Heightened Tensions Between United States and China to Hurt Las Vegas Economy

Posted on: May 23, 2020, 12:03h. 

Last updated on: May 22, 2020, 02:43h.

Tensions between the United States and China continue to worsen because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and leaders of the two superpowers are growing increasingly agitated with one another.

United States China coronavirus Las Vegas
United States President Donald Trump and China President Xi Jinping playing the coronavirus blame game. (Image: Xinhau/Getty/Casino.org)

President Donald Trump has criticized the People’s Republic for his belief that the country failed to warn the world of the severity of the 2019 novel coronavirus, which the US leader maintains originated in Wuhan. Chinese officials argue America didn’t respond appropriately to the coronavirus, the state-run Xinhua news agency even producing an animated video mocking the US’ response, titled “Once Upon a Virus.”

The deteriorating foreign relations is likely to result in fewer Chinese travelers venturing to America in the months ahead. For Las Vegas casinos, which crave the Chinese gamblers’ deep pockets, that could cause added economic damage as a result of COVID-19.

“Chinese tourism is going to be low,” Chunjuan Nancy Wei, an associate professor of international political economy and diplomacy at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

According to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA), nearly 237,000 visitors to Southern Nevada came from China in 2018 – the most recent documented year. And those visitors spend, on average, much more than what other international travelers to Las Vegas do – $3,127 per trip, compared to $2,039.

Public Opinion

It isn’t just the president who has a sour taste regarding China. In January, before the coronavirus pandemic, Trump praised himself for what he called the “biggest deal anybody has ever seen.”

The trade deal had China agree to purchase $200 billion worth of American goods over the next two years, and the People’s Republic additionally agreed to a truce to stop stealing intellectual property from US companies. Now, the odds of China following through on the pact seem to be growing longer, as frustrations continue to rise.

They should have never let this [coronavirus] happen,” Trump said recently on Fox News. “I make a great deal, and now I say it just doesn’t feel the same. We’re not going to renegotiate. Look, I’m not happy about anything having to do with that particular subject right now.”

Nor are many Americans. Recent polls from Pew Research reveal attitudes towards China are becoming more negative. Sixty-seven percent of respondents to a Pew poll in April said they have an unfavorable view of China, up from 47 percent in 2018.

Travel Remains Banned

Chinese nationals might feel unwelcomed to Las Vegas and elsewhere in the US if the public opinion among Americans remains soiled. For now, they aren’t even allowed entry.

Trump’s ban on all foreign travelers coming from China remains. The US State Department also has a “Level 4: Do Not Travel” warning on American residents attempting to enter the People’s Republic.

A senior Department of Homeland Security official, speaking on anonymity to Reuters, says the federal agency questions the accuracy of China’s reporting of its coronavirus infections and deaths. It therefore will need to rely on its own intelligence to assist the President in determining an appropriate time to lift the travel ban.