Belt and Road After COVID-19: On Health Silk Road, Soft Power, and Beyond

Photograph: Chine Nouvelle/SIPA/REX/Shutterstock (source)

The Health Silk Road and Soft Power

China’s assistances to foreign countries are not without reason. China needs to bounce back after the country and its mega-project Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) are hit — arguably severely — by the pandemic.

Possible Challenges to the Health Silk Road

While it is clear that COVID-19 slows down BRI projects around the world, the pandemic will not kill BRI — BRI will outlive COVID-19. And when China wakes up from this pandemic, we could expect a stronger China, if China managed to boost public trust internationally through the Health Silk Road. In so doing, we should expect China pouring money through the Health Silk Road. A drawback, however, would be challenges coming from critics, saying that “Coronavirus dept trap is coming”. This first challenge could be exacerbated by the reluctance of countries — or even possibly those coming from the public — to make or continue investment projects that are not considered vital and more important than dealing with COVID-19 and the revival of the economy after COVID-19.

What we know — for now

China has been praised for its effort to help other countries — despite setbacks from countries rejecting its assistance with various reasons. Even critics and skeptics noted that “China’s humanitarian efforts are real” and that “there is nothing wrong with China helping other countries”.

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Angelo Wijaya

Angelo Wijaya

International Relations enthusiast