Those countries with the closest ties to China are the ones suffering the most from Coronavirus. This may seem elementary, as it follows common sense. And yet, those countries failed to predict the consequences of working with such a corrupt and negligent power as the Chinese Communist Party. This despite the fact that doing business with communists has come back to harm us – in one form or another – time and again for a century.
In 1922, Samuel Gompers, founder of the American Federation of Labor, condemned those in Europe who, at a conference in Italy, were hoping to profit from business with Lenin’s new slave society. “The truth is that predatory international finance has its appetite up and believes it sees loot in Russia,” he said. “I know of nothing more cynical than the attitude of European statesmen and financiers toward the Russian muddle. Essentially it is their purpose, as laid down at Genoa, to place Russia in economic vassalage and give political recognition in exchange. Recognition in exchange for concessions.”
Soon, persuaded by propagandists like Armand Hammer and the New York Times’s Walter Duranty that it was a good idea, the United States followed suit. Stalin would later tell W. Averell Harriman that “about two-thirds of all the large industrial enterprises in the Soviet Union had been built with United States help or technical assistance.”
Unbeknownst to the West, their business partners Lenin and Stalin had secretly agreed to let militarist Germany rebuild its military machine inside Russia, out of sight of the powers that at Versailles had forbidden them from doing so. This arrangement remained intact until the early 1930s, when the rebuilt might of the German armed forces was inherited by Hitler. It would soon lay waste to the cities of Europe, at first with Stalin’s approval before it turned on the USSR.
After the war, the AFL published a detailed map of Stalin’s Gulag system, in order to remind the West that “Uncle Joe” and his successors weren’t to be trusted. It was not long before the Soviet industries “built with United States help or technical assistance” were producing the weapons and vehicles used against American troops in Korea (and later, in Vietnam). Still, there was money to be made, so many businesses just pretended it wasn’t happening.
35 years ago, the exiled Soviet dissident Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn spoke to a gathering of the AFL-CIO. “Brothers!” the Gulag forced labor survivor opened, “Brothers in Labor!” After thanking them for having always spoken out against Soviet tyranny, he told the gathered workers “just as we feel ourselves your allies here, there also exists another alliance – at first glance a strange one, a surprising one – but if you think about it, in fact, one which is well-grounded and easy to understand: this is the alliance between our Communist leaders and your capitalists.”
He gave an example: “Certain of your businessmen, on their own initiative, established an exhibition of criminological technology in Moscow. This was the most recent and elaborate technology, which here, in your country, is used to catch criminals, to bug them, to spy on them, to photograph them, to tail them, to identify criminals. This was taken to Moscow to an exhibition in order that the Soviet KGB agents could study it, as if not understanding what sort of criminals, who would be hunted by the KGB.”
Times haven’t changed much. The Wall Street Journal reported last year that “Some of the biggest names in U.S. technology have provided components, financing and know-how to China’s multibillion-dollar surveillance industry. The country’s authoritarian government uses those tools to track ethnic minorities, political dissidents and others it sees as a threat to its power.”
The Coronavirus outbreak isn’t even the first time Americans’ health and wellbeing was threatened by doing business with China. How many children’s toys and animal products have had to be recalled because of safety concerns? And this extends to our food. Pre-peeled Garlic had to have been peeled somewhere, and that somewhere is in unsanitary Chinese prisons where prisoners have to use their teeth because their fingernails have fallen off.
Solzhenitsyn said it best: “This is something which is almost incomprehensible to the human mind: that burning greed for profit which goes beyond all reason, all self-control, all conscience, only to get money.”