China and the U.S., not the best of friends to begin with, have been at loggerheads over the cause of and response to the coronavirus crisis. Officials from the two countries have spent recent months trading insults and conspiracy theories that blame the other side. Now China has upped the stakes — with animation.
A short video titled “Once Upon a Virus,” posted online by the state-run news agency Xinhua, portrays a dialogue between the Statue of Liberty and a Chinese terracotta warrior, both depicted as Lego-like figures. (The Lego Group has emphatically stated that it had nothing to do with the video.) As the American ragtime classic “The Entertainer” plays on the soundtrack, the characters engage in a war of words, through which the video ridicules the U.S.’s response to the virus while justifying China’s.
The Statue of Liberty starts by dismissing the warrior’s warnings with comments reminiscent of President Trump’s early remarks: “It’s only a flu,” “Don’t wear a mask.” As the Chinese side handles the escalating crisis with efficiency and transparency, the Statue grows angry — and ill (it ends up connected to an IV drip). “You didn’t warn us,” it says.