The deadly coronavirus is, in a dark way, proving President Donald Trump right about at least one thing.
The new pandemic is exposing America’s dangerous dependence on China for medical supplies and other goods — an imbalance that Trump warned about when campaigning for president in 2016. Now, the White House is making plans to curtail U.S. reliance on Chinese goods with an executive order, The New York Times reports.
While deadly in its own right, the novel coronavirus has brought a complex, international system of travel and finance practically to a halt. All around the world, empty airports, city streets, and bare store shelves are a grim testament to the disruption of the world economy and daily life.
For some astute critics, the coronavirus practically confirms Trump’s “America First” campaign agenda, which centers on restoring America’s sovereignty on the world stage and rectifying trade imbalances with China. Now, the Trump administration is preparing an executive order to encourage the manufacture of medical and pharmaceutical supplies right here in the U.S., the Times reports.
The order, which is being pushed by trade adviser Pete Navarro, would close loopholes that let the government buy those supplies from foreign nations.
“China has managed to dominate all aspects of the supply chain using the same unfair trade practices that it has used to dominate other sectors — cheap sweatshop labor, lax environmental regulations, and massive government subsidies,” Navarro told the Times. “As President Trump has said, what we need to do is bring those jobs home so that we can protect the public health and the economic and national security of the country.”
China makes some 90% of all antibiotics that the U.S. uses, according to the Daily Caller. The last American factory to make significant ingredients for penicillin closed in 2004, the Times reported.
China is well-aware of its leverage — and it’s not hesitating to flex. According to the Times, an article in the communist nation’s state media last week carried a clear warning: if China turned off its spigot of drugs, “the United States would sink into the hell of a novel coronavirus epidemic.”
Still, the executive order is just one piece of a fluid and aggressive response to COVID-19 by the Trump administration as it races to get control of the evolving public health crisis. In a sobering address to Americans on Wednesday evening, Trump announced a 30-day travel ban to and from Europe and declared policies, including payroll tax relief and low-interest loans for small businesses, to help Americans get through the crisis.
But the president’s stimulus package, like much else about the administration’s response, remains up in the air. The stock markets swung up and down this week amid lingering uncertainty.
The restrictions come as experts have warned that Europe is the new hotspot for the disease. Italy is the second hardest-hit country in the world, with more than 1,000 deaths and over 15,000 infections, according to the BBC. Meanwhile, there are now over 1,200 cases of COVID-19 in the United States and at least 36 deaths, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports.
As the president restricts travel to Europe, some have bashed him for calling the virus a “foreign” pathogen and blaming Europe for failing to contain the spread, while the European Union has complained about Trump’s “unilateral” restrictions.
But such “woke” nonsense isn’t what America or the world needs right now. It’s time to put America First.