Tobias Ellwood, a well-known Conservative MP in the UK recently spoke about the “competitive” influence on a global level that the Chinese communist Party (CCP) is exerting during the CCP Virus or COVID-19 pandemic, and how this is causing concern in the West.
Speaking to Express UK, Ellwood, who is also chairman of the House of Commons Select Committee on Defense, said that the CCP is buying time with the pandemic while at the same time using it to its advantage. “I think we are at a turning point right now,” he said.
“COVID-19 has exposed China’s [the CCP’s] conduct, which many of us were already very conscious of, for a wider audience—asking ourselves how to do business with a country that is clearly pursuing its own authoritarian agenda and expanding its influence across the globe,” Ellwood added.
He said the pandemic crisis has only created more tension and division in geopolitics, threatening the established world order, a scenario in which many countries have stepped aside from the global stage, while others “are willing to be the superpowers of today.”
“My real concern is that China is using this distraction of an outbreak to further its competing ideology and exploit the weakness of Western resolve to actually hold them to account,” Ellwood said.
For Ellwood General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party Xi Jinping is interfering in a future investigation because of the pressure that other countries in the region may have in the face of possible threats from the CCP.
He said at the last annual World Health Assembly held on May 18 that instead demanding an international investigation to find out who patient zero was and where he came from, we now see something far more diluted because we are hesitant of China given its growing dominance on the international stage.”
Ellwood said that the CCP Virus has exposed the global power struggle where Western countries are dependent on the CCP economically for cheap exports, indicating that international institutions such as the U.N. or the WHO cannot really exert significant influence.
He said that the CCP is putting pressure on different countries with its exports, while at the same time placing its delegates in “soft positions” in the international arena and thus gaining influence in global politics.
“What we’ve got is a trade war that’s ensuing that could easily lead to a Cold War, and the reason why is you have a clash of geopolitical ideologies,” Ellwood said.
“China’s surveillance approach to doing business, and influence over other parts of the world through its debt-trap diplomacy, is leading many neutral or smaller countries to make binary choices,” he added.
Ellwood also noted that Western countries are now seeing the CCP offering its “cheap goods and services” and then they are getting into debt, becoming “servants of its lack of transparency.”
He indicated that the CCP is seeking an aggressive expansion with its Asian neighbors by intimidating them, although he said that for now the CCP does not see things developing in that direction.
“If China [the CCP] took Taiwan, we would not be able to stop it, just condemn it,” Ellwood said, adding, “All we can do is have a presence that denies further expansion of Chinese influence because they are too big for us to stop.”
While Ellwood acknowledged that the CCP’s military capacity has been expanding over the past 10 years, he emphasized that the threat it represents is more silent and subtle, made up of so-called soft power.
“When they start taking over soft-power positions, so senior positions in the U.N., senior positions in WHO, then buying up companies—taking over British and American technology companies—this is a very subtle and powerful way of decreasing our economic capabilities and our economic independence,” Ellwood said.
As a result, he said, the West has become more and more relaxed, as well as more vulnerable to interference by the CCP, so he said the best way to control it is through the international ties it has with the West.
“The big difference between China and the Soviet Union is that the latter was powerful independent of the West, whereas China’s Achilles heel is that its economy is reliant on global trade,” Ellwood added.
The CCP Virus has killed more than 300,000 people and so far there are more than 5 million cases of the contagion worldwide.
Given the CCP’s mishandling of the outbreak that originated in Wuhan, more than 120 countries have so far called for an independent investigation into the origin and initial management of the pandemic that is now raging.