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  • Trump Stops Saying ‘Wuhan Virus’ After Xi Strokes His Ego

    In a private conversation with President Donald Trump during the rapid acceleration of the coronavirus pandemic, China’s leader Xi Jinping went out of his way to deploy one of the most effective diplomatic maneuvers of the current American era: aggressive flattery.In a phone call to discuss the international health crisis last week, Xi stressed to Trump how decisive, strong, and successful he feels his U.S. counterpart’s public-health and economic responses have been, two U.S. officials with knowledge of the matter said. The flattery came at a time when Trump was continuing to experience a deluge of criticism for his administration’s response to the pandemic. It also came as some of the American president’s most prominent officials were still engaged in a multipronged campaign to castigate the Chinese government for an alleged coronavirus cover-up and to rebrand the illness as the “Chinese virus” and the “Wuhan virus.”Trump had begun incorporating that language into his public utterances, framing the pandemic as a war whose origins were in China. But lately, he has softened his tone and adopted a more deferential stance toward Xi-whom he routinely calls his good “friend” and an “incredible guy”- going out of his way to compliment and excuse Beijing for its response to the virus, and to even publicly shrug off new reporting on China’s disinformation apparatus in the midst of the pandemic.China’s Coronavirus Keeps Spreading but the WHO Still Won’t Declare a Global EmergencyIn the past few days, Trump has also told multiple officials that Xi has assured him that the Chinese government wouldn’t lie about the numbers of reported cases of coronavirus currently coming out of the epicenter of the outbreak, Wuhan, two sources familiar with the comments said.“For a long time, the president has enjoyed an epic bromance with Xi,” a senior administration official said. “If I were them, I would be doing the same thing. Why wouldn’t you try to leverage that relationship with a [U.S.] president who goes on TV so many times to say how great he thinks your guy [Xi] is.”The president’s messaging on Xi and China appears to have trickled down to other parts of the federal government as well. According to two senior Trump administration officials, the State Department has also toned down the tough talk on Beijing for not revealing its coronavirus case numbers sooner.  In recent cables, it appears the department is also no longer calling the virus the “Wuhan virus” and is instead referring to it as “COVID19” or simply “COVID.” As one senior Trump official told The Daily Beast: “There’s an understanding that the department-and the administration as a whole-is going to back away from that terminology.”It is a fairly jarring turn. Just earlier this month, the State Department had transmitted a cable that included a section detailing National Security Council “Top Lines” and official talking points on the “[People’s Republic of China] Propaganda and Disinformation on the Wuhan Virus Pandemic.”The State Department did not return a request for comment. But the shift comes as White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, along with the State Department and FEMA, set up the deliveries of essential medical supplies and protective gear from U.S. health-care distributors based in China. The new tone is particularly notable since, for weeks, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had accused China’s leaders of contributing to the global spread of the virus because they took too long to warn the rest of the world of its spread and silenced health-care workers who tried to speak out about it. In his remarks to the press, Pompeo has continuously referred to the coronavirus as the “Wuhan virus” and brushed off suggestions that such a term was racist. Beijing’s leaders pushed back on the designation, claiming that the terms are xenophobic and inaccurate now that the virus has spread to dozens of countries across the world. Grim Scenes at Chinese Hospitals as Doctors Rush to Treat Deadly Coronavirus“We condemn the despicable practice of individual U.S. politicians eagerly stigmatizing China and Wuhan by association with the novel coronavirus, disrespecting science and WHO,” China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a recent briefing. “The international society has a fair judgment, and Pompeo’s attempts of slandering China’s efforts in combating the epidemic is doomed to fail.”According to cables reviewed by The Daily Beast, China launched a campaign to discredit the Trump administration's use of the term “Wuhan virus.”“Dr. Zhong Nanshan, a respiratory disease expert widely respected by the Chinese public for his work on both SARS and the coronavirus, has been quoted widely by state-media outlets questioning the origin of COVID-19,” the cable said. “At a March 18 press conference at Guangzhou’s First Affiliated Hospital, Zhong again said there was ‘no evidence’ indicating the virus originated in Wuhan, adding that it would be ‘irresponsible’ to make conclusions about the origin of COVID-19 without further information.”It all amounts to a concession to Beijing from Trumpworld, which for a year has made alleged submissiveness to China-particularly on trade policy-a major political talking point against the president’s likely 2020 Democratic presidential rival. “Joe Biden, incredibly, dismisses China as an economic competitor, so it’s little wonder that while Biden was in office he welcomed China’s rise and sat back and watched as the Chinese ate America’s lunch,” Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh said last year. The president himself has routinely claimed that he’s so tough on China that Beijing desperately wants Biden to win in November, insisting that “China wants Sleepy Joe BADLY!”Senior Trump officials and Capitol Hill lawmakers, alarmed by the recent change of tone in the administration’s public-facing relationship with China, are still pushing for Pompeo and the president to continue to counter China’s disinformation campaign, according to one official working on China policy.And on that front, Foggy Bottom still appears to be complying. Two officials with knowledge of the cables told The Daily Beast that the State Department was asking foreign countries to track Chinese disinformation efforts. One State Department cable said the People’s Republic of China was pushing out stories that focused on “preventing a second wave of outbreaks from ‘imported cases.’” Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

  • Prince William Is "Seriously Considering" Returning to Work as Air Ambulance Pilot Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

    "He knows the whole country is doing its bit and he wants to help."

  • Coronavirus: Why there have been so few deaths in Hong Kong

    A top doctor explains why COVID-19 cases and deaths are relatively low in Hong Kong, despite its proximity to mainland China.

  • Made-in-Canada ventilators, masks, test kits coming soon: Trudeau

    The Canadian government says it's ordering millions of masks and thousands of ventilators to cope with the country's rapidly increasing number of COVID-19 cases.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced today that his government has inked deals with three Canadian companies - Thornhill Medical, Medicom and Spartan Bioscience - to make critical medical supplies, including ventilators, surgical masks, test kits and other items, over the coming weeks "We know that the demand for critical equipment and supplies will grow in the coming weeks, so we need a sustainable, stable supply of these products," Trudeau said this morning."And that means making them at home and we're optimistic that they will be available in the coming weeks."Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand said the government ordered 60 million N95 masks - a type of mask designed and fitted to filter out particles that carry the COVID-19 virus - which will begin arriving this week.The federal government also has ordered close to 1,570 ventilators and more than a million COVID-19 test kits.WATCH: 'Made-in-Canada solutions,' TrudeauAnand said the government also is trying to secure an additional 4,000 ventilators - a crucial piece of equipment in a battle against a disease that attacks the lungs and can make it difficult for people to breathe on their own."This is all hands on deck," she said Tuesday. "Our government is leaving no stone unturned."As part of the deal, Toronto-based Thornhill Medical is making 500 mobile compact ventilator systems and expects to have them out the door in early April."We are honoured to provide our Canadian-made ventilator system to support Canadians and our health care system in its efforts to fight COVID-19," said Thornhill Medical CEO Lesley Gouldie.More supplies comingTrudeau said Ottawa also has signed letters of intent with five other companies - Precision Biomonitoring, Fluid Energy Group, Irving Oil, Calko Group and Stanfield's - for critical supplies like hand sanitizer, tests and gowns."The entire world is trying to get its hands on the various equipment needed to fight this virus. That is why we know that it will be important to have made-in-Canada solutions," he told reporters.As part of today's announcement, Trudeau said the government is allocating $2 billion to buy protective personal equipment in part through bulk purchases with the provinces and territories.WATCH: Trudeau announces $2B for protective personal equipmentOn March 20, the federal government announced its intention to provide monetary support to manufacturers that can retool their assembly lines to make ventilators, masks and other personal protective gear, and to help those already making such products quickly scale up manufacturing capacity.Trudeau said close to 3,000 companies have reached out to offer their help since then."This is a priority for our government and we will continue to source new solutions every day," he said in his prepared remarks.WATCH:  Anand says delivery of personal protective equipment begins this week"We are expecting shipments to come in in the coming days and we will continue to work tirelessly to get these supplies to where they're needed."Trudeau said more supplies likely will be needed - but how much will be up to Canadians themselves."We will need more masks, ventilators and testing kits, but how many more we need depends entirely on you," he said."If you stay home and follow public health recommendations, you can slow the spread."International Trade Minister Mary Ng also announced earlier this month that the government is temporarily eliminating tariffs and taxes on all goods imported by public health authorities."I think this will be a certain sigh of relief coming to the thousands of health care workers that we have right here in Hamilton Centre," said Matthew Green, NDP MP for Hamilton Centre. He said Canada is starting to see more instances of front line workers being exposed to COVID-19 in emergency rooms and long-term care facilities."This is a significant step forward. We're talking about literally millions of products being harnessed and distributed throughout our health care system," he said. "This is very much like an emergency war measures moment in Canadian history, where everybody is going to have to pull together to ensure that we have all the resources we need to fight this."Kelly Block, the Conservative critic for procurement, said her party will continue to press the Liberal government for clear timelines on the delivery of equipment."Canada has an immediate need for medical equipment in order to fight COVID-19," Block said. "This has been made clear by doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals across the country. The Liberals need to ensure that these frontline health care heroes have what they need to help and treat Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic."Global supply of protective equipmentTrudeau's announcement comes a day before China rolls out a new export regime governing how the personal protective equipment it manufactures can be shipped abroad.According a Chinese Ministry of Commerce statement issued today, starting April 1 Chinese exporters have to make masks, ventilators, gowns, face shields and other pandemic equipment to the standards of the country where the goods are being shipped.Omar Allam, a consultant on international trade and a former Canadian diplomat, is awaiting more details about the new regulations but said he has concerns about bureaucracy slowing down the worldwide distribution of badly-needed protective gear. "The concern on one side is it's going to delay shipments. Manufacturers will need to meet very strict guidelines in order to export [personal protective equipment] products such as masks and face shields that are in high demand," Allam told CBC."On the flip side, it is viewed as a positive signal by the international community that the Chinese government is taking it very seriously and cracking down on shady manufacturers and suppliers."The European Commission, dealing with a huge spike in its caseload, moved on March 15 to limit the export of personal protective equipment to countries outside the EU. Under EU rules, the export of any personal protective gear to countries outside the EU has to be approved by member states "to ensure that vital equipment is available to those who need it most, throughout the EU," says a European Commission statement.Special provisions were later added to allow the export of this equipment to countries with unique economic and customs relationships with the EU, such as Iceland, Norway and the Vatican.

  • HuffPost

    When Will Life Return to Normal? The Answer From Europe Is Emerging

    Coronavirus cases may be starting to peak in Europe, but lockdowns will likely remain in place for months, officials said.

  • Pregnant Katy Perry Shares Makeup-Free Selfie While Self-Isolating: 'Blackheads and All Baby'

    "Hope your stay-at-home plans tonight include joining me for a beautiful and breezy episode of AmericanIdol" the singer wrote on Instagram