The Unseen Costs of the Coronavirus for China

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Looking into my crystal ball, I do not see the world community imposing any overt, adverse strategic consequences upon China in response to its criminally irresponsible conduct in regard to COVID-19.

However, there are several layers to consider regarding the strategic consequences for China’s various global initiatives. First, there is no “world community.” The online Oxford Dictionary defines community as “a body of nations or states unified by common interests.” The nine billion humans on planet earth are unified only by one common and inevitably ephemeral interest in staying alive. Beyond that, there is no world community. The “world community”—perhaps a euphemism for the UN—has never condemned any nationalistic movement, including those of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot.

Second, all nations on the globe know that COVID-19 originated in China. Chairman Xi’s failures in regard to the coronavirus are not on a scale with the horrendous actions of previous dictators. Xi and his governmental apparatus had no intent of deliberately letting loose this deadly virus. However, due to their negligence and subsequent actions to escape blame, over a million people have died directly from the virus and many more will perish because of its disruptive economic effects. The citizens of every nation intuitively understand this.

Third, to date China has paid no overt price for deliberately hiding information about its virus and for allowing it to spread without issuing a warning worldwide. Indeed, no nation in response has even dared to use its legitimate name: “the China virus.” The World Health Organization, played for a dupe, has continued to defend China. Worse, the Beijing thuggish apparatus took advantage of the world’s focus on the virus to beat Hong Kong into submission and tear up the fifty-year terms of its 1997 treaty with Great Britain.

It is reasonable to conclude that the China virus has incurred no adverse strategic consequence for the Xi government. President Trump has spoken up, but he has no constant internal center or guiding compass; depending upon whim, he alternates between praising and condemning Chairman Xi. President-elect Biden is equally without a center. In fact, he is vague beyond comprehension. To judge from the surface, the Chinese totalitarian government has not been set back, either in terms of internal control or international respect.

However—and fourth—I believe that beneath the Teflon patina of the daily news cycle, the image of China has been seriously damaged. Why? Because the China virus will linger for decades in the subterranean consciousness of billions of humans. This will not be reflected in overt statements from nation-state capitols, let alone in anti-Chinese alliances. But the China virus has caused justifiable suspicion and distrust that will persist around the globe for at least a decade.

In summary, the tyrannical government of Xi will pay an international price and be weakened by the global effects of the China virus.