Lessons from the coronavirus

The United States is in the thick of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus crisis. It leads the world in the number of deaths, with reported cases in all 50 states assuming you believe the numbers coming out of the CCP. Nearly 26 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits, which means millions of people have lost their employer-provided health insurance.

Working class Americans feel like they are living through Daniel Defoe’s Journal of the Plague Year. They are learning to live with uncertainty, constantly practicing hand hygiene and prioritizing needs from wants. The economy has come to a sudden stop, induced into a coma to deal with the public health crisis.

They are living through a disaster movie. It was business as usual until less than two months ago; now it’s business as unusual with virus precautions engulfing nearly every aspect of American life. Their lives now depend on staying home and doing nothing. A lot of thought is put into doing nothing. Even comedy is becoming tiresome – there is nothing to joke about. They are cooped up with no end in sight. It’s difficult not to be paranoid when the sky is falling and the walls of their daily existence are caving in on them and their families.

Of course, the wealthy are in a twist, grappling with the traumas of cancelled golf games and visible roots. While health care employees are working 14-hour days risking everything, Ellen DeGeneres is comparing living in her sprawling mansion to being stuck in jail.

Americans are searching for elected officials willing and able to work together and put aside their partisan bickering in the face of a national crisis. They want authority figures who do not engage in self-aggrandizement and can draw upon their experience to assuage the fears of an anxious country.

There is much Americans don’t know, and much that they think they know is probably wrong, thanks to Chinese Communist Party dissembling. It’s payback time for the globe’s fatal attraction to the CCP and dependency on foreign sources of medical supplies. It may well be that the ordinary working American will be thankful that the peak of globalization will be behind them when the country emerges from this crisis.

A key question is why the country was so utterly unprepared for this crisis. Leave it to history and to a national commission to interrogate this question. But a book published by Barbara W. Tuchman in 1984, The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam, may be a good place to start to answer this question. Tuchman explains how smart people in power can do stupid things. The book illustrates how governments act against their own best interests, making policy mistakes and strategic blunders. A fundamental lesson is that humanity seems unable to learn the lessons of history. In other words, why do countries keep shooting themselves in the foot?

As for history repeating itself, there was a 2019 Pandemic Flu exercise called “Crimson Contagion” run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from January to August of 2019. The purpose of the exercise was to simulate the spread of a respiratory virus from China to the United States and killing nearly 586,000 Americans. The results of the exercise were defined by “confusion” and “bureaucratic chaos,” with friction emerging between the state and federal governments on issues ranging from equipment shortages to guidelines for social distancing. Sound familiar?

There’s more. Among the most tangible results of “Crimson Contagion” was an “inability to quickly replenish certain medical supplies, given that much of the product comes from overseas.” The U.S. is paying a high price for being caught so flatfooted and the government is now playing catch up.

Best to recall the words attributed to Winston Churchill: “Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing after they have exhausted all other possibilities.”

China is a global threat to human rights

The outbreak of the Chinese Communist Party virus has accelerated the need for the United States and others to reset the relationship with this autocratic crowd that rules by repression rather than consent. For too long America and others have become economically dependent on the Chinese Communist Party’s totalitarian regime. Governments, corporations and even academic institutions that are ostensibly committed to human rights have been all too happy to do business with the Chinese Communist Party.

China is a global threat to human rights. Witness its terrible repression and systematic abuse of the Uighur Muslims, Christians, Falun Gong, Tibetan Buddhists, and the protesters in Hong Kong. The Chinese Communist Party has carried out arbitrary detention, torture, and imposed pervasive controls on daily life.

The Chinese Communist Party has constructed an Orwellian high-tech surveillance state to monitor and suppress criticism and free speech over China. It engages in these practices with total disregard of the world’s view of these abuses and uses its economic clout to silence critics. Economic clout translates into political influence.

Indeed, the Chinese Communist Party’s campaign to aggressively silence criticism extends beyond its borders. Last year the party responded to a simple tweet by the general manager of the Houston Rockets supporting the Hong Kong protesters by demanding he be fired and by canceling broadcasts of N.B.A. games. After a series of obsequious apologies, the N.B.A. stood firm.

Also last year, the Chinese Communist Party demanded that foreign airlines remove references to Taiwan from their websites because it regards Taiwan as a renegade province. The four American airlines affected by the order – American, Delta, Hawaiian, and United – complied with the order. Clearly, they were ignorant of Churchill’s definition of appeasement: “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile hoping it will eat him last”.

In 2017, the Chinese Communist Party pressured the Cambridge University Press to remove more than 300 articles from its “China Quarterly” journal. The censored articles covered topics the Chinese Communist Party considered incriminating, such as the Tiananmen Square massacre, a subject that remains taboo in China.

In April and May of 1989 thousands of students and civilians protested in Tiananmen Square in the heart of Beijing, calling for a more democratic government. The Chinese Communist Party prohibited foreign newscasts of the protests.

On June 3 and 4, Chinese troops entered the square and fired on the protestors, ending the demonstrations. Estimates of the death toll range from several hundred to thousands. It has been estimated that 10,000 people were arrested during and after the protests. If the protestors had hoped the United States and other countries that had rhetorically championed the universal human right to freedom would support them, they were sorely disappointed.

Though President George H. W. Bush initially criticized the crackdown and announced some sanctions, nothing else happened. The Bush administration believed that as the West opened up to China and the country became more prosperous it would also become more democratic. Is anyone surprised that they were wrong?

The authoritarian regime of the Chinese Communist Party is not a friend. The global pandemic could have been stopped at its source. Instead, the Chinese Communist Party suppressed the truth, destroyed evidence, and lied to the world.

It’s not surprising that the Chinese Communist Party lied to the world. If it is willing to lie to its own citizens about how many the virus killed, why would you ever assume that it would tell the world the truth? If they don’t treat their own people with respect, why would anyone believe they would treat others differently? Put another way, if the Chinese Communist Party has its way, it is not just China’s 1.4 billion people who won’t get justice – it will be the whole world.

It is an open question whether the international community and the United States will make common cause and robustly respond to the Chinese Communist Party’s role in unleashing the coronavirus. But given the Chinese Communist Party’s dishonesty and duplicity, now is the time to recall President Reagan’s famous formula when dealing with the Soviet Union: “Trust but verify.

The U.S. should reconsider its relationship with the CCP

America is in crisis. In the midst of a pandemic, society is locked down, the economy is stalled and the death count mounts. As of March 30, three-quarters of Americans were living under stay at home mandates or advisories in the fight against the spread of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus.

Americans are buying all the food and supplies they can find and downloading Zoom, everyone’s new favorite hangout. One of the ironies of the moment is that staying home and doing nothing with freshly sanitized hands can actually save lives. Americans are told to work together to flatten the curve, and practice social distancing, altering the rhythms and texture of everyday life.

A sense of anxiety and fragility is everywhere.

The economic fallout has been swift and dramatic. The unemployment rate climbed to 4.4 percent in March from 3.5 percent in February, the largest one month increase since January 1975. The economy lost 701,000 jobs in March, but the numbers only begin to capture the beginning of a job market collapse. Weekly initial jobless claims reports reveal nearly 10 million new unemployment insurance claims in just the last two weeks of March.

These numbers are a coming attraction for what is to come, thanks to our pals in the CCP and the business, political, and academic grandees who encouraged offshoring American jobs to China. The increased reliance on worldwide production and long supply chains has undermined America’s national security.

This crowd traded American industrial strength and technology for access to China’s huge market and cheap consumer goods. The price they were willing to pay was teaching China how to manufacture their products and sharing their cutting–edge intellectual property, which helped China join the superpower club. The CCP has been brilliant in exploiting the imprudent greed, myopia, and corporate vanity of western business leaders who kowtow before the CCP regime.

It is not certain whether Vladmir Ilyich Ulyanov, better known as Lenin, actually said: “The capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them.” But if he didn’t, he certainly thought it, and if he were still around, he would likely claim the prophecy as his own. The ruling class in Washington, Wall Street, and the academy sent the CCP the money to buy the rope.

The board overseas the nearly $600 billion Thrift Savings Plan, a retirement savings plan similar to a 401(k), for 5.6 million federal employees and members of the military. The index fund includes companies involved in the Chinese government’s military activities and companies being sanctioned by the US government. To cite one specific example, the index includes China’s state -owned Aviation Industry Corporation. This firm is the sole supplier of military aircraft to the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. Federal employee money is being used to support an adversary, undermining the country’s national security and fueling China’s economic growth.

A group of lawmakers introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation to ban the investment of Thrift Savings Plan funds in securities listed on mainland China exchanges. Pushing back, the board’s general counsel said that the 1986 legislation that created the plan shows the accounts are private, not federal property.

“The employees owns it and it cannot be tampered with by any entity including Congress,” the general counsel went on to say, neglecting to mention the fund consists of taxpayer money, not private capital.

This decision is another egregious example of an organization facing no consequences for refusing to act in the best interests of the United States and never having to say you are sorry. It’s bad for the United States and good for a strategic foreign adversary.

The Chinese Communist Party propaganda campaign

The deadly virus that is eating the world is postmarked “Chinese Communist Party” (CCP), and it has already caused more disruption than the financial crisis of 2008 and the ensuing Great Recession.

The CCP virus is threatening lives and economies all over the globe. Social distancing and sheltering in place are necessary to slow the spread of the novel pathogen, but they also make a sharp slowdown in economic activity inevitable.

As the global economy craters, the gap between the haves and have-nots is accentuated, as the well heeled pack their bags and escape to safer locations such as the Hamptons and Palm Beach. The limitless resources of the 1 percent ensure they will never go hungry or lack for medical care, even in a pandemic.

In the meantime, ordinary people are panic buying, standing in long lines to stock up on toilet paper, facing financial instability and trying to make ends meet while being told we are all in this together. Mostly, they remain sequestered at home, apart from the occasional pilgrimage to the grocery store, pharmacy, or package store. The CCP virus has crushed the economy and shut down much of American life.

March 19 was the first day on which the CCP reported no new locally transmitted cases of the pathogen since the outbreak of the virus in Wuhan. The CCP congratulates itself on its extraordinary containment measures, limiting the movement of millions of people, and rapid medical response. Will wonders never cease?

The CCP is working hard to scrub its own culpability and turn this crisis into an opportunity. Its leader Xi Jinping now acts as the charitable godfather, dishing out money, medical supplies and equipment to convince the world they are not responsible for the global public health crisis and economic chaos.

The CCP is painting China as a success story and as a friend in a time of dire need. This was after the CCP spread disinformation about the virus, claiming that American soldiers brought the virus to Wuhan last October when they attended the Military World Games. There is no evidence to support this accusation. The CCP is engaged in a massive propaganda campaign to persuade the world they are a model global citizen worthy of trust and respect.

As they say in the Wuhan wet market, famous for its bat soup, this doesn’t smell right.

In the past few weeks, while the rest of the world was busy battling the pandemic, the CCP erected new military bases on reefs in the West Philippine Sea that are claimed by the Philippines, according to Esquire Magazine. In 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration, an intergovernmental organization located at The Hague in the Netherlands ruled unanimously that the CCP’s reclamation activities in the West Philippine Sea were illegal. The Court recognized the Philippines sovereign rights to the contested areas. China ignored the ruling, continues aggressive actions, and stands by its sweeping claim to almost the entire South China Sea.

The CCP plays by its own rules and does so with impunity. A March 20 report by China’s Zinhua news website says the Chinese Academy of Sciences has successfully established two new “research facilities” on the Kagitingan Reef and the Zamora Reef. According to the Zinhua report, these “research facilities” are to study coral reef ecosystems, vegetation ecology, and freshwater conservation.

Of course, these reclaimed islands are equipped with military facilities, including missile systems, naval harbors, and runways to accommodate fighter jets and other aircraft. The CCP is hoping the world will overlook the military angle as it focuses on the global public health crisis.

While the short-term focus is the battle against the coronavirus, the international community should not ignore the existential threat presented by the CCP. This global crisis will last a long time, but not forever. Democratic governments must fundamentally rethink their relationship with the CCP and stop treating them with kid gloves.