This article aims to provide a first-cut analysis of the causes of the initial COVID-19 outbreak as well as the subsequent political contestations in which the masses ended up rallying behind the party-state. While the Wuhan fiasco had everything to do with entrenched pathologies of the bureaucratic state, after Beijing took central command of the broader campaign its overriding priority was to contain the virus with a goal toward salvaging its legitimacy at home. To that end, Beijing unleashed its warrior diplomats to aggressively defend its handling of the pandemic, even to the detriment of its international image. Nevertheless, the strategy worked because the nationalist and populist backlash against the regime’s foreign and domestic critics helped turn the public opinion around in its favor.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2021 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.