President Trump’s conversations with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping led to the State Department backing off calling the coronavirus the ‘Wuhan virus’ and the Chinese virus.’
On Tuesday, The Daily Beast reported how Xi was able to get Trump to make an about-face and it consisted of one main tactic – flattery.
In a phone call last week, Xi told Trump he was ‘decisive, strong, and successful,’ according to the Beast, in his handling of the health and economic crisis created by the coronavirus pandemic.
President Trump has changed his tune on calling the coronavirus the ‘Chinese virus.’ The Daily Beast reported Tuesday that he was flattered out of it by Chinese President Xi Jinping
President Trump spoke with his Chinese counterpart, President Xi Jinping, last week by phone and has changed his rhetoric explicitly blaming China for the coronavirus outbreak
Prior to the leaders’ conversation, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was calling the coronavirus the ‘Wuhan virus’
Xi’s compliments came as Trump’s sluggish response has been criticized by a number of public officials, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Even public polling showed that 58 per cent of Americans believed he was too slow to react during the onset of the virus.
Prior to their conversation, Trump had been using China – and the country’s secrecy over the virus – as a convenient scapegoat.
The president and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo would use the terms ‘Wuhan virus’ and ‘Chinese virus’ in their public remarks.
Earlier this month, Trump was even caught by a photographer in the White House briefing room having changed the working of his prepared remarks with a Sharpie to say ‘China virus’ instead.
And both Trump and Pompeo pushed back on the assertion that the term was racist.
‘It’s not racist at all,’ the president said at the March 18 White House press briefing. ‘Not at all. It comes from China, that’s why. It comes from China. I want to be accurate.’
But in recent days, according to the Beast, the president told multiple officials that Xi had assured him that the Chinese government would not lie about the number of cases coming out of Wuhan.
‘For a long time, the president has enjoyed an epic bromance with Xi,’ one senior official told the website. ‘If I were them, I would be doing the same thing. Why wouldn’t you try to leverage that relationship with a [U.S.] president who goes on TV so many times to say how great he thinks your guy [Xi] is.’
Trump’s change of heart has impacted the State Department’s rhetoric on China as well. Recent cables show the virus being called ‘COVID19’ or ‘COVID’ instead of ‘Wuhan virus,’ according to the Beast.
‘There’s an understanding that the department – and the administration as a whole – is going to back away from that terminology,’ a senior Trump official told the publication.