Douglas Andrews / Jun. 14, 2021

Making China Pay

We can’t allow the communist Chinese to get away with their deadly cover-up of the COVID-19 outbreak.

We say this grudgingly, but the first thing we should do as a nation is pull out of next year’s Winter Olympic Games in Beijing.

Hundreds of American athletes have dedicated their young lives toward this competition, but only 250 or so will ultimately earn a spot on the U.S. Olympic team. And here’s the thing: For each and every one of those athletes, some 2,500 Americans will have died due to COVID-19.

The communist Chinese are responsible for every one of those deaths.

We know the argument: The Olympic Games are supposed to be above politics. But the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t like a trade dispute, a human rights violation, or even an act of military aggression. It’s the killer of 3.7 million innocent people worldwide. We can’t let the Chinese get away with it. But our attendance at the Olympic Games would be a tacit admission that all’s well, that all’s forgiven, that we’re back to business as usual.

The Washington Free Beacon’s Matthew Continetti favors a partial boycott as part of a three-headed approach, which includes a stepped-up engagement with Taiwan and the imposition of a “carbon tariff” on all Chinese goods coming into the U.S. As for the Olympics, he writes, “On June 7 a bipartisan resolution was introduced in Congress demanding that the International Olympic Committee explore other venues. A declaration that no U.S. government personnel will participate because of China’s actions at home and abroad would embarrass Beijing. It would encourage other democracies to do the same. China deserves neither the honor of nor the revenue from the participation of U.S. officials. Let the athletes compete. But cheer them on from home.”

We respectfully disagree with this suggestion. We don’t think merely keeping our bureaucrats away from Beijing sends a nearly strong enough message. The evidence suggests that the lab’s leak of the virus was accidental, but it’s what happened after that accidental leak that’s most worthy of sanction. The ChiComs covered up the Wuhan outbreak for a month in the crucial early days, thereby denying the nations of the world an opportunity to prepare for it. And they’ve stonewalled all attempts by the international community to get to the bottom of it ever since.

As Continetti writes, “The dishonesty and incompetence of the Chinese Communist Party turned a national crisis into a global one. A March 2020 study estimated that cases might have been reduced by anywhere from 66 percent to 95 percent if Chinese authorities had acted earlier.”

Think about that: Had the communist Chinese government behaved like a normal, responsible nation, this global cataclysm could’ve been minimized by up to 95%. These are human lives.

As our Nate Jackson noted last week, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo coauthored an op-ed with former Dick Cheney chief of staff Lewis “Scooter” Libby calling on the Biden administration to lead a global coalition to punish the ChiComs.

“It’s remarkable enough to see the Trump wing of the GOP collaborating with the George W. Bush wing on a policy recommendation,” wrote Jackson, “but it’s even more significant that the objective is essentially recommending ways to, as Mark Alexander wrote last year, ‘send Xi Jinping the bill’ for the ChiCom Virus pandemic.”

We doubt this administration is up to it, but the case must be made.

We’re as certain as we’re ever likely to be as to the question of COVID-19 having leaked from a biosafety level 4 lab in Wuhan. As National Review’s Andy McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor, wrote earlier this month, “We can no longer afford to be wrong when it comes to the origin … of a pandemic that has caused nearly 4 million deaths globally (now closing in on 600,000 in the U.S.), in addition to geometrically more instances of serious illness, trillions of dollars’ worth of economic destruction, and incalculable setbacks in the educational and social development of tens of millions of children.”

McCarthy concedes that, yes, the case against the ChiComs is circumstantial. But, he says, “Every good [prosecutor] will tell you that the best case is a strong circumstantial case. It is the most airtight and least problematic kind of proof. … We should stop spouting the untenable and irresponsible drivel that, because the case is ‘circumstantial,’ the truth may never be known. We know plenty.”

Former President Donald Trump has demanded that the Chinese pay up to $10 trillion in reparations to the U.S. for the damage its COVID-19 malfeasance has wrought. He also suggested that the world’s other nations join in. How? He says any country that owes money to China should cancel its debts as a “down payment” on reparations.

We don’t think the Biden administration is up to the task, but we should keep beating the drum nonetheless. As Continetti puts it, “The despotic regime whose malign indifference killed so many and cost so much cannot be allowed to pretend that nothing happened. We can hold China responsible. And we can make China pay.”

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