On Tuesday (25 February), the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in Singapore shared a Facebook post addressing an article published in The Straits Times (ST) by former Singapore Diplomat, Mr Bilahari Kausikan just a day earlier.
According to PRC embassy, the premium article entitled ‘Coronavirus: China’s inflection point and the CCP’s fundamental dilemma‘ was “misinterpreting and smearing China’s political system and the leadership system under the Communist Party of China”.
The Facebook post goes on to suggest that Mr Kausikan’s offensive post bears resemblance to the stereotypes that are widely expressed by the Western anti-China voices.
A snippet of the Facebook post by the embassy describes Mr Kausikan as someone who had a history of being prejudiced against China.
The post entails “At the difficult periods when Chinese people are making enormous efforts and sacrifices to fight the outbreak of the novel coronavirus pneumonia, the sense of justice of the author to ideologically denigrate China and sell his long-held prejudice and even hostility towards China has to be questioned”.
The embassy makes note of Mr Kausikan’s article in which he describes China as being a Leninist state led by a vanguard party that insists on absolute control, but it does not do justice in acknowledging the many great achievements that was brought by the political system in place under the leadership of President Xi Jinping.
The embassy elucidates that since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in 2012, the people in China have worked alongside the CPC Central Committee with General Secretary Xi Jinping at the core, to make China progress extensively on all fronts.
The Facebook post censured Mr Kausikan’s views of placing the blame on China’s political system for the COVID-19 outbreak.
In the same context, the Facebook post shoots back with a rhetorical question, asking why North America was not blamed for being the origin of the H1N1 outbreak.
The post concludes at crucial times like this, there is a need for unity and trust while keeping “political viruses” at bay.
Mr Kausikan’s response to the PRC embassy’s criticism
Meanwhile, responding to questions posed by TODAY, Mr Kausikan, who chairs the Middle East Institute at the National University of Singapore (NUS), claimed “What else could they say? All Chinese diplomats are under pressure to respond to President Xi’s instruction to assert China’s narrative.”
Mr Kausikan added that the Chinese embassy did not address any substantive point that he made in the published article.
“Instead, they raise arguments against points I did not make, which is quite typical. It is not something I can take seriously,” he said.
To cap it all, Mr Kausikan intimated that it was unclear if China would go beyond fixing the serious flaws in its healthcare system after the coronavirus crisis tails off, and deal with the fundamental challenge of finding a new balance between control and economic efficiency.
Background to Mr Kausikan’s original article
In the ST article published on Monday (24 February), Mr Kausikan describes President Xi Jinping as somewhat of a “black swan” who is a “princeling”, with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) as his patrimony.
According to Mr Kausikan, contrary to the high expectations that Mr Xi was a safe pick by the party to clean up corruption, Mr Kausikan opines that a concentration of power around President Xi has resulted in the formation of a “neo-Maoist style” of governance becoming crystallized in the Chinese system.
By being so, Mr Kausikan explains that a single mistake by this group can have widespread and perhaps catastrophic results.
Making a reference to the COVID-19 outbreak, Mr Kausikan highlights that there is ample ground to question whether this has resulted in the filtering as well as the accuracy and timeliness of information relayed upwards to decision makers.