‘The dog that didn’t bark’: Donald Trump’s use of China as a campaign issue never got traction, analysts say

‘The dog that didn’t bark’: Donald Trump’s use of China as a campaign issue never got traction, analysts say

US President Donald Trump’s efforts to use the novel coronavirus’s origins and other China-related issues as part of his re-election strategy have failed – averting what could have been further damage to a bilateral relationship already strained on multiple fronts, according to Eurasia Group.

Trump’s campaign has found that blaming China for the pandemic “just didn‘t land … and it’s not that there isn’t anti-China sentiment, it’s just the average American focusing on coronavirus is not willing to focus on China”, Ian Bremmer, the risk consultancy’s founder, said.

“I really don‘t think that the China issue is playing much at all in this election, and that’s a really good thing because it had the potential to a few months ago … and [Chinese President] Xi Jinping was not prepared to accept that lying down,” he told reporters in a virtual briefing about the foreign policy priorities of Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden.

Americans have grown more suspicious of China following a number of developments, among them reports of Beijing’s mass incarceration of Uygurs and other religious minorities and crackdowns on pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong. At 73 per cent, the percentage of Americans holding a negative view toward China reached a “new historic high” amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to a Pew Research Centre report in July.