Since the very early days of coronavirus in the US, President Donald Trump has been quick to point fingers.
He blamed the World Health Organization. He blamed the governors. He blamed the media.
But he didn’t blame China.
He even praised President Xi Jinping on several occasions, saying he was doing “a very good job with a very, very tough situation”.
Three months later, 60,000 Americans are dead from COVID-19. Nearly a 10th of the country is seeking unemployment benefits.
The President, freshly wrung for his ‘sarcastic’ comments about injecting disinfectants, is fuming about his dramatic slip in the latest election polls.
And he appears to be committing to a change in narrative.
In an interview with Reuters, Trump squarely blamed China for the pandemic, implying the country may have purposely misguided the US response to stop him from winning re-election because the presumptive Democratic nominee, Joe Biden, won’t press as hard on trade.
“China will do anything they can to have me lose this race,” he said.
“They’re constantly using public relations to try to make it like they’re innocent parties.”
It is tempting to write off these comments as a distraction tactic or the airing of personal frustration. Maybe that’s all they are.
But with Trump, there’s also the ever-present possibility that the new narrative could translate to a change in policy, including joining Australia in a push to investigate China.