China has recovered more quickly than most Western countries from the Covid-19 pandemic. Photo: AFP/Hector Retamal

“How did it [Covid-19] spread through the rest of the world, and it didn’t spread through China?,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin asked in a June 23 television interview. “That’s what we want to know.”

That is quite a different question than the one US President Donald Trump asked in a May 21 briefing: “Do you think that China is giving the right number [of Covid-19 infections]? I don’t think so.” The Administration, it seems, has shifted ever-so-slightly from denial – the first stage of grieving in the Elizabeth Kübler-Ross list – to anger.