Coronavirus: Economist blames China for pandemic ‘every 8 years new strain of flu traced’
Alex Story said it was time to stop treating the superpower with “kid gloves” – and urged world leaders to take account of what he called the “true cost” of dealings with the nation, singling it out as “a source of regular pandemics”. Enthusiastic Brexiteer Mr Story, who stood as a Parliamentary candidate on three separate occasions, as well as contesting the Yorkshire and the Humber region in the 2014 European Parliamentary elections, made his feelings known in a blog written for the Politeia think tank. He said: “Over the last 25 years, China seems to have been either at or close to epicentres of a handful of major flu related pandemics: Asian H5N1, aka bird flu, was first detected in China in 1996, and between 1997 and 2005 was largely confined to South East Asia; SARS in 2003; and lately the Coronavirus in 2020.
“Every eight years or so on average a new strain of flu can be traced to China. The recurrent disruption has grown to reflect China’s exponential rise on the world stage.”
During the course of the last two decades, China had “turned itself from an economic minnow into a giant”, responsible for 15 percent of global exports, Mr Story said, with its GDP growing from £1.6trillion to £11.2trillion.
Since mid-February, as the outbreak became increasingly widespread and serious, The S&P, a US stock market index, had dropped by 25 percent, equating to a loss of $8 trillion, while the Dow Jones Index, and, on this side of the Atlantic, the FTSE 100, have both taken a pounding in recent days.
If every six to eight years, we lose a year’s worth of growth, maybe all the pain and local dislocation that out-sourcing to China entails is not really worth the candle
Mr Story, Head of Business Development in a City broker’s firm, added: “As China becomes ever more critical to our supply chain, and with a history as a source of regular pandemics, is it not the duty of our leaders to take into account the true cost of such risks?
“If every six to eight years, we lose a year’s worth of growth, maybe all the pain and local dislocation that out-sourcing to China entails is not really worth the candle.”
Mr Story pointed out in a relatively short period of time, the world had become used to the idea of Chinea being “an integral part of the world’s manufacturing and supply chain”.
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He added: “It is not the workforce, the suppliers, or the country of origin that matter, it is the price of the company’s stock alone.
“As a result, our corporate leaders have given themselves the theoretical justification to dismantle much of our long term actual productive capabilities, both technical and human – needless of the long term consequences.”
In consequence, for example, 95 percent of all of the antibiotics imported into the United States originate in China, Mr Story pointed out.
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He added: “The dream, often repeated at the time of China’s entry in the WTO, of democratising the country by allowing her into our trading club has not been realised.
“We in the West never really asked China to play by the rules membership of our club demanded.
“We turned a blind eye to the most egregious breaches of principles and allowed parts of the UK, the mid-West of the US, and many other parts of Europe to be stripped and gutted, whilst simultaneously accusing our own countrymen and women of laziness.”
Accusing western leaders of “turning a blind eye for decades”, Mr Story declared: “Our leaders should end the practice of treating China with kid gloves.
“Either China is in the WTO, or a potential successor organisation, or it is not.
Firstly, the Chinese should play by the rules they themselves signed up to when they joined the World Trade Organisation.
“The leaders of the West should, for their part, have the courage to demand of the Chinese that they do, with real consequences if they don’t.
“Secondly, we should tread carefully when out-sourcing, manufacturing, and investing to prop up the Chinese regime – a country ranked 80th on the global corruption index – alongside Benin and Ghana no less.
The silver lining in the dark cloud of the Coronavirus would be if it starts a process of rethinking our current supply chain, bringing back much of the industries closer to home or indeed to our own internal emerging markets such as Northern England, where wages are often way below EU average.
“It could be a real game changer.”
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