Chinese President Xi Jinping visits the Covid-19 epicenter Wuhan, Hubei province, on March 10. Photo: AFP

Men and women range themselves into three classes or orders of intelligence: You can tell the lowest class by their habit of always talking about persons, the next by the fact that their habit is always to converse about things, the highest by their preference for the discussion of ideas,” said famous English historian Henry Thomas Buckle, the author of an unfinished History of Civilization in England.

This amazing man, who in 1840 spent almost a year traveling with his mother and sister across Europe, “studied the language, literature, and history of each place they visited,” according to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Buckle was an example of a sophisticated gentleman, often described as “the Father of Scientific History,” with an ability to conduct discussion on a very high level.

Although I’m not pretending even to come close to the height of his intellectual capabilities,
he has somehow inspired me to broaden the spectrum of my inquiry related to the Henry Jackson Society’s report addressed in my opinion article for CGTN (China Global Television Network).

In order to set the bar higher than I did last time, I decided to check if similar demands regarding China were made in recent days, and then tried to draw a conclusion on the common underlying idea.

As I found out, in the US itself, there were two articles published on April 6 covering the very topic of the British neoconservative think-tank’s report. The first was published by National Review magazine and titled “How to make China pay,” and the other was published by The National Interest magazine, titled “China should pay a financial cost for its coronavirus lies.”

In the case of the former, written by John Yoo, the Emanuel S Heller Professor of Law
at the University of California at Berkeley, a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, and a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, and Ivana Stradner, a Jeane Kirkpatrick Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, we can see a clear dissatisfaction with the United Nations’ inability “to force China to remedy the harm it has caused,” especially complaining about the Security Council and the World Health Organization, which was accused of “selling out to China.”

The particular grievance of Yoo, an undoubtedly eminent legal scholar, was related to China’s and Russia’s “permanent right to veto any Security Council resolution” and the fact
that “China’s annual funding of the organization has increased to $86 million since 2014 (a rise of 52%).” Reading between the lines, the law professor from Berkeley also didn’t forget to mention the WHO’s director general and the institution’s alleged favoritism toward China at the expense of Taiwan.

What is interesting in the attacks aimed at the WHO and Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is that they are being repeated by other right-leaning figures and politicians. US Senator Martha McSally calls Tedros a “communist” and urges him to step down. Senator Marco Rubio (known for his sadistic tweet about a tortured Muammar Gaddafi aimed at Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro) in an article titled “Is the World Health Organization putting the world’s health first?” expresses deep concern over Taiwan’s treatment by the international organization and portrays himself as a typical “white savior.” US Representative Liz Cheney calls Dr Tedros, Ethiopia’s former health minister, “a puppet of the Chinese Communist Party.”

Going back to the article written by Professor Yoo, what strikes me the most (as a lawyer and political scientist) are highly unethical and criminal-like solutions provided by a legal scholar who supposedly should be familiar with the dura lex, sed lex Roman law maxim, yet, instead, is advocating for the Barack Obama (de facto illegal) way of getting things done by “twisting the arms of countries that wouldn’t do what the US needs them to do if it weren’t for the various economic or diplomatic or, in some cases, military leverage.”

What he is proposing is that the US should:

1) “Persuade leading nations to join it in excluding Chinese scholars and students from scientific research centers and universities” – meaning that people-to-people diplomacy and transfer of knowledge would have ceased to exist in circumstances similar to those of the 20th century, when the numerus clausus was aimed at limiting access to education by Jews.

2) “Exclude China from buying and selling advanced technologies, such as microchips, artificial intelligence, or biotechnology” – particularly aimed at Huawei, where the US
put pressure on international governments willing to use far more advanced technology than that offered by its European or American counterparts.

3) “Seize the assets of Chinese state-owned companies,” which “under its Belt and Road Initiative has [lent] billions to developing nations in Africa, Eastern Europe, and Latin America” – de jure a criminal and illegal move.

As for the National Interest article mentioned above, written by the (in)famous Gordon G Chang, who is one the Asian scholars in the West (alongside Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History) who are providing their readers with wrong predictions about the future they try to predict, the author of The Coming Collapse of China (which still hasn’t arrived) argues for “confiscating China’s hoard of US Treasury obligations, in excess of $1 trillion,” mentions Resolution 553 sponsored by US Senator Marsha Blackburn, which aims at forcing Beijing to “forgive some of its holdings of American debt,” as well as quoting findings of the Henry Jackson Society’s report.

So the question is: What is the common denominator of the accusations toward
the WHO and Covid-19 reparation claims?

Osman Dar, global health expert at Public Health England and the Royal Institute of International Affairs, argues that “WHO had evolved out of colonial-era international sanitary conferences convened by the European powers and expansionist US policy. Since WHO was controlled and largely influenced by the national interests of Western powers before, in the past 20 years, countries like China ‘have started to have more influence in the global health space.’”

On that note, it should now be clear why we’re seeing the neocolonial narrative being pushed against Dr Tedros by “American utopian realists,” who aim at “pressing hard to destroy evil people and eliminate wicked [in their understanding] institutions and practices,” as the late American sociologist Seymour Martin Lipset would have argued.

Bearing in mind that Kiron Skinner, then the director of policy planning at the US State Department, explicitly said last year that the US was developing a strategy for China based on the idea of “a fight with a really different civilization,” the attempt to regain economic leverage in the time of Covid-19 outbreak, as was mentioned by US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in January, should be perceived as an attempt to “heal” globalization from “the virus within.”

Accordingly, in the US dictionary, this virus equates with China – the civilizational competitor, which simply seeks to have the same right to shape the world as its less fortunate teacher of the globalization project.

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Adriel Kasonta

Adriel Kasonta is a London-based foreign affairs analyst and commentator. He is the founder of AK Consultancy and editorial board member at the peer-reviewed Central European Journal of International and Security Studies (CEJISS) in Prague. Kasonta is a former chairman of the International Affairs Committee at Bow Group, the oldest conservative think tank in the UK.