Chinese Digital Diplomacy on Covid-19


Covid-19 had already been spreading all over the world as a deadly virus, while no one has been having enough information about the circumstances. Many fields of government bureaucracies came to a stagnation point and were impressed badly in their diplomatic process. Some countries showed a soft reaction instead of showing a rigid reaction to fight with the new coronavirus. Moreover, with a few exceptions, countries were determined not to see this as a thread. However, China has not been unresponsive to cope with coronavirus unlike other countries’ behaviors although it had not been reporting to the world in the early days which started the spread of coronavirus. China has applied more strict rules and regulations over its citizens in order to succeed to get rid of coronavirus. This study explains that what are the impacts of coronavirus on the world in the first section and the strict executions of the Chinese government how based on the Foucauldian Perspective. In the second section, Chinese digital diplomacy is divided into 3 strategies to protect human health and affect the rest of the world with health aids.


First novel coronavirus reported in Wuhan December 2019. China and WHO did not send red alert to protect humanity from the novel coronavirus. In the beginning, China faced some heavy reactions because of being slow about warning the world from danger. In short term, Covid-19 spread the all of the world and affected most of people in every continent. So many specialist could not say anything about inconclusively and large scale tests had initiated by several countries and non-governmental organizations. To protect of human life and future in the world is more substantial purpose anymore.

There was a shock for a while in the first wave of Covid-19, people did nothing to protect themselves from the new coronavirus instead of staying at home or putting social distancing. Experts could not set rules to people that do not believe the Covid-19. Some people believe that coronavirus is just a flu or cold. Due to government and official institutions could not understand the importance of coronavirus, they did not establish regulations or restrictions. China had initiated about spreading of Coronavirus and protecting of human health. With the second wave of coronavirus, governments and non- governmental organizations launched ventures to find vaccination studies and gave instructions to ensure drop the number of infected people (Manor, 2020).

Coronavirus affected unfavorably each of field in human life such as economic, cultural and psychological because social distancing put some rules in working procedures as online meetings and phone calls. But this was not fair for all countries in the world, some reasons which are technical problems and lack of internet access that cause not to establish diplomatic relations, kept the developing countries in background. Developed countries adopted easily to digitalization but other countries were not same. Canada, Germany and New Zealand had applied some advanced technology to determine the data of coronavirus (Manor, 2020). China used its advanced technology for restrictions and social regulations. For example, 5G technology was determining the infected people on the walk of street and reporting to artificial intelligence programs (Verma, 2020: 251). Even so many false assertions and conspiracy theories were expanding on the social media, for this reason Facebook and Twitter had limited by Chinese government. Those of restrictions and regulations have shown that China had set up rigid rules about protecting human health and interruption of the coronavirus (Santos, 2020: 89). Also vaccination studies had started. These applications explained the Chinese’s politics focus on Foucauldian Perspective. They believed that government have authority to protect civil society’s health and regulate their lives in any aspects (Burak, 2020).

China’s public health diplomacy conducted to drive away the accusations from coming West side. Especially the U.S accused China for being reason the origin of novel coronavirus, and being slow to report to whole the World (Verma, 2020:251). China responded fast to these misperceptions because they supposed that the origin of novel coronavirus maybe coming from the U.S, and they wanted to convince the world of their claim (Verma, 2020: 251). In Chinese national borders, firstly government forced people to obey the rules, and they investigated about origin of novel coronavirus and how they can fix these big threat (Santos, 2020: 89).

This study explains that what the impacts of coronavirus to the world in the first section and strict executions of Chinese government are and how based on the Foucauldian Perspective. In the second section, Chinese digital diplomacy is divided by 3 strategies to protect human health and affect the rest of the world with health aids.

Impacts of the Coronavirus

The Covid-19 pandemic process impressed all area of daily life (Manor, 2020). People had to change their life structure to ensure sense of well-being due to deadly virus. Each official, entertainment and social working procedures have come to arrest point diversely. A lot of sick people have filled up the hospitals and infected to doctors and nurses whom care with infected people. Authorities decided to people should stay away from each other under called social distancing. Large groups of people was posing a threat with public health.

With the Covid-19 first wave, there was a huge shocked reactions in every field of world. Some embassies of developed countries had initiated entertainments for the rest of the world such as museums, theatres, and live concerts on their online website .(Manor, 2020). However, during the second wave of Covid-19, large of numbers institutions have kept in touch with people which ready to get help from them. Institutions and political authorities took into account their own daily works. Even embassies had launched campaigns regard to their own countries’ landmarks (Manor, 2020).

According to Jovan Kurbalija, permanent missions occurred important case in diplomatic field (Kurbalija, 2020). Diplomacy has turned into technological structure through Covid-19 lockdown. But there were some problematic topics with online technological tools.. For example, controversial issues have not solved serious debates with online streaming. Due to the fact that diplomats have not been on the spot, representatives could not make it up to the critical issues. Diplomats have not caught up with intensive dialogue what it means in essence through online streaming meeting.

Likewise, it became clear that delegations from the developing world are underrepresented in virtual gathering (Muñoz, 2020). While governments were struggling with pandemic, their representatives faced with some technological problems in international online meetings. Although developed countries coped with easily technical problems, developing countries could not tackle on those issues. In the seeing big picture, “no country is safe until all countries are” (Muñoz, 2020). There was occurred a necessity to procure multilateral solutions. Hence, NATO had initiated to aid packages the intensive effective populations of countries that are under its umbrellas such as Italy and Spanish (Bjola and Manor, 2020: 78).

Diplomacy appears like it is adapted easily but coronavirus adjusts to the world order more than that notion. Countries launched several ventures in order to ensure the stability of world order. For this reason, “conference rooms to online spaces, triggering a profound change in the way diplomacy is conducted” (Covid-19&Diplomacy, 2020). For instance, “UN launched campaigns which are wanted to terminate this global crisis with 53 countries of the world sign” (Galvez, 2020). This was not just regard with online conferences on internet, there was a huge amount of crisis in variety of fields such as economy, politics and culture. Some examples could explain this situation that Canada, German and New Zealand started adaptation for digitalization in public diplomacy. “But the digitalization practice is not uniform in every country” (Manor, 2020). Some countries also deal with conspiracy theory on its national public diplomacy and some countries deal with just technical issues. There are also many disinformation and false assertions about spreading of coronavirus. In cumulative disinformation, some countries have proposed to artificial intelligence to pick out false assertions. Likewise, China had launched obstructiveness interference to enter Facebook, Twitter and Youtube before the pandemic started (Chen and Chen, 2020: 7) Facebook and Twitter have tried to hamper misinformation and conspiracy theories about novel coronavirus news, but they have not been successful with this attempts. For this reason, Chinese pandemic rules have been focused on Foucauldian Perspective which has ingredients as bio-power and governmentality. “The management of people life that is related to bio-power has affected the well-being of populations” (Burak, 2020). Hereby, Chinese government have tried to manage the coronavirus process in every part. Vaccination was pairing as much as possible with bio-power element. In significant way related to that China have applied to reduce of infected people numbers and cure the extremely sick since the very beginning. “Another concept is governmentality focused on some of the techniques and strategies used to make society management or governable” (Burak, 2020). Most of actors in regard to conduct of society take responsibility such as NGOs, experts and press. However, Covid-19 is a countable reason affecting culture of submissiveness of people to the governments. That is why, Chinese government rigidly struggles with Covid-19 pandemic process and its effects. It is noted that each country has reaction to coronavirus differently. While UK government has shown its easier manners which are called herd immunity, Chinese government showed that it was as rigid as possible. Also, Chinese politics had kept arcane from the world broadcast before drop the number of these infected sick people (Chen and Chen, 2020: 14). 

Chinese Public Diplomacy and Covid-19

According to Niedja, despite China applied some rigid rules about combat of spreading coronavirus, it became more successful situation than the other countries in the world. There are 3 main strategies about struggling with coronavirus; first is health and research, second is social regulations, third is public management and health surveillance (Santos, 2020: 89).

The concept of first strategy are health and researches which illustrates China’s politics about gathering more detail knowledges and surveys to know the ways the combating coronavirus. Chinese researchers put forth some ideas and analyzed as geographical feature both in rural and urban distinct about spreading of coronavirus. Protecting public health, Chinese experts and authorizations have employed the rules as rigid to Chinese people. China had settled down to combat coronavirus through recognizing treatment and diagnosis, protection its health workers and identification of new coronavirus genome sequences. One of the factors that cause rapid spread is chronic diseases and less physical exercises especially in rural areas (Chen and Chen, 2020: 14). In the rural distinct, due to there are so many elderly people, it is possible that occur more coronavirus case because specialists explain that Covid-19 is more infectious among the old people. Another factor that caused rapid spread is intensive and highly transportation between the asymptomatic people in urban (Chen and Chen, 2020: 2). People do not feel like sick or do not see any symptom on themselves, so they do not cut off communication with their relative and then it causes dissemination of coronavirus. Therefore Chinese experts set up some rules as staying at home, social distancing and wearing facemasks (Chen and Chen, 2020: 2). They supposed these measures would protect people from the deadly virus.

In the public diplomacy aspect, China had focused on self-power initiatives. When China dropped the number of infected people, these rescue efforts showed on behalf of the world, because there was both international and national results. If the Chinese infected people had been circulated around with world, it would create unstoppable crisis. Therefore, China conducted one’s own defense with its strict rules. However, some researchers believe that China has already occurred an unstoppable crisis. Chinese politics have been showing that there was no good will intentions covering up the coronavirus burst out in the early days (Vimont, 2020). Moreover, Covid-19 pandemic is not just a global health system crisis, it also affects the world’s geopolitical order (Gautam, Singh, Kaur, 2020). The US and the China have been struggling with each other to create hegemon on the world. Thus, this outbreak would composed appropriate conditions by China to the detriment of America through economic war. Some of researchers supposed to “China is the new USSR and Covid-19 is the new Chernobly” (Manor, 2020). In many aspect, China was accused that being slow the report to the world. In fact that, “that’s why China did not report it based on a lack of observations, and fear of economic results” (Fazal, 2020: 12). The concept of second strategy of China is related to its social regulations as brutal. There was some serious measures to protect health life. For example, people have been forcing to follow the rules as staying at home and isolation. Even intercity travel is interrupted by Chinese government. If there was observed people do not follow the rules through the 5G Technologies and drones, heavy penalties would be imposed. When corona epidemic explodes, President XI instructed a directive to China’s state media to publish reports that put China’s fight against Covid-19 in a positive light (Verma, 2020: 251). China’s propaganda apparatus has been working tirelessly to change the Covid-19 narratives (Verma, 2020: 251). Soon after, China’s media outlets published news about the origin of the Coronavirus which claimed to appear from the US. Moreover, one authorized of China official institutions give an explanation about bringing coronavirus from the US to Chinese lands (Kuo, 2020). Although China faced of many slating to poses a threat for the world and was blamed is brutal restrictions to be inhumane, China created a safe place faster than other countries during Covid-19 in short term (Smith and Fallon, 2020: 244). Despite China have very high population, it succeeds to purge from Covid-19 its cities.

Third Chinese strategy of struggling with coronavirus is that keeping the stability between the prices of medical medicine and balancing the demands of medicine between cities. In any short time, Chinese government instructed new hospital constructions. Although China has now drawn image as aid giving nations to the world, the pandemic had been pushing into changes its politics (Gautam, Singh and Kaur, 2020: 320). The US and EU have been shocked in face of unprecedented historical event, but China has used this situation wisely for early times of Covid-19. Chinese government has sent some medical equipment and mask to the Europe Countries. China has trying to draw a good image while it drives away criticism over its initial improper practices in handling the corona virus with through millions of face masks and teams of medical experts (The Strait Times, 2020). Nonetheless, “China in this crisis an opportunity to challenge the US as the dominant global superpower through an information campaign” (Zhao, 2020: 453). It is noted that Chinese showed its presence about giving health aid, and the US could not show its presence in health aid (Fazal, 2020:15).


Coronavirus reported in 1 December 2019 in Wuhan. China was slow to report novel of coronavirus to the world and WHO. The world had shocked in early times and had indifferent to warn people by the time coronavirus jumped all around the world. So many countries had infected by coronavirus and was nervous because diplomacy, economy, and technology works have come to the stagnation point. Especially, due to diplomacy has been stopping in a while all over the world, substantial politics issues was postponed. MSAs and Embassies have triggered some events about enjoying civil people for its stay at home. Museums, theatres, concerts have broadcasted live on its online websites. Nevertheless, diplomats have not been succeeding in online meetings establishing diplomatic relations because of lack of internet capacity and technical issues presence. But some developed countries have conducted its diplomatic work procedures with digital diplomacy like China, Canada, Germany and New Zealand.

China had exhibited its success in technological knowledge and execution during of Covid-19. They launched ventures to determine have the data and case of Coronavirus with artificial intelligence programs. Thus, they notified the data of Covid-19 to the national data verifications service, and then the Chinese government had been applying strict rules on infected sick people such as quarantine. So many researchers had putted some suggestions about determining the conditions of novel of coronavirus. Both of them rural and urban districts had some features to attractiveness of the Covid-19 virus, they had revealed the causes of spreading Covid-19 such as conditions of elderly life being and over populations.

China had been applying strict norms based on Foucauldian Perspective which means have bio-power and governmentality. Depend on Foucauldian Perspective, governments have to manage to its citizens’ life, regulation to its social norms, and protect public health. China had executed those rules by this perspective and even they had initiated the vaccination studies. Chinese government created its defense policy to protect public health and stop the spreading of the coronavirus. Furthermore, China had applied the digital diplomacy over the world by soft power. Chinese national giving aid packages reached so many countries thus, it created its reputation to being big brother in the world. This situation resembles being a superpower like the US initiations that had already had this power in the world.

In conclusion, China executed many digital diplomacy politics over the world. Chinese President Xi used social media on its advantage side to dismiss any accusations and unfounded rumor in digital diplomacy. Also, the Chinese government authorized published all news and posts which are its good well and advocated its rules, responsibilities, and executions serving the benefit of whole the world.


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