A Chinese state media outlet on Friday appeared to be capitalizing on public anger over the U.S. Navy’s dismissal of the commander of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, Capt. Brett Crozier, saying it was wrong to fire him.
The Global Times published an op-ed Friday headlined, “US wrong to relieve captain who raised alarm about COVID-19.”
“Has Crozier done anything wrong by sounding the alarm? Has he become a US version of Dr. Li Wenliang?” the op-ed said.
American lawmakers have hailed Chinese doctor Li Wenliang as a hero for trying to sound an early alarm on the discovery of coronavirus but being silenced by the Chinese Communist regime. He later died after contracting the virus, which originated in Wuhan, China.
The Global Times‘ op-ed suggested China would try to do the same with Crozier as U.S. lawmakers have done with Li.
“Li’s reputation had been restored and is now identified as a martyr. Crozier, however, was wronged at the very crucial time of the US battling against COVID-19,” the Chinese state media claimed.
The Navy fired Crozier on Thursday after he wrote a memo warning that amid a coronavirus outbreak onboard, sailors onboard and off the ship in Guam did not have living conditions in line with the Centers for Disease Control and Navy guidelines.
That memo leaked to the San Francisco Chronicle, which Navy leaders have noted is Crozier’s hometown newspaper.
Crozier had cc’ed the memo to more than 20 people, including some outside his chain of command, and transmitted via unsecured and unclassified lines, making it easy to leak, Navy officials said.
The Chinese state media op-ed said Crozier was “more clear-minded than the officials of the Pentagon.”
It warned that the aircraft carrier “is likely to become another Diamond Princess, and if no measures are taken, a death on board will be reported sooner or later.”
Navy officials have pushed back against any comparison to the Diamond Princess, which Crozier mentioned in his memo.
Critics of Trump have blamed Crozier’s firing on Trump or are suggesting that he should reverse the Navy’s decision, and the op-ed fueled that suggestion.
“With a campaign mentality, US President Donald Trump might have known the Pentagon is getting itself into trouble. He said he didn’t agree with the decision against Crozier. But can Trump rectify Pentagon’s mistake? Will he punish the military officials who wronged Crozier?” it said.
The Chinese op-ed suggested that more Navy officials should be punished.
“Regardless of whether Crozier will resume his duties or not, as long as officials who issued the order to remove him remain untouched, Crozier will be persecuted and marginalized and labeled a coward who destroyed the morale of the military,” it said.
It also called the U.S.’s response to coronavirus a “failure” and that it has been trying to “pass the buck” — a reference to rising anger at China for trying to hide evidence of the discovery of coronavirus within its own borders.
The op-ed mentioned bipartisan U.S. congressional legislation honoring Li Wenliang and said really they should focus their attention on their own government and “unfair treatment of Crozier.”