From ′Chinese Virus′ to ′Virus′: Trump′s survival instinct takes over

What seemed to be an unending rhetorical back-and-forth between China and the U.S. has taken an unexpected turn in the last couple of days. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said that China’s efforts in combating COVID-19 have a “much greater degree of transparency” compared to its handling of previous outbreaks on Monday. President Donald Trump tweeted out on the same day and referred to the pandemic simply as “the Virus,” conspicuously refraining from using the label “Chinese Virus” as he had before. On Tuesday he claimed during an interview on Fox News that “we shouldn’t make any more of a big deal out of it” and admitted that “I think I’ve made a big deal.”


Yes, it is quite a big deal. Since Trump started using the “Chinese Virus” phrase, there have been numerous reports about Chinese and Chinese Americans being harassed and abused on streets. Kristen Brownell, an instructor at the Claremont Colleges in Los Angeles, wrote in The Guardian about being denied service by multiple restaurants because she was bringing Chinese students with her. The article “Spit on, yelled at, attacked: Chinese-Americans fear for their safety” published by the New York Times stated that Asian Americans as a whole are “lumped together with Chinese-Americans by a bigotry that does not know the difference.”

是的,引起的动静确实不小。 自特朗普使用“中国病毒”一词以来,有许多报道称在美华人和美籍华人在街头受到骚扰和欺凌。洛杉矶克莱蒙特学院联盟的讲师克里斯汀·布朗内尔在《卫报》中写道,由于她身边有中国学生,多家餐馆拒绝为其提供服务。《纽约时报》发表的文章“辱骂、骚扰和暴力:疫情中美国华人面临双重危险”,文章指出“其他美国亚裔也面临威吓,因为持有偏见的人无法将他们与美国华人区分开来”。

The political pressure has been mounting on Trump. According to Vox, the Asian-American voting block is rapidly growing and becoming pivotal in multiple swing states. And both Democrats and Republicans are trying to capture it. NBC News pointed out that Asian-American voters are the margins of victory in some places.

特朗普面临的政治压力与日俱增。Vox新闻网表示,亚裔美国人选民群体正在迅速扩大,并在多个“摇摆州”中变得举足轻重。民主党人和共和党人都在努力争取他们的选票。 NBC新闻指出,亚裔美国选民在某些地方将决定谁将胜选。

For example, Wisconsin has about 70,000 eligible Asian-American voters, more than three times the number of votes that Trump won the state by in 2016. Antagonizing this entire voter demographic doesn’t help Trump’s re-election prospect, especially not after Judy Chu, the first Chinese-American congresswoman and the chairwoman of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, called out Trump’s behavior as being “dangerous.”


Internationally, the necessity to make nice with China has also become prominent. To put it simply: The U.S. doesn’t have enough equipment to deal with the outbreak. The situation was foreseen in late January. But, the administration didn’t take action until March 19 to invoke the Defense Production Act. Even then, Trump still hasn’t put this authority into practice, despite the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association and the American Nurses Association issuing a joint letter on March 21 to the president. Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo plainly said to the federal authority that unless more ventilators are sent into the city, “you pick the 26,000 people who are going to die.”

在国际上,对华友好的必要性也日益突出。简而言之:美国没有足够的物资来应对疫情。早在一月下旬,就有人预计会出现这种情况。但是,直到3月19日,美国政府才正式启用《国防生产法》。 尽管法案生效,且美国医学会、美国医院协会和美国护士协会于3月21日向总统致联合信,但特朗普仍未批准物资生产活动。纽约州州长安德鲁·科莫坦率地对联邦政府说,除非向纽约市增发呼吸机,否则会有“2.6万人只能等死”。



Trump has already phoned South Korean President Moon Jae-in, asking Moon for equipment support. President Moon, still trying to manage a domestic outbreak within South Korea, replied that the South Korean government would provide “maximum support” if available. And yet, as Senior Fellow for Asia Studies at the Council of Foreign Affairs Mira Rapp-Hooper commented on Twitter, Trump has continuously demanded South Korea to pay 5 billion U.S. dollars a year or the U.S. military will lay off South Korean employees. Perhaps it is not the best idea to ask someone for help after you’ve threatened them. And the content of South Korea’s reply – “‘ maximum support’ if available” – is, well, flexible.

特朗普此前致电韩国总统文在寅,请求文在寅提供物资支持。仍在努力控制国内疫情的文在寅回答说,韩国政府会在条件允许的情况下提供“最大的支持”。 然而,外交事务委员会亚洲研究高级研究员米拉·拉普-胡珀在推特上发表评论指出,特朗普不断敦促韩国每年支付50亿美元,否则美国军方将解雇韩国雇员。在威胁别人之后,再舔着脸找人帮忙,这样做不合适。韩国的答复是“在条件允许的情况下提供最大支持”,这种说法很灵活。

It is reported that the U.S. is seeking to import Chinese face masks and protective gear. As the largest purchaser of medical supplies from China, keeping a good relationship with China is crucial in times of crisis. And China has more than demonstrated that it is willing to aid those who need assistance.


However, the problem is, in a prolonged public health crisis, Trump cannot expect to patch things up with China in exchange for a bundle of aid and then rip the wound open again. Vaccine development and disease control are long-term projects that require a steady supply of medical and pharmaceutical supplies, which means a stable working relationship between the two countries is fundamental. Calling a lethal disease a “Chinese Virus” certainly doesn’t help with such a pursuit.


Given all these different considerations, the situation does require the Trump administration to change its tone. Whether it is a sincere realization of his mistake or a necessary performance, this is a step toward a more productive relationship between the two countries. Now, the world should hold its breath to see how long it could last.


Scriptwriter: Huang Jiyuan


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