China knowingly hid the truth of what was happening in Wuhan in late 2019 thus unleashing the greatest global pandemic since the Spanish Flu of 1918. Based on America recouping the unjustified damages it incurred, and likewise the need to deter China from ever doing this again, America should demand reparations of $25 trillion from China.
It's one thing when a virus naturally mutates into something dangerous and then spreads from person to person becoming a deadly epidemic such as Ebola. Nature can be vicious, this we know, and we don't seek to place blame for it.
The current coronavirus pandemic is a very different situation though. And the Wuhan Institute of Virology seems to be at the center of it. This lab is known for creating offensive biological weapons programs and has been conducting secret lab research since 2017. This Institute also has close links to China's military. As the movie character V famously said, "There are no coincidences, only the illusion of coincidences." And the fact that the coronavirus first appeared near the Wuhan Institute is no coincidence. Predictably, China continues to refuse investigations into finding the virus's origin, because they know where it leads. China's refusals are a tacit admission of guilt.
What we do know for certain is that China was keenly aware of what was happening in Wuhan, covered it up, and then hid it from the world in the critical early days, weeks, and months. All the while continuing to allow foreign travel to and from the region. Why didn't China warn the world? Why didn't China stop all foreign travel?
By the time the United States understood the magnitude of what was happening and halted U.S - China travel, it was too late. When we add up America's nearly 28 million Coronavirus cases, 500,000 deaths, GDP shrinking 3.5%, bankrupt businesses, fiscal stimulus programs to help businesses and unemployed, Operation Warp Speed and vaccine inoculations, loss of education for a generation of children, and ongoing care for the sick, the total damages to America comes to $25 trillion and rising.
A study (from five months ago) co-authored by former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers and Harvard University economist David Cutler estimated the Coronavirus cost to America would be $16 trillion. Their estimate was far too low, and $25 trillion may be as well.
The U.K. economy, the sixth-largest in the world, recorded its biggest contraction in 300 years with GDP shrinking 9.9% in 2020. Worse than during the Napoleonic Wars, World War I, Great Depression, and even World War II when Hitler and Nazi Germany were incessantly bombing Britain. Likewise, every other economy in the world has been devastated, except for one...China. China's GDP actually grew 2.3%.
While China was hiding what was happening in Wuhan from the world, they effectively quarantined-to-death nearly every infected person within their borders, and then took advantage of what ensued by selling needed products to the desperate world they infected. Globally, there have been nearly 110 million Coronavirus cases and 2.4 million deaths. And almost every other person in the world has had their life disrupted.
China alone is the culprit. And China alone is walking off scot-free.
Does China get to unleash this hell on America and the world without paying a heavy price? The definition of reparation is "the making of amends for a wrong one has done, by paying money to or otherwise helping those who have been wronged." Whether China is guilty of intentional malfeasance and/or negligence does not matter. Either way, China must make amends.
Instead of further burdening America's children and grandchildren with ever more debt-laden stimulus programs, President Joe Biden and Congress should be calling for this $25 trillion in reparations. We see two viable options for China:
1. Cede Hong Kong – As full payment, China agrees to permanently cede the entirety of Hong Kong to the United States. Henceforth, Hong Kong will then be established as an autonomous free territory of America. Hong Kongers would overwhelmingly support this change of status. And this would be a great victory for freedom and democracy.
2. China Reparation Bonds – China pledges $25 trillion to the United States in 30-year bonds paying 4%. China then pledges to make a $2 trillion payment each year to the United States, part debt service, part principal repayment. The reparation debt would be fully paid off in 18 years.
Either option would enable America to stand tall and feel amends have been made, and, likewise, be distasteful enough to stop China (and other bad actors) from knowingly doing this ever again.
Unfortunately, China operates like an obstinate child and will likely refuse to take responsibility or pay reparations. As such, America will need to respond with strength. First, America should withdraw from the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and encourage all other nations to do the same. Second, America should block all Chinese nationals (including students) from America's shores until reparation payments are agreed upon, with the exception of born Hong Kongers who have suffered enough at the hands of China. Third, all inbound Americans (and non-Americans) who have been in China within the prior 30 days should be subject to temperature checks and quarantines, to safeguard against China unleashing another lethal virus.
Globally speaking, all nations have several options on how to extract reparations for what they have suffered. China has long been pursuing a policy of debt-trapping developed and developing nations in order to expand their global control. As such, each debt-trapped nation should come up with their reparation damage number (including punitive damages), and then subtract that number from the debt they owe China. Likewise, these nations are justified in seizing China's Belt and Road Initiative projects and properties within their borders to satisfy China's reparation debt.
Bottom line, if China doesn't pay a heavy price for what they have done, they will do it again. And the virus they unleash next time may prove even more lethal.
George Mullen is the author of "The Coming Financial Tsunami" (2005) and "Welcome to the Bubble Economy" (2006), which accurately predicted the 2007-08 global economic crash. He is spearheading Sunbreak Ranch in the effort to end America's homeless crisis. He is a principal of StudioRevolution.com in San Diego, California.