March marks one year since renowned journalist Patricia Janiot asked the world audience what consequences the Chinese dictatorship should face for concealing the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis. This was the only time the Chinese regime acknowledged a “deficiency in its response to the epidemic.”
There was no shortage of people from the west who stressed that the word “deficiency” was an understatement. The communist regime is accused of having concealed the disease and even of having repressed internal voices warning about the potential risks of expansion. “The Communist Party of China (CCP) suppressed initial reports…and punished doctors and journalists, causing Chinese and international experts to miss critical opportunities to prevent a global pandemic,” the U.S. National Security Council (NSC) noted in March 2020.
Today, the world continues to suffer grievously from this action that was apparently intended to cushion the “reputational” impact on the CCP’s official power and its bold and calculated political propaganda beyond its borders.
Of course, denouncing the responsibility of the dictatorial regime -so far unpunished- should not be extended to Chinese citizens. This only feeds xenophobic, racist or dangerously stigmatizing positions. We should not confuse a people neutralized in their freedom of expression with the brutal coercion and repression of a governmental political power obsessed with wanting to control everything.
The responses to the question posed by Janiot were overwhelming and unstoppable. People, regardless of origin, focused above all on economic sanctions against China’s dictatorial political power. On forcing them to make restitution or compensate in some way for the catastrophic global effects caused.
But perhaps the best global sanction -by way of future preventions- to the CCP that will relapse with manipulation and abuse of power, is to condition them to carry out free, plural and internationally supervised electoral processes at all times, processes in which the people finally opt freely for the political change they silently yearn for. Therein lies a dimension -that of the curtailed political freedoms- that neutralizes the eagerness of an old dictatorship in possession of an abusive and uncontrolled power that has been impacting the internal and external circumstances, far beyond its borders.
In times of great tension and confusion, it seems to be forgotten that it is the manipulative political narcissism of dictatorships and authoritarianisms -that is, of the rulers who lead them and emphasize that “they are never wrong”- one of the worst enemies of an effective public health service. State health systems are already deficient or truly calamitous in many parts of the planet, as is the case today, for example, in socialist Venezuela thanks to the immovable and criminal Chavism.
Back in Asia, an unpunished China continues to operate boldly on the chessboard of global chess and power. It is a nimble fish in the water. Its growing and dosed influence in several countries (especially in Latin America) consolidates more and more governmental collaborators that minimize its repressive internal reality and its political and economic expansion. Chinese communist propaganda synchronizes very well with these international cooperations of no lesser ideological contours.
Chinese totalitarianism plays with an “advantage” over Western liberal democracies by perpetually controlling at will the location of political power and the conflict system. Increasingly, the most serious experts on Chinese affairs and millions of people on all continents are asking themselves whether a country of such magnitude can continue to hold such a crucial place in the world power dynamics by having under almost absolute and totalitarian control millions of people within its borders.
In perspective, it is possible that a growing number of countries may begin to demand or increase calls for China to respect a system of essential and functioning political freedoms. A national context in which citizens may at last have the possibility to voluntarily choose to remove the powerful CCP elites who have for decades secured internal and external impunity with their lifelong and all-encompassing political power.
The need for economic and political sanctions against China is greater than ever, not just because of the coronavirus, but because of the growing threat it poses to freedom and democracy around the world.