China has a lot of explaining to do after exposing the world to the novel coronavirus while blocking access to critical information about the pathogen and its genesis for months.
A recent article in China’s Xinhua News sported a sick, twisted headline: “Be bold: The World owes China thank you.” The paper, controlled by China’s ruling class, sent a chilling message to the U.S. that should not be buried while hysteria and panic spread across the world. The writer said if China imposes restrictions on pharmaceutical exports to America it would be “plunged into the mighty sea of coronavirus.”
Many world leaders are in the crosshairs of the virus as Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, wife of Canada PM Justin Trudeau, tested positive for coronavirus and several U.S. politicians are in quarantine after exposure.
Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro tested positive earlier this week for the virus but a second test on Friday reportedly showed a negative result. His press secretary has contracted the virus. Bolsonaro dined with President Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago last Saturday night.
Australian Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, who tested positive and went into quarantine on Friday, met with the president’s daughter Ivanka, U.S. Attorney General William Barr and other American officials in Washington last week on child sexual exploitation.
Why would China use a pandemic that originated in Wuhan to flex its power over not just the U.S., but the entire world, when there are so many questions about its origin? Many details about COVID-19 are still unknown, including how easily it spreads, and how many undetected cases are lurking around the world.
The virus has killed 42 people and sickened more than 1,700 in the United States. The notion that it began in a wild life meat market is questionable, given the speed at which the disease has spread to over 121 countries and territories in just a few months. It appears to be powered much more by airborne mechanisms versus community transmission.
The virus has killed more than 5,000 and infected more than 134,300 people worldwide, according to AFP news agency. A total of 3,176 people have died in mainland China followed by 1,016 in Italy, and 514 in Iran, the three countries with the highest death toll.
Another theory, dismissed by some scientists, suggests it was bioengineered in a virology lab located in Wuhan. China could answer many questions perplexing researchers with more transparency. Instead they are making dangerous threats while people around the world are fearful, sickened and dying.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told CNBC last week, “It has proven incredibly frustrating to work with the Chinese Communist Party to get our hands around the data set which will ultimately be the solution to both getting the vaccine and attacking this risk.”
White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien also blamed China for its information blackout of the virus which cost the global community two months in response time.
“Unfortunately, rather than use best practices, this outbreak in Wuhan was covered up,” O’Brien said at a Heritage Foundation event on Wednesday. “There’s lots of open source reporting from Chinese nationals that the doctors involved were either silenced or put in isolation … so the word of this virus could not get out.”
Chinese social media claimed that whistleblower Li Wenliang, a Wuhan doctor who tried to raise alarm about the outbreak in China, was targeted by police in an effort to silence him. The People’s Daily announced his death from coronavirus in February.
O’Brien said that if China had been cooperative, the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would have placed teams on the ground in China at the outset to analyze the virus’s sequence.
“I think we could have dramatically curtailed what happened in China and what’s now happening across the world,” O’Brien said.
WHO has said that while the exact path the virus took between its animal source and humans is still unclear, COVID-19 was “unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.”
Christl Donnelly, a professor of statistical epidemiology at Imperial College London, told AFP a genetic analysis of coronavirus samples collected from around the world shows a common ancestor in China. “This is not in any way blaming a particular country,” she carefully noted.
China’s Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian made a deliberately false and provocative statement in a Thursday tweet claiming “it might be US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan.” He referenced a group called the Centre for Research on Globalization that published an article in Montreal, Canada titled “Further evidence that the virus originated in the U.S.
“What are the names of the hospitals? It might be U.S. army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan,” he claimed. “Be transparent! Make public your data! U.S. owe us an explanation!” Lijian tweeted.
The virus emerged in Wuhan after a brutal two-year trade war with the U.S. was ramping down with a humiliating loss for China. The ink had barely dried on a deal to begin phase one of an anticipated two-part agreement with the Trump administration, signed on January 15, when the virus erupted.
The president had announced that the U.S. and China are “writing the wrongs of the past and delivering a future of economic justice and security for American workers, farmers and families.” He said the deal had “total and full enforceability.”
The deal included a “dramatic expansion of U.S. food, agriculture and seafood product exports” as well as an agreement by China to end its long-standing practice of forcing or pressuring foreign companies to transfer their technologies to Chinese companies,
It also reiterated U.S. opposition to currency manipulation and codified China’s commitment to buy at least $200 billion in U.S. exports over two years, including manufactured goods, food, agricultural, energy products and services.
The White House had expectations that Beijing would buy about $80 billion in manufactured goods, $53 billion in energy, $32 billion in agriculture and $35 billion in services.
A mere two months later the trade deal may be unenforceable in the near term due to massive disruption in the U.S.-China supply chain. Manufacturing in China shrank at the fastest pace ever recorded in February after the outbreak. Economists are now warning the world could be headed for a recession and global stock markets have lost an estimated $16 trillion in value.