The current United States government, which has been remaining indifferent to global developments and has been following unilateral policies, undermined the coronavirus as long as its impact was limited to China and before it was declared a pandemic. President Donald Trump even praised China and its President Xi Jinping for the successful management of the crisis. However, after the virus began to hurt the American people, President Trump and members of his party started to blame China for producing the coronavirus in a laboratory, concealing the severity of the coronavirus from the global public and facilitating the spread of the virus to other countries. Therefore, Trump and his aides prefer to call the coronavirus the "Chinese virus," thus attaching it to the Chinese state.
President Trump claimed that there is evidence showing the coronavirus had originated in a laboratory in Wuhan, China. However, Trump declined to share the source of the information and intelligence. Later, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made similar accusations. In spite of the lack of concrete public evidence to support his claim and opposite explanations from the experts, Pompeo claimed that there is “enormous evidence” that the novel coronavirus originated in a laboratory in Wuhan. Although he told reporters that he is not sure whether the Chinese government intentionally released the virus or mistakenly released it during a scientific accident, Pompeo went further and claimed that “China has a history of infecting the world” due to Chinese “sub-standard laboratories.” Additionally, Pompeo pointed out that Chinese authorities “have refused to cooperate with world health experts.”
Considering that it is the worst-infected country, the U.S. government blames China for the impact of the virus on the U.S., where it has killed about 70,000 and infected more than 1 million. The Trump administration accuses the Chinese government of exploiting the virus and using it against other countries by stockpiling imports and decreasing exports of medical supplies prior to the recognition of the virus as a pandemic and thus a threat to the world. All these accusations indicate that the Trump administration has been preparing a long-term plan to hold the Chinese government accountable for the enormous loss of life and economy across the globe, and if necessary, to punish the Chinese state.
The lack of transparency in the Chinese government will facilitate the American accusations over the global spread of the virus. U.S. officials claim that the Chinese government silenced its scientists and did not allow U.S. medical professionals and World Health Organization (WHO) experts into labs in Wuhan, the city where the virus originated. Additionally, they contend that Chinese authorities exploited WHO officials for its national objectives. On the other hand, Chinese officials claim that American officials have exploited the pandemic for domestic consumption. For instance, according to Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang, American politicians divert the attention of the American public from its failure in crisis management. As a matter of the fact, politicians in both the U.S. and China will try to exploit the crisis and instrumentalize it for the maintenance of their authority in domestic politics and for the maximization of their national interests in the international context.
The most recent reactions of American politicians to the coronavirus crisis showed us that the U.S. sooner or later will make it clear to everyone that it will deter any global power from taking global initiatives aiming to decrease the American effectiveness and thus its hegemony. The U.S. may unilaterally decide not to intervene in global affairs; but when it comes to the attempts of changing the global balance of power, no American government can remain indifferent. The U.S. administration will try to take initiatives soon and also persuade its allies to hold China responsible for spreading the virus to the world. Following in the footsteps of the U.S., some European countries and Australia have already begun to make similar accusations.
Therefore, it will not be a surprise to anyone that the critical relations between the two largest economies in the world, which have significant implications for the whole world, will sour soon. The Trump administration will soon begin to use various tools such as sanctions, canceling U.S. debt obligations and preparing for new trade policies to punish China. As a result, it seems that in the coming months and years, the U.S.-Chinese clash and confrontations will deepen and intensify. When the U.S. government decides to extend the rivalry and clash to political, strategic and military spheres, the U.S. will take different measures on multiple fronts. That is, the bilateral confrontation will not be limited to trade wars. In particular, if the coronavirus crisis endangers the re-election of Trump, he will take a much harsher stance against China. However, due to the interconnectedness and interdependence between the two countries, it will not be easy to punish China, a country that has the ability to mobilize its own resources and instruments against the U.S.
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