While the world is reeling from the cascading shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic, China has continued a comparatively aggressive course in its foreign policy and security posture. Not only has it continued military and paramilitary activities in the South and East China Sea, including exercises around Taiwan, but actions have increased. China’s outreach efforts, including offers of medical supplies and advice, have at times been accompanied not only by vitriolic statements and dubious alternative pandemic origin stories from its Foreign Ministry officials and state media, but also by the leveraging of trade relations with the EU to censor criticism of these statements, as well as trade actions—official and unofficial—against Australian beef and barley imports in response to Canberra’s push for more transparency on China’s initial handling of the outbreak.

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