From politicizing the Covid-19 pandemic, the United States escalates its low intensity conflict with China onto the business sector. Bloomberg News headlines: “China Strongly Condemns U.S. Blacklisting Dozens of Its Firms.”
The U.S. Department of Commerce on Saturday expanded its so-called entities list, which restricts access to American technology and other items, to include 24 Chinese companies and universities it said had ties to the military and another nine (9) entities it accused of human rights violations in Xinjiang.
Adding 33 Chinese entities to a trade blacklist risks potential retaliation from Beijing as tensions between the world’s two-biggest economies deteriorate further.
“We urge the United States to correct its mistakes, withdraw the relevant decisions, and stop interfering in China’s internal affairs,” foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters. “China will continue to take all necessary measures to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese enterprises and safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests.”
The U.S.-China relationship has worsened dramatically in the past few months, partly as America has became one of the countries’ worst hit by the coronavirus pandemic, which first broke out in the Chinese city of Wuhan. The world’s two biggest economies have clashed on a range of issues from trade to Taiwan.
Worst performance in containing pandemic
In an apparent defeat at handling a common unseen enemy in the pandemic, the statistics showed President Donald Trump’s anemic leadership:
China United States Ratio World Ratio
Population 1.4 billion 330 million 77% <
Covid cases 82,985 1.688.709 2,058%> 5,529,908 30%
Covid deaths 4,634 99,348 2,475%> 347,170 29%
The present American leadership has been very late in calling for quarantines and lockdown with US politicians arguing on appropriate responses against the virus while China gave the world two months to prepare, giving constant warnings to countries around the world.
Western governments who chose to play down the virulence of Covid 19, failed to preempt any serious effort to prevent and contain the pandemic. When closing its borders was the call of the hour, Americans are still crowding beaches and bars. The US even increased sanctions on Iran (including medicines) that pleaded for humanitarian aid, suffering one of the worst outbreaks in the Middle East.
Trump banned travels from China, but left travels from Europe wide open.
In contrast, Trump’s most likely opponent for his presidential reelection, former Vice President Joe Biden, called for more severe measures, saying “It’s time to tell the American people the unvarnished truth. They’re strong. They’ll get through it.”
Biden said “No more happy talk, no more wishful thinking: Just a serious effort to prepare the public for what’s likely to be a prolonged experience.”
The former vice president had a clear double-barreled message to deliver to President Donald Trump and the American people:
First, the president should listen to qualified scientific and economic experts about Covid-19, and second, the president should accurately convey to the American people what the experts are telling him.
He urged Americans not to “panic or fall back on xenophobia. “
Labeling Covid-19 a “foreign virus” does not displace accountability for the misjudgments thus far of the Trump administration, Biden added.
The Democratic Party stalwart was obviously referring to President Trump’s adaptation of Secretary Pompeo’s Wuhan virus to the “Chinese virus.”
Failure to compete economically
Last Sunday, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned U.S. politicians were pushing relations to a “new Cold War,” as American politicians condemned Beijing’s move to impose a national security law on Hong Kong.
“The message sent from the U.S. is more important than the entity list itself,” said Li Yong, a senior fellow at the China Association of International Trade, which is connected to the Ministry of Commerce. “It shows the U.S. intention to politicize commercial ties, curb China’s technology development and expand its long-arm jurisdiction.”
Li said China has refrained from implementing its own “unreliable entity list” because it still wants to leave some “breathing space” for bilateral relations.
China announced it was preparing the blacklist in mid-2019 at the height of the trade war with the U.S., but never said who was on the list.
Still, when the U.S. announced further curbs on Huawei Technologies Co Ltd. earlier this month, Hu Xijin, the editor of the Global Times newspaper, tweeted that China would retaliate using the list.
And the paper cited a source close to the Chinese government as saying U.S. companies such as Apple Inc and Qualcomm Inc could be targeted.
Shaming China on Covid backfires
New media research bares skeletons in the American Covid closets.
On July 11, 2019, ABC News affiliate WJLA-TV reported that two people have died and 18 others have been hospitalized after a “respiratory outbreak” at a Virginia retirement community, according to officials.
The Fairfax County Department of Health said that 54 individuals had become ill with “respiratory symptoms ranging from upper respiratory symptoms (cough) to pneumonia” in the last 11 days at Greenspring Retirement Community in Springfield. The symptoms described were “fever, cough, body aches, wheezing, hoarseness and general weakness.”
Benjamin Schwartz, director of epidemiology and population health in Fairfax County’s Health Department, told ABC News that the outbreak had been reported in the assisted-living and skilled-nursing sections. He said the outbreak began with the first case on June 30.
It appears that this case is the Patient Zero the virologists have been looking for.
The facility in Greenspring is home to 263 residents. Schwartz said “One of the things about assisted living is [that] when you have a lot of older people in close proximity, who have underlying medical conditions, there is an increased risk for outbreaks,” he said.
“Seeing a respiratory outbreak in a long-term care facility is not odd. One thing that’s different about this outbreak is just that it’s occurring in the summer when, usually, we don’t have a lot of respiratory disease.”
Director Schwartz said swabs have been taken and initial tests have been made. Those infected have come back negative for common virus- or bacteria-borne respiratory illnesses, including the flu and Legionnaire’s disease.
The samples have been sent to the Virginia Health Department in Richmond and forwarded to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta for additional testing.
By July 15, a third person has died, 23 were hospitalized and dozens more fell ill. The infection also spread to Greenspring’s staff, affecting 19 employees at the complex, Fairfax County health officials said.
In the period since mid May, when flu season winds down, and October, when the number of cases picks up again, Virginia’s statewide reporting system has counted 19 outbreaks, including 13 at long-term care facilities.
We caught on video a March 11, 2020 congressional hearing with US Congressman Harley Rouda asking question, under oath, to Robert Redfield, CDC directror-general, to wit:
ROUDA: “So we could have people in the United States, dying for what appears to be influenza, when in fact it could be the corona virus or Covid 19?”
REDFIELD: “Some cases have actually been diagnosed that way in the United States today.”
Ominous sequence of events
I am not here to offer a definitive answer that only scientists and not politicians, or for that matter journalists, are equipped to competently answer, but nagging questions have to be answered one way or another.
The 399-acre military proving ground in Maryland is home to the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases.
According to Military.com, in its inspection findings, the CDC noted six departures from the federal regulations for handling select agents and toxins. One of those departures was the two breaches
“Two breaches reported by USAMRIID to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention demonstrated a failure of the Army laboratory to ‘implement and maintain containment procedures sufficient to contain select agents or toxins’ that were made by operations in biosafety level 3 and 4 laboratories (which necessitated) the highest levels of containment, requiring special protective equipment, air flow and standard operating procedures.”
Aside from the two breaches, there were other “incidents,” like personnel deliberately propping open the door to the autoclave room while he removed biohazard waste. The inspection findings also found that USAMRIID did not have a complete, accurate inventory of its select agents. Another concern was its effluent waste decontamination, or how wastes are released outside the facility into the rivers, seas or air, after the laboratory had moved to chemical treatment when its previous system was damaged.
The CDC sent a letter of concern on July 12, 2019 followed by a cease and desist letter on July 15.
The timeline presents too much of a coincidence.
The pathogen goes to China
On October 2019, more than three hundred American servicemen went to Wuhan, China to compete in the Military World Games. At least five of them could not perform in their events because they had to be hospitalized for malaria-like symptoms.
The US delegation stayed in a hotel within 300 meters of a seafood market. In a few days, hotel personnel exhibited pneumonia-like symptoms and also had to be admitted in hospitals.
In early December 2019, people in the city of Wuhan in the Hubei province of China experienced similar symptoms like cough, fever, shortness of breath and complications related to acute respiratory distress syndrome. The immediate diagnosis was pneumonia, but the exact cause was unexplained.
Researchers led by Dr. Wang Jianwei at the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Institute of Pathogen Biology, China, used next generation sequencing (NGS) to definitively identify the pathogen causing illness in Wuhan focusing on five patients admitted to Jin Yin-tan Hospital in Wuhan most of whom were workers in the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan.
The scientists first obtained bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid samples taken from the patients, isolated the DNA and RNA, then constructed the whole genomic sequence of the new virus. Sequencing the genome of pathogens is crucial for the development of specific diagnostic tests and the identification of potential treatment options.
On January 9, 2020, the Chinese health authorities and the World Health Organization (WHO) announced the discovery of a novel corona virus, known as 2019-nCoV, and later renamed Covid-19 which was confirmed as the agent responsible for the pneumonia-like cases.
The question is why did it have to wait until January 2020 and the Chinese to identify the pathogen and do the genomic sequencing of the virus?
There are many intervening events that indicate that the American virologists should have been the first to do that considering more than six months from June 30, 2019 to January 9, 2020.
Or did the Americans knew it already but covered it up, not wanting history to record that the pandemic started in the US, in the same way that it covered up the H1N1 virus that caused the Spanish Flu of 1918 as originating from Kansas, Missouri?
The frightening complication is that from July to December, this lethal virus could already been circumnavigating the world, getting ready to claim millions more lives, if China failed to uncork the Covid bottle, so to speak.
France has traced Covid cases as early as November. As we speak Italy and Spain are claiming cases predating the March 2020 declaration by the World Health Organization of a pandemic.
Trump could lose the November polls because his indecision have cost so many American lives.