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BALANCE OF POWER

China is leveraging the coronavirus crisis for diplomatic gains

A woman, wearing a protective face mask, walks past a placard showing a handshake between two hands representing the Chinese and the Italian national flags
Reuters/Flavio Lo Scalzo
A placard in Italy reads: “The enemy is the virus, not the people. Come on China!”
  • Annabelle Timsit
By Annabelle Timsit

Geopolitics reporter

At the end of last year, it seemed like diplomatic relations between China and Czechia—formerly the Czech Republic—had hit rock bottom.

Shanghai suspended ties with Prague after the latter signed a sister city agreement with Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, which China still considers part of its territory. Then the two countries fell out over accusations that Huawei, the Chinese telecom giant, poses a security threat. Promised Chinese investments failed to materialize. And on Jan. 18, the Czech president announced he would skip a summit organized by China’s Xi Jinping. It was a crisis.

What a difference a few weeks make.

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