China’s COVID Deceptions: Can Democracies Ever Learn? | The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
China’s COVID Deceptions: Can Democracies Ever Learn?
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Once again, we — most of our leaders, elites, and most of the general public — have been caught flatfooted. A totalitarian state has clandestinely been working on a weapon of mass destruction. When COVID-19 emerged last December, the above groups accepted at face value Beijing’s denial of malicious intent. China was working with a “dual-use” (civil and military) product — in this case, a lab-created pathogen that could be used for medical research created and studied for not only defensive, but offensive military purposes (albeit not deployed). The above segments of American society bought into China’s explanation: that the virus originated in bats sold in China’s infamous Wuhan wet markets.

China’s Viral Deception. An online paper posted on Feb. 6, 2020, by two Chinese scientists, presents evidence that the COVID-19 virus originated in bats that were examined in two laboratories near Wuhan, and not in the wet markets. Jim Treacher wrote about it at PJ Media:

First, the scientists confirmed what scientists around the world have said they believe: the virus mostly likely came from an animal known as the Intermediate Horseshoe Bat. There are no known colonies of this bat within 900 kilometers of Wuhan. Nor is there evidence they were sold in the Wuhan wet market, despite many claims in American media to the contrary. Interviews with almost 60 people who frequented the market confirmed there were no horseshoe bats for sale there.

So where did the virus-carrying bats come from? The paper says this, quote: We screened the area around the market and identified two laboratories conducting research on bat coronavirus.” Within a few hundred yards of the wet market was something called the Wuhan Center for Disease Control and Prevention. According to public reports, the center used Intermediate Horseshoe Bats for research. About seven miles away was another facility, called the Wuhan Institute of Virology. The virology institute also conducted research on Intermediate Horseshoe Bats.

South China University scientists concluded that the Coronavirus pandemic likely came from one of these two labs. They noted that a scientist at the Wuhan Center for Disease Control and Prevention had been exposed to the blood and urine of bats. They also suggested that infected tissue samples from research animals may have wound up in the Wuhan wet market. They ended their paper this way. Quote: “The killer coronavirus probably originated from a laboratory in Wuhan. Safety levels may need to be reinforced in high risk, bio-hazardous laboratories. Regulations may be taken to relocate these laboratories far away from city center and other densely populated places.”

Incredibly, no journalists reported this, or, alternatively, they dismissed this paper as idle speculation, until Tucker Carlson reported it on his March 31 show. Here is a 2015 Italian documentary video (2:20, subtitles) — not a misprint, 2015 — exposing massive Chinese duplicity on coronavirus research back then. The Chinese grafted a protein taken from horseshoe bats onto the SARS virus, the acute pneumonia carried by mice, thus creating a super pathogen, the molecule SHC 0 14, capable of infecting humans. This enabled the coronavirus to attach itself to human respiratory cells without passing through an animal intermediary.

And there is yet another clue: The Epoch Times reports a sharp drop in cell phone and landline phone use in China from Nov. 2019 through Jan. 2020 — compared to an increase in those months a year earlier. Cell phone data is especially pertinent, as Chinese people are required by law to have a cell phone so the regime can monitor their activities for “social credit” score purposes. All users are assigned a health code, as well. The Epoch Times cited details from a New York Times article:

“The Timess analysis found that as soon as a user grants the software access to personal data, a piece of the program labeled ‘reportInfoAndLocationToPolice’ sends the persons location, city name and an identifying code number to a server. The software does not make clear to users its connection to the police. But according to Chinas state-run Xinhua news agency and an official police social media account, law enforcement authorities were a crucial partner in the systems development.

“While Chinese internet companies often share data with the government, the process is rarely so direct. In the United States, it would be akin to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention using apps from Amazon and Facebook to track the coronavirus, then quietly sharing user information with the local sheriffs office.”

The system, which relies on a unit of the immense Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba, assigns users a green, yellow, or red health code” in the style of a traffic light. Predictably, Chinese citizens find the opaque system cryptic and frightening, since the government has not explained exactly how it works.

In some cities, residents now have to register their phone numbers with an app to take public transportation,” the Times added.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ariz.) nails China (6:53) for its duplicity — its infections and deaths are likely far higher than Beijing has admitted publicly — and coverup, and criticizes prior U.S. administrations for outsourcing critical medicines to China. U.S. intelligence reportedly concluded that China has been lying about the extent of coronavirus in China. The prestigious medical journal the Lancet has concluded that the first COVID-19 case had no connection with the Wuhan wet market. The first case of COVID-19 has now been traced to Nov. 17, 2019. One Chinese lab is located less than 300 yards from the market; a second lab — a biosafety level 4 (BSL-4) facility, is seven miles away.

Beijing has been accused of deliberately unleashing COVID as a trial run for biowarfare. This charge surely is untrue.

The World Health Organization (WHO) was also complicit in China’s deception, writes demographer Nick Eberstadt. Noah Rothman at Commentary writes that the U.S. response to COVID-19 was misdirected by false medical data, from not only China but also the WHO, that grossly understated the transmissibility and lethality of the pathogen. European health officials aired optimistic views about being able to contain it; doctors and hospitals were unaware of the full extent of the threat they were facing. (European officials have also discovered that test kits recently sent by China have an error rate as high as 80 percent, rendering them useless.)

A Univ. of Southhampton study concluded that had China begun remedial measures one week earlier, COVID-19 infections would have been reduced 66 percent; two weeks earlier, the reduction would have been 86 percent; and three weeks earlier, the reduction would have been 95 percent.

An AEI study released just before this article went to press went even further. It concludes that China’s figure for cases outside of Wuhan and Hubei province (in which Wuhan is located) are “low by a factor of 100 or more.” The study estimates 2.9 million cases based upon studying migrants who left Wuhan before quarantine was imposed. Its final, blunt conclusion, comparing its 2.9 million cases estimate with the 15,000 estimate aired by the Chinese Communist Party:

Or you can believe that 1.2 million travelers left from ground zero of a pandemic, some freely circulating for weeks, resulted in national contagion of a little over 15,000 cases.

For its part, the COVID-19 number for China offered by Johns Hopkins’ dashboard, at press time, of necessity largely based upon information supplied by China, is 82,883 cases.

China, meanwhile, is moving aggressively in the South China Sea while the U.S. is preoccupied with crises at home. But the regime faces growing opposition, possibly endangering the tenure of president Xi Jinping.

One final point: Beijing has been accused of deliberately unleashing COVID as a trial run for biowarfare. This charge surely is untrue. Were the military interested in conducting such a trial, they would hardly run it within walking distance of their bio labs and the Wuhan wet markets. Wuhan is a major metropolis of eight million, China’s eighth most populous city. Nicknamed “the Chicago of China,” a manufacturing and transportation hub, it sits at the junction of China’s two greatest rivers, the Yangtze and Han. The Three Gorges Dam, which boasts the world’s largest installed electric power capacity, is nearby; also in Wuhan’s environs are two of China’s leading institutes of higher education, Wuhan University and the Huazhong University of Science and Technology. Wuhan is also a UNESCO “Design City” (note its gorgeous skyline) and a beta world city.

Such a highly visible and vital metropolis, with myriad valuable facilities and institutions, and countless international visitors, is hardly the place to stage a biowarfare experiment. Any test would be conducted clandestinely, deep in China’s interior, outside public view, and then likely the regime would have executed all participants, to destroy incriminating evidence.

Why Can’t We Learn? Western democracies rarely learn certain lessons. We did learn from Germany’s use of poison gas in World War I that Hitler would have such weapons and that he could only be deterred form using them if he feared retaliation. Let’s revisit a few classics: We refused to believe that the former Soviet Union was making bioweapons at its Sverdlovsk facility, even as it leaked pulmonary anthrax in 1979. The Soviets thus violated a 1972 bioweapons treaty — one that lacked verification provisions. Ultimately this was revealed at the end of the Cold War, when in 1992 Russian premier Boris Yeltsin admitted that Sverdlovsk in fact had been a bioweapons facility. Soviet leaders from Lenin to Gorbachev were portrayed as potential peacemakers. Risibly, Yuri Andropov, a former KGB chief  who was sinister even by Soviet standards, was portrayed as a closet liberal who liked scotch and jazz. Andropov, who orchestrated the betrayal of the Hungarian freedom fighters in 1956, drank vodka. As for jazz, there is no evidence that Andropov knew Duke Ellington from heiress Doris Duke. Gorbachev did, in the end, prove a peacemaker, but only after his effort to save the Soviet system failed. So the peace crowd, in the 75 years of what Ronald Reagan aptly termed the “Evil Empire,” proved right half as often as a stopped clock is in 24 hours.

Put simply, Western democracies continually hope for the better, given that the alternative scenarios are horrific. Shattered by the “war to end all wars” that produced what was called “the lost generation,” European publics slid into pacifism and denial. As the totalitarian powers armed, violating arms treaties, launching military assaults to test-drive their growing power, testing aerial bombing against hapless civilians, Western governments temporized, bargaining desperately for peace — even outlawing war and delaying rearmament while hoping that their pacifism would induce their adversaries to relent. In fact, contrary to their hopes, their vacillations proved an incitement to aggression.

China today is the hideous living incarnation of George Orwell’s legendary dystopian novel 1984. In that book, a totalitarian state is in perpetual war with its neighbors, brutally repressing its subjects, installing a “telescreen” in every home, bombarding its populace with propaganda, and forcing lovers to put loyalty to the State over love of their intimates. China’s Orwellian telescreen is the smartphone. Yet, with rare exceptions, for three decades our leaders and media have chosen to believe a benign picture of China, one that would grow freer and more friendly as it grew stronger and richer.

Western democracies continually hope for the better, given that the alternative scenarios are horrific.

At long last, COVID-19, coupled with China’s cynical and cruel duplicity, has proven the tectonic shock that has opened the eyes of many (though not the eyes of our mainstream media minders). So we can expect that we will, for a time, learn useful lessons. But let a generation pass — even, perhaps, a few years — and lassitude may once again take hold.

The epigraph of Winston Churchill’s sixth volume of his magisterial history of World War II, Triumph and Tragedy, sums up the habits of Western democracies after winning wars:

How the Great Democracies triumphed, and so were able to resume the Follies which had so nearly cost them their lives.

Let us pray this time proves a shining exception, that we cease to naively trust, and thus reduce our dependency on, essential supplies from China.

John C. Wohlstetter is author of Sleepwalking With the Bomb (2nd ed. 2014).

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