“It’s clearly not because of China or the Chinese people that we’re dealing with a global pandemic,” said Robert Spalding, former senior director for strategy at the White House National Security Council and author of “Stealth War: How China Took Over While America’s Elite Slept,” in an interview with The Epoch Times.
“It’s because of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).”
The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic.
Spalding said it’s important to distinguish between the Chinese regime and Chinese people, and cast light on the fact that the “regime’s secrecy and control is the reason that we are dealing with a pandemic today, which has caused trillions of dollars in economic destruction across the globe.”
Recently, U.S. President Donald Trump and administration officials have drawn criticism for labeling the virus “Chinese virus” or “Wuhan virus,” a reference to the central Chinese city where the outbreak originated last December. The Chinese regime and some U.S. politicians have blasted the word choice, saying it was racist and stigmatized the Chinese people and Wuhan.
“It’s not racist at all, not at all. It comes from China, that’s why. I want to be accurate,” Trump said at a press briefing on March 18.
The best way to avoid such accusations is to brand it the CCP virus, Spalding said.
He added that for decades, the Chinese regime has been pushing the idea that “any criticism of the regime is a criticism of China and the Chinese people,” in order to both stir up nationalism among Chinese citizens and insulate itself from outside criticism.
In this case, the regime wants to make sure that any criticism of the CCP’s initial mishandling of the outbreak “gets levied on the Chinese people, so that they can say, ‘Americans really hate China and the Chinese people,’ or that this is all about just racism,” Spalding said.
Similarly, The Epoch Times’ editorial pointed out that the name “CCP virus” is needed “to distinguish the victims from the victimized.
“The people of Wuhan and of China are the victims of the CCP’s arrogance and incompetence, expressed in this viral pandemic,” it read.
Josh Rogin, a national security columnist for The Washington Post, made a similar case in a March 19 op-ed titled, “Don’t blame ‘China’ for the coronavirus—blame the Chinese Communist Party.”
“Our beef is not with the Chinese people; our problem is with the CCP — its internal repression, its external aggression, and its malign influence in free and open societies,” Rogin wrote.
Mark Hemingway, senior writer for RealClearPolitics, also suggested the name change in a commentary on March 20.
Countering CCP Propaganda
Since the CCP virus’s global spread, the Chinese regime has deployed an aggressive global propaganda campaign to deflect attention from its initial coverup of the outbreak. It has attempted to shift the narrative by suggesting that the virus may have originated from overseas, such as the United States, and by portraying itself as a leader in global efforts to contain the pandemic.
Spalding said the U.S. government and the West need to actively counter such propaganda by refuting and calling it out within 24 to 48 hours. This, he noted, was the policy that Taiwan authorities adopted to combat disinformation from the Chinese regime ahead of its presidential election in January.
“If there’s no response from the other side, then they [the CCP] can control the narrative,” he said.
Therefore, it’s important for the United States to “come out very quickly and very hard to denounce that kind of rhetoric,” Spalding said.
He added that Western media also ought to familiarize itself with the nature of the CCP to avoid unintentionally parroting its propaganda.
“They need to become more educated about what the Communist Party is and how they go about doing things,” Spalding said.
He pointed to a recent example, of comments made by Chinese Ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai opposing the promotion of conspiracy theories that the CCP virus originated from the United States.
Cui’s statement, which conflicts with recent claims by Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian that the virus was brought to Wuhan by the U.S. Army, led to a Bloomberg media report which postulated that the differing views represented an “internal split in Beijing” over how to handle relations with Trump.
Spalding said the media don’t understand that “no Chinese politicians, no Chinese ambassadors, no Chinese official that’s under the thumb of the Chinese Communist Party will say anything other than what the Party sanctions them to say.”
“They don’t realize that this is actually part of their whole [propaganda] campaign,” Spalding said, adding that “having two messages is really to deflect from the fact that this is a deliberate attempt by the Party to portray the United States as the creator of the coronavirus.”