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China Must Pay A Historic Price If COVID-19 Lab Leak Is Reality

It looks increasingly like the lab leak hypothesis with regard to the origins of the COVID-19 outbreak is correct. Chinese Communist authorities sought to both cover up the initial outbreak and obfuscate its origins. More than four million people died as a result, and the true number is probably far higher as dictatorships like China, Russia, and Turkey purposely underreport figures.

The question then becomes what next.

Certainly, the press owes Senator Tom Cotton and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo an apology. The New York Times obfuscated news simply because partisan concerns outweighed their commitment to the truth; unless they expose and terminate the editor in question, no future Republican administration should trust them or grant them any more access than they would a Democratic party publication.

American political score-settling, however, is ultimately a distraction to the broader issue: Punishing Chinese malfeasance and exposing the actions of international organizations that subordinated their mission to the whims of Chinese communist influence or agendas.

The damage COVID-19 did worldwide is immeasurable. Earlier this summer, the Chinese Communist Party celebrated its centenary. World leaders congratulated Beijing. The reality is that the world should treat the Chinese communist party with as much disdain as they would Nazi Germany. Every Chinese diplomat should be treated as a pariah. No university should accept Chinese money any more than they would Nazi funds. After all, few if any political movements in the modern era have killed more. Deaths attributed to Mao Zedong and his successors outstrip Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin. The millions who died under COVID-19 should be added to the tally. Truth matters and should trump feelings: Every school district in the United States should teach the reality of communism and of Chinese communist perfidy.

The initial COVID-19 outbreak may have been accidental, due to sloppy laboratory procedures, but the cover-up hampered the response. Responsibility for its amplification from a local outbreak to a global pandemic rests squarely with Xi Jinping’s regime. For this simple reason, it is legitimate to demand reparations. China may object, but let them explain to the world why every other country must suffer for the sake of Xi’s ego. Should China ultimately contribute to such a fund, it should have no role in its administration, for that would only allow Beijing to sow diplomatic rewards for its malfeasance. That said, it is important to be precise as to responsibility: It lies with the Chinese communist party and not China as a whole. Should the Chinese communist party fall—and that remains in the realm of possibility given China’s forthcoming demographic collapse—China should be welcomed back into the community of responsible nations.

Xi had a co-conspirator in the World Health Organization (WHO). Certainly, there needs to be an international audit and investigation of the WHO and its Ethiopian leader Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. The hope that such an investigation would be thorough, however, is likely far-fetched. Consider how not only the late UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan but also the State Department and many European foreign ministries scuttled an effective investigation into the UN’s Oil-for-Food program scandal in order to prevent both findings that could tar their own citizens and be so ruinous to its reputation that it might not be able to recover. Rather, a more realistic sanction might be a prohibition of Chinese leadership of any international organization for a period of at least 25-years. Consider this an analogy to the International Olympic Committee’s banning of a doping athlete or, in the case of Russia, a thoroughly corrupt system.

Diplomatic niceties have no place when it comes to holding China to account for a preventable disaster. It is not the White House or State Department’s job to run interference for China. Unless Chinese communist leaders are held to account, the likelihood that they will treat the outside world with disdain in the face of preventable crises will grow.

Michael Rubin is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a 1945 Contributing Editor. 

Written By

Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, where he specializes in Iran, Turkey, and the broader Middle East. He also regularly teaches classes at sea about Middle East conflicts, culture, terrorism, and the Horn of Africa to deployed US Navy and Marine units.

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Slack

    August 5, 2021 at 6:55 pm

    There is ample evidence that a forerunner of the novel coronavirus was present in US months before the infamous wuhan outbreak became known to world attention.

    Prepandemic origins of the virus have also been pinpointed in parts of europe (countries closely tied to US) weeks or even months before wuhan.

    But these leads should be left to scientists to investigate and not left to politicians and media moguls to solve the puzzle.

    Meanwwhile, the people of china must pull xi jinping down from his high horse and exile him abroad especially to france or britain.

    Due to his hubris, wuhan has felt the full hot blast from masters of western shenanigans. So has people of asian descent in western countries.

    World leaders like Biden ought to press for the arrest of Xi instead of using megaphone diplomacy which has helped unleash thousands of physical attacks on asians and asian-looking people living in the west who have nothing at all to do with the coronavirus.

  2. David

    August 5, 2021 at 7:11 pm

    Back in the “day” we would have gone to war with China.

    The Chinese government treats the Biden administration with contempt.

    Knowing the outcome of the U.S election that a hardliner like Trump would lose and a fool like Biden would melt at the first sign of trouble.

    It reminds me of Chamberlin meeting with Hitler. “Peace in our time” the only one not taken in was Churchill.

    Sadly the U.S has had its fill of wars (think Iraq and Afghanistan).

    Those wars gave China plenty of time to study what the U.S did right and what it did wrong.

    Do we really think the U.S has the stomach to defend Taiwan. I think American mothers have no desire to see their children involved in a war with China over its renegade Island.

    David Stevens

  3. Slack

    August 5, 2021 at 7:14 pm

    In 2019, one year before covid outbreak and subsequent pandemic, over 155 million chinese citizens traveled abroad, and about 145 million foreigners entered china.

    This is the perfect evil recipee for (negative effects of) climate change and super spreading of diseases, not just covid but MRSA germs and the like. Besides this, many people who travel abroad get themselves involved in scams, drugs, crime (including fake passport offenses) and phony businesess, especially those leaving china. But Xi jinping has been proud of all these and even forced his officials to bid for international events and bring them to china including the 2019 world military games (the suspected beginning of covid) to show off china to the world.

    The 2019 games allowed the coronavirus or people carrying the virus to infect wuhan (where in december 2019 the first clusters soon appeared) and the rest is history.

  4. Commentar

    August 5, 2021 at 7:24 pm

    Joe Biden ought to call upon the international community to help catch hold of Xi Jinping for allowing covid infection in china to turn into a gkobal pandemic.

    Instead, Biden has allowed US state propaganda outlets to blame chinese (and asian) people for the pandemic.

    Biden is as phony as Xi Jinping.

  5. Ben Leucking

    August 5, 2021 at 7:53 pm

    Excellent points in Mr. Rubin’s article regarding actions that can/should be taken against communist China. In addition to ending Chinese financial influence of US universities, I would prohibit them from attending our schools entirely. A significant proportion of these “students” conduct scientific and industrial espionage against our country. We also need to embark on a serious effort to curtail as much trade with China as possible. Between the revenue they generate and espionage we are, in effect, financing the expansion and modernization of their military.

  6. Commentar

    August 6, 2021 at 2:10 am

    Few people will disagree that covid-19 has caused immeasurable harm to humanity, with hundreds of millions losing their jobs and hospitals, morgues, crematoriums and cemeteries OVERWHELMED.

    Someone has got to answer for it.

    I urge Mr Rubin to start a nation-wide petition calling on president biden to issue an arrest warrant for Xi. Alternatively, you could petition biden to demand Xi to step down and the incoming leadership to haul him to court.

    Biden’s current approach is wrong and reflects america’s demented response.

  7. Andrew P

    August 6, 2021 at 7:54 am

    Don’t be silly. China will never pay any penalty for COVID. In fact, they may emerge the biggest winners, as they already seem to have. The only way China will ever pay for it is for a mutated virus far more virulent than any variants than now exist to get back into China and kill the elite of the CCP. And this won’t happen on its own. Someone has to do it. Someone who has such a mutated virus (particularly if it is a triple dropout that doesn’t show in tests) has to deliberately spread it to CCP diplomats or to travel to China and spread it where the elite hang out. And what are the odds of something like this happening in reality? Pretty close to zero unless a government does the dirty work.

  8. jd

    August 6, 2021 at 8:47 am

    There is a gap between claiming that it was a lab outbreak and proving it. The authors histrionics don’t even attempt to show a scintilla of evidence that it was a lab outbreak and instead go for the consequences.
    Covid has killed far less people than the Spanish flu (50 million). The Spanish flu likely originated in the US (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_flu#Potential_origins). The reason it is called the Spanish flu is due to the US coverup (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_flu#Etymology_of_alternative_names). The Spanish flu is endemic worldwide. Does the author recommend similar remedies for the Spanish flu (https://www.history.com/news/1918-flu-pandemic-never-ended)?

  9. Donald Link

    August 6, 2021 at 11:07 am

    Unfortunately, nothing of the kind of actions set forth in this article will happen. For various reasons, no country’s politicians have the spine to do anything and the world will suffer as a result. As also was pointed out, those covering for China like Tedros and the flack JD, help to undercut any desire to hold China to account. Worst of all, precedent for non-action has been set.

  10. Deep cover China hand

    August 7, 2021 at 5:26 am

    I lived in China for 10+yeare but have been working in China off and on since the 1980s. Most of my work has been in energy. My Chinese is at the Matt Pottinger, Michael Pillsbury level. I have been listening to Chinese lies from the very beginning and they are terrible liars (i.e. from experience easy to know when they are lying.) When I first heard about COVID and then heard that it came from Wuhan and that Wuhan is a center for infectious disease and military research I didn’t need to know any more. I knew this came out of one of those labs. Chinese are just inherently careless and overconfident. If they make a mistake they can’t take the hit to their face, they cover it up. Americans believe in redemption and it happens in America, not in China. If you make a big mistake in China there is not redemption. That is the most likely thing in this case. One of my many gigs in China was source air pollution measurement. It was a difficult gig because China would not engage with the outside world (China needed help from abroad) and they would not spend the money. They didn’t need to. It was too easy to make up the numbers. I also worked in pharmaceutical testing. Once I asked my Chinese agent “How come you sell equipment but not the testing chemicals.” The response was this: “They only operate the lab when the regulators come by. When the regulator leaves they lock the lab and just make up the test results.” This is how China works. There is no transparency and no honesty in China. I have actually met honorable Chinese and competent Chinese engineers. These people are all now in their 90s. (Correction: I have met some Christian Chinese and they are better, but unfortunately not influential enough.) Any societal honesty went out with the great leap forward, the cultural revolution and CCP rule in general. The biggest danger Western people have in dealing with China is projection. China is not as it seems. When I was in China 10 years ago the joke was to call China – West North Korea 朝鮮西。 This is no joke now. Peter Daszak and Anthony Fauci may have been fine dealing with Western scientists, but China is a different thing.

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