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White House must concentrate on fighting outbreak, not China-bashing

By Chen Weihua | China Daily | Updated: 2020-04-24 07:31
US President Donald Trump addresses his administration's daily coronavirus task force briefing at the White House in Washington, March 20, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

The White House press briefing on the novel coronavirus pandemic is supposed to be a time to inform and rally the American people in the fight against the virus, which has infected more people and claimed more lives in the United States than any other country.

However, that is not the case. The briefing has increasingly become a campaign rally ahead of the presidential election in November, including regular China-bashing to spread misinformation.

For example, the US leader claimed on Tuesday that US trade deficit with China used to be as high as $500 billion, which he said meant the US was losing $500 billion to China.

The US goods and services trade deficit with China, according to US government data, was $381 billion in 2018. Even if US goods imports from China stood at $540 billion, the US didn't just give China that amount for nothing. In return, it received large quantities of computers, cell phones, apparel, toys, sports goods and furniture, just to name a few items.

On Saturday, the US leader claimed that China is providing the US with several billion dollars in tariffs, saying that Chinese, not Americans, are paying the tariffs he imposed on Chinese goods entering the US.However, Goldman Sachs and many US economists have said that the cost of such tariffs has fallen "entirely" on US businesses and households.

According to Chad Bown, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, the new tariffs have disrupted medical supplies critical to the US' fight against the coronavirus outbreak.

While these are old lies, the US leader did make a new and shocking statement on April 17 that the US doesn't have the most COVID-19 cases and deaths. He said most cases and deaths have in the world have to be in China because it's a massive country.

But we all know that the numbers of cases and deaths are not necessarily proportional to the size of a country's population. They have much to do with the containment and mitigation measures taken to fight the pandemic.

Compared with the US', China's measures have been far more decisive, stringent and effective.

That said, it is highly immoral for a national leader to wish there were more sick and dead people in another country.

On the same day when asked by a reporter about whether the novel coronavirus escaped from a Wuhan lab, the US leader said, "a lot of people are looking at it. It seems to make sense".

A national leader floating such a conspiracy theory on live TV is again shocking and immoral. Many scientists, governments and institutions, such as the World Health Organization, have made it clear that the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 originated in nature, not in a lab.

An NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll released on Sunday showed that 52 percent of respondents in the US said they generally do not trust the president about the virus, while just 36 percent said they do.

That trust seems still high given that a report in The Washington Post on April 14 said that as of April 3, the 1,170th day the US leader in office, he had made 18,000 false or misleading claims, an average of more than 15 a day.

It is sad to see China-bashing becoming a regular part of the White House briefing on the pandemic. It is high time the US leader focused his mind and resources on fighting the pandemic instead of indulging in China-bashing in a bid to divert attention from the criticism he has been inviting for mishandling the outbreak. Such distraction will only make it harder for the US to flatten the curve.

The author is chief of China Daily EU Bureau based in Brussels.
chenweihua@chinadaily.com.cn

  
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