Through a combination of paranoia and incompetence, China unleashed a deadly, paralyzing pandemic on the world, and it’s making the most of it.

As the coronavirus outbreak began to suffocate Western economies, Beijing launched a soft-power offensive. China quickly began exporting protective medical equipment, and, though these often defective supplies came with many political strings attached, there was no shortage of takers. The Chinese Communist Party has leveraged its influence over international institutions to stifle formal criticism of its botched response to the virus, and it has committed to a full-court press propaganda campaign claiming the United States is responsible for the world’s dire circumstances.

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