If Chinese scientists succeed in designing pathogens targeting only foreigners, the next microbe, virus, or germ from China could end non-Chinese societies. This will be Communist China's civilization-killer. The next pandemic, therefore, could be the one that leaves China as the world's only viable society. The world, therefore, needs something far more important than justice or compensation. It needs deterrence. Pictured: Virologist Shi Zhengli (left) in a laboratory at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan, China, on February 23, 2017. (Photo by Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images)
On August 27, the Biden administration released an unclassified summary of the intelligence community's report on the origins of COVID-19. The IC, America's 18 intelligence agencies, could reach only a few definitive conclusions. The agencies said they needed more information, but the world now knows enough to begin imposing severe costs on China.
America and other nations must impose those costs to prevent China's Communist Party from releasing a civilization-killing disease. Yes, the People's Liberation Army is now developing pathogens to destroy non-Chinese societies.
"The IC assesses that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, probably emerged and infected humans through an initial small-scale exposure that occurred no later than November 2019 with the first known cluster of COVID-19 cases arising in Wuhan, China in December 2019," the summary states.
The IC believes "the virus was not developed as a biological weapon." "Most agencies also assess with low confidence that SARS-CoV-2 probably was not genetically engineered," the summary report states. Both a "natural exposure to an infected animal and a laboratory-associated incident" are "plausible."
The report's bottom line: "The IC remains divided on the most likely origin of COVID-19."
"The world deserves answers, and I will not rest until we get them," President Biden said in a statement accompanying the release of the summary. Good on him.
Not, however, good enough. The President of the United States does not need perfect knowledge to act. As the summary states, Beijing "continues to hinder the global investigation, resist sharing information, and blame other countries, including the United States."
There is no justification for China's actions. It has the information, as the intelligence community tells us; it just refuses to share what it knows.
The failure to share information when it has an obligation to do so is enough reason to impose severe costs on Beijing, but there are two additional reasons — both sufficient in and of themselves — to do so.
First, for at least five weeks, Chinese officials first covered up and then lied about the human-to-human transmissibility of SARS-CoV-2, telling the world COVID-19 was not contagious when they knew it in fact was. While they were locking down Wuhan and other cities, these officials were pressuring other countries to accept arrivals from their country without restriction. They had to know they were, considering everything, spreading the disease, making the 4.5 million deaths outside China look intentional.
Second, China's military is working on the next generation of pathogens. Its National Defense University, in the 2017 edition of the authoritative Science of Military Strategy, mentioned a new kind of biological warfare of "specific ethnic genetic attacks."
China's military researchers and analysts for a half decade have been writing about pathogens of this sort, and American officials are in fact concerned that Chinese scientists have been experimenting with, in the words of Bill Gertz of the Washington Times, "germ weapons capable of attacking ethnic groups." Beijing's determined campaign to collect genetic profiles of foreigners while preventing the transfer to recipients outside China of the profiles of Chinese is another indication that the Chinese military, in violation of its obligations under the Biological Weapons Convention, is building ethnic-specific bioweapons.
"Whether you think China deliberately or mistakenly released its coronavirus on the world, its collective reactions have fantastically educated the People's Liberation Army on how to make a possible future bio-attack a deadly success," Richard Fisher of the International Assessment and Strategy Center told American Consequences. Many analysts have stated that biological weapons are not practical, yet SARS-CoV-2 has killed millions and hobbled societies around the world. It is, unfortunately, the ultimate proof of concept.
It should come as no surprise that Beijing acted so maliciously. As Cleo Paskal of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies told the same publication, "China's Communist Party uses an empirical framework called Comprehensive National Power, or CNP, to rank countries." Beijing can become the world's most powerful country as ranked by CNP by either increasing China's CNP or decreasing the CNP of others.
"If Chinese leaders realize they have an epidemic on their hands that will lower China's CNP, it is logical to turn that epidemic into a pandemic by restricting the spread domestically while not stopping the spread internationally," Paskal, also at Chatham House, said. "That way, China's CNP might be lowered, but so will everyone else's, and China's relative ranking won't be affected, in fact, it might even improve."
If Chinese scientists succeed in designing pathogens targeting only foreigners, the next microbe, virus, or germ from China could end non-Chinese societies. This will be Communist China's civilization-killer.
The next pandemic, therefore, could be the one that leaves China as the world's only viable society. The world, therefore, needs something far more important than justice or compensation. It needs deterrence.
Up to now, Biden has shown little — and sometimes no — interest in holding China accountable. He spent two hours on the phone with Chinese ruler Xi Jinping in February and did not raise the origin question once. It appears he ordered the intelligence community review on May 26 only after the uproar that morning caused by a CNN report that his State Department had killed a Pompeo-era investigation into the disease.
So far, Biden, with his feeble reaction, has shown Xi Jinping that Beijing can, without cost, kill millions of non-Chinese with a pathogen. Xi, unless stopped, will certainly do so again.
Gordon G. Chang is the author of The Coming Collapse of China, a Gatestone Institute distinguished senior fellow, and a member of its Advisory Board.