CGTN First Voice: Pompeo’s blame game more deadly than virus


The United States fired another shot at China this week. “We strongly believe that the Chinese Communist Party did not report the outbreak of the new coronavirus in a timely fashion to the World Health Organization,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a briefing on Wednesday.

Editor’s note: CGTN’s First Voice provides instant commentary on breaking stories. The daily column clarifies emerging issues and better defines the news agenda, offering a Chinese perspective on the latest global events. This commentary is by Liu Jianxi.

The so-called political pundit further accused China of destroying coronavirus samples and not sharing all of the information it had. Blame China for the coronavirus crisis is not enough. Pompeo alleged that Beijing was “exploiting” the world’s focus on the pandemic to push its agenda on Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the South China Sea.

Blame-shifting is an old playbook in Washington’s handling crisis. In contrast to Pompeo’s allegation, China informed the WHO of the pneumonia with unknown cause on December 31. Within days, it publicly shared the genetic sequence of the virus. Since January 3, China has started to inform the U.S. of the outbreak and the country’s response measures on a regular basis.

China’s data-sharing endeavor is an irrefutable fact. Pompeo’s groundless accusation is merely an attempt to distance the White House from domestic criticisms on the increasingly deteriorating situation in the United States. The superpower is now leading the world in both confirmed cases and death toll. It is American leadership, not China or the WHO, is to blame.

The WHO declared the coronavirus outbreak a public health emergency of international concern on January 30. The alarm sounded, but Americans in positions of authority did not announce a national emergency on March 13. While China and other countries were seizing every minute in the race against death, American politicians did almost nothing during those 43 days to protect citizens. Instead, they wasted months downplaying the virus and playing the blame game.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO, has called on countries to come together to fight COVID-19. (Photo: AFP)

The soaring coronavirus infection rate in the United States, to a large degree, is attributed to the Trump administration’s nonfeasance. American leadership, especially Pompeo-represented anti-China hawks, should be honest about their slow reaction to the virus. Accusing China of starting and spreading the virus is a cowardly attempt at distraction.

The worse the situation in the U.S., the harsher American politicians will criticize China. Blame-shifting is a “time-tested” approach the White House uses to divert domestic criticisms. As the pandemic has been the headlines for months, American politicians, unable to cope with the deteriorating situation, are thinking to distract the public’s attention from the country’s anti-virus failures to issues on Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the South China Sea.

As the infection rate rises, a slew of American media outlets have witnessed a U-turn on their attitudes on the Trump administration. While insisting the virus was a hoax, they, including pro-Trump outlets, started to acknowledge the White House failed in this anti-virus fight. But these media outlets and different forces on the U.S. soil, be it Democratic or Republican, are always united when it comes to China-related matters. This may be why Pompeo hyped the Hong Kong and South China Sea issue at the briefing.

As tens of thousands of people are dying, it is not time for politics. In comparison with the chaos in the U.S., China has put the virus under effective control. The country’s unprecedented quarantine measures have managed to contain the spread and bought the world time in the anti-virus fight.

But the United States is still wasting time. It is common sense that passing the buck will only make the situation worse. Playing politics is more deadly than the virus itself. The United States has already paid heavy prices for the pandemic, and the blame game must stop.