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COVID-19’s impact on national security

While neither country seeks armed conflict and both wish to preserve the beneficial aspects of their relationship, competition between the United States and China is likely to intensify dramatically.

U.S. President Donald Trump, joined by Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, sign the U.S. China Phase One Trade Agreement in the East Room of the White House on Jan. 15, 2020. Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead.
U.S. President Donald Trump, joined by Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, sign the U.S. China Phase One Trade Agreement in the East Room of the White House on Jan. 15, 2020. Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead.
Ken Abramowitz
Ken Abramowitz

President Trump has called for a government investigation of the role of the Chinese government in the worldwide spread of the COVID-19 virus.

For now, listening to key experts, some speculate that scientists at China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology lost control of this highly infectious virus last October or November, by accident. Others disagree. What we do know is that last December, the virus spread among the 11 million people of the city of Wuhan, which is part of Hubei Province and its 60 million people.

In January, the Chinese government, run by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), restricted travel in and out of Hubei domestically, but allowed international travel to Europe and the United States. The CCP has not provided any explanation regarding this or any of the other vital questions that President Trump and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control have asked for repeatedly since early in the outbreak of the pandemic. Therefore President Trump ordered a U.S. investigation, which will take time.

In the meantime, here is my assessment of how the COVID-19 crisis will impact the national security of the United States:

1) The U.S. government will increasingly blame the leadership of the CCP for the COVID-19 pandemic.

2) The CCP will increasingly blame the United States for the pandemic.

3) Relations between the two countries are guaranteed to deteriorate.

4) Both countries will seek to avoid an armed conflict, as such confrontations can escalate rapidly.

5) Both countries benefit from trade, and will seek to maintain the beneficial aspects of our relationship.

6) Tensions will mount in other ways: the U.S. government will step up pressure on allies to not buy Chinese technology, such as telecommunication equipment from the government-controlled, innovative and low-priced Huawei.

7) Pressure will mount on the U.S. government to close down the 500 CCP-sponsored Confucius Institutes on U.S. campuses, and close down the CCP subsidies behind the “1000 Talents Program.”

8) The U.S. government may forbid universities to accept CCP-sponsored graduate students.

9) The U.S. government will insist or even force U.S. pharmaceutical manufacturers not to allow more than 25 percent in Chinese imports of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies.

10) The U.S. government could demand that U.S.-based pharmaceutical and vaccine innovators increase spending on cybersecurity to prevent Chinese cyber-hacking, into COVID-19 research, and in other vital areas of America’s most sensitive infrastructure, and those of U.S. allies.

In summary, the competition between our two countries will intensify dramatically.

We must certainly hope the competition stays businesslike and peaceful.

Ken Abramowitz is the president and founder of SaveTheWest.

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