On Friday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said China and the United States are better off cooperating to end the pandemic for the sake of reviving their respective economies. He was commenting on Trump's warning on Thursday that the United States could completely sever diplomatic relations with China over the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
Earlier this week, US lawmakers introduced a bill to sanction Beijing if it fails to provide a full accounting of the outbreak as the FBI opened a probe into China allegedly launching cyberattacks to disrupt US coronavirus research.
Zhao on Thursday said China is a leader in researching COVID-19 treatment options and has even more reasons to worry about information theft. Beijing has also repeatedly said it released information on the outbreak in a timely manner.
Michael Klare, a five-college professor emeritus of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College and a senior visiting fellow at the Arms Control Association, warned that scapegoating China could wreck prospects for successful economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
"At this moment in which the entire world is suffering from the consequences of the coronavirus, it is essential for all countries to cooperate in overcoming its effects and preventing future pandemics", he said.
The economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic were proving to be especially harsh and could best be overcome through coordinated recovery efforts on the part of the major economic powers, especially the United States, China, Japan, and the European Union, Klare recommended.
"For these reasons, I deplore efforts by the Trump administration to exploit public anxieties over the pandemic to demonize China and impose new sanctions, thereby impeding cooperative efforts to overcome the economic harm imposed by the pandemic", he said. "This can only serve to prolong the harm and impede cooperation in preventing future pandemics, which we must assume are likely to occur".
Independent Institute Center on Peace and Liberty Director Ivan Eland agreed that Trump administration's hostile rhetoric against China was bound to backfire and damage the US economic recovery prospects.
"It is stupid to further exacerbate the US economic doldrums by nixing the mutually beneficial economic relationship between the two countries", he cautioned.
Moves already afoot in Congress risked putting Beijing and Washington on a dangerous collision course, Eland observed.
"If [Senator] Tom Cotton's bill passes, which will provide $43 billion in additional US arms for deployment to East Asia and accelerated arms sales to Taiwan, it could further exacerbate the US deficit and debt, further drag the US economy, increase military tensions with China, and could even risk war", he concluded.
Trump was prepared to risk a major confrontation with China for domestic political reasons and to boost his own reelection chances, Eland pointed out.
"Trump is trying to make China a bogeyman to divert attention from his own failures in response to the pandemic outbreak. Therefore, this China-bashing is mostly for domestic audiences for electoral reasons, rather than for foreign policy reasons", he said.
However, China, as a powerful nation, would not allow its sovereignty to be infringed by a US investigation into the origins of the virus, Eland noted.