CNN’s Zakaria: Blaming China for Coronavirus Spread Changes Nothing

Sunday, CNN “Fareed Zakaria GPS” host Fareed Zakaria sounded off on President Donald Trump blaming China for the spread of the coronavirus across the world.

Zakaria agreed that the Asia superpower “engaged in a cover-up” regarding COVID-19, but said blaming China for the spread of the virus does not change the fact that Trump was aware of the virus in January and downplayed its danger.

“President Trump now tells us China is to blame for the havoc that the coronavirus is wreaking across the world,” Zakaria opened his show. “He’s paused funding to the World Health Organization because he says it colluded with China keeping the facts hidden.”

The CNN anchor argued instead of the United States playing the “blame game” with China over its actions to cover up their fault in the spread, the two countries should work together as the Soviet Union once did with the United States to help eradicate smallpox.

Partial transcript as follows:

The question is was Donald Trump telling the truth about China then, or is he telling the truth about it now? Let me be clear, with regard to COVID-19, China engaged in a cover-up and the W.H.O. did not push back enough, though both deny it. Local officials in Wuhan knew about the disease early but chose to minimize fears about it and punished doctors who spoke out. Beijing, for its part, kept a tight lid on information, refused help from the C.D.C., and gave the W.H.O. limited access to Wuhan. Some health experts say it is likely that China is still giving us unreliable data about the numbers of infected and dead. And China’s repressive regime has always controlled and manipulated information to serve its larger interests, but none of that changes the fact that Donald Trump was well aware of the potential dangers of the virus by late January at minimum and by mid-February at the latest.

He made a judgment that the virus would not be a big problem for America, that it could go away in April with warm weather. He apparently worried that taking strong actions against it would spook the stock market. It is those misjudgments that have significantly worsened the COVID-19 crisis in America.

Now, to deflect blame from himself, President Trump has decided to bash China. This compounds one bad policy with another. Whatever China’s mistakes, missteps and deceptions, the fastest way to defeat this pandemic would be to build a broad international alliance, to pool resources, share information, and coordinate actions. Right now, Washington is doing the opposite, restricting trade in key supplies, allegedly outbidding other countries for shipments of PPE and acting without even consulting its closest allies. China, meanwhile, has tried to scrub its own record by floating a conspiracy theory that the U.S. military created the outbreak in Wuhan. It has also tried to do undeniably good things like lending expertise to countries around the world and sending supplies to hard hit places such as Iran, Italy, Spain and the United States.

During the Cold War, when the United States and the soviet union were mortal rivals, they still cooperated on a campaign to vaccinate the world and eradicate smallpox. Now, we are in the middle of a global pandemic, and the U.S. and China, the world’s two leading powers, are trading insults and one-upping each other in a childish blame game that will not save one human life anywhere.

Follow Trent Baker on Twitter @MagnifiTrent

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