The term ‘race’ has two meanings- ‘to compete with others for achieving an objective‘ and ‘identification of self with a social group or groups‘. The term ‘racism’ means- ‘feeling of racial superiority leading to prejudice and discrimination directed against somebody from a different race‘.
Racial superiority or racism has always been a component of the West, trying to portray itself as superior and ahead of the east, & this exists even in the present world order. But along with this ‘race‘ is the more important & the bigger driving factor in the debate surrounding Covid-19 today.
The West’s and particularly USA’s already anti-China stance, moves many steps ahead, with the moral bashing of China at G7, G20 and UN Security Council on the responsibility for Covid 19, due to delaying decisions; calling Coronavirus every now and then a ‘foreign‘ virus, the ‘Chinese virus’ and ‘Wuhan virus‘. It constantly reminds China and the world that it is China’s responsibility that the world is amid not only the worst health crisis but also economic havoc.
Europe, the USA, and most of the developed world is both scared and sceptical of China getting ahead in the ‘race‘, monopolising over the medical equipment markets of masks, ventilators & PPEs, & capturing the pharmaceutical market of the world as well, due to the edge it has gained through research and development in combating Covid-19.
The ‘race‘ is to constrain the Chinese competition to the USA’s technological supremacy over 5G, advanced surveillance, artificial intelligence, and robotics with military applications.
Both the meanings of ‘race‘ are pertinent and portrayable right now, especially because unlike Zhou En-lai’s or Deng Xiaoping’s era, contemporary Chinese leadership and diplomacy refrain from keeping a low profile about China’s development and contribution to the world. This is established by the overtly assertive rhetoric and backlash by the younger generations of Chinese diplomats on social media, infused with less pragmatism & more nationalistic fervor, counterattacking their western counterparts after every attack on the Chinese system or its sovereignty.
In this ‘race‘ China’s help and aid to east European states, Italy, Iran, and even Russia at this hour of crisis, has been called by the West as soft power diplomacy.
It is this ‘fighting spirit‘ of the younger generation of the Chinese, inculcated by President Xi’s leadership and also China’s tactful changes over time, in the handling of its diplomacy and foreign policy, which is making this economic ‘race’ for the Chinese people more nationalistic (read racist).