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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

For more than two years, Republicans and Democrats have more or less agreed the U.S. needs a China policy that acknowledges Beijing's hard authoritarian turn and the serious challenge China's growing power presents to U.S. interests.

Why it matters: The coronavirus crisis is threatening that consensus. The wedge driving Democrats and Republicans apart is concern about racism.

  • Republicans believe China is to blame for the global pandemic, and they worry that Beijing's propaganda campaign aims to erase the truth about China's early cover-up.
  • But Democrats say that emphasizing the coronavirus' links to China inflames racism against Asian Americans and that it's a cover for the Trump administration's own mishandling of the epidemic.

What's happening: Furor over a bipartisan resolution in the House last week demonstrated the growing divide.

  • The resolution, spearheaded by Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), demanded that leaders in Beijing "publicly state that there's no evidence that COVID–19 originated anywhere else but China" — a reference to a disinformation campaign led by Chinese diplomats alleging the U.S. military created the virus.
  • The resolution avoided controversial phrases such as "Chinese virus" or "Wuhan virus." It also condemned the expulsion of American journalists from China and its mass internment of Muslim ethnic minorities.
  • Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), the lone Democratic signatory on the resolution, retracted his support after coming under heavy criticism from primary challengers and Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.).

What they're saying:

  • Chu: "During a pandemic like this, people are afraid and angry, and directing that anger towards China puts [Asian American and Pacific Islanders] at risk, as we have already seen with the insults and assaults against them."
  • Moulton: "The resolution has caused division, the substance overshadowed by President Trump's divisive, xenophobic attempts to deflect from his administration's abysmal response to this virus. ... I apologize for that, and I am withdrawing my support for the resolution."

The big picture: That Democrats strongly opposed a resolution condemning well-known Chinese government missteps and human rights violations suggests that China is swiftly becoming a partisan issue.

Yes, but: The bipartisan status quo might return after the intense pressure of the coronavirus crisis has passed.

Go deeper: China to temporarily bar entry of foreigners to stop spread of coronavirus

Go deeper

Updated 29 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Trump’s friends worry legal pick for N.Y. case lacks experience

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Close associates and advisers to Donald Trump tell Axios they're concerned by his decision to use a relatively inexperienced New Jersey attorney, Alina Habba, in his high-stakes legal fight against New York Attorney General Letitia James.

Why it matters: A former president typically has access to the country's most prestigious experts, including lawyers. Trump has turned to the former general counsel for a parking garage company, who works from a small law office near his Bedminster, N.J., country club.

U.S. charges 4 Belarus officials with air piracy in journalist's arrest

A Boeing 737-8AS Ryanair passenger plane from Athens, Greece, that was diverted to Minsk, Belarus, in May. Photo: Petras Malukas/AFP via Getty Images

The Justice Department on Thursday charged four Belarusian government officials with conspiracy to commit aircraft piracy as part of an operation to arrest a dissident Belarusian journalist.

Why it matters: Prosecutors say the officials fabricated a bomb threat aboard a Ryanair flight carrying the journalist Raman Pratasevich last May, forcing it to land in Minsk, Belarus instead.

46 mins ago - World

What Putin's Ukraine options look like

Russia President Vladimir Putin confers with defense minister Sergei Shoigu. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty

The Biden administration is framing Russian escalation in Ukraine as almost a foregone conclusion, but the Russians are still at the table and Vladimir Putin may be seeking concessions from the West rather than a military confrontation with Kyiv.

Driving the news: Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who will meet his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov on Friday in Geneva, contended in a speech Thursday from Berlin that Putin's intentions are clear: "He's laying the groundwork for an invasion because he doesn’t believe Ukraine is a sovereign nation."