Bloomberg Businessweek

The L o n g Reach of China’s United Front

Just after the lockdown of Wuhan in January, the same week the U.S. confirmed its first case of the novel coronavirus, Chinese civic organizations in dozens of countries on five continents began buying masks and other personal protective equipment. It was the beginning of an unprecedented humanitarian mobilization, orchestrated by the Chinese Communist Party’s United Front Work Department, to send PPE supplies to a China struggling with an epic public health crisis.

In Nagoya, Japan, volunteers drove to pharmacies and bought 520,000 masks in three days, according to an account carried by Xinhua, China’s official news agency. By Jan. 26, the head of a Chinese chamber of commerce in Toronto, just back from a trip to Beijing, started making calls to members telling them they needed to join the effort, the report said. Almost 100 people drove to Toronto—some

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