The basic building blocks of U.S. health care are now under the control of the Chinese Communist Party.
Chinese President Xi Jinping recently warned of the “grave” situation posed by the “accelerating spread” of the coronavirus in China. Xi’s frank warnings were unusual for the seniormost official of the Chinese Communist Party and reveal the depth of the concern at the highest levels of the country’s leadership.
Already, nearly 500 people have died and tens of thousands more have been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus. It has been found in Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Europe and the United States. Tens of millions have been put under travel restrictions and even quarantine by the Chinese government.
While many are rightfully concerned about stopping the virus, few are focused on the fact that the more it spreads, the more the U.S. ability to treat any Americans who are stricken is vulnerable to the tender mercies of the Chinese Communist Party because of a strategic shift in health care that occurred without debate or decision in Washington.
Everything from antibiotics to chemotherapy drugs, from antidepressants to Alzheimer’s medications to treatments for HIV/AIDS, are frequently produced by Chinese manufacturers. What’s more, the most effective breathing masks and the bulk of other personal protective equipment — key to containing the spread of coronavirus and protecting health care workers — and even the basic syringe are largely made in China. The basic building blocks of U.S. health care are now under Xi’s control.
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“Medicines can be used as a weapon of war against the United States,” Rosemary Gibson, a senior adviser on health care issues at the bioethics-focused Hastings Center and co-author of “China Rx: Exposing the Risks of America’s Dependence on China for Medicine,” told lawmakers last month. “Supplies can be withheld. Medicines can be made with lethal contaminants or sold without any real medicine in them, rendering them ineffective.
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Last month, the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission held a hearing on the United States’ growing reliance on China’s pharmaceutical products. The topic reminded me of a spirited discussion described in Bob Woodward’s book, Fear: Trump in the White House. In the discussion, Gary Cohn, then chief economic advisor to President Trump, argued against a trade war with China by invoking a Department of Commerce study that found that 97 percent of all antibiotics in the United States came from China. “If you’re the Chinese and you want to really just destroy us, just stop sending us antibiotics,” he said.