Coronavirus: can China recover from diplomacy missteps made during the pandemic?

Coronavirus: can China recover from diplomacy missteps made during the pandemic?

One year since the first Covid-19 cases were detected in the central city of Wuhan, China has largely tamed the pandemic, while it remains severe in most parts of the world. Coming out of the pandemic almost unscathed, China has become the first major economy to recover, with 4.9 per cent growth in gross domestic product posted for the third quarter.

Politically, the Communist Party finished its fifth plenum at the end of October with President Xi Jinping hailed as the “core navigator at the helm”. In the end-of-plenum communique, the top leadership said China would “surely overcome all kinds of difficulties and hindrances on the road ahead”.

While expressing confidence that the superiority of the socialist system had helped China contain the pandemic, the communique cautioned about the “increasingly complex” international environment.

Concerns on the international front could easily take hold. Over the past year, China has faced significant tension with the United States in several areas, from market access to intellectual property, security and human rights issues. But China’s image has also deteriorated in the eyes of the general public in the broader developed world amid wide criticism over how Beijing handled the Covid-19 outbreak, according to a survey of 14,276 adults in 14 countries by the Pew Research Centre.