buruma160_Kevin FrayerGetty Images_chinacoronavirusmaozedong Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

Confronting China

If China wishes to lead the world, it will have to offer more than money and intimidation. Freedom still matters, and China will be incapable of advancing that cause on a global scale without first starting at home.

NEW YORK – Instead of using all the powers of the US federal government to limit the ravages of COVID-19, President Donald Trump’s administration is wasting precious time and energy blaming China for the spread of the virus. Pundits speak of a new cold war. But if the United States really intends to confront China in a struggle for global leadership, Trump is botching it badly.

Even as the Chinese government is showering countries around the world with supplies to combat the pandemic, and even sending medical teams, Trump cut off air travel from Europe without even bothering to inform America’s European allies. Since March, the Chinese government has contributed $50 million to the World Health Organization, while Trump, claiming that the WHO is “China-centric,” has frozen US funding.

When G7 foreign ministers held a video conference to discuss a common strategy to fight COVID-19, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s contribution was to insist that the pathogen be called “Wuhan virus,” after the Chinese city of its presumed origin. Fed up with Trumpian antics, the other ministers ended the conference without a conclusion.

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