05.04.2020 0

Time to hold China accountable for the virus

By Robert Romano

China knew early on about the deadly coronavirus that has cost a quarter million lives thus far and shut down the global economy, but suppressed evidence when it might have proven crucial to containing the virus. This according to a “Five Eyes” intelligence report quoted by the Australian newspaper, The Daily Telegraph.

The report stated, “Despite evidence of human-human transmission from early December, PRC authorities deny it until January 20… The World Health Organisation does the same. Yet officials in Taiwan raised concerns as early as December 31, as did experts in Hong Kong on January 4.”

The virus originated in Wuhan, China and is said to have been the result of a laboratory accident at the virology lab there in early December.

Yet the first case of the virus would not arrive in the U.S. until Jan. 15 in Washington State from Wuhan, and would not be identified until Jan. 20. That was just three days after the second death had been reported from Wuhan on Jan. 17.

It would not be until Jan. 20 when China finally confirmed human-to-human transmission, more than a month after the outbreak began, when high mortality rates were not yet on the radar. But on Jan. 24, China would lock down Wuhan and the surrounding region. A day later, on Jan. 25, the first doctor to treat the virus and who tried to warn the world about it died from it in China, raising international awareness.

On Jan. 29, while Congress was still hopelessly distracted by impeachment, President Donald Trump appointed the White House coronavirus task force as the State Department was already evacuating Americans from Wuhan. On Jan. 31, the President suspended all travel from China, and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar declared a public health emergency. Any U.S. citizen returning from China was to be subjected to a mandatory quarantine.

All that bought time, but the truth is if China had been more forthcoming about the deadly pathogen, steps could have been taken in December to contain it before it ever became a global pandemic.

China’s response internationally in many ways mirrors that of the old Soviet Union and the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown. Like all authoritarian regimes, Beijing covered up its mistakes, with the resulting consequences being deadly and catastrophic for the entire world.

That is why Americans for Limited Government has spearheaded a petition on WhiteHouse.gov to declare China an existential threat and to urge President Trump to hold China accountable for the cover-up that is still costing more than a thousand American lives every day as the death toll surpasses 60,000.

The petition calls for “an executive order to eliminate our dependence on China for manufacturing important pharmaceutical and medical products,” to appoint “an investigative team to assess the Chinese Communist Party’s role in covering up and spreading the pandemic” and to “[r]estrict China’s influence on our universities” via its Confucius Institutes.

With a vaccine to the virus still several months away and the global economy continuing to collapse at a rapid clip, holding China accountable and demanding transparency from Beijing should be prioritized, which has a lot of explaining to do. That is not only in U.S. interests but in Chinese interests as well. If China wishes to be the world’s manufacturer and a first rate world power, that does not come for free. Respect is earned. And right now, nobody trusts China.

Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government.

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