Zero Sum

CSM EDITORIAL

The gossip spreading around the internet about China since the Coronavirus outbreak hitting the West should be enough to make the Chinese Communist Party take stock. Some of the chatter associated with the virus has been nonsense – on a par with the 5G rubbish emanating from Ickeians and Gab wingnuts. Increasingly China is seen to have hatched the virus in a lab (which it denies and the Pentagon’s top general claims seems less likely than the virus having natural origins) or delayed world reaction to the virus by covering its ferocity up.

The latter now seems highly probable while the evidence for the former is compelling – suggesting China has tried desperately to cover its Chernobyl moment up. Either which way China’s error can now be looked upon as yet another chapter in the history of self-declared “Communist” governments with (what will turn out to be) millions of deaths on its hands. China is responsible for this virus and it should be made to pay.

Today’s announcement that Wuhan death figures have been revised upwards suggests that international pressure on the Chinese to come clean about actual Coronavirus stats is starting to have an effect. China’s death toll had been steady at around 3,300 for weeks – until today, when it jumped to more than 4,600. The city of Wuhan, where the outbreak began, raised its death toll by 50% – to 1,290 cases – attributing the rise to updated reporting, and more deaths from outside hospitals being counted. That number is not credible – those living in Wuhan talk about many more thousands of virus-related deaths.

So, either which way, China has acted disgracefully and there is a feeling there should be some form of payback, but what?

Some are openly calling for reparations and some civil cases have already been lodged against the Chinese Communist Party by private groups. Alan Mendoza, executive director of the Henry Jackson Society, last week commented, “Were the UK to pursue a claim against China and secure a judgement that mandated compensation and were China then to ignore it, we would be entitled to pursue any lawful means for collection on that judgement. The possibilities might include seizing Chinese state-owned property or halting repayment on Chinese-owned sovereign debt.”

China may be the world’s second-largest economy behind the US, but it has more money in the bank than any other country. An agreed rejigging of international debt seems more likely than Mendoza’s characteristically hard-line option. Such an agreement could be arranged behind closed doors thus saving China face – something that seems to matter a great deal to them even though theirs is currently covered in egg. Yet any international agreement achieved on a governmental level cannot halt the inevitable wave of civil cases, nor the thorough investigation launched weeks ago into the Coronavirus’ source and cover-ups.

A Chinese source in Beijing revealed yesterday that if there were to be international calls for reparations at a governmental level by the likes of the US or Britain, then China would simply turn around and request reparations for the imperial years when their people in some existing Chinese territories were reduced to subjects of foreign powers who profited amply from their conquest. Such a zero sum game is not wanted by anybody. Far more likely that nation states who can, will reach settlements amicably behind closed doors, creating the grounds for global economic revival and increased cooperation against Coronavirus and other pandemics that will follow. The Chinese may abolish wet markets for a while and take dog off the menu to placate fuming western allies.

Whatever happens be sure that distrust of China outside of China has already sky-rocketed. China will take years to get out of the current mire it finds itself in. Its best policy is to fess up and apologise for its errors which seem increasingly grave and bloody. Sending affected nations dodgy testing kits and faulty PPE really hasn’t helped either.