In a digital townhall format, a question was presented to the President about the role of China in the origin of this virus and what the international response should look like.
When Trump is speaking to an American audience, he has all the subtlety of a 20lb sledgehammer, which makes for lively interactions with his base or his political rivals. But he is also an international businessman.
He doesn’t get much credit for knowing how to speak more subtlely by not burning bridges with people he still needs to negotiate with in the future. He gets blasted as being ‘soft on dictators’ when really, unnecessary saber-rattling would only weaken his own hand in future negotiations.
The American audience is not the only one listening at a moment like this. The world is watching, and so is China. Xi is spectacularly thin-skinned (remember how he outlawed Winnie the Pooh?) and verbal missteps here could have unforeseen consequences both for American citizens and China’s immediate neighbors.
[Editor’s note: God help us if Biden were ever put in this situation.]
Trump had the opportunity to make an open accusation of deceptive malice. You will notice he stopped *just* short of doing that. He left Xi some wiggle room to save face (with ‘saving face’ being a big deal in Eastern cultures) by allowing this to have been an act of incompetence springing from embarrassment.
He threaded that needle, but still raised the key outrages of letting the crisis spiral out of control, keeping it secret, shutting out foreign scientists, and — this is key — allowing open travel with the rest of the world while forbidding travel from affected regions to the rest of China.
That, in particular, is a damning piece of evidence against them that speaks for itself, no matter how politely delivered.
Here’s his answer.
“Personally, I think they made a horrible mistake, and they didn’t want to admit it,” Trump responded.
“We wanted to go in, but they didn’t want us there. They made a mistake, they tried to cover it, like a fire… They couldn’t put out the fire.”
He said the US government was putting together a “strong” report on the origins of the virus, and how the Wuhan Institute of Virology might be involved. The report, he said, would be “very conclusive.”
Trump’s comments came days after he told reporters he’d seen proof that would suggest the virus originated in the lab, but said he couldn’t go into details.
The US intelligence community has said it believes that the novel coronavirus was not “manmade or genetically modified” but was still investigating whether it was caused by “an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan.”
A recently leaked report by ‘Five Eyes’ confirms this theory that the global pandemic was caused by an accidental release from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Trump on China’s COVID-19 Response: "We're going to be giving a very strong report as to exactly what we think happened and I think it will be very conclusive."
“My opinion is they made a mistake, they tried to cover it…They couldn’t put out the fire.” pic.twitter.com/CxF4Q5dIAj
— Danny De Urbina (@dannydeurbina) May 4, 2020
“What they really treated the world badly on, they stopped people going into China, but they didn’t stop people leaving China and going all over the world. I think they were embarrassed by the problem – very embarrassed,” Trump said.
“They allowed this to go into our country, other countries. This should never have happened. This virus should not have spread all over the world.”
In regards to President Xi Jinping, Trump says “I’m not going to say anything” but “this should never have happened.”
Source: New York Post
Using the passive voice ‘this should never have happened’ stops *just* short of explicitly saying Xi crapped the bed on this one. But it leaves little doubt that this is the implication being sent.