Top Australia diplomat to U.K. George Brandis has strongly criticized the CCP-ruled China for exploiting the Coronavirus pandemic. He rebuked Beijing for utilizing the health crisis to undermine democracies by sharing disinformation and relying on questionable data to falsely claim that its autocratic model is better equipped to combat the COVID-19 emergency.

Giving 2020 Gallipoli Memorial Lecture, Brandis said Beijing had been using the Coronavirus pandemic to give a push to its hostile intrusions into democratic systems, referring to the increased frequency in cybersecurity incidents in Australian institutions in the last few months, as stated by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison last week.

He added that Beijing's attempts to claim that its response to the COVID-19 crisis was more effective than the democratic countries had been proved wrong by several democracies around the globe. Brandis also explained that China's response can not be compared with other Western countries, owing to its initial cover-up of the virus and questions over the accuracy of the Coronavirus death toll in the country.

george brandis
George Brandis, Australian diplomat and former Australian Senator Wikimedia commons

Epicenter of Controversy

Being the first country to hit by the Coronavirus, the Xi Jinping's government recorded 84, 701 infection cases, and 4,641 fatalities as of Friday, while the current top infected country, the U.S., has reported over 2,422,300 cases and 124,415 deaths. European nations, including Britain and Italy, have some of the world's highest infection and death tolls.

Speaking via Zoom from his official residence, Stoke Lodge, Brandis said:"While some of the liberal democracies, such as the U.K. and the U.K. have seemed to fare worse, in comparative terms, in the early days, others – such as Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and South Korea – have been among the most successful in containing and nearly eliminating COVID-19."

China has repeatedly criticized and mocked the response to the deadly virus overseen by the Donald Trump administration, with state propaganda releasing an animated video, named "Once Upon a Virus" highlighting the U.S. President's inconsistent messaging. In the midst of the ongoing quarrel between China and the U.S., CCP has repeatedly pointed to the country's politics as proof of its mishandling of the outbreak.

China foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Wednesday that as per the U.S. media reports, the country is now witnessing "paltry efforts on handling COVID-19, an economy falling into recession, serious systemic racism, social disturbances, drug abuse, and frequent mass shootings."

Chinese President Xi Jinping
Chinese President Xi Jinping Reuters

China also targeted Australia by threatening to use its economic tactics for urging the international community to conduct an inquiry into the virus source. Brandis said this behavior showed the ideological contests won by liberal democracies earlier had morphed into a "contest of efficacy" and an attack on the "efficacy of our systems of government in protecting our citizens.

Liberal Democracy

The former Australian Senator said that one thing which China did not understand is the power of public debate. As per The Sydney Morning Herald, Brandis added, "Democracies such as ours, for whom the right of citizens to freely criticize their governments and challenge the wisdom of their leaders, will never have — or wish to have — the apparent unity which authoritarian governments prize." As per the top diplomat even though this freedom cannot be a weakness, "Yet, particularly in a time of crisis, it can be misrepresented as confusion."

He explained that China's attack showed how vigilant liberal democracies have to defend themselves from those actors "which do not share our values and will on occasions act in ways inimical to our interests."