Apr 8, 2020 - World

Between the lines on Chinese strategy: "Using the pandemic to plot independence"

Man in mask holding Taiwan flag

People are seen holding up a Taiwan National Flag in Hong Kong on October 10, 2019. Photo: Vernon Yuen/NurPhoto via Getty Images

In this recurring feature from the Axios China newsletter, I highlight a Chinese Communist Party phrase that sheds light on the current news cycle.

The phrase: "yi yi mou du" (以疫謀獨), which means "using the pandemic to plot independence."

What's happening: China's handling of the coronavirus has favorably highlighted the capability and transparency of Taiwan, which like China is also seeking to assist other countries in fighting the pandemic.

  • Beijing now aims to block and delegitimize Taiwan's efforts abroad.

This new phrase, recently invoked by Chinese government officials, criticizes public health cooperation between Taiwan and foreign governments, and it casts those efforts as a cynical scheme to achieve independence rather than as genuine health initiatives.

What they're saying: On April 3, Zhu Fenglian at China's Taiwan Affairs Office denounced a recent statement of cooperation between Prague and Taipei.

  • Taiwan's leaders "engaged in these little tricks, not for the health and well-being of the Taiwanese people, but rather to 'use the pandemic to plot independence,'" said Zhu. "The plot will not succeed."
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