The mask of China's "peaceful rise" is off, and the dragon has bared its fangs.
All that China's threats have served to achieve is strengthen the arguments of those who have long warned of the dangers of allowing China too much leverage over their economies. Since China has now shown that it is willing to use trade and economic levers to punish those who question its actions, other countries cannot but take steps to reduce their dependence on China. It will be a change in policy forced by China's own intemperate actions, and even its many allies and sympathisers in foreign countries will now be forced on the back foot. China's decades-long push to inextricably weave itself into the fabric of the world's economy will now receive a permanent setback, and this will be a needless crisis of China's own making.
I can only conclude that for all the vaunted wisdom of a 5000-year old civilisation, hubris has blinded China's current leaders, rendering them short-sighted and stupid.
Did they fail to comprehend the profound wisdom of this old saying?
A soft answer turneth away wrath; but grievous words stir up anger
-- Proverbs 15:1
When anger rises, think of the consequences
When the first mutterings about China's errors of omission and commission with regard to the spread of Covid-19 began to be heard, China should have moved with alacrity to disarm its critics, not to threaten them.
A simple apology along these lines would have taken the wind out of their sails:
"We're sorry that a virus that originated in our country has devastated so many others around the world. We mistakenly assumed that we could contain the spread of the virus within our borders without causing panic to our trading partners, but we acknowledge that this delay in communication was a miscalculation on our part. We are willing to work with the WHO and other multilateral agencies to evolve systems to ensure that a repeat of this tragedy does not occur. We will also provide medical aid, supplies and other support to societies impacted by the SARS-CoV-2 virus."
And that would have immediately put to bed any incipient inquiry that anyone around the world had begun to demand. Why bother to investigate the origins of the pandemic when China itself had readily acknowledged its origins and owned up to its failings?
In due course, China would have been forgiven, and the world would have moved on. China's position in the world's supply chains would have been intact and unchallenged. Further, China's image as a benign and responsible power would have received a boost.
Now the genie is out of the bottle and cannot be put back in. The sight of China as a bully cannot be unseen, and every one of the countries that China deals with must now be reworking their policies and strategies to reduce China's leverage. They will also be cooperating more among themselves in this endeavour, disadvantaging China geostrategically.
Deng must be tut-tutting in his grave.