Republican Sen. Tom Cotton told Maria Bartiromo on FNC's "Sunday Morning Futures" that the Chinese Communist Party allowed the coronavirus to spread to the rest of the world so they would not be the only country impacted by the pandemic, thus preserving their "relative power and standing."
The Chinese Communist leadership did not want to see their relative power and standing in the world decline because this virus was contained within China so they deliberately hid it from the world. MORE: https://t.co/GGLdmJaFT6— Tom Cotton (@SenTomCotton) April 26, 2020
"I believe the Chinese communist leaders, when they were aware of those facts by mid-January, made the conscious decision not to explain to the world that it was transmissible between humans, not to shut down travel, not to ask for American or other kind of international scientific help, but to allow this virus to escape their borders, because if they were going to suffer an economic contraction, they were not going to allow the world to continue to prosper, and China be the only country whose economy was declining," he said. "We know that the Chinese Communist Party was both criminally negligent and incompetent at first, and then deliberately, deliberately malevolent in the way they responded to this virus, for their own people and the world."
SEN. TOM COTTON (R-AR): Good morning, Maria.
BARTIROMO: So, you knew very early on and you questioned very early on the origins of this disease. And you knew that it likely came from that lab, that level four super lab in Wuhan.
I want to ask you about what China knew, because you and I spoke over the weekend, this weekend. And I asked you, do you think it's deliberate?
You said, you don't have any evidence right now, but it should be investigated, but we do know what China did once they knew how severe this coronavirus be.
Tell us what you think China did.
COTTON: So, Maria, I want to distinguish between the origins of the virus and China's reactions to the virus.
So, right now, as you say, the most plausible explanation, supported by literally all of the circumstantial evidence, is that the virus originated in one of those two laboratories in Wuhan.
All the way back in January, it was pretty well-documented by Chinese scientists that it didn't originate in the food market. But wherever it originated, Maria, we know that the Chinese Communist Party was both criminally negligent and incompetent at first, and then deliberately, deliberately malevolent in the way they responded to this virus, for their own people and the world.
As early as the second week of December, it was clear that this virus was spreading from person to person. By late December, it was spreading to doctors in Wuhan hospitals. Some doctors were trying to blow the whistle on these facts, and the secret police arrived at their doorsteps in the middle of the night.
So only after China fessed up to the WHO on December 31 did the world know what was happening. Yet, still they continued to deny that it was spreading from person to person into mid-January. That allowed millions of people to leave Wuhan.
And then, finally, China continued to pressure the WHO and other countries not to stop international travel from China. That meant that hundreds of thousands of persons left China after this virus was spread far outside of Wuhan, which allowed the virus to escape China's borders and get to the United States and get to Europe and get to essentially every country in the world.
I believe that was a deliberate and conscious choice by the Chinese communist leadership, because they didn't want to see their relative power and standing in the world decline because this virus was contained within China.
BARTIROMO: So, a deliberate move because they expected this virus to cause economic contraction in China.
Tell me what they expected in China and what they didn't want to see from the -- they didn't want to happen with the rest of the world being fine.
COTTON: So, Maria, again, it was obvious by mid-December to Chinese authorities that this virus was highly contagious and very deadly.
They also knew that, once this virus began to spread outside of Wuhan, it would wreak economic havoc throughout China. And, in fact, China had the first contraction in the first quarter of this year since the cultural revolution ended in the 1970s.
I believe the Chinese communist leaders, when they were aware of those facts by mid-January, made the conscious decision not to explain to the world that it was transmissible between humans, not to shut down travel, not to ask for American or other kind of international scientific help, but to allow this virus to escape their borders, because if they were going to suffer an economic contraction, they were not going to allow the world to continue to prosper, and China be the only country whose economy was declining.
They might see an absolute decline in their economy, but they refused to see a relative decline, especially relative to the United States.
BARTIROMO: In other words, they didn't want to see the Chinese economy contract 20 percent, with the rest of the world contracting 2 percent?
COTTON: That's exactly right.
I mean, it was inevitable that we would have economic impacts all around the world, because so much of the world has outsourced manufacturing productive capacity to China. So it was inevitable, if China's economy was declining, that it would have effects all around the world.
But what wasn't inevitable was that we would loss 26 million jobs in America in a month. If China had been up front about this virus from the very beginning, some studies suggest that they could have reduced the number of cases in China itself by 65 to even 90 percent.
Imagine what that would have done for the spread of the virus, not only in China but, more importantly for us, all around the world. But once they knew that it was spreading all around China, they were not going to take the responsible action of bringing in international scientists and shutting down international air travel.
Rather, they were going to let the virus escape their borders, so the rest of the world would suffer along with China.
BARTIROMO: So, one of the issues that we have spoken about in the past is this intellectual property theft that has been going on for decades.
China, the Chinese Communist Party, continues to steal intellectual property. You believe that they are stealing intellectual property right now, as we speak.
Let's talk a bit about that, because the whole world is looking for a vaccine. And I wonder, is China trying now to come out of this trying to save face, look better than the rest of the world, while coming up with a vaccine before the United States?
What's happening right now with regards to that kind of science?
COTTON: Well, Maria, the Chinese Communist Party has been stealing America's intellectual property for decades. And they aren't going to magically stop in the middle of a pandemic.
In almost every state in the union, there are active cases against Chinese nationals. In Arkansas, for instance, they are accused of having stolen proprietary genomes of our farmers in East Arkansas.
But in the middle of a pandemic, what's the most valuable intellectual property in the world? It's the research that our great laboratories and life science companies are doing on prophylactic drugs, therapeutic drugs, and ultimately a vaccine.
So I have little doubt that the Chinese intelligence services are actively trying to steal America's intellectual property as it relates to the virus that they unleashed on the world, because, of course, they want to be the country that claims credit for finding those drugs or finding a vaccine, and then use it as leverage against the rest of the world.
BARTIROMO: So, I want to ask you about your three pieces of legislation that you have already put out to keep China accountable. I'm going to get to that in a moment.
But just what you just said, that is why you believe we shouldn't be giving visas to Chinese students who want to study advanced sciences. They want to get into the Gilead Sciences and the Googles of the world to steal that research; is that right?
COTTON: Yes, Maria, it's a scandal to me that we have trained so many of the Chinese Communist Party's brightest minds to go back to China to compete for our jobs, to take our business, and ultimately to steal our property and design weapons and other devices that can be used against the American people.
So, I think we need to take a very hard look at the visas that we give the Chinese nationals to come to the United States to study, especially at the post-graduate level in advanced scientific and technological fields.
If Chinese students want to come here and study Shakespeare and the Federalist Papers, that's what they need to learn from America. They don't need to learn quantum computing and artificial intelligence from America.
BARTIROMO: Well, they're certainly making sure that anybody in China is learning the culture of China. You make a good point. Let's make sure people understand the culture of America.
So, you have introduced three pieces of legislation. And you think bringing pharmaceutical manufacturing back to America is critical.
You also think military spending and the measures there are going to actually keep them accountable as well.
Real quick, tell me about those pieces of legislation.
COTTON: So, I think most Americans are shocked to learn that so many of our basic drugs are made in China.
We need to stop that. We need to bring it back to the United States and get it out of China. So, we would give incentives to companies to build new plants here, create more jobs here, so we are not dependent on China in a pandemic or even in any kind of health concerns.
Second, China is continuing, even now, to take aggressive action throughout the region to break its commitments.
It's cracking down on Hong Kong, in violations of its commitment to Great Britain when Great Britain returned Hong Kong. It's taking aggressive action in the South China Sea. We need to invest more in our defense industrial base to offset some of the losses we're going to see because of this virus.
We need more ships, we need more submarines, we need more bombers, we need more fighters, the exact kind of systems that will deter China from aggressive action against the United States and our interests in the Western Pacific and ultimately all around the globe.
BARTIROMO: And, by the way, right now, they are also capitalizing on the problems we're having in this country on meat. A couple of meat processing plants have been taken offline. They're buying all the meat at discounted prices.
That's going to be a problem for the U.S. come next couple of weeks. We're going to see a skyrocketing price of meat, right?
COTTON: Yes, we have a lot of our biggest processing plants that are going offline. Unfortunately, that may hit supplies in grocery stores in the weeks ahead.
At the meantime, China is buying a lot of cut-rate protein from the United States, just another example of the way they are trying to take advantage of this crisis. They are not resting on their laurels.
BARTIROMO: All right.
COTTON: They're not breathing a sigh of relief. They are trying to advance their interests and ambitions all around the world.
BARTIROMO: All right, we will leave it there.
Senator, do you think they are going to keep their promise to buy the $250 billion of stuff that they promised President Trump in that phase one trade deal?
COTTON: Let me just say, Maria, I'm skeptical of any promises made by any communists. And the Chinese communists don't have a very good record of keeping their promises.
And they may not even have the resources to begin with, because, remember, even though the rest of the world is taking a big economic hit, China is taking it as well.
So, I would fall back here to Ronald Reagan's maxim of trust, but verify.