‘They could trigger a domestic problem here that would make it difficult for us to confront them…’
(Ben Sellers, Liberty Headlines) Chinese officials appeared to use coronavirus antibiotics and other supplise as leverage in a recent war of words with the U.S. while attempting to push conspiracies that the U.S. was, in fact, responsible for the spread of the pandemic.
Some in the U.S. previously speculated that the virus, which originated in China’s Wuhan region, might have been a lab-engineered attempt at biological warfare.
Many others, including President Donald Trump and conservative leaders, have criticized China’s failure to contain the spread in its early days.
However, a spokesperson for the Chinese state department, Zhao Lijian, countered in a tweet that “it might be the US army.”
2/2 CDC was caught on the spot. When did patient zero begin in US? How many people are infected? What are the names of the hospitals? It might be US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Be transparent! Make public your data! US owe us an explanation! pic.twitter.com/vYNZRFPWo3
— Lijian Zhao 赵立坚 (@zlj517) March 12, 2020
China’s state-run Xinhua media agency, meanwhile, commended the communist country’s handling of the crisis while threatening to control its pharmaceutical exports while subjecting America to “the mighty sea of coronavirus,” reported Fox News.
In response to the alarming threat, paired with an announcement from the Food and Drug Administration that there was concern over a drug shortage, Sen. Marco Rubio and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich wrote an op-ed laying out their concerns.
“For years, China has enticed American multinational corporations with access to its markets in exchange for off-shoring and sharing intellectual property,” they wrote. “Americans watched as Beijing captured critical portions of global supply chains, including in pharmaceutical drugs and medical equipment.”
As a result, the U.S. ability to manufacture such supplies in time of critical need has been crippled, they said.
“The inability to quickly increase the production of key supplies, such as surgical masks, medical gowns, respirators and pharmaceutical drugs limits our ability to mitigate the worst effects of the disease in this emerging crisis and in any future pandemic.”
On Thursday, Rubio followed up by telling Fox News that the U.S. was “dangerously reliant” on Chinese manufacturers for its pharmaceutical supplies and other essentials.
However, he encouraged to fight the urge to escalate the rhetorical standoff, which could prove costly in the midst of the pandemic crisis.
“What it tells you is that they realize that in a moment of crisis—let’s say the U.S. and China have a showdown over something and they threaten to cut us off of our pharmaceutical supplies, they could trigger a domestic problem here that would make it difficult for us to confront them,” Rubio said. “That’s a tremendous amount of leverage.”