US media warn 'making China pay' will be 'foolish' and 'dangerous'

The big lie of the Trump administration is that China is the cause of America's problems, wrote Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs, director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University, in a CNN opinion article on Wednesday. 


Demonstrators display flags and placards during a protest in front of the Statehouse in Boston, US, May 4, 2020. (Photo: AP)

The meme has worked for a while, since it plays into American smugness that if China is succeeding, they must be cheating, Sachs pointed out.

Since President Trump took office in 2017, his approach to U.S.-China relations has included increased pressure via tariffs and trade war rhetoric, and now, with the onset of an unprecedented pandemic, the Pew Research Center concluded in one of its surveys of Americans in March.

According to the survey, roughly two-thirds now say they have an unfavorable view of China, up nearly by 20 percentage points since the start of the Trump administration.

The U.S. has now seen the most confirmed cases and deaths due to the pandemic globally. There was plenty of warning, wrote Professor Sachs in the article, listing a timeline of how China and the World Health Organization alerted others about the virus.

The Five Eyes intelligence alliance and even U.S. leading health expert Anthony Fauci have thrown cold water on Trump's claims that the virus originated from a Chinese lab. 

However, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is still saying that he had "seen evidence that this likely came from the Wuhan Institute of Virology," without showing any evidence.

If these claims by the Trump administration are shot down by intelligence agencies and independent scientific analysis, as now seems likely, they recall the end of McCarthy era, said the professor in the article. 

"Trump is our present-day Senator Joseph McCarthy, who uses lies and innuendos to scare Americans into submission," he added. 

On the same day, Foreign Policy also published an opinion piece, pointing out that the narrative of "make China pay" is unfolding during Washington's "political silly season" of presidential election run-up. 

This unofficial slogan reflects the usual tactics of Trump using China as a campaign prop for partisan gains.

Author Doug Bandow, senior fellow at the Cato Institute, pointed out that the idea of "making China legally liable is […] foolish."

If the U.S. Congress voted to allow Americans to sue the Chinese government, Chinese government can authorize its citizen to do the same thing. Then, the rest of the world will follow, as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Iran, Venezuela, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Libya, Serbia, Haiti, and perhaps countries like Egypt, Vietnam, Laos, and Mexico, can all adopt corresponding legislation.

"It would set an extraordinarily dangerous precedent," Bandow warned.

"Imagine the rest of the world 'making America pay' for Washington's mistakes, failures, and crimes."