The type of behavior the Chinese Communist Party routinely demonstrates ought to disqualify any China under its leadership from calling itself a civilized country worthy of respect and favorable treatment by the United States. To the contrary, China should be isolated by America and other like-minded countries to the extent necessary to prevent more harm from coming to the global community.
One day, perhaps many decades from now, the good people of China will change that nation’s form of government. Only then might lasting trust be nourished.
It is without question that a stable and constructive relationship with China would be highly desirable. At the current time, such a relationship is simply not possible due to the nature of the regime in Beijing. By perpetuating “normal” diplomatic, commercial, scientific, and military-to-military intercourse with a fundamentally hostile and irresponsible government, Washington has placed the lives of Americans, and friends like Taiwan, in grave danger.
The COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) pandemic, a vast outbreak of a mysterious and lethal virus that first victimized people in Wuhan, China, is a case in point.
It is an eerily familiar story. Instead of punishing the assailant and stopping COVID-19 at the scene of the first murders, the Chinese Communist Party chose to blame the victims, conceal what happened, and silence everyone who raised their voices against the injustice. The murders accelerated. The killer virus spread out of Wuhan and became a global pandemic precisely because it had a co-conspirator. China’s government is wholly complicit and to this day remains firm friends with COVID-19.
Nothing could help the killer virus more than the cover-ups, lies, and confusion Chairman Xi Jinping (習近平) and his loyal communist servants have injected into the bloodstream of the world’s most powerful information pathways. They rendered supine the World Health Organization (WHO), a poorly led United Nations entity that let the world down in its hour of need. The WHO must now carry an ugly stain on its professional reputation.
As for the Trump administration and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, their efforts have been impaired and the fruits of their labor spoiled in proportion to the extent they relied on China for assurances, information sharing, and “best practices.”
From November 2019 to February 2020, China’s government grossly mishandled the outbreak, ultimately allowing millions of Wuhan residents to escape the hot zone. Many went abroad, taking the virus with them. During this time, the regime in Beijing put tremendous pressure on governments around the world to keep their borders open, facilitating the outflow of disease carriers and the inflow of the world’s medical supplies. The nations of the West offered up their stocks of emergency medical equipment to Chinese authorities, only to find themselves facing fearful shortfalls soon thereafter.
Over the past month, tens of thousands of Americans have drawn their last desperate breaths, and thousands more are now being dragged into the shadows. This has happened to them not because their country did too little to cooperate with China, but because it did too much. The United States government placed in the hands of a callous and cruel regime our nation’s ability to access stocks of life-saving medicine and protective equipment.
This morose policy, which strains common sense past its breaking point, is but one of many similar outcomes of Washington’s 40-year, official relationship with the People’s Republic of China. The decision made by multiple teams in the White House and State Department to trust Beijing’s chimerical promises of change, and on that basis help China develop its power, may be judged by future historians as the crowning failure of American foreign policy in this century.
Our Chinese supply chains are aptly named. They are just that: linkages that hold us down and strangle our freedom of action. How can we prevail in an open-ended struggle to ensure the primacy of democracy and freedom if we continue to rely on a totalitarian adversary for our medical equipment and pharmaceuticals? What signal does that dependency send to our allies and friends about our powers of judgement and resolve?
It is not just our health care system that is held hostage by the tender mercies of China’s government. Since the early 2000s, Hollywood has demonstrated its vulnerability to authoritarian influence. Should current trends hold, we will never see another blockbuster movie that is not approved by Chinese censors.
A child born today in America could grow up and live their whole life without seeing a single Hollywood movie critical of Beijing. Instead, they will see what every kid born in the 1990s and 2000s has already seen countless times before: movies that portray China’s communist dictatorship as a global force for good.
The responsible leaders of the free world should seize the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to do what their faintheartedness kept them from doing before. There should be no more trade deals with China, only restrictions on CCP-controlled companies. No more diplomacy of meeting Chinese officials half way, only exchanges advancing free world principles and interests at their expense. No more hiding our disgust with China’s concentration camps, its ethnic genocide, its war on religion, its mass surveillance and censorship, its brutal organ harvesting and forced abortions, its manipulation of Western public opinion, its exportation of authoritarianism and misery, its support for despotic client states, its trillions of dollars in cybercrimes, its territorial expansionism by fear and force.
China’s government should be treated in accordance with what its actions merit, and on that basis placed into an American-led international quarantine. If the Chinese Communist Party’s bottomless crimes against humanity are wisely punished, the 2020 pandemic victims will have gotten the justice they deserve. And the post-coronavirus generation will be safer, richer, and healthier for it.
Ian Easton is a research fellow at the Project 2049 Institute and author of The Chinese Invasion Threat: Taiwan’s Defense and American Strategy in Asia (中共攻台大解密).
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