Chinese state media accuses US president of ‘passing the buck’ as Covid-19 hits campaign trail and Californians told to ‘shelter in place’
The US president, Donald Trump, has referred to the global coronavirus outbreak as “the Chinese virus,” escalating a deepening US-China diplomatic spat over the disease.
Trump, after giving an address on Monday warning of a possible recession, posted on Twitter: “The United States will be powerfully supporting those industries, like Airlines and others, that are particularly affected by the Chinese Virus. We will be stronger than ever before!”
The World Health Organization has advised against terms that link the virus to China or the city of Wuhan, where it was first detected, in order to avoid discrimination or stigmatisation.
The comment comes as Beijing and Washington appeared to be locked in a game of shifting blame. Last week, outspoken official Zhao Lijian from China’s ministry of foreign affairs accused the US military of bringing the virus to Wuhan. The US summoned Chinese ambassador Cui Tiankai over the comment and issued a “stern” warning to Cui.
On Monday, the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, also issued “strong US objections” in a phone call with top Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi. According to Chinese state broadcaster CCTV, Yang also issued “strong objections” to attempts by the US to “slander and smear” China’s efforts in combatting the virus.
Yang said such efforts would “not succeed” and that any harm to Chinese interests would invite retaliation.
As the global infections have surpassed those within China, Chinese diplomats and officials have begun pushing the idea that the virus did not originate within China.
Observers say both sides appear to be deflecting domestic criticism. Trump’s administration has been accused of moving too slowly to respond to the virus while Chinese authorities have been accused of covering up initial warnings about the outbreak and suppressing information
throughout the crisis.
“This is his pathetic attempt at distracting people from his competence but it won’t work,” one internet user wrote on Weibo, among hundreds of angry and mocking comments over Trump’s remark. “Just when you think he could not go any lower,” another wrote on the discussion forum, Douban. “I am both laughing and speechless,” another said on Weibo.
The state-run tabloid Global Times posted on Twitter, which is blocked in China, that Trump was trying to “pass the buck”. Theguardian