by Paul Gardiner
The coronavirus pandemic thus far has spread to more than 145 countries, causing high levels of infection and thousands of deaths. The worldwide costs of combating COVID-19, including efforts to overcome severe economic hardships for millions of people and organizations, undoubtedly will amount to many trillions of dollars.
There is widespread agreement and indisputable proof that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its leaders are directly responsible for the worldwide spread of COVID-19.
It is well established that the CCP tried to conceal the initial outbreak of COVID-19 in Wuhan, a city of over 10 million people. It also is well established that the CCP knowingly allowed thousands of potentially infected Chinese citizens to travel to numerous overseas destinations thereby putting billions of people worldwide at risk of contracting a highly contagious and deadly virus. In one of its several attempts to disavow responsibility for the pandemic, the CCP unsuccessfully (and foolishly) tried to place blame on the United States Army.
Considering the facts we know about, what price should the Chinese Communist regime in Beijing pay for causing such worldwide infection, death, and economic hardship? Should the 145 affected nations simply “write it off”—as many governments did in the wake of the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) pandemic that also originated in China?
Or should this be an occasion for the world community collectively to say “enough is enough” and require China to make restitution for its reckless and ruthless behavior?
Holding the CCP financially accountable for the COVID-19 pandemic could go a long way toward preventing future pandemics originating from China. Needless to say, the CCP and its leaders will not willingly agree to make financial restitution for the catastrophic human, medical, and economic hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
At first glance, there are several potential options to consider for compelling the Chinese Communist Party to reimburse the affected countries for the damages they incurred from the COVID-19 pandemic. One option could be the collective use of bona fide and highly restricted trade with China to such an extent that the CCP could lose control of the Chinese population. Such an effort would have to be led by the United States and perhaps even qualify as a modified Article 5 emergency under NATO provisions requiring collective action.
If, for instance, the total worldwide costs of the COVID-19 pandemic are upwards of $3 trillion (and remember, the U.S. Congress just passed a $2.2 trillion “rescue” bill), the CCP could be required to distribute this amount, either in currency or goods or some combination thereof, over three years to affected nations.
Another potent remedy (which some may consider too far fetched but nonetheless should in the bucket of possibilities) would be the unilateral cancellation of debts owed to China by the most affected nations.
Roughly $1.1 trillion of the U.S. national debt is owed to China. The total worldwide debt to China is estimated in excess of $5 trillion, according to the Harvard Business Review. Cancellation of these debts also would save many billions of dollars in annual interest payments to China.
No doubt a courageous and determined multinational effort led principally by the United States will be required. Hopefully, most of the affected international community will agree and be committed to undertaking this very important effort.
But without a doubt, the CCP needs to be held financially accountable for the worldwide havoc, misery, and death caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is not too early to begin some innovative thinking about how realistically to accomplish this.
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Paul S. Gardiner is a retired Army officer, Vietnam veteran, and avid lover of America. He is a member of the American Legion and a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Alabama, and Army War College.
Photo “President Xi Jinping” by The Kremlin.