Trump Blames Beijing for Covid-19 as US China Relations Spiral

The Covid-19 pandemic continues to deepen the turmoil in China US relations.  While US intelligence agencies concluded that Covid-19 was “not man-made or genetically modified”, President Trump kept pushing the theory that it’s linked to a Wuhan virus lab, and threatened China with fresh tariffs. Chinese officials and media complained that a “political virus” has swept America, which blames Beijing for everything. China “is neither the former Soviet Union, nor intent on becoming the next America,” argued Fu Ying. This article is a summary of important China US news in April 2020.

China will do anything they can to have me lose this race,” said Trump of the November election. Economic adviser Larry Kudlow denied a report that the administration had considered cancelling some debt held by China, but multiple government agencies have been meeting to discuss retaliatory measures.

The pandemic makes the “decoupling” of the US and Chinese economies a more realistic prospect, said American companies in China. Analyst Minxin Pei warned that it “may well lock the US and China into a vicious cycle of escalation, leading directly to full-blown conflict”.

US businesses, individuals and a state government have all filed Covid-19 related lawsuits in US federal courts holding Beijing liable for deaths and damages. US government mishandling could make Chinese companies and associations file lawsuits against the US government for compensation, retorted the Global Times. Trump warned China should face consequences if it was “knowingly responsible” for the pandemic. Secretary of state Pompeo accused China of destroying coronavirus samples and bullying its neighbours.

President Trump isn’t buying China’s still remarkably low numbers. And he endorsed the theory that the coronavirus escaped from a Wuhan laboratory. Pompeo said the virus lab was close to the wet market and demanded: “The Chinese government needs to come clean.” China said there is no scientific evidence for such claims.

China’s ambassador to the US called for a “serious rethinking” of relations, while the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission warned the crisis could upend Trump’s trade deal. For now, China is making good on pledges to buy more US crops.

While Pompeo pressed his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi for full transparency, behind the scenes hundreds of scientists and doctors in both countries have been quietly joining forces. “When it comes to medicine, people’s health, and epidemic control, we can’t decouple from each other.”

With the US focused on its domestic coronavirus crisis, China has despatched medical aid worldwide, asserting its claim to global leadership “mask by mask”, and making sure everyone knows about it, wrote the Wall Street Journal. The US position is undermined by a leader who has held an unequivocal position about China and the coronavirus — several of them, noted AP.

After years of trade disputes, and weeks of public sniping, the US and China have suddenly shifted to a more co-operative stance, said the New York Times. Administration officials and lawmakers increasingly worry about the national security implications of US medical supply chains relying heavily on China. Officials have agreed to new rules to prevent China from obtaining advanced US technology for commercial purposes and then diverting it to military use.

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