China Warns Of Possible Armed Conflict With US Over Coronavirus Backlash
An internal report presented to Chinese President Xi Jinping recommends preparing for a worst-case scenario of armed conflict with the United States, according to Reuters news agency.
The report, created by the China Institutes of Contemporary Internal Relations (CICIR) - which is affiliated with the Ministry of State Security concludes that global anti-China sentiment is at a level not seen since the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown and, suggests that the wave of anti-China sentiment is led by the United States, which sees China's rise as a global superpower as a threat to Western democracies.
One of those with knowledge of the report said it was regarded by some in the Chinese intelligence community as China’s version of the “Novikov Telegram”, a 1946 dispatch by the Soviet ambassador to Washington, Nikolai Novikov, that stressed the dangers of U.S. economic and military ambition in the wake of World War Two. Novikov’s missive was a response to U.S. diplomat George Kennan’s “Long Telegram” from Moscow that said the Soviet Union did not see the possibility for peaceful coexistence with the West, and that containment was the best long-term strategy. -Reuters
Reuters, which hasn't seen the paper, couldn't determine to what extent the report's grim outlook reflects positions held by China's state leaders, nor how much it might influence policy. That said, it suggests Beijing is taking the threat of global backlash over the coronavirus pandemic - which Western intelligence agencies suspect originated at a Wuhan bio-lab which was experimenting with bat coronavirus, and had previous concerns raised over the pandemic potential of such research.
China's early coverup of the outbreak - including silencing and/or disappearing whistleblowing doctors and journalists, lying about the transmissibility of the virus while hoarding personal protective equipment (PPE), quarantining Wuhan domestically while allowing international travel, and using the World Health Organization to run cover - has drawn global scorn as COVID has infected over 3.5 million and killed nearly 250,000 in five months.
Chinese officials had a “special responsibility” to inform their people and the world of the threat posed by the coronavirus “since they were the first to learn of it,” U.S. State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in response to questions from Reuters.
Without directly addressing the assessment made in the Chinese report, Ortagus added: “Beijing’s efforts to silence scientists, journalists, and citizens and spread disinformation exacerbated the dangers of this health crisis.” -Reuters
President Trump in recent days has been ratcheting up criticism of Beijing, while threatening new tariffs on China. His administration has been considering retaliatory measures over the outbreak, according to the report - which warns that anti-China sentiment could also threaten their Belt and Road infrastructure initiatives, and that Washington could take advantage by offering financial and military support for regional allies, which would in turn make the security situation in Asia more volatile.