China is at the receiving end of payback demands from governments, organisations and people across the world. The coronavirus outbreak has put China on the backfoot. While at home, it has asked bureaucrats and party members to focus on unemployment concerns, while at the global level, China criticises global demands for probe into the origins of coronavirus outbreak and rejects reparation claims.
The coronavirus outbreak has hugely impacted the Chinese economy, with the sovereign nation witnessing its first downturn in 40 years and its worst downturn in the past 60 years. After the 1960s, this is the first time ever that the Chinese economy has contracted by 6.8 per cent, with the collapse having a direct impact on employment and jobs of people. According to a report in Bloomberg, around 8 million people have lost jobs in China in February alone. This is just an estimate, the reality on the ground may be quite different and striking of the worst scenario.
Sneak peek into the happenings inside China
Two days ago, the Chinese communist party revealed its post-coronavirus strategy - the way forward and the plan of action. What are they going to do? The strategy is clear to deal with the world outside - its aggressive and combative diplomacy.
While at home, the Chinese state media reported about the Politburo meeting, a group formed of 24 party members who run the party and rule the government reveal the concept of six guarantees. They are a list of policy priorities for China that include - dealing with the job loss and unemployment in China, need to resume trade, supply chain issues, food and energy security concerns, and functioning of the grassroots.
This list is the roadmap for China, an instruction to the party members and the bureaucracy in China. It will be the domestic priority of China in the near future. So at home, it's all about job creation. While China has been blamed for coronavirus emergence, the government through months has responded with complete denial and now, since the denial mechanism is failing to work, China is resorting to bluster and misinformation to deflect blame, according to WION news report.
For weeks, the world has been deliberating on means, mechanisms and strategies to 'Make China Pay'. While Beijing chose to ignore the payback demands for quite some time, it seems the furore has caught on and now the Chinese government has started retorting.
A spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry clearly denied the global reparation claims saying, "Viruses are common enemies of all mankind and can appear anywhere in the world at any time. China, like other countries, has been hit by the virus. China is a victim and not an accomplice of the virus - the face of a major public health crisis and the threat of an infectious disease. The international community should unite and work together instead of blaming each other or even clamouring for accountability and claims. In my memory, there has been no global accountability in 2009 when H1N1 influenza broke out in large numbers in the United States and spread to 214 countries and regions, causing nearly 200,000 deaths. Did anyone ask the United States to pay for it? In the 1980s, AIDS was first found in the US and it's now spread all over the world. I don't know how many people in the world suffer from AIDS. Has anyone found the US to blame?"
It is clear from these misinformed statements and inaccurate facts that China is playing the victim card and getting all facts wrong. China in its defence is holding a clear stance stating no one demanded accountability before, so why is it happening now? Why is the world asking them questions? It definitely is a poor argument and a poor Chinese strategy on display, with no feet or base to stand on. Let's get some facts for the Chinese government right:
- China's claims holding America responsible for the spread of H1N1 influenza is wrong, considering multiple reports and the states most authoritative medical journal Lanset said the H1N1 virus emerged in Mexico and not the US.
- China says that AIDS was first found in America, which is untrue and wrong information. The earliest known case of HIV AIDS was detected way back in 1959 from a man in Congo, Africa.
- Highlighting the 2008 financial crisis to have started in the US, now this is not just wrong, but absolutely ridiculous holding no ground of verity. It is to be noted that 2008 was a "financial crisis" and not a pandemic, and unlike China, America did not try to cover it up. There was complete transparency to the global economy and it didn't silence the whistleblowers either, as done by Chinese in the case of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Since China in its defence is digging up the past, highlighting global instances, wherein accountability must have been sought, we come back to China again. In 2003 the SARS outbreak began in China to affect more than 20 countries then, but the world did not make China pay way back then. China covered up the facts with regards to the SARS outbreak in 2003 as well.
Now after 17 years, if China is trying to use the same trick globally with the coronavirus pandemic affecting 185 countries pushing global economies to a state of recession again, it's time the world wakes up and makes China pay. If it doesn't do so now, then perhaps it should prepare for another pandemic outbreak in the near future.
It's payback time: The world wants 'China to Pay'
The coronavirus pandemic that spread like wildfire, tracing its origins to Wuhan, China has caused more than 170000 deaths and many infected across the globe. The world now wants 'China to Pay' for causing deaths, for hiding facts and for hurting economies. According to the WION news report, different stakeholders in at least 5 countries demand transparency and a detailed probe to understand the origins of the virus.
The American state of Missouri is taking China to court, a unique one wherein one government is taking over the other. While many private lawsuits holding China responsible for the Coronavirus outbreak and spread have been doing rounds, with elected officials in America taking legal action against China.
China did not inform WHO about human-to-human transmission, even when the local medical community had indications. Chinese leaders did little to curb the spread of the virus. They allowed people to travel in and out to Wuhan, the whistleblowers were punished for speaking out and lawsuits were filed talking about faulty medical equipment from China. Is this all done to embarrass the nation? Can China be sued in America? Technically, not possible as China enjoys sovereign immunity and China on its part was quick to dismiss the lawsuit from Missouri state terming it as "absurd, lacking factual and legal basis."
The Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said, "This so-called lawsuit is an abuse of litigation, which violates basic legal principles. According to the principle of sovereignty, equality in international law, the sovereign actions were taken by the Chinese government at all levels of epidemic prevention and control are not subject to the jurisdiction of the U.S courts. Such abuse of litigation is not conducive to epidemic prevention and control at home in the US and not accounted for by international cooperation. What the US should do is, refute and reject such abuse of litigation."
While China may dismiss such lawsuits and claims, an Israeli NGO Shurat HaDin is planning a class-action lawsuit against China seeking compensation for the losses. When the outbreak began, China tried to block the flow of information, whereas transparency during these times could have saved many lives. But China attempted a cover-up once again after 2003. Even today, it might be hiding what the world needs to know, who knows? World leaders demand information on, what happened in December during the initial days of the outbreak?
German chancellor Angela Merkel has sought full disclosure from China saying, "I think more transparently that China makes clear the story of the emergence of this virus, the better it is for all of us to learn from it. But we have not had this specific discussion."
It's not just Germany that demands answers, but Australian foreign minister Marise Ann Payne says with all certainty that the virus traces its origins from Wuhan in China, and countries globally should come together to launch a probe. "The key to going forward in the context of these issues is transparency. Transparency from China most certainly and transparency from all of the key countries across the world who will be a part of any review that takes place. We share some concerns that the US has identified with regards to the WHO is certainly correct." Payne further demanded an independent investigation on this matter and not those conducted by WHOs and other organisations of countries. The Australian PM has backed the foreign minister's call. However, an international investigation dependent on global consensus, may not be easy to achieve.
As pressure mounts from various governments, 8 out of 10 Britons in the United Kingdom want China to face a global enquiry. According to poll findings by the Henry Jackson Society, 80% of the Britons said they would back such an investigation. So now it's the people, the governments and the organisations of five countries namely - the USA, Israel, Germany, Australia and the UK squalling with one same demand - 'Make China Pay.'