US scapegoats China for own COVID-19 failure: expert

By Zhao Yusha and Yang Sheng Source:Global Times Published: 2020/3/8 23:46:12 Last Updated: 2020/3/9 10:36:04

Pompeo’s blame game aims to incite anti-China sentiment, shift attention

A notice showing "facial masks are out of stock" is seen on a door of a pharmacy in New York, US, February 29, 2020. Photo: Xinhua

Chinese experts said on Sunday that while the US scrambles to deal with surging COVID-19 infection cases, its government has sought to scapegoat China to shift blame even as Beijing's achievements in containing the outbreak have earned international recognition.

Such tricks of the US politicians will backfire, the experts predicted, as internet users from both countries decried the blame game as an attempted diversionary tactic to stoke anti-China sentiment within the country. 

COVID-19, also known as the novel coronavirus, appeared to have ignited fresh tensions between China and the US when US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused China on CNBC Friday of being opaque with data-sharing, and blamed China for being the origin of the virus. 

China's strict prevention measures and "timely information-sharing" with WHO and other countries had brought the US at least one month to prepare for a possible outbreak, said Shen Yi, director at the Research Center for Cyberspace Governance, at Fudan University in Shanghai.

Chinese experts said the US government had ignored the warnings and was woefully ill-prepared for an outbreak. Washington was irresponsibly trying to shift the blame to China and if the US fails to stop the virus spreading within its country, it would be an enemy of all humanity, they said.

Pompeo Friday used the phrase "Wuhan virus" in the CNBC interview and said that "Remember, this is the Wuhan coronavirus that caused this." 

Such rhetoric was "not only offensive and divisive, but a waste of time that could cost lives, when the origin of the virus still remains mysterious," Lü Xiang, a research fellow on US studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, told the Global Times on Sunday. 

The Chinese experts said Pompeo's "blame game" cast a shadow on global cooperation fighting the virus and jeopardized US prevention efforts and measures. 

They agreed the US intended to incite anti-China sentiment in other countries so that if efforts containing the virus were flawed, the blame fell on China. 

But many US-based internet users decried the blame game on Twitter and some suggested that Chinese data was transparent and open on Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention website or available via Alipay app. 

"The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) removed the coronavirus cases tested in the US from its website," Twitter user C.A Clay from Los Angeles, California, told the Global Times via Twitter message.

"Maybe our leaders should give us answers about the lack of transparency in our country before pointing the figure at others."

A Chinese web user commented on China's Twitter-like social media network Sina Weibo that "US politicians were insulting and smearing China at the very beginning, and when they can't handle the problem properly and get criticized by their own people, they are blaming China to save their could these shameless US politicians survive from COVID-19 crisis without China?"

Chinese observers and internet users pointed out the disorderly and chaotic US prevention measures and its fragmented public health system.

Many asserted that the US officials were trying to mislead the public into believing the outbreak was not serious so as to soothe the stock market and secure votes.

The US had at least 400 confirmed cases and 19 deaths as of Saturday, according to US CDC statistics. 

Twenty-one out of 3,500 passengers tested positive for the coronavirus on the Grand Princess cruise ship, USA Today reported on Sunday. Authorities will begin to allow guests to disembark on Monday, the report said.

A cluster of coronavirus cases was found among the roughly 2,500 people who had taken an earlier cruise on the same ship. One of those passengers, a 71-year-old man, has since died of the virus, said US media. Officials are now tracking down those people who might also have been exposed to the virus.

Some of those disembarked only found they may be infected after seeing news reports of the infection cluster on the cruise ship.

Also the US ill preparation at early stage resulted to skyrocketing price of face mask, sanitizer and other protective materials, which soared 582 percent after panic-buying from US public, media reported.

Despite the Diamond Princess disaster, the US was letting passengers disembark from the Grand Princess at such a short notice that would possibly give rise to more infection cases on US soil, said Shen.

The US was among the first batch of countries to suspend flight to and from China, Shen said. 

"But other than that, it did very little to prepare, and took no lesson from other countries' experience of fighting the virus," he said.

Experts expressed concern about the large gatherings of voters for Super Tuesday.

The political struggle over the country's coronavirus testing ability has drawn mistrust and criticism from international society. 

US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar maintained on Friday that the administration was not in the midst of a coronavirus test kit shortage, contradicting a warning issued two days ago by Vice President Mike Pence that the country did not have enough kits to meet public demand. 


Bloomberg News published an article Friday alleging that Chinese state media was reveling in US virus missteps in a move designed to win back trust for its own officials. 

But in Shen's opinion, as US officials sat idly with the countries on the verge of an outbreak, they wasted no time throwing mud at China. 

Such "sour grapes" rhetoric was the mainstream voice prevailing in the US media, such as Bloomberg and the New York Times, Shen said.

This reflected extreme US arrogance that believes Western countries trump everything compared with non-Western countries, he noted. With such a mentality, any criticism from China seems intolerable for certain Americans and a blow to their proud but fragile ego, Shen opined.

 But what Chinese state media meant, Shen asserted, was to remind the US to draw lessons from other countries' experiences, avoid repeating other's mistakes in virus prevention and so help save more lives.  For the US, the truth was that China's strict measures, which they decried as draconian, have "won," Shen said, and that was more than they could take. 

So the US launched its "propaganda machine," Shen said, trying to deploy value and ideology to dim China's efforts and achievements. "By warning them, we cared only about saving lives, but they were afraid their supremacy was under attack," Shen said. 

The US public was paying the price for its government and media's arrogance, he concluded.

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