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Year of the Plague – 7 – China and (to a modest extent) the Trump Administration Come to their Senses.

March 27, 2020

Asian Americans Protest The Current Wave of anti-Asian Xenophobia

Yesterday I wrote about the need for the U.S. and China to put their differences aside at least temporarily and to find a way to cooperate to fight the Coronavirus as a part of a needed international effort, that no country can “win this war alone. This is not a time for isolation. And then Xi Jingping came through at the G20 Extraordinary Virtual Leaders’ Summit.

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As the situation in the United States deteriorates by the day – not only the number of infected and dying from the Corona virus and the overall shabby response – the economic stimulus aside – there is also a breakdown of social and political bonds as the states fight with the federal government and with each other and municipalities for medical supplies, antidotes – a growing overall anarchy boarding on collapse, the United States needs help! And as Americans of Asian descent are being spit upon, cursed, slashed with razor blades and clubbed, it is China that has stepped for and offered a helping hand.

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Chinese President Xi Jinging had just finished given a talk oat the on-line G20 Extraordinary Virtual Leaders’ Summit organized by Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. It was entited “Working Together To Defeat The COVID-19 Outbreak.

There was not a word – not even a hint – of the angry rhetoric that the Chinese have used recently targeting the Trump Administration. Instead the speech – once again revealing the growing maturity of Chinese diplomacy called for a coordinated global campaign to fight and defeat the pandemic. Xi offered a four point plan:

  1. that the G-20 health ministers coordinate to fight the virus
  2. noting that the virus “respects no borders” that the fight against the pandemic be a coordinated on between nations
  3. that international organizations (the World Health Organization was cited) “be supported” in the effort in terms of cadre, supplies,  I assume
  4. to accomplish this, “macro-economic coordination” needs to be enhanced (at a moment when it is collapsing into a free-for-all) so that the global system of production and demand can be maintained and not totally breakdown

The full text – it is a brief and “to the point” talk can be read at the link above.

As Indian retired diplomat Bhadrakumar Melkulangara aptly noted on social media, by these remarks, China essentially took the global leadership in the global effort to defeat the pandemic, leaving the Trump Administration far behind. U.S. President Donald Trump, busy to bribe German scientists to move to the United States and threatening countries not to accept increasingly highly respected emergency medical aid, had no choice but to praise Xi’s remarks.

Although the speech has global significance – calling for precisely the kind of coordinated effort that might limit the pandemic’s damage – it had significance for badly bruised U.S.-China relations. Xi was offering the Trump Administration “a fig leaf” after the war on words between China and the U.S. had intensified , a relations seemed to be deteriorating that much more. China had accused Washington of having started the pandemic (complicated story that I will write about later). Trump responded by calling the Coronavirus “the Chinavirus” and included Washington firing five “loaded” missiles in China’s direction from a base in the Philippines.

The Pearl Harbor Day Syndrome – on Steriods

Trump’s “Chinavirus” remark triggered a wave of anti-Asian racism in the United States of a particularly vile nature. The Trump Administration and the media have alleged that the virus started in China. It didn’t just target people of Americans of Chinese origin but anyone who “looked” Asian.

As a Huffington Post article noted: “Asian Americans ― Indonesians, Chinese, Koreans, Thai, Filipinos, and others ― aren’t a monolith, but for Americans with bigoted views, that hardly matters.”

To cite a few of the many examples that have burst forth, cited in the above mentioned Huffington Post article:

  • A Filipino couple traveling on the San Francisco area BART wearing facemasks “were told to go home,” the woman of the couple called “a Chinese Coronavirus bitch.” It was the third incident the couple had experienced or witnessed in less than a week.
  • On March 10, a Korean woman in midtown Manhattan was confronted on the street by somebody yelling, “Where is your corona mask, you Asian bitch?” before punching the woman and dislocating her jaw.
  • A week later in Queens, New York, a father walking with his 10-year-old son was harassed by a person yelling, “Where the fuck is your mask? You fucking Chinese” before being struck over the head.
  • And on March 14, a man was arrested after stabbing a Burmese man and his young son in a Sam’s Club in Midland, Texas. (Graphic photos on social media show the boy with a huge gash reaching from behind his ear all the way across to his eye.)

This outburst of anti-Asian bigotry got so out of hand that a few days after having made his “Chinavirus” comment, Trump was forced to backtrack from it, calling for Asian-Americans to be protected. His remark triggered a campaign in Congress, a resolution to call on China to “admit” that the virus started there, rejecting the Chinese public allegation, that the virus is “made in USA.”

After a warning from even the World Health Organization not to use what is obviously a racist term, Trump committed not to repeat it, but he nor has he backed away from the statement.

Still, immediately after Xi Jingling finished his remarks, Trump tweeted:

“Just finished a very good conversation with President Xi of China. Discussed in great detail the CoronaVirus that is ravaging large parts of our Planet. China has been through much & has developed a strong understanding of the Virus. We are working closely together. Much respect!”

Look how Trump’s tone has changed from insulting and racist to conciliatory, almost polite. “We are working together. Much respect.” Needless to say, enough to make one vomit knowing the man but…try not to. Trump needs China. As Bhadrakumar Melkulangara notes:

The US faces acute shortage of medical supplies & a full-blown crisis in New York; refrigerated trucks are being used as ‘mobile morgues’ to stack up corpses. Trump is a realist, knows China’s help is needed.

In his remarks Xi promised to “”increase its supply of active pharmaceutical ingredients, daily necessities, and anti-epidemic and other supplies to the international market.” The United States, whose response to the pandemic up until now has been an unmitigated disaster, needs this.

This is what China has to offer Washington (and the rest of the world).

As for what the United States has to offer China in return – understanding that this has to be a team effort – several thing: financing and the willingness to become more of a “team player” rather than going it alone.

As the situation in the United States deteriorates by the day – not only the number of infected and dying from the Corona virus and the overall shabby response – the economic stimulus aside – there is also a breakdown of social and political bonds as the states fight with the federal government and with each other and municipalities for medical supplies, antidotes – a growing overall anarchy boarding on collapse, the United States needs help! And as Americans of Asian descent are being spit upon, cursed, slashed with razor blades and clubbed, it is China that has stepped for and offered a helping hand.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. William Conklin permalink
    March 27, 2020 10:48 am

    Three weeks ago, I was stuck in Paris and I thought that was a problem. I think I would have been better off to stay. I have often suspected that the USA, Champion of New-Liberal Economics would bite the dust, but I didn’t know how. The United States is only above water because it protects his hegemony with 800 military bases and the world monetary system is based on the petro-dollar. That means that the United States can print as much money as it wishes without inflation, until the rest of the world knocks the king of the hill off its pedestal. When the United States goes down, it will go down bigtime, and based on Rob’s essay, it might not be that far away. In the meantime the God Child of the United States, the Racist State of Israel, is committing what might be the worst war crime in history. It has locked two million people in an open air prison, destroyed their hospitals, sewage plants and water supply. It has also stopped aid and medical supplies, etc. When the population gets sick enough, the bullets of the snipers won’t stop them. They will swarm into Tel Aviv; the fence of their prison will not hold them, there are too many. I suppose to be safe, the IDF should invade Gaza and take all the pitchforks, but then Corona might get them.

  2. March 27, 2020 11:13 am

  3. Coleen Rowley permalink
    March 29, 2020 5:55 pm

    Oh no, John Prine is on a ventilator in critical condition with the virus.

    • March 29, 2020 5:56 pm

      Heard earlier today and have been singing “Sam Stone” since to myself

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