Just as every African government is now contending with the terrifying prospect of a deadly viral outbreak while scrambling to deal with deteriorating economic conditions at home, policymakers also have to confront the possibility of being dragged into a rapidly escalating dispute between the United States and China.
While relations between the Trump and Xi administrations have been strained for some time, ties have become even tenser in recent weeks as COVID-19 made landfall in the United States. At issue is the origin of the deadly virus. President Trump now refers to it as the “Chinese Virus,” a characterization that Beijing finds highly objectionable. At the same time, the Chinese government has launched a global campaign aimed at sowing doubt about whether COVID-19 actually originated in Wuhan, even going so far as to suggest that the U.S. Army may have “brought the epidemic to China.“
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