FARRELL: It’s Time To Review Our Relationship With China

From Chris Farrell’s article for The Daily Caller:

The Wuhan virus caused a public health panic that shook the global economy and virtually shut down the United States. Things might have worked out differently if the international community had been given better warning of what was coming, and if the global scientific community had been mobilized to counter the threat early-on. But this did not happen because the Chinese government deceived the world and tried to hide the impact of the outbreak that has since become a pandemic.

A new report from the U.S. Intelligence Community concludes that China concealed the extent and severity of the COVID-19 outbreak starting in late 2019. As well, the report indicates that China has been underreporting the number of cases ever since, hyping the effectiveness of Beijing’s response measures based on flawed data.

The devastating impact of the Wuhan virus and the speed with which it hit the global economy is prompting a review of U.S. policy towards the PRC. Can a country so irresponsible in handling a health crisis of this magnitude continue to be so integrated with the rest of the world? Or should our posture towards Beijing be one of social distance?

Since the 1980s, China has developed into one of the most important U.S. trading partners. Chinese goods were less expensive, good or good-enough quality and of seemingly limitless supply. Corporations like Apple moved their production facilities to China to take advantage of relatively cheap labor, mostly ignoring questions about sweatshop conditions in the factories.

Some pointed out that “China Inc.” was still a communist dictatorship, that freedom of speech and worship were illegal, that dissidents and ethnic groups like the Uighurs were sent to prison camps and that China’s modernizing military and space forces posed a growing strategic threat. But the working hypothesis among most foreign policy experts was that as China developed economically, it would also begin to turn towards a more open, reformist, and gentler authoritarianism, culminating one day in a political conversion with the West which, if not exactly democratic, would not be communistic either. Hence Michael Bloomberg’s infamous comment that Chairman Xi Jinping is “not a dictator” because “he has a constituency to answer to.” Even though if his constituency talks back they may just vanish.

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