China Capitalizes on Rising U.S. COVID Cases, Hits Biden for Promise to 'Shut Down' Virus

Chinese state media is focusing a good deal of its attention on hammering the United States for its rising COVID-19 cases and, in turn, President Joe Biden for failing to make good on his campaign promise.

Biden was a vocal critic of former President Donald Trump's handling of the pandemic and marketed himself to voters as being the candidate to get the pandemic under control. Nearly a year into his presidency, COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are surging across the United States, making him a lightning rod for criticism from his detractors both at home and abroad.

The Global Times, a Chinese state-run media outlet, criticized Biden for making "hollow" campaign slogans about fighting the virus in a recent op-ed. The outlet targeted the United States for leaving the COVID-19 response largely in the hands of individual states while demand for testing challenged the capabilities of America's system.

"This being the case, instead of dealing with the epidemic seriously, the federal government and local governments seem to be at a loss when it comes to effective actions. The situation does not reflect Biden's previous promise to 'shut down the virus,'" the Global Times' op-ed said.

At the end of December, America recorded a record high number of COVID-19 cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). America is dealing with a joint outbreak of Delta and Omicron, two COVID variants that are known to be highly transmissible. Cases are likely higher than are being reported because of the popularity of at-home testing and the difficulties Americans faced getting a PCR test.

biden china covid
Chinese state media outlet the Global Times capitalized on rising COVID-19 cases to criticize the United States and President Joe Biden. Pictured, Biden prepares to remove his face mask as he arrives to sign H.R. 3537, the Accelerating Access to Critical Therapies for ALS Act in the South Court Auditorium of the White House complex December 23 in Washington, D.C. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

While acknowledging that more needed to be done with regard to testing, Biden urged people not to panic, especially because most American adults are vaccinated, a markedly different situation from last December. The president has leaned heavily on the increase in vaccinations as a success of his administration, pointing to the rapid increase in people who were vaccinated after he took office.

The Omicron variant has been shown to resist vaccines more than the Delta variant, although infections have predominantly been mild. With Omicron spreading, global health officials urged people to reduce their holiday gatherings, but large-scale New Year's Eve gatherings continued in New York City and Nashville.

In a separate story dated January 3, the Global Times criticized the United States for continuing with the festivities, suggesting that the celebrations will drive new cases even higher. Hua Chunying, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, posted on Twitter that infection rates in the United States are "concerning," adding that she hopes Americans "enjoy safety, health and stability in the year 2022."

While Biden's taking the criticism for the current surge, the Global Times has used the rise in cases to call into question Trump's handling of the outbreak, as well. Chinese officials and state media have attempted to shift the blame for the outbreak from China to other countries, often pointing the finger at the United States.

In an op-ed last week, the Global Times called for America to shoulder the blame for the global spread of COVID-19 because Trump "acted slowly and irresponsibly." The outlet criticized Trump administration officials for downplaying COVID-19 and for the lifting of international travel restrictions.

"Under no circumstances, as facts have shown, could the United States shirk the responsibility for the raging pandemic worldwide. The country's botched response to the public health crisis, as well as what it has added to the woes of humanity in times of such hardships, will surely go down in history disgracefully," the Global Times' op-ed said.

China's criticism of the United States' response to the pandemic comes amid heightened tensions between the two countries. Relations between the two have been deteriorating for years and Chinese officials have cautioned the United States against being too critical about the COVID-19 pandemic and conducting investigations into the origin of the outbreak.