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2020-06-09 1 ENGLISH REPORTS
Four major strands of messaging can be identified in the Chinese narrative on social media. The first message promotes China as acting in solidarity, helping others by providing aid. The second strand encourages international unity in the fight against the pandemic. Both components are directly linked to Beijing’s core concept of a “community of shared future for mankind”, in which China undertakes an active role as responsible global actor. The third strand emphasizes China’s success in dealing with the epidemic thanks to its technological prowess, in line with Xi Jinping’s ambition to see China at the forefront of innovation. The fourth trajectory aims at undermining criticism of the government’s management of the outbreak, including Beijing’s systematic efforts to debunk the idea that the virus originated in a lab in Wuhan, an idea which has found fertile ground in Italy.
While preferences at the societal level are hard to define, the views of Italian political parties appear unchanged. The Five Star Movement, the party most positive about China, has retained its position. Luigi Di Maio, former leader of the Movement and staunch supporter of the BRI MoU, has actively promoted engagement with China for the acceptance of aid. He tried to capitalise on the moment and attempted to give a new shine to the MoU.4 Moreover, recent declarations from other prominent party members seems to suggest that the Five star Movement is increasingly consolidating its utilitarian position in favour of China, to be used also as leverage against the EU. The right and the centre-right have remained China-sceptic and have at times used the Five Star Movement’s proximity to China to pressure the government. Matteo Salvini (Lega) shared a 2015 video by Italy’s state television RAI, which documented China’s work at the Wuhan lab, claiming that this was somehow evidence of the artificial origin of the coronavirus. He stated that: “if China knew of the virus, it should then be prosecuted for crimes against humanity”. Antonio Tajani, vice-president of the European Parliament and a leading figure within Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party, has declared that solidarity cannot be used to promote the BRI and sneak in deals concerning Italy’s strategic infrastructure.
标签： ENGLISH REPORTS