In response to the outrageous charge from a Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson that the U.S. Army might have been behind the transmission of the Chinese coronavirus to Wuhan, the State Department Friday summoned the Chinese ambassador to the United States.
CBS News reports that Ambassador Cui Tiankai met with Deputy Secretary for East Asia David Stillwell, wherein Stillwell corrected the record with what CBS’s sources described as “a very stern representation of the facts.” According to the report, State Department officials said the purpose of the diplomatic dressing down was “to put the government on notice we won’t tolerate it for the good of the Chinese people and the world.”
This escalation by the Trump administration followed growing efforts in recent weeks by Chinese officials and state-run media entities to delink the virus from China, obfuscate, and blame-shift about a global pandemic that originated on its shores, spread in no small part due to a Chernobyl-like response from its leaders, and for which it still has neither provided an accounting for the virus’s origin, nor allowed independent authorities to investigate it.
It must be seen as part of a growing, pivotal effort by the Trump administration State Department, along with the Department of Justice and others, to engage in the information sphere against a CCP that has taken advantage of our open society, while preventing us from participating in theirs.
The Trump State Department has sought to openly and honestly discuss the totalitarian nature of the CCP regime, while emphasizing a desire for cooperation over conflict on the basis of fairness, reciprocity, and balance, and firmly reiterating that America’s quarrels are not with the Chinese people but their dictatorial rulers.
As Secretary of State Mike Pompeo detailed in a November 2019 speech, “The Chinese Communist Party is a Marxist-Leninist Party focused on struggle and international domination,” that “is truly hostile to the United States…” He also spoke of a desire for cooperation over conflict with a liberalized, rights-respecting China, while noting that it is “critical that as Americans, we engage China as it is, not as we wish it were.”
This address was followed by subsequent ones on the technological battle with China, and its efforts to exert influence over state and local government officials.
That the Trump administration is clearly laying out the points of contention with the CCP, and responding through actions and strategic communications, is vital. The message in this instance to the Chinese and other foreign powers is that slanders against Americans—whether in our armed forces or otherwise—will not be tolerated. Nor will hostile information operations go unchecked.
Coronavirus should crystallize the reality of the danger Communist-ruled China poses to the U.S. national interest, the necessity of forthrightly countering it, and the revolutionary effort the Trump administration has undertaken to reorient the relationship by putting America First.