Daily US Times: The US general election is just 6 months away and the global economy is shambles because of the coronavirus. There is increasing urgency inside President Donald Trump’s Republican allies and the White House to blame China over its failure to stem the spread of the disease early on.
Now, there’s an effort underway to enlist foreign allies to do the same.
In recent weeks, Trump, along with several of his administration officials including White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, have spoken to dozens of foreign allies about ways to jointly address what the White House says was China’s intentional effort to conceal the severity of the coronavirus outbreak. Two people with knowledge of the discussions have said.
One source, who has knowledge about this told CNN, that over the past three weeks, President himself has scaled up his conversations with foreign counterparts and has raised China with dozens of foreign leaders.
While speaking with Trump, many traditional US allies remain wary of growing up tensions with China, some European leaders have expressed concern at how China handled the crisis. Among the retaliatory options being discussed inside the White House are imposing additional tariffs on Chinese products, cracking down further on Chinese telecommunication companies, and stripping China of its sovereign immunity, the people said. Officials emphasized that there is no imminent action expected.
Jared Kushner, Trump’s top adviser and son-in-law, was among those pushing the President to take a harder line. Kushner believes that one way to energize the President’s political base is by blasting China over its failure to stem the spread of the disease early on, according to three people familiar with his thinking.
One person close to the White House said: “The more you put this on China, the less you can say that we were slow on mobilizing.”
Trump still wary of Xi
President Trump has been careful not to criticize Chinese President Xi Jinping directly while he ramped up his rhetoric against China recently. He is wary of damaging a personal relationship with Mr Xi. In conversations with several hawkish Senate Republicans who have encouraged Trump to turn his rhetoric on China into action, Trump has at times wavered, one Senate GOP source said.
The White House source said: “Trump still has a soft spot for Xi.” A source close to the White House put it another way: “He’s scared s***less. Xi scares him.”
Still, there are reasons it might make sense politically for Trump to target China.