Ethics & Public Policy Center

Trump’s Not the Only One Blaming China. Americans Increasingly Are, Too.

Published in The Washington Post on May 4, 2020



President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s charges Sunday that the coronavirus emerged from a Chinese government lab did more than intensify the growing Sino-American conflict. They are just the latest sign that China’s role in creating or worsening the global pandemic will be a key election issue this fall.

Few people now contend that China is blameless in causing the crisis that has enveloped the globe. One doesn’t have to believe every conspiracy theory to note that at minimum the Communist government failed to be forthright in a timely manner with the World Health Organization and other governments. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has called for an investigation into China’s role, a move that sparked veiled threats of economic blacklisting from state-controlled Chinese media. Even normally more cautious European allies have called for “more transparency” from the secretive and closed regime.

Polls show that Americans are also blaming China. A Harris Poll in early April showed that majorities of Democrats and Republicans thought China was not forthcoming about the virus. While Republicans were predictably much harsher in both their views and in how to respond, anti-China sentiments were shared across the political spectrum. A Pew Research Center survey from March also found anti-China views were shared across party lines. An Economist/YouGov poll from last week even found a plurality of Americans believe the coronavirus came from a lab, with two-thirds of Republicans and nearly three-quarters of Republican primary voters in agreement.

Click here to read the rest of this piece at the Washington Post’s website.

Henry Olsen is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

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