Patterico's Pontifications


State Department Cables Suggest That, Yes, China Could Have Done Way More to Contain the COVID-19 Virus

Filed under: General — JVW @ 3:34 pm

[guest post by JVW]

From the very beginning, we warmongering conservatives had a strong suspicion that Chinese authorities had not only lied to everyone about the origin of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus — a suspicion which has now been determined to be well-founded — but that they also were lying to us about when they first became aware of the nature of the virus and the potential for it to be spread worldwide unless China took immediate steps to contain it. That latter accusation was not as vehemently denied by the health and diplomatic bureaucracy within the United States, though the whiniest elements of the social justice machine insisted to us that any criticism of Beijing’s handling of the virus would endanger not only Chinese nationals, but all Asian-American U.S. citizens as well. This propaganda effect was popular among the more ridiculous academic activists masquerading as researchers and almost certainly promoted by Beijing. So attempts to hold China accountable for the virus they unleashed upon the entire globe — nearly seven million deaths so far as well as untold economic havoc — have been largely stymied by Western governments who have grown way too dependent upon China as a trading partner.

But yesterday we moved another step closer to confirming that China behaved especially callously and fiendishly in those early days:

Months after the onset of the Covid pandemic, State Department officials came to the conclusion that the outbreak could have been contained had Chinese Communist Party officials acted to prevent the viral spread rather than trying to conceal its existence, according to newly released cables.

The heavily redacted cables, obtained by the public-health transparency group U.S. Right to Know, were sent from July 2020 to January 2021 and include the heading: “Initial Outbreak Could Have Been Contained in China if Beijing Had Not Covered It Up.”

The cables appear to have been sourced through the American Institute in Taiwan, which functions as a de facto U.S. embassy. They appear to confirm previous reporting by the Associated Press, which found that Chinese officials waited six days after they confirmed a highly contagious, potentially lethal coronavirus had originated in the country to warn the public.

And of course not only did they fail to warn the public for those six days, but they also decided not to cancel a Chinese New Year festival in Wuhan, epicenter of the outbreak, despite knowing that tens of thousands of people would come together in a crowded space. Nor did they prohibit Chinese citizens, even those in the Wuhan area, from traveling abroad which undoubted helped spread the virus to Europe and the United States. More from the piece:

The newly released cables further indicate that CCP leaders, rather than local officials, led the effort to censor information about the viral outbreak, particularly when the accounts called Beijing’s leadership into question.

In one cable, the State Department assesses that Beijing “ordered” party members to obfuscate regarding the source of the virus. A leaked directive, cited in the cable, allegedly confirmed that the regime restricted disclosure of virus information. Another heading states that Chinese president Xi Jinping tried to claim no responsibility for the coverup and refused transparency throughout the crisis.

By mid-January, Chinese authorities were allegedly preparing for a major pandemic according to these cables, yet they continued to tell the Chinese public as well as the international community that they had the virus under control, and they grossly under-reported the degree of danger it posed to humans. And these cables discussed the involvement of Chinese military research in this coronavirus:

Notes in the other cables seem to support an early State Department opinion that the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) “has engaged in classified research, including laboratory animal experiments, on behalf of the Chinese military since at least 2017.”

The State Department strongly suspected that the military wing of the CCP was intimately involved in the WIV, according to the cables, possibly running “shadow labs” for bioweapon purposes. It notes that the WIV had “robust cooperation” with the “PLA AMMS,” likely standing for the Academy of Military Medical Sciences within the People’s Liberation Army. A PLA contractor was involved in the construction of the lab, the cable says. Another PLA link was established in the WIV’s formal partnership with the Wuhan Institute of Biological Products, an affiliate of a Chinese government-owned pharmaceutical group that was involved in the development of the country’s Covid vaccine.

No Presidential Administration in the past half-century has handled the world’s largest totalitarian dictatorship particularly well. So it’s not surprising that we are flummoxed by the emergence of this latest pandemic, the Chinese government’s lies and mishandling of it, and the growing consensus that China continues to do research into bioweapons despite such research being banned by an agreement to which China is a signatory. Every President since Bill Clinton has promised as a candidate to take a tougher stance against Chinese global perfidy, yet once safely elected every one of them clinks champagne glasses with whatever Chinese Communist Party boss is sitting next to him at the head table. It’s true that economically uncoupling ourselves from China is going to be very difficult, but at this point it ought to be a priority for the next Administration no matter the party, and despite the vehement pleas of the business, academic, and foreign policy establishments for maintaining the status quo.


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