‘We should engage our allies to isolate China economically and make them pay for their deadly bad-faith actions in the world arena…’
(Michael Barnes, Liberty Headlines) China lied, Americans died. Now it’s time to pay for it.
That’s the view of a growing consensus of lawmakers, conservative scholars and diverse voting blocs as the nation continues to grapple with the incredible costs of the Wuhan coronavirus.
President Donald Trump also has broached the idea in his recent coronavirus press briefings.
Making China pay wouldn’t be that difficult, according to a number of recently published op-eds and legislative proposals. With a few keystrokes, vast sums of Chinese assets could be electronically seized. The question is whether the U.S. government has the will to do it.
New Mexico U.S. Senate candidate Gavin Clarkson recently offered a blueprint.
“Based on China’s culpability, President Trump and Secretary Steven Mnuchin should immediately extract reimbursement, starting with the $1.1 trillion in U.S. Treasury Department bonds Communist China currently holds,” Clarkson wrote in the Washington Examiner.
The approach would be especially convenient given treasury bonds are no longer paper assets but are recorded digitally at the Depository Trust Corporation.
The plan calls for making it illegal for China to buy, hold or sell any U.S. treasuries, including any subsidiary entities or agents acting on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party.
The Treasury Department could then confiscate Chinese-owned bonds, resell them and still require China to pay its remaining debt obligations from the bonds.
The proceeds from an immediate resale could be redirected to “reimburse U.S. taxpayers for the unprecedented and catastrophic costs of this pandemic,” said Clarkson, who formerly served as the deputy assistant secretary for policy and economic development in the Trump administration.
President Trump could unilaterally enforce the Wuhan virus reimbursement proposal by virtue of his national emergency declaration on March 13.
“Pursuant to that statute, seized assets can then be liquidated and the proceeds used to further the interests of the United States,” said Clarkson.
Using alliances and foreign policy leverage to multiply U.S. efforts to hold China accountable would deal a crushing blow to the Chinese economy if they resisted paying up. In a separate op-ed, Clarkson recommended invoking NATO’s Article V to rally support.
The “collective defense” provision was established to combat communist threats emanating from the Soviet Union after World War II. But modern threats from communist China should also apply, he argued.
“We should engage our [European] allies to isolate China economically and make them pay for their deadly bad-faith actions in the world arena. This effect would be even more devastating than going it alone,” he wrote.
Conservative scholar John Yoo also sees an opportunity to seize Chinese assets. In a National Review article, republished at the American Enterprise Institute, Yoo asserted that the Trump administration “could also seize the assets of Chinese state-owned companies.”
As part of its global “Belt and Road Initiative,” China has invested and loaned hundreds of billions of dollars to poor countries in Africa, Eastern Europe, Asia and Latin America for infrastructure projects through Chinese-backed companies.
Since 2013, the initiative has allowed China to gain a foothold in Third-World countries around the world and take over their strategic foreign ports and facilities once Belt and Road debts are due.
“The U.S. could turn this strategy on its head by supporting the expropriation of these assets by legal process and the cancellation of these debts as compensation for coronavirus losses,” Yoo wrote.
Seizing the Chinese-owned property would allow the U.S. to use international law to its advantage, he said.
“Let the Chinese Communist Party try to claim, outside its own borders, just as it does within them, that it can deny common sense and blame the very victims of its wrongdoing for the worst public-health catastrophe in a century,” Yoo wrote.
Striking while the iron is hot may be the best course of action for the Trump administration.
Seventy-seven percent of Americans blame China for the Wuhan virus, and 54 percent want China to pay for the damage its caused. Fifty-two percent of Americans even agree with the president’s characterization of the “China virus.”
Only Democrats are standing in the way, according to polls. Democrats and the mainstream anti-Trump news media have also sided with the World Health Organization, which continues to parrot Chinese disinformation about the origins of the Wuhan virus and its spread.
But that shouldn’t deter the Trump administration from seizing China’s assets, proponents say.
“There should be a heavy price to pay when your negligence harms the entire world,” said Clarkson.