The COVID-19 pandemic has brought ties between Washington and Beijing to their lowest level since the countries normalized relations in 1979, with many observers warning that they have entered into either “a new Cold War” or at least “a new type of Cold War.” While the Trump administration was initially circumspect in its criticism of China’s response, it has increasingly taken to blaming Beijing as the coronavirus claims more American lives and inflicts greater damage upon the U.S. economy. Beyond echoing widespread condemnation of the Chinese Communist Party for its initial targeting of doctors and journalists who tried to sound the alarm, it has temporarily suspended U.S. funding for the World Health Organization, which it charges with being unduly deferential to China; suggested that the virus originated in a lab in Wuhan that studies bat coronaviruses; and floated the idea of seeking reparations from Beijing.

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