China is testing President Biden, but his party is still dealing with Donald Trump. The Chinese authorities refused to provide World Health Organization researchers with raw data on early COVID-19 cases that could help them determine how and when the coronavirus spread in China. The stakes to learn as much as possible from this pandemic couldn't be higher. But it's unclear whether our new leaders are ready to face the increasingly unyielding leaders of China, eager to promote improbable theories of the virus's origins that will free them from guilt.
The virus has killed nearly 2.5 million people worldwide, and the International Monetary Fund has estimated the global cost of the pandemic to be $ 28 trillion. A paper published in The Journal of the American Medical Association estimates the total cost in the US at more than $ 16 trillion, or nearly $ 200,000 for a family of four. With the number of cases declining and vaccines here, we now see a light at the end of the tunnel, but this is no time for complacency. This should be a & # 39; never again & # 39; moment when we firmly resolve to do everything in our power to ensure that we never experience a catastrophic plague like this again.
President Biden has yet to speak publicly about China's refusal to provide raw data on early cases, but Jake Sullivan, his national security adviser, issued a pronunciation“At this critical time, protecting the credibility of the WHO is a top priority,” he said. "We are very concerned about how the initial findings of the COVID-19 study were communicated and questions about the process used to reach them."
The statement was better than nothing, but there was no call for action or reporting of possible consequences if China fails to comply, which is very likely given Beijing's track record on transparency and COVID-19. Sullivan said only that "(a) all countries, including China, must participate in a transparent and robust process for preventing and responding to health emergencies – so that the world learns as soon as possible."
Since the news broke on Feb. 12, other top Democrats have been silent about China's not fully cooperating with WHO researchers. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has sent multiple tweets about impeachment, but none about China. Senate leader Chuck Schumer has also been silent, but has sent half a dozen tweets about the impeachment. There has also been hardly anything to be seen about China's attempted cover-up of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has more Twitter followers than Schumer and Pelosi put together, or Senator Bob Menendez, the chair of the foreign committee. Senate relations that have sent a dozen tweets about impeachment in recent days while remaining silent on China.
Vice President Kamala Harris made no mention of the WHO team's China mission, but the day after the news broke, she sent a tweet warning of xenophobia. Hate crimes and violence against Asian Americans and Asian immigrants soared during the pandemic. That is why our government has taken steps to address these xenophobic attacks. "
Fighting xenophobic attacks is a laudable goal, but I am concerned that the overly-awakened, over-cozy Democratic Party in China may not act vigorously for fear of stirring up xenophobia. Consider, for example, how when candidate Joe Biden Trump's travel ban in China was 'xenophobic' and how Democrats like Pelosi and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio urged Americans to visit Chinatowns at the start of the pandemic.
For years, the Putin-obsessed Democratic Party has acted as if Russia is still our main geopolitical adversary, while China is clearly our greatest threat.
We can demand accountability from China without stirring up anti-Asian sentiment. President Biden must use vigorous diplomacy to get other world leaders to force China. It will be difficult to find a consensus, but it is clearly not enough.
The Chinese government should be given a deadline to hand over early COVID-19 data to the WHO and there should be clear consequences if it is not followed. Any number of sanctions, including asset freezes and travel bans for the Chinese leaders, should be on the table. We should also strongly encourage WHO to immediately return its team of researchers to China. They should stay there until the Chinese leaders cooperate fully, and if they don't, team members have to hold daily press conferences to shame them.
Senator Lindsey Graham introduced a bill called the COVID-19 Accountability Act, last May called for sanctions against China if it failed to cooperate fully with the US and international organizations conducting investigations. The bill was never voted on, but now is the time to restart talks on how to respond to China's dangerous lack of transparency.
Chinese pigeons and species free trade at all costs will insist that we cannot afford to face China, our third largest trading partner. But when you stack the economic costs that can come from mounting tensions with China with the potential costs of weathering another pandemic, the choice is clear. It's time for Joe Biden and other world leaders to send a clear, unified message to China that the world will not let them persist in what appears to be a COVID-19 cover-up.
. (tagsToTranslate) World Health Organization (t) Joe Biden (t) coronavirus (t) COVID-19 (t) China (t) WHO (t) Politics