In an interview with Fox News’s Neil Cavuto on Saturday, White House trade advisor Peter Navarro said that China had started a “war” by unleashing the coronavirus and its accompanying economic catastrophe on the Western world.
Navarro noted that the pandemic had shown only too clearly the kind of threat that China poses to the United States and her allies.
“Economic disruptions kill as well,” he said. “We learned that when China wiped out a lot of their factories in the Midwest, we saw a dramatic rise in suicide rates, death to opioids, death to alcoholism, death to co-morbidity increases in things like diabetes. We also saw a sharp blow from the China shock then to the family structure. We saw more divorces. We saw more children in poverty. So, when the president has been grappling with this whole issue of when to get the economy back. It’s a decision that no president should have to make.”
Navarro said that the decision about when and how to put America back to work was “probably the toughest decision any president has to make.”
“But the people themselves are now understanding this tension between the death and destruction that the China Virus can cause directly, and the death and destruction the virus can cause indirectly by shutting down our economy,” Navarro explained.
“So, that’s the big picture here, Neil,” he continued. “And we’re struggling with that. But we’re learning as a people how to fight this virus. This is a war. It’s a war that China started by spawning the virus, by hiding the virus, by hoarding personal protective equipment during the time it hid the virus. And now it’s ironic, in my view, disgusting that they’re profiteering from that. So, that’s the big picture as I see it, Neil.”
It’s an interesting take, and it’s not one that can be easily dismissed. For years, experts and analysts have concluded that war with China was a non-starter on both sides; there was simply too much to lose. As true as that analysis might have been, it ignored the numerous ways that China and the U.S. could engage in confrontations short of military action. We saw the start of that with President Trump’s actions on trade. We saw a bit more of it when China acted reluctantly (if at all) to curb North Korea’s destructive impulses. And now, with the spread of this virus and its endless waves of misery, we’re seeing another avenue through which China can threaten the world.
The American general public now sees clearly that China is not our friend. Things can never go back to the way they were, in terms of our willingness to outsource our manufacturing to Beijing. The coronavirus will bring many permanent changes to the world, and chief among those changes will be our relationship with China. How those changes will affect the rest of the globe may be the most important question of the next decade.