The Trump administration on Jan. 31 announced travel restrictions aimed at reducing the number of people coming to the United States from China to flatten the infection curve of the novel coronavirus that emerged out of Wuhan. The reaction from the People’s Republic of China and the American left was immediate: harsh criticism that President Donald Trump was overreacting and that his actions to protect the American public were racist.
The irony is that today, largely left-leaning parts of the nation were the first to impose stark “shelter-in-place” orders that likely can’t be sustained on a restive public inclined to ignore government orders and eager to return to work.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry criticized Trump’s move to limit travel from China, with spokeswoman Hua Chunying saying, “It’s truly mean,” and noting, “The World Health Organization urged countries to avoid travel restrictions, but very soon after that, the United States did the opposite.”
Only two weeks earlier, the U.N.’s World Health Organization (WHO), under the sway of communist China, tweeted that there was no evidence humans could transmit the coronavirus. The same WHO strongly urged the United States and other nations not to impose restrictions on travel from China.
Former Vice President Joe Biden was harshly critical, tweeting March 12, “A wall will not stop the coronavirus. Banning all travel from Europe — or any other part of the world — will not stop it.” This followed Biden’s earlier attack on Trump’s international travel restrictions during a campaign speech in which he said, “This is no time for Donald Trump’s record of hysteria and xenophobia, hysterical xenophobia … and fearmongering.”
A wall will not stop the coronavirus.
Banning all travel from Europe — or any other part of the world — will not stop it.
This disease could impact every nation and any person on the planet — and we need a plan to combat it.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) March 13, 2020
Texas Republican Rep. Dan Crenshaw quickly countered, “First, walls quite literally stop a virus. It’s kind of the whole point of a quarantine, for instance.”
First, walls quite literally stop a virus. It’s kind of the whole point of a quarantine, for instance.
Second, assuming you meant this metaphorically, health experts like Dr. Fauci and everyone else agree travel restrictions have vastly slowed the spread of the virus in the US. https://t.co/4osiZ47t7D
— Dan Crenshaw (@DanCrenshawTX) March 13, 2020
Italy’s Unsurprising Wuhan Virus Outbreak
The Trump administration’s medical experts also disagree with Biden’s criticism of restricting international travel, with Coronavirus Task Force member Dr. Anthony Fauci noting in a March 12 interview that the purpose of the travel restrictions was to blunt the infection curve. When a reporter asked Fauci if Trump’s travel ban had helped, he responded, “It was the right public health call. … If you look back early on, Chinese travelers who were infected seeded not only the United States but countries in Europe, including Italy.”
That Fauci specifically cited Italy is instructive. Coronavirus hit Northern Italy first and particularly hard. Why? Many of the textiles used for Italy’s famous fashion, such as shoes and handbags, are made in this region by Chinese workers.
A New York Times article, “The Chinese Roots of Italy’s Far-Right Rage,” from Dec. 5, 2019, just as the virus was beginning its deadly spread in Wuhan, blamed the rise of Italy’s populist right on Chinese workers. A remarkable observation emerged near the end: “‘Made in Italy’ [by Chinese immigrants]. As Prato’s factories went dark, people began arriving from China to exploit an opportunity. … Today, more than a tenth of the city’s 200,000 inhabitants are Chinese immigrants” in addition to about 15,000 illegal Chinese immigrants. This is the case in key Italian industrial centers where Chinese company compounds employ thousands of Chinese nationals.
It’s not a coincidence that, as of mid-March, more than half of Italy’s coronavirus infections were in just two regions, Lombardy and Tuscany. These two areas had the largest amount of Chinese investment and workers. Italy imposed restrictions on flights from China on January 31.
Globalism’s benefits, in terms of cheap goods and the ready enrichment of the well-connected elite, who are able to effectively elide national boundaries, breed unexpected deadly consequences. Many on the American left favor globalization and oppose restrictions on international travel or migration across U.S. borders. But in efforts to slow the Wuhan virus, where do they stand on these same measures?
The Left’s Travel Ban Hypocrisy
In California, the irony isn’t lost on the fact that the order to restrict domestic movement started in the San Francisco Bay Area, where almost 7 million people were ordered to shelter-in-place on March 16. Health officers in six counties, as well as the city of Berkeley, enacted these draconian restrictions on free movement. It’s unclear how such a wide-ranging order will be enforced without the state’s National Guard.
These counties are among America’s most left-wing, where opposition to Trump’s international travel restrictions was strong — with 85 percent of voters in San Francisco and 68 percent in Contra Costa County voting for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2016.
In contrast, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order Mar. 19 seeking to optimize freedom of movement while slowing transmission of the virus. Abbott’s order limits social gatherings to 10 people, prevents restaurants and bars from serving customers in-house while still allowing takeout, closes gyms, bans people from visiting non-critical-care nursing homes, and temporarily closes schools. The order started midnight Friday and runs through April 3.
The approach in Texas provides common-sense guidance to residents, encouraging them to exercise prudence in efforts to control the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus. That approach might be more sustainable, with public support being essential to the success of these extraordinary measures.
China’s Ongoing Anti-America Propaganda
Returning to the early days of the coronavirus outbreak, it becomes clear that authorities in the communist People’s Republic of China knew exactly what they were facing by early February. The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said Feb. 3, “There is no reason for measures that unnecessarily interfere with international travel.”
She went on to say the U.S. travel restrictions “could only create and spread fear [setting] a very bad example,” noting, “Even American media and experts doubted the government’s decision,” which also “violat[ed] civil rights” of travelers.
That opens the specter that the Chinese Communist Party — having already absorbed the damage from Trump’s tariffs and trade negotiations, followed by further supply chain disruption caused by the virus and efforts to battle it — figured it might as well visit the Wuhan-originated plague on the rest of the world. Thus it is only logical that communist China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian would suggest that the U.S. Army spread the virus to Wuhan during the World Military Games in October, accusing others of what China itself is guilty of.