Coronavirus News Asia

Tom Cotton leads the China attack

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A headline in Politico last week called US Senator Tom Cotton the Republican Party’s “No 1 coronavirus China hawk.” This was not an honorific title but one that was well earned and well deserved. He has been the most vicious attack dog on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s blame China team.

As early as January, when the world was just beginning to grasp the full significance of Covid-19, Cotton charged that the virus that causes the respiratory disease came from the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China’s Hubei province. He planted the seeds of accusation without providing any supporting evidence, but that’s how propaganda is supposed to work.

Sometimes he shared with the media that it may have been an accident that the Wuhan lab let the virus loose. Other times he hinted that the lab may have created the virus in order to let it loose on the world. His allegations were carefully vague so that he could not be pinned down. 

Pompeo and President Donald Trump play the same blame game even though the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence issued a press release last Thursday stating: “The intelligence community also concurs with the wide scientific consensus that the Covid-19 virus was not man-made or genetically modified.” (Of course, this statement is subject to withdrawal, if the boss threatens to fire the DNI.)

Cotton follows Ferguson

Cotton also accused China of deliberately letting the virus loose on the world. He was drawing on Harvard historian Niall Ferguson’s assertion that China let international flights depart from Wuhan, which was factually incorrect. Daniel Bell, a fellow academic, showed Ferguson that the Wuhan airport had shut down all flights, not just domestic ones, on January 23. Ferguson refused to retract his allegation but stood by his lie.

It’s widely recognized that every lie diminishes the reputation of the perpetrator, but Cotton has an ulterior motive. He wants to sue China for compensation for the economic damage and lives lost due to Covid-19. Of course, he would never call the contagion by the official name. To him, it’s always the “Chinese” virus.

Cotton cleverly thought he could lead a lawsuit to cancel the trillion-dollar IOU the US government owes China. Frankly, that’s going to a lot of trouble to weasel out of a trillion-dollar debt. It would be much easier for the US Federal Reserve simply to print one or two or three trillion dollars with the snap of congressional fingers. Larry Kudlow, President Trump’s economic adviser, also shuddered at the thought of what such a default would do to the creditworthiness of the dollar. 

More recently, Cotton thought out loud on Fox News that it was fine for students from China to come to the US to study Shakespeare but not for quantum computing or artificial intelligence. That was a strange juxtaposition.

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