President Donald Trump’s repeated and deliberate use of the clearly racist term “Chinese virus” is another demonstration of the disorderly state of his administration. The administration has no good way to control the coronavirus pandemic or stabilize the stock market, so instead it rampantly escalates the conflict with China. This is an attempt to evade an investigation by the American people into the administration’s incompetence and establish China as a target for American frustration.
Before this, Trump remained quite calm and did not blame China for this pandemic. It was mainly Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and members of Congress who repeatedly attacked China. However, in recent days, the pandemic has spread more rapidly, creating an embarrassing situation for President Trump, who has repeatedly said the risk in America was very low. U.S. stocks have fallen off a cliff, triggering repeated halts in trading and destroying Trump’s claim that he has achieved economic success, something he is relying on as part of his reelection campaign. President Trump is panicking.
Some people think a March 12 tweet by Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian was intended to raise questions about U.S. action, including the possibility that American military forces brought the coronavirus to Wuhan last October, which angered Trump. However, we believe that Lijian was simply asking the U.S. for an explanation. In addition, Zhao posted from his personal Twitter account and did not repeat the remarks from his official diplomatic account. This is not the same as Pompeo and others using the terms “Wuhan virus” or “Chinese virus” to attack China.
President Trump joined in the attacks on China, criticizing the Chinese Foreign Ministry, which Twitter accounts reported as having thrown a fit. At least part of this attack was planned ahead of time. In this way, Trump can shift the blame and make Americans hate China rather than acknowledge the flaws in his own government.
Some Republican lawmakers and radical enemies of China have leveraged the U.S. media to help the Trump administration, demanding that China take responsibility for America’s current losses. These lawmakers have presented a variety of ridiculous proposals, including a plan to sue the Chinese government for damages.
Without question, Washington’s blaming of China is an act of political hooliganism. Currently among world leaders, only Trump and Pompeo have used the phrases “China virus” and “Wuhan virus.” Moreover, Trump is trying to blame China for his own inadequate preventive measures. The World Health Organization clearly opposes linking the virus to a specific country or region. The outbreaks in many countries in Europe and Asia are more severe than that in the U.S., yet to this day, no one else has blamed China. On the contrary, China has made significant sacrifices to bring the epidemic under control, struggling to give the world more time. This is WHO’s official position, which has hardly created any controversy outside of the U.S.
An increasing number of countries now approve of China’s containment methods, and are drawing lessons from China’s experience. China’s success in containing the pandemic in phases has inspired countries currently facing difficulty. Although China experienced setbacks early on, it has increasingly become a positive example. China faced increasing criticism only in Washington.
Some of the U.S. political elite are not only consumed with geopolitical thinking, but their ideas about China and the rest of the world have been severely distorted. When China was ravaged by the pandemic, these elites stayed relatively calm and even offered some of the kind sentiment appropriate for these trying times. But when they saw the situation in China was improving, and saw that the challenge of fighting the pandemic moved to their own country, they immediately lost all sense of refinement and became hysterical. In a word, they felt that other people could not be doing well, especially not better than they were doing.
From the start, President Trump has been inconsistent. Not long ago, he praised China’s containment of the pandemic and thanked China for its cooperation in sharing information with the U.S. In the blink of an eye, his attitude changed. He not only emphasized how accurate the term “Chinese virus” is, but also complained that China did not notify the U.S. about the virus sooner.
We have reason to believe that the critical state of the pandemic in the U.S. and the risk of continuous stock market blowouts has prompted the Trump administration to treat blaming China as an important strategy for its response to the crisis. Because the U.S. government is incapable of implementing effective containment strategies, it has embraced the dishonest practice of blaming China in order to absolve itself of responsibility.
We caution the U.S. government that this practice is dangerous. The U.S. must use its intellect to launch an organized fight against the epidemic. The technique of shifting blame will only result in self-deception, and in the end, the American people will not be fooled. The more that emphasis is placed on the China factor, the more the American people will be able clearly see the whole picture. They may be more determined to ask the White House the following question: While all of China fought the epidemic in order to buy the rest of the world more time to prepare, what exactly was the U.S. doing? Who reassured us that there was little risk, that people did not have to worry?