Memo 08.16.2021 5 minutes

Reining in China

China Slowly Recovers From Coronavirus Outbreak

How to make Beijing pay

The Wuhan “lab leak” theory regarding the origin of the Coronavirus pandemic looks more credible than ever. But the CCP continues to lie about it, repeatedly claiming that the virus originated in the U.S. In the words of Matthew Continetti, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), “the dishonesty and incompetence of the Chinese Communist Party turned a national crisis into a global one.” Every American has paid a price, either through a loss of income, a business, freedom, or even life. According to researchers at the University of Southampton in the UK, if the Chinese regime had been more transparent 18 months ago, cases could have been reduced by anywhere from 66 percent to 95 percent. 

Instead, the CCP went to great lengths to hide the truth. How can China be made to pay a price for the harm it has caused? If the virus did escape from a lab in Wuhan, then the Chinese regime owes the world at least $35 trillion in compensation,according to Christian Whiton, who served as State Department senior advisor to both George W. Bush and Donald Trump. Whiton suggests the Chinese regime “should pay $5 million for every life it may have extinguished.” Assuming 7 million people, in total, lose their lives “before the pandemic ends,” Beijing would be “on the hook for $35 trillion in damages.”  

The chances of getting a confession, never mind $35 trillion in compensation, are slim, given the Chinese government’s refusal to accept any blame whatsoever Nevertheless, there are ways to make the CCP pay. 

Using the Quad to Hamstring Beijing 

The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, more commonly known as the Quad, is a strategic channel of communication between the United States, Japan, Australia, and India. As researchers at the Center for Strategic & International Studies note, the strategic dialogue acts as “a meeting format for senior officials to discuss regional security issues,” allowing the four countries to engage in naval exercises. The Quad recognizes the threat from Beijing, as well as the importance of “securing a free and open Indo-Pacific, taking joint action against terrorism, and promoting a rules-based system.” 

The United States, India, Japan, and Australia are powerful allies. Next year, India is projected to have the fastest-growing major economy in the world. By 2040, there is a strong likelihood that East Asia’s superpower will be Japan, not China. Meanwhile, Australia, rather bravely, refuses to bow down to the Chinese regime’s demands. Tensions between Canberra and Beijing are at an all-time high, and now the Australians are looking to India, one of China’s biggest rivals, for support. 

 Former prime minister Tony Abbot, now special envoy to India, is pushing for an India-Australia trade deal. In other words, he’s looking to remove China from the trading equation, permanently. For far too long, according to Abbott, China has “exploited the West’s goodwill.” The days of exploitation, if Abbott has his way, may soon become a thing of the past. Kevin Rudd, also a former prime minister, recently called on regional powers to unite against China. The United States and its major allies must unite around this point. Strategic dialogue is the first step, but this dialogue must be turned into something more concrete. With Australia and India forming a trade agreement, perhaps the United States and its allies can turn their attention to emerging countries like India and Indonesia, a geopolitical jewel in the Indo-Pacific region. 

If action is not taken now, then China will continue to act with impunity. As the AEI Scholar Dan Blumenthal warns, Xi Jinping is becoming more belligerent and forceful. He no longer feels the need to “hide China’s capabilities.” Instead, China’s president feels emboldened, forcefully moving “China to center stage” in the hope of spreading the Communist Party’s influence. Xi, according to Blumenthal, is attempting to “reduce and neutralize” the United States’ influence “across the Indo-Pacific region.” Robert Wilkie, who served as the Secretary of Veterans Affairs from 2018 to 2021, warns that failure to take decisive action against Beijing will result in even more “Chinese funding and influence” around the world, especially “within American universities and research institutions.” Time is of the essence. 

China has few friends and no shortage of enemies. Right now, the Chinese regime is engaged in a strategic battle with India. Strengthening ties with China’s neighbors will necessarily weaken Xi’s vise-like grip over East and Southeast Asia. China must be made uncomfortable in its own backyard. Without any real powerful allies, and with a rapidly aging population, the Chinese Communist Party is vulnerable. Now is the time to use the Quad to hamstring Beijing. 

The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.

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