Navarro: China Cut Off Domestic Travel from Wuhan but Allowed Int'l Travel To Continue, Spreading COVID


White House trade adviser Peter Navarro says China’s actions early on in the pandemic were responsible for its spread beyond the original hot spots.

Navarro threw a few pointed questions China’s way during an interview broadcast Friday on the Fox Business program “WSJ at Large.”

Chief among these: Why did China restrict domestic travel to and from Wuhan while allowing international travel out of the city to continue?

Navarro, a trade hawk and a China hawk in particular, discussed his belief that our supply chain needs to move back to the United States and that there must be serious changes to how we do business with China.

In the interview, Navarro again pushed for China to pay for the coronavirus outbreak, at least in part.

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“I think there needs to be a national discussion, has to be bipartisan … about compensatory damages by a country that inflicted this pandemic on the world,” Navarro said.

The mechanism that would bring this about, however, wasn’t something Navarro was yet clear on.

“That’s above my pay grade, but you’re asking me important questions,” he said.

“I’m simply suggesting to you that this crisis, and China’s role in virtually manufacturing this whole crisis, we need to have a national discussion.”

Should China have to pay for its role in the coronavirus pandemic?

However, he was clear on one thing: Beijing’s subterfuge in keeping the virus secret was deliberate and deadly.

“China hid the virus behind the shield of the World Health Organization, and that was a time, Gerry, when that virus could have been contained in Wuhan,” he told host Gerry Baker.

“Instead, what China did was put hundreds of thousands of Wuhanians and Chinese on planes that were allowed to go to Milan and New York and elsewhere, but not to Beijing and Shanghai.”

Baker asked him if he was saying that “China, quite deliberately — shutting off some, a lot of domestic travel, but allowing international travel — quite deliberately knew how serious this was and allowed the virus to be exported, along with a lot of other Chinese exports to the United States and elsewhere?”

“That’s a matter of fact. It should not be in dispute,” Navarro replied.

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Navarro is one of the individuals who believe that the novel coronavirus “could have been contained in Wuhan.” Whether or not this is accurate is a matter of dispute. However, one of the things we so easily forget is that, at the time the virus was raging in China, it was the United States that was cutting off international flights to China as opposed to the other way around.

As we speak, another 100 million people in a different part of China are under lockdown.

According to Bloomberg News, thanks to 34 new cases in Jilin province, authorities have instituted Wuhan-style stay-at-home orders. If you think that Gretchen Whitmer is going too far — well, she is, but she’s got nothing on how Xi Jinping does lockdowns.

Bloomberg reported that under the lockdown order in the city of Shulan, “only one person from each family allowed to leave to purchase essentials for two hours every two days.”

That’s quite a bit different from how things work here.

There isn’t really anywhere for the residents of Shulan to go on international flights, but imagine if there were. The Chinese government had absolutely no interest in stopping such flights the first time — at least not immediately.

Would they do it this time?

I imagine they would end international flights, if just because the eyes of the world are upon them now. The question asks itself, however: Why didn’t they do it the first time, then?

China dissembled constantly at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic for reasons we may never fully understand. If one were to guess, it likely had to do with maintaining stability at home and face with the outside world by projecting an image of a country that had it under control.

They didn’t — and, thanks to that, we’re in profound misery. Even if China didn’t exercise the deliberate agency Peter Navarro is talking about, the untold suffering they’ve caused doesn’t just deserve recompense, it demands it.

The left is never going to demand it, which is why the Trump administration needs to.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture