President Donald Trump has long taken a hard line against the Chinese communist regime, something he kept up as the coronavirus pandemic unfolded.
However, the president has recently begun taking a less adversarial approach to the Asian power, according to the Washington Examiner, and that has left many of his supporters scratching their heads.
Trump waffles on holding China accountable
“The relationship with China is a good one, and my relationship with [Chinese President Xi Jinping] is really good,” Trump said at a recent press briefing, according to the Examiner.
He also conceded that Chinese estimates regarding its cases of coronavirus are probably “a little bit on the light side,” but would make no definite pronouncements, saying, “As to whether or not their numbers are accurate, I’m not an accountant from China.”
Comments like those have led Bush administration press secretary Ari Fleischer to remark, “I think the president has been soft on China.
“I wonder if there’s a reason, as he’s usually not a soft guy,” Fleischer went on. “I suspect he’s doing it because he wants to win the trade war when he’s done.”
Trump has also backed away from his earlier practice of referring to COVID-19 as the “Chinese virus,” something he discussed with Fox News at the end of March.
“I don’t regret it, but they accused us of having done it through our soldiers, they said our soldiers did it on purpose, what kind of a thing is that?” the president explained. “Look, everyone knows it came out of China, but I decided we shouldn’t make any more of a big deal out of it.”
Possible strategy at work
Harry Kazianis, a former foreign policy adviser to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), believes that these moves are simply a short term ploy on Trump’s part.
“The administration has set upon a course where they know that, at least in their minds, China is responsible for the spread of the virus,” Kazianis told the Washington Examiner.
He went on: “And they are determined to see that Beijing pay a price. However, now is not the time to go after China, especially when America needs medical supplies.”
Kazianis expects that once the danger has passed, Trump will abruptly change his tune, stating, “In fact, one very close aide to Trump told me the president thinks of Xi as his new Hillary Clinton.” Only time will tell.