Americans See Trump Has 'Sunk So Low' in Blaming China for Coronavirus, State Media Says

The coronavirus war of words between Washington, D.C. and Beijing have colored global efforts to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak, which has now infected more than 220,000 people worldwide.

As some observers call for international cooperation, President Donald Trump and Chinese officials have traded barbs as to who is responsible for the pandemic, which has killed almost 10,000 people since it appeared in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December.

The dispute has been aired on Twitter, and from press conference podiums to editorial columns published by Beijing-backed publications. Trump has repeatedly referred to the COVID-19 coronavirus as the "Chinese Virus," raising fears that his rhetoric will encourage racist sentiment and persecution of Chinese and Asian people. The president has dismissed such fears.

Both the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have urged people to avoid any behavior that may cause stigma or discrimination.

On Thursday, the state-run Xinhua news agency published an editorial in the People's Daily online — the official newspaper of the ruling Chinese Communist Party — suggesting that China's dispute lay with the Trump administration rather than the American people.

"When the U.S. public sees that their government has sunk so low as to scapegoat China, fears will only deepen, as shown in the continuous slide in the U.S. stock market despite increasing policy efforts," the editorial read.

"It is unacceptable that politicians have made repeated and unwarranted accusations in an attempt to provide themselves political cover," Xinhua added.

"When some U.S. politicians insist on finding scapegoats to cover up their own incompetence in responding to COVID-19, the threat to public health will only worsen."

In an editorial also published Thursday, the China Daily — owned by the Chinese Communist Party's propaganda department — also stressed solidarity with Americans. "U.S. businesses, institutions and people donated money and supplies to China as it struggled to contain the virus," the newspaper said. "The U.S. people know that this is not of China's volition."

Donald Trump, China, coronavirus, state media, COVID-19
President Donald Trump is pictured during a news briefing at the White House on March 18, 2020 in Washington, D.C. Alex Wong/Getty Images/Getty

Chinese officials have also been muddying the waters and undermining bilateral ties. The U.S. summoned the Chinese ambassador to Washington last week to explain why one official suggested — without evidence — that the U.S. military might be behind the outbreak.

Other U.S. adversaries including Iran and Russia have also been accused of spreading disinformation maligning the U.S. response to the crisis.

China has also been criticized for its initial reaction to the outbreak. Whistleblowers were silenced and doctors were left to treat the infected with inadequate equipment. The regime was accused of covering up the number and severity of cases and failing to communicate the danger to the rest of the world.

The Communist Party imposed tight restrictions on its citizens to stem the outbreak, quarantining entire cities and tens of millions of people. Some restrictions are now being lifted, though experts have warned that this could precipitate a second wave of infections.

Chinese officials have claimed that the peak of the national outbreak is now over and that the number of daily new cases is decreasing. There have now been more infections and deaths outside of China than inside, as show by the Statista infographic below.

This graphic shows the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 around the world as of March 19. Statista