Back in January U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo called the Chinese Communist Party “the central threat of our times.”
Pompeo was right on target. At the time the coronavirus was spreading throughout China and beginning to infect the rest of the world. Meanwhile, the Communist Party was working feverishly to hide the epidemic.
“My concern is that this cover-up, this disinformation that the Chinese Communist Party was and is still engaged in, is denying the world the information it needs so that we can prevent further cases or something like this from recurring again”, Pompeo said this last week.
Pompeo’s concerns are backed up by a University of Southampton study that concluded that had China responded to the outbreak three weeks earlier than it did instead of hiding the truth, cases of coronavirus could have been reduced by 95% and the global pandemic that is sweeping through some 150 nations could have been contained and avoided.
Chinese leaders, however, are obsessed only with the sustainability of their totalitarian regime and will silence anything or anybody that threatens their power and that includes admitting that the COVID-19 virus began in their backyard. Since January, the evidence of China’s deliberate cover-up of the coronavirus in Wuhan has become a matter of public record. The Chinese government censored and detained brave doctors and whistleblowers who attempted to sound the alarm. One of China’s richest entrepreneurs, Jack Ma, recently disclosed that China hid at least one-third of the coronavirus cases.
“Official” statistics from the Chinese Communist Party say there have been 3,309 deaths in China, but information leaking out of China’s say the figure could be as many as 40,000 dead from the COVID-19 virus.
I am not surprised by this. In 1989, when I was covering the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing, the CCP insisted that no more than 300 students and demonstrators were killed. The Chinese Red Cross put the number at 3,000—and then insisted that even that number was conservative.
More recently, a top-secret British diplomatic memo produced at the time of the massacre quoted a source in the CCP as saying the number of dead was more like 50,000 because most of the deaths occurred outside of the square in Beijing neighborhoods.
We all know the story of modern China.
It has been able to grow into a superpower because it adopted economic practices from the West. No other country ever achieved such rapid economic and social progress for such a sustained period of time. However, the hopes placed by the West in the Chinese market also nourished a dangerous mirage.
We in the West thought that a modernizing China with a rising GDP would also democratize and come to respect transparency, pluralism and human rights. Instead, the mirage turned into a disaster as we watched China become even more of a “totalitarian state“.
The nature of the Chinese regime — its ban on the free press and all critical voices; the absolute domination of the Communist Party over social, spiritual and economic actors; imprisoning minorities and crushing freedom of conscience — is also contributing to the emergence of this public health disaster. The cost, in terms of human lives and the world’s GDP, is immense.
The Chinese government’s complicity in the pandemic is now an opportunity for the West to reevaluate its ties to Beijing.
According to Guy Sorman, a French-American expert on China: “Like useful idiots, we have not only helped the Party prosper but, even worse, we have given up on our humanitarian, democratic, and spiritual values in doing so.”
“It is time”, said American columnist, Marc A. Thiessen, “to immunize our economy and national security from our dependence on a deceitful regime”.
China is waging a double information war: one abroad and one for its own public, both led by the Chinese authorities with President Xi Jinping at its head. They apparently see the West as weak and submissive. We have been.
China seems to believe that it is rising, while the West is in decline.
“We find ourselves in what Germans call a Systemwettbewerb, a ‘competition of systems’ between liberal democracies and China’s authoritarian state capitalism, which is increasingly projecting its absolute claim to power beyond its borders”, said Thorsten Benner, co-founder, and director of the Global Public Policy Institute in Berlin.
The Cold War with Russia was clearer.
“We had an ideological and security antagonist who was not an economic competitor,” Benner wrote. “There was a Chinese wall between the economies of the West and the Soviet Union. Today, we are confronted with an opponent who is a powerful economic competitor and intricately involved in the political economy of the West.”
According to historian Niall Ferguson, “China today poses a bigger economic challenge than the Soviet Union ever did”. The Soviet Union could never rely on a dynamic private sector, as China is doing. In some markets — such as technology — China is already ahead of the United States. Not only that; the Chinese economy, the world’s second-largest, is more closely integrated with the West than the Soviet one ever was.”
China has also been able to convince much of the West that it is not an enemy. Beijing’s goal has appeared to be to try to draw the West — and the rest of the world — into its economic and ideological orbit.
China opened markets in the West while it offered to its own people a kind of devil’s bargain: give up your ideas and principles and you will enjoy material improvement and societal security. Meanwhile, China became an industrial and technological behemoth, a feat the Soviet Union could only dream about.
Consider, for instance, pharmaceuticals.
According to Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, Chinese companies supply the US with more than 90% of its antibiotics, vitamin C and ibuprofen, as well as 70% of acetaminophen and 40-45% of heparin. The US was never dependent on the Soviet Union for that.
Liao Yiwu, a Chinese writer exiled in Berlin recently wrote: “The West is so tolerant, passive, accommodating and naive towards Beijing. Westerners… are seduced like an old man in front of a young girl… Europe shows all its weaknesses. It does not realize that the Chinese offensive threatens its freedom and values.”
In an article in Xinhua, the Chinese Communist Party’s main mouthpiece, Beijing threatened to halt pharmaceutical exports, after which the US would be “plunged into the mighty sea of coronavirus.” The Xinhua article was titled, “Be bold: the world owes China a thank you.”
China’s Communist Party also seems to be at war with the free flow of information internationally. The regime, in the most sweeping media ejection from China since the death of Mao Zedong, recently expelled three US journalists.
Beijing has also tried to shift the blame for the pandemic to the US by saying that coronavirus originated with US military personnel in Wuhan. Lijian Zhao, the spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, posted statements to that effect on Chinese social media and Twitter. The coronavirus crisis is now a battleground for Chinese propaganda.
The Chinese regime is now seeking to portray itself as the world’s savior. However, at the beginning of the pandemic, Beijing did not care about the lives of even its own people: it was too busy censoring the news.
The result is one of the worst pandemics in world history—a plague unleashed by China on the world that will likely kill millions of people, destroy economies, and create political chaos.
China is a duplicitous, untrustworthy nation interested only in world domination. If it needs to kill millions of its own people and millions of people around the world via a deadly pandemic it will do it without hesitation in order to achieve that goal.