Illustration: Liu Rui/GT
Since March, the US has shot three poison arrows at China. First, it accused China of covering up the extent of the COVID-19 epidemic and falsifying the number of infections and deaths. Second, it claimed the novel coronavirus was leaked from an institute of virology in Wuhan, demanding China should allow foreign experts to make an investigation there. Third, it has been supporting and inciting lawsuits against the Chinese government to pursue compensation on damages caused by the pandemic.
The three poison arrows are created by both the Trump administration and the Republican Party. They are ostensibly targeted at China, which is “politically correct” in today’s US. But the Trump administration knows well that their arrows cannot kill China. Washington’s attacks on China’s epidemic response are nationalism-driven, running counters to facts. It’s hard to say how long they can last.
Such being the case, the three poison arrows shot at China are a pretense. They cannot fatally impact China, but are likely to kick out Trump’s rival Joe Biden.
From the perspective of US political logic, the three poison arrows are too cleverly designed. Their target is China, a US “strategic competitor,” and the two parties in the US have already reached a consensus on “threats from China.” The Democrats have long been an accomplice of the Trump administration in slandering China.
The US presidential election has reached a critical juncture. The Trump administration failed in its epidemic response. To downplay the pandemic, Trump made too many remarks that could pose fatal threats to his reelection. However, the three arrows have diverted the focus of the US public opinion to hold China, instead of the US government, accountable for the US’ botched response to the pandemic.
Political stances and value judgments have dominated the US while rationality and morality based on science and facts are in a rather weak position. In the face of the virus that is raging in the US, the world’s most powerful country is as chaotic as a primitive society. It is paying the price.
Hooliganism is prevailing among US politicians. Washington has formulated a general strategy to suppress China. It has fanned the US society’s hostility against China with the support of US political and public opinion elites. As the Trump administration is likely to fall into political passiveness because of poor epidemic response, it is passing the buck to China. This would cripple the leverage of Democrats to blame the Trump administration in the election race and thus can help the Trump administration consolidate its initiative in the election.
China has become a key topic in US presidential election campaign. Trump accused Democratic candidate Biden of being “weak on China,” and Biden charged Trump with being soft on China. How absurd is that. Amid the absurdity, the Trump administration has confined the scope and sharpness of the Democratic Party’s discourse by designing and shooting the above-mentioned three poison arrows. If the topic of US campaign keeps focusing on China like that, the likelihood of Trump winning a reelection will probably increase.
The US state of Missouri just announced to sue the Chinese government, seeking compensation from China for damages that people in the state are suffering due to COVID-19. The lawsuit is a farce. But the process in which it creates controversy and attracts eyeballs will divert people’s dissatisfaction with their government’s epidemic prevention and control, becoming a power for Trump to secure a second term. US law is kowtowing to politics. Those with good sense understand it at a glance. But it can confuse quite a few ordinary people.
US political elites jointly promoted this blind anti-China sentiment. As a result, anti-scientism and anti-rationalism are flaring in the US. It is now difficult for the Democratic Party to strip Trump administration’s huge responsibility in the pandemic from the already hyped-up public opinion, which believes China should be held accountable.
It is Americans’ business to decide who to become their next president. China does not need to hold a grudge against anyone for falling into the eye of the US campaign storm. The fundamental reason is that China is getting strong. The country has to bear the weight of becoming a global power. China needs to build up its capacity to defend its reputation and it has a long way to go on the path.