Patterico's Pontifications

6/15/2023

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.

– JVW

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

  1. I’ll say it again: first step is to cut the number of student visas given to Chinese nationals in half.

    JVW (1ad43e)

  2. By the time that half of Asia arrived in Las Vegas in early January for the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show, the virus was unstoppable.

    Kevin M (2d6744)

  3. Just posted this on weekend thread. 3 chinese scientists say scientist ben hu who was working in wuhan lab was patient zero and was playing around with covid. Not bat market. (ACE)

    asset (68157a)

  4. There was no bat market! They didn’t even say so. The “natural” theory is that the bat virus infected another animal, and that that animal infected people.

    Afgter along time, China published a study from I think 2017 (because they kept it secret originally) that there were some animals that breathed air for sale at the seafood market.

    It’s all the worst kind of implausible speculation with gaps in the theory, and anyway the government of China prefers the it-didn’t-originate-in-China-but-was imported-with-frozen-fish theory and have even publicized some false alarms along those lines.

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-china-frozenfood/chinas-sweeping-covid-controls-put-frozen-food-importers-on-ice-idUSKBN27T0YK

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-wants-to-screen-you-for-coronavirusand-your-frozen-fish-11602841654

    https://www.animals24-7.org/2023/05/17/animal-disease-research-returning-to-science-away-from-hunt-for-blame

    Also contrary to the conspiracy theory most popular in China, COVID-19 did not infect the nation via imported frozen fish, killing at least 5,272 Chinese people despite the almost immediate imposition of some of the strictest quarantines ever as soon as COVID-19 was identified as a new disease.

    That web site wants to debunk everything man-made.

    Any person familiar with Covid knows that it is totally impossible that Covid could be transmitted by frozen fish. China is almost embarrassed to push it.

    Sammy Finkelman (1d215a)

  5. 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.

    No, that lie was known sooner.

    China did try to contain it, but without alerting the outside world.

    They had decided they had to admit it was spread from person to person in early January 2020, but they waited until Donald Trump agreed to a trade deal. They were most truthful from about January 20 through February 12, 2020.

    possibly running “shadow labs” for bioweapon purposes

    That means that, in addition to the known labs (for which they sometimes collected double money – both from the Chinese government and outsiders – there’s a question I have how exactly could U.S. dollars fund anything – all their transactions were in Renminbi or Yuan – they had secret research going on at the WIV.)

    Investopedia says: “The Renminbi(RMB) is the official name of China’s currency. The principal unit of RMB is called the Chinese Yuan (CNY).”

    Sammy Finkelman (1d215a)

  6. It was an act of wqr that we knew from the beginning. China knew the virus would spread in their nation amd they deliberately spread the virus throughout the world so they wouldn’t be the only one to suffer.

    Fauci knew what he and Daszak were funding through the Eco-Health Alliance cutout amd he continued to lie under oath amd in public. That is treasonous and murderous.

    NJRob (3fff2b)

  7. Often ahead of his peers:

    https://youtu.be/v_IEC-0Yj6w

    Pouncer (16faac)

  8. https://nypost.com/2023/06/15/we-now-know-the-first-3-people-to-get-covid-worked-in-the-wuhan-lab-will-the-us-government-act

    When a source was asked how certain they were that these were the identities of the three scientists who developed symptoms consistent with COVID-19 in the fall of 2019, before the virus spread around the world, we were told, “100%.”

    When? November? October? What strain? And were they truly the first, or just the first well known ones?

    Why was there an attempt to blame people who came to visit Wuhan, China for the 2019 Military World Games held from October 18–27, 2019 – and why was the bat virus database of the Wuhan Institute of Virology taken offline on September 12, 2019?

    Sammy Finkelman (1d215a)

  9. NJRob (3fff2b) — 6/15/2023 @ 4:12 pm

    Fauci knew what he and Daszak were funding through the Eco-Health Alliance cutout amd he continued to lie under oath and in public. That is treasonous and murderous.

    The Eco-Health Alliance wasn’t funding anything. They were being billed for research that was going to take place anyway. The funding was all a fraud.

    Sammy Finkelman (1d215a)

  10. The way facts and speculation have become convolved in this thread makes it hard to discuss things rationally.

    Kevin M (2d6744)

  11. I can’t help but think that if Nixon had not established relations with China, China would still be an economic backwater (or at least behind on the development timeline). It would have been better if China and Russia had merely tried to outdo each other in their stupid Communism.

    In retrospect, I doubt that the U.S. needed China all that much to counter the Russians. The U.S., and its allies at the time, were sufficient to block Russian aggression.

    Thanks to the trade and capitalism that China undertook in the wake of Nixon’s visit, China is now much more powerful and dangerous.

    It was foolish to think that trade and friendly relations would result in China becoming a democracy, just as it was naive to think the U.S. could establish a thriving democracy in Afghanistan.

    norcal (8b5267)

  12. And, by the way, there’s no putting that genie back in the bottle. Stopping trade with China would hurt us as much as it would hurt them.

    norcal (8b5267)

  13. Stopping trade “now”

    norcal (8b5267)

  14. In retrospect, I doubt that the U.S. needed China all that much to counter the Russians.

    That wasn’t the point. It was to isolate the Soviets.

    Kevin M (2d6744)

  15. That wasn’t the point. It was to isolate the Soviets.

    Kevin M (2d6744) — 6/15/2023 @ 5:29 pm

    China and Russia were already on the outs. Nixon didn’t need to go there.

    norcal (8b5267)

  16. In retrospect, I doubt that the U.S. needed China all that much to counter the Russians. The U.S., and its allies at the time, were sufficient to block Russian aggression.

    In retrospect that seems right. But of course, we have the luxury of hindsight. I don’t blame Nixon for pursuing that course of action fifty years ago.

    It would have been interesting to see what would have happened throughout the 70s and 80s had China been left alone. Maybe they would have crumbled like the Soviets, but maybe also they would have naturally gravitated towards commerce and trade with the outside world. A collapse of China into civil war would have likely had fairly disastrous repercussions for countries like South Korea and Japan, not to mention India. And I don’t think it’s a sure thing that China and the Soviet Union would have remained estranged. Foreign alliances can come and go rather capriciously. Just witness Saudi Arabia and Iran setting aside some of their differences so that both nations can play a larger role in the Middle East as an example.

    JVW (1ad43e)

  17. And if China had crumbled like the Soviets, perhaps what would have emerged from it would be every bit as bad as what we see in Putin’s Russia today.

    JVW (1ad43e)

  18. I’m more upset about people like Nancy Pelosi inferring I was a racist for being a person who thought the virus was very likely to have originated in China and that the lab in Wuhan was probably responsible, not just a coincidence. She is supposed to represent Americans, not Chinese waving American dollars at her son

    steveg (01b432)

  19. China and Russia were already on the outs. Nixon didn’t need to go there.

    Sure they were pissed off at each other, but given no real alternative they would have kissed and made up. Nixon gave China an alternative — join our prosperity — just as Mao was on the way out.

    Kevin M (2d6744)

  20. The best thing this country can do, going forward, is to strategically decouple the over-reliance the West has with Chinese businesses.

    That means, we need to treat supply chain and crucial industries as National Security.

    Meaning, foster a global environment whereby China doesn’t have a monopoly over crucial businesses.

    whembly (d116f3)

  21. That means, we need to treat supply chain and crucial industries as National Security.

    Which is why the government is throwing money at US-based fabs, most of which are owned by Intel.

    In times past, when Intel had the superior technology it refused to make ICs for other companies, driving everyone else to places like TSMC. As costs for new fabs increased (a modern fab can cost $10 billion), only TSMC or Intel could keep up.

    The Intel’s board hired a finance guy to run the company and he cut budgets and corners. In the end he decided they could go one more technology step with the old (paid for) tools. It didn’t work and he spent a couple years trying to make it work anyway until the board fired him. But by then TSMC has caught up and passed them.

    Now everyone (including the chip guy who runs Intel now) are focused on getting Intel back into the game. They’re making progress and the stock is up 40% in the last few weeks.

    But yeah, whembly, that’s the idea. We can’t have our great design houses (AMD, Nvidia, ARM, etc) dependent on fabs 100 miles off the Chinese shoreline.

    Kevin M (2d6744)

  22. The comment below may repeat. Except for this line, it was submitted and never showed up; not moderated, just vanished. Resubmitting go me a “duplicate comment” message. There’s a bug.

    =========

    That means, we need to treat supply chain and crucial industries as National Security.

    Which is why the government is throwing money at US-based fabs, most of which are owned by Intel.

    In times past, when Intel had the superior technology it refused to make ICs for other companies, driving everyone else to places like TSMC. As costs for new fabs increased (a modern fab can cost $10 billion), only TSMC or Intel could keep up.

    The Intel’s board hired a finance guy to run the company and he cut budgets and corners. In the end he decided they could go one more technology step with the old (paid for) tools. It didn’t work and he spent a couple years trying to make it work anyway until the board fired him. But by then TSMC has caught up and passed them.

    Now everyone (including the chip guy who runs Intel now) are focused on getting Intel back into the game. They’re making progress and the stock is up 40% in the last few weeks.

    But yeah, whembly, that’s the idea. We can’t have our great design houses (AMD, Nvidia, ARM, etc) dependent on fabs 100 miles off the Chinese shoreline.

    Kevin M (2d6744)

  23. That did it.

    Kevin M (2d6744)

  24. China did more to contain the Covid-19 virus than Ron DeSantis did.

    But to give DeSantis his due, it was probably in the hope that Trump would catch it. Which he did.

    nk (24522f)

  25. In my state (NM), the governor imposed every last restriction any other state imposed. During December 2020, no more the 25 customers could be in a Walmart at any one time, since a flat number was imposed not based on store size. And all the lockdowns, masks, etc, only letting up in late 2022.

    Florida had far fewer restrictions, as nk states, but in both 2020 and 2021 had significantly fewer deaths than in NM. It’s worse when you consider that much of NM practices social distancing naturally.

    So, Florida was freer and apparently safer. What’s not to like?

    Kevin M (2d6744)

  26. As a policy matter, the lockdown policies were/are a disaster.

    whembly (d116f3)


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