What Price Protection?

In recent days, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft has sent the team plane to China to pick up supplies. Colorado’s Democratic Governor Jared Polis thanked the private citizens who had made the connections to Chinese suppliers.

If it hasn’t already, the sudden, almost desperate turn to China for medical gear should raise some very uncomfortable moral questions.

Leave aside the matter of buying protection from the people who made us sick in the first place, and who now seek to improve their position in the world from that.

China is home to around 12 million Uyghurs, Turkic people who are also Muslim. They live mostly in Xinjiang province, in the northwest part of the country. In recent years, just prior to the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak, the Chinese Communist Party has engaged in what should be called genocidal activity against this group.

Chinese authorities have gone into towns, removed the men and sent between 1 million and 3 million of them to concentration camps. The CCP has placed “minders” in Uyghur homes to stay with the families and the women, and to attend lifecycle events. Given the Communist world’s previous implementations of “re-education camps,” little imagination is required to understand what goes on there. It includes both brainwashing and forced labor.

As is increasingly the case with China’s depredations, it seeks to silence even external criticism of its actions. Uyghurs across Europe report phone calls threatening the well-being of relatives back home.

Now comes this report that the CCP has been shipping the captive Uyghur population all over the country to help restart the economy in the aftermath of the Wuhan coronavirus:

TikTok and DouYin videos pouring out of Xinjiang during the past two weeks have confirmed fears that Beijing is using Uyghur and other Turkic youth as slave laborers and cannon fodder to kickstart the Chinese economy.

Given the tremendous and uncritical demand for personal protective gear such as surgical and N95 masks, hospital gowns, and latex gloves, it is entirely possible that some of this equipment is being produced by these Uyghur captives.

To the best of my knowledge, no effort has been made in Colorado to ascertain which factories are producing that equipment, raising the possibility that the state is facilitating the purchase of materials made by slave or coerced labor. Indeed, I know of no effort anywhere even to ask these questions.

China’s recent eviction of the New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal reporters eliminates the chance of a meaningful on-the-ground investigation into this possibility. The only avenue for addressing these concerns is the hope that local U.S. media presses the question with U.S. government officials. Instead, we get this sort of dismissiveness, where a local TV anchor indulges his distaste for anonymous tweeting in order to avoid engaging the issue:

A year from now, when conditions have changed, will anyone care to ask, or will it be “old news?” More likely than not, we’ll be told that there was no way of knowing.

Worse to contemplate is this, as yet, wholly hypothetical scenario.

The CCP has been actively and massively investing in artificial intelligence, which has significant potential for drug discovery. Through the summer, suppose it pushes its AI to the limit to produce a vaccine or even a treatment for this virus. It then offers it to the world, perhaps at a discount, perhaps at cost, perhaps for free.

Given that we know the Chinese Communist Party, like the Nazis in their own concentration camps, practices forced sterilization, how is it unreasonable to believe that such a vaccine will have been tested on unwilling humans? Possibly these same Uyghur men?

If the world is still struggling to restart its economy and it is still blaming the virus rather than government action for the recession, what kind of pressure will there be to grab at such a vaccine with both hands, and not ask too many questions?

What price is your protection then?

And if it’s not this virus, then what of the next one, one that threatens not just the old and sick, but perhaps the very young?

For the sake of our souls, as well as for our bodies, we must deregulate to the extent necessary to bring our medical supply chain back to the United States. We must bring chip manufacturing back on-shore in a big way. And we must invest in AI and quantum computing.

We simply cannot continue to put ourselves in the position where our enemies have the means to blackmail us using the health and lives of ourselves and families.

About Joshua Sharf

Joshua Sharf has headed the Independence Institute’s PERA Project for three years. In that time he has authored a number of Backgrounders and Issue papers on Colorado’s Public Pensions, contributed to the Institute’s weekly newspaper column, and spoken to political and civic groups across the state on the subject. He routinely testifies before the state legislature on proposed pension reform bills. He is Vice Chairman of the Denver Republican Party and has also done original reporting on PERA for Watchdog.org and I2I’s Complete Colorado news site and is a regular guest on local talk radio, discussing this and other state and national political issues. He has an MBA and an MS in Finance from the University of Denver’s Daniels School of Business, and has also worked as a sell-side equities research analyst.

Photo: STR/AFP via Getty Images

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