China’s state-run Global Times dismissed Thursday’s presidential debate between former Vice President Joe Biden and President Donald Trump as “constant whining and blaming,” disparaging both for addressing the Chinese Communist Party as a threat and not an ally.
China’s behavior, particularly the Party’s actions to hide the Chinese coronavirus pandemic from the world when it began as a localized outbreak in central Wuhan, loomed heavily over the opening of the debate, a discussion on how to address the pandemic. Trump also raised the issue of Biden’s alleged suspect business dealings that may have tied him to the Communist Party, while Biden asserted he would make China “play by the international rules,” but did not elaborate.
The Global Times, the most aggressively anti-American of Beijing’s English-language propaganda newspapers, claimed on Friday that Chinese political “experts” viewed the debate as a display of rot in American political thinking, then asserted that no voters would change their minds over the candidates’ answers.
“While both sides seemed to have learnt lessons from the last messy debate, behaving in a much more restrained way under a new policy that required the candidates to be muted while the other was answering,” the Global Times asserted, “the debate still failed to deliver on any substantial plans to address the country’s important problems, with both sides offering greatly different perspectives on foreign policy, the environment, racial injustice and [Chinese coronavirus] topics.”
The Times noted that China remained “the most-mentioned country in their constant whining and blaming.”
The Global Times Party-approved “experts” said that the debate, alongside the first one between Trump and Biden in September, “reveal the deteriorating political environment in the U.S., where bipartisan views are deeply divided, adding to the country’s failed system exposed when having to deal with multiple crises this election year.”
The Global Times regularly publishes columns describing the concept of a free society, and the American republic system in particular, as an “outdated fantasy” and that allowing citizens to express themselves politically without criminal consequences results in “chaos.” The newspaper presents China’s totalitarian political system as a protector of social “harmony,” made possible by silencing dissidents.
The newspaper seemed to mock segments of the debate focusing on China, claiming that American voters simply do not care about China.
“According to experts, the high frequency of ‘China’ appearing in the US election is unusual as U.S. voters actually care more about domestic matters, rather than foreign diplomacy,” the Times claimed. “But this year, U.S. politicians on both parties have made it a game in which the candidates compete to pass blame on China with coronavirus and domestic economy-related topics.”
According to the Pew Research Center, 51 percent of registered voters see foreign policy as “very important” to their vote. Over half of both likely Biden voters and likely Trump voters agreed.
Shortly after asserting that American voters simply do not care about China’s threat to their way of life, the newspaper bizarrely asserts that it should be “worrying” that discussions about China’s quest for hegemony “will still brainwash the public into have [sic] an unfavorable impression of China, no matter the actual facts, experts warned.”
The Communist Party has expressed growing concern that its international reputation has plummeted in the face of the Chinese coronavirus pandemic. A Pew study published this month found that not just Americans, but citizens of free states around the world had largely stopped thinking positively of both China and its government. A majority of the 14 nations Pew polled had unfavorable views of the country.
Unlike the Times, the Chinese Foreign Ministry appeared to attempt to give the impression that the Communist Party was not following the election in America at all. Asked about Trump’s remark that China’s environment was “filthy” – China is the world’s worst carbon emitter and allowed to increase its carbon output for another decade under the Paris climate agreement – Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian did not respond directly.
“I’m not sure if you noticed how blue the sky is today,” Zhao said, an unlikely claim as Beijing, where Zhao holds his press conferences, as the city is often covered in smog. “We are not interested in the presidential election of the U.S. and hope they will stop making China an issue in the election.
In addition to its concern about anti-China rhetoric in the debate, the Global Times published a typically threatening article asserting that unnamed “sources” in the Chinese government warned Americans to “think twice before taking any provocative actions to avoid shooting themselves in the foot.”
“Sources told the Global Times on Friday that China will resolutely take countermeasures if the U.S. risks damaging China’s interests using the [Chinese coronavirus] pandemic as a cover,” the newspaper relayed.
The article went on to threaten that China would demand America “take responsibility for AIDS and H1N1,” a threat state media has made throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
Each candidates’ treatment of China became an issue in both discussion of the pandemic and of foreign policy more generally. Biden asserted that he would “make China play by the international rules” and that Trump had not done so, claiming falsely that the trade deficit between the U.S. and China had increased under Trump. In reality, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s numbers show a likelihood that the trade deficit in goods may fall to its lowest since 2009 by the end of the year.