The president and secretary of state have both denounced China for its failings in the initial handling of the outbreak. But Chinese spokesmen have utterly rejected any idea that they were less than transparent about what was going on. Meanwhile, social media in China has spread stories that the pandemic has been caused by a US military germ warfare programme; rumours that gained considerable traction. Scientists have demonstrated that the virus structure is entirely natural in origin.
But this is not just a war of words, something more fundamental is going on. Earlier this month, when the US announced that it was closing its borders to travellers from many EU countries, including Italy, the Chinese government announced that it was sending medical teams and supplies to Italy, the country at the leading edge of the coronavirus pandemic. It has sent help to Iran and Serbia too.