It is war,” we have been told. The number of casualties will only escalate such a war. Even terrorism might not be a proper comparison. It’s the early days of the epidemic, and as of March 31, 2020, the death toll from the Chinese coronavirus has already surpassed that of the 9/11 attacks.
So, if it’s war, let’s treat it like one.
The Chinese coronavirus very likely emerged from the Wuhan Virology Laboratory, according to medical scientists, inside China. It was an experiment. It got out of control and went unreported and then the Chinese authorities lied about it, covered it up, and spent over a month downplaying it and propagating disinformation.
The Chinese government did not effectively manage to control its spread or eradicate the epidemic. In the meantime, the virus was exported to neighboring countries and subsequently to Europe, the United States, and the rest of the world.
Clearly, Communist China has done unfathomable damage to the United States, the West and the rest of the world with this disease.
Aside from its militaristic and aggressive power plays demonstrated in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and other neighboring countries, totalitarian China has overtly attempted to dominate the Asian theatre, steal foreign intellectual property, control global supply lines and important future technologies, and generally, through its state-owned enterprises and government-backed trade policies, to seize the global economy.
While we have all suffered economic harm, our patience has expired now seeing the human casualties.
The world has had enough. President Trump and the United States Congress, along with other world leaders, must now take the lead in a firm and rapid response.
It is called retribution: payback.
The cost of the Chinese pandemic is estimated at around $5.3 trillion and growing. This is tallied by the economic dislocation, unemployment, bankruptcy, medical costs, and deaths that have ensued since the virus was lied about and let loose in Hubei Province, where Wuhan is located.
That number is escalating by the day and could come closer to $10 trillion when this pandemic is finally controlled and abated around the world.
The damages are devastating, widespread, and on-going. Oxford Economics, the world’s leading econometric forecaster has stated, “In recent weeks we have revised down our baseline forecasts as more countries announced draconian policy measures to limit the spread of coronavirus in a deep worldwide recession.”
Nevertheless, one thing is certain, lives are being lost. Human lives are priceless. Unfortunately, the death toll is now projected to be in the tens, and probably hundreds, of thousands worldwide.
The United States alone has already passed the largest emergency aid in history, an unprecedented $2.2 trillion stimulus package. The stock markets in the United States and other countries have lost significant value, indicating massive wealth destruction.
What should be done about it?
The Chinese must pay. The best way to effect that payment is to charge them under international criminal law with intentional and real harm and damages.
Here are the measures we, as economists, suggest be taken immediately to redress the wrong, even as we work in unison to mitigate the loss of life, severe illness, and far-reaching deep and lasting economic impacts.
President Trump and other world leaders should make a unilateral proclamation along these lines.
The United States, along with its allies and other partnering nations should take the following actions:
1) The United States and all other signatory countries will repatriate all critical supply chains, decoupling them from China. This will start with all pharmaceuticals, medical supplies and instruments, protective equipment and extend over time to any material or goods deemed necessary to critical infrastructure and national security.
2) Significant investment will be channeled toward strengthening the resilience and capacity of healthcare and public health, as well as other critical infrastructure during COVID-19.
3) We will expand the provisions of the USA Freedom Act to assess, mitigate, and counter all biological threats. Better intelligence leads to better economic policies and decisions. NATO should advance its chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) and operational capabilities.
4) The United States, allies, and partners will also strengthen critical information infrastructure so as to ensure information integrity for the fight against COVID-19. Chinese companies, most particularly Huawei and ZTE, should be barred permanently from any and all 5G and related networks for national security reasons.
5) Since the total debt owed by the United States and other countries to China coincidentally totals approximately $5.2 trillion, that entire debt is hereby canceled. Neither the principal nor any interest on it will be repaid. This is the charge for damages incurred.
In total, the Chinese state and its subsidiaries have lent about $1.5 trillion in direct loans and trade credits to more than 150 countries around the globe. This has turned China into the world’s largest official creditor—surpassing traditional, official lenders such as the World Bank, the IMF, or all OECD creditor governments combined. Hidden loans far exceed this official amount which accounts for the discrepancy.
6) The roughly 500 Chinese companies listed on the U.S. and other stock exchanges will comply with international standards and regulations and specifically adhere to strict GAAP accounting and reporting guidelines, as well as national security policies, or otherwise face severe sanctions, including delisting. United States investment and pension funds and those in other signatory countries would be prohibited from buying Chinese securities from companies that do not comply.
7) We will freeze the accounts of all Chinese officials responsible for human rights abuses in Hong Kong, Mainland China itself, and any person(s) involved in or related to instigating or prolonging the COVID-19 pandemic.
Only by taking strong and unprecedented measures can the United States and the world protect their citizens and counter a delinquent and devious country like Communist China. They must pay the price for their malignant behavior and spreading COVID-19 and causing vast international harm and deaths.