China's Coronavirus Culpability

(This op-ed originally ran at RichlandSource.com)

While the world is dealing with the immediate health threats of the coronavirus pandemic, we must begin the process of figuring out how this began.  A complete picture of the virus’ emergence and spread should be pieced together so we can help mitigate and prevent future outbreaks. As the first cases of COVID-19 appeared in Wuhan, China, the Communist Chinese government began a months-long campaign of suppression, disinformation, and deceit the results of which plunged the United States and the rest of the world into a crisis the magnitude of which has not been seen in generations.

Jim Geraghty of National Review has done yeoman’s work compiling a timeline of the outbreak starting at the very first case. What it shows is a concerted and deliberate effort by the Communist Chinese government to hide the truth. The first doctor to report a new dangerous new respiratory disease was hauled to the police station for questioning after simply discussing and reporting the new virus (Doctor Li Wenliang has since died due to coronavirus). Their regional health commissions, despite mounting apparent evidence, insisted for more than a month that the virus eventually called COVID-19 was not capable of human-to-human transmission. Throughout all this, the World Health Organization accepted the data and reporting from the Communist Chinese government at face value, parroting the narrative that willfully ignored the reality on the ground, leading to the global pandemic we are facing today. The leader of WHO even criticized the US travel restrictions on China, a lifesaving move that helped delay the worst of the pandemic here, as “increasing fear and stigma.”

The Communist Chinese government’s first actions were to silence the voices sounding the alarm rather than stopping the spread of the virus itself. This suppression ultimately resulted in literally the entire world suffering at the hands of COVID-19. And when they offered the international community aide and assistance for the global upheaval they caused, the masks and testing kits were faulty or didn’t meet standards. Now, Chinese officials are waging a global disinformation campaign attempting to blame the United States for the intentional creation and release of COVID-19.

China’s willful deception put the rest of the world at a severe disadvantage. Italy and Spain have seen mortality rates of thirteen and ten percent, respectively as of April 17. The United States has more than 600,000 cases. Had the Chinese government been cooperative, transparent, and forthcoming at the beginning stages, the United States and the rest of the world could have had a better and more informed opportunity to limit the spread of the virus.

The Communist Chinese government’s culpability begins long before the emergence of COVID-19. American officials raised alarms about lax safety standards at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in 2018, as well as concerns about security surrounding bat coronaviruses the lab was studying. These concerns, coupled with the lab’s proximity to a seafood market initially linked to the first outbreaks, should be considered in the investigation of COVID-19’s origin. The possibility of an accidental transmission resulting from a laboratory leak is plausible enough that it is being investigated.

There is still much to do: continuing to mitigate the virus’ spread, supporting the millions of Americans whose livelihoods were thrown into chaos, researching and developing a vaccine, and more. That must be our immediate focus. But when this crisis is over the international community must hold China’s feet to the fire for its lack of candor and refusal to cooperate.