The coronavirus crisis is turning Americans in both parties against China

By Josh Rogin | The Washington Post

The Chinese government’s mismanagement of the covid-19 outbreak, and how the United States should respond, are caught up in the partisan politics of Washington. But around the country, Americans in both parties increasingly agree that the United States needs a tougher, more realistic China strategy that depends less on the honesty and goodwill of the Chinese government.

It’s difficult to gauge — in the middle of the crisis — how exactly the U.S.-China relationship is changing. But everyone senses it will never be the same. Political leaders in Washington and Beijing have put their war of words on hold for the moment. But there is clear evidence that China is planning to use the crisis to its economic and political advantage worldwide.

Inside the Beltway, Republicans attack Democrats, Joe Biden and the media for not being critical enough of the Chinese Communist Party. Democrats attack President Trump for saying “Chinese virus” and attack any Republicans who blame the coronavirus pandemic on the CCP as racist.

Yet a new poll shows that, outside the Beltway, the coronavirus crisis is actually bringing Americans together on the China issue. Republicans and Democrats now largely agree that the Chinese government bears responsibility for the spread of the pandemic, that it can’t be trusted on this or any other issue, and that the U.S. government should maintain a tough position on China on trade and overall, especially if Beijing again falters in its commitments.

“It’s as much of a consensus issue as you can get in today’s divided world,” said Mark Penn, chairman of the Harris Poll. “Overall, there’s very little trust for anything that the Chinese government says or does, especially its premier. Xi Jinping has less than half the credibility of President Trump in this poll.”

Of the nationally representative sample of 1,993 American adults Harris surveyed online between April 3 and April 5, a net total of 23 percent said Xi, the Chinese president, was a trustworthy source of information related to the covid-19 outbreak, with Republicans and Democrats closely aligned. The White House and the U.S. media rated 53 and 60 percent in trustworthiness, respectively, with Republicans tending to support the former and Democrats the latter.

Read the full story at The Washington Post.