Wuhan virus should have us rethinking reliance on China

covid19-map
Map of Wuhan virus infections

If every storm cloud has a silver lining, then the silver lining of the Wuhan virus cloud is the questioning of globalization.

It’s clear now that China’s incompetence, its lack of transparency, its illiberal society, its totalitarian government is what produced this pandemic.

The Chinese Communist Party suppressed news of the novel virus and punished those who tried to alert the world. That allowed the virus to gain a foothold in Wuhan and the Hubei province.

Wuhan and Hubei are the manufacturing centre of the Chinese economy and, by extension, the global economy. There are hundreds of thousands of trips in and out of Wuhan to all corners of the world every month.

In other words, the very globalization that gives us cheap smart phones is the very thing that allowed this deadly virus to spread. The corona virus literally traveled the trade routes established over the last three decades.

That is how long this process has been at work, starting with efforts by former President Bill Clinton to bring China into the world fold and then with former President George Bush granting China most favored nation status in 2001.

With that status manufacturers and corporations were granted the security they needed to begin setting up shop in China.

What followed was a wholesale gutting of manufacturing in the West. Company after company set up production in China for a raft of the goods, everything from toasters to medicines.

The lockdown of Wuhan and Hubei showed all of us just how dependent we are on Chinese supplies. Entire production lines were brought to a standstill because of the Chinese shutdown. Supplies of generic medicines were in short supply because of the lockdown.

This dependence on a foreign government that is totalitarian in all aspects, suppresses liberties, brutalizes minorities and is no friend of the West is the height of folly.

In the next few months, the Wuhan virus will cost countries in the West thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars.

We need to use this time to reflect on how we got ourselves into this mess and how we’re going to get ourselves out of it.

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