ALEX ANTIC (Op Ed)
Liberal Senator for South Australia
The Australian people have suffered a great injustice at the hands of the Chinese Communist Party and COVID 19, otherwise known as “Coronavirus”.
Tragically, people will continue to die and many more will lose their jobs or their businesses. Sadly this is a common theme around the world as many of our allies and friends suffer a similar fate.
The coronavirus began in a wet market in Wuhan China. Despite the CCP’s assertions otherwise, the world is not going to suffer such nonsense.
The most reliable theory seems to be that these markets, in which traders deal in all kinds of animals including fish, bats, and pangolins, created a melting pot for a virus to emerge.
I have seen similar places with my own eyes. They are filthy disgusting havens of disease with animals stacked upon each other in cages. Whichever poor creatures find themselves at the bottom, are generally soaked in blood, excrement and worse.
The CCP knew of the risks associated with these markets, yet they failed to act. They failed to act in circumstances where an authoritarian regime like theirs, without the burden of democratic principles of government, was as well placed as any political system to shut them down.
The CCP has been here before.
In 1997 Hong Kong was hit with the so-called bird flu which originated in poultry sourced from the mainland. Millions of birds were slaughtered and hundreds of people across 12 countries died.
In 2003, the SARS virus developed in Guangdong China. Worldwide, a total of 8,098 people became sick, 774 of whom died. The CCP did not warn the public for months, allowing those carrying SARS to migrate freely.
We now know that the CCP first became aware of coronavirus in November 2019. It did not admit to the virus until 20 January 2020 (almost 2 months later).
Their efforts to hide the contagion even went as far as to arrest and punish people, including a local ophthalmologist Dr Li Wenliang, for “publishing or forwarding false information on the internet without verification”. Dr Wenliang later died from a pneumonia thought to be coronavirus.
China’s failure to expediently report the virus, created a giant petri dish in the region and did not allow the west extra time to react. Those lost weeks equate to lost dollars and more importantly lost lives.
A report from the University of Southhampton has stated that the virus could have been reduced by as much as 95 per cent if China had moved sooner.
It is still way too early to quantify the damages which will flow from the event but the impost upon the Australian economy will be in the billions if not trillions of dollars.
The true fallout from this catastrophe may take years to crystallise however, seeking compensation from the CCP is something which governments must explore.
China’s inaction represents more than a breach of morality, it may well be a breach of international law and the legally binding 2005 International Health Regulations and if so, China will have an obligation to pay
Prosecuting such a claim would be a difficult task for a middle power such as Australia.
However, with the backing of our traditional allies, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and nations in Western Europe to name but a few, pressure must be placed upon the CCP to pay for this catastrophe.
The Chinese are hard working and decent people, but they are let down by the authoritarian regime under which they live.
Right now, the most important consideration is the health of the Australian people and our economy, however in the longer term, Australians will be right to ask, why the CCP shouldn’t pay for their actions?
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