Trump’s evangelical supporters want him to punish Chinese authorities for the coronavirus pandemic — even though he once praised their ‘transparency’

Trump’s evangelical supporters want him to punish Chinese authorities for the coronavirus pandemic — even though he once praised their ‘transparency’
President Donald J. Trump joins Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China, at the start of their bilateral meeting Saturday, June 29, 2019, at the G20 Japan Summit in Osaka, Japan. ( Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

In recent weeks, some far-right white evangelicals in the United States have been bombarded with criticism for defying social distancing measures and continuing to hold large gatherings. Moreover, they have continued to rally behind President Donald Trump despite the fact that he spent weeks downplaying the severity of the coronavirus pandemic. But that doesn’t mean that the Christian Right doesn’t want someone to pay a price politically for the pandemic, and according to Politico reporter Gabby Orr, their target is the government of Mainland China.


Certainly, there is a lot to criticize about Chinese authorities’ initial response to COVID-19. The late Dr. Li Wenliang (who died from coronavirus) demonstrated that no deed goes unpunished when, in December 2019, he realized how deadly COVID-19 could be and tried to warn the medical community — only to be silenced and bullied by Mainland China’s police. The Public Security Bureau of the People’s Republic of China, according to the BBC, told Wenliang, “We solemnly warn you: if you keep being stubborn, with such impertinence, and continue this illegal activity, you will be brought to justice. Is that understood?”

But subsequently, Chinese authorities did acknowledge how dangerous COVID-19 was and imposed a strict lockdown. And when Mainland China was under lockdown and thousands were dying, Trump ignored warnings that coronavirus could also inflict considerable misery in the United States.

The Christian Right, however, are not faulting Trump for being slow to recognize COVID-19’s deadly potential. And as Orr’s article points out, it is the Chinese government that far-right evangelicals like Ralph Reed and Gary Bauer want Trump to go after.

Reed asserted, “From the time he rode down the escalator at Trump Tower, President Trump made clear there would be a new sheriff in town when it comes to dealing with China. China lied about the genesis of the virus and underreported their own cases. These are actions that cannot be ignored and for which China must be held responsible, and I think taking action to do that only serves to deepen the president’s commitment.”

Bauer has been equally biting in his comments, saying, “The ironic and disgusting thing about China is they get to both create demand and then fulfill demand. I think there’s a growing acknowledgment in the U.S. and around the world that China’s communist rulers are bad actors — and in some way, there has to be some sort of reckoning for all of this.”

Another far-right evangelical who wants the Chinese dictatorship to suffer politically is South Carolina-based Mark Burns, who called for Trump to “rally other nations who have been greatly affected by the virus to challenge China on a major scale.”

But Trump, in 2020, has had a variety of things to say about the Chinese government — some of them favorable. Earlier this year, on January 24, Trump tweeted, “China has been working very hard to contain the Coronavirus. The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency. It will all work out well. In particular, on behalf of the American People, I want to thank President Xi!”

Although the death toll passed 3200 in China, it is much higher in the United States: according to researchers at John Hopkins University in Baltimore, more than 12,900 U.S. residents had died from coronavirus as of Wednesday morning, April 8.

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