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Russian lawmaker slams as unfair competition Trump’s words about China guilt for pandemic

US President Donald Trump said on Saturday China could face consequences if it was proved to be "knowingly responsible" for the coronavirus pandemic
US President Donald Trump AP Photo/Patrick Semansky
US President Donald Trump
© AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

MOSCOW, April 20. /TASS/. A Russian lawmaker has slammed as an example of unfair competition US President Donald Trump’s words that China would face consequences in case its blame for the spread of the coronavirus infection is proved.

"The United States continues to preach savage egoism amid the coronavirus pandemic. As soon as the morbidity curve has somewhat stabilized, Washington rushed to speak about China’s possible responsibility or even about punishing China for the COVID-19 outbreak," Leonid Slutsky, chairman of the International Affairs Committee of Russia’s State Duma lower parliament house, said on Monday. "Again, we see methods of unfair competition practiced by Washington in a bid to guarantee its own domination."

"In a situation when people’s lives are at stake, such methods look even more cynical," he stressed. "China is no accomplice of the virus. It, like other countries, is a victim of the epidemic. We all must show solidarity in the face of the threat rather than pointing fingers at each other looking for a guilty party."

According to another expert, Dmitry Suslov, deputy head of the Center for Comprehensive European and International Studies of the National Research University Higher School of Economics, the statements made by US President Donald Trump that China must bear responsibility for the pandemic is merely a campaign rhetoric, which aims to reduce the pressure on the White House over his own miscalculations in the coronavirus fight.

"These allegations have a very serious campaigning component. During the initial stages of reaction to the pandemic, the Trump Administration was quite clumsy: they did not introduce restrictive measures in time, and the US leader himself kept saying that ‘this is all not serious, there is nothing scary about it, the economy is way more important’ throughout March," the expert says. "Due to these missteps, the US got a colossal breakaway on infection and fatality cases. The US administration urgently needs a scapegoat, and they have found it in China."

According to Suslov, the US officials seek to shift the public discussion focus from Trump administration’s mistakes, which prevented effective fight against the pandemic during its early stages, to search for "China’s mythical guilt in the spread of the disease." He noted that such statements are characteristic of US policy of containment towards Beijing.

"Due to the coronavirus and the processes it provoked, the US influence goes downward, while Chinese influence, on the contrary, gets stronger. Washington desperately seeks to prevent the processes of its own weakening and to activate the struggle for restoration of its global dominance," the analyst noted.

No serious consequences

In the meantime, the Americans themselves do not expect that words regarding China’s responsibility will lead to introduction of international sanctions against Beijing, Suslov speculated.

"Any international punishment is off the table, but the US will, without doubt, demand introduction of restrictive measures towards China from its allies. Whether they will yield to US pressure, is hard to tell," the expert said. "Maybe, some most pro-American states will do, but the majority will refuse. The Asian nations will have no part in this."

According to Suslov’s prediction, Washington will most likely introduce some insignificant trade restrictions and personal sanctions against some Chinese representatives, "presenting it as a punishment for the pandemic." China will continue to harshly respond to the US in the information space, and, should the US introduce sanctions, will introduce sanctions in response.

"The Chinese strategy at this point is to wait until the US elections and hope that Joe Biden wins the race. Then, according to Beijing, bilateral tensions should subside. This is why the Chinese will not make any sudden moves that could damage their relations with the US beyond repair."

US President Donald Trump said on Saturday China could face consequences if it was proved to be "knowingly responsible" for the coronavirus pandemic.

In late December 2019, Chinese officials notified the World Health Organization (WHO) about the outbreak of a previously unknown pneumonia in the city of Wuhan, in central China. Since then, cases of the novel coronavirus — named COVID-19 by the WHO — have been reported in every corner of the globe, including Russia.

On March 11, 2020, the WHO declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. According to the latest statistics, over 2,414,000 people have been infected worldwide and more than 165,000 deaths have been reported. In addition, so far, over 629,000 individuals have recovered from the illness across the globe.

To date, a total of 47,121 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Russia, with 3,446 patients having recovered from the virus. Russia’s latest data indicates 405 fatalities nationwide. Earlier, the Russian government set up an Internet hotline to keep the public updated on the coronavirus situation.