Author: Li Qingsi (Deputy Director, Renmin University of China U.S. Research Center and Research Fellow, National Academy of Development and Strategy)
As of May 18, the U.S. has accumulated over 1.5 million cases of COVID-19 and 92,000 deaths. Its outbreak is the most severe in the world. Although the situation in New York City, once the epicenter of the outbreak, has already begun to improve, 35 states are showing signs of growing outbreaks. No one is certain when the outbreak in the U.S. will truly begin to subside. In the midst of this dangerous pandemic, the U.S. government has hastily announced that it will soon fully reopen, resuming production and returning to normalcy. It’s no surprise that in reaction to this news, the U.S. media has issued a shocking message: The U.S. government is using the pandemic to legally kill people.
In reality, it’s well known that with the world’s greatest financial resources, most advanced medical treatments and top-ranking medical capabilities, the U.S. absolutely has the capability to bring the COVID-19 pandemic under control. However, the problem is that the White House’s primary concern right now is the election, not treatment of the outbreak. To make sense of that response, it helps to take a closer look at who is dying. In terms of skin color, the outbreak has primarily affected black and Latino people. For social class, it is mainly those of the lowest classes. And in terms of age, it has primarily harmed older adults, who are retired and have no ability to work; deaths are particularly concentrated in retirement homes, for example. In contrast, there have been very few COVID-19 infections among the wealthy and elite, apart from a few unlucky cases. In light of this, there have been angry criticisms from the public, saying that the U.S. government is using the pandemic to eliminate “useless” groups to optimize the makeup of the population.
Although the United States’ numbers of confirmed cases and deaths far exceeds those of other countries, public backlash has not been very strong. It is not hard to understand why. One factor is that lower class marginalized groups already have a diminished voice. Another is that American leaders are skilled at scaring their citizens. They claim that originally 2.2 million people could have died, so 100,000 deaths can be considered a victory. Presenting the outbreak in this way makes it seem like the White House’s response has been effective. Of course, although Republican politicians are experts in brainwashing and psychological warfare, the Democrats are likewise experts at molding public opinion, and the pandemic has provided them with plenty of ammunition to retaliate. Joe Biden, in particular, has benefited; the Democratic candidate has taken the lead in some polls. This has pushed the Republican Party to double its efforts, concerned that more American voters will shift to the Democrats’ side. As a result, some U.S. politicians have become focused on politically manipulating the pandemic and carefully devising a plan for transforming the disaster caused by lackluster pandemic response measures into a political tool. On April 30, a 57-page Republican campaign memorandum summarized all of the tactics for blaming the severity of the United States’ outbreak on China. It suggested that Republican candidates criticize the Democrats for being too easy on China, and pledge to make China cover the losses for the disease’s spread in the U.S. The memorandum then became the guidebook for statements and actions used to shift the blame onto China, such as clamoring for China to be held accountable and pay reparations. The White House has also ordered all officials to criticize China, without exception.
Consequently, the likes of Mike Pompeo, Peter Navarro and Steve Bannon have made great effort to shift blame onto China. Pompeo has repeatedly publicly slandered China to an extreme degree. Pompeo, who has been called the worst secretary of state in history by U.S. media, comes from a Central Intelligence Agency background. He proudly said in front of U.S. college students that lying, cheating and stealing are the American secrets to success. The White House director of trade and manufacturing policy, Navarro has always been prejudiced against China. He falsely claimed to the media that China hid behind the World Health Organization as it concealed the virus and hoarded personal protective equipment for profit. This kind of deliberate misrepresentation is an enormous insult to China’s diligent support for other countries, including the U.S., in the global fight against the pandemic. As for Bannon, he sees China as an enemy; maliciously vilifying China is simply part of his nature. These people try to make use of all kinds of diplomatic settings to slander and attack China, isolate China from the international community, throttle Chinese growth and eliminate the supposed threat against the United States’ global first-place position. U.S. politicians have created and propagated political viruses: stigmatization, calls to hold China accountable, calls to seek reparations. These not only massively harm the international community’s united efforts against the pandemic and U.S.-China relations, they also turn the health and well-being of many U.S. lower class citizens into a bargaining chip used to gamble for political gains.
Stigmatizing China, politicizing the pandemic, and labeling the virus are no more than ploys in some U.S. politicians’ strategy to suppress China. However, what’s embarrassing for them is that many countries, including the U.S., have conscientious medical experts who have proven, through objective and solid scientific research, that the COVID-19 virus could not be man-made. These American politicians’ disparaging claims that Chinese labs created and released the virus are utter unscientific lies.
To the American people who have been caught up in a terrible outbreak, the government and people of China sympathize, and offer aid with the utmost sincerity. As of May 5, China has supplied the U.S. with over 6.6 billion masks, 344 million pairs of surgical gloves, 44 million protective suits, 6.75 million pairs of protective goggles, and almost 7,500 ventilators altogether, vigorously supporting every U.S. state’s pandemic response.
The international community can clearly see that the U.S. government was unprepared to face the pandemic, and its response has been ineffective, leading the pandemic to worsen day by day. In this time of crisis, the U.S. not only shifted the blame onto China, its strategic competitor, it even openly and covertly seized medical supplies from its allies. Its self-praise is incompatible with its selfish behavior. The United States’ halo of democracy, freedom and human rights has lost its luster.
The buck stops with these U.S. politicians; they can’t pass their own faults off onto others.
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