Welcome back to Axios China. This week we've got coronavirus risks and opportunities, WHO funding, complaints of racism in China, and lots more.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
As the U.S. embraces President Trump's "America First" mantra and steps away from its traditional global leadership role, China is aggressively looking to fill the void but has so far come up short, my colleague Dion Rabouin and I write.
Why it matters: The coronavirus pandemic desperately needs a united global response, but the U.S. and China are instead upping the ante in a battle for global supremacy that could leave both countries in worse positions.
A win for China's self-confidence: Despite doubts about the veracity of the coronavirus data China has publicly released, it is undeniable that China's tough measures to stem the spread of infections worked and that much of the country is well on its way to recovery.
The yuan's lost opportunity: While the Trump administration has dropped the ball, "the Federal Reserve has made a breathtaking expansion as basically central banker to the world," Kori Schake, director of foreign and defense policy studies at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, said during a recent media call.
"This crisis has shored up and spotlighted the strength of the dollar," Joshua Meltzer, a senior fellow at Brookings Institute, tells Axios.
Winning, and losing, hearts and minds: China's highly publicized campaign to provide needed medical aid and supplies to countries in Europe, Africa and the Americas, including the U.S., has been mired in controversy.
What to watch: China could still draw more of the world into its orbit as COVID-19 is likely to decimate economies in much of Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent, which already receive economic assistance from Beijing and will be looking for more.
The bottom line: China and the U.S. have stumbled but both still have powerful incentives to help dig the world out of its economic hole.
What's happening: President Trump announced yesterday that the U.S. would suspend funding for the World Health Organization, pending a review. Rising scrutiny of the WHO, and especially the perception that China wields strong influence over it, has led GOP leaders to call for funding cuts.
Why it matters: Threats to cut funding could bring the WHO more in line with U.S. wishes — or it could have the opposite effect, causing it to rely more heavily on Beijing.
Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios
African nations are expressing concern about abusive and discriminatory treatment of Nigerians, Kenyans and other African citizens living and working in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, my colleague Dave Lawler and I write.
Why it matters: This is the latest public relations disaster for China amid its widespread propaganda campaign to recast itself as a global health leader, rather than as the origin of a global pandemic.
What's happening: Many African residents in Guangzhou have been subjected to discriminatory coronavirus testing, forced into quarantine or even evicted without cause.
The scenes have created an international uproar. About a dozen African governments have summoned their respective Chinese ambassadors to express outrage at the treatment of their citizens in China.
The big picture: Racism against black people is common in China, and it has a history that stretches back decades.
But Chinese people are reluctant to admit racism exists in China, said Guangzhi Huang, an assistant professor at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts who researches anti-black racism in China.
What they're saying: Chinese government officials have responded by denying anything bad is happening in Guangzhou.
The bottom line: The incidents undermine Beijing's attempts to rehabilitate its global image after its early handling of the coronavirus outbreak.
Go deeper: Read the full story on the Axios stream
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
We've all heard of China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which I have described as a growing global network of "Chinese-led, largely opaque alternatives to Western-led institutions and global norms."
Why it matters: "It is the clearest example of the fact that BRI is not about infrastructure construction, but a broader effort to redraw the world according to Beijing’s preferred design," said Nadège Rolland, a senior fellow at the National Bureau of Asian Research.
The intrigue: In August 2017, the then-new, China-backed WHO director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, gave a speech hailing the Health Silk Road's creation.
Details: The Health Silk Road "is not a multilateral institution per se," said Rolland. "It’s more a hub-and-spoke organism, like the 17+1 model: China at the center, with multiple bilateral arms extending outwards."
The big picture: China is seeking to position itself as a global leader that can be relied on in times of crisis.
Go deeper: A China-centric 21st century
Deadly silence: China didn’t warn public of likely pandemic for 6 key days (Associated Press)
Health and influence: How WHO became China's coronavirus accomplice (Foreign Policy)
What goes around: Infodemic infects Chinese-Russian relations (EurasiaNet)
Dear Beijing: International open letter against the CCP’s rule by fear — and its accomplices (European Values Center for Security Policy)
The Qiaodan brand logo is displayed at a Qiaodan store in Hangzhou in China's Zhejiang province, Dec. 8, 2016. Credit: STR/AFP via Getty Images
After eight years' worth of court battles, Michael Jordan has won the fight against a Chinese sportswear company calling itself "Qiao Dan" — Jordan's name in Chinese — and using a logo with a silhouette of a jumping man similar to Jordan's own logo.