China must pay for coronavirus, not profiteer

Many countries around the world are scrambling to shore up their collapsing economies in the midst of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.

The International Monetary Fund is predicting that the world could experience a recession worse than the Great Depression of the 1930s. Oxfam has warned that half a billion people could be driven into poverty.

The U.S. workforce has contracted 13.5% as an estimated 22 million people lost their jobs in the last four weeks. Unemployment claims jumped by 5.2 million last week. It will cost trillions to give financial aid to families and companies struggling to survive.

Some American workers have been forced to stay on the coronavirus frontline despite lockdown orders. They are caring for the sick and dying, keeping families safe and shoring up some sectors of the economy like grocery chains and hardware stores. They are the unsung heroes, paying a significant price with their health and lives.

China, the country where the virus originated, sees this unprecedented pandemic as an opportunity for global hegemony. COVID-19 spread at warp speed across the world from the city of Wuhan where it emerged last December.

 President Donald Trump said on Wednesday the U.S. is investigating reports that the virus originated in a Chinese laboratory after scientists performed experiments to identify emerging virus threats. U.S. intelligence sources suspect that ‘patient zero’ worked at the Wuhan lab, and spread the virus into the local population after leaving work.

China’s foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Thursday WHO officials ‘have said multiple times there is no evidence the new coronavirus was created in a laboratory.’

Chinese leaders originally claimed there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission, then backtracked. They detained doctors who warned the world about the virus and journalists who were reporting on the death toll have vanished. 

Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri said in a statement Tuesday “There is overwhelming evidence that the Chinese Communist Party’s lies, deceit, and incompetence caused COVID-19 to transform from a local disease outbreak into a global pandemic.”

“We need an international investigation to learn the full extent of the damage the CCP has inflicted on the world and then we need to empower Americans and other victims around the world to recover damages. The CCP unleashed this pandemic. They must be held accountable to their victims,” Hawley said.

China has been touting the reopening of its factories since March after President Xi Jinping visited Wuhan. The city is now the epicenter of a frenzied worldwide demand for respirators and personal protective equipment that has been described as a ‘gold rush.’

Manufacturers and corrupt middlemen are engaged in bidding wars for critical supplies and prices have escalated dramatically. Many of their products don’t even meet the standards U.S. hospitals require to treat patients.

The Chinese government hopes to win the global race to find a vaccine by expediting the approval process for human clinical trials. Three Chinese companies have vaccine candidates in clinical trials and the government has set aside land for mass production.

 Chinese firms are also jockeying to take advantage of weakened stocks in Europe and the U.S. to invest in and acquire key tech firms. The European Union is now urging countries to take a stake in these companies to stop the Chinese takeovers.

China is also battling for technological supremacy in 5G wireless connectivity and artificial intelligence. The government has given tech firm Huawei $75 billion in support to gain a foothold in the West by offering cheap prices to set up their networks.

Despite its maneuvering the country has still not moved past the pandemic as quickly as forecasters predicted. Chinese consumers have cut back on spending because they still fear losing their jobs or catching the virus.

The IMF had expected China to maintain positive growth of 1.2 percent in 2020, but data due out Friday is expected to show the economy contracted by up to 9% from January to March, its worst performance since the late 1970s.

China should be forced to sell assets and forgive debts around the world to compensate countries for escalating losses in productivity, unemployment benefits and health care costs. It’s time for China to stop propagandizing and pay up.