Mask diplomacy? Understanding China’s Goals in Delivering Medical Aid in the First Wave of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Yixian Sun, Bowen Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (SciVal)

Abstract

In the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, China provided medical assistance on an unprecedented scale. While some observers have underscored the strategic purposes of China's COVID-19 aid, referred to as “mask diplomacy,” they have yet to assess this argument against empirical evidence. We seek to examine whether China's medical aid was used as a strategic tool, or it remained reactionary and fragmented, by combining a new dataset on the global distribution of Chinese in-kind medical aid with a qualitative analysis of government and news reports during the first wave of the pandemic. Our findings show that although COVID-19 aid did have the potential to strengthen China's influence over recipients and promote Chinese knowledge of health governance, Chinese policymakers were underprepared to use aid strategically during the pandemic. The reactionary and fragmented nature of China's COVID-19 aid was reflected in its allocation, its policy-making processes, and its implementation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)381-412
Number of pages32
JournalJournal of Chinese Current Affairs
Volume52
Issue number3
Early online date8 Jan 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Research conducted for this article was funded by Shanghai Philosophy and Social Science Planning Project (grant number: 2020EGJ001)

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • China
  • mask diplomacy
  • medical assistance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Economics,Econometrics and Finance
  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Sociology and Political Science

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