Did China cause the coronavirus pandemic?
On August 24, a report President Joe Biden ordered 90 days earlier from the intelligence bureaucracy about the origin of COVID-19 will be due. There is an odd lack of leaked information about where the report stands now. Despite their supposedly secretive nature, these agencies often seem to employ even more aggressive publicists than SEAL Team Six and leak what passes for intelligence to force the hand of a president they are supposed to serve. When he ordered the review, Biden forecast that the agencies might not agree on a source of COVID, or might issue a posterior-covering report that stresses they present their conclusions with “moderate” confidence—shorthand for “guessing.”
But what if they clearly report that COVID came from China’s Wuhan Institute for Virology, or if most Americans arrive at that conclusion regardless of what our feckless spies determine? The latter is already occurring: a poll in July put showed those who suspected a lab leak totaled 52 percent compared to 28 who thought it was natural.
What will the consequence be for China’s government? The cost should be commensurate with the damage the Chinese have caused to the world, which has been extremely severe. After all, COVID has apparently killed or contributed to the deaths of nearly 4.3 million people worldwide. America has the most deaths at 633,000, followed by Brazil (563,000), India (428,000), and Mexico (244,000). And the death and suffering have not stopped.
Furthermore, China undeniably made the pandemic worse by allowing it to spread globally. Beijing permitted international travel to continue, even as it clamped down on domestic movement. It also has repeatedly obstructed attempts by the World Health Organization and others to investigate whether the Wuhan lab was the source. The economic toll has been enormous.
It’s hard to put a number on human suffering that isn’t arbitrary, but let’s say that China should pay $5 million for every life it may have extinguished. If the death toll rises from 4.3 to 7 million before the pandemic ends, that would put Beijing on the hook for $35 trillion in damages. While expensive, that number is just over twice China’s annual GDP. It is important for the world to place a high cost on China allegedly did, if for no other reason than to discourage it from happening again. Of course, Beijing will not pay—it never pays for anything or confesses any fault. How else then, can this penalty be levied?
First of all, China holds about $1.1 trillion in U.S. government bonds. That debt should be canceled by voiding any of the individual securities held by any Chinese entity on a given date.
Second, there should never again be non-stop flights from China to any U.S. state, and anyone coming here from China should have to quarantine somewhere else first to help curb the next superbug to emerge from China.
Third, we need to cancel visas for Chinese students who attend our universities, as well as visas for Chinese working at U.S. companies. This form of temporary immigration has been a key path for China to obtain advanced technical knowledge and engage in espionage and political warfare in the United States. End it. Universities drunk on Chinese cash will howl, but who cares—most schools are as anti-American and pro-tyranny as the Chinese government.
Fourth, we should take tariffs and export controls to the next level. We should formally decouple our economies and insist that our allies choose us or them—terminating alliances and trade relations with those who decline to help. While the Trump administration put an end to the export of the highest grade of semiconductor technology to China, we should seek an end to all high-tech commerce. Furthermore, the tariffs that Trump started should be extended to all Chinese imports and increased five percent each quarter. Companies like Apple will squeal, but who cares—they should have had an ounce of patriotism and not outsourced their workforce to a communist enemy of America.
Fifth, use the same tools we used against apartheid-era South Africa. Last week, Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, said that he has to do business in China because he’s not in charge of our foreign policy, which allows for such business. Fair enough, halt Wall Street and other investments in China by disallowing the deduction of any business expenses there from taxes. It had a big impact on South Africa.
Sixth, let’s accept that China is good at espionage, especially human intelligence, and we are not. Since much human spying centers around diplomatic missions, let’s close all of Beijing’s consulates in America, leaving only its embassy, accepting that they will force us to do the same.
Seventh, let’s perform a real shift of military forces to the Western Pacific rather than just talk about deterring China. Remove all U.S. forces from Europe, Africa, Iraq, and Syria, and demand that NATO police the entire Atlantic as a condition of continued U.S. membership in the alliance. Then use the savings to increase our military forces in the Pacific. As in World War II, the entire Marine Corps should be deployed to the Pacific. Counterintuitively, we should remove our forces from South Korea, since they would be useless or trapped there in any contingency with China. While the U.S. allows Taiwan to buy some defensive arms, it has done so on a cash-and-carry basis at no cost to the United States. While admirable, given the danger Taiwan faces and the risk to the rest of the Free World of a war involving China and Taiwan, we should give Taiwan at least as much as we give Israel for defense every year: $4 billion.
All of these steps, especially the last, will weaken China’s leaders, as their alleged COVID misconduct will have demonstrably made China worse off. Through this, they will either learn an important lesson or lose power.
Christian Whiton is a senior fellow at the Center for the National Interest and edits Super Macro. He was a State Department senior advisor during the George W. Bush and Trump administrations.
Jimmy John Doe
August 9, 2021 at 9:25 am
Interesting. Very interesting. The lab leak hypothesis or theory holds about as much water as the theory of saddam hussein secretly buying nuke bomb components that was advanced by Michael R. Gordon before 2003.
Xi jinping has so foolishly put his own country into a tight corner by allowing shady elements to get into wuhan in october 2019 to get that infamous virus to unleash itself on the unsuspecting city and later the world.
Biden can do a huge favor by getting Xi to attend a future G20 summit and having SEAL Team 6 on standby.
But does Biden have the balls or temerity to do it ?
August 9, 2021 at 11:59 am
I‘m a leftie, a democratic leftie, but I totally agree with the author’s suggestions. The CCP is the worst abuser of human rights today, Its lack of transparency and accountability will eventually cause the regime to collapse, but we should do everything to quicken the process. The Chinese people deserve better.
August 9, 2021 at 2:44 pm
Tonbad this would never comento a reality especially with Democrates in power being that in my opinion they are in China’s payrol, one way or another they do not want to bite the hand that feeds their campaigns and socialist views
August 9, 2021 at 3:47 pm
Xi Jinping needs to be put behind bars, at least by the people of china. He set up his reckless BRI midday dream grandiose project that has allowed his own country to become an object of ridicule while failing to counter accusations of bribery, real or alleged.
This is the image of a leader who has failed to see far ahead of the present or even one big step ahead of the present and thus made it possible for wuhan to forever be associated with the sars-cov-2 virus. He needs to be jailed.
Scientists have declared sars-cov-2 wasn’t engineered or modifed and almost certainly came from animal world. It is possible researchers were handling it as a matter of routine at a bio research lab and somehow some people became infected and they took journeys to europe in mid-2019 and infected some and these in turn took journeys to wuhan in late 2019.
By the time the virus made it to the infamous market there, it had become more virulent but Xi Jinping had no idea what was happening. He was busy making photo-opps to project himself as a wise fatherly leader of the nation even realising what was brewing in wuhan. From wuhan the (now more virulent) virus made it to the outside world. The rest is history.
World leaders must know that passports AND visas (including the notorious multi-entry type) are not a right but an award and therefore cannot be handed out like sweets. Apparently, Xi Jinping doesn’t realise this important fact. He needs to go to jail asap.
August 9, 2021 at 3:57 pm
Xi Jinping needs to go to jail. The 2019 coronavirus wouldn’t have made it to wuhan had he been smart enough to understand he cannot hand out passports and visas like chocolates to every tom, dick and harry.
But he did, and now his country faces the most dire threat to its existence since the time when invaders made mass massacres in china a routine daily chore. He needs to go to jail.
August 9, 2021 at 6:52 pm
Xi Jinping belongs behind bars. He has wasted massive massive sums of money to build new airports to enable monster troves of foreigners to rush into the country.
Now those same foreigners want massive massive sums of money for suffering the covid pandemic.
He should hand hinself over to them and get a taste of life on Rikers Island.
August 9, 2021 at 11:24 pm
So how much money shall we hold Donald Trump accountable for the 400,000 deaths that occurred under his “watch” and willful incompetence? Should we also hold him responsible for each of the US soldiers’ deaths that his pal Vladimir offered bounties for? How much shall the US pay in retribution for the millions and millions of Native Americans killed? How much shall the US pay in retribution to the families of 4 million African American slaves? How much shall the US pay in retribution for the H1N1 pandemic that originated in California? How much shall the US pay in retribution for its part in the rapes, killings, and looting of Peking in 1900? How much shall George W. Bush pay in retribution for the deaths and displacement of hundreds of thousands during its war in Iraq which was based on a lie to begin with? Let us not forget that in the short history of the US, it has more often than not been engaged in some kind of armed conflict somewhere in the world – causing death and destruction in places other than on its own soil – for which it conveniently justifies with its own righteous rhetoric – China on the other hand whether you like them or not – has not started any wars during the same time. To the original OP – I agree in part with your 6th point – you and your administrations were most certainly are not good at intelligence…but also, hypocrisy and lies have become a way of life for many Americans. It’s a shame the education system is so bad in the US – it has resulted in a lot of gullible and severely ignorant people. The OP’s whole commentary and the majority of the feedback reeks of an imperialist rant.
August 10, 2021 at 12:08 am
I’m writing this comment while also watching a documentary about the USS Bismarck Sea and the USS Bunker Hill. Both carriers were hit by 2 kamikazes each but only the latter survived (though with massive death numbers due to thick black oily smoke inside the ship).
War is horrible, horrible, horrible. I believe one day (perhaps far far in the future) this whole virus thing would be exposed as an act of covert war. But against who and by whom ?
August 10, 2021 at 9:27 am
Pretty easy to say about a non-nuclear capable country. But when applying your ideas to country with a madman at its helm, with plenty of nukes to defend his reign and regime, it is a different matter altogether.
Yes, he needs to go to jail. Who will arrest him? Joe Biden will allow this to Passover just after he places all that cash in his pocket from art work his son is selling.
August 10, 2021 at 1:27 pm
Surrendering South Korea is simply stupid. Other than that most of what thsi expert has written makes sense and I applaud his analysis and conclusions.
August 10, 2021 at 3:42 pm
Good luck collecting.
China will just hand YOU a bill for $70TRILLION
for the opium holocaust.
August 10, 2021 at 4:28 pm
Let’s push this idea. Owe us $10 trillion or we attack you. What have they to lose? So they’ll attack us and GAME ON.
World War III!!
But will they agree to concessions, instead? Let’s try that first, of course.
Everything from China FREE! Most of it was junk anyway.
August 10, 2021 at 5:07 pm
The virus may have been created in a Chinese lab, but it was funded by our government and (at least that we know of) dozens of Democrat mega donors – all of whom we can presume knew exactly what was going on there. In the summer of 2019, it wasn’t the Chinese who had so many prominent people publicly praying for “something like an epidemic,” it was our Democrats – who knew about, and certainly had the means to bribe a lab worker to release, this virus. We may never find the actual smoking gun, but Occam’s Razor gives us a good idea who is most likely to blame.
August 10, 2021 at 5:36 pm
The lab in question was under contract to the US government.
Rather obvious that the governments are working together agains the people.
August 10, 2021 at 6:06 pm
Dream on redneck diplomat – you’ll be venting about much more than reparations when this is over.
August 10, 2021 at 8:21 pm
Karma is a cruel beeoch.
What are the odds that the Wuhan virus will spoil the Winter Games?
August 10, 2021 at 8:48 pm
Its an interesting question why the US doesn’t allow lawsuits against the CCP. Hopefully this policy is reversed by a new administration or congress steps in.
August 10, 2021 at 10:38 pm
China “owes” the world $35 trillion? Is god going to collect it because the US certainly cannot. And the lab leak theory was discredited over a year ago.
August 10, 2021 at 11:58 pm
“Hey China,you know that 1.1 trillion of our national debt that we owe to you? Consider that a down payment. We’ll collect the rest when you want us to lift the sanctions.
Have a nice day.”
August 11, 2021 at 5:46 am
We paid for it, directed it and tried to cover it up. You think we should be paid when we allowed the perpetrators to seize power with it?
November 22, 2021 at 6:26 pm
thanks for getting the world sick winnie the pooh
December 12, 2021 at 10:32 am
I was on board with your mission rught up until you said we should take troops out of europe, and asia ext…For a couple reasons we would have a serious power vacume in those places which would open the front door for Russia or China to step in and that we cannot do bro..These countries want and need our security and so they should pay in Gold/Cash for this..Secondly we require these bases for rapid deployment for our troops, You couldnt even imagine how often our spec ops uses these for conflicks that break out around the world and we NEVER hear about it unless they have a failure..We have these basis strategically placed around the world which allows our Air Force to Strike anywhere within hours and we will not give this up nor should we..If it wasn’t for the US the prosperity the World has today is a direct result of us Policing the World after WW2…I would hate to imagine this World with out us around for a 911 call…
Your story was thought provoking though so keep up the good work…