The US is continuing to crack down on China over COVID-19 with Trump signalling that he is “torn” over the US-China trade deal. If Washington stepped up cooperation with Beijing instead of lambasting and threatening the People’s Republic, it would bring the US economy back on track much faster, says Beijing-based author Thomas Pauken.
The US is stepping up its anti-China rhetoric: the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security have prepared a report warning about Chinese hackers and spies’ supposed effort to steal American anti-COVID vaccine research data, according to The New York Times.
The new accusations come on the heels of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s claims that the US has “enormous” evidence confirming that the novel coronavirus came from a Chinese virology laboratory in Wuhan, something that Beijing resolutely denies. Previously, President Donald Trump accused China and the World Health Organisation (WHO) of “covering-up” the real state of affairs with regard to coronavirus and withholding sensitive information about the outbreak. The US, Australia and EU called for an international COVID-19 investigation into China with Australian officials insisting that the probe had to be held “independently” of the WHO.
‘Show Evidence or Stop Talking Nonsense’
“Washington appears to be playing games”, says Thomas Weir Pauken II, a Beijing-based Asia-Pacific Affairs commentator and author of US vs. China: From Trade War to Reciprocal Deal. “There’s no clear evidence that can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that China stands guilty as charged here. Anybody can make strange accusations and claim 17 so-called intelligence agencies support these nefarious allegations. A US officials doesn’t even need to deliver evidence, just say, ‘I am not at liberty to disclose the information in public'”.
If the US administration indeed has “enormous evidence” to prove that the People’s Republic “has committed a criminal cover-up on the coronavirus or Beijing is responsible for creating the virus in the Wuhan lab”, they must show it or stop saying nonsense, the Beijing-based commentator says.
“The WHO has no need to engage in a cover-up with China”, he continues. “What’s the motivation here? Where’s the evidence? Please show it. Oh wait, Washington has no evidence that the WHO had been colluding with China either. The ‘Blame China’ strategy is making the White House look so childish as if they can’t take responsibility to contain the coronavirus in the US on their own terms”.
Speaking to Der Spiegel Magazine last Friday, Chinese ambassador to Germany Wu Ken said that Beijing has “open attitude” to international investigations on the origins of the coronavirus led by the WHO. He pointed out that China had been keeping the entity well-informed from the start, recalling that a WHO delegation visited Wuhan, the epicenter of the disease, on January 20, while yet another delegation comprising US and German experts visited China in mid-February.
On Sunday, Xinhua, a Chinese state-run media outlet, published a detailed rebuttal of 24 “preposterous allegations” voiced by US officials and circulated by the American mainstream media. Previously, the People’s Daily and the English-language website of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) released ten questions “the US needs to offer clear answers to the world” with regard to Washington’s handling of the pandemic and its bio lab activities.
China Will Try to Abide By Trade One Deal Despite Recession Stings
While the US is pointing the finger of blame at China and even threatened the People’s Republic with new sanctions over its handling of the coronavirus outbreak, Beijing continues to maintain responsible trade relations with the US despite being hurt by the pandemic, Pauken points out.
“Why did Beijing recently agree to accept a huge shipment of pork and other agricultural products from the US last week?” the author asks addressing China critics. “The COVID-19 outbreak was a devastating blow to China’s economy as well. It seems the anti-China crowd has already forgotten about that. If Beijing struggled to take in more US imports from late January to late March that’s because China was under a nationwide quarantine, so shipping ports, airports and train stations were not functioning at full capacity”.
Referring to the US-China trade agreement, Pauken expresses confidence that China is likely to abide by the phase one deal. However, anti-China hawks and “incompetent” US trade advisers may pose a challenge to the pact, he suggests.
According to the Beijing-based political analyst, Sino-American cooperation can help bring the US economy back on track, something the Trump campaign needs in order to win in November.
“When Trump focuses on marching ahead on an economic rebound for the US, he will discover that many Chinese stand eager to invest in the US, they want to open up new factories in the US and they will love to go shopping in major American cities after President Trump lifts the travel restrictions on Chinese travellers”, the author opines. “Chinese companies, investors, students and tourists can play a very crucial role to boost the US economy. They can bring in hundreds of billions of US dollars to circulate into the US economy, but only if Washington welcomes China’s foreign direct investments and tourists with more open arms”.
Speaking on Fox and Friends last Friday, Trump complained that he has “a very hard time with China” and that he is “torn” over the US-China trade relationship. The same day, US think tank Centre for Strategic and International Studies issued a report saying that purchases of US goods will fall considerably short of phase one deal because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Why are the Chinese Interested in Trump’s Staying in the White House
Meanwhile, the US think tank Pew Research Center has found that 66% of American respondents surveyed are negative about China, while only 26% are positive. Donald Trump and his presumptive election vis-à-vis Joe Biden are seemingly exploiting this trend and vowing to step up pressure against China.
At the same time the US president presumes that Beijing “will do anything they can” to make him lose his re-election bid, as he told Reuters in late April.
Pauken is not surprised by the polls in the slightest: “When was the last time a majority of Americans said they love China? That’s like never”.
He highlights that Republican and Democrat voters “are bi-partisan when it comes to criticising China” and refers to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) vocal support for anti-China riots in Hong Kong last year. So, the assumption that the Chinese wants Trump to lose to open the door to the Oval Office to Biden does not hold water, according to the commentator.
“Why would China want Biden to win the White House? He will raise taxes, which will be an indirect tariff on Chinese imports to the US. Democrats could wreck the US economy. China does not benefit from that”, he says.
Additionally, “Chinese defense manufacturers would like to see Trump stay in the White House, since Beijing will increase the Defense spending budget as well”, Pauken remarks.
According to him, “the only Chinese who would support Biden are your typical naive globalists or those who are making money from Big Business US multinationals”.
“President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping both said they don’t want to wage ‘war’ against each other and despite the media noise we will continue to see peaceful relations between the two great nations for the next four years if President Trump wins his re-election bid this November”, the Beijing-based commentator concludes.