A recent US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) intelligence report has concluded that China intentionally concealed the severity of the coronavirus from the rest of the world in early January, in order to import, stock up and hoard medical supplies.
The conclusion in the report is based on China's trade pattern around the time the county's officials were downplaying the severity and extent of the pandemic. The DHS report states that China delayed publishing its trade data and had stopped exporting medical items while ramping up imports on medical supplies.
China's leadership have questions to answer about the country's handling of outbreak and whether there was an initial cover-up. A growing number of world leaders are adding their voices to the demand for an investigation.
However, the problem with the report is that what the DHS observed as irregular trade patterns in China, maybe no more than the normal bureaucratic process in China.
Moreover, the report has been leaked to the media around the same time that President Donald Trump is facing sharp criticism in the US over his handling of the crisis.
Trump at first described the pandemic as a hoax and something the Democrats were trying to exploit to undermine his presidency. He has also made several missteps during the pandemic, including his outrageous suggestion about injecting bleach into the body to treat coronavirus.
The criticism is hurting Trump politically as polls show that most Americans think that he is doing a lousy job in the way the crisis is being handled.
In response to the criticism and concerns about his reelection hopes, Trump is fighting back by first accusing the World Health Organisation (WHO) of colluding with China in downplaying the severity and nature of the virus, and then in a recent tweet claiming that US intelligence services initially failed to alert him to the severity of the virus.
Trump is determined to try and deflect attention from his own inadequate and sometimes bizarre performances during the pandemic by pointing the blame at others. And blaming China is central to his strategy.
He has already suggested that he may impose economic sanctions on China because they suppressed information about the infection. Blaming China and restarting the economic hostilities between the two biggest economies may play well with his base.
However, people will ask whether the report and intervention by the DHS was instigated by Trump loyalists in the department, hoping to provide Trump with fodder as he steps up his anti-China rhetoric.
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