China’s government-run Global Times propaganda newspaper accused former American President Barack Obama of “neglect for life and human rights” in a column Tuesday questioning the wisdom of Obama reportedly planning a large 60th birthday party this weekend.
Initial reports claimed that Obama and wife Michelle would be inviting as many as 700 people to their multimillion-dollar estate in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. Defenders of the party insisted that it would occur outside and that the family had hired a “COVID [Chinese coronavirus] coordinator” to ensure that all guests provided documentation of vaccination and a negative coronavirus test before attending. As of Wednesday morning, the New York Times reported that the Obamas had begun planning to “scale back” the event from hundreds of guests to only close friends and family.
The Obama birthday party news surfaced in U.S. media shortly after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began suggesting that vaccinated people should return to wearing face coverings in public in light of a growing number of coronavirus cases in the country. Studies of people vaccinated with the products legally available in the United States — the mRNA technology vaccine candidates by firms Pfizer and Moderna and the more traditional vector vaccine by Johnson & Johnson — show that the vast majority experience mild cases. The CDC has expressed concern, however, that vaccinated people may infect people who are not vaccinated, either by choice or due to medical limitations, particularly children for whom the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved the use of the three vaccines.
The Global Times panned Obama’s birthday plans as defying public health experts and evidence that Americans’ embrace of individual rights and freedoms is inferior to Chinese communist authoritarianism.
“For Obama, hosting a birthday party is aimed at showing off his former glory as president and a manifestation of the idea that Americans are ‘free’ to do whatever they want,” the Global Times assessed. “Obama once blasted [former President Donald] Trump’s handling of the pandemic, but he himself is not setting a better example by following the rules.”
The propaganda outlet suggested that the party may “become a super spreader event that overshadows the US’ already wretched fight against the pandemic.” It also suggested that Obama was actively challenging President Joe Biden’s public image given the latter’s campaign to scare Americans into avoiding gatherings and wearing masks, but condemned Biden for hypocritically hosting parties himself at the White House.
“Holding large gatherings even while in the grip of the pandemic seems to be embedded in the DNA of Americans,” the Chinese newspaper claimed. “On July 4, US President Joe Biden welcomed around 1,000 people to the White House to mark the country’s Independence Day and to tout his administration’s ‘achievements’ in fighting the pandemic.”
China has actively promoted super-spreader events in celebration of communism throughout the past year. Beijing anticipated that as many as 200 million people would travel internally to celebrate International Workers’ Day in May and organized dozens of events for tens of thousands of people to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party in June.
This week, admitting “glaring loopholes” in China’s coronavirus response, the Global Times reported that China has once again began locking down some of its largest cities in response to out-of-control coronavirus outbreaks, including Wuhan, the origin city of the virus.
The state newspaper, condemning Obama’s party, concluded that it was symptomatic of “calculnations on individual freedoms [sic]” that had no place in pandemic response and “are throwing the interests of Americans and the reputation of the U.S. into the mud.” The article’s headline predicted the party may become a “super-spreader” event.
“With this political farce being staged again and again, the US, once a ‘shining city on the hill,’ has become more divided as a result of the pandemic,” the Global Times concluded.
Initial reports indicated that the Obamas had invited as many as 700 people to their lavish Martha’s Vineyard estate this weekend; more modest estimates put the guest list at around 475 people. Among the initial invitees were reportedly a large number of former White House staffers and celebrities like Paul McCartney, George Clooney, Steven Spielberg, Nick Jonas, and Stevie Wonder. The New York Times reported on Wednesday that the party’s coronavirus protocol meant that many of the guests had already arrived on Martha’s Vineyard and were preparing coronavirus documentation to attend the party when the family, under public pressure over the optics of the bash, reportedly decided to disinvite a significant percentage of the guest list.
“Due to the new spread of the Delta variant over the past week, the President and Mrs. Obama have decided to significantly scale back the event to include only family and close friends,” Hannah Hankins, a spokeswoman for the former president, told the New York Times in a statement published Wednesday. “He’s appreciative of others sending their birthday wishes from afar and looks forward to seeing people soon.”