Over the past several years, it has been very evident that Emperor Xi Jinping has promulgated his "Belt and Road Campaign" as a means to subjugate poorer countries in order to establish sources of raw materials, provide logistical support for China exports to other markets and fundamentally provide himself a prominent position on the world stage. It is clear that such a system was not needed to export their most recent new product, the COVID-19 pandemic, around the world. On the other hand, had the knowledge of the virus not been suppressed over a month, the virus outcome could have been better contained before millions of Chinese departed for the Lunar New Year holidays. Nonetheless, some western leaders chose to ignore the impending danger until it eventually landed on their home territories. Other leaders may have thought it would solve the economic issues of aging populations though many of them fall into that very category.
Interestingly, The New York Times published two critical Chinese articles before the Lunar New Year of 2018 and again in 2020 entitled With Blackface and Monkey Suit, Chinese Gala on Africa Causes Uproar (2018) and A Kenyan Painter Casts a Critical Eye on China's Role in Africa (2020). Two years ago, a four-hour Lunar New Year televised show was broadcast to some 800 million across China featuring blackface actors and African men in animal suits. The skit was set in Kenya, home to a newly Chinese-built railroad between the capital, Nairobi, and the coastal town of Mombasa as part of China's Belt and Road initiative. Chinese actress, Lou Naiming shown below, appeared with black makeup and an enlarged backside saying: "I love Chinese people. I love China."
Strangely, the city of Wuhan, China, which has become a COVID-19 household name around the world, was the host of a photographic exhibit in 2015 that included African animals-baboons, cheetahs, gorillas-juxtaposed with close-up photos of African faces. A Kenyan artist, Michael Soi, has taken the issues to heart and questioned the motivation of his own government as well as that of Emperor Xi. In the painting shown below, one of 100 on the same theme, Emperor Xi appears as a larger-than-life figure who has developed a local following because of the largesse of his briefcase.
Michael Soi's collection, "China Loves Africa," questions the reasons for China's engagement, the role of leaders on both sides and the consequences for his fellow citizens. To the relief of the Chinese, Mr. Soi indicated he was ready to move on to a new theme. Sadly, we would all like to do the same with COVID-19 but that is not realistic. The artist points out that China is the latest in a long line of outside powers intent on plundering Africa's natural resources. Mr. Soi said, "No one is philanthropic for no apparent reason. All this generosity is suspect. The bad leadership that exists in Africa is something they knew they could come and capitalize on." His message has been effective as he has sold 99 of the 100 "China Loves Africa" pieces all over the world. He hopes the widespread distribution of his works will keep the China-African relations discussion alive for a long time. Who would have thought you could milk a panda as shown below.
The Economist published in their March 26, 2020 edition that Relations between China and America are Infected with Coronavirus which is depicted in the image below. The U.S. leadership seems to have attacked China for the virus while ignoring its own weakness in recognizing the gravity of the pandemic. Moreover, it is most unfortunate that in 2018 the U.S. eliminated the National Security Council directorate charged with responsibility for pandemic disease. Confrontations in trade wars are to be expected but the solution to a pandemic requires the cooperation of everyone though humanitarian concerns are not necessarily foremost in the minds of bullies who lack compassion.
Richard Luscombe published an article in The Guardian entitled Impossible to Comprehend: Stephen King on Horrors of Trump and Coronavirus. Four decades have passed since Stephen King wrote The Stand, his acclaimed novel about a deadly influenza wiping out most of our civilization. Therefore, Stephen King has been very open in his disbelief that authorities did not see the coronavirus crisis coming, nor take precautionary steps once it was aware of it. He said, "People are saying, We are living in a Stephen King world...I wish we weren't." We are all with you in that regard and woefully disappointed in our respective governments.