Trump’s virus. Covid-19 and international relations
[Text for the Marxist Academy at CASS - Chinese Academy of Social Sciences]
Andrea Catone, Editor in chief of “MarxVentuno”, communist magazine
1. Two opposing lines. The Covid-19 is a battleground between progress and reaction.
2. The role of the public health system
3. Facing the pandemic: international cooperation or “America first”?
4. With the pandemic, the US attack on China is not retreating, but is intensifying.
5. The US attack on PRC: contingent or structural?
6. Europe as a theatre for Trump’s attack on China
7. “Cold War”, bipolarism, unipolarism, multipolarism
8. A difficult and complex world phase is opening
1. Two opposing lines. The Covid-19 is a battleground between progress and reaction.
It is common opinion that the pandemic, still in progress, marks a turning point in world history, so that we will talk about a world before and after Covid-19. The pandemic has opened a phase of crisis in the world, which has general characteristics common to all countries and crosses with particular characteristics of each country. As it has happened with every crisis in the history of humankind, this crisis is also substantially open towards two antithetical solutions:
- Towards a progressive outlet, which will mark an important step forward in the historical path of humankind, towards the realization of those ideals of freedom, equality, solidarity, omnilateral development of the human person (Marx) which were at the basis of the French Revolution of 1789 and then of the socialist revolutions of the 20th century.
- Or a regressive outlet, which will block human development for a historical phase, and constitute a retreat in political, economic, social institutions, producing greater inequality, greater poverty, greater social injustice, and increasing the danger of war.
Covid-19 is a battleground between progress and reaction.
In the course of the development of the pandemic and its spread with unequal rhythms, times and modes in the various areas and countries of the world and in the struggle against it, two opposing trends have emerged:
- On the one hand, governments have taken the warnings and advice of scientists and doctors seriously, and have considered that the most effective and necessary measure – for the state reached so far by scientific knowledge on the subject – was that of rigorously blocking physical contact between people, adopting economically, as well as socially and culturally, very heavy measures to block (lockdown) all activities, so as to isolate the virus and remove its fundamental basis – human beings – in which it keeps itself and reproduces. The first country – the most populous in the world – that adopted this very difficult choice was the PRC, with its very strict virus containment measures. When news of the Chinese blockade arrived at the end of January, commentators from many European countries were incredulous and astonished. There was no shortage of the usual anti-Chinese arrogance, which claimed that only a dictatorial country could implement similar measures1. Stopping the economic and social activities of the “factory of the world”, the country that more than any other provides the world with intermediate components and finished products, was one of the most difficult decisions that the leaders of the PRC had ever made. But the socialist principle that inspires the PRC led them to put human health first, realizing that the country’s economy, an economy that is also planned – albeit in a different way from Soviet planning – would suffer heavily from the blockade.
- On the other hand, political leaders and governments who, in order to avoid the lockdown of the economy, preferred not to listen to what the world medical science said, belittled the danger of spreading the virus, or lent themselves to strange theories without any scientific basis, regressing from the level of modern science – which follows the Galilean method – to that of magicians, sorcerers and charlatans, presenting themselves as inventors of easy recipes to overcome the virus. The most sensational case was that of US President Donald Trump, who recommended injecting himself with bleach to kill the virus and forced all American manufacturers and sellers of disinfectants, as well as the major American TV and media, to deny and warn of the deadly danger that such advice entailed2. In order not to stop the economic machine of their country, the highest representatives of the major capitalist powers in the world have torn the modern scientific revolution to shreds, have regressed to charlatanism and magic, have shown in fact how much has decayed that bourgeois class that in the rise of the modern age combined science and the Enlightenment as Marx and Engels wrote in the pages of the 1848 Manifesto. In the same line of thought with Trump is also the Brazilian president Bolsonaro, denounced at the beginning of April by the Brazilian Association of Jurists for Democracy (ABJD) for having with his actions “substantially endanger[ed] the physical health and well-being of the Brazilian population, exposing them to a lethal virus […] echoing unscrupulous businessmen, [he] has stubbornly refused to adopt the world standard of combating the pandemic, social confinement. Thus, Brazil due to the actions of President Bolsonaro ceases to participate in the strategy to flatten the infection curve. Rather, he seeks to expand it. Bolsonaro’s conduct inevitably will cause the health system in Brazil to collapse”3.
Although the governments of the main Western capitalist countries had had the great advantage of knowing in advance the experience of the Chinese lockdown and its success in containing the virus – when the first outbreaks were ignited in Italy in the third decade of February, the spread of the contagion in China had almost been completely blocked – they showed themselves to be rather uncertain and wavering on the lockdown. The Italian government, however, after a phase of uncertainty and a lockdown limited to certain areas, decided to adopt it in the whole country. Generally speaking, almost all European countries adopted rigid lockdown measures, after a more or less long phase of uncertainty and hesitation due to the attempt to limit their economic damage.
The countries such as Trump’s USA and Bolsonaro’s Brazil that have most opposed the use of the lockdown of all activities and of the physical distance between people are today those with the highest number of infected people and deaths.
In dealing with the virus, two lines, two different conceptions of the world, have substantially manifested themselves. One, which places the value of human life first and has accepted the need to sacrifice the economy; the other, which instead places economic interest above the value of life.
2. The role of the public health system
A second aspect that divides the different countries of the world is, beyond the political choice wheter or not to impose a lockdown, the health system and the overall political system of the country. The containment of the contagion, in fact, is strongly influenced by the efficiency of the political system, its ability to effectively implement the decisions taken, to ensure that they are consciously implemented by the population. What is done under coercion always works much less than what is done as a conscious choice: this is what several Western commentators didn’t understand about China, which has been successful in the fight against Covid-19 because its 1,400 million people have consciously, disciplined and actively followed the indications of the CPC.
The reason for the health disaster in Lombardy – the Italian region that had the highest number of infected and deaths4 – is to be found in the abandonment of territorial care and the privatization of local health care: in 1981 there were 530 thousand beds in Lombardy, today there are less than 215 thousand, the local health units (USL) used to be 642, while in 2017 there where only 97 left. This impoverishment explains the chain of errors that led to the Covid-19 disaster. The territorial network that should have taken charge of patients has been dismantled, the emergency rooms have become places of contagion instead of prevention and the hospitals are overwhelmed by the arrival of already serious patients5. Another element of weakness was the insufficient number of test kits, the difficulty of tracing the contagion and, therefore, inadequate diagnostic health facilities.
The high number of deaths in Lombardy and in Italy as a whole lays bare the inefficiencies and inadequacies of Italian health care, which had one of the most advanced universal health services in the world, established with the 1978 reform. Such health care system was the result of the struggles of the workers’ movement during the previous decade, when it was most present and active in Italian society.
Here too the world is divided on the basis of the efficiency of the public health system. The worst situation is in the USA, where healthcare is essentially private and for profit: here the existing data reveal deep inequalities by race, especially to the detriment of African Americans. As of May 19, the overall mortality rate of COVID-19 for African Americans is 2.4 times higher than that of whites; in Arizona, the mortality rate for indigenous people is more than five times higher than for all the other groups, while in New Mexico, the rate is seven times higher than for all the other groups6.
It is clear that public health must be strengthened where it exists, or must be fully set up. The universal right to health cannot be guaranteed by private enterprise, but only by the public sector, democratically directed and governed by representatives of the citizens. It is essential to expand the investment of public resources in the health and pharmaceutical system and equipment (in everything related to health). The capitalist system cannot effectively cure pandemics, because the investments and research of multinationals are motivated by the tension for maximum profit and not by the health of the popular masses7. A country oriented towards socialism like the PRC, on the contrary, will have no difficulty in further strengthening the health system in the name of the priority of human health.
The way in which a reform and strengthening of the public health service, which considers health as a universal right of the entire population, will be undertaken in the various countries will mark a clear dividing line between the two possible outlets for the crisis. The Covid-19 pandemic has found several countries unprepared. If humanity is not blind, it knows that this pandemic will not be the last and that lessons must be learned. It means strengthening prevention and territorial medicine, diagnostic systems and investing in research.
3. Facing the pandemic: international cooperation or “America first”?
This pandemic has also shown that strong international cooperation is needed, conceiving the universal right to health for all humanity on all five continents. Here too, two opposing lines have emerged:
On the one hand, the tendency to strengthen not only the health system and research in individual countries, but to cooperate in research and production of mass drugs, vaccines, worldwide; then, the strengthening of the WHO, the sharing of research and medical-scientific knowledge around the world, the building of a shared future community for health worldwide. This proposal was made by Xi Jinping at the G20 on 26 March:
Major infectious disease is the enemy of all […] At such a moment, it is imperative for the international community to strengthen confidence, act with unity and work together in a collective response. We must comprehensively step up international cooperation and foster greater synergy so that humanity as one could win the battle against such a major infectious disease. […] I propose that a G20 health ministers’ meeting be convened as quick as possible to improve information sharing, strengthen cooperation on drugs, vaccines and epidemic control, and cut off cross-border infections. G20 members need to jointly help developing countries with weak public health systems enhance preparedness and response. […] Guided by the vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind, China will be more than ready to share our good practices, conduct joint research and development of drugs and vaccines, and provide assistance where we can to countries hit by the growing outbreak. […] It is imperative that countries pool their strengths and speed up research and development of drugs, vaccines and testing capabilities in the hope to achieve early breakthrough to the benefit of all8.
And again, at the World Health Assembly on May 18:
We must always put the people first, for nothing in the world is more precious than people’s lives. […] We need to step up information sharing, exchange experience and best practice, and pursue international cooperation on testing methods, clinical treatment, and vaccine and medicine research and development. […]China calls on the international community to increase political and financial support for WHO so as to mobilize resources worldwide to defeat the virus. […] we must provide greater support for Africa. Developing countries, African countries in particular, have weaker public health systems. Helping them build capacity must be our top priority in COVID-19 response. […] we must strengthen global governance in the area of public health […] In view of the weaknesses and deficiencies exposed by COVID-19, we need to improve the governance system for public health security. We need to respond more quickly to public health emergencies and establish global and regional reserve centers of anti-epidemic supplies […] we must strengthen international cooperation. Mankind is a community with a shared future. Solidarity and cooperation is our most powerful weapon for defeating the virus9.
The Chinese president starts from a universalistic conception: he considers the well-being of humankind as a common good, beyond the borders and systems of states. It is a simple, common sense and at the same time great proposal: sharing knowledge, cooperating in the research of drugs and vaccines, fostering the birth of a world health system, creating networks of research and world production of drugs and health equipment, helping the less advanced countries. So, no patents, no properties on vaccines and medicines against epidemics.
This universalistic and progressive conception, in the direction of the unification of the human race, exposed by Xi Jinping, is contrasted by a narrow and petty vision of medical-scientific research and health as a private monopoly, for profit or for the exclusive benefit of one country to the detriment of others. Here, too, Donald Trump fully represents this regressive trend, as he has shown on more than one occasion, seeking exclusivity on vaccines. He tried first with the German biopharmaceutical company CureVac10, then with the French pharmaceutical group Sanofi11. And he repeatedly attacked the WHO, accused of “alarming lack of independence from the People’s Republic of China”12, announcing the suspension of US funding to the organization (14 April) and threatening with an ultimatum (18 May) to cut it for good “if the World Health Organization does not commit to major substantive improvements within the next 30 days” in order to “demonstrate independence from China”. The conclusion of his letter is illuminating and revealing of the conception that D. Trump has of the international bodies:
I cannot allow American taxpayer dollars to continue to finance an organization that, in its present state, is so clearly not serving America’s interests13.
Thus, the highest representative of world imperialism, the one who continually affirms “America first”, the USA first and above all else, cannot anywhere near conceive of the possibility of cooperation aimed at safeguarding the health of all human beings and not just the Americans (whom, by the way, with his disastrous conduct of the Covid-19 emergency, will be those most likely to suffer death from the virus than any other country in the world). The political conception and practice of the absolute primacy of the United States, which belongs to the entire American ruling class – and not only to Trump – is the main obstacle to the path of emancipation and progress of the peoples of the world and the main threat to peace.
4. With the pandemic, the US attack on China does not retreat, but intensifies.
As the pandemic began to spread exponentially in the USA in the third week of March (on 27 March the number of contagions, over 100,000, exceeded those in the PRC), one might have expected that the Chinese President’s call for international health cooperation, expressed clearly and distinctly at the G20 on 26 March, would have been accepted by the US President; but this was not the case. On the contrary, we are witnessing a crescendo of harder and harder attacks on the PRC, of which, as we write these notes, we cannot see the end.
After the first attacks on the WHO, accused of being “China-centric”14, on April 17, the National Republican Senatorial Committee published the Corona big book, a 57-page guide for Republican candidates, which indicates as the focus of the election campaign the attack on the PRC and the CPC: a real anti-Chinese booklet that prescribes three main lines of aggression: a) China caused the virus by “covering it”; b) Republicans will push for sanctions against China for its role in the spread of this pandemic; c) Democrats are “soft on China”15.
Between April and May, the anti-Chinese campaign was deployed at full speed by every means, not only in the USA, but in all the countries in the world where US-controlled media can reach. One of the weapons that the American administration uses abundantly in this mad campaign is that of a legal action to obtain from the PRC, accused of being responsible for the propagation of the virus, billionaire reparations. A legal action considered by many jurists to be absurd and useless, but with a considerable propaganda impact, aimed at creating a climate unfavourable to China, which is thus put on the bench of the accused. On 27 April, Trump announced a very serious claim for damages16. Trump Counsellor George Sorial, a former Trump Organization executive, is putting forward a class action for damages against Beijing in the United States17. Some influential media and even consumer associations are moving in different countries making similar claims. On April 16, the most popular German daily newspaper, “Bild”, joined the campaign, claiming 162 billion dollars in compensation from China. A few days later, the Italian Coordination of Associations for the Protection of the Environment and Consumer Rights (Codacons) joined Trump’s anti-Chinese campaign; on 23 April, its website openeds with the invitation: “Book to join free of charge the Codacons action for damages against China, for the serious responsibilities and omissions in the fight against the spread of the Covid-19”; the action is carried out in collaboration with the American law firm Kenneth B. Moll18. On 29 April, the President of Lombardy, Attilio Fontana, also announced a claim for compensation of 20 billion euros.
On 29 April, Trump, following the old French proverb calomniez, calomniez, il en restera toujours quelque chose19, for which a constantly repeated lie will end up appearing as truth, accentuateds the campaign of attacks and slander against China, stating that the origin of the coronavirus is linked to a laboratory in Wuhan, without providing any explanation, let alone proof20.
In an even more aggressive and battling manner, fuelling a climate in which war is more and more in the air, Trump’s entourage moves: someone proposes to ask China 10 million dollars for each U.S. victim of the virus, with the aim, indicated by Trump himself, to snatch hundreds of billions of dollars from China; Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn argues that China has cost the U.S. economy six thousand billion and could cost another five thousand and proposes to get compensation by no longer paying China interest on U.S. Treasury bonds that it owns. Others think of new trade tariffs, or the imposition of sanctions worth a trillion dollars on future Chinese imports21. On May 1, a report by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, shared by law enforcement and government agencies, went even further, accusing the Chinese government of intentionally hiding the severity of coronavirus epidemic while stockpiling supplies: “the Chinese government intentionally concealed the severity of COVID-19 from the international community in early January while it stockpiled medical supplies by both increasing imports and decreasing exports. […] China likely cut its exports of medical supplies prior to its January WHO notification that COVID-19 is a contagion”22. As you can see, everything is being done to present the PRC and the CPC in the worst light: not only they are accused of having lied about the ways and times of the origin of the virus, which continues to fuel the suspicion that it came out of Wuhan’s laboratory, but they are even accused of having done so to speculate about medical supplies, to do dirty business at the expense of the American people...
On 3 May, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that there was “enormous” evidence that the new coronavirus outbreak originated from a biomedical laboratory in Wuhan, China, but he did not present any23. After all, U.S. leaders, whether Republican or Democrat, are used to slandering their enemies in front of the world and impudently exhibiting “evidence” that does not exist. Suffice it to recall here the vial full of white powder agitated by the then Secretary of State Colin Powell at the UN Security Council on 5 February 2003 in order to accuse Iraq of producing chemical and bacteriological weapons of mass destruction; weapons which, after the Anglo-American occupation of the country, turned out to be non-existent.
At the beginning of May, the U.S. administration cut the investment links between the U.S. federal pension funds and Chinese shares to a value of about 4 billion dollars, claiming that this would involve investment risks and national security24. On 14 May, in an interview with “FOX Business” Trump threatened to sever all trade and economic relations with the PRC, claiming that this would save the US $500 billion25.
Added to all this are the recent positions taken by the US administration towards Taiwan, which, treating the island as de facto independent, tend to disregard the principle of one China (the People’s Republic of China), established since 1992 and recognized in hundreds of international agreements. Lucio Caracciolo, editor in chief of the Italian geopolitical magazine “Limes”, wrote on this subject in his editorial of 25 May:
Recent cases confirm that Washington has taken off its gloves to beat hard. With protocol semantics, when Secretary of State Pompeo congratulates Tsai Ing-Wen, re-elected to the presidency of the Republic of China (Taiwan), calling her “ President” - i.e. Head of State. With the violence of economic reprisal, announcing that Taiwan Seminconductor Manufacturing (world leader) will open a factory in Arizona, while banning the sale of its semiconductors in Beijing. Huawei and his 5G are under attack26.
Equally aggressive is the US administration’s stance on Hong Kong, where it foments and supports secessionist and anti-communist movements and now mobilizes its media apparatus to attack the Chinese National People’s Congress to draft a national security law for Hong Kong.
At the same time, the US is stepping up its military action in the seas of China. The “South China Morning Post” of May 10 writes:
So far this year, aircraft from the US armed forces have conducted 39 flights over the South China Sea, East China Sea, Yellow Sea and the Taiwan Strait – more than three times the number carried out in the equivalent period of 2019. […] Meanwhile, the US Navy conducted four freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea in the first four months of the year – compared with just eight for the whole of 2019 – with the latest on April 29, as guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill sailed through the Spratly Islands chain27.
5. The US attack on PRC: contingent or structural?
In the face of this avalanche of increasingly warlike official statements, accompanied by political, legal, economic, military hostilities all over the world, the question arises as to whether this is a temporary, contingent situation, essentially linked, on the one hand, to the attempt to hijack against China, rather than against the Trump administration, the resentment of the population hit massively by the disastrous management of the pandemic, and, on the other hand, to the presidential election campaign next November, as the Corona big book, the instruction manual for Republican candidates, would seem to suggest. Several observers and political commentators have insisted on this contingent aspect, linked to the capture of the internal US consensus. It is likely that Trump’s need to make up for lost ground in the U.S. electorate has contributed to inflaming the tone of the most demagogic president in U.S. history and to increase the clash with China: his rival, Democrat Joe Biden, is doing better in his voting intentions than Hillary Clinton in 2016; a survey by “Fox News” (Trump’s “friendliest” TV), confirmed by an average of the polls of the week 18-24 May, gives the Democratic candidate at 48% and the incumbent president at 40%28.
However, there is more than one reason to believe that the current violent US attack against the PRC is not temporary and occasional, but rather structural, rooted in the economic-political system of the United States, in the fundamental traits of the dominant class, which, democratic or republican, shares the ideology of America first, of the US primacy in the world, of US unipolarity which does not accept and cannot be reconciled with the prospect of a multipolar world.
The USA is not and does not conceive of itself as a capitalist country like the others, nor as a primus inter pares. The ideology of the absolute primacy of the United States was forged during the “cold war” (1946-1991) and was openly proclaimed in the White House’s strategic documents in the aftermath of the dissolution of the USSR; the latter affirm the will to maintain and strengthen US unipolarism. This unipolarity has a strong anchorage in the military-industrial complex, which expanded enormously with the Second World War and even more so with the “Cold War”.
The “cold war”, the permanent confrontation with the USSR and the “socialist camp”, designated as the absolute enemy, the “empire of evil”, the perennial threat to the freedom and values of the West, served the US ruling class to a) compact under its own military, political, economic command the capitalist countries of Europe and Asia (while Latin America was the “backyard” of Uncle Sam); b) to feed and extend an enormous military-industrial complex that has no equal in the world (US military spending in 2019 was 732 billion dollars29); c) to impose the dollar as a currency for international trade; d) to inoculate in the US population a nationalism of great power that needs to continuously be feed on a great enemy, a great and threatening evil against which to fight, presenting itself as a super-empire of Good.
The ruling class in the USA is the centre, the beating heart of the world imperialist system and has become too accustomed to enjoying the privileges that this centrality gives it. The possible loss of world supremacy alarms the US economic potentates, who can maintain a world role by leveraging the political-military power of the country. This primacy is not only military, political, economic, it is also ideological-cultural, in soft power, and colonizes the imagination of the world population. Losing this primacy is today the main concern of the US ruling class, which sees the branch on which it sits sawed off.
This peculiar US structure can explain the violent attack on China. The US ruling class has built consensus on American primacy in the world, and on the fight against an enemy. American mentality, starting from World War II, and even more from the outbreak of the “cold war”, was built on the perennial image of a dark enemy: from World War II, when the enemy were the Japanese and the German Nazis, to the “cold war” when the Communists and the USSR were the enemy, to the post-”cold war” when Islamist terrorism became one, and finally China. In order to keep the internal cohesion Trump, and not only he, but the entire American ruling class, must find an enemy, and refusing to find it in itself and in its economic-social structure, hurls himself against China.
The choice of the PRC as an enemy par excellence is not by chance, nor is it only contingent. It was already present between the lines in the strategic doctrine of the USA in the 1990’s. And it became the obsession of the American dominant class – bipartisan, crossing both the Republican and Democratic parties – after the great financial crisis of 2007-2008. The PRC also suffered the repercussions of that crisis, but – thanks to its socialist oriented system, to the effective capacity of the CPC to orient and direct the economy – it was able to reorganize itself rapidly, continuing with excellent performance, becoming in 2010 the second world economy and continuing on its path of internal development, of progressive overcoming of the pockets of poverty present in the country, of creating the largest domestic market. Its political system, moreover, strengthened and increased social cohesion; the CPC proposed at the 19th Congress (2017) to solve the new contradictions that the development of the previous years had created, and set itself as a country that - unique in the world - spoke to the whole world proposing, contrary to the imperialist globalization of the USA, a shared path of win-win development in a multipolar world, of which the great project of the New Silk Road is a fundamental pillar.
Trump’s presidency has been characterized – making the tare of some oscillations and statements that theatrically distinguish this personage – by placing China as an adversary, and then main enemy, against which he started a hard trade war in 2017. This war, even if led in a zig-zag direction, grew, caused great unrest in world markets and basically started a backwards path in globalization and international production chains. The three years of the Trump presidency preceding the Covid-19 pandemic have seen a gradual increase in economic attacks on China, but that is not all. Anti-Chinese media propaganda has intensified, the USA has fomented anti-Chinese movements in Hong Kong, has spread lies about the “repression of the Uyghurs”, has operated, in short, as they had well learned to do in the period of the “cold war”, when US President Ronald Reagan called the USSR the “empire of evil”.
6. Europe as a theatre for Trump’s attack on China
That the growing number of attacks on China has a base that goes well beyond the current election campaign also shows us the great media mobilisation and strong political pressure – a real “let’s tighten our ranks!” – of the USA towards countries linked to them by military or commercial treaties, with the clear objective of aligning them against Beijing. These are countries which, although with economic-political systems very different from that of the PRC, have developed commercial and cultural relations with it over the last few decades.
One of the most relevant areas of the world – if not the main one – which the policy of the United States is aiming to align it with the anti-Chinese attack is Europe (understood not as geographical Europe, therefore, Russia is excluded). China is the EU’s second largest trading partner after the US and the EU is China’s first trading partner30. Both sides are committed to a comprehensive strategic partnership, as expressed in the Strategic Agenda for EU-China Cooperation 202031. There is also the 17+1 cooperation of Central and Eastern European Countries (CEECs) for the Belt and Road Initiative32. In spring 2019 the main Western European countries signed important agreements with the PRC on the New Silk Road, emphasized by the visit of President Xi Jinping. Italy signed the Memorandum of Understanding, the first G7 country to do so.
During the pandemic China lent considerable aid to Italy and a survey in March indicated that the PRC was considered a friendly country by the majority of Italians33. The political forces of the present government – although with some differences – look to China with prospects of economic collaboration and growth of interchange, including cultural exchange. For some of them, collaboration with China could be a considerable support to face the economic crisis that has been weighing on the country for years.
The US media offensive to embark and harness European countries in the anti-Chinese crusade takes place across the board, with an abundance of means and interventions in the major media. If we look at what is today the most important European country, Germany, we can see the virulence of the anti-Chinese campaign.
Let’s look at the open letter to Xi Jinping that Julian Reichelt, editor in chief of “Bild”, the best-selling newspaper in Europe (over one and a half million copies) of the Springer publishing group, published in mid-April34. The newspaper had become a spokesman for the campaign orchestrated by Washington to demand billions in compensation from China for the damage caused by the pandemic. The Chinese embassy in Berlin had addressed an open letter to “Bild” underlining the absurdity and groundlessness of this request. Reichelt wrote a very rhetorical, heavy-handed letter that was openly offensive to the PRC and Xi Jinping. What arguments does he use? He repeats the refrain on the lack of democracy, on the authoritarian, “non-transparent” regime, which “rules by surveillance” and “is a denial of freedom”; moreover, the PRC is accused of “intellectual property theft”, enriching itself “with the inventions of others, instead of inventing itself”; it credits Washington’s unsubstantiated accusation that the virus escaped from Wuhan’s laboratory and then spread the virus around the world, so it has to pay dearly for it; and finally, also the gift of face masks is “imperialism hidden behind a smile – a Trojan Horse”. Nothing new under the sun. Reichelt vomits against China the usual clichés. Among them the accusation of theft of intellectual property to a country that has become – thanks to the policy of strong investments in schools and universities and in research and development – a leader in information and digital technologies (think about 5G), rather reveals the hostility, induced by the USA, to the collaboration with China on 5G.
But this rough and offensive letter pales in compariason to the intervention of Mathias Döpfner, CEO of Springer, the largest German publisher. The U.S. is calling for all the media in the anti-Chinese campaign. But, as it is made clear here, it’s not a question of Wuhan’s Laboratory or anything similar (although the subject will continue to be agitated), but of the economic and political future. Germany is invited, and so are all European countries, to “decouple” with China, to give up their trade with it. Döpfner puts an aut aut: “Where does Europe stand? On the side of the US or China?”. And he takes up the clichés about the undemocratic, authoritarian country, etc., inviting mistrust of its “seemingly friendly and peaceful international expansion”. He states that China’s admission to the WTO in 2001 was “perhaps the biggest mistake made in recent history by the western market economies”: since then,” the US’s share in the gross world product (GWP) dropped from 20.18% in 2001 to 15.03% (2019). Europe’s share dropped from 23.5% to 16.05%, a drop of 7.45 percentage points in less than two decades. While China’s share increased from 7.84% to 19.24% in the same period, with an average annual growth rate of around 9%”. According to Döpfner, this is due not to the intrinsic strength of China’s socialist system, which combines plan and market, state-owned enterprises and private enterprises to implement long-term strategic development programs, which have made it possible to reduce poverty enormously and rapidly increase workers’ wages and significantly improve their living conditions, but to “a non-democratic state capitalism that exploits easier trading and competitive conditions without subjecting itself to the same rules. Asymmetry instead of reciprocity was the result”. So, says Döpfner, the US policy of “decoupling from China” must be followed. “China or the US. It is no longer possible to go with both. [...] If Germany decides to expand its 5G infrastructure with Huawei, that will place an enormous strain on transatlantic relations. It would be a turning point, as America could no longer trust Germany”. And Germany cannot and must not disassociate itself from the US, which, after its hard opposition to the USSR and the GDR, “directly and indirectly made German reunification possible”. We must not allow – continues Döpfner – “the state capitalism of a totalitarian global power to continue to infiltrate or even take over key industries like banking (Deutsche Bank), automotive (Daimler, Volvo), robotics (Kuka) and trading hubs (Port of Piraeus)”. Therefore, he invites Europe to continue “the traditional transatlantic alliance despite Trump, including the explicit and closer involvement of a post-Brexit UK and other allies such as Canada, Australia, Switzerland and the democratic countries of Asia” and to pursue, Germany in the first place, that is Europe’s economic engine, “a strict process of decoupling from China”, because “the economic ties are always political ties as well” and “we might all wake up one day to find ourselves in a gruesome society, on the side of China and the states loosely associated with it – like Russia, Iran and other autocracies”. Germany, which has an annual trade volume with China of about 200 billion euros, compared to all German trade valued at 2.4 trillion Euros, would suffer a heavy blow with the loss of Chinese trade, “but not insupportable”35.
It is a very strong solicitation, coming from the main chain of newspapers in Germany, to join without hesitation the western camp led by the USA, which means first of all a strengthening of the link between Germany and the USA, despite some “tantrums” by Trump, and the strengthening of NATO. In this regard, there are significant political forces in Germany such as the SPD (and Die Linke) – the German Social Democratic camp – that would like to loosen the ties with the US and NATO. At the beginning of May, Rolf Mützenich, the leader of the Social Democrats (SPD) in the Bundestag, called for Germany not to support US nuclear warheads. And he immediately received a harsh rebuke from the American ambassador in Berlin, Richard Grenell, who – and this is interesting to note – included among the reasons for the need to strengthen the Atlantic alliance, along with the “traditional” Russian enemy, the PRC: “The Russian invasion of Ukraine, the deployment of new nuclear-weapon-capable missiles by Russia on the periphery of Europe and new capabilities of China, North Korea and other countries make it clear that the threat is all too present”36.
In short, there is growing American pressure for a “tightening of ranks” among its European allies. The role of NATO is now fully recovered in view of the anti-Chinese crusade. If during the election campaign and at the beginning of his term of office Trump had expressed, in his usual theatrical style, reservations about NATO’s role and usefulness37 – but in reality he aimed rather to ask the Europeans to double their economic contribution to the Alliance – NATO is now fully defended and accredited, bringing the Russian threat closer to the Chinese one.
Beyond and more than Germany, where the USA is very much involved in stopping the autonomist attempts of a part of the SPD (party that governs in coalition with the CDU), there is another country in Europe that must be kept under close surveillance, Italy. This country, despite the official pro-Atlantic statements of the Defence Ministers Guerini38 (PD) and the Foreign minister Di Maio39 (5-star Movement), manifests in the latest polls feelings of friendship towards the PRC much more than towards the USA. The order that comes from across the Atlantic and to which almost all the major media adapt is unequivocal: to demolish at all costs the image of China, starting with the accusation of being the cause of the epidemic for a virus that was let slip, either intentionally or by mistake, from Wuhan’s laboratory, to the point of demanding to reinforce NATO against the Chinese threat. The arguments and the way they are presented are essentially similar to those used in Germany by Reichelt and Döpfner.
On 4th May, the newspaper “La Stampa”, hosts Mark Esper, US Secretary of Defence, interviewed by Paolo Mastrolilli40:
Russia and China are both taking advantage of a unique situation to advance their own interests” […] Huawei and 5G is a prime example of this malign activity by China. This could harm our alliance. Reliance on Chinese 5G vendors, for example, could render our partners’ critical systems vulnerable to disruption, manipulation, and espionage. It could also jeopardize our communication and intelligence sharing capabilities. To counter this, we are encouraging allied and U.S. tech companies to develop alternative 5G solutions…
On May 13, the newspaper “La Repubblica”, in turn, hosts an interview (or a simulacrum of it, since the interviewer seems to ask only the questions the interviewee wants) of the journalist D’Argenio to the Secretary General of NATO, already significant under the title: “Stoltenberg: NATO united against Russian and Chinese disinformation”41. Russia and China, through disinformation42 on the Covid-19, would carry out destabilizing acts against Western democracies in order to gain political influence on NATO and European Union partners. Like Esper, Stoltenberg also raises the alarm on Huawei’s 5G: “Allies should avoid foreign investment that could compromise the confidentiality of our communications”. NATO is thus fully enlisted in the anti-Chinese crusade.
The attack on China is carried out almost daily by the major media and right-wing exponents, acting as a sounding board for Trump and Pompeo’s statements. Already in January, “Il Giornale” was already embracing the thesis of the virus which had escaped from Wuhan’s laboratory43. And Matteo Salvini, leader of the League (which was the first Italian party at the European elections on May 26, 2019, with 34.26% of the votes), said in a recent speech in the Senate:
We will join the request at least for a Commission of Inquiry to understand who has done and who has not done what, because we could end 2020 with the absurdity of having a single growing world economy, which is the Chinese economy which, after having voluntarily or involuntarily, it is not for me to judge it, caused a global pandemic, on the rubble of this pandemic goes to buy companies, data, telephony and hotels in Italy and around the world44.
He also calls, in full agreement with Trump, to reconsider the contributions of the Italian Republic to the World Health Organisation. The request for billions in compensation from China, by the President of Lombardy, Mr Fontana has already been mentioned.
But the attack on China is also conducted in an indirect and more devious way. Report – the investigation broadcast by Rai3 (the “left-wing” channel of Italian Radio and Television), conducted by journalist Sigfrido Ranucci – is in line with the mainstream that tends to cast a sinister light on China. The May 11 broadcast is dedicated to an investigation into the WHO, just a few days before its 73rd World Assembly on May 18-19, at which Trump sends a letter to its Director General, accusing the WHO of being enslaved to China. Report fully supports this thesis45.
The first part of the broadcast is dedicated to the demolition of the figure of WHO General Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who is shown in the broadcast sitting next to Chinese President Xi Jinping in the Great Hall of the People of Beijing (January 28). His grave guilt? To openly praise the Chinese government for the management of Covid-19, “but” – the journalist tells us – “we do not know on what basis since the WHO has not yet made a real inspection in China”. But who is Tedros? Here is the evil portrait that makes the broadcast:
In his country, Ethiopia, he was minister first of Health, then of Foreign Affairs in governments that did not hesitate to use violence against the opposition. His party is the dreaded TPLF: the Popular Front for the Liberation of the Tigris [...] During the management of the Ethiopian government, the TPLF has been accused of many episodes of corruption. Tedros was not only a member of that government, Tedros is a leading figure in the TPLF party. The TPLF, which was the main force in government.
We would therefore be dealing with a shady figure, a leading figure of a corrupt government (many episodes of corruption) and despotic (he used violence against the opposition). But that’s not enough: the main force of government, the TPLF, “is linked by a double thread to the Chinese Communist Party and in particular to the figure of the current President Xi Jinping because of his heavy investments in the Ethiopian country”. Report tells us quite explicitly that the appointment of the “first African who manages to climb to the top of the WHO” is not due to personal merit, but to China, which, thanks to the large investments in infrastructure, can influence the African Union and get it elected.
Report makes a digression on Chinese policy in Africa. Many countries on the continent - it is said with great regret – have become very attached from an economic point of view to China. But, it is said, “this Chinese embrace of the continent was not for free”, but to “lay their hands on” the countries of the continent. But it’s not enough: not only do the Chinese evildoers buy the director of the WHO, presented as a puppet in their hands, but they spy on the work of the Union of African Countries: “The data that passed through the headquarters of the African Union were intercepted by the Chinese government within this same structure”. And here is the conclusion, the portrait of a real criminal association: “Money, investments: this is the thread that keeps Tedros tied to China at this moment”. Even the African Union would thus be a puppet in Chinese hands. This statement is dropped there, as if it were proven truth, without the “investigative journalist” bringing any evidence.
But it is still not enough: last but not least, there is the interview with Andrea Sing-Ying Lee, presented as “Taiwanese Ambassador to Italy”, pretending to ignore – but they are professional journalists! – that the only Chinese Embassy in Italy is that of the PRC and that Italy, like other countries in the world, has for years adhered to the “One China” principle, a policy that now the US administration, in its mad policy of attack on the PRC, aims to overturn.
7. “Cold War”, bipolarism, unipolarism, multipolarism
The expression “new cold war” is increasingly used in political interventions and in the media to designate the current situation of relations between the USA and the PRC. This expression – as language scholars teach us – is neither neutral nor innocent, it communicates a certain point of view to readers or listeners, it tends to give a certain vision of things.
In the current language of journalism, but also of historians, the expression “cold war” is used throughout the post-1945 period (end of World War II) until the demolition of the socialist countries of Central Eastern and Balkan Europe (1989) and the USSR (1991). Which configuration of world relations implied the Cold War? Basically a bipolar world, in which two great antagonistic and irreconcilable blocs, socialism and capitalism, East and West, two – so it was said – “superpowers”, were confronted.
The bipolar opposition was not a choice of the Soviet leadership, but was imposed by the USA and the United Kingdom, which thus managed to align all the countries of Western Europe under the political, economic and military command of the USA. The founding of NATO in 1949 and its subsequent enlargements sealed this alignment. The Warsaw Pact only took shape several years later and was dissolved in 1991.
The concept of “West”, of “Western values”, of Western bloc, as we still use it today, as a synonym of market economy, liberal-democracy and pro-Atlantism, also took shape after World War II in contrast to the East of the USSR and the People’s Republic of China, depicted as dictatorships and barbaric. In this way, Marx and Engels, Communist thought, as well as all thought of anti-colonial and anti-imperialist emancipation, were expelled from the “West”.
The binary simplification of the bipolar world played in favour of the dominant class of US imperialism, which forced them to take sides for or against the Western bloc, excluding the possibility of intermediate and diversified positions. The birth of the movement of non-aligned countries, which we can date back to the Bandung Conference (1955), to which the Prime Minister of the PRC Zhu Enlai made an important contribution, was the attempt to break the bipolar scheme imposed by US imperialism.
Even the use of the term “superpower”, which came into use in journalistic language, was deceptive, because it put two countries on the same economic and military level, two countries that were not in reality: the economic strength of the USSR – which had undoubtedly made great strides thanks to socialist planning in the 1930s and later – was nevertheless considerably less than that of the USA (and it should be remembered what a huge tribute of victims and economic destruction the USSR paid to defeat Nazi-Fascism, compared to the USA, which did not have war at home). The USSR was forced by the US offensive to the arms race, which allowed it a certain dissuasive power in the use of nuclear weapons, but not to reach parity with the US, which had the most powerful military-industrial complex in the world. Furthermore, the arms race to which the USSR was forced, diverted resources that could have been used in social spending to improve the standard of living and well-being of the people, thus weakening the consensus to the Soviet government and the CPSU. The USSR was not a “superpower”: this label favored the ideological campaign to demonize it as an “empire of evil”.
If we observe the historical experience of the defeat of Soviet socialism and European countries, it can be seen that the terrain of confrontation of bipolarism imposed by the USA in the aftermath of the Second World War was favourable to the latter, which could pass after 1991 to the affirmation of unipolarism, of the USA as the only dominant centre in the world. Throughout the historical phase of the thirty years after 1991, the political and cultural forces of socialism, as well as of anti-colonial and anti-imperialist emancipation, proposed and fought for the end of US unipolarism and the transition to a multipolar world. This concept is not only opposed to unipolarism, but also to bipolarism, it rejects the “cold war” battleground chosen by the imperialists. Holding the flag of the multipolar world, the world strategy of struggle for socialism learns the lessons of the historical experience of the twentieth century, understands that the world of the twenty-first century is articulated in different countries with different degrees of development of productive forces and relations of production with their respective political superstructures: the transition to more advanced socialist production relations cannot take place simultaneously, nor with a general final clash between the poles of socialism and imperialism, but through the combination of the consolidation and growth of socialist-oriented countries (and here the role of the PRC and socialism with Chinese characteristics is extremely important), with the escape from underdevelopment and dependence on imperialism of the countries of Asia, Africa, Latin America, with the class struggle between capital and labour in European capitalist countries, and a plurality of other intermediate social forms. The multipolar world would allow more favorable conditions for the transition to more advanced relations on the road to social emancipation and socialism.
The New Silk Road project is heading in the direction of a multipolar world, which builds fundamental infrastructures, creating the conditions for communication and mutual benefit for countries with different cultures, economic systems and political regimes, such as, for example, the growing commercial but also cultural relations between China and the EU, whose countries are for the most part affiliated to NATO, which is fully US-led.
The current policy of the US administration, which sees its unipolar domination increasingly staggering, is instead aiming at re-proposing the bipolarism scheme, which was successful during the “cold war” period, and is trying to bring the PRC onto this ground. This is clearly shown by the increasingly frequent aut-aut (the heaviest is, as we have seen, that of Springer’s CEO): European countries must choose, either with the USA or China. With bipolarism the US, fierce opponents of the BRI, tend to align European countries against the PRC under their command.
8. A difficult and complex world phase is opening
The forces of socialism and progress in the world are today called to the difficult task of opposing, also at the media level, the current US strategy, which aims at a bipolar US-China confrontation, presenting the latter as a “superpower”. China has never said that it is or wants to become a superpower. On the contrary, it has always said the opposite. And this is based on all the political thinking of the CPC, from Mao Zedong to Zhu Enlai, to Deng Xiaoping, to Xi Jinping. Underlying this is a well-established world view and strategic vision, which Xi’s thinking has further developed. It is the idea of a long and complex process of transition to socialism, which requires within it cooperation with bourgeois forces to develop productive forces, and, on the international level, the battle for the affirmation of a multipolar world. The latter is, under the given conditions, the best environment for the struggle for socialism, for changing the relationships of power, while avoiding the catastrophe of war. China is today one of the main bastions for world peace, it is based on the idea of peaceful development. In the multipolar world one can play with a plurality of actors and contradictions. Socialist forces can move forward, as in fact has happened extraordinarily with the growth of China, Vietnam, Cuba. The bipolar world forces to clash wall against wall, forcing even the neutrals to take their place. It favors imperialism, with its enormous control over the media.
The new world situation determined by the Covid-19 pandemic and its political, cultural and social implications is still open to different solutions, to a possible progressive outlet for humanity. But the conservative and reactionary forces at world level, and in particular US imperialism, are decisively opposed to any possible community of shared destiny for all humanity. The current dominant class in the USA, born and raised in the culture of the American imperial mission and unchallenged domination over the whole world, does not accept the passage to a multipolar world, based on cooperation with mutual advantage between countries and blocs of countries with equal dignity. To the constructive and reasonable proposals of the PRC for world health cooperation, it responds with an escalation of real declarations of war, increasingly raising the level of the clash and trying to drag the PRC on the preferred terrain of clash of the USA, the bipolar confrontation, which allows the USA, mobilizing the whole system of political-military alliances grown with the Cold War, first of all NATO, to yoke the European countries in the clash against China.
It opens a difficult and complex world phase, in which the forces of socialism, progress and social emancipation, which today have a fundamental point of reference in the PRC, have the historic task of strengthening international cooperation and solidarity and of countering with strategic political intelligence and tactical flexibility the forces of the imperialist reaction, working actively along the traced path of building a community of shared destiny for all humanity.
See for example: Pierre Haski, La gestione autoritaria dell’epidemia di coronavirus da parte della Cina [The authoritarian management of the coronavirus epidemic by China], in “Internazionale”, 2020/02/14, https://www.internazionale.it/opinione/pierre-haski/2020/02/18/cina-coronavirus-autoritarismo
See: Allyson Chiu, Katie Shepherd, Brittany Shammas, Colby Itkowitz: Trump claims controversial comment about injecting disinfectants was ‘sarcastic’, in “The Whashington Post”, 2020/04/24, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/04/24/disinfectant-injection-coronavirus-trump/
See: Brazilian Association of Jurists for Democracy: Bolsonaro denounced for crimes against humanity before the International Criminal Court, in “Peoples Dispatch”, 2020/04/24, https://peoplesdispatch.org/2020/04/03/bolsonaro-denounced-for-crimes-against-humanity-before-the-international-criminal-court/
Lombardy has 10 million and 84,000 inhabitants, a little less than the inhabitants of the city of Wuhan. As of May 21, according to data from the Ministry of Health (http://www.salute.gov.it/imgs/C_17_notizie_4792_0_file.pdf) there are just over 86,000 infected and 15,727 deaths.
See: Claudia Guasco, Virus Lombardia, la crisi del modello “Pirellone”: la catena di errori che ha fatto dilagare i contagi [Virus Lombardy, the crisis of the “Pirellone” model: the chain of errors that has spread the contagions], “Il Messaggero”, 2020/05/21, https://www.ilmessaggero.it/italia/lombardia_coronavirus_contagi_covid_19_morti_oggi_news-5242285.html
See: Apm Research Lab Staff: The color of coronavirus: COVID-19 deaths by race and ethnicity in the U.S, in “Apm Research Lab”, https://www.apmresearchlab.org/covid/deaths-by-race
A recent article by Prabir Purkayastha, founder and editor-in-chief of “Newsclick” makes this clear and timely. See: Why Capitalism Can’t Cure Global Pandemics?, in “Citizen Truth”, 2020/05/13, https://citizentruth.org/why-capitalism-cant-cure-global-pandemics/.
See: Full text of Xi’s remarks at Extraordinary G20 Leaders’ Summit, Source: Xinhua 2020/03/26, http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2020-03/26/c_138920685.htm. The italics in Xi Jinping’s text are mine, A.C.
See: Full text: Speech by President Xi Jinping at opening of 73rd World Health Assembly, http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2020-05/18/c_139067018.htm. The italics in Xi Jinping’s text are mine, A.C.
See the Sunday edition of the German newspaper “Die Welt”, according to which Trump offered the German biopharmaceutical company CureVac, which is carrying out advanced research on Covid-19, several million dollars to ensure that the potential vaccine goes “exclusively” only to the USA: Jan Dams, Diese Erfahrung wird Europa so schnell nicht vergessen [Europe will not soon forget this experience], in “Die Welt”, 2020/03/15, https://www.welt.de/wirtschaft/plus206563595/Trump-will-deutsche-Impfstoff-Firma-CureVac-Traumatische-Erfahrung.html
“The United States will be entitled to more substantial priority orders, since they have invested more”. This was the announcement of the CEO of Sanofi Paul Hudson released in Bloomberg. “A vaccine must be subtracted from the law of the market”, thundered Macron, closely followed by the European Commission, who pointed out: “It is a public good, its access will be fair and universal”. See: Scontro sul vaccino anti-Covid, Sanofi promette: Prima agli Usa [Covid vaccine clash, Sanofi promises: First to the U.S.], in “QuiFinanza”, 2020/05/14, https://quifinanza.it/info-utili/vaccino-coronavirus-sanofi-scontro-usa-francia-ue/382601/
Thus in the letter sent by Trump to the Director General of the WHO on 18 May: https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Tedros-Letter.pdf. But already on April 5 an editorial of the “Wall Street Journal” (World Health Coronavirus Disinformation. WHO’s bows to Beijing have harmed the global response to the pandemic) accused WHO of bending to the line dictated by Beijing in responding to the coronavirus emergency. A decision that would have undermined the global response to the pandemic, showing that the world’s largest health care organization is suffering from China’s flu: https://www.wsj.com/articles/world-health-coronavirus-disinformation-11586122093?mod=e2tw
Ibidem. The statements in Trump’s letter are refuted and contested by scientists, doctors and health care professionals, starting with the editor Richard Horton of the well-known medical-scientific journal “The Lancet” (see https://twitter.com/TheLancet/status/1262721061361254401). See also: Expert reaction to letter sent by Donald Trump to Dr Tedros Adhanom, Director-General of the WHO, in “Science Media Center”, 2020/05/19, https://www.sciencemediacentre.org/expert-reaction-to-letter-sent-from-donald-trump-to-dr-tedros-adhanom-director-general-of-the-who/
“The W.H.O. really blew it. For some reason, funded largely by the United States, yet very China centric. We will be giving that a good look. Fortunately I rejected their advice on keeping our borders open to China early on. Why did they give us such a faulty recommendation?”, in “REUTERS”, 2020/04/07: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-usa-who/trump-says-who-is-china-centric-really-blew-it-on-coronavirus-idUSKBN21P2E1
The U.S. newspaper “Politico” published on April 24 the manual for the anti-Chinese campaign: Alex Isenstadt, GOP memo urges anti-China assault over coronavirus, 2020/04/24, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/04/24/gop-memo-anti-china-coronavirus-207244. The manual is in https://static.politico.com/80/54/2f3219384e01833b0a0ddf95181c/corona-virus-big-book-4.17.20.pdf
See: Helen Davidson and Alison Rourke, Trump says China could have stopped Covid-19 and suggests US will seek damages, in “The Guardian”, 2020/04/28, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/28/trump-says-china-could-have-stopped-covid-19-and-suggests-us-will-seek-damages
See: Marco Valsania, Trump, tutte le idee per una rappresaglia contro la Cina [Trump, all the ideas for a retaliation against China], in “Il Sole 24 ORE”, 2020/05/01, https://www.ilsole24ore.com/art/trump-tutte-idee-una-rappresaglia-contro-cina-ADp9gsN
“Slandered, slandered, there will always be something left”. The proverb is attributed to the French dramatist Beaumarchais (1732-1799).
See: Coronavirus, ultime notizie dal mondo: oltre 230mila morti. Trump convinto virus arrivi da laboratorio Wuhan. L’America riparte [Coronavirus, latest world news: over 230,000 dead. Trump convinced virus arrives from Wuhan lab. America is on the move again], in “Il Sole 24 ORE”, 2020/04/30, https://www.ilsole24ore.com/art/coronavirus-ultime-notizie-mondo-cina-rallenta-508-indice-pmi-ad-aprile-ADRaVcN
See: Marco Valsania, op. cit, https://www.ilsole24ore.com/art/trump-tutte-idee-una-rappresaglia-contro-cina-ADp9gsN
See: Ella Torres, Josh Margolin, Christina Carrega and William Mansell, US intel believes China hid severity of coronavirus epidemic while stockpiling supplies, in “ABC”, 2020/05/03, https://abcnews.go.com/US/coronavirus-live-updates-us-surpasses-65000-covid-19/story?id=70467380
See: Ashley Brown, Conor Finnegan and Jack Arnholz, Pompeo says ‘enormous evidence’ for unproven theory that coronavirus came from lab, in “ABC”, 2020/05/03, https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/pompeo-enormous-evidence-unproven-theory-coronavirus-lab/story?id=70472857. The following day, on May 4, the “Guardian” reporteds the denial of intelligence sources: “There is no current evidence to suggest that coronavirus leaked from a Chinese research laboratory”, see: Dan Sabbagh, Defence and security editor, Five Eyes network contradicts theory Covid-19 leaked from lab https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/04/five-eyes-network-contradicts-theory-covid-19-leaked-from-lab
See: Trump on China: ‘We could cut off the whole relationship’. Administration mulls options on China’s handling of coronavirus pandemic, in “FOXBusiness”, 2020/05/14; interviewer: Maria Bartiromo, https://www.foxbusiness.com/politics/trump-on-china-we-could-cut-off-the-whole-relationship
See: Trump: If US cut off relationship with China, we’d save $500B, in “FOXBusiness”, 2020/05/14; interviewer: Maria Bartiromo, https://video.foxbusiness.com/v/6156582691001/#sp=show-clips
See: Lucio Caracciolo, Taiwan è il grimaldello con cui gli Usa vogliono scardinare la Cina [Taiwan is the picklock with which the U.S. wants to unhinge China], in “Limes” online, 2020/05/25, https://www.limesonline.com/rubrica/taiwan-usa-cina-indipendenza-lucio-caracciolo-editoriale
See: Kristin Huang, US-China tensions in South China Sea fuelled by increase in military operations, in “South China Morning Post”, 2020/05/10, https://www.scmp.com/news/china/military/article/3083698/us-china-tensions-south-china-sea-fuelled-increase-military
See the survey published on 21 April 2020 by the PEW Research Center: https://www.pewresearch.org/global/2020/04/21/u-s-views-of-china-increasingly-negative-amid-coronavirus-outbreak/; see also https://www.agi.it/estero/news/2020-04-21/cina-usa-sondaggio-8399936/; and https://www.agi.it/estero/news/2020-05-24/sondaggi-trump-biden-usa-2020-8711919/.
See Manlio Dinucci, La pandemia della spesa militare [The military spending pandemic], in “il manifesto”, 2020/05/05, https://ilmanifesto.it/la-pandemia-della-spesa-militare/
In 2017, the EU was China’s main partner, with 13% of goods exports to China (€217 billion) and 16% of goods imports from China (€332 billion). In the same year, China accounted for 11% of exports of non-EU goods (€198 billion) and was the largest trading partner, with 20% of imports of non-EU goods (€375 billion).
See: COMUNICACIÓN CONJUNTA AL PARLAMENTO EUROPEO, EL CONSEJO EUROPEO Y EL CONSEJO, UE-China – Una perspectiva estratégica [JOINT COMMUNICATION TO THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, THE EUROPEAN COUNCIL AND THE COUNCIL: EU-China – A strategic perspective], https://ec.europa.eu/commission/sites/beta-political/files/communication-eu-china-a-strategic-outlook_es.pdf
Founded in 2012 between China and sixteen Central and Eastern European countries, joined by Greece (12 EU countries: Greece, Slovenia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and five non-EU countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia), it was born as an initiative of the Chinese government to promote trade relations and investment, within the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative.
In a survey presented at the beginning of April by SWG, 52% of those interviewed consider China a friendly country, while only 17% consider the USA as a friend. See: Francesco Bechis, Se gli italiani preferiscono la Cina agli Usa (e alla Ue) [If Italians prefer China to the USA (and to the EU)], in “formiche”, April 2020, https://formiche.net/2020/04/italiani-preferiscono-cina-usa-ue/
See: Julian Reichelt, “You are endangering the world”, in “BILD”, 2020/04/17, https://www.bild.de/politik/international/bild-international/bild-chief-editor-responds-to-the-chinese-president-70098436.bild.html
Mathias Döpfner, The coronavirus pandemic makes it clear: Europe must decide between the US and China, in “Businessinsider”, 2020/05/03, https://www.businessinsider.com/coronavirus-pandemic-crisis-clear-europe-must-choose-us-china-2020-5?IR=T
Paul Carrel; editing by Frances Kerry, Trump Envoy Accuses Germany of Undermining NATO’s Nuclear Deterrent, in “REUTERS”, 2020/05/14, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-germany-usa-nato-idUSKBN22Q265.
See: Ashley Parker, Donald Trump Says NATO is ‘Obsolete,’ UN is ‘Political Game’, “New York Times”, 2016/04/02, https://www.nytimes.com/politics/first-draft/2016/04/02/donald-trump-tells-crowd-hed-be-fine-if-nato-broke-up/; David E. Sanger and Maggie Haberman, Donald Trump Sets Conditions for Defending NATO Allies Against Attack, “New York Times”, 2016/07/21, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/21/us/politics/donald-trump-issues.html
See the statement of 14 February 2020: “It is clear that NATO remains the cornerstone of our defence and security architecture. It is no coincidence that Italy is the second largest contributor in terms of personnel employed in the missions”, in Per Guerini “nella difesa è in gioco la sovranità nazionale” [For Guerini “national sovereignty is concerned with defence”], in “AGI”, 2020/02/14, https://www.agi.it/politica/news/2020-02-14/difesa-sovranita-nazionale-guerini-7084219/; and again: “The pillars of our security are NATO and the EU, and the pandemic does not change the fundamentals of the country’s political and international position”, in Francesco Bechis, F-35 e non solo. Guerini spiega le mosse della Difesa (con Nato e Ue) [F-35s and beyond. Guerini explains the Defense moves (with Nato and EU), in “Formiche”, April 2020, https://formiche.net/2020/04/f-35-guerini-mosse-difesa-nato-ue/ . And again: “The EU and NATO are our pillars, we need transparency on the origin of the virus”, in Tommaso Ciriaco, Lorenzo Guerini: “Ue e Nato i nostri pilastri, serve trasparenza sull’origine del virus”, in “la Repubblica”, 2020/05/04, https://rep.repubblica.it/pwa/intervista/2020/05/04/news/lorenzo_guerini_ue_e_nato_i_nostri_pilastri_serve_trasparenza_sull_origine_del_virus_-255690300/?ref=RHPPTP-BH-I255630873-C12-P5-S1.8-T1
See: Stefano Pioppi, Più Nato con il coronavirus. Ecco cosa ha detto Di Maio al vertice dell’Alleanza [More NATO with the coronavirus. That’s what Di Maio said at the top of the Alliance], in “Formiche.net”, 2020/04/02, https://formiche.net/2020/04/nato-virus-di-maio-vertice/
See: US Defense Secretary: “5G networks, industry and aid, China and Russia exploit the virus to have more power in Italy”, in “La Stampa in English”, 2020/05/04, https://www.lastampa.it/esteri/la-stampa-in-english/2020/05/04/news/us-defense-secretary-5g-networks-industry-and-aid-so-china-and-russia-exploit-the-virus-to-have-more-power-in-italy-1.38801408
See: Alberto D’Argenio, Stoltenberg: la Nato unita contro la disinformazione russa e cinese [Stoltenberg: NATO united against Russian and Chinese disinformation] “La Repubblica”, 2020/05/13, https://rep.repubblica.it/pwa/intervista/2020/05/13/news/stoltenberg_con_il_virus_russia_e_cina_vogliono_destabilizzare_l_occidente_-256546000/
An Apulian proverb reads: “the ox says cuckold to the ass”, whose meaning is similar to the Chinese sayng “The villain sues the victim before he himself is prosecuted”. So the USA, who put out the fake new of virus escaped from Wuhan’s laboratory, accuse China of disinformation.
See: Lavinia Greci, A Wuhan il laboratorio che studia il virus letale. Il dubbio: “È scappato da lì?” [In Wuhan the laboratory that studies the deadly virus. The doubt: “Did he escape from there?”], in “il Giornale.it”, 2020/01/23,
See the speech in the Senate on 27 May, in Salvini, commissione inchiesta su Cina [Salvini, Committee of Inquiry on China], in https://www.ansa.it/sito/notizie/topnews/2020/05/27/salvini-commissione-inchiesta-su-cina_49085fcc-ba96-49eb-8ac1-6ffe040bba70.html; my italics, AC.
The broadcast can be seen on the website https://www.rai.it/programmi/report/inchieste/Disorganizzazione-mondiale-b8ed1cc8-5ae5-436f-925b-22812f52371d.html, from which you can also download the pdf of the texts read by the speaker and the interviews. The italics in the quotations are mine, AC.