The source of the virus, Western public opinion and governments, began to follow the Trump team’s characterization, claiming that the evidence clearly pointed to the Wuhan lab, and there were calls for reparations.
But for three hundred years, any major disaster in the world, state-to-state and government-to-government reparations, must be followed by a war. There is absolutely no unilateral demand for reparations without a war, and on the other hand, meekly sending money.
In 1815, after Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo, he signed the Peace Treaty of Paris. France paid 700 million francs to the European countries, including the cost of repairing the damage caused by artillery fire in the castles. In terms of the average value of the country’s population, this was the highest amount of compensation ever offered by a country responsible for war.
In 1840, the war between the British and the Qing dynasty, which started with the opium trade, the Qing dynasty was defeated and compensated 14 million taels of silver.
In the Franco-Prussian War of 1871, France was defeated and paid five billion gold francs to Prussia, which, in terms of average population, was the same amount as the reparations plus inflation that Napoleon demanded of Prussia after his conquest of the country in 1807, to be repaid in five years.
In the twentieth century, Germany was defeated in World War I. The Versailles Peace Treaty required Germany to pay 130 billion gold marks in reparations to the Allied Powers. Fifteen years later, Germany was already insolvent and in serious national debt, and the European countries were cancelled. It was not known that less than a year later, Hitler came to power and took the national debt under the Versailles Peace Treaty as a national disgrace, inciting national hatred, actively preparing for war, and soon invaded Poland by lightning, setting off the prelude to the World War.
Sometimes the amount of reparations was so huge that a country could not pay it back, and the victorious country could ask for a cession of land instead, or an army to be stationed in the country as an offset. After Napoleon’s defeat, Prussian Germany remained in France for sixty years. The famous territories of Alsace and Lorraine were ceded to the new German Empire after the defeat of France. After the end of World War I, they became French territory again in 1919 by the Treaty of Versailles. Nazi Germany “resumed sovereignty” over these two territories in 1940, and they reverted to French possession in 1945. So many of the inhabitants of Alsace and Lorraine are, to this day, amusingly confused as to whether they are French or German.
Looking at the past and the present, even if the United States and the West had conclusive evidence to demand reparations from China, it would never be possible without a major war. How that war would take shape and how long it would take to hold is another question. If China wins, it will be the United States and Europe that will provide reparations, and in the future the history books of all mankind will record that the new coronavirus originated in the United States and was blamed on innocent China. But if the U.S. wins, reparations will go beyond Trump’s proposed $10 trillion and will inevitably increase depending on the damage caused by the war.
This is what Chinese people around the world, including those living in Western countries, should be aware of. This is a big issue, not a small one. Historians look at the big picture, the long term, and do not get emotionally involved in anything, but only cite facts and use rational predictions. A few years ago I already said that a world war would be difficult to avoid, and you thought it was a pipe dream then? Now, it seems that a small number of Chinese people in the United States have been attacked by the so-called racists, but it is insignificant. The key is how to ensure your survival if a world war occurs in the future.