April 3, 2020

China and Coronavirus

“China has concealed the extent of the coronavirus outbreak in its country, under-reporting both total cases and deaths it’s suffered from the disease, the U.S. intelligence community concluded in a classified report to the White House.” Bloomberg

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From the Left

The left is critical of China’s misinformation and calls for international cooperation to combat the pandemic.

“Last week, ProPublica released a report tracking more than 10,000 fake or hijacked Twitter accounts connected to the Chinese government that have been engaged in coronavirus-related propaganda worldwide. Twitter had frozen an additional 200,000 accounts before they went active…

“[Meanwhile] Chinese tech giant Huawei has been focusing donations of equipment and support on countries where it is competing for 5G contracts. After the European Union’s de facto foreign minister Josep Borrell suggested Beijing was playing the ‘politics of generosity,’ Huawei announced it would scale back sending masks to Europe, essentially proving Borrell’s point… Countries around the world are suddenly waking up to the real dangers of depending on China for aid or information.”
Josh Rogin, Washington Post

At the same time, “U.S.-Chinese collaboration against infectious disease isn’t a globalist fantasy. It has proved immensely effective in the past. And one of its greatest champions was George W. Bush… [but] Since Trump took office, both the CDC and the National Institutes of Health have reduced their staff in Beijing. The National Science Foundation has shut its office in the country entirely…

“This hard decoupling on public-health matters almost certainly undermined the U.S. government’s initial understanding of COVID-19. To be sure, Beijing responded to the outbreak with a disastrous cover-up, followed by a harsh quarantine. It repeatedly and inexcusably delayed allowing a WHO delegation into Wuhan. Nonetheless, academics who study U.S.-Chinese cooperation on public health told me that had experts from the CDC and the National Institutes of Health maintained close contact with their Chinese counterparts, those informal channels would have given the United States much better information in the virus’s early days.”
Peter Beinart, The Atlantic

“The reality is that neither side has acquitted itself well during the crisis. China’s propaganda efforts to cast its response to the outbreak as a model for the rest of the world are falling somewhat flat, with scrutiny mounting over the credibility of China’s reported numbers of infections and deaths. Its soft-power outreach to other parts of the world, particularly Europe, is starting to look more soft than powerful: A number of governments have had to throw out or recall Chinese-sent medical supplies because of concerns over defects…

“Meanwhile, the United States has become the epicenter of the pandemic, with the most reported cases in the world, and the grim likelihood that things are going to get considerably worse in the country’s major cities. New reporting has shed even more light on the administration’s dawdling and inattention in the early weeks of the outbreak, missteps that could cost thousands of lives.”
Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post

“When the virus' dangerous potential became readily apparent in January, Trump should have immediately led an international effort to procure, allocate, and distribute needed medical equipment, to generate and share best practices on testing and isolation, and to advance the preparedness of lower income communities and countries that are likely to be particularly hard hit. Instead, it was not until March 16 -- months too late -- that Trump participated in a video conference to discuss the pandemic with the leaders of the G7… The following week, G7 foreign ministers could not muster the solidarity to issue a joint statement -- reportedly because Secretary of State Mike Pompeo insisted on inserting the term ‘Wuhan virus’ into the communique…

“The Chinese [have been] waiting for Europe with open arms at the same time that the United States is pushing Europeans away from the close partnership with America that has served both sides of the Atlantic so well since the 1940s. Trump's bumbling response to the pandemic is only expediting this trend… when this pandemic abates and Americans welcome the end of social distancing, they will nonetheless find the United States a very lonely country in the world.”
Charles A. Kupchan, CNN

From the Right

The right is critical of China’s misinformation and calls out the WHO for accepting a narrative offered by the Chinese Communist Party.

The right is critical of China’s misinformation and calls out the WHO for accepting a narrative offered by the Chinese Communist Party.

“If Beijing had reported the true size of the outbreak there, public-health experts would’ve been sounding much louder alarms at the start — and the rest of the world would have begun making much greater preparations, sooner. Plenty of evidence suggests the US intel report is right… Also telling was how China refused to let a full World Health Organization team — or any experts from the US Centers for Disease Control — inspect the situation on the ground in the epidemic’s early days…

“COVID-19 has claimed at least 42,000 lives worldwide. A University of Southampton study estimates 95 percent of infections would have been avoided if China had acted just three weeks earlier — instead of silencing those who sought to save lives.”
Editorial Board, New York Post

“What are the implications of China lying? Most basically, much of the current data about coronavirus is largely worthless because most of it comes from China’s cooked books. That’s changing by the hour as American and European doctors get to observe firsthand how the disease afflicts its victims; we’ll have a more reliable data set soon for calculating the fatality rate, the infection rate, and so on…

“Another implication: We should never again trust, or fund, the World Health Organization once this crisis has passed. They’ve been China’s loyal mouthpiece throughout the episode, treating the Chinese numbers as reliable. They’re either willing propagandists or dupes.”
Allahpundit, Hot Air

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) writes, “In December, the WHO refused to act on or publicize Taiwan’s warning that the new respiratory infection emerging in China could pass from human to human. In mid January, despite accumulating evidence of patients contracting what we now know as COVID-19 from other people, the organization repeated the CCP’s lie that there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission. In January the WHO, at Beijing’s behest, also blocked Taiwan from participating in critical meetings to coordinate responses to the coronavirus…

“The world’s leading global health organization cannot be used as a tool of the CCP, and the U.S. — the WHO’s largest financial contributor, giving five times as much money as obligated — must take steps to ensure it [doesn’t]. Once this pandemic is under control, WHO leadership should be held to account. That includes Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus… Maintaining current levels of U.S. contributions should depend on whether the WHO can reclaim its independence.”
Marco Rubio, National Review

“The United States — the country now most affected by COVID-19 — must demand China make institutional changes in their domestic food safety policies to help eliminate the threat of pandemic. How many more animal-born viruses must we fall victim to before we demand that China and others stop the behavior that most often causes them?...

“We must form an international coalition to investigate China’s food safety and health protocols, reporting and prevention. And, we must also call for the immediate closures of all ‘wet markets’ and enforce severe penalties for those who deal with the sale of wild animals that are known to spread illness.”
Bradley A. Blakeman, The Hill

Finally, “it’s not too early to start thinking about how we can start distancing ourselves from China. First on that list should be protecting and rebuilding our own secure supply chain. We need to bring manufacturing back to the United States, especially for critical items our country needs. We should not rely on China for ingredients for our pharmaceuticals, and we should not depend on them to produce and supply antibiotics…

“Longer term, we should not look to China for components necessary for technology or count on them for resources that support our national defense and infrastructure. We need to prioritize economic independence as a permanent national security goal, not just a temporary solution to supply disruption.”
Peggy Grande, Fox News

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