Apparently, China really misses harassing NBA general managers.
Now that sports are on hold, where are they going to find the next Daryl Morey to pester for saying anything contrary to Communist Party gospel?
But while stadiums around the world may be shuttered due to the coronavirus crisis, politics continues apace — and (gasp!) some politicians actually think Beijing should be held to account for its handling of the pandemic. The Chinese government can be harassed, too, right?
In Thursday’s Global Times — one of Beijing’s multifarious mouthpieces — the Chinese Communist Party struck out at four lawmakers and two attorneys general who’ve made moves, either legislatively or legally, against China for their actions regarding the coronavirus.
Just to make sure you knew they were serious, the picture on top of the article showed a cartoon eagle and a cartoon panda staring each other down with the American and Chinese flags, respectively, backing each of the characters. Never say Beijing doesn’t have a sense of humor, even if it’s an unintentional one.
“China is extremely dissatisfied with the abuse of litigation by the US against China over the COVID-19 epidemic, and is considering punitive countermeasures against US individuals, entities and state officials, such as Missouri’s attorney general Eric Schmitt, who filed a lawsuit against China, seeking compensation for the coronavirus pandemic, sources close to the matter told the Global Times exclusively,” the story read.
The piece said that four GOP lawmakers, including Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Rep. Dan Crenshaw of Texas and Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey, would “be put on China’s sanctions list, analysts said.”
Yes, “sources close to the matter told” them this. Sure. As we all know, the Global Times is the beau ideal of the newspaper, endlessly chasing down sources and holding the government to account.
The piece also said the politicians “will face severe consequences, sources said, noting that the aftermath will also impact the upcoming November elections, while business and trade between Missouri and China will be further soured.”
Oh, those sources! Is that a threat to interfere with our elections, by the by? Perhaps now the Democrats will take the threat Beijing poses seriously.
Just because the piece wasn’t unserious enough yet, there was a quote from Zhao Lijian. In case you’ve forgotten him, he’s the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman who theorized the United States might have introduced the coronavirus into China.
“Chinese side urged the US side to stop blaming and smearing China, stop pushing forward anti-China bills and stop acts of abusing litigation against China and focus on safeguarding American people’s lives and health,” he said.
While not a direct quote, Zhao apparently told the Global Times that “that such blame game [sic] is too absurd, ridiculous, which should be ended.”
Chinese Academy of Social Sciences research fellow Yuan Zheng was more minatory: “We can’t just strike back symbolically, but should impose countermeasures that could make them feel the pain,” Yuan said.
Anyway, the GOP targets’ responses were epic — and we’ll get to those in a second, but we should probably tell you how they got here, because that should provide important perspective.
In April, Sen. Hawley and Rep. Crenshaw introduced legislation in both houses of Congress that would allow Americans to sue China over the coronavirus pandemic.
According to Fox News, the legislation is fashioned after the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, the law which narrowed foreign sovereign immunity and allowed the families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia for damages.
“By silencing doctors and journalists who tried to warn the world about the coronavirus, the Chinese Communist Party allowed the virus to spread quickly around the globe. Their decision to cover up the virus led to thousands of needless deaths and untold economic harm. It’s only appropriate that we hold the Chinese government accountable for the damage it has caused,” Cotton said in a statement when the legislation was introduced.
Sen. Hawley and Rep. Smith have also introduced similar legislation. When it comes to attorneys general, in addition to Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, China also called out Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch for filing suit against Beijing.
For some reason, China’s saber-rattling apparently didn’t rattle its targets:
Brb. Finding a new communist country with gross human rights abuses to do business in. Bonus points if they unleashed a global pandemic on the world. https://t.co/QJU5KKxhTC
— Tom Cotton (@SenTomCotton) May 15, 2020
Chinese state media singling me out with threats – and threatening Missouri too. Beijing can bluster all it wants. I’m not backing down https://t.co/nQJNC4ijg3
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) May 15, 2020
So apparently I’m on the Chinese government’s radar now.
Bring it. https://t.co/kIC5YIbUqf
— Dan Crenshaw (@DanCrenshawTX) May 14, 2020
Hawley also wondered if his “visit to the #Wuhan lab is off?”
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) May 14, 2020
Schmitt’s office, meanwhile, said they “stand by our lawsuit.”
“We filed this suit on behalf of the thousands of Missourians who have been sickened and lost their jobs, the hundreds of Missourians who have died, and those who have been separated from loved ones due to COVID-19,” a Schmitt spokesperson told U.S. News and World Report.
Smith’s response was similar.
“Beijing cannot hide, lie or threaten enough to silence those of us demanding transparency, human rights, and an end to the Communist Party’s censorship, cyber-hacking, and crimes against humanity,” the New Jersey representative said. “Sanctions will not silence me or anyone who wants real answers about the COVID virus’s transmission.”
This is precisely how one should react toward China, though it isn’t quite how many people do.
There are plenty of voices — particularly on the left — who have praised Beijing’s response to the coronavirus and have said it’s time for the Trump administration to play nice with them. There’s even been some admiration of how they got it under control, which mostly involved dictatorial measures and the erroneous assumption the numbers coming out of China were worth trusting.
If only we’d see some Democrats called out like this by Beijing. The fact that they’re not being mentioned should say it all.
There are certain places one should be proud of being persona non grata — and one of them is definitely the pages of the Global Times.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.