Undermining the Case Against China

There is a deliberate attempt on the part of many in the mainstream media, and within the Democrat party, to confuse evidentiary concepts when it comes to tying the Chinese Communist regime to the worldwide coronavirus pandemic.  This commonly takes the form of denial that there’s “evidence” the virus spread from a Wuhan China lab.  While to date there is has been no production of direct physical evidence tying the lab to the virus, there is abundant circumstantial evidence to this effect.  And circumstantial evidence is perfectly good evidence.

Legally there are two broad categories of evidence, direct and circumstantial.  Examples of direct evidence are eyewitnesses, fingerprints, photographs, DNA, etc.  Circumstantial evidence is inferential and ties its target to a crime or civil wrong.  Obviously, having direct evidence of wrongdoing is preferable, and juries (particularly modern ones) expect it.

However, direct evidence is not always available, and is less likely to be available the more sophisticated and resourceful the wrongdoer.  Were courts forced to rely solely upon direct evidence that would be a boon to capable malefactors, and to the extent modern juries sometimes unreasonably expect such evidence, this sometimes proves true.  It would be hard, if not impossible, to hold organized crime gangs or corrupt corporations accountable if courts could not rely heavily or even exclusively upon circumstantial evidence.  RICO cases, which pursue such defendants, effectively rely on circumstantial evidence to help demonstrate improper patterns of conduct.

That’s true with nations as well, particularly autocratic ones like China, where the regime has almost total control over the country.  There is nothing that can stop the Chinese regime from hiding or destroying evidence of the origins of the Wuhan virus.  Indeed, part of the circumstantial case against China is that this is exactly what they’ve done, as whistleblowing doctors have mysteriously disappeared or died

In civil law there is a concept called res ipsa loquitur.  It means “the thing speaks for itself.”  Res ipsa’s applicable when a claimant cannot obtain direct evidence of wrongdoing because the defendant has exclusive control over the means and evidence of the harm.  This concept is so well ingrained within the civil law, that it eventually morphed into the concept of “strict liability” wherein certain businesses -- pharmaceuticals are a primary example -- are held liable for mistakes on the legal assumption of negligent wrongdoing within their offices or labs. 

It’s not the purpose of this piece to prove the circumstantial case against China.  There is overwhelming evidence of the link between the Wuhan lab and the outbreak, summarized very well more than a month ago in National Review.  Bolstering the case are State Department cables from 2018 that expressed alarm regarding research at the Wuhan lab on coronaviruses and lax protective measures.  Add to that the Chinese government’s numerous attempts to dissemble and hide information -- evidence in any court of a guilty state of mind -- and you have a compelling case, even without direct physical evidence.

The mainstream media repeatedly attempts to obfuscate this by claiming there is no “evidence” of Chinese wrongdoing when they only mean direct evidence.  Take a 5/1/20 headline from the print edition of the Washington Post: “No evidence that deadly virus escaped Wuhan research lab” with online version much the same.  Of course, that’s simply not true, ironically contradicting the Post’s own original reporting regarding the State Department cables.  The evidence is circumstantial, not direct, but so what?  It’s valid and compelling evidence and should be reported that way.  And applying the res ipsa concept quite enough to prove the case. 

The left is all for circumstantial evidence when it suits their objectives.  The “collusion” case against Trump was entirely made up of a circumstance -- that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, and some Trump officials and advisors had contact with Russians.   That was very weak evidence, yet it led to Trump’s impeachment.  Similarly, with absolutely no context or collaboration of Christine Blasey Ford’s claims against Brett Kavanaugh opponents of the nomination trumpeted extremely weak circumstantial evidence -- really innuendo -- to tie Kavanaugh to the allegation.  That a youthful Kavanaugh was fond of beer and occasionally partied was enough evidence (entirely circumstantial) to tie him to Ford’s claims according to the media and Democrats.

The case against China is profoundly stronger than either of the two examples above.  It appears that the Trump administration is intent on making it, perhaps not in international court (which some Republicans have called for) but publicly in some way.  Trump has wisely rejected calls to cancel Chinese debt, but has raised the prospect of increasing tariffs to cover part of the cost of the epidemic to the U.S.   An informal and transparent “white paper” effectively indicting China, prepared by honest and capable U.S. officials, based if need be entirely on probative and compelling circumstantial evidence, could justify such action. 

There is a deliberate attempt on the part of many in the mainstream media, and within the Democrat party, to confuse evidentiary concepts when it comes to tying the Chinese Communist regime to the worldwide coronavirus pandemic.  This commonly takes the form of denial that there’s “evidence” the virus spread from a Wuhan China lab.  While to date there is has been no production of direct physical evidence tying the lab to the virus, there is abundant circumstantial evidence to this effect.  And circumstantial evidence is perfectly good evidence.

Legally there are two broad categories of evidence, direct and circumstantial.  Examples of direct evidence are eyewitnesses, fingerprints, photographs, DNA, etc.  Circumstantial evidence is inferential and ties its target to a crime or civil wrong.  Obviously, having direct evidence of wrongdoing is preferable, and juries (particularly modern ones) expect it.

However, direct evidence is not always available, and is less likely to be available the more sophisticated and resourceful the wrongdoer.  Were courts forced to rely solely upon direct evidence that would be a boon to capable malefactors, and to the extent modern juries sometimes unreasonably expect such evidence, this sometimes proves true.  It would be hard, if not impossible, to hold organized crime gangs or corrupt corporations accountable if courts could not rely heavily or even exclusively upon circumstantial evidence.  RICO cases, which pursue such defendants, effectively rely on circumstantial evidence to help demonstrate improper patterns of conduct.

That’s true with nations as well, particularly autocratic ones like China, where the regime has almost total control over the country.  There is nothing that can stop the Chinese regime from hiding or destroying evidence of the origins of the Wuhan virus.  Indeed, part of the circumstantial case against China is that this is exactly what they’ve done, as whistleblowing doctors have mysteriously disappeared or died

In civil law there is a concept called res ipsa loquitur.  It means “the thing speaks for itself.”  Res ipsa’s applicable when a claimant cannot obtain direct evidence of wrongdoing because the defendant has exclusive control over the means and evidence of the harm.  This concept is so well ingrained within the civil law, that it eventually morphed into the concept of “strict liability” wherein certain businesses -- pharmaceuticals are a primary example -- are held liable for mistakes on the legal assumption of negligent wrongdoing within their offices or labs. 

It’s not the purpose of this piece to prove the circumstantial case against China.  There is overwhelming evidence of the link between the Wuhan lab and the outbreak, summarized very well more than a month ago in National Review.  Bolstering the case are State Department cables from 2018 that expressed alarm regarding research at the Wuhan lab on coronaviruses and lax protective measures.  Add to that the Chinese government’s numerous attempts to dissemble and hide information -- evidence in any court of a guilty state of mind -- and you have a compelling case, even without direct physical evidence.

The mainstream media repeatedly attempts to obfuscate this by claiming there is no “evidence” of Chinese wrongdoing when they only mean direct evidence.  Take a 5/1/20 headline from the print edition of the Washington Post: “No evidence that deadly virus escaped Wuhan research lab” with online version much the same.  Of course, that’s simply not true, ironically contradicting the Post’s own original reporting regarding the State Department cables.  The evidence is circumstantial, not direct, but so what?  It’s valid and compelling evidence and should be reported that way.  And applying the res ipsa concept quite enough to prove the case. 

The left is all for circumstantial evidence when it suits their objectives.  The “collusion” case against Trump was entirely made up of a circumstance -- that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, and some Trump officials and advisors had contact with Russians.   That was very weak evidence, yet it led to Trump’s impeachment.  Similarly, with absolutely no context or collaboration of Christine Blasey Ford’s claims against Brett Kavanaugh opponents of the nomination trumpeted extremely weak circumstantial evidence -- really innuendo -- to tie Kavanaugh to the allegation.  That a youthful Kavanaugh was fond of beer and occasionally partied was enough evidence (entirely circumstantial) to tie him to Ford’s claims according to the media and Democrats.

The case against China is profoundly stronger than either of the two examples above.  It appears that the Trump administration is intent on making it, perhaps not in international court (which some Republicans have called for) but publicly in some way.  Trump has wisely rejected calls to cancel Chinese debt, but has raised the prospect of increasing tariffs to cover part of the cost of the epidemic to the U.S.   An informal and transparent “white paper” effectively indicting China, prepared by honest and capable U.S. officials, based if need be entirely on probative and compelling circumstantial evidence, could justify such action.