Global Anti-China Sentiment 'Highest Since 1989 Tiananmen Square Crackdown,' Says Internal Chinese Report

The Chinese Ministry of State Security warned the nation's top leaders in a document last month that global anti-China sentiment has reached a high not seen since 1989's Tiananmen Square crackdown, according to a new report.

Reuters reported on Monday that unidentified sources familiar with the internal Chinese government document told the news agency that the ministry, the nation's top intelligence body, had "concluded that global anti-China sentiment is at its highest since the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown." They said the report warned that China faces growing international hostility because of the coronavirus outbreak, which could lead to a confrontation with the U.S.

The Chinese government document was reportedly compiled by the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR), a think tank affiliated with the State Security Ministry. According to the sources who spoke with Reuters, the report even warned that China should be prepared for a possible armed confrontation in a worst-case scenario.

Xi Jinping
Chinese President Xi Jinping signs a guest book during a welcoming ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Naypyidaw, Myanmar, on January 17. THET AUNG/AFP/Getty

Newsweek reached out for comment to the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C., as well as the CICIR, but did not hear back before publication.

President Donald Trump, administration officials and some top Republicans have been increasingly critical of China's response to the coronavirus pandemic in recent weeks. They have singled out Chinese officials for initially covering up the outbreak in Wuhan, where the novel coronavirus was first discovered, and for failing to be fully transparent with the international community about the severity of the country's outbreak.

But Trump administration critics argue that the president is now focusing on China in an attempt to deflect criticism of his own response to the U.S. outbreak. Many have criticized the president for dismissing the health threat throughout February, despite reportedly receiving warnings from within his own administration about the threat the virus posed.

Meanwhile, an intelligence report from the Department of Homeland Security, dated May 1, alleges that China "intentionally concealed the severity" of the outbreak as the nation stocked up on necessary medical supplies, the Associated Press reported Monday. Additionally, speculation has mounted that the coronavirus could have been accidentally leaked from a scientific research lab in Wuhan.

"These are not the first time that we've had a world exposed to viruses as a result of failures in a Chinese lab," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a Sunday interview on ABC's This Week. "And so, while the intelligence community continues to do its work, they should continue to do that, and verify so that we are certain, I can tell you that there is a significant amount of evidence that this came from that laboratory in Wuhan."

Scientists at the Wuhan lab have dismissed the possibility that the virus leaked from their facility. And Chinese government officials have pushed back against the criticism from U.S. officials, arguing that they are attempting to deflect blame for their own failures.

"The U.S. government has ignored the facts, diverted public attention and engaged in buck passing in an attempt to shirk its responsibility for incompetence in the fight against the epidemic," Geng Shuang, a spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said on May 1.