Trump’s racist tweet another attempt to deflect blame

Source:Global Times Published: 2020/3/17 17:33:40

US President Donald Trump standing with members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force team, speaks during a press briefing in the press briefing room of the White House on Sunday in Washington, DC. Photo:  AFP

Editor's Note:

With the COVID-19 outbreak in full swing in the US, President Donald Trump had the temerity to call it "the Chinese Virus" on Twitter on Tuesday. Labeling a virus to reference to a country, region or people contradicts long-held principles of the World Health Organization (WHO). What prompted Trump to utter such reckless words? What are the likely consequences and fallout of his remarks? The Global Times interviewed two Chinese experts for their opinions. 

Dong Chunling, a scholar with the Institute of American Studies of the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations

The WHO has named the disease caused by the novel coronavirus COVID-19. So far, it is not exactly clear where the virus came from. The virus is a biosafety threat facing all humanity. 

Trump has three intentions for labeling the virus the "Chinese Virus." Firstly, he wants to shift blame. By concealing his country's domestic conflicts within an external crisis and by exploiting racial conflicts to hide its domestic problems, such as poor management in epidemic prevention and control and an economic downturn, Trump is using China as a scapegoat.

This has been a habitual thinking - conflating the decline of US influence and various domestic woes with unrelated issues in China.

Secondly, Trump's mind-set is focused on major power rivalry and his "America First" doctrine, rather than the life and safety of US people. Instead of adopting a cooperative attitude, his priority remains to strategically contain China.

Thirdly, at a time when the virus is spreading rapidly around the world, Trump wants to fan international opinion and hype and create another wave of the so-called China threat.

Trump's insulting words on Twitter do not merely represent his own ideas. They are a reflection of a serious diplomatic fiasco. In smearing the image of another country, he is stirring discrimination and hatred. His remarks will lead to harm and unequal treatment of overseas Chinese and other Asians, and cast a shadow over international unity in fighting the deadly virus.

Ni Feng, a deputy director of the Institute of American Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

COVID-19 is spreading in the US, and the country's current economic situation is deteriorating rapidly. Trading on the US stock market was again halted after opening on Monday, when the third circuit breaker within a week was triggered by wild fluctuations. 

Obviously, such a situation is having a very serious impact on the US and on Trump himself. By referring to the "Chinese Virus," Trump is passing the buck to China that he thinks was solely responsible for the grim situation in the US. China and the US have been arguing over the exact origin of the COVID-19, and Trump's disparaging remark takes the dispute to the final level. 

Trump's statement will impose a very negative impact on China-US cooperation on epidemic prevention. It may even exacerbate other confrontations between the two countries. Judging from recent statements from some US politicians, it now seems all but inevitable that China and the US will accelerate decoupling.

Trump's racist remarks have set the tone of discussion in the US. Chinese people in the US will encounter even more serious discrimination. As the public opinion war between China and the US has been escalating, the president's remarks serve to add fuel to the fire. As the epidemic spreads in the US, Trump is inciting hostility against China. 

Right now, the 2020 presidential election is one of the most important matters for Trump. If Trump cannot cope with the current grim situation, he may not be re-elected. This explains why Trump previously praised China's approach, but suddenly called COVID-19 "the Chinese Virus." US people are now most concerned about the epidemic and the economic situation. Trump's responses to both have been problematic. He is now trying to pass the blame to the "Chinese Virus" in the hope that American voters will believe he has been doing a great job.

The spread of the epidemic in the US will continue for some time. Whether the emergency measures in the US will be effective remains to be seen. While the outbreak has become unavoidable in the US, Trump is deflecting attention by trying to provoke the American people's hatred of China. This will only hinder the US to fight against the epidemic.

Posted in: VIEWPOINT

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