Many years ago, there was a very popular movie, “The China Syndrome.” It was a thriller about a potential cataclysmic event that could possibly destroy China, due to a problem in an American nuclear power plant. We now face another sort of China Syndrome.
This one originated in China, and has already killed thousands, and will likely kill thousands more around the globe. It was in China where the novel coronavirus COVID-19 first appeared and eventually was made public.
It angers many people when this disease is identified by its country of origin as the “Chinese virus,” or the “China virus.” But doing so is not racist. And it is not xenophobic.
It is no more so than “Chinese food,” “Chinese Communists,” or “Chinese checkers.” Many other diseases have likewise been named after their countries of origin: German measles, Spanish flu, Japanese encephalitis, Ebola virus, West Nile virus, and MERS (the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome). These names merely accurately identify the diseases’ origin; they reflect reality. Nothing more.
Carelessly slinging around epithets, like calling the use of the term “Chinese virus” racist, and mis-labeling people as racist, xenophobes, etc., devalues those terms. Where Donald Trump is concerned, this happens often. Such usage gives credibility to the term “Trump Derangement Syndrome.” It may be as real as the China virus.
That China is no friend of the United States is a story with a long, long history. In recent history, its tariffs on American products have worked against us for many, many years, reaching a record $375 billion in 20l7. Its penchant for intellectual property theft, stealing American technology through the work of spies acting as workers or associates, and often requiring companies to voluntarily share new technology with the Chinese Communist Party in return for being allowed to market products to China, also severely damage the U.S.
The onset of the coronavirus has thrown spotlights on the dangerous degree to which pharmaceuticals are now made in, and controlled by, China. Irresistible incentives offered to American drug companies resulted in the transfer of production of drugs from America to China.
“Multinational drug companies, many of them headquartered in the United States, began buying ingredients for critical drugs in China after the U.S.-China Fair Trade Agreement passed nearly two decades ago,” notes an article in U.S. News. “State-owned Chinese companies, buoyed by heavy government subsidies, set their prices so low that they were able to undercut established manufacturers in the U.S. and elsewhere, prompting them to shut down their plants and move their operations to China,” the article continued.
China’s “Thousand Talents program tries to recruit experts from Western universities to work in China and ramp up its progress in science and technology,” reported NBC News in January. An FBI complaint charges that the program has “rewarded individuals for stealing proprietary information and violating export controls.”
NBC also reported on the arrest of Charles M. Lieber, the chair of Harvard's Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology. Lieber is alleged to have failed to disclose his involvement in the Thousand Talents program to the Department of Defense.
Lieber was allegedly paid $50,000 monthly by China's Wuhan University of Technology, and also received $158,000 in living expenses, and a $1.74 million award to set up a research lab at the Wuhan University.
Knox News, the online presence of the Knoxville News Sentinel, reported in February that “Anming Hu, an associate professor in [the University of Tennessee’s] Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Biomedical Engineering, faces three counts of wire fraud and three counts of making false statements, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice.”
Hu allegedly neglected to make UT aware of an affiliation with a university run by the Chinese government, which then resulted in UT falsely certifying to NASA that it complied with the appropriate laws.
President Donald Trump has begun fighting back against China’s outrageous tariffs, by putting tariffs on Chinese products. As with everything Trump does, this, too, has drawn much criticism. But Trump notes that after years of sitting mildly by while China hurts American business interests and strengthens itself, it is time to fight back.
The country has been gradually coming on board with Trump’s plan. The latest ABC News/IPSOS poll shows that 55 percent of Americans now favor his actions, while 43 percent still oppose his handling of this crisis.
Addressing the threat posed by China today, historian and former Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich notes, “Now we face the fifth great challenge to our survival as a free country (following the American Revolution, the Civil War, World War II, and the rise of the Soviet Union).”
In his new book, “Trump vs. China: Facing America’s Greatest Threat,” in which he tracks China’s centuries-long development up to today, he describes the situation. “The Chinese Communist Party’s totalitarian system is big, and getting bigger, getting richer, and becoming more sophisticated. It is the greatest competitor that America has faced in our history.”
The COVID-19 threat that originated in China will most likely be defeated in time. The greater threat posed by China, however, will still exist, and must be addressed.