Trump weirdly shifts COVID-19 blame to China

By Li Hong Source: Global Times Published: 2020/10/8 22:00:27

The White House Photo: Xinhua

US President Donald Trump issued a short video clip from the White House on Wednesday, in which he again shifted his administration's poor COVID-19 response to someone else. 

Like before, recklessly launching his signature "trade war" against China in 2018, Trump, who was just released from a military medical center after being infected with COVID-19 himself, threatened in the video that China will "pay a big price for what they've done" to the US. 

Under his watch, more than 7.45 million Americans have been infected, of which 210,000 have died, making the US one of the worst inflicted countries by COVID-19 in the world. 

In sharp contrast, countries near China - Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Thailand - have done a significantly better job in prevention and control of the coronavirus, mainly due to those governments' effective leadership. 

China - suffering the world's first attack of COVID-19 - has now basically eliminated the coronavirus. Tens of millions of Chinese people have been on holiday from October 1 for the National Day holiday, making up for their loss of the last long holiday (in late January) because of a strict nationwide shutdown ordered by the Chinese government. 

China saw two "second-waves" of the coronavirus in Beijing and Xinjiang in the second quarter of this year, but they were quickly put out after the government fought the outbreaks head-on, including using measures such as neighborhoods shutdowns, widespread coronavirus testing, quarantining of all close contacts, and medical resource pooling to cure the infected. 

On the other hand, the Trump administration's response has been baffling and weird. 

In February, when his government should have prepared for COVID-19 to begin its onslaught in the US, Trump played down the potential risks, saying to Americans that the coronavirus "is a hoax". As a result, his administration was caught off guard, suffering severe shortages of all types of medical equipment, from face masks, shield gowns and glasses, respirators to COVID-19 test kits. 

From May to June, when his federal government should have enforced a strict nationwide shutdown to cut off the spread and isolate infected persons and their close contacts - the most effective way to combat a contagious disease -, Trump pushed for a premature "reopening" of the US economy, because a recession would deal his re-election chance a great blow.

For a time, Trump even called for his hardline supporters to "liberate" their own states, those of which are led by Democrat governors. A reversal of policies caused catastrophic results, and the world witnessed the average daily number of infections in the US skyrocket to more than 57,000 in July and August. The country's death toll also shot up during these months.  

President Trump himself has been unpredictable and erratic during the year. He refuted science, sidelining top American infectious disease specialist Dr. Anthony Fauci, and even promoted the mindboggling idea that infected COVID-19 patients should drink disinfectant to kill the virus on national live TV.

Trump has also ignored social distancing and mask rules, holding large gatherings in the White House, which has resulted in the building becoming a hot spot of COVID-19. After walking out of a military hospital where he received perhaps the best treatment on earth, he tweeted that Americans should not "be afraid of" the disease, even as thousands die in the US. 

Chinese people have become accustomed to the Trump administration's aggressively blunt language, like making Beijing "pay a big price" for the virus. With the US presidential election drawing closer, it should be expected that more of this type of rhetoric will come from the White House. 

The Trump government will also likely ratchet up its ongoing "trade and technology war" against China. But a so-called "decoupling" of the two largest economies is certainly a double-edge sword, hurting both countries in the end. The higher tariffs on Chinese goods imposed by the Trump administration have already made the lives of ordinary Americans more difficult.

Nevertheless, China must be on high alert for any "October Surprises" as touted by Trump in his "desperate" attempts to win re-election. If such surprises are targeted at China, we ought to make sure that we are well prepared. 

The author is an editor with the Global Times.


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