On pandemic, China must be held accountable

China deliberately unleashed the virus from one of its laboratories, but it is very possible that the virus escaped from the laboratory as a result of grave negligence

China deliberately unleashed the virus from one of its laboratories, but it is very possible that the virus escaped from the laboratory as a result of grave negligence
China deliberately unleashed the virus from one of its laboratories, but it is very possible that the virus escaped from the laboratory as a result of grave negligence

The US hit by Coronavirus pandemic the most. The US State of Missouri has sued China on COVID-19 mishandling.

US President Donald Trump might have a credibility crisis, with people even within his party and band of loyalists refusing to believe in everything that he says. That skepticism apart, it would be unwise to dismiss across the board his accusations against China over the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic which has, incidentally, hit the US the hardest. We may consider as outlandish the allegation that China deliberately unleashed the virus from one of its laboratories, but it is very possible that the virus escaped from the laboratory as a result of grave negligence. And that the Chinese authorities, having realized the blunder, worked overtime to camouflage it through coercive means domestically and diplomatic measures internationally.

The US State of Missouri has sued China on COVID-19 mishandling. The lawsuit alleges that Beijing suppressed information, arrested whistleblowers, and initially denied the contagious nature of the disease. All of these led to “irreparable damage” to countries globally. The lawsuit mentions the Chinese government, the ruling Chinese Communist Party, and some Chinese officials and institutions as the accused. An American lawyer has filed a $20 trillion lawsuit against China for the ‘creation and release’ of the Coronavirus, which has been used by Beijing as a biological weapon.

If China has nothing to hide, why does it not allow a team of independent, global experts — including that from the friendly WHO — to visit Wuhan Province and study the issue?

And it’s not just the US which has demanded compensation from China. Even countries that have been at odds with the US in recent months have gone ahead to claim damages for the spread of the pandemic. For instance, Germany presented China with a 130 billion pound bill, the breakup of which includes losses incurred in tourism, to the German film industry, to the German airline Lufthansa, and to the country’s small businesses. Both France and the UK have expressed strong disapproval over China’s handling of the pandemic information in the early stages. A UK-based Conservative think-tank has explored 10 points on which China can be sued for “trillions of dollars for its initial coverup of the Coronavirus pandemic…”

President Trump’s demand — and a similar one by other countries, both in the West and elsewhere — for a fair, open and independent investigation inside China into the origins and spread of the virus, is valid. Indeed, it’s necessary, because Beijing cannot be believed. So far, China’s response has been along expected lines. It has presented itself as a victim, pointing out that thousands of its citizens in Wuhan, where the virus originated, had lost their lives. Besides, the Chinese economy had been badly hit by the tragedy, and its impact would be felt for years to come. China has also sought to present a ‘humane’ face in the midst of the tragedy (in a bid to divert global attention from its wrongdoing) by showing alacrity in supplying medical equipment to countries). But this has boomeranged as the medical kits came with a heavy price tag and, worse, they were found defective — some countries returned the kits and cancelled the orders they had placed with China. India was one of the victims of this so-called humane outreach. It also promised an additional $30 million to the World Health Organisation (WHO) after US President Trump announced a cut in his country’s funding to the UN agency.

The questions China needs to answer

If China has nothing to hide, why does it not allow a team of independent, global experts — including that from the friendly WHO — to visit Wuhan Province and study the issue? Why did it not discontinue international flights to and from Wuhan when it stopped all flights from Wuhan to the rest of China and vice versa when the disease first broke out? Why has it camped down on new research by Chinese scientists after reports emerged from its experts which highlighted the dangerous work being conducted on bat virus? Why has it not shared any live virus samples with the world? The allegation is that it destroyed the samples. If that is indeed true, then why did it do so? Why has China not behaved as a responsible nation in the context of this virus pandemic?

Not only has Beijing been less than transparent in its behaviour, but it has also been vicious in its attack on nations that have demanded accountability from it. Take the case of Australia, which has a robust trade relationship with China. It called for WHO member-nations to demand an independent inquiry into the spread of the pandemic from China. In return, China openly threatened it with economic retaliation. The Chinese Ambassador to Australia said his country could consider boycotting Australian products if Canberra continued with its ‘anti-China’ posture. This is typical of the Chinese arm-twisting tactic which has been refined over decades and integrated into its state policy.

New Delhi, in its heart of hearts, realizes the blunders that China has committed, which led to the spread of the disease, taking a heavy toll on India as well.

Beijing’s shocking but not surprisingly irresponsible behaviour offers an opportunity to the global community to reset its economic relations with the Asia giant. It would be stupid to believe that China can be isolated globally in trade matters. But the West can show the way to downscaling those ties. Meanwhile, global efforts must be sustained to seek a probe into the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic. And the best place to begin the inquiry is China.

Where does India stand in this controversy? As always, it is trying to find some middle ground. It does not want to antagonize Beijing, but it also does not want to be seen as backing an opaque regime. New Delhi, in its heart of hearts, realizes the blunders that China has committed, which led to the spread of the disease, taking a heavy toll on India as well. But it will not openly call a spade a spade. But at least it can add its voice, and loudly at that, to the demand for a global investigation without prejudging China.

Note:
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.

Rajesh Singh

5 COMMENTS

  1. All the points raised in the article above is valid. Also the very real motive behind calling China out.
    But seriously, does one think that China is going to cooperate in an independent inquiry? Or accept it’s culpability, intended or otherwise? Or go down on it’s knees and beg the world’s forgiveness? And even in that highly unlikely event, what does the world gain except a pyrrhic victory? All that the world gets is a moral appeasement.
    What was the world doing, when each country winked at all of this closed, opaque communist country’s transgressions and machinations, for their own economic or agenda driven purposes? No point whining now. But whine we must, and whine through all the paper tigers available to us like the UN, the courts, public pronouncements and denouncements etc. At least to make a point.
    But it’s very important that we learn a lesson from this and take serious steps to become really independent, economically and in every which way. India is a large nation, with everything which is needed – manpower, resources, climate – everything, and India can easily become completely self sufficient in every way. Our economic relationships should be out of choice, not compulsion. Independent and strong, as that’s the only language which is understood, which gets under their skin and stings, and which works. Today China, tomorrow it may be some other powerful country. Lets just look to ourselves.

  2. China must be cornered if not isolated in toto. Isolation is not possible because nearly 63 countries are indebted to China in the form of huge loans! No news come out of China but all news from each of the Indian 130 crore families reaches China and Pakistan!!!

    This Chinese Wuhan Virus has assumed bio-weapon proportions hitting 201 plus nations economically and paralyzed lives.

    China must voluntarily withdraw its vetoing power in UN otherwise, it’s vetoing powers must be removed by member nations.Otherwise, India must come out of UN fold.because most of UN wings are anti-Indian. It is sad to see those who fund maximum in UN’s various wings gets an upper hand. Sometimes, I feel it is a retiring paradise for the most.It has lost its sheen.

    During late 70s we heard about mustard gas warfare between Iran and Iraq. WMD story is an improved version! Chinese research on creating a new virus is on the lines of,…… If I am not wrong….. movies like Moonraker and Snake sends shivers down the spine!

    On the lines of IAEA is there any agency controlling 11000 virology labs on the Globe?

    As far as India is concerned, it tries to duck or gives knee jerk reactions or does an ostrich trick burring its stand on China. Our 72 years old poor health infra is exposed thanks to covid19. It is clear that we are naked but boast of having 86 specialty hospitals serving the most corrupt and rich 10 percent of the population.

    Why 15% of the Budget is not allotted to health Ministry either by state or GOI?! Why we do not have multi specialty hospital in each of the 736 districts in the country? Some poorly equipped hospitals were named after Gandhi and better ones after Nehru or his family!!!

    Since 24th March 2020 as on today for nearly 41 days entire India supported PM Modi by confining to respective homes, rang bells/ clapped, lit diyas and let us hope after 17th May 2020 sacred prasadam is distributed in the form of improved chain of multi specialty hospitals in 736 districts inclusive of Ayurveda,homeo, unani, naturopathy,acupuncture in one complex…, reshuffle his Cabinet with good team and appoint a better FM instead of playing to the gallery/helping crony capitalists and finally look after jobs by further simplifying import export policy. To get rich results PM should at least send very highly placed 10 crooked corrupt families and 100 strong lutyens to Tihar by amending/intelligently using laws.

    Unfortunately most the States CMs allowed to open liquor shops and spoiled 41 days of massive gains ! Some foxy State CMs are hiding facts on COVID19 deaths but its reported that Central team issued good boy certificates!! Let GOI investigate such instances!

  3. COVID-19 is the front line worriers of Chinese military – they have de-stabilized people of almost all major nations, their economy, mobility-so on. This is the first attack and as WHO & Even Chinese premier said – the second wave is expected – it may not be the Virus – it can be the PLA and its Navy – may be this needs to be given more attention.

  4. Probably China felt that they are hit and that it will even out if the entire world is also hit. Therefore they chose not to alert the world properly and they continued the flights.

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