Trump Admin Considers Legal Action Over Apparent Chinese Mask Hoarding Scheme
As Americans are dying from the coronavirus pandemic that originated in Wuhan, China is being accused of hoarding medical safety equipment.
“They’re at war with the West. This story shows the world what Chinese citizens are dealing with,” Steven Bannon, former White House chief strategist, told the New York Post.
Bannon said even in the early stages of the virus, China was acting for itself and stashing personal protective equipment while keeping the world in the dark.
“The same people that understood this virus had human-to-human transmission and was going to be a pandemic were at the same time vacuuming up every piece of PPE from the U.S, Brazil and Europe,” he said.
However, according to one attorney, President Donald Trump is not simply going to stand by.
“In criminal law, compare this to the levels that we have for murder,” Jenna Ellis, a senior legal adviser to Trump’s re-election campaign, told the Post.
“People are dying. When you have intentional, cold-blooded premeditated action like you have with China, this would be considered first-degree murder,” she said, noting that efforts can be made through the United Nations or the European Court of Human Rights.
Last month, Peter Navarro, an adviser to Trump on trade, said China’s policy of asserting control over China-based factories that make medical safety equipment for foreign companies was an effort to “nationalize effectively 3M, our company,” according to The New York Times.
“We understand that China has engaged in policies to try and not only develop its own capabilities, but to do so at expense of producers around the world,” Michael Wessell, a founding member of the federal U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, told the Post.
“At a time when demand was rising to deal with the crisis, China was marshaling all of the products for its own use, Wessell said.
China’s recent easing of its ban on exporting medical equipment is an effort to burnish its image, he said.
“[T]hey’re using it for soft power, essentially saying it’s a humanitarian gesture to try to curry goodwill with American people when some of the problems we’re facing are the direct result of Chinese policies,” Wessell said.
“It is certainly making it a tool of foreign policy,” Jacques deLisle, director of the Center for the Study of Contemporary China at the University of Pennsylvania, told The Times.
Christian Whiton, a former trade adviser to the administrations of both Trump and former President George W. Bush, said China was engaged in “political warfare.”
“It looks like a coordinated effort between the Chinese government and industry where they used to be nothing but exporters of this stuff but now they turned around and they’re importing it while banning all exports,” Whiton, a senior fellow for strategy and trade at the Center for National Interest, told the Post.
“What is most interesting to me, when we get through this crisis I think there’s rage, not just concern, but rage in Congress about China and from the American people that China is culpable one way or the other,” he said.
Mike Watson, associate director of the Center for the Future of Liberal Society at the Hudson Institute, said China’s actions must not be forgotten.
“The Chinese Communists will win some headlines during this crisis, but ultimately they will not overcome their power-hungry, mercantilist nature and advance their claim to global leadership. Americans give because of who they are, while Chinese Communists give to take more back later,” Watson wrote in a March 23 opinion piece for National Review. “The world will see — and remember.”
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