Foreign Policy

Investigation Is the First Step in Holding China Accountable

It's not whether China pays, it's how. But we need to know a lot more first.

Harold Hutchison · Apr. 21, 2020

As America recovers from the Wuhan coronavirus, it’s important to figure out just what the heck happened. This is not to determine whether the People’s Republic of China should pay a price — Beijing’s cover-up of the initial outbreak has definitively answered that question in the affirmative — but it will determine exactly what price it pays.

Here’s the deal: If the coronavirus emerged from a wet market and all the ChiCom government did was cover it up during the early stages, that’s one level of guilt. The cover-up showed signs of a depraved indifference to human life. However, if, as some reports suggest, the virus was being studied and released in a lab accident that was covered up, that warrants a harsher level of payback. If the virus was created in the lab and accidentally released, an even harsher level of payback would be necessary.

This is where losing that spy ring during the Obama administration hurts so badly. We could really use human intelligence sources who could gather information on what happened in Wuhan. As of now, we’re wholly dependent on what we can pick up from independent journalists and whistleblowers … and we know China works very hard to censor those.

Investigating the World Health Organization is just as important. We need to know if the WHO merely took Communist China’s word at face value (making its role one marked by mere stupidity) or if it was aware of the truth and chose to hide it (making it actively complicit in the cover-up).

To obtain that information, we can’t just rely on congressional hearings, even though they would be very important. We may need to either position intelligence personnel into the WHO to also keep track of methods and practices or to recruit those currently employed by that organization. In addition, such penetration could very well offer us the chance to influence the officials.

This pandemic has taught America a number of harsh lessons about vulnerability and what needs to be done to mitigate the next outbreak. The fact of the matter is that anyone who argues that the United Nations and World Health Organization are reliable partners is living in a fantasy world.

The fact is, if the UN and the WHO won’t reform, and leaving is not a viable option, then we will need other ways to hold those organizations accountable. But the measures to do so must fit the level of culpability. In addition, since the UN and the WHO are seriously compromised at best, it doesn’t hurt to focus some of our intelligence gathering on them. There would be another bonus: If you have the CIA, NSA, and FBI focusing on the UN, the WHO, and similar organizations, it means that fewer assets would be available to pull nonsense like Spygate.

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