In his final book Beyond Peace, Richard Nixon wrote about his last conversation with Mao Zedong, which was in Beijing on February 27, 1976.1
Mao asked President Nixon, "Is peace your only goal?" Nixon replied, "We should seek a peace with justice."2
With over 100,000 Americans dead from COVID-19, and millions of others who have lost their jobs, the only peace with justice is to end these wet markets.
The communist regime will likely resist this idea for the same reason they lied about COVID-19 in the first place. Any disaster in a communist country is seen as a threat to the legitimacy of the regime. This why the Soviets initially lied about Chernobyl in 1986 and why the Chinese lied about the coronavirus in 2019 and 2020.
The Chinese government sacrificed thousands of their citizens to preserve their communist system. If the Chinese government does not close the wet markets, the Chinese people will have a popular issue to begin their own colored revolution.
For all the talk of a potential Thucydides's Trap between the ruling power (America) and the rising power (China), we need to facilitate another Thucydides Trap between the ruling Chinese communist party and the Chinese people if they do not end the wet markets.
Nixon's opening to China could provide a useful blueprint. Nixon exploited the Sino-Soviet split, and forced both Moscow and Beijing to improve relations with Washington.
In his book The Rise and Fall of Great Powers, historian Paul Kennedy wrote that in 1967 there were only 15 Soviet divisions deployed on the 4,500-mile Sino-Soviet border. By 1972, the Soviet Union had 44 divisions deployed on their border with China and only 31 divisions in Eastern Europe.3
There are many Chinese dissidents today who want their freedom. In addition, we can win the public debate with the rest of the Chinese people by pointing out that the wet markets are a threat to everyone else.
This crisis also exposed how our medical supply chain is dependent on the Chinese. According to the Congressional Research Service, in 2019, 35% of America's imports in antibiotics, 30% of personal protective equipment (PPE), and 8.6% of medical devices came from China.
We need to bring back our medical supply chains and other manufacturing supply chains to the United States. This could give Chinese dissidents the political argument to push for political reforms as well as ending the wet markets.
China's strategy to dominate our medical supply chain was no accident. We have seen this communist strategy before. In his book, The Real War (1980), President Nixon described how the Soviets established client states to disrupt supply chains critical to the United States.
In 1973, Leonid Brezhnev told then Somalian President Siad Barre, "Our aim is to gain control of the two great treasure houses on which the West depends — the energy treasure house of the Persian Gulf and the mineral treasure house of the central and southern Africa."4
When Ethiopia fell to communism in 1974, the Soviets were eager to use Ethiopia's strategic location as a base of operations against the Saudi monarchy. With the communists also in power in South Yemen, Nixon believed Soviet expansion in Africa posed a direct threat to Saudi Arabia.5
When the communists took over Mozambique in 1978, East German agents trained guerillas to infiltrate what is today Zimbabwe. When Angola was taken over by the communists in 1975, guerilla forces were being trained to go into Namibia.6 Nixon wrote, "Zairean copper and cobalt, Rhodesian chrome, South African gold, diamonds, manganese, and platinum metals — these are among the economic stakes the Soviets are playing for in southern Africa."7
Today, the economic stakes with the Chinese are just as great: artificial intelligence, quantum computing, rare earth minerals, pharmaceutical production, telecommunications, and manufacturing to name a few.
There is currently only one American-owned plasma company: ADMA Biologics. According to its website, this Florida-based company "develops and commercializes plasma-derived products for the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases in the immune compromised and other patients at risk for infection."
If we are going to reverse this trend, any bill in Congress should demand that no contracts from the Department of Health and Human Services (BARDA contracts), and other government agencies, should be awarded to foreign companies.
While contracts should be awarded to American companies, we should remember that the solution to securing our medical supply chain comes from our robust private sector.
For example, Aldevron is the leading manufacturer in plasmid DNA used in gene therapies. This company was founded in 1998 by two students, Michael Chambers and John Ballantyne, who met at North Dakota State University. By the time EQT, a private equity company, acquired Aldevron in 2019, the company had approximately 500 employees.
As long as Aldevron's story is more likely in America than China, we can secure our medical supply chain. As long as the wet markets exist, we must fight with the Chinese people for a "peace with justice" against the Chinese communists.
Robert Zapesochny is a researcher and writer whose work focuses on foreign affairs, national security and presidential history. His work has appeared in a range of publications, including The American Spectator, the Washington Times, and The American Conservative. For several years Robert worked closely with Peter Hannaford, a senior aide to Ronald Reagan, as the primary researcher on four books and numerous columns. Robert has also worked on multiple presidential, national and statewide campaigns, including as a field office staffer for the Bush-Cheney campaign. Due to his own Russian-Jewish heritage, Robert has a keen interest in the history of U.S.-Soviet relations. In 2017 he was the co-organizer of an effort that erected commemorative statue of Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev in Moscow. Robert graduated with a major in Political Science from the University at Buffalo, and received his Master's in Public Administration, with a focus in healthcare, from the State University of New York College at Brockport. When he's not writing, Robert works for a medical research company in Rochester, New York. Read Robert Zapeochny's Reports — More Here.
1. Richard Nixon, Beyond Peace, p. 3.
2. Nixon, Beyond Peace, p. 4.
3. Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of Great Powers, (New York: Vintage Books, 1989), pp. 398-399
4. Richard Nixon, The Real War, p. 23.
5. Nixon, The Real War, pp. 25-27.
6. Nixon, The Real War, p. 29.
7. Nixon, The Real War, p. 31.
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