Joe Biden accuses Donald Trump of being too soft on China over coronavirus
Joe Biden has sought to turn the tables on critics who charge him with being weak on China by claiming that President Trump “rolled over” to Beijing and failed to protect America.
The Trump campaign will target Mr Biden for playing down China’s threat to US manufacturing and for his son Hunter’s business dealings there. Mr Biden has hit back with two adverts in midwestern swing states criticising Mr Trump for saying in January and February he was sure that President Xi would resolve the coronavirus outbreak.
While Mr Biden, 77, has avoided following Mr Trump in talking about the “Wuhan virus”, it is increasingly clear that China will play a central role for both in the election on November 3.
Pew Research Center said last week that 62 per cent of Americans believed China’s power and influence to be a major threat to the US, up from 41 per cent in 2017. Mr Trump came to power in 2017 vowing to get tougher on China and is waging a costly trade war to reverse what he saw as exploitation.
The Biden campaign has decided it is worth the risk of drawing attention to his long record of openness to China to berate Mr Trump for taking Mr Xi’s word over the coronavirus. It is part of an attack on Mr Trump for allegedly wasting February rather than using it to prepare for the virus and is likely to be prominent in Mr Biden’s campaign.
In one Biden advert, Mr Trump is shown insisting in January and February that Beijing has the problem under control. A narrator asserts: “Donald Trump left this country unprepared and unprotected for the worst public health and economic crisis in our lifetime.”
Mr Trump, 73, has taken a tougher public line with China as the death toll in the US has risen but on February 23 he was still praising Mr Xi’s efforts, saying: “I think he’s doing a very good job. It’s a big problem. But President Xi loves his country. He’s working very hard to solve the problem, and he will solve the problem. OK?”
The Biden advert assails Mr Trump’s move to restrict flights from China, stating: “The travel ban he brags about? Trump let in 40,000 travellers from China into America after he signed it.”
Scott Jennings, a Republican strategist and former assistant to George W Bush, said: “China caused this, after all, and Biden was soft on it to start with when he called the president’s travel restrictions ‘xenophobic’. So the Biden folks have to try to fight back here and this will be somewhat effective because the president hasn’t been fully consistent on being tough on China.”
Donald Trump Jr retweeted an article yesterday from the right-wing website Daily Caller claiming that Hunter Biden remained listed as a board member of a Chinese company despite pledging in autumn to resign.