Internal report warns China faces backlash over pandemic
BEIJING: An internal Chinese report warns that Beijing faces a rising wave of hostility in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic that could tip relations with the US into confrontation, people familiar with the paper told Reuters.
The report, presented early last month by the Ministry of State Security to top Beijing leaders including Chinese President Xi Jinping, concluded that global anti-China sentiment is at its highest since the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, the sources said.
As a result, Beijing faces a wave of anti-China sentiment led by the US in the aftermath of the pandemic and needs to be prepared in a worst-case scenario for armed confrontation between the two global powers, according to people familiar with the report's content, who declined to be identified.
The report was drawn up by the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR), a think-tank affiliated with the Ministry of State Security, China's top intelligence body.
"I don't have relevant information," the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman's office said in a statement responding to questions from Reuters.
CICIR, which advises the Chinese government on foreign and security policy, did not reply to a request for comment.
Reuters could not determine to what extent the stark assessment described in the paper reflects positions held by China's state leaders, and to what extent, if at all, it would influence policy.
Relations between China and the US are widely seen to be at their worst point in decades, with deepening mistrust and friction points from US allegations of unfair trade and technology practices to disputes over Hong Kong, Taiwan and contested territories in the South China Sea.
Chinese officials had a "special responsibility" to inform their people and the world of the threat posed by the coronavirus "since they were the first to learn of it," US State Department spokesman Morgan Ortagus said in response to questions from Reuters.
Without directly addressing the assessment in the report, she added: "Beijing's efforts to silence scientists, journalists, and citizens and spread disinformation exacerbated the dangers of this health crisis." - REUTERS