Chinese Communist Party (CCP) media swiftly picked up on a U.S. reporter’s as-yet unsubstantiated claim that someone at the White House referred to the Wuhan coronavirus as the “Kung Flu” in her presence, a fairly popular satirical name for the virus she interpreted as a racial slur.
The CCP, of course, is eager to suppress all discussion of where the virus originated or China’s role in making it into a global pandemic, so Chinese media leaped at the opportunity to recycle American media attacks against President Donald Trump and his administration for refusing to stop talking about it.
The Tuesday tweet from CBS News reporter Weijia Jiang said, “This morning a White House official referred to [the] coronavirus as the ‘Kung-Flu’ to my face. Makes me wonder what they’re calling it behind my back.”
This morning a White House official referred to #Coronavirus as the “Kung-Flu” to my face. Makes me wonder what they’re calling it behind my back.
— Weijia Jiang (@weijia) March 17, 2020
Jiang did name the official, nor did she indicate whether the person in question was speaking confidentially.
When White House political counselor Kellyanne Conway said the “Kung Flu” comment was inappropriate on Wednesday and challenged Jiang to name the person who said it, the CBS reporter’s strange reply was, “I think you understand how these conversations go.”
“No, I don’t know how these conversations go, and that is highly offensive, so you should tell us all who it is,” Conway shot back.
President Trump on Wednesday also asked the media to name the White House official who said “Kung Flu,” but the name had not been made public as of Thursday morning.
Chinese state media, like much of the U.S. media, linked the “Kung Flu” comment with all references to the coronavirus as “Chinese” or from Wuhan as racist slurs. The state-run Xinhua news service launched such an attack on Thursday:
When some U.S. politicians insist on finding scapegoats to cover up their own incompetence in responding to COVID-19, the threat to public health will only worsen.
Faced with domestic criticism and deepened public fears, some White House politicians sharpened their rhetoric against China this week, referring to the widespread coronavirus as the “Chinese virus,” “Wuhan virus,” or the “kung-flu,” blaming China for the epidemic, and arousing virus-related hatred.
But putting the blame on China is not an easy or quick way out of the twin health and economic crises faced by the U.S. administration. The tactic can only hurt China-U.S. relations and dampen the confidence in fighting the coronavirus, domestically and internationally.
When the U.S. public sees that their government has sunk so low as to scapegoat China, fears will only deepen, as shown in the continuous slide in the U.S. stock market despite increasing policy efforts.
Xinhua laid out China’s propaganda objectives clearly, sweeping aside the Communist Party’s role in concealing the virus, punishing doctors who tried to warn about it, and feeding false information to the World Health Organization (WHO) to claim China was a heroic leader in the global response to the pandemic and behaved as a responsible member of the international community.
According to Xinhua, all the cool kids in America are saluting Beijing for a job well done:
The irresponsible and cold-blooded words and actions of some federal politicians stand in sharp contrast with many U.S. states and cities which have expressed sympathy and support for Chinese provinces and cities. American businesses, institutions and people have also donated money and supplies to China. Now Chinese businesses and civil society are supporting the American people’s epidemic response.
The U.S. politicians should be clearly aware that distracting the world from the shortcomings of their response will lead to nothing but division, domestically and internationally, damage the government’s credibility, and make the United States weaker rather than stronger.
The only correct way out for the U.S. side is to focus on self-improvement, handle its domestic issues and provide convincing evidence that the spread of the virus can be brought under control as promised.
For some reason, Xinhua – and most of the American media apparatus – forgot to mention that President Trump began making a point of calling COVID-19 the “Chinese virus” after Chinese officials began floating insane conspiracy theories that the virus originated in the United States, possibly as a deliberate bio-weapons attack against China.