Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Diplomatist|May 2020
On 11 March, WHO chief Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus described the spread of COVID-19 across continents as a Pandemic situation and had expressed his concerns over the “alarming level of inaction” and suggested government for taking “urgent and aggressive actions” (Coronavirus confirmed as a pandemic by World Health Organization, 2020). Recently, the US has halted it’s funding to WHO and has blamed WHO for being ‘China-centric’. In March, the US cancelled its shipments to Africa and also has been accused of diverting medical shipments that were intended to be used in other countries. On the other hand, China is spending extensively to support the countries aff ected by the virus and is trying to strengthen its soft image during the pandemic.
As of 19 April, Coronavirus has infected around 2.3 million of the population including over 160,000 deaths across the globe (COVID-19 CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC, 2020). The spread has aff ected the global economy, as countries have imposed complete lockdowns and has been spending huge amounts in combating the spread of COVID-19. In March the epicenter of the virus shifted from China to Italy and has presently hit hard the US.
According to Joseph Nye, Soft power has been defined as an ability to influence a country’s action without force or coercion. China, in such a time of global crisis, has emerged as a friend to virus-hit countries and is attempting to enhance ‘attraction’ towards itself by shaping the global discourse. Amidst the spread of the virus, China has incorporated ‘Mask Diplomacy’ (Stojanovic, 2020) and has brought in the concept of ‘Health Silk Road’ into its foreign policy.
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