Whether by accident or by design, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has forced the United States to choose between its people and its economy – given the threat of the novel Coronavirus known as COVID-19. The U.S. faces a stark choice: protecting its people from the virus or protecting its national economy from ruin. In order to prevent the near-collapse of its economy, America must get people back to work as soon as possible. But to protect its people, the U.S. must accept damage to its economy – some of which will be irreparable.
There is no hard evidence that the PRC intentionally promoted the spread of COVID-19, as suggested by some pundits. But even if China had no malevolent intent to spread COVID-19 – which would constitute an Act of War – the PRC’s gross mishandling of the virus in the winter of 2019-2020 nevertheless justifies the strongest possible international condemnation. We now know that COVID-19 was known to Chinese researchers – and to the Chinese Communist Party – as early as November 2019.
However, instead of sounding the alarm and taking immediate protective measures while COVID-19 was still localized in Wuhan, the CCP in fact detained and attempted to silence, Dr. Li Wenliang who had warned many colleagues of the danger of the virus. The Party’s attempt to cover up the disease for nearly three months allowed it to spread throughout Wuhan, to other parts of China, and ultimately to the rest of the world. The Chinese Communist Party’s cowardly and reprehensible conduct renders it and the Government of the People’s Republic directly responsible for the deaths and infections of thousands of U.S. citizens as well as the economic and psychological damage done.
Through what amounts to negligence and callous indifference, China inflicted enormous damage on the United States and many other countries. Adding insult to injury, the CCP’s propaganda machine is attempting to blame the U.S. Army for allegedly smuggling COVID-19 into Wuhan. Preposterous as this propaganda is, millions of Chinese believe the “Party Line.” Chinese President Xi Jinping also hypocritically portrays himself as the “benefactor” of the very countries, such as Italy, that China has victimized.
The COVID-19 pandemic should teach Americans several important lessons. First, several of America’s largest corporations have rendered the United States absolutely dependent on China’s manufacturing sector. Indeed, we are now highly vulnerable to Chinese manipulation of our economy. In our corporations’ quest for “cheap labor,” some of our top manufacturers have exported jobs, technology, and capital to a country that does NOT have our national interests at heart.
Second, we have found ourselves totally unprepared for a pandemic that no one remotely imagined possible. We are short of medical supplies, vaccines, trained personnel – everything.
Third, thanks to our naivete and unwillingness to look coldly and analytically at the fundamental differences between our society and values and those of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), we have compromised our vital national interests. China is a hostile power that is now fully capable of muscling us out of the leadership of the international community – and frankly, quite anxious to do so.
Finally, given the present disorder in global equities markets caused by COVID-19, we should not be surprised if China uses its vast foreign exchange reserves to purchase corporations and technology that a few months ago had been beyond its reach.
Given what amounts to an “undeclared war” using a deadly pathogen, the United States must respond on a variety of fronts simultaneously – and must do so very quickly. Our medical establishment is doing everything in its (limited) power to curb the effects of COVID-19. The Trump administration would be well advised to begin a national campaign to prepare the U.S. for medical and many other emergencies we have long ignored in our complacency and apathy. Administration policy also should focus upon resuscitating our domestic manufacturing sector that has become overly reliant on the PRC.
Regarding China, the Administration should re-impose the trade barriers on China that it had relaxed. Indeed, pressure should be exerted on U.S. corporations to divest themselves of their holdings in the PRC – requiring them to withdraw capital and technology from the so-called “China market.” On pain of severing diplomatic relations, the U.S. Government must demand an end to the vicious slander campaign attempting to shift blame for COVID-19 onto the U.S. Army. Not least, we would do well to reevaluate our strategic position in the Pacific area and strengthen regional alliances there.
A better understanding of Chinese history, national interests, and ambitions also would sharpen our diplomatic and other relationships with the PRC.
This agenda calls for tough and courageous action on the part of our private entities and governments at all levels. There will be pain involved in accomplishing this agenda. But we may be certain that if we do not accept pain now, the pain we will feel in the future will be infinitely greater.