Can Beijing absorb the blowback of Wuhan Virus?

With the magnitude of deaths inflicted by the Wuhan Virus worldwide, a response is inevitable in due course of time in whatever form, writes Lt Gen P. C. Katoch (retd). for South Asia Monitor

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Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State, stated on May 3 there was enormous evidence that the coronavirus pandemic originated in a laboratory in Wuhan, China. US media quoting a report by America’s Homeland Security indicates China intentionally concealed the severity of coronavirus from the international community while it stockpiled imports and decreased exports, saying, "China likely cut its exports of medical supplies prior to its January WHO (World Health Organization) notification that COVID-19 is a contagion." 

President Donald Trump had said earlier coronavirus came from Wuhan. The US is the worst hit by 'Wuhan Virus' with the death toll touching 75,000 and is feared to even hit 100,000. China apparently initiated WW III and played its dream of destroying America scripted in its strategy of ‘Unrestricted Warfare’ two decades back. Now hundreds of Asian giant hornets (Vespa Mandarinia), dubbed the “murder hornet”, whose multiple stings can kill humans, have descended on Washington State getting agriculture officials worried. It is reminiscent of a strain of South African locusts that China introduced in Ladakh region of India in the 1950s that destroyed all vegetation.  As America battles coronavirus, Chinese strategists and scholars are recommending this the right time for China to annex Taiwan.

China is confident of getting away from any blame. To cater for such a contingency, China latched on to Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, former member and number three of Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) - a violent revolutionary communist party of Ethiopia - and canvassed to get him as Director-General, WHO. China’s $20 million aid to WHO last year, followed by another $30 million this year, concurrent to Trump stopping aid to WHO, ensure Tedros dancing to Beijing’s tune. The Wuhan lab cannot be accessed by foreigners with PLA having taken control of it in January. China’s threat of retaliation forced EU to water down its report on China’s disinformation campaign. China is using economic and psychological coercion to threaten Australian calls for an independent probe into the virus outbreak. 

Within the US, China banks on support from Democrats amid the elections. There is also speculation that Joe Biden may step down making way for Hillary Clinton as Democratic presidential nominee, which China would love. After all, Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State during the Obama Administration when Anthony Fauci’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) funded $3.7 million to Wuhan Institute of Virology for research on bats. 

If there was any dissent within the Communist Party of China (CPC) with regard to the Wuhan Virus, it has been deflected by heightening tensions in the South China Sea and continuous rhetoric against the West blaming China for the coronavirus. The focus now is to project China itself as the victim of coronavirus, the same way Pakistan pleads it is a victim of terrorism. However, a number of countries are blaming China for the virus attack and are demanding compensation. Also, countries debt-trapped by China through its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) are also asking for debt relief.

China has incarcerated some 1.5 million Uyghur Muslims in concentration camps in Xinjiang, shut down mosques, demolished and closed churches and jailed pastors. It is now removing crosses from all churches perhaps as a warning to the West. China fudged the data on own coronavirus casualties and anyone leaking information simply vanished. Dissent in China was always considered sacrilege by the CPC. Those showing dissent faced abduction, killing, even organs sold.  But mounting voices about China’s vicious treatment of the coronavirus casualties, as also the survivors, indicates the CPC may have overstepped and misread possible public reaction, who were expected to behave like emotionless brainwashed robots, psyched that their bodies belong to the State.  

Wuhan residents have been reaching out to Chinese activists asking help to sue the Chinese government having lost their relatives to the virus – some turned away by multiple hospitals without treatment. Some of them have been threatened by the police. Chinese authorities are clamping down as grieving relatives, along with activists, press the ruling CPC for accounting of what went wrong in Wuhan and the outbreak thereafter. Police have been interrogating bereaved family members who connected with others similarly suffering and those seeking help. Lawyers have been warned not to file suit against the government. Three volunteers working for an online project involved in ‘Terminus2049’ - that archived censored new articles about the Wuhan Virus outbreak - have gone missing and may have been killed.

China is trying to raise nationalistic fervor by calling those who died of the virus as ‘martyrs’. But the scars inflicted on psyche of the public by the CPC’s draconian measures despite the pandemic will unlikely heal anytime soon. Residents of Hubei province are upset by authorities installing cameras at the entrance to houses where the virus infected are quarantined although privacy is of no consequence in China.  

With the magnitude of deaths inflicted by the Wuhan Virus worldwide, a response is inevitable in due course of time in whatever form. If China thinks that its military and economic muscle is enough to deter any reaction beyond feeble attempts to isolate China, it must think twice. The chasm between the haves and have-nots in China itself is a recipe for instability that the world has not yet exploited. The have-nots inhabit the underdeveloped portion of China striving to get to urban areas. But China has now ignited an anti-establishment flame in the developed part of China through the Wuhan Virus, and there are warnings of subsequent virus waves of what it unleashed, by default or design. Only time will tell the magnitude of the blowback and how it will affect the communist regime.

(The author is an Indian Army veteran. The views expressed are personal)

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