Editor’s note for Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Dear Access member,

Our top story yesterday was headlined “Trump administration points finger at China for COVID-19 while Chinese state media revives conspiracy theories.” As one reader pointed out, it would have been better phrased as “Trump administration and China both employ conspiracy theories to cast blame for COVID-19.” So far, there has been no compelling evidence presented that indicates that the SARS-CoV-2 virus was leaked from a lab in Wuhan, either intentionally or unintentionally.    

So we’ve decided to call that a conspiracy theory too, just like the nonsense spouted by Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhào Lìjiān 赵立坚 that the virus came from the U.S.

The Trump administration is badly damaging what little shreds of credibility it had left by so vigorously promoting the Wuhan lab theory that American allies, including Australia and Britain, don’t find tenable. This is also making the administration’s claims of special knowledge of the dangers of Huawei less credible.

All of this gives China the upper hand in promoting its propaganda to the world.

One thing you should know today (aside from what we cover in the main section below):

“Flying without astronauts on a demonstration flight in Earth orbit, a test model of a next-generation Chinese crew capsule lifted off Tuesday on top of a heavy-lift Long March 5B rocket, the same launcher configuration that will loft segments of China’s planned space station,” reports SpaceFlight now. The story is also prominently placed on state media websites.

Three events you may be interested in:

  • All day tomorrow, May 6, we are helping to put on a marathon series of panels for the U.S.-China Series, a thoughtful debate and critical dialogue on the future of economic, technological, and diplomatic engagement between the U.S. and China. Register for free here.
  • UC Berkeley’s “China Law, Trade and IP 2020 Online Series” includes a free panel tomorrow on the implementation of the phase one trade agreement between the U.S. and China. The series is ongoing and runs through July.
  • On May 15, a group called Students for Xinjiang is organizing an afternoon of expert panels on Zoom about the ongoing Uyghur human rights crisis. It is free and open to the public, but registration is required at tinyurl.com/uhrw20.

Our word of the day is Pompeo (蓬佩奥 péngpèiào), Beijing’s most despised official in Washington.

—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief