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Ret. Gen. Kellogg says Biden should make China pay restitution for COVID

Wuhan Institute of Virology (Ureem2805/WikiCommons)
October 13, 2021

Retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg said President Joe Biden’s administration should take a number of actions against China, including forcing it to pay restitution for concealing the existence and severity of COVID-19 early on in the pandemic.

Kellogg served as a senior National Security Council official in President Donald Trump’s White House and is now the co-chairman of the Center for American Security at the America First Policy Institute (AFPI). In a new China policy doctrine produced by AFPI and shared with the Washington Free Beacon on Monday, Kellogg and his co-authors wrote, “By immediately holding China accountable through restitution efforts and building new global efforts focused narrowly on violations of international standards and human rights, the United States will undercut China’s long-term ambitions.”

One of the main planks of the AFPI’s new China doctrine is to exact restitution payments from China for concealing the existence and severity of the coronavirus outbreak. By March 2020, reports found the Chinese government had advanced warnings about the severity of the virus outbreak, but they punished doctors and whistleblowers who spoke up about the virus and denied evidence of its human-to-human transmission. In January, the U.S. State Department under then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also shared a fact sheet indicating the possibility COVID-19 leaked from a virology lab in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

The AFPI’s policy paper refers to the effort to hold China responsible for the virus outbreak as “great tragedy accountability.”

In an interview with the Washington Free Beacon, Kellogg said the intent of AFPI’s policy paper is to now put pressure on the Biden administration to take a harder diplomatic approach with China.

Kellogg said one of the “disturbing pieces” about current U.S.-China relations is that Biden doesn’t seem to understand the severity of the threat posed by China. “That needs to be focused in on. We did it during the Trump administration, [but] I haven’t seen that by this administration.”

“This nation and its people need to understand that China is an emergent threat. They need to be accountable and held accountable for their actions and it may take some tough choices going forward, and they need to be ready for that,” he added. “China is looking at us in a way where they think we’re a weakening nation. … They don’t think we have the national will to challenge them, and Americans need to ask themselves, ‘Do we have leaders that are willing to challenge this emergent threat from the East?'”

Last year, Republican lawmakers introduced legislation aimed at allowing U.S. citizens to sue the Chinese government for COVID-19-related damages, but no such legislation has passed.

In May, Biden ordered the U.S. intelligence community to conduct a 90-day review of the intelligence findings on the origins of COVID-19, including the possibility of a leak from a Chinese lab. In August, the intelligence community returned an inconclusive report. The Biden administration has also made no clear indications it intends to hold China accountable for the virus outbreak.

The AFPI policy paper suggests restitution from China could be obtained through the International Court of Justice (ICJ). If the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) were to refuse to participate in an ICJ trial, the China policy paper argues there is precedent for the U.S. and its allies to cut China off from a range of international organizations valued by the Beijing government, such as the World Trade Organization.