China needs to be held accountable for Covid-19’s destruction

China needs to be held accountable for Covid-19’s destruction

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That the Chinese government has significant culpability for the global spread of Covid-19 and needs to be held accountable for its misconduct should not be a partisan issue. We already know that the Associated Press has reported the Chinese government concealed critical facts about the emergence of the virus; that local officials silenced voices of warning; and that as a result, actions of Chinese officials most likely deprived the world early on of critical information about the virus’ transmissibility and lethality.

Had China been forthcoming and transparent about the scope and spread of Covid-19, tens of thousands of lives could have been saved, as the US and other countries would have been able to act on information about the virus sooner and may well have taken valuable precautionary steps or implemented policies to stop Covid-19 from spreading and causing so much death. This much seems clear, though we’re still trying to figure out what Chinese officials knew and when they knew it — and how much blame lies with officials in China’s central government or with local and provincial authorities.

The Trump administration, for its part, has internally circulated a Department of Homeland Security report alleging China intentionally hid information about Covid-19’s severity. China’s State Council, headed by Premier Li Keqiang, has produced its own public report rebutting claims of malfeasance and outlining what it called a “swift” response to the unfolding epidemic within its borders.

The US has already spent trillions of dollars in an attempt to head off a total economic collapse, and it will take years before the final bill is totaled. If the global catastrophe of Covid-19 was abetted by intentional wrongdoing or reckless indifference on the part of the Chinese government and its senior officials, it should not be left to American corporations, business owners and taxpayers to bear the brunt of the resulting harm.