As the virus escaped from China, it was followed by an epidemic of the language of superpower competition.
An early symptom was the widespread use of the word ‘geopolitics’. It meant western politicians and commentators were thinking of China as a threat, and that Chinese leaders responded with indignant assertions of their national interest.
Thus the newspapers have been filled with compound nouns, as they discuss the geopolitical tensions, contest, tussle, conflict, context, landscape, situation, implications, problems, temperatures; and even in one case ‘an international geopolitical reset’.
It was not just the Chinese government’s initial secrecy about the outbreak of a new virus in Wuhan that triggered the outbreak of Cold War jargon. Its renewed sabre-rattling over Taiwan, the clashes on the Indian border and the new security law in Hong Kong came in quick succession, and revived earlier concerns about human rights in Xinjiang and Tibet.