All the people locked in their homes in California, all the people lying in intensive care units in Milan, Marseille and Seattle desperately ill, all the people being carried from those ICUs to cemeteries around the world: they are there because of policy choices by the Chinese Communist party. Every waiter and sales clerk who lost her job can look, in sorrow and anger, to those party apparatchiks in Beijing. The CCP may not have been able to stop the initial outbreak in Wuhan, but they could have prevented its spread to other countries. Instead, to protect their own hold on domestic power, they suppressed vital information and unleashed a deadly pandemic on the world.
The consequences will be far-reaching. Some will be the resulting Western policy responses. After China turned around shipments of masks and medical supplies headed for the US (presumably because China needed them at home), Americans began to understand how many of its medicines were now manufactured in China. That is likely to change, and change quickly. Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas is proposing legislation to return medical manufacturing to the United States. Expect similar legislation for other vital industries, now that China is increasingly seen as an unalloyed foe.
This shifting attitude toward China will undoubtedly strengthen Washington’s effort to prevent its Nato allies from buying Huawei equipment for their 5G telecom networks.