US blame game plotted for election

By Chen Qingqing and Zhao Yusha Source:Global Times Published: 2020/5/5 22:03:41

Republicans, Trump face uncertainties if COVID-19 continues worsening

US President Donald Trump speaks during a Coronavirus Task Force press briefing at the White House in Washington, DC, on Sunday. Photo: AFP

Diverting popular attention from a catastrophic US government failure in handling COVID-19 and adopting hardline rhetoric against China top the Republican Party's misguided and ultimately flawed agenda to win back voters for the November elections, Chinese analysts said on Tuesday.  

The experts noted that the Trump administration's strategies include scapegoating China, threatening a renewed trade war and floating coronavirus conspiracies in a campaign of accusations to achieve political goals that come at the expense of thousands of American lives. 

Tensions between the two largest economies in the world have escalated as the Republicans pass the buck to misdirect the American public and treat China as an enemy by crafting opinions to serve their own interests. 

As US President Donald Trump continued elevating China's "culpability" for epidemic, his administration is also reportedly mulling an initiative to remove global industrial supply chains from China and weighing new tariffs to renew a trade war. 

Part of the US-initiated trade war strategy under Trump is reportedly reducing US reliance on China and urging companies to move their production out of the country.

However, such whole government push came along at the time when Washington has been engaging in a so-called new Cold War with Beijing as American hawks constantly criticized China for what they said downplaying the impact of the COVID-19 and politicians like US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo insisted on groundless accusations that the virus originated in a laboratory in Wuhan, Central China's Hubei Province. 

"It is absolutely based on electioneering," Tom Fowdy, a British political and international relations analyst and a graduate of Durham and Oxford universities, told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

"The Trump administration long prized the economy as its greatest achievement and in a matter of weeks this has been completely wiped out by the COVID-19 pandemic, with the US facing its biggest slump since the Great Depression. 

"The administration has nothing else left to go on but to fan the flames of nationalist anger against China."

Re-election strategies 

The strategy to blame China for the COVID-19 outbreak began weeks ago in Washington and now has spread to the rest of the country, as GOP lawmakers in various states such as Wisconsin and Virginia have been following Trump's decision to focus his coronavirus anger on China, which is also part of pivot for his re-election team, US political news site Politico reported on Sunday. 

A series of attacks of the Trump administration has in the past few months collectively shaped its anti-China rhetoric including first calling COVID-19 the "Chinese virus" and seeking compensation from China for the pandemic after alleging the virus came from a Wuhan lab, which turned out to be an unproven conspiracy theory. 

US politicians have repeatedly politicized the disease to stigmatized other countries with a lousy cliché of claiming compensation, say Chinese analysts. The US was diverting attention from its own incompetence fighting the pandemic, they said.

While Washington blamed Beijing for delaying response to the COVID-19 and lacking of transparency on information disclosure, more evidences emerged showing that the misconduct of the US government would be too big to conceal. After US media reported that a woman died from the COVID-19 on February 6 in California, Michael Melham, mayor of Belleville of New Jersey, said he tested positive for coronavirus antibodies and believed he was sick with the virus in November — more than a month before doctors in China first reported cases of the new disease, local news site reported on April 30. 

Some scientists in Europe and the US have dismissed floating conspiracy theories highlighted by US politicians. 

Anthony Fauci, the scientific face of America's pandemic response, told an interview with National Geographic published on Monday that "the best evidence shows the virus behind the pandemic was not made in a lab in China." 

"The Trump administration is in election mode. Given the disastrous mismanagement in containing the virus, Trump is in dire need of a suspect to blame in order to divert from himself," Bjorn Nashan, professor of Surgery Director Clinic of Hepato-pancreatico-biliary Surgery and Transplantation, First Affiliated Hospital, University of Science and Technology of China, in Anhui, told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

"That's at least the major view in the West and Europe outside the US," he said. 

Despite COVID-19 not yet under control, the White House was looking to reopen the US economy, the New York Times reported on Monday. 

But an internal report suggested that the daily death toll could reach about 3,000 on June 1, reflecting a steady rise in number of coronavirus cases and deaths, the paper reported. 

Daily new cases would surge to about 25,000 to 200,000, the report said. As the first country to see confirmed cases surpass 1 million, the US has many people wondering if the situation is out of control, according to Chinese analysts. 

Washington's efforts to scapegoat China would continue, but won't save lives, they noted.

Trump's baseless accusations against China will keep heating up as the election approaches, Diao Daming, a US studies expert at Renmin University of China in Beijing, told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

"He want to create the impression of a new round of Cold War between China and the US on American people, and project public's lingering memory of this tense history on hatred toward China," Diao said. 

Public dissatisfaction toward Trump's missteps in handling COVID-19 did not surpass that toward him during the past three years; in fact, over 80 to 90 percent Americans worried about the economic recession that follows, the analyst noted. "If the pandemic continuously exerts pressure on employment, pushing the unemployment rate to 16 percent or even higher, it means the US will face another Great Depression, which will be an unprecedented challenge for Trump, and will propel him to go at full throttle scapegoating China to build the latter as an enemy for the US," he said. 

Growing uncertainties 

While some reports suggested the Trump team was now working to make the 2020 presidential campaign a race between Democrats and Republicans to see who would adopt a tougher stance on China, Chinese analysts suggested there are growing uncertainties as the US society has become more divided when the pandemic worsens.

The US and its economy suffered the most severe contraction in more than a decade in the first quarter, and since mid-March, more than 26 million people in the US have filed for unemployment, according to media reports. 

To gain support from those voters in swing states, Trump needs to effectively contain the pandemic by November, which would become a crucial factor in influencing his re-election, Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations of the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

"All of his attacks against China serve the goal of being re-elected. If he can't change the current miserable situation, all those moves will end up in vein," he said.

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