John Daniel Davidson
If you haven’t noticed, a narrative has been brewing the last couple of days that the United States should cooperate with China to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, that the two countries need to set aside their differences, stop the blame game, and come together for the good of the world.
In an alternate reality where China hadn’t lied at every turn about the origin and extent of the virus, silenced and reprimanded a whistleblower, concealed vital information from the rest of the world, strong-armed the World Health Organization into lying about how the disease spreads, and continued to act in bad faith, then sure, cooperation would be great.
But in the real world, cooperating with Beijing is impossible because the Chinese government refuses to be honest about what happened, how it happened, and what’s happening now. Given what we know about the Chinese Communist Party’s dissimulation, together with strong evidence now emerging that the disease didn’t emerge in a Wuhan wet market but escaped from a nearby lab, there’s no reason to trust the CCP. And without trust, there can be no real cooperation
But that won’t stop the narrative. Here’s China’s ambassador to the United States, Cui Tiankai, writing in The New York Times on Sunday that “China is doing whatever it can to support the United States and other countries in need,” and asserting that we need to reject “scapegoating other countries or races.”
And last week, 100 Chinese academics signed an open letter to the American people calling for the two countries to set aside their differences and work together to curb the virus. “Political bickering does nothing to contribute to the healthy development of Sino-U.S. relations, nor will it help the people of the world to rationally and accurately understand and cope with the pandemic,” the scholars wrote.
It’s not just China and the New York Times pushing this narrative. On Friday, the Wall Street Journal reported that a group of prominent American foreign-policy experts, including former high-ranking White House officials from both parties like Susan Rice and Stephen Hadley, signed a statement calling on the Trump administration to work more closely with China.
“No effort against the coronavirus—whether to save American lives at home or combat the disease abroad—will be successful without some degree of cooperation between the United States and China,” read the statement.
In other words, the bipartisan consensus of experts who brought you Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya, Syria, the Iran nuclear deal, and the Paris climate agreement find themselves in total agreement with the CCP’s propaganda machine. No surprise, they conclude that despite China’s manifest deception, obfuscation, and botched coverup, “the focus should be on finding the resolve to work together.”
Coronavirus Is China’s Chernobyl
Setting aside the dubious credibility of the foreign policy blob, one could just as easily argue the opposite, that no effort against the virus will be successful if it means cooperating with China, which at this point should be treated like the international pariah it obviously is.
We don’t even have clarity about how this thing started. To be clear, the conspiracy theories that the coronavirus is an engineered bioweapon that was either accidentally leaked or deliberately released are just as crazy as they sound. But there is mounting evidence—National Review’s Jim Geraghty goes into it here in some detail—that the virus was collected from wild bats, housed at a Wuhan research lab, and escaped that facility by accident.
In other words, China accidentally unleashed a global pandemic, lied about it, then tried to hide it. This whole thing is beginning to look less like the 1995 Dustin Hoffman film “Outbreak” and more like the real-life 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster—complete with an sloppy attempted coverup by a corrupt and brutal communist state.
It’s not just the failed coverup that should make other countries reluctant to cooperate with the CCP. China’s recent show of sending medical aid to other countries isn’t just an effort to win back lost trust, it’s also a rather blatant effort to displace the United States as a global leader.
Even in this, it can’t be trusted. China has been mischaracterizing its transfer of equipment to hard-hit, desperate places like Italy, calling them donations when they’re really sales. Moreover, much of that equipment is defective, like the coronavirus tests that don’t work.
It’s worth noting that the bad actor here is the Chinese government, not the Chinese people, who are the victims of an authoritarian regime that doesn’t much care about the suffering or well-being of its people.
Even now, thanks in part to aggressive CCP censorship, it’s unclear what the virus’s toll has been in China or even if the situation is under control there. Since mid-February, some 780 million Chinese citizens, about half the country, have been on some sort of lockdown. In recent days, those restrictions were eased in some areas before being abruptly reinstated.
If China wants to cooperate with the United States, that’s great. It can start by giving the world credible numbers about how many Chinese citizens have really been infected, how many have died, and how exactly this plague got out to begin with.
Until then, there’s no reason for American leaders, or leaders anywhere, to believe anything the CCP says. Cooperation with such a regime, whatever its supposed benefits, should be out of the question.