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Series on China article VI: Is Wuhan Virus China’s answer to Trump’s trade war?

On March 12, 2020 Business Insider reported “Cotton, like many other Republican lawmakers, has scrutinized China, where scientists believe the coronavirus originated. Although the exact source of the virus is still under investigation, China-based scientists believe it may have come from a wildlife market in Wuhan.

Earlier in February, Cotton did not rule out the possibility that the coronavirus may have been developed by the Chinese in a “superlaboratory,” and that the damage from the virus could be “worse than Chernobyl.” – or is it an insidious disaster greater than 9/11?

On February 22, 2020 the NY Post reported “At an emergency meeting in Beijing held last Friday, Chinese leader Xi Jinping spoke about the need to contain the coronavirus and set up a system to prevent similar epidemics in the future.

A national system to control biosecurity risks must be put in place “to protect the people’s health,” Xi said, because lab safety is a “national security” issue.

Xi didn’t actually admit that the coronavirus now devastating large swaths of China, had escaped from one of the country’s bioresearch labs. But the very next day, evidence emerged suggesting that this is exactly what happened, as the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology released a new directive titled: “Instructions on strengthening biosecurity management in microbiology labs that handle advanced viruses like the novel coronavirus.”

Read that again. It sure sounds like China has a problem keeping dangerous pathogens in test tubes where they belong, doesn’t it? And just how many “microbiology labs” are there in China that handle “advanced viruses like the novel coronavirus”? And to what end?

It turns out that in all of China, there is only one. And this one is located in the Chinese city of Wuhan that just happens to be … the epicenter of the epidemic…”

On March 27, 2020 Investors Business Daily reported that in China the Wuhan virus outbreak seems to be mostly in the Hubei providence (where Wuhan is located) while in the US the virus is national in scope “Outside of Hubei province, the source and epicenter of China’s coronavirus outbreak, the rest of the country was relatively unscathed.”

Although Beijing was late to sound the alarm, officials took aggressive action just in time, locking down Hubei and other regions, while extending the Lunar New Year holiday by a couple of weeks. The upshot: Only 13,000 coronavirus cases have been reported among China’s other 1.3 billion people. By comparison, 11,000 Americans outside New York, the current U.S. epicenter, tested positive for Covid-19 on Thursday alone.

Scott Gottlieb, who served as FDA commissioner under Trump, tweeted on Thursday: “I’m worried about emerging situations in New Orleans, Dallas, Atlanta, Miami, Detroit, Chicago, Philadelphia, among others. In China no province outside Hubei ever had more than 1,500 cases. In U.S. 11 states already hit that total. Our epidemic is likely to be national in scope.”

While China’s economy has suffered the effect of the Wuhan virus, in the US it will be more devastating. On March 27, 2020 Investors Business Daily reported “Coronavirus shutdowns delivered an unprecedented economic shock to American workers last week, as a record-shattering 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits. That’s 15 times the number just two weeks ago and nearly five times the record set in 1982…If shutdowns drag on through May or longer to control the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. could be in store for its deepest recession since demobilization from World War II…

Nomura’s base case is bleak. Even if the upturn starts in May, “lingering social distancing” will weigh on growth, wrote Lewis Alexander, chief U.S. economist. He sees the jobless rate rising to 9% and the economy contracting 9% over the full year, by far the worst drop since 1946. How about its better case? Still a grim 5.9% GDP decline…”

On March 16, 2020 the NY Times reported the impact in China “…According to official statistics, most factories in China have reopened, after being closed since the lunar new year holiday in January. But they are operating at two-thirds of their capacity…

Global economists had been wondering whether China would admit that its economy shrank in the first quarter, given the country’s tendency to report predictable and steady growth no matter what happens. But the government data on Monday suggests that China may break with that dubious tradition next month in reporting economic output for the first quarter of this year, allowing for a more accurate look at the troubled economy.

“Most of us are expecting a negative percentage, 2 or 3 percent below zero, or maybe lower,” said Zhu Chaoping, a global markets strategist in the Shanghai office of J.P. Morgan…”

The impact on the centrally planned Chinese economy so far seems to have been less than the US free market capitalist economy, most Chinese factories have reopened and in China mostly one province was affected vs an epidemic of national scope in the US.

Could the Chinese have released the Wuhan virus as a response to Trump’s trade war knowing that an open liberal economy would take longer to recover than a centralized economic system?

If so would they have infected their own people?

China has proved to have implemented inhumane birth control policies in the past to prevent population growth, while the Wuhan virus causes about 5% of those infected to be severely ill. Perhaps China would see this as an additional tool to its enforced two child policy.

The South China Morning Post reported:

“The birth policy is a fundamental state policy that China must uphold in the long run,” Wang Peian, vice-minister of the National Health and Family Planning Commission, said on Friday.

Rights groups have voiced strong concerns on this matter.

“Characterising this latest modification as ‘abandoning’ the one-child policy is misleading,” said Reggie Littlejohn, president of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers.

“A two-child policy will not end the human rights abuses caused by the one-child policy, including forced abortions, involuntary sterilisation or selective abortion of baby girls.”

On May 5, 2019 Business Insider reported “…the US has placed tariffs on $250 billion worth of goods coming from China, while Beijing has responded with tariffs on $110 billion of American goods.

The trade war kicked off in March 2018 when the Trump administration released a report detailing the economic damage it said was caused by the theft of US intellectual property by Chinese companies. This led to two rounds of back-and-forth tariff raising.

While US negotiators have been focused on forcing China to crack down on IP theft and open its market to American companies, Trump has also placed a large amount of attention on decreasing the US-China trade deficit…”

Conspiracy theory? Trade war by pandemic? Perhaps, something to think about…

Article by Ezequiel Doiny published in Arutz Sheva