As I was safely social distancing at the grocery store the other day, I had some time to eavesdrop on a conversation taking place in the aisle next to me. The two involved were masked and hopefully co-habitants of the same domicile since they stood side by side. Discussions around their household are probably very interesting, because they certainly had a difference of opinion on China and its part in the pandemic now menacing the world. The back-and-forth went something like this:
PERSON 1: I think the Chinese leaders owe the world about $3 trillion dollars.
PERSON 2: Well, I suppose they definitely bear some of the responsibility.
PERSON 1: Some? Try most, if not all. They could have stopped this virus. They didn’t.
PERSON 2: Maybe.
PERSON 1: No maybe. In addition to the money, I want to see China cut off from the world.
PERSON 2: Cut off?
PERSON 1: Yes. The whole country. Nobody gets in, nobody gets out. Not until they clean up their act.
PERSON 2: And by act you mean . . .
PERSON 1: Health and food contamination laws to begin with.
PERSON 2: Okay, suppose you did shut down the country. What about all the stuff manufactured there? Clothes? Medicine? Paper goods? You name it.
PERSON 1: Make it here.
PERSON 2: How’s that gonna work?
PERSON 1: I don’t know. But I have great faith in the American entrepreneurial spirit.
PERSON 2: You’re dreaming.
PERSON 1: Maybe. But you won’t catch me buying anything from China anytime soon.
I doubt if that’s an isolated conversation limited only to my local supermarket. Lots of blame is being put on the Chinese government for not acting sooner to what seems to have been an obvious problem. And the government is definitely the one at which to point a finger. There are a lot of great Chinese-Americans who would probably be the first to stand up and agree. They bear no blame, nor do the average citizens in the People’s Republic. But the Communist leadership? That’s a different story. They cannot allow any perceived “cracks” in their perfect society. One can just imagine another conversation that may have taken place sometime around the first of the year somewhere in the bowels of government headquarters.
AIDE: Sir, Wuhan’s on the line.
CHINESE OFFICIAL (CO): Again? Now what?
AIDE: Something about dead bodies and lots of sick people.
CO: This is China. There are 1.4 billion of us. People die and get sick. It’s normal.
AIDE: It’s a doctor, sir. He says we might be looking at a major health issue.
CO: Impossible. That’s not allowed. Tell him to contain the problem.
AIDE: I did. He said he’d like to but he’s got the bug himself. Says he feels like he’s dying.
CO: Well, then he won’t complain anymore, will he?
AIDE: I suppose not.
CO: What does he want me to do?
AIDE: I believe he said quarantine the city.
CO: Quarantine 11 million people? Just when everybody’s traveling home for the New Year’s celebration? Is he crazy?
AIDE: He doesn’t sound like it, sir. But he is coughing a lot. He said he can’t breathe well and thinks whatever he’s got spreads through the air.
CO: Have him tell everyone it’s this year’s flu. He can even name it after himself. Or just call it Wuhan Flu. How bad can it be?
AIDE: The doctor used the word pandemic.
CO: Hmmm. My superiors aren’t going to like that.
AIDE: I think he even put something on social media about it.
CO: Oh, my superiors are definitely not going to like that. Write up a retraction for him to read on television.
AIDE: I’m not sure he’ll want to do that.
CO: It is NOT a request.
AIDE: Yes, sir.
CO: Oh, and don’t tell anybody, but quietly buy up every hospital mask and respirator in the world and have them sent here. You may keep one mask for yourself. Hopefully, no one else will find out about this. But just in case, we’ll be prepared.
AIDE: Consider it done. Oh, sir?
CO: What now?
AIDE: Apparently the doctor died while waiting for further instructions.
CO: Ah, well, then problem solved.
Now, granted, that might be a little harsh. But it’s interesting to note that more and more of the world is questioning the People’s Republic’s insistence it did everything right in trying to contain the virus. “Made in China” is definitely taking on a whole other meaning these days.
©MMXX. William J. Lewis, III – Freelance Writer