Global observers denounce Trump administration’s reactions to COVID-19 as narrow nationalism

By Huang Lanlan Source:Global Times Published: 2020/3/17 12:19:01

Passenger with face mask is seen in a metro train in Manhattan of New York, the US, on March 4. Photo: Xinhua

Scholars and media from various countries have criticized the narrow-minded nationalism the Trump administration has shown in dealing with the deadly novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Just hours ago, Trump once again incorrectly labeled the virus the "Chinese Virus" in a tweet, after he retweeted conservative activist Charlie Kirk calling it the "China virus" last week, provoking widespread anger among netizens.

German newspaper Die Welt am Sonntag reported that Trump had offered a German firm developing a COVID-19 vaccine roughly $1 billion in exchange for exclusive access to the vaccine, which was later denied by the firm, CureVac, in a statement.

Nonetheless, an anonymous German government source was quoted by the newspaper as saying Trump would do anything to get a vaccine "only for the United States," according to Reuters.

Although the vaccine controversy is unclear, some US politicians' and opinion leaders' attitudes toward the virus and their measures to tackle it have revealed their selfishness and nationalism, said Li Haidong, a professor at the China Foreign Affairs University's Institute of International Relations.

The US travel ban covering 26 EU states which Trump announced in a speech on March 11 (local time), for instance, reflects his insistence on the "America First" agenda even in the face of a global health crisis, Li told the Global Times on Monday.

The US had already instituted travel restrictions on China. In his address, Trump blamed the EU for failing to take the same precautions by restricting travel from China and other countries hit by the virus.

Jamil Smith, a senior writer at Rolling Stone, criticized the travel ban by saying it "remains a nativist placebo" and "accomplishes very little beyond hurting people [Trump] couldn't care less about."

In his speech, Trump described the fight against COVID-19 as a battle against a "foreign virus," as though the country were resisting a foreign invasion.

It sounded "unreassuring and downright weird," the Guardian commented on March 12, quoting New Yorker staff writer Susan Glasser as saying the "militaristic, nationalistic language" of Trump's speech was striking.

Trump slandered China by beginning his March 11 speech with the claim that COVID-19 started in China, neglecting the fact that the exact origin of the virus remains unknown. Some senior Republican politicians were also reported to have blamed China for the pandemic by labeling it the "Chinese coronavirus."

Fox News host Jesse Watters even demanded China formally apologize for the novel coronavirus earlier this month, saying, "They (Chinese) are a very hungry people."

Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, slammed the host's racist remarks for his arrogance, prejudice, and ignorance toward China. "Did anyone demand an apology from the US for the 2009 H1N1 flu outbreak?" Zhao asked at a media briefing on March 5.

Narrow-minded nationalism contributes nothing to the US'containment efforts and will hurt its soft power and global influence in the long term, Li commented.

The Trump administration paid the virus little attention in the beginning, indirectly encouraging its spread inside the US, Li said. 

As more infections emerged and people began rushing to buy daily supplies like toilet paper, the country suddenly took extreme and inappropriate measures to protect Americans, he added.

"Trump is anxious to resolve the virus problem to win more votes in the upcoming presidential election," Li told the Global Times. "But unfortunately, the virus doesn't skip specific countries or races, nor does it skip those in power."

Posted in: AMERICAS

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