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Special Feature

Covid-19 Care Circuits: The Chinese Transnational State, Its Diaspora, and Beyond

Maggi W. H. Leung
p. 29-37


This paper examines the notions, politics, and practice of care that have characterised the transnational Chinese state during the Covid-19 pandemic. Drawing on policy and media analyses, participant observation, and qualitative interviews with 21 Chinese people in the Netherlands, the paper maps out three care circuits: from the diaspora to China, from China to the diaspora, and from China to the world. The findings show how the pandemic has offered a stage for emotional ties, patriotism, and moral responsibility to be played out, cultivated, and contested. These in turn have an impact on the economic and political agendas of the transnational Chinese state.

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Editor’s notes

Manuscript received on 21 December 2021. Accepted on 7 November 2022.


Full text document will be published online on December 2023.


Care in diaspora-homeland relationships
Care circuit I: Donations from the diaspora to China
Care circuit II: From the Chinese state to the diaspora
Care circuit III: Chinese aid to friends in the world

First lines


“The Chinese Community in Zimbabwe Actively Make Donations to Wuhan.”

“Chinese Embassy Provides Health Packs to Chinese Students in Britain.”

“Spotlight: As China Recovers from Covid-19 Blow, Chinese Rush to Europe’s Rescue.”

The three news headlines above illustrate some of the care flows that marked the changing contours of the transnational Chinese state in the course of the Covid-19 pandemic. When the pandemic began in Wuhan, Overseas Chinese, voluntarily or mobilised by the Chinese state, crowdfunded to send medical supplies to the vulnerable homeland. As the pandemic panned out globally, the Chinese state, assuming the role of a benevolent motherland, evolved to become a source of care for its diaspora. “Corona care” was also quickly built into China’s international cooperation agenda. The Chinese practised “coronavirus diplomacy” through delivering health care materials and personnel to friendship states in need. The shifting nature and directionality of care offers ...

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Bibliographical reference

Maggi W. H. Leung, Covid-19 Care Circuits: The Chinese Transnational State, Its Diaspora, and BeyondChina Perspectives, 2022/04 | 2022, 29-37.

Electronic reference

Maggi W. H. Leung, Covid-19 Care Circuits: The Chinese Transnational State, Its Diaspora, and BeyondChina Perspectives [Online], 2022/04 | 2022, Online since 01 December 2023, connection on 01 April 2023. URL:; DOI:

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About the author

Maggi W. H. Leung

Maggi W. H. Leung is Professor of international development studies in the Governance and Inclusive Development Group of the Department of Geography, Planning, and International Development Studies at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. Nieuwe Achtergracht 166, 1018 WV Amsterdam, the Netherlands (

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