According to a report from Politico, message boards in China are now littered with comments ridiculing Donald Trump for his widely-noted bumbling as he tries to rally the United States during the coronavirus pandemic that has stopped the country in its tracks by causing Americans to huddle in their homes while the economy crashes.
The report, by Politico's David Wertime, notes that Chinese citizens were incredulous when the president boasted "If we have between 100,000 and 200,000 [deaths]we all, together, have done a very good job.”
According to the report, "'Trump says reducing death toll to 100,000 people is not bad' quickly became a top trending hashtag. Commenters on Weibo called the Rose Garden appearance 'preparation for a funeral,' labeled Trump a 'joker' and a 'blowhard,' and sarcastically predicted, 'I’m sure God will protect the United States.' If a similar death toll had been reported in China, one popular comment speculated, 'how many people here would be saying that [we are] a dying country?' Another noted, bluntly: '[F]rom here onward, the world order will never be the same'."
Politico previously reported that the Republicans and the Trump campaign want to make criticizing China a central theme of the president's upcoming re-election campaign and now it appears that China is firing back.
"As coronavirus has spread outward from its Wuhan origins, the Chinese government has worked hard to spin an initial embarrassment into a win for its international image, with mixed success," Wertime wrote. "But to Chinese authorities, the audience at home is the one that really matters, and among that vast cohort, the verdict is unsparing: China has outperformed, while America has disastrously faltered. It’s a sentiment shared by even educated, internationalized Chinese observers — the very group once inclined to look to America as an exemplar."
Noting that "Chinese social media is a highly imperfect lens into widespread public sentiment, full of hot tempers, trolls, and the ever-present specter of censorship, particularly given the ruling Communist Party’s power and proclivity to punish dissenting voices," the report nonetheless notes, "One popular comment professed 'astonishment' at seeing America as 'narrow, self-interested, buck-passing; not the world’s number one.' Another declared the U.S. response 'the disaster flick of 2020.' And those ventilators? 'Jack up the price,' went one popular response. 'Then make sure they pay before delivery.'"
To bolster his case, Wertime writes, "Amid China’s dynamic rise, America has nonetheless held out the distinct promise of clean air and clean water, first-rate universities, competent governance, and a best-in-class public health system," before adding, "Now, Chinese propagandists and nationalists can state, truthfully, that U.S. Representatives, Governors, and hospitals have purchased ventilators, gloves, and masks from China in a time of desperate need, often without any help from Washington. The fact that U.S. institutions are buying the supplies at market prices, not begging for alms, or the reality that some of the Chinese-made goods have proven defective, have not diluted domestic perceptions of a fundamental rebalancing."
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