On May 14, 2020, Senator Kamala Harris of California, joined by 25 of her colleagues, introduced a Senate Resolution that, among other things, condemns calling the Wuhan coronavirus things such as the “Chinese Virus,” the “Wuhan Virus,” and “Kung-flu” as being “anti-Asian terminology.” In short, the position of these members of the United States Senate is that identifying the responsible party for spreading the Wuhan coronavirus around the world – the Chinese Communist Party, which has held China hostage for more than seven decades – is an attack on U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents of any Asian ancestry. This resolution is, in the majority, as depressing as it is patently absurd. In light of the fact that I have noted the origin of the Wuhan coronavirus in several articles wherein the topic arose, I decided that a response to this embarrassing proposed resolution was warranted.
Before continuing, I must make clear that I speak only for myself, and not for The New Leaf Journal as a whole. I make no assumptions about whether my fellow editors agree or disagree, in full or in part, with the views expressed herein.
(May 25, 2020 Edits Note: On May 25, 2021, I changed the header structure in this article to make Lv 3 headers Lv 2 headers and added a table of contents. The content of the article is otherwise unchanged from its original publication.)
The Murky Origins of the Wuhan Coronavirus
The Wuhan coronavirus began its rampage in Wuhan, China, leading the Chinese Government to eventually put its entire Hubei Province under lockdown. Many died from the virus itself, and others died after after being welded shut in their own homes. The origin of the virus remains unclear because the Chinese Government has, at every step of the way, stonewalled inquiries into the virus’ origins, destroyed evidence, and silenced courageous Chinese doctors and journalists who dared speak to out of turn.
The Complicity of the World Health Organization
The Chinese Government colluded with the limp World Health Organization (WHO), run by a member of Ethiopia’s communist party who owes his position to China, to lie to the world about the transmissibility of the virus and agitate against the imposition of needed restrictions on international travel from China. The latter point was particularly egregious, for China was allowing residents of Hubei Province to travel internationally while preventing them to travel elsewhere in China, which led directly to the crisis in Northern Italy and surrounding countries. Let us not forget when the Chinese Government compared Israel’s smart restrictions on travel from China to the Holocaust. China even used the WHO’s sycophantic recommendation to chastise the United Kingdom for merely urging its citizens to leave China. All the while, the Chinese Government sent agents to Western countries to buy protective gear that would soon be in short supply outside of China once the virus hit in full force.
Rather than work to contain the virus, the leaders of the World Health Organization worked to appease Beijing. The WHO made quite clear that it was going through unusual pains to ensure that the Wuhan coronavirus-induced disease received a name that bore no connection to its place of origin. We may never know why these special considerations were needed for China, but not for people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo who live along the Ebola River. Perhaps if the Congolese government had gone through pains to ensure that the rest of the world be ravaged by Ebola, it would have been entitled to similar deference. Fortunately, the political leadership in the Kinshasa did not test this theory.
At no turn did the WHO act in anyone’s interest other than its own and Beijing’s. Taiwan, which did perhaps the best job of any country of managing the Wuhan coronavirus, stepped forward to warn about its dangers. Likely in accord with Beijing, WHO baselessly accused Taiwan of racism. As Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Tarō Asō humorously observed, the WHO consistently prioritized not offending the delicate sensitivities of the Chinese Government.
Thus, to the extent which the Senate resolution cites to the WHO’s efforts to disassociate the name of the Wuhan coronavirus from China, it discredits its signatories.
China’s Strategy Emerges
After the Chinese Government unleashed the virus on the world – whatever amount may be apportioned to incompetence or malevolence – it stepped up its virulent propaganda efforts. The Chinese Government has, at different times, insisted that the virus spread to it from Italy or by the United States military. It has attempted to buy good will by shipping defective and useless protective gear and medical supplies to unsuspecting countries around the world and even U.S. states. Its spokespeople shrieked about alleged racism in other countries while they engaged in a racist campaign against Africans in China on the basis of nothing other than the color of their skin. Let us add black people from Africa to the list of those the Chinese Government falsely blamed for introducing the virus.
The Chinese government’s allegations that credibly recognizing that its own culpability in spreading the virus around the world is racist is part of a comprehensive propaganda campaign to continue to exploit the disaster it has unleashed on humanity. The campaign is based on China’s assessment that it can exploit the pieties of Western elites for self-preservation and political gain. Sadly, too many Americans, for whatever reasons, are following Chinese Communist Party’s line.
A Point of Agreement and Suggested Amendment
To be sure, no one of sound mind and passably good conscience should disagree with the resolution’s language condemning genuine anti-Asian sentiment and worse. I am wholeheartedly in agreement with the signatories of the resolution on that point. Any individual, who perpetrates violence against Asian-Americans, or even non-Americans of Asian descent in the United States, should and must be condemned and dealt with expeditiously. (I hope, in light of this concern, that we see more of an effort to address other issues facing Asian-Americans having nothing to do with the virus, such as discrimination on the basis of skin color and ethnicity in college admissions – discrimination that I suspect does not as often append to higher-paying foreign students entering on F-1 visas.)
Having noted where I agree with the language of the resolution, allow me to resolve further that we must not allow the Chinese Communist Party to use Asian-American citizens and permanent residents as human shields. Asian-Americans are not props to be used as Chinese President Xi Jingping to insulate himself and his Government from the consequences of their actions. They are not means to achieve the ends of the Chinese regime.
Furthermore, we must note that no Government or regime is responsible for greater discrimination against Chinese people than the Chinese Government. The Chinese Government tramples on the rights of its people, discriminates against Christians and Buddhists, puts Muslim Uighurs in camps, and has institutionalized infanticide on a monumental scale – perhaps explaining the peculiarly unbalanced sex-ratios at birth in China. It is no coincidence that a significant number of Chinese people initially came to the United States in order to escape the very government that now seeks to exploit them.
The foregoing principle is not exclusive to China. Korean-Americans and North Korean refugees, similarly, do not exist to shield Kim Jong-un and his grossly authoritarian regime in North Korea from mockery and derision. Where were these Senators when 24/7 news entertainment stations and late night talk show hosts, who now parrot the Chinese government line, gleefully made jokes about Russia on a nightly basis for years? What accounts for the difference in concerns about mocking Chinese Government from mocking Kim Jong-un and Vladimir Putin?
Focusing on the Most Culpable Party
To be sure, people in Eastern and Western governments whose countries have been hammered by the Wuhan coronavirus and whose economies have been leveled by the measures to slow its spread can readily find fault with their own government’s response. The Federal Government’s Center for Disease Control failed initially in producing an adequate number of tests. The government of my home state, New York, vigorously worked to impose social distancing nearly everywhere except on critical public transportation and in vulnerable nursing homes, the two places where it was quite obviously most important. But, in the end, this crisis came about because of the duplicity and treachery of the Government of China, and in the aftermath, the United States must reassess its relationship with China across all sectors.
Whatever our domestic disagreements must be, Americans should be unified in recognizing the damage the Chinese Government has wrought. While many politicians and other so-called elites appear too content to speak as the Chinese Government wishes, there appears to be wide bipartisan agreement among the American people that China is largely responsible for the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus. For its part, the Chinese Government is prepared to continue its political warfare campaign regardless.
Hundreds of millions of victims of the regime in Beijing suffer in silence, under the threat of loss of life and limb. What must they think of the idea that politicians in a free and more powerful country voluntarily follows their cruel government’s propaganda line? It took torture for Winston in Orwell’s 1984 to recognize that the party is always right. Americans have no excuse for saying that four is five because Chairman Xi insists that it is so.
To be sure, it is often necessary for the United States to deal with foreign despots. In this case however, it is entirely contrary to the national interest to obfuscate China’s role in the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus to the United States and around the world in accordance with the dictates of its ruling party. Rather than acquiescing to China’s propaganda, we should make use of the freedoms with which we are endowed, and that are recognized in our Constitution, to clearly and unequivocally highlight the Chinese Government’s culpability in our current crisis.
Speaking the truth about the Chinese Government, and mocking it for its nefarious actions and cartoonish propaganda, does not conflict with unequivocally opposing all racial discrimination and violence against Asian-Americans. To suggest otherwise, in fact, is exactly what the Chinese Government demands of us. Fortunately, the Chinese Government has no standing to demand anything of us at all, as astute commentators in Germany and the United States have eloquently explained.
The Senate resolution has no chance of passing the U.S. Senate as written. This is, in my view, a good thing. However, that it was introduced as written at all in the way it was, whatever the intentions of its drafters and signatories, more than depressing enough.