The front page of Tuesday’s New York Times focused on the brewing battle between Australia and China over the coronavirus pandemic in a “news analysis” by Damien Cave and Isabella Kwai: “Lesser Powers Link Up to Fill A Global Void.”
It’s a semi-antidote to Cave’s previous pro-China gullibility, but still marred by extraneous Trump criticism. Cave embarrassed himself in March by shilling for Communist China’s response to the coronavirus:
The fear and suspicion directed at China in the devastating early days of the coronavirus outbreak have made a 180-degree turn: It is the West that now frightens Asia and the rest of the world.... Especially in China and the Chinese diaspora, there is a growing demand for recognition of the hard work and sacrifices that tamed the outbreak....
This new piece is more sober, but there’s still a anti-Trump sting in the tail.
When Australia started pushing for a global inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, no other countries were on board, and officials had no idea how it would work or how harshly China might react....Australia, in its newfound role as global catalyst, has become both a major target of Chinese anger and the sudden leader of a push to bolster international institutions that the United States has abandoned under President Trump.
Cave and company set off some welcome truth bombs.
China’s leaders have made clear that they see criticism of their initial response to the coronavirus -- which included a cover-up that allowed the contagion to spread -- as a threat to Communist Party rule.
Communist Party proxies have tried to interfere in the domestic politics of Australia and other countries, while Beijing increasingly demands obedience across the globe -- leaving no room for either foreign companies or countries to question its policies.
By suppressing information about the virus when it appeared in Wuhan, China’s government put on full display the dangers of its authoritarian system, not just for its own people but for the world. And instead of acknowledging its missteps, it has doubled down -- spreading conspiracy theories, insisting that its response be celebrated, and stridently attacking anyone who suggests otherwise.
Cave himself was one of those gullible voices that “celebrated” China’s response.
As if to offset its rare China criticism, the Times offered predictable opprobium of America’s supposed lack of international leadership (as if the liberal Times would welcome the U.S. being world’s policeman).
But relying on Washington for that kind of leadership seems impossible now. Much of the world views with disappointment and sadness an America laid low by the virus and Mr. Trump’s erratic response.
Cave and Kwai belatedly offered some criticism of the World Health Organization, which the paper has embarrassingly tried to defend:
Skepticism already surrounds the W.H.O. It has been accused by many countries, including the United States and Japan, of being too trusting of the Chinese government and of ignoring early warning signs of the pandemic from Taiwan, which China barred from the organization.