Trump stops using term ‘Chinese virus' showing he needs China more as pandemic worsens: experts

By Chen Qingqing, Zhao Yusha and Li Aixin Source:Global Times Published: 2020/3/25 12:38:40 Last Updated: 2020/3/25 16:34:44

US President Donald Trump (center) on February 26 appoints Vice President Mike Pence to oversee the country’s response to the novel coronavirus outbreak. Photos: CNS photo

In an abrupt shift, US President Donald Trump has stopped using the term "Chinese virus' as he understands how much he will lose if the war of words and the blame game continue, which won't help resolve the worsening pandemic situation in the US, analysts said.

Instead of being an open-minded politician, Trump has a native cunning while always being calculating, and is now trying to ease tensions with China to win some support for fighting the pandemic and gaining political points, analysts said. 

After days of maliciously referring to the novel coronavirus as "Chinese virus," Trump was harshly criticized by medical experts, officials and Asian Americans in the US for using a term that was inaccurate and stigmatizing.

In an interview with Fox News, Trump said, "We shouldn't make any more of a big deal out of it," promising to stop using the term that has sparked hatred and fueled global xenophobia.

For shrewd businessmen like Trump, ceasing to call it "Chinese virus" only mean he sees that the cost of using such a racist term outweighs the benefits, said Shen Yi, an associate professor of international politics at Fudan University in Shanghai. 

The US president was unable to shift blame on China for his own government's failure in dealing with the virus, and instead lost the support of US voters, which caused him much more pain amid the outbreak, Shen told the Global Times.

Labeling the coronavirus as Chinese is now widely seen as Trump's tactic to hide his administration's lack of prevention and control measures against the coronavirus, which has resulted in more than 55,000 infection cases in the US. Chinese observers and officials said that Trump's intention was to pass the buck to China, trying to prove that he is not responsible for the current situation the US is facing.

However, blaming China won't help him solve the problem, especially when the US is facing mounting pressure in dealing with shortages of hospital beds, nucleic test kits, protective gear for doctors and masks for ordinary citizens, leading to the healthcare system being overwhelmed, analysts said.

Trump is seeking help from other countries in dealing with the shortage of supplies due to his lack of preparedness, and he now needs China more than ever from a realistic perspective, as China is also one of the largest manufacturers of medical equipment in the world, said Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations of China Foreign Affairs University.

"Seeking cooperation with China is an urgent and practical task for the Trump administration," Li told the Global Times, noting that this has forced him to change his attitude overnight.

However, Chinese analysts warned that it would be too naïve to think that the US will stop containing China, as more rational voices have emerged during the escalating war of words between the two countries, which has helped Washington understand where Beijing's bottom-line is.

With Washington constantly waging a smear campaign against China, Beijing has not spared its efforts in taking countermeasures against it and combating its anti-China conspiracy theories. A series of merciless counterattack measures has helped the US recognize its rivalry, as well as its own weaknesses and loopholes, Chinese analysts said.

"The US will only learn to be more sensible next time when playing the blame game against China," Shen told the Global Times.



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