White House trade adviser Peter Navarro, no doubt after clearing his statement with the White House, told a weekend news show that communist China intentionally sent people to the U.S. and other nations to spread the virus months after they knew how lethal the disease could be to domestic populations.
Navarro said to ABC News’ “This Week” that the “Chinese—behind the shield of the World Health Organization—for two months hid the virus from the world and then sent hundreds of thousands of Chinese on aircraft to Milan, New York and around the world to seed that. They could have kept it in Wuhan, but instead, it became a pandemic.”
In effect, what Navarro is alleging is an act of biological warfare against the United States. If this is true, what kind of response is merited against the Chinese?
The intel at this point is sketchy. But this much seems clear based on current data: There was an accident at the Wuhan lab, a person or personnel from that lab left the facility and roamed freely around Wuhan including the infamous market where bats and other Asian delicacies are sold for consumption. While patient zero was at the market, in close proximity of thousands of other consumers and shoppers, the virus was spread by airborne transmission.
Within a week, due to public health notices and alerts, the regional and national Chinese government knew of the situation. Soon after they knew of the lethality of the virus and that many were infected at Wuhan. At this point —and this is speculative— Chinese officials perhaps at the highest levels decided to use the virus as an economic weapon against the West. What is not speculative is that they made no effort to restrict or impede the international travel of those they knew were likely infected with the virus, a plague they knew that had already killed thousands of their own citizens. In fact, in November and December, Wuhan funeral facilities and cremation centers reported more than a five-fold increase in activity.
The World Health Organization (WHO) noticed this development and —this is also conjecture— covered up the data and delayed its release to Western medical agencies. What is beyond argument, given public statements, is that WHO defended the Chinese propaganda line on various aspects of the virus until well into February, months after they knew most of the pertinent data.
The question remains, under international law: was this an act of war and does it require more than an economic response from the West and specifically from the United States? If so, the gamble would be enormous, as the trade and economic relationship between the U.S. and China is symbiotic. China holds over $1 trillion in U.S. debt. The U.S. is the main consumer of Chinese-manufactured goods. They could move on debt and we could impose a trade embargo. However, either option would be partially a self-inflicted wound.
As for military options, there are none. Though the U.S. is the far stronger power, there is no place to hit the Chinese that would cause unacceptable strategic damage to the Chinese political leadership. Through various failed socialist experiments like the Great Leap Forward and The Cultural Revolution the Chinese communists are complicit in the deaths of tens of million, perhaps more, of their own people. Thus an American strike of any kind would not phase them in the slightest. So the issue of retaliation, if there is to be such, remains an open question not easily solved. But if this attack scenario is proven, the American people may demand a resolution of some sort.