As the tide starts to turn on the COVID-1 pandemic in the United States, so too is the tone of the Trump Administration. With the darkest days likely behind us, the focus is being centered on China, and the many unanswered questions about its discreditable efforts to contain COVID-19 in the early days of the Wuhan outbreak. More directly, President Trump continues to stand by his belief that the coronavirus outbreak originated in a Chinese lab. He has repeated the claim publicly in recent days, and at the same time it has become widely known that US intelligence is conducting a deep investigation to determine the origins of the Wuhan coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. According to the president, an investigation is also underway taking a hard look at how the Chinese government dealt with the virus in the early stages of the outbreak.
To make the relationship between the world’s two most powerful nations even more strained, Trump administration officials are beginning to look at possible punishments for China’s handling of the pandemic. The most significant proposal so far is stripping the PRC of its ‘sovereign immunity’ which would give the US government, and victims of the pandemic the ability to sue China for damages. Another proposal being floated is the US cancelling part of its debt obligation to the PRC. This step would be more trouble than its worth, however. Holding off on interest payments would create serious drag for the dollar and with the global economy in flux due to the pandemic, now is not the ideal time for such a move.
In any event, it is clear now that the United States is moving to put the crosshairs on China. It will be interesting to see what the final results of the investigation are, and how the US decides to respond at the end of the day.