One of the temporary coronavirus hospitals in Wuhan

Staff at one of the temporary coronavirus hospitals in Wuhan, China.

Communist China allowed its domestic coronavirus epidemic to become a global pandemic. It refused to provide accurate and timely information to residents at the epicenter of the outbreak in Hubei province. It denied sufficient access and information-sharing to experts from the World Health Organization. Early on, China asserted that the virus showed no indications of human-to-human transmission, giving travelers weeks to spread it to other countries before finally admitting there was a problem.

Avoiding any one of those decisions might have saved us from the crisis we now confront.

But today, rather than express regret, China is attempting to shift blame for the pandemic onto the United States. Without a shred of evidence, the regime now claims that U.S. Army soldiers brought the virus to Hubei.

This ghoulish deception must not be entertained even momentarily. It fails the laugh test. And once the immediate crisis clears and life returns to relative normality, the U.S. should lead a global effort to hold China to account. The question is, how?

China will likely never accept its culpability here. Xi Jinping’s regime is paranoid about how it is perceived. It will not accept blame even if, as U.S. Naval War College law professor James Kraska outlines, the international community presents a legitimate legal case for action. Indeed, China is actually trying to use this virus to advance its interests at the expense of others — for example, to dislocate America politically from the European Union.

Fortunately, there are ways to address China’s conduct.

First, the U.S. should publicly identify China’s specific coronavirus failures. In the vein of Sen. Josh Hawley’s new resolution, the U.S. should call a United Nations Security Council meeting in order to point out how Chinese officials lied, covered up, and failed to act. U.S. officials should point out the lies China was telling the world even as the virus was spreading. While China would obviously veto any resolution censuring its conduct, this very public accounting would weaken the regime’s efforts to suggest it has done nothing wrong. If nothing else, this would put uncomfortable eyeballs on the Communist Party.

Second, the Trump administration should fit Xi’s deception on this issue into a broader pattern of deceptions and educate the nations of the world as to China’s broader international strategy of offering beneficial compromises in public while pursuing a unilateral agenda in private at their expense.

For example, as Communist China claims to act as a regional guardian for prosperity and peace, it has seized vast expanses of trade-rich international waters. As Communist China offers massive investments to smaller countries under its “Belt and Road” economic plan, those investments come with the expectation of a near feudal political deference to China in the future. Communist China is building and exporting 5G telecommunication networks at cheap prices, but it intends to use those networks to spy on citizens and governments the world over. Communist China says it respects Western values and says it only asks that we respect its values. But it steals our intellectual property, ignores its treaty commitments (as in Hong Kong), and seeks to purchase the loyalty of Western sports, media, and entertainment industries. It also bears mentioning that China throws millions of its own citizens in Xinjiang province into concentration camps to eradicate any trace of political independence and of their Islamic faith.

There is a pattern here of which the world must be made aware.

The Trump administration can do more. It should step up its efforts to persuade major American companies to move their supply chains out of China and into friendlier low-cost nations such as India and Vietnam. The U.S. should also move far more actively to sanction global multinational companies that deal with China’s technology and military industries.

In short, China must suffer severe consequences for its actions, but more importantly, for the irresponsibility underlying them.

China’s regime, it should be clear by now, is a danger to anyone dealing with it. The coronavirus itself might not be “Chinese,” but its global spread is the Chinese Communist Party’s most important contribution to the world this century.

The Washington Examiner

The Washington Examiner

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