China State Media Says Trump Is 'Pandering' to Racists, Pandemic Response Is 'Sloppy and Belated'

As coronavirus spreads across the U.S., President Donald Trump is continuing his diplomatic spat with China over who is to blame for the pandemic.

In recent days, Beijing and Washington have exchanged barbs over the president's description of the virus—officially COVID-19—as the "Chinese Virus." On Tuesday, he defended his use of the term despite domestic criticism and anger from Chinese officials and media.

"I think it's a very accurate term," Trump said during a coronavirus task force briefing. Chinese officials have promulgated a conspiracy theory that the outbreak—believed to have begun in a wildlife market in the Chinese city of Wuhan—was linked to the U.S. military. "Our military did not... give it to anybody," Trump said.

Asked if he was worried about creating stigma against China, he replied, "No, I think saying that our military gave it to them creates a stigma."

Chinese state media hit back Wednesday, claiming Trump's antagonism is driven by domestic suggestions that he and his administration bungled the initial response to the crisis.

The state-owned China Daily published an editorial suggesting the president is "pandering to racist sentiment among the public" and focused on "political point-scoring at home" rather than addressing the disaster.

"As is its wont, the United States administration is trying to divert attention from its own shortcomings by making China the scapegoat for the U.S.' current troubles," the editorial read.

It described the president as "hopping around like a flea on a hot griddle looking for someone to blame for his administration's belated and sloppy response to the pandemic."

The article accused Trump of "dangerous dilly-dallying" in the early stages of the outbreak, which has now spread to all 50 states.

There are now at least 6,496 confirmed infections in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins University, with 114 people dead and 17 recovered.

China Daily said Beijing is "angry that it is being smeared in such a way," but that it remained willing to cooperate with other nations to stem the spread of the sickness. China has been able to slow the rate of new infections in recent weeks, and there are now more COVID-19 cases and deaths outside the country than inside.

Beijing was initially criticized for its own slow response to the outbreak, suppressing whistle blowers and accused of under reporting the number and severity of cases. The Communist Party introduced stringent restrictions to fight the spread, placing tens of millions of people under quarantine.

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before; during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • If you feel unwell (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and call local health authorities in advance.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.
Donald Trump, coronavirus, China, blame, game, spread
President Donald Trump leads a meeting with travel and tourism industry executives to discuss economic response to the coronavirus outbreak in the Cabinet Room of the White House on March 17, 2020 in Washington, D.C. Drew Angerer/Getty Images/Getty