"It is my goal to make the London Center, the premier foreign policy institute in the country, one that is shaping
the debate on international affairs and influencing decisions emerging from the Congress."
Cicero is noted for, among other things, being the source of an insightful comment on people’s behavior: Qui Bono? Who benefits? Said otherwise, when bad things happen, and we are trying to understand how and why certain events are proceeding, it is always worth looking to see who is benefitting from the events, benefiting even amongst the misery and tragedy of others. While it’s perhaps too much to think that the Chinese leadership deliberately engaged in biological warfare using their own people as ground zero, is it possible that once the initial - and still unclear - events transpired that led to the outbreak of COVID-19 / the Wuhan virus, that the leadership in Beijing recognized that the crisis presented a series of opportunities that would both benefit China, and might also be used to damage their real and potential adversaries. So, while world attention has been focused on China as the source of the Wuhan virus, little focus has been centered on the many ways China has turned a disaster to advantage, adhering to the Machiavellian adage of “never let a crisis go to waste”. What is notable about this outbreak is the prolific gains China had made and continues to make in multiple areas. Consider also that China is the world’s largest consumer of oil from the international market, due its limited internal resources. So, while the crash of the international oil market is hurting all the worlds major oil producers, most notably the USA, Saudi Arabia and Russia, but also the Gulf States (including Iran), Canada, Nigeria, Angola, Libya, Norway, Mexico and others, China meanwhile has been able to acquire vast amounts of crude oil at exceptionally, even historic, low prices. China currently imports - on average - approximately 10 million barrels of oil per day. Crude oil was trading above $50 / barrel as of the first few days of February, but now trades at just above $20 per barrel. March figures show refineries cutting back output as demand fell. But at the same time, as crude prices fell, China apparently continues to purchase oil, presumably filling tanks and strategic stockpiles around the country. There have also been many stories of China selling large quantities, or donating relatively small amounts of, shoddy Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), faulty test kits, ventilators with no or poor quality assurance and low quality medicines to other countries suffering from a fatal, now pandemic, disease that they - the Beijing government - failed to contain. Shipments of ventilators revealed upon inspection that the ventilators were either defective or below minimum standards in multiple countries across Europe, even as Beijing took public credit for “rushing aid” to those in need. There have also been stories of them re-selling PPE donated to them by other countries to help them deal with the contagion. There have even been reports of used PPE being sold abroad as new items, and at inflated new item prices. Over the past few months there have also been lies from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) about the number of cases, the number of deaths, the possible sources of the disease and, most egregious of all, their denial of human-to-human infection until late January (when some WHO doctors were stating it must be human-to-human contagious in December). Combine these with anomalous behavior in refusing expert help on tracing the source, and the deletion of vital information from the internet on scientific research related to this new coronavirus; then add in the lies and attempts to shift the blame for the disease on to others, including the USA, Africa, and Italy amongst others, and one begins to draw dark assumptions about the origins and motives of the Chinese government in their handing of SARS-CoV-2 - as the virus is now defined. Even the name appears to have fallen prey to Chinese propaganda. The virus started life as an “unknown pneumonia”, quickly transformed into “Wuhan ‘Flu”, which became “2019-nCoV causing COVID-19 disease” just as President Trump began, for a short while, to call it the “China virus”. And now it has been labelled “SARS-CoV-2” by the WHO, all after much behind-the-scenes lobbying by Chinese officials. It is surely no great coincidence that this pandemic currently racing across almost every nation on earth has been tagged by the WHO with one of the first pandemic names not to refer to the place of origin or publicization (and note that SARS, which also originated in China, was likewise tagged in such a politically correct manner). Further stretching credulity, does anyone really believe the Chinese claims of having “conquered” “SARS-CoV-19”? This includes the remarkable - one might say incredible - claim that not one member of the 2.5 million man strong People’s Liberation Army has come down with the virus. Nor have they accounted for the more than 20 million Chinese citizens who have electronically disappeared, their cell phone accounts having simply vanished. Instead, they have reopened their economy and claimed their -few new cases are mostly being imported. But with their record of lies and deceit it would not be surprising if they have made the calculation that the casualties arising from the disease are less harmful to their economy (and the personal profits of the mandarins and emperor) than opening up their industries to enable full resumption of trade. No matter the human cost, as long as foreign currency once again comes into their coffers. Power and money… After all, this is a country and government with a legacy of killing tens of millions of their own people in the last 75 years. One indicator of the possible truth of this assessment is the almost total closure of their professional and social media. Communication outside of official CCP communiques still appears to be in lockdown, with very few sources now reporting on the progress of their health system in dealing with an epidemic which has generated so much fear and devastation to the rest of the world, crashing economies world-wide. Some local reports have leaked out, shedding doubt on the numbers of deaths in and around Wuhan, but such reports have quickly vanished. Visitors from abroad are strongly discouraged or banned, unless they are given official blessing and approval - a quid pro quo, both within and external to the country.Requiring a willingness to go along with the CCP approval of the Chinese government handling of the pandemic does seems rampant. Furthermore we should ask about the biological research laboratory in Wuhan. To establish such a lab normally requires planning, including contingency plans for dealing with accidental release of pathogens. It is extremely unlikely that Chinese authorities did not have plans prepared for dealing with an outbreak of a contagious disease from their Level 4 bio-containment lab (the highest level of security for handling the deadliest of known pathogens). The Level 4 lab is less than 20 miles from the now infamous Wuhan Seafood Market, identified by Chinese authorities as the epicenter of the initial spread of the Wuhan coronavirus, and related facility buildings are less than a ¼ mile from the market. So what happened to those plans? Why were they not immediately put into action to contain the spread of the virus? Link this to the Chinese insistence on continuing to allow their citizens to travel for the Lunar New Year on January 25, 2020, and only beginning their lockdowns after hundreds of millions of Chinese citizens had travelled nationally and millions more internationally. Add in their protests to President Trump after his ban on travel to the US from China on January 31, the Chinese FAA still encouraging international travel as late as Feb 7. Then further add in their remarkable, if dubious, claims of having “won the people’s war” on the virus, allowing them to reopen their economy and industrial production and their almost total control of all forms of communication with the rest of the world. A picture begins to emerge of a deliberate CCP strategy to allow the epidemic to become pandemic. Emperor Xi and his Mandarins, and the Chinese Communist Party leadership have demonstrated for more than 7 decades that they have little regard for the lives and safety of their own people, and even less for the people of other nations. As long as they themselves are safe and their power and positions are secure, they have always been willing to dowhat serves them best, irrespective of the cost. It is quite possible, even probable, that they have done so once again. Whether by design or simply an astounding level of negligence and malfeasance hardly seems relevant at this point. This time they have cost the world well in excess of100,000 lives, never mind those unnumbered thousands who died in China and with many more deaths still to come. And they have cost the world untold billions of dollars in economic well-being, a cost that will eventually be paid in shortened lives among the world’s poor. The world should not let them get away with it.
About Pete O'Brien
Peter O’Brien has more than 30 years of successful leadership and planning experience in a wide range of organizations afloat and ashore on three continents. Mr. O’Brien’s Navy career included ten years at sea, more than a dozen years stationed overseas and multiple ...