China turned attention to former President Donald Trump‘s pandemic response on Friday and advised the new administration to “learn its lesson” and stop pointing fingers at Beijing.
The pandemic put added strain on an already precarious relationship between China and the United States, and when criticized, Beijing regularly shifts the conversation back to America’s actions. Having been accused of using the pandemic to conduct information warfare, China championed its own response and pointed to the high death toll in the United States.
“As the world’s No.1 superpower, the U.S. has done much damage to the international anti-epidemic cooperation, which has made the American people and many more in the world pay a heavy price,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said on Friday.
Newsweek reached out to former President Donald Trump for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.
Wang also criticized Trump and his administration for spreading “false information” to deflect blame and politicize response efforts.
The former president’s downplaying of the pandemic and push for states to reopen was seen as him prioritizing the economy over human life. He also faced pushback for not wearing a mask amid a growing number of cases and death toll in the U.S.
As of Friday, the U.S. leads in cases with more than 32 million infections and reported 575,000 deaths, the most of any country. Despite the high numbers, Trump has stood by his response, including his ability to fast-track the vaccine and his decision to close off travel from China in January.
China’s criticisms of the former president came in response to Defense Intelligence Agency Director Scott Berrier’s accusation that China and Russia took advantage of the global crisis. Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday, Berrier said the “evolving threat” from the pandemic had “major implications” on America’s national security.
“China and Russia are using COVID-19 circumstances to conduct information warfare aimed at undermining Western governments, attacking coalitions and compelling economic and political outcomes in their favor,” Berrier said.
China, where the first case of COVID-19 was identified, was among the first countries to shut down, causing disruptions to global supply chains. It exposed the world’s reliance on China and when it comes to global competitors, Berrier put China at the top of the list.
A significant threat in its own right, the growing alliance between China and Russia has Western countries concerned. Both are building up their military capabilities in a means that military officials have warned signifies the United States also needs to be investing in its armed forces. While they don’t have a military alliance yet, in October, Russian President Vladimir Putin said it was “quite possible” to imagine one. China, meanwhile, considers Russia a “partner,” according to several briefings.
At Friday’s press briefing, China didn’t deny the accusation Berrier leveled against the country and Russia. Instead, Wang shifted the conversation to the COVID-19 pandemic, highlighting that the virus is a “common enemy of all mankind.”