by J Michael Waller / Center for Security Policy / April 9, 2020 – Decision: Anticipating that the US will hold the Chinese Communist Party accountable for the Wuhan Virus pandemic, the US should next decide how to enforce that accountability. The Chinese Communist Party must immediately pay reparations for human and economic damages.
Reason: The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) treats China and the Chinese people like property. The CCP manufactured the circumstances that unleashed the Wuhan virus to plague the world. The Chinese people are not to blame. The CCP therefore must pay reparations immediately, with or without its consent. The American taxpayer must not be forced to pay for the CCP’s damages to them. The US must require reparations and punitive damages immediately, without tying up the bulk of damages in endless and costly litigation.
Background: As Xi Jinping consolidated control, the CCP overrode China’s existing automated infectious disease alert system that had been designed to prevent Party political interference, thus disabling that system from issuing an early warning. It persecuted doctors, censored news, scrubbed the Internet, and even made journalists and whistleblower health professionals disappear, and would not allow the US to send scientists and experts to Wuhan in the early days of the epidemic.
The Party put its own political interests ahead of public health concerns of China’s own citizens and allowed the virus to spread worldwide. A US diplomatic cable to its embassies abroad said, “The Party cared more about its reputation than its own people’s suffering.”
Xi Jinping hid for three weeks while the virus spread, doing nothing until the Party developed a strategy to make him look decisive. Part of the Party strategy was to wage a global disinformation and propaganda campaign to deflect blame, direct blame on the US government and military, and glorify Xi as a hero who bought time for the world. This campaign allowed the virus to spread.
The Trump Administration has already fixed blame. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo determined in February, “The Chinese Communist Party poses a substantial threat to our health and way of life, as the Wuhan virus outbreak clearly has demonstrated” and is a “malign influence” worldwide.
Even leading opposition voices like the New York Times have determined that the CCP is responsible for the pandemic. American lawmakers and close US allies have called for a day of “reckoning” with China, and for the CCP to pay reparations.
What we know: While no credible evidence yet shows that the Chinese regime deliberately created the Wuhan virus as a bioweapon, top British officials and scientistsare beginning to accept the idea that it escaped from a Wuhan laboratory. The CCP has weaponized the pandemic after the fact to strengthen its geopolitical position against the US and other countries. This pattern fits into a broader context that includes:
- Beijing continues to wage an extremely aggressive espionage campaign against American medical research institutions and hospitals.
- China’s unrelenting overall espionage costs the US an estimated $600 billion a year.
- As the pandemic unfolded between January 20 and March 11, the Chinese government ran a massive hacking operation against US defense, government, telecom, healthcare, finance, petrochemical, transportation, and other networks.
- Beijing has mapped out American political institutions at the federal, state, and local levels to exploit their vulnerabilities, spy on them, extort concessions out of them, and to induce them to act in ways damaging to US national security.
- The CCP has tried to censor the world by saying that that any criticism of it would worsen the pandemic.
- By late March, the Chinese Communist Party militarized its disinformation and propaganda through the People’s Liberation Army’s information warfare outlets.
The bottom line: Now is the time for the US government and private sector, and partners worldwide, to require reparations from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to pay for the damage it inflicted. Every policy should be developed to ease the burdens of the Chinese people and help them recover from CCP abuse. If some options are not practical under present law, the law should be changed quickly. “CCP” is shorthand here for the Party itself, Party members of a certain rank and their associates, companies or properties owned or controlled by the CCP or its members, and the like. Options include:
- Cancel all public and private debts to CCP banks, businesses, investment funds, and other entities.
- Protect defaulting private citizens and companies from adverse credit actions.
- Remove sovereign immunity of the Chinese government and CCP-related companies in US courts. This will permit Americans at their own initiative to sue the regime and CCP for reparations.
- Impose high tariffs on importation of all goods manufactured or assembled under CCP authority of, or in CCP-owned or -operated facilities worldwide.
- Sanction all CCP officials of high rank, under Magnitsky Act-style sanctions.
- Seize and sell CCP property including companies, funds, properties, real estate, aircraft, oceangoing vessels, or shares therein.
- Issue letters of marque and reprisal. As provided in the Constitution, Congress should issue letters of marque and reprisal to private American entities to recover CCP property anywhere in the world at their own initiative and risk, and share the wealth with the American taxpayers.
- Expel China from World Trade Organization as long as it is ruled by CCP and admit Taiwan, or leave WTO.
- Break up belt-and-road; relieve poor countries from CCP debt trap. This will create massive financial relief worldwide, break Beijing’s global strategy, and generate goodwill to the US.
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