Excerpt from
Chapter 10 Thunder Out of China

第10章 中国からの雷鳴



More thunder out of China, in the form of the coronavirus pandemic, came in early 2020. Although epidemiologists (not mention biological weapon experts) will be studying this catastrophe long into the future; the mark of the China’s authoritarian government and social-control systems is all over it. There is little doubt that China delayed, withheld, fabricated, and distorted information about the origin, timing, spread, and extent of the disease; suppressed dissent physicians and others; hindered outside efforts by the World Health Organization and others to get accurate information; and engaged in active disinformation campaigns, actually trying to argue that the virus (SARS-CoV-2) and the disease itself (COVID-19) did not originate in China. Ironically, some of the worst effects of China’s cover-up were visited on its closest allies. Iran, for example, looked to be one of the worst -hit countries, with satellite photos showing the excavation of burial pits for the expected victims of COVID-19.








With 2020 begins a presidential election year, it was inevitable that Trump’s performance in this global health emergency would become a campaign issue, which it did almost immediately. And there was plenty of criticize, starting with the Administration’s early, relentless assertion that the disease was “contained” and would have little or no economic effect. Larry Kudlow, Chairman of the National Economic Council, said, on February25,” We have contained this. I won’t say [it’s]airtight, but it’s pretty close to airtight.” Market reactions to these kinds of assertions were decidedly negative, which may finally have woken the White House up to the seriousness of the problem. And obviously, in addition to the humanitarian implications, the economic and business consequences would certainly continue to reverberate through the November elections and beyond. Trump’s reflex effort to talk his way out of anything, however, even a public-health crisis, only undercut his and the nation’s credibility, with his statements looking more like political damage control than responsible public -health advice. One particular egregious example was a new report that the Administration tried to classify certain public-health information regarding the United States on the spurious excuse that China was involved. Of course China was involved, which is a reason to disseminate the information broadly, not restrict it. This, Trump was reluctant to do throughout the crisis, for fear of adversely affecting the elusive definitive trade with China, or offending the ever-so-sensitive Xi Jinping.






Other criticisms of the Administration, however, were frivolous. One such complained targeted an aspect of the general streamline of NSC staffing that I conducted in my first months at the White House. To reduce duplication and overlap, and enhance condition and efficiency, it made good management sense to shift the responsibilities of the directorate dealing with global health and biodefense into the existing directorate dealing with weapons of mass destruction (biological, chemical and nuclear). The characteristics of bioweapons’ attacks and pandemics can have much in common, and the medical and public-health expertise required to deal with both threats went hand in hand. Combining the two directorates therefore maximized the opportunities for working more effectively together, as well as raising the priority of biosecurity, by structurally recognizing that the threat could come from either of two direction, natural or man-made. Most of the personal working in the prior global health directorate simply moved to the combined directorate, and continued doing exactly what they were doing before. One person moved to the international organization directorate and continued to work there on health issues in the UN system and other bodies. Like all NSC directorates, most staffers come from other Departments and agencies, and rotate after staffers come from other Departments and agencies, and rotate after one-or two year assignments at the NSC back to their home bases. That process continued. Tim Morrison, the senior director I brought in to handle these matters, and his successor, Anthony Ruggiero, have successfully kept global health a focus.