Chinese netizens poke fun at Trump's Covid-19 diagnosis

Many Chinese netizens took the chance to poke fun at US President Donald Trump's misfortune. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING - As news of US President Donald Trump's Covid-19 diagnosis reached Beijing, Chinese netizens and state media reacted with a palpable sense of schadenfreude.

Their reactions indicate the level of unhappiness among the Chinese over what they see as Mr Trump's unfair and unreasonable pressure on China over the last few months.

Other Chinese observers and state media say Mr Trump and First Lady Melania's positive diagnosis show just how widespread and severe the virus situation is in America.

State news outlet China Daily pointed out that Mr Trump's infection was a "reminder that the coronavirus continues to spread" despite his attempts to downplay the danger this viral pandemic presents.

"Since it emerged earlier this year, Trump, the White House and his campaign have downplayed the threat and refused to abide by basic public health guidelines - including those issued by his own administration - such as wearing masks in public and practising social distancing," said the newspaper.

On Friday (Oct 2), Mr Trump posted on Twitter that both he and the First Lady had tested positive for the coronavirus, after a top aide's Covid-19 infection had been confirmed.

The tweet was widely reported by Chinese state media and the hashtag "Trump couple test positive for Covid-19" became the top trending topic on micro-blogging site Weibo, with over 800 million views as of Friday 4pm in Beijing.

Many Chinese netizens took the chance to poke fun at the US leader's misfortune.

Comments like "Trump will probably say no one understands Covid-19 more than me" and "See what happens when you don't wear a mask" were common on many threads.

Others thanked the US President for giving China this "National Day gift".

As the US presidential election draws closer, Mr Trump has been exerting increasing pressure on Beijing and Chinese firms.

His administration has threatened to ban popular Chinese-made apps WeChat and TikTok, cancelled the visas of Chinese students and researchers over espionage concerns and criticised China's handling of Covid-19.

The moves have allowed Beijing to stoke feelings of nationalism among its people as they point to China's own success in curbing the spread of Covid-19 within its borders.

Mr Trump's diagnosis comes just a day after the People's Republic of China celebrated its 71st anniversary.

It marked the start of an eight-day holiday and a travel rush within the country, just as countries abroad were contemplating further lockdowns and travel restrictions.

Mr Hu Xijin, the editor-in-chief of nationalist tabloid Global Times, wrote on Weibo that Mr Trump's Covid-19 infection showed the severity of the outbreak within the US and said this would likely affect his re-election campaign.

The US has recorded over 7.3 million Covid-19 cases and suffered more than 200,000 deaths.

Mr Trump and the First Family have now "paid the price" for the way the pandemic was handled in the US, wrote Mr Hu.

"President Trump has been downplaying the impact of the pandemic on the US, which led voters to ignore the danger... Perhaps under the American system you cannot help it that politicians would do things like this, but its negative influence on American society is very obvious," he said.

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