Pressure on the Chinese government is only going to increase as the Coronavirus pandemic hopefully begins to abate and governments focus their attention on rebuilding.
Whether President Trump’s axing of WHO funding is considered political, it remains likely the organisation is an unwitting accessory to the pandemic by regurgitating the Chinese Communist party’s propaganda at a time when an earlier warning could have saved thousands of lives.
The real question we might decide to pose ourselves is the following:
By any measure today, China is the world’s factory. With its abominable track record in human, animal & environmental rights, its lack of freedom of speech (177 out of 180 in the World Press Index), its consistent violations of intellectual property and now its pandemic gift to the world, how much more should we tolerate in exchange for cheap labour?
China’s wealth undoubtedly benefits many industries in the West, starting with the well-known Chinese addiction to luxury French and Italian goods as well as tourism and trade. A consumer or travel boycott could be effective but only if it puts pressure on multinationals to look again at their supply chains and investments. (The relocation of supply chains is indeed likely to happen over the coming years.)
There is obviously an argument for saying we are all culprits in creating this monster by conveniently looking the other way whilst benefiting from what China has to offer but Covid-19 should be the wakeup call we all need.
The prospect of any reparations from China for the families who have lost loved ones and to support the economic recovery seems remote but we could all take a stand in some small way by boycotting Chinese goods.
Capitalism yes, but not at any price.