There has been some absolutely ridiculous sniping between the Chinese government and the US government over “blame” for Covid-19. For idiotic reasons, President Trump and his sycophantic followers started referring to Covid-19 as “The Chinese Virus,” a racist term that hints at putting blame on Chinese people for the virus or even implying that those of Chinese ancestry are more risky than others. The administration also stupidly limited the number of Chinese staffers allowed at the US bureaus of Chinese news organizations, partly in response to China expelling three Wall Street Journal reporters over a headline it didn’t like.
The Chinese government responded in an even more idiotic manner, trying to blame Americans for the disease.
China’s state media have been equally involved in spreading skepticism of the virus’s origin. Official Communist Party publication Xinhua has published several articles questioning COVID-19’s provenance, and the state-run Global Times wrote, “As the U.S. COVID-19 situation becomes increasingly obscure, the Chinese public shares the suspicion raised by Zhao Lijian that the U.S. might be the source of the virus and that the U.S. is subject [to] questioning and is obliged to explain [its role to] the world.”
And the latest move is that China has now expelled American journalists working for the three big US newspapers: The NY Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. No matter what you think of the journalism done by any of these news organizations, and no matter what you think of the way either the US or Chinese governments have been handling the crisis, this is very, very bad.
We’re at a point right now where it is more important than ever that there be open information and open communication about what is happening around the globe regarding Covid-19, and making sure that everyone has as accurate information as possible. Expelling journalists from either China or the US is extraordinarily short sighted and dangerous at this moment. The Chinese and American governments should set aside their petty spats for now. They can always pick it up back later when the world is not in so much peril (though, frankly, we’d be a lot better off if we stopped with all the pettiness between countries).
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