for all such orders from the Chinese.
The brutal truth is that China has flouted every humane rules of behavior in every area of life that too at a time when the world is reeling from the virus it knowingly or unknowingly spread.
Japanese Deputy PM says WHO should be called ‘Chinese Health Organisation’
After several world leaders lambasted the way World Health Organisation (WHO) has handled the Coronavirus pandemic and for shielding China, Japanese Deputy PM Taro Aso mincing no words has said that the organisation should be called as 'Chinese Health Organization'. He slammed Beijing for covering up the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak and WHO complicity in the same.
Taro Aso is the latest world leader to have decried WHO for its failure to detect the Corona virus pandemic early and also for its complicity in shielding China. US President Donald Trump until recently terming the virus as Chinese Virus but stopped using the term after his telephone conversation with Chinese President Xi Jinping. However, the Japanese are also aggrieved that it was due to the lackaadaisical attitude of WHO and China that the Tokyo Olympics that was to be held from 24 July had to be postponed to 2021. This has resulted in huge losses to the host country Japan.
Questioning the delay in recognizing and announcing the Corona pandemic, Taro Aso said, "If WHO had not insisted to the world that China had no pneumonia epidemic, then everybody would've taken precautions. The WHO, which is a global organization, does not even include Taiwan. And then precisely because Taiwan is not a member of the WHO, it becomes a world leader in fighting the epidemic. Then after that statement is made, the CCP jumps out to correct it".
The Japanese Deputy PM was speaking in the country's parliament where he called out WHO for the its murky behavior. "Although the details are murky, the WHO's previous Director-General was a Chinese national and at the time there were complaints all around. And now, at least the petition has received 500,000 signatures. People think the World Health Organization should change its name, it shouldn't be called the WHO, it should be renamed the CHO (or Chinese Health Organization). This is truly resonating with the people".
Though Japan does not recognize Taiwan as a separate country yet, things maybe changing. Aso had once said "Taiwan, in various ways, is a country that shares common values with Japan".
The worst of Chinese inhumane treatment was saved for Italy which has suffered the most due to COVID19. In mid-March China had announced that it would donate medical equipment to Italy. However, despite the announcement, China actually sold the equipment to Italy, and then forced Italy to buy back medical equipment it had donated to China at the start of the pandemic in January.
The Chinese opportunism has not even spared small countries like Slovakia and Czech Republic. While Czech Prime Minister Igor Matovič said that more than a million corona virus tests supplied by China for a cash payment of $16 million were inaccurate and unable to detect COVID-19, the Czech Republic too in mid-March announced that up to 80 percent of 150,000 corona virus test kits purchased from China were faulty.
The brutal truth is that China seems to flout the normal humane rules of behavior in every area of life that too at a time when the world is reeling from the virus it knowingly or unknowingly spread. From healthcare to trade and from currency manipulation to internal repressions, China is using the tragic deaths and the Pandemic to further its influence.
For too long, countries the world over have lamely kowtowed to China in the desperate hope of winning trade deals. But once the world wins over the current battle against COVID19, it is imperative that every country rethinks its relationship with the Communist nation and exact the human and economic cost and force it to learn a lesson or two in humanity.