Wuhan Coverup: How China Put the World in Jeopardy

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As recently as this weekend, The New York Times was continuing to insist that now is not the time to criticize Beijing for their response to the coronavirus. It’s more important, says the Times and other liberal media pundits, to work with China (to the extent possible) to develop therapies for the disease and stop the spread of COVID-19 throughout the world. For some strange reason, this same benevolence does not extend to President Trump, where the habitual “he’s the worst, EVER” reporting continues unabated. Criticizing China? Too soon. Criticizing Trump? All day, every day.

Got it.

Unfortunately, recency bias demands that we keep China’s sins in mind, right now. If we wait six or eight months until all this blows over, it gives Xi Jinping too much time to distance his regime from the unconscionable coverup that characterized Beijing’s early response to the coronavirus. Oh sure, this global pandemic happened to start in Wuhan…but look at all this good we’ve done in the meantime! Let’s just forget about all that nastiness from the beginning, shall we?

That’s not going to work for us. Sorry, apologists.

From the very moment that the coronavirus crossed from animals to humans, China bore full responsibility for this disaster. The Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market should have never been permitted to slaughter animals on site – the very practice that health officials have condemned since the days of SARS. But even if we give China a pass on that flagrant violation of best public health practices (and we should not), we must not give them a pass for what they did after the virus began spreading.

Their sins include:

— Ignoring the warnings of Dr. Li Wenliang, who was sounding the alarm as early as December 30 that the public had a novel coronavirus on its hands, and that it was spreading from person to person. Indeed, the regime went further than merely ignoring the doctor; they forced him to sign a document in which he disavowed his “false comments.” Dr. Wenliang ultimately died from COVID-19 while officials continued to downplay the impending disaster.

— Doing everything possible to keep important information from the public. While authorities in Wuhan closed down the wet market at the center of the outbreak, they did little to nothing to crack down on the wider wildlife trade. Additionally, nearly a month after Dr. Wenliang released his first warnings, Chinese state media kept censoring criticism of their response and insisting to the public that there were no additional infections. By January 22, approximately 570 people had contracted the illness.

— Waiting until mid-February to tell the World Health Organization that 1,700 healthcare workers in Hubei Province had been infected with the disease. This omission is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the information that China kept from the international community in the early weeks of this pandemic. This prevented the world from getting a true glimpse at what was headed our way, it kept health experts from studying the disease in those crucial weeks, and it undoubtedly led to the loss of thousands (if not more) lives.

Take it from researchers at the University of Southampton, who have used epidemiological models to determine that, had China acted responsibly three weeks earlier than they did, the regime could have cut the number of people affected by the coronavirus by a startling 95%.

In an article for War on the Rocks, U.S. Naval War College Professor James Kraska wrote that it was up to the U.S. and the world to hold China responsible for this failure.

“Action could include removal of China from leadership positions and memberships, as China now chairs four of 15 organizations of the United Nations system,” Kraska prescribed. “States could reverse China’s entry into the World Trade Organization, suspend air travel to China for a period of years, broadcast Western media in China, and undermine China’s famous internet firewall that keeps the country’s information ecosystem sealed off from the rest of the world.”

China’s irresponsibility in this crisis soared past mere immorality and into the sphere of criminality. To turn a blind eye would be an apocalyptic mistake.