Info war against China on virus origins tracing can’t help US defeat virus
Published: Jul 27, 2021 07:33 PM
Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

The US is an expert in all kinds of warfare, including the armed, economic, and political. Regarding the last, political warfare can take different forms. One of the most striking forms of that is, of course, Information War - commonly referred to as Info War.

Given the contrast of national strengths between the two countries, US strategists rarely talk openly about an armed war with China. However, in the final months of his administration, when the US was hit by the coronavirus and the economic recession, Trump had no idea about how to deal with them. So he and his aides amplified political war with China, mainly with Info War.

It is not hard to understand why the Trump administration launched such an Info War against China. Looking back at the US response in the early days of the pandemic, we could clearly find the reason.

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19 outbreak a global health emergency on January 30, 2020 and called on countries around the world to respond seriously.

However, on the same day, just hours after the WHO announcement, then US secretary of commerce Wilbur Ross said the deadly coronavirus outbreak in China could be positive for the American economy. "I think it will help to accelerate the return of jobs to North America," Ross said in a Fox Business Network interview.

Ross was definitely not the only top US official to think that the virus could have a positive impact on the US economy. This could very well explain why the US government took few-to-zero measures to prepare for an outbreak in the US. 

The realities, however, do not match the expectations of these former senior US officials. When the epidemic was raging in the US, the US government could only try to calm the public's nerves by launching a large-scale Info War against China. The "best" way to cover up the Trump administration's anti-science and anti-human behavior was to accuse a Chinese laboratory of creating the virus.

Yet the facts are relentless: to date, more than 600,000 Americans have been killed by the virus.

President Biden is clearly different from Trump. But the question now is: With Biden now in office, why does he continue to keep up the Info War against China by citing the origins of the novel coronavirus? 

Biden's tone is slightly more moderate than Trump's and does not categorically point to Wuhan Institute of Virology as the origin of the virus. Instead, he asked US intelligence agencies to complete an "investigation" into whether the virus originated from the lab. It's really not that hard for people to see through the cunning move.

What's Biden's motivation? Observers believe that as a veteran politician, Biden is reluctant to see US "democracy" fail. China's unparalleled success in fighting and controlling COVID-19 has made many Americans feel the decline of their own political system. In addition to trying to solve America's many problems, Biden is trying to rebuild public confidence in US' own political system by smearing China's success with a sustained Info War.

I never doubted that Biden loves the US. He really wants to lead Americans to build back better. But I have to say that the most valuable capacity that Americans -- and Biden is no exception - are losing is the ability to reflect on their own political system. Using Info War to suppress China will certainly make Chinese people feel uncomfortable. But it will never stop China from development.

The WHO has already completed the first phase of the investigation into the origins of the novel coronavirus in China, and the data will undoubtedly be of great help to the global prevention. Unfortunately, there has never been such an investigation in the US, which has been hit very hard by the pandemic. If Biden has any sense of responsibility for the lives of the American people, he should immediately invite a team of WHO scientists to the US to do the research they have done in China.

Biden always says that his mission is to "Battle for the soul of America." We hope that the following notion will become part of the "soul of America": Viruses do not respect borders, and whatever Info War is waged, it can never defeat any virus.

The author is a research fellow on US studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn