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China Rolls Out the Health Silk Road
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Chinese doctors in face masks deployed overseas. Photo: Facebook

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When President Xi Jinping was on a phone call in mid-March with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conti, before the arrival of a China Eastern flight from Shanghai to Milan full of medical help, the key takeaway was the Chinese pledge to develop a Health Silk Road (Jiankang Sichou Zhilu).

That was in fact already inbuilt in the Belt and Road Initiative playbook since at least 2017, under the framework of enhanced, pan-Eurasian health connectivity. The pandemic only accelerated the timeline. The Health Silk Road will run in parallel to the multiple overland Silk Road corridors and the Maritime Silk Road.

In a graphic demonstration of soft power, so far China has offered Covid-19-related equipment and medical help to no fewer than 89 nations – and counting.

That covers Africa (especially South Africa, Namibia and Kenya, with Alibaba in fact announcing it will send help to all African nations); Latin America (Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Peru); the arc from East Asia to Southwest Asia; and Europe.

Key recipients in Europe include Italy, France, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Serbia and Poland. But Italy, most of all, is a very special case. Most are donations. Some are trade – like millions of masks sold to France (and the US).

Less than a year ago Italy became the first G-7 nation to sign a memorandum of understanding formally joining Belt and Road – much to the displeasure of Washington and the Atlanticist galaxy in Brussels and beyond.

Earlier this year in Sicily, I discussed these intricacies in detail with Enrico Fardella, Professor of History at Peking University and an expert on China-Mediterranean relations.

Italy is supported on myriad fronts – not only at the highest political level but also via the Chinese Red Cross, Sino-Italian associations, tech/logistics Chinese companies and donations from Alibaba, Huawei, ZTE and Lenovo. There are three Chinese medical teams in Italy at the moment.

This all ties up with the larger Belt and Road picture, featuring investments in Genoa and Trieste, two key ports and future Belt and Road nodes.

A performance of a Puccini opera whose story focuses on the illness and death of a lovely seamstress is canceled, ironically due to coronavirus, at the Verdi theater in Trieste. China has made investments in Trieste and Genoa, two key ports and future Belt and Road nodes, and now it is providing medical aid to Italy as part of its newer, parallel Health Silk Roads scheme. Photo: AFP / Jacopo Landi / NurPhoto
A performance of a Puccini opera whose story focuses on the illness and death of a lovely seamstress is canceled, ironically due to coronavirus, at the Verdi theater in Trieste. China has made investments in Trieste and Genoa, two key ports and future Belt and Road nodes, and now it is providing medical aid to Italy as part of its newer, parallel Health Silk Roads scheme. Photo: AFP / Jacopo Landi / NurPhoto

This Chinese soft power offensive is carefully calibrated to offset the current paralysis of global supply chains. China is now working overtime to supply many parts of the world with medicine and related healthcare items – always with the Belt and Road framework in mind, as if doubling down on Globalization 2.0.

That spells out the interconnectivity of nations that badly need development and infrastructure along with the need for good health systems and practices.

And that prepares the terrain for, when Covid-19 is more or less tamed and the Chinese economy fully recovered, the Belt and Road reboot: an inexorable historic trend based on a new economic model that Beijing deems more equitable, and in the interests of the Global South.

‘Chinese lie

A Health Silk Road is already in effect when we see China, Russia – and Cuba with its first-class health system – sending teams of doctors and virologists as well as planes with medical equipment to Italy, and China sending drugs, test kits and supplies to illegally sanctioned Iran.

China immediately understood what was at stake as it saw Covid-19 ravage many hot points of world-famous Made in Italy. With its offer of skilled, cheaper manufacturing, China had initially lured key Italian fashion houses to outsource their production to China, and most of all to Wuhan.

The connectivity – which has been there for decades – works both ways. Chinese investors started to arrive in northern Italy in the early 1990s. They bought a string of factories; renovated them; created their own, top Made in Italy brands; and brought in tens of thousands of skilled Chinese seamstresses to work in these factories.

There are plenty of direct flights from Wuhan to Lombardy – to serve at least 300,000 Chinese who have moved permanently to Italy to work in Chinese-owned factories producing Made in Italy.

So it’s no wonder Doctor Giuseppe Remuzzi, director of the Mario Negri Pharmacology Institute in Milan, became a superstar in China. In an interview that went viral, Remuzzi talks about his explosive findings in conversations with general practitioners in Lombardy.

Here’s Dr. Remuzzi, at 4:19: “Do you know what happened? Certain family doctors, who have the best antennas in the territory, at least the most able and attentive ones, have told me recently that they were seeing grave cases of pneumonia, which we had never seen in other years.

These pneumonia cases had nothing to do with typical flu pneumonia, they were interstitial pneumonias, they had to do CT, radiography [to diagnose it], and this was seen in October, November, December. So this virus has been circulating a long time.”

That was indeed in parallel with or even before the first coronavirus cases in Wuhan in mid-November. It’s been already scientifically established that the virus strains in Wuhan and in Lombardy are different. Which came first, and where from, remains a matter of incendiary debate.

Inevitably the Health Silk Road would have to be dismissed by the Atlanticist gang as a disinformation ploy exploiting the pandemic to “destabilize” and weaken Europe. That’s the narrative promoted by EUvsDisinfo, an NGO whose personnel love to blast Russia and China for a living.

So for the Brussels bureaucracy, the Health Silk Road is not about saving lives; it’s about “destabilizing” the EU and improving Xi Jinping’s domestic image after China lied, lied and lied again about the extent and severity of coronavirus. That happens to be the exact same narrative of the Trump administration, US corporate media and US intelligence.

Does it matter? Not for those 89 nations that are receiving much-needed help and equipment. The dogs of demonization bark while the Health Silk Road caravan passes.

(Republished from Asia Times by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: China, Coronavirus, New Silk Road 
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  1. Papertree says:

    Forget about the Health Silk Road; China and Italy (and its fashion industry) have been joined at the hip since the first, real, Silk Road opened up 2100 years ago. The only difference is, back then the seamstresses were in China. Now they’re from China.

    • Replies: @showmethereal
  2. Just as a counterbalance, how many outside nations have the US and EU helped with the virus?

  3. Chinese investors started to arrive in northern Italy in the early 1990s. They bought a string of factories; renovated them; created their own, top Made in Italy brands; and brought in tens of thousands of skilled Chinese seamstresses to work in these factories.

    In other words, they are colonizing Italy. Italy couldn’t possibly have any skilled seamstresses, they all came to North American sweatshops in the 1950s.

    • Replies: @tigerpaw
  4. Meanwhile, in the good old capitalist USA, they just gave a trillion dollars to the very rich. (And you in your quaint cross-eyed doofusness, probly are bitching about that huge $1200 payout. Every person on here is either innumerate or willfully obfuscating on behalf of our owners.)

    Have you heard of the “guillotine meme”? It’s a good one. It’s a real good meme.

    Let us pray that it becomes a reality!

  5. These pneumonia cases had nothing to do with typical flu pneumonia, they were interstitial pneumonias, they had to do CT, radiography [to diagnose it], and this was seen in October, November, December. So this virus has been circulating a long time.”

    That appears to be the CCP line, the coronavirus began in Italy and actually was transferred from there to Wuhan. That is, when the virus wasn’t being brought to Wuhan by American GI’s there in November for military games. Or introduced surreptitiously into Wuhan by the CIA as a bioengineered weapon (not that I think the CIA isn’t capable of that kind of monstrosity). This is the case that Pepe Escobar is making. The Chinese case. The case made by the South China Morning Post, Senhor Escobar’s day job.

    If this is actually the truth, we need more evidence, scientific evidence, not speculation. If the virus originated in Italy and was then brought to Wuhan, that is something that should be detectable in the genetic signature of the different strains.

    As for me, scenes of the cages full of appealing large dogs waiting to be butchered in Wuhan’s fresh market are enough for me. A place where dogs, cats, bats and pangolins are consumed seems likely to me to be the source of the coronavirus than the birthplace of Michelangelo and Dante (although I am informed that in some parts of Sicily dogs are consumed after being fed a diet of rice only for some days). But, I digress.

    If for optics alone than for no other reason, the CCP ought to think about closing the wet markets in China. And maybe the authorities in Sicily as well should look into the human consumption of canines there. Or next the Chinese will be saying the idea of eating dogs came from Italy.

  6. Jeremygg5 says:
    @Weston Waroda

    Or next the Chinese will be saying the idea of eating dogs came from Italy.

    You will never know. Europeans had been eating dog meat since eternity. This picture was taken in 1910.

    The Swiss has been eating cats and dogs till this day.

    Germans have eaten dog meat since the time of Frederick the Great and it’s commonly called “blockade mutton”. Dog meat continued to be eaten in the 1920s. Even a meat inspection law in 1937 mentioned the following animals as commonly used for meat: “pigs, dogs, boars, foxes, badgers…” It was only in 1986 that Germany prohibited the consumption of dog meat.

    Reference:
    http://vivitelaeti.blogspot.com/2012/06/will-europeans-stop-eating-dog-meat.html

    • Replies: @showmethereal
  7. Jeremygg5 says:
    @Weston Waroda

    If this is actually the truth, we need more evidence, scientific evidence, not speculation. If the virus originated in Italy and was then brought to Wuhan, that is something that should be detectable in the genetic signature of the different strains.

    For the genetic studies to be done, the US needs to cooperate to make it happen. However genetic, hospital and patients data had been classified. These sources show the efforts made to stall the investigation:

    • Moritz Kraemer, a scholar at Oxford University who is leading a team of researchers in mapping the global spread of the coronavirus, says China’s data “provided incredible detail,” including a patient’s age, sex, travel history and history of chronic disease, as well as where the case was reported, and the dates of the onset of symptoms, hospitalization and confirmation of infection.
    The United States, he said, “has been slow in collecting data in a systematic way.”. The article not only showing the chaotic situation in different states, but highlights the limited information shared with scientific community.
    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/28/us/coronavirus-data-privacy.html

    • The US classified all information about COVID-19 since Jan, which was the first time they done so for an infectious disease. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-secrecy-exclusive2/exclusive-white-house-told-federal-health-agency-to-classify-coronavirus-deliberations-sources-idUSKBN20Y2LM?fbclid=IwAR2SQ6rZxJqbMt9XaLM1DyuaA5nUrm6DtNshM_O7uzY6Ti1R7Io8lJDLdno

    • The US purposely refused to use WHO test kits, and used their own test kits, bringing to a delay of a few weeks confirming COVID-19 cases:
    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/10/us/coronavirus-testing-delays.html

    • The CDC stopped reporting COVID-19 cases since end of February.
    https://thehill.com/homenews/house/485722-dem-lawmaker-calls-out-cdc-for-removing-data-on-number-of-americans-tested-for

    • The US orders the military to withhold infection data
    https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/as-coronavirus-spreads-us-military-to-withhold-some-infection-12580078

    • Thanks: AnonStarter
  8. Erebus says:

    Pepe has a more ominous article up on Strategic Culture exploring the idea that this pandemic crisis has a manufactured component.

    Pepe goes on to show how that component leverages the public mood (also partially manufactured) into new modes of social organization. Following his logic, there’s more than a pandemic afoot here.

    A sobering read.

    • Replies: @Smith
  9. Smith says:
    @Erebus

    So is the virus real or not?

    Can Pepe make up his mind on whether he should be praising China for “defeating” a fake virus and ushering 5G to the world?

  10. jsinton says:

    Sorry Pepe. Total spectrum dominance Orwellian mind control will always be the enemy.

  11. anonymous[424] • Disclaimer says:

    Pepe, how long did it take you to write your propaganda piece?

    Because posting this video:

    takes me but a minute.

    Which do you think will prove more effective? Therein lies the problem the CCP and its shills have.

    • Replies: @showmethereal
  12. tigerpaw says:
    @Curmudgeon

    from my little understanding,italian labour laws did not apply equally to foreign nationals.Chinese seamstresses getting less pay and fewer benefits

  13. China: setting your house on fire and then giving you a squirt gun. Thanks, China. You’re the best!

  14. @Papertree

    True… That’s where the love of silk came from among Italian fashion

  15. @Jeremygg5

    Yup. St. Bernard’s are also still eaten in certain mountainous parts of Europe. Can’t tell that to the ignorant. In the same way – coyotes are consumed by some hunters in the US also. But pointing fingers is easy.

  16. @anonymous

    It is true dogs are eaten in China. But it is a small minority. I find it peculiar though that more dogs are eaten in South Korea – yet people like yourself never seem to highlight it. Is it ok if you are in a country that is a ally/vassal to a NATO country…?? Enlighten me…
    I bet you won’t claim South Korea’s stellar success on death rate for coronavirus is a lie either. I don’t think it’s a lie either. But I just notice people like yourself tend to be “trained” on what they believe. I’m sure you will say China is lying – even though they show a higher death rate than South Korea.

    • Agree: Jeremygg5
  17. @Weston Waroda

    As for me, scenes of the cages full of appealing large dogs waiting to be butchered in Wuhan’s fresh market are enough for me.

    That’s why feelings are unhelpful.

    I’m as hostile to the idea of ‘wet markets’ as you can get without being a genuine operational member of ALF. I’ve been hostile to fucktarded Chinese superstitions about eating shark fin, rhino horn, bear bile, snake blood, and wine infused with animal genitals since the 80s; I knew about the Chinese dog-torturing festival before Ricky Gervais tweeted about it. I also know about the gigantic dolphin slaughter festival that happens ever year in Denmark’s Faroe Islands, which is unrelated but shows that gleeful brutality and slaughter is not limited to our Chinkie Chums (or machete-wielding fuzzie-wuzzies from Deepest Darkest).

    Anyway…

    If there was an undetected pathogen doing the rounds in Italy (or China, or both) that predates the genomes sequenced from people from the Wuhan wet market, it’s better to know about it than to not know about it.

    nextstrain’s ‘family tree’ for 2019nCoV is really interesting: there aren’t many nucleotide mutations at each node, and the preponderance of European genomes sequenced to date are in 1 or 2 clades that are genetically well-separated from the preponderance of Chinese clades.

    Given the related-ness of the European genomes, it’s not entirely out of the question that their parent node represents a different underlying genome that is not-very-different to the existing ‘root’ node. (Also worth knowing – but a days-long project in itself – would be examining the ‘Italian’ genomes and identifying which ones are actually taken from Italians, as opposed to Chinese people in Italy).

    If I were China (or Italy), I would be trying to get next-of-kin permission to get hold of samples from the people who died of novel-seeming respiratory disease before November 2019 – either existing samples (which may no longer exist) or new samples by exhuming a few dozen people.

    Pick the ones with the most-known pathology (people who didn’t test positive for influenza, say), dig ’em up if necessary, and try to put that question to bed.

    Not for nothin’: the very first two Chinese sequences (from samples in Wuhan, taken 2 days apart) are in different clades. Wuhan-Hu-1/2019 (sample date 26 Dec 2019) differs from Wuhan/IPBCAMS-WH-01/2019 (sample date 24 Dec 2019) by mutations in 3 nucleotides and 3 amino acids.

    Wuhan-Hu-1/2019 is assumed to be the ‘OG’ WuFlu because other nearby child nodes have identifiable nucleotide and AA changes relative to it, and don’t have the mutations found in Wuhan/IPBCAMS-WH-01/2019. Perfectly sensible.

    Under that assumption, an earlier variant that differed from ‘OG’ WuFlu by 1 nucleotide mutation, would be automatically classed as the root node of a descendant clade from OG WuFlu, rather than a sibling from a common ancestor. That’s a harder row to hoe.

    Spend an hour or so zooming in and out from the main nodes in the tree, and check out how small the differences are between nodes.

    • Thanks: Erebus
  18. anon[157] • Disclaimer says:
    @Weston Waroda

    Huh????? What the heck are you on about? No one, China or otherwise, is saying the origin of the virus is Italy. Just that Italy contracted the virus at the same or earlier time as China, suggesting that China couldn’t be the originating vector. Thus the source of the virus is likely elsewhere — neither Italy nor China. China is, however, insinuating (probably correctly) that it originally came from the U.S.

    Troll.

    • Replies: @Weston Waroda
  19. Clyde says:

    Pepe—-what is your social credit score? You Chinese dupe!
    Chinese start the Wuhan Virus and infect the world, now offer the cures. There is a chance the ChiComs did this bio-warfare all on purpose. For sure they are taking advantage of the situation these idiots created…Now trying to blame the US for generating this virus.

  20. Sean says:

    The link above takes you to the key part in which it explains how the Roman Empire was devastated and almost destroyed by infectious disease as a result of the first opening up of trade routes between it and previously isolated China. In March 2019 Italy was the first country to officially join China’s New Silk Road. You may think that modern globalisation reproduced a pandemic-friendly environment that had repeatedly decimated Ancient Rome and Byzantium, but I could not possibly comment. Also in 2019, Boris Johnson said he wanted London to become Singapore-on-Thames, and then he gave Huawei the 5G contract. Subsequently, Chinese officials suppressed knowledge of the outbreak in Wuhan, then on the 7th January they said it did not easily spread between people. But that obviously had no bearing on the West being unprepared for the Pandemic. Boris was happy to do business with the Chinese. How is that working out for him? There have been almost a thousand deaths in the last 24 hour period, and within a week the COVID-19 deaths will peak at 3000 a day. British dead may be 50,000 by August.

    British historian Professor Jeremy Black: War Disease and the World 1450-2000, here links to where he explains that the British were in total control despite a an huge proportion of their soldiery dying off from disease in places like Burma, but by the time Britain had solved all its force projection and disease problems their Empire was weakest politically because of a failure to elicit the political consent to use that power.

    https://www.zeit.de/wissen/gesundheit/2020-03/sars-cov-2-pandemic-history-spanish-flu-english/seite-2
    The year 2002 also saw the outbreak of a coronavirus: the pathogen that caused severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS. It was a close relative of SARS-CoV-2, which is now ricocheting around the world and causing COVID-19. Even though that was many years ago, we still have no vaccine for SARS. One of the reasons for that failure was money. A team led by Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine in Houston, presented a vaccine candidate four years ago (Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics: Chen et al., 2014). But when it came time for a clinical study to determine its safety and effectiveness, defined by its ability to trigger the production of antibodies, nobody could be found who was willing to finance it

    This is what comes of financial orthodoxy and the austerity it mandates for the West, which has an elite is focused on hypercapitalism and investing in Chinese growth. So of course the productive capacity to make healthcare items is eroded in Europe it got offshored to China in search of massive profits. The Chinese supply the pathogen through their their ludicrous wildlife trafficking for aphrodisiacs causing recombination of bat virus with pangolin one, and then China kindly supplies masks ECT . What a superb example of a vertically integrated supply chain.

  21. @anon

    You really need to more carefully read the article you are commenting on, especially before calling another commenter a troll.

    Do you know what happened? Certain family doctors, who have the best antennas in the territory, at least the most able and attentive ones, have told me recently that they were seeing grave cases of pneumonia, which we had never seen in other years.

    These pneumonia cases had nothing to do with typical flu pneumonia, they were interstitial pneumonias, they had to do CT, radiography [to diagnose it], and this was seen in October, November, December. So this virus has been circulating a long time.”

    That was indeed in parallel with or even before the first coronavirus cases in Wuhan in mid-November.

    This line of thought is expanded in this article from the South China Morning Post.

    https://www.scmp.com/news/china/society/article/3076334/coronavirus-strange-pneumonia-seen-lombardy-november-leading

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