Coronavirus News Asia

Cold War chill sweeps through China and the US

Cold War rhetoric between China and the United States is threatening to freeze relations between the world’s two leading economies, triggering the risk of a military conflict.

During the past three months, the manic hyperbole emanating from Beijing and Washington has chilled the diplomatic atmosphere amid the Covid-19 pandemic and rising tensions in the South and the East China seas.

There are even fears inside President Xi Jinping’s administration that a US-inspired coalition is challenging the Communist Party’s right to rule. An internal study from the Ministry of State Security, and cited by Reuters, warned that China should be prepared for a “worst-case scenario of armed confrontation.”

“The report, presented early last month to top Beijing leaders, including President Xi, concluded that global anti-China sentiment is at its highest since the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, sources said,” the news agency reported on Monday.

“As a result, Beijing faces a wave of anti-China sentiment led by the US in the aftermath of the pandemic and needs to be prepared in a worst-case scenario for [an] armed confrontation between the two global powers, according to people familiar with the report’s content,” it added.

So far, more than 3.6 million people have been infected globally by this new strain of coronavirus with the death toll edging past 252,000. In the US, more than 1.2 million have been infected with nearly 70,000 fatalities.

China’s official figures are minuscule in comparison. Up to May 4, infected cases were 82,881 with 4,633 deaths in a population of 1.39 billion. Outside the initial SARS-CoV-2 epicenter of Wuhan and the broader Hubei province, there were roughly 15,000 infected cases.

Against this backdrop, US President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have fired a barrage of barbed statements after questioning how the outbreak started in China.

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