Clash of Mask Diplomacies? The COVID-19 and Changing Perceptions of China and Taiwan in Central and Eastern Europe

Written by Tamás Peragovics and Ágnes Szunomár. It has become a truism that China’s mask diplomacy seeks to enhance the country’s global standing in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. By exporting medical aid and equipment, the Beijing Government rushes to the rescue of countries still struggling to contain the virus. Positioning itself as saviour rather than villain, China’s motivation is to cultivate a global aura of blissful ignorance with regards to the outbreak’s early mismanagement, including the silencing of Chinese whistle-blowers who emphasized contagion risks and tried to warn of the severity of the new pathogen.

The EU and Taiwan – Realpolitik Trumps ‘Values Diplomacy’

Written by Michael Reilly. The European Union’s relations with China are currently at their lowest level since at least the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989, if not earlier. Growing disillusion with China’s economic and predatory business policies under Xi Jinping had already led to the EU branding China a ‘systemic rival’ in 2019. Since then, unease has only grown and relations further soured, most recently over China’s crude attempts to use the Coronavirus pandemic for propaganda purposes, followed by its imposition of a draconian National Security Law on Hong Kong in disregard of its obligations under the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984.

Taiwan and the EU ‘safe list’

Written by Ian Inkster. It will now be well-known to our readers that the European Union has excluded Taiwan from ‘a safe list,’ which allows citizens unhindered travel to-and-fro the Eurozone. It is important to note that there is no obligation for the EU to give full, or even sensible reasons, for this decision. Still, we can nevertheless examine the evidence for ourselves.

Taiwan’s Role in Bolstering Democracy and Civil Society in Asia

Written by Robert S. Wang. As I see it, the United States and EU governments need to respond urgently and strongly at this time if they are to show that they truly intend to defend the values of the liberal international order. They should start by working with human rights NGOs to document and publicise even more widely China’s gross human rights violations. The aim here is to raise public awareness and highlight deteriorating human rights conditions under China’s increasingly repressive authoritarian regime for the world, including Chinese people at home and abroad, to see.