According to a poll conducted from June 16 to July 14 by the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan U.S. fact tank, 73 percent of the respondents surveyed had a negative opinion of China, up 26 percent compared to the same period in 2018. China’s policy toward the U.S. has always been guided by the principles like peace, equality and amity for the good of overall China-U.S. relations, so the rising anti-China sentiment comes as a big shock. However, given the political landscape in the U.S., this attitude has nothing to do with China’s interactions with the U.S. or the Chinese people’s attitude toward the people in the U.S. It has more to do with the fact that the Donald Trump administration is taking advantage of the topic of China to try to win the presidential election.
An analysis of U.S. policies toward China over the past three and a half years, particularly the assaults on Chinese tech company Huawei, exposes how some U.S. politicians are sparing no effort to defame and denigrate China. They are combining it with domestic populism to mislead the U.S. public by damaging China’s image.
A typical example is the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, which is still spreading at an alarming rate across the U.S. Due to the Trump administration’s persistent disinformation campaign, a large number of Americans are convinced that the pandemic, which has led to millions of infections and hundreds of thousands of deaths, is the result of China’s covering up relevant information in the early days of the outbreak.
They apparently don’t accept the fact that at the very beginning, China informed the World Health Organization (WHO) and many countries, including the U.S., about the outbreak. They conveniently forget that China locked down the city of Wuhan in Hubei Province in central China soon after confirming the novel coronavirus and swiftly mobilized all resources to combat the virus. Even Trump offered his praise for these efforts early on.
When Wuhan was locked down, the Republic of Korea, Japan, France, Germany and other countries imposed strict measures to contain the virus in response to warnings from WHO. As a result, they managed to control the pandemic, much like China had.
But what was the U.S. response? Trump claimed that there was no need for strict control measures and the virus would soon disappear on its own. Unfortunately, many people in the U.S. bought his story. The president said there was no need to wear masks, social distance or quarantine people and so many refused to wear masks and even attacked those who did. Some even chose to deliberately hold “COVID parties” with infected patients to see who would catch the virus first. Trump also suggested that injecting disinfectants would help prevent or eliminate the virus, which led to people poisoning themselves with disinfectants.
Prevention and control of the virus is the work of professional medical experts and scientists, but Trump, against basic common sense, asked politicians to guide the work. In the face of rapid spread of the virus due to poor initial response measures, the Trump administration began to shirk responsibility by labeling the novel coronavirus the “China virus” and the “Wuhan virus.” Misled by this racist rhetoric, a lot of people in the U.S. began to vent their anger on China, instead of fighting against the obvious common enemy. Some even believed that the novel coronavirus was part of China’s biological war against the U.S.
The Trump administration not only lacks motivation, but also funds, medical personnel and other essential resources to battle the virus. As a result, an alarming number of people are living under the shadow of the pandemic, either suffering or dying from the disease. Nevertheless, some U.S. politicians don’t seem to care about these consequences. They continue to put on a show, pass the buck, blame China and sacrifice U.S. lives.
The COVID-19 pandemic is only one of many opportunities U.S. politicians used to mislead people about China.
The vast majority of the U.S. population has never been to China and thus know little about the real China. Most of people’s information about China comes from U.S. politicians and media outlets. This is totally detrimental to China-U.S. relations. For instance, commodity prices have been pushed up by tariffs on Chinese goods as a result of the trade war triggered by the Trump administration, with U.S. farmers suffering the most from declining sales.
The Pew poll revealed that most people in the U.S. have not realized the harm these politicians’ rumor-mongering is causing them as they buy into the anti-China campaign.