The mask does not fit on Donald Trump’s face. His nose grows in front of him, the lies stretch the gauze as coronavirus droplets spew from his mouth in the caricature on the news stand in Beijing’s trendy Sanlitun district.
Less than a fortnight out from the most divisive US election day in decades, the Chinese Communist Party’s propaganda machine has an easy target.
China is growing, the US is slowing. Chinese state TV networks run news packages of protests in Wisconsin and Oregon, graphics show daily COVID-19 cases climbing towards 90,000 while Chinese tourists flock to see their favourite autumn leaves.
For the party, the gap between its long-held narrative of US dysfunction and the reality of Washington’s mismanagement has narrowed considerably. It may have just 10 days left to make the most of it. After November 3, regardless of who wins, the geopolitical field will change.