Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

Trump, Xi, and The Pandemic Symptoms

Trump, Xi, and The Pandemic Symptoms

Monday, 18 May, 2020 - 09:00
Ghassan Charbel
Ghassan Charbel is the editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper

This is a season of great fear across maps and continents. We have never seen the world awash with terror in this way.

There were moments of worry, but soon the world regained confidence in itself, in science, and in the future.

The world has not had a comprehensive and global panic. Neither in the Cuban missile crisis nor in the collapse of the Soviet Union. Neither in the Vietnam War, nor in the regional explosions, nor in the September 11 attacks and their aftermath.

In all previous crises, one could bet on forces from a side or another. In the current horror season, you do not have a support center to call. If you’re overly anxious, and you call an official, doctor, or scientist in a laboratory, he’ll just answer your question with a question that deepens your confusion and augment your worries.

A person has the right to be concerned when he sees a superpower with massive arsenals, unable to prevent the pandemic from attacking its capitals and cities. It is not easy to see the coronavirus killing tens of thousands of Americans, while the president and the scientists are unable to predict when the attack would end… An attack that was considered more dangerous than the Pearl Harbor offensive.

The same can be said about the Russian president. Neither the Red Army, nor the pirates who attacked the German chancellor, nor the units that are stationed in Hmeimim, could stop the outbreak.

There is no doubt that the Chinese president managed to avert a colossal catastrophe that would beset his country, had he not used the regime’s strict measures to contain the epidemic, but that was not enough to answer all questions.

All excitement and risk factors happened to be present in the outbreak of this epidemic. The coronavirus emerged from the most populous country that advanced so well to occupy the second-largest economy in the world.

Also perhaps by coincidence, the epidemic committed its greatest slaughter on American soil, that is, on the land of the most powerful country in the world with the first economy.

We never want to underestimate the massive human and economic losses that have engulfed European countries. But the outbreak of the epidemic from China and its assault on New York and other US goals, have awakened all kinds of fears.

The new development revealed the degree of tension in relations between Washington and Beijing, despite Donald Trump and Xi-Jinping trying to cover hatred with smiles.

In fact, those who observe the path of relations between the US and China notice that Trump was dealing with this file like someone who was playing with a bomb and trying to postpone the date of its explosion.

Trump believes that his predecessors exaggerated in calming the land of the Red Dragon and surrounding it with gifts out of their fear of a Soviet Union scenario.

He also believes that China had deceived the United States in the past decades, and suggested that it was heading towards international responsibility and transparency, while it was pursuing a major hegemony project under the name of “the Road and the Belt”, reminiscent of the “Silk Road”.

Trump, surprised by the coronavirus’s misfortune while he was confidently heading to the presidential elections, did not hesitate to remove the make-up off the US-China relationship. That’s why he deliberately talked about the “Chinese virus”, the gaps in the Wuhan laboratory, and the Chinese responsibility towards thousands of casualties in America and other parts of the world.

At first glance, the issue seemed logical or expected. Trump was reminding his citizens of the economic achievements under his term, and asking them to renew his residence in the White House.

He had something to say and numbers in some files served his cause. Suddenly, the epidemic emerged so as talks about unprecedented losses, deflation, recession, and a record increase in unemployment.

But it’s not about Trump alone, but rather about calculations within the US institution, especially since the talk about “the Chinese rise” and “the Asian roar” are not new.

Trump hinted at severing ties with China after he asked the country several times to uncover the truth, going even further to call for the establishment of an investigation committee.

On the other hand, China has been distributing aid around the world, as if it was looking for a certificate of good behavior, because it “suppressed” the epidemic and prevented it from staying long on its lands.

This file is difficult, thorny, and dangerous. It involves secret and misleading information that an ordinary citizen is unable to verify.

The Daily Mail and Le Figaro quoted names and photos of European athletes, who said they believe they caught the coronavirus during the October Olympic games in Wuhan in October. Those testified that the local authorities there were asking them to wash their hands frequently and were carrying out strict cleaning operations of the streets.

If these reports proved to be true, then China would have long waited before announcing the virus to the world.

The pandemic revealed the extent of mutual fear that is hidden under the cloak of economic competition or trade war between America and China.

Remarks by Trump and his Secretary of State on the CPC and its gravity confirm that we are witnessing the beginning of a new Cold War.

The emerging file of China’s intimidation of the riparian states of the South China Sea also reveals the scale of fears in this region of the Chinese growth.

America is clearly worried about the rise of the Red Dragon, while China fears the US ability to present it as the “great danger” to the world.

It is a wrist fight between the old general of the cosmic village, and the new policeman. It is a terrifying duel as it will have exorbitant costs on the global economy, especially as it begins while the fearful world is dreaming of a vaccine against the coronavirus.

America and China have undoubtedly caught the symptoms of the Cold War epidemic, and countries must prepare for the new winds.

Many questions arise about Europe’s stance and the response of other powers. What about Russia, which is busy with the Syrian file? Is this an opportunity for India to engage in a project to contain the attack by Mao’s heirs?

Other opinion articles

Editor Picks