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China Must be Held Accountable for Spread of COVID-19

As our entire lives continue to be disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, many South Dakotans are increasingly frustrated by the impact it’s having on our businesses, our jobs, our children and our social lives. While we continue to do our part to flatten the curve and deal with the immediate health crisis, many are also asking how the COVID-19 virus spread in the first place and whether it could have been prevented.


To answer this, we first look to the origin of the virus.  Overwhelming evidence suggests the COVID-19 virus was released from a lab in China’s Wuhan province. In late 2019, reports began to surface that COVID-19 cases were popping up in Wuhan. While there is no evidence to suggest the virus was manmade at this time, federal officials are continuing to investigate the details of its spread. The virus may have leaked out of the lab accidentally. However, China’s cover-up that took place afterward was purposeful.  


Rather than containing the spread of COVID-19, the Chinese government was more concerned about suppressing information to the public and running a public relations campaign to save face and protect its economy. According to a study by the University of Southampton in England, worldwide COVID-19 cases could have been reduced by 95 percent had China responded to the outbreak three weeks earlier.


Instead, China’s government waited weeks before even alerting the world to the seriousness of the pandemic. They did this by kicking journalists out of the country to prevent bad press, lying about the fact that COVID-19 could be spread by human-to-human transfer, lying about the number of COVID-19 cases within their borders, and banning travel within China but still allowing Chinese citizens to travel abroad, thereby spreading the virus to other countries.


Even more concerning, the Chinese Communist Party also persuaded the World Health Organization (WHO) to be complicit in the false facts and data China was providing to the world. Part of the WHO’s core mission is to “publish and disseminate scientifically rigorous public health information” and to “improve health” across the globe. Yet, they failed to verify the information coming out of China that could have saved lives and prevented the spread, despite China’s long history of lying and deceiving the world for its own gain. President Trump recently made the decision to halt funding to the WHO until an assessment is completed on the role the WHO played in covering up and mismanaging the crisis. I agree with the president.


While China’s nefarious activity on the world stage is not new, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the seriousness of their destabilizing behavior. We will explore ways in which we must begin to limit China’s ability to impact us in a future column.


Worldwide, nearly four million cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed, with more than 250,000 deaths. We continue to pray for those we lost and their families. In addition to the human cost, the world economy is at a standstill. In the U.S. alone, more than 33 million have filed unemployment since the pandemic began to spread. Businesses across the state and nation are seeing record losses after closing their doors for weeks on end.


As resilient Americans, I have no doubt we’ll bounce back stronger than ever. But if it weren’t for China’s nefarious activity, it’s unlikely we would be in this position in the first place. The actions taken by China’s government to cover-up the virus and its spread aren’t just negligence – they are criminal in nature. China must be held accountable.