Wuhan is the final straw: The world needs to divest from China
The global influence of the Chinese Communist Party both economically and militarily is one of the most concerning stories so far in the 21st century. Despite years of human rights abuses, currency manipulation, dishonest trade practices, and threats to democracy, the Chinese communist government has been able to grow its economy and influence throughout the world at a breathtaking pace.
The current COVID-19 pandemic, and the global economic upheaval it has created, has exposed China as the reckless, dishonest member of the global community that many of us knew them to be. The outbreak in Wuhan and the communist government’s efforts to keep this quiet have led to a global catastrophe. National security advisor Robert O’Brien suggested that this cover up delayed the global response to COVID-19 by two months while the Chinese government allowed its own people to continue traveling to Wuhan and abroad, infecting the world.
A study from Southampton University in England found that if China had acted sooner, the damage could have been mitigated by 95 percent. This is staggering when looking at the lives lost and the economic turmoil created. Instead of alerting the world, the Chinese government silenced its doctors, forbidding them from sharing information which could have spared so many lives.
This negligence is compounded by the fact that China either failed or refused to follow the rules imposed by the World Health Organization following an outbreak of SARS in 2003 – the last time China gifted us with a global pandemic.
Unfortunately, the European Union has so far demonstrated apprehension in seeking justice on behalf of the nations it represents. Reports of EU officials at the behest of the Chinese government editing out damaging information on the Chinese coverup are disturbing, but not surprising. A New York Times piece quotes an EU analyst noting that her bosses were “self-censoring to appease the Chinese Communist Party.”
Chinese efforts like this to suppress the truth and shift blame to other nations like the United States is a classic page from their rhetorical playbook. Whether it be human rights abuses, dishonest trade practices, or other bad behavior, Beijing continually deflects criticism and refuses to accept responsibility for their behavior.
Although it may be difficult to identify positives from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is plausible to suggest a global awakening to China’s insidious behavior is underway. It is now time for the global community to begin divesting in the China relationship. This is the only thing that will pressure China to operate honestly and abide by the same rules the rest of the world operates by.
The world needs to follow the examples of nations like Australia who has joined the United States in calling for an independent international investigation of China’s handling of COVID-19 and the WHO response. In typical fashion China has threatened Australia with economic sanctions. The Aussies have not relented, however. Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne has labeled these threats “economic coercion,” setting an example for the world to see.
Individual nations, including the United States, must evaluate their dependence on China for its critical supplies including pharmaceuticals. As a member of the House Armed Services Committee I, along with my Democrat colleague John Garamendi of California, have introduced legislation addressing this dependence within the U.S. military. This review must be conducted nationwide.
In relation to COVID-19, nations should consider economic sanctions on Chinese officials responsible for this cover up and the Chinese companies which have benefitted. Additionally, nations, including the United States, should consider bringing China to the International Court of Justice for their violation of the 2005 International Health Regulations. China’s deception, cover-up, and underreporting of the disease is a clear violation of an agreement signed by nearly 200 states, including China and the United States.
The United States and other countries should also end imports from Xinjiang as long as China continues their mass internment and slave labor camps. As a member of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, I can attest firsthand the unspeakable human rights abuses that occur in Chinese government labor camps.
China has lulled the world into believing they are the only viable supply chain in town. This is not the case, and a unified global market can see to it that other viable alternatives exist.
For too long the world has acquiesced to communist China’s deception and aggressive behavior in return for cheap goods. In the case of COVID-19, the world is paying for the Chinese government’s dishonesty with thousands of lost lives and economic devastation. The world is waking up. Now is the time to come together and take action.
Vicky Hartzler is a Republican and a senior member of the House Armed Services and Agriculture committees. She also served on the Congressional-Executive Commission on China.