Trump Has 'Paid the Price' for COVID 'Gamble,' China State Newspaper Editor Says

Chinese media has been reporting Donald Trump's coronavirus infection as a consequence of the president's repeated public dismissal of the pandemic.

State-backed newspapers and top editorial staff have been at the forefront of Beijing's public coronavirus response, regularly moving to absolve China of any blame for the pandemic and attack the response of its rivals: the U.S. and the Trump administration in particular.

On Friday, state-run newspapers were critical of Trump in covering his announcement that he and first lady Melania Trump had tested positive for the virus, which has killed more than 1 million people worldwide and more than 207,000 in the U.S.

Hu Xijin, the editor of the nationalistic Global Times newspaper, gave possibly the most direct and scathing response. Hu has grown his significant English-language social media presence in recent months, largely through criticism of Trump and the president's administration during the pandemic.

"President Trump and the first lady have paid the price for his gamble to play down the COVID-19," Hu wrote on Twitter. "The news shows the severity of the US' pandemic situation. It will impose a negative impact on the image of Trump and the US, and may also negatively affect his reelection."

Trump has sought to pin blame for the pandemic on China, where the virus originated late last year. China has been accused of underplaying the severity of the outbreak and failing to adequately warn the international community.

Chinese officials and state media have characterized the strategy as a racist attempt to avoid blame for the virus' rampant spread in the U.S., where Trump was accused of having downplayed its severity, spread medical myths and rejected public health guidance.

China has been working hard to define the coronavirus narrative and avoid responsibility for the pandemic. Lawmakers have accused Beijing of a broad disinformation effort, combined with headline-grabbing so-called "mask diplomacy"—i.e. medical assistance for affected nations, some of which was rejected as inadequate.

Other media outlets were more subtle in their criticism of the president following news of his infection. China Daily—owned by the Chinese Communist Party's propaganda department—said the announcement is "yet another reminder that the coronavirus continues to spread, even as Trump has tried desperately to suggest it no longer poses a danger."

"Since it emerged earlier this year, Trump, the White House and his campaign have played down the threat and refused to abide by basic public health guidelines—including those issued by his own administration—such as wearing masks in public and practicing social distancing," the newspaper said, noting Trump's insistence on holding campaign rallies with thousands of supporters.

Donald Trump, coronavirus, China, state media, infection
President Donald Trump steps off Air Force One upon arrival at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on October 1, 2020. MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images/Getty