Recently, President Donald Trump sat down with Steve Holland of Reuters and opened his mind on various subjects, including the coronavirus pandemic, America’s relations with China, and the upcoming presidential election. During the interview, Trump made an observation that is likely to be a subject of conversation for the rest of the presidential election cycle.
“President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he believes China’s handling of the coronavirus is proof that Beijing will do anything they can to make him lose his re-election bid in November.”
Why would the Chinese government want to do that, pray? Trump implied a reason that makes quite a bit of sense.
“In an interview with Reuters in the Oval Office, Trump talked tough on China and said he was looking at different options in terms of consequences for Beijing over the virus.”
Trump has come to the same conclusion that virtually everyone else across the political spectrum has that China deliberately downplayed the severity of the coronavirus pandemic, either to avoid embarrassment or to make sure that it inflicted maximin damage on the West, including the United States. He is not pleased and is casting about for ways to make Beijing pay for its perfidy.
The fact of the matter is, the Chinese government has developed serious respect for President Trump because of his willingness to play hardball on trade. Most previous presidents, going back to Nixon who first famously opened China in the early 70s, have been quite accommodating to Beijing. During the Cold War, China served as a counterbalance to the Soviet Union. Afterward, the theory was that China’s behavior could be moderated through trade and political soft power.
Even Beijing’s massacre of dissidents at Tiananmen Square did not modify that view. However, President Xi’s hyper-aggressive stance in the South China Sea as well as its general drive to supplant the United States as the world’s sole superpower has started to change some minds in Washington and other western capitals. The coronavirus pandemic has served as the final straw.
Bloomberg noted that Trump has been complicating Beijing’s drive for sole superpower status, even before the inevitable retaliation due to the coronavirus pandemic. Trump believes that Beijing wants to forestall any pushback by the United States by making certain that he does not win reelection
In other words, Joe Biden is Beijing’s candidate. He is a more traditional American politician where relations with China are concerned, unwilling to upset the economic relationship the two countries have. Also, due to his son Hunter, the Biden family has a financial interest in not hitting back at China too much.
In a way, Trump’s stance can serve as a riposte to the claims by Democrats that he won 2016 because of collusion with Russia’s Vladimir Putin. The claim has been thoroughly discredited and evidence has arisen that, in fact, Putin preferred Hillary Clinton in the White House insofar as he wanted anyone. The Hill notes that Attorney General William Barr is about to drop the hammer on people within the FBI who pushed the Russian collusion theory.
In the meantime, as Reuters notes, Trump is working diligently to contain the coronavirus pandemic and to repair the economic damage that it has wrought. He is said to be quite wistful due to the fact that all of his work to create a booming economy has been undone in just a few months. Trump has vowed that as he did it before he will do it again.
How all this is going to affect the election is open to speculation. Biden, who in living memory ridiculed the idea that China is a threat, has had the audacity to accuse President Trump of being too soft on Beijing.
While some in the media is trying to cover for Biden, the Hill is suggesting that the former vice president has a problem. His previous position of appeasement has come back to haunt him in the polls.
“According to recent Harris polling, 77 percent of Americans believe China, led and controlled by the CCP, is responsible for unleashing the disease on the world. The CCP is being held responsible for the health and economic consequences of the virus. Further, 54 percent of Americans want paid reparations from the country. Given Biden’s record, this spells trouble for him in November.”
Biden has a lot of explaining to do, not only about his previous position of accommodating China but about his son’s financial ties to a country that has devastated the entire world.