An American journalist is urging the world to put China on lockdown for its unacceptable behavior amid the coronavirus pandemic. Glenn Harlan Reynolds, opinion columnist of USA Today, described China’s response to the outbreak as “utterly inconsiderate of the world,” something that displays China’s “trademark mixture of dishonesty, incompetence and thuggery.”

Since the coronavirus outbreak started in Wuhan, China in early January, the disease has swept across the globe, leading to deaths and economic devastation worldwide. According to Reynolds, this could not have been the case had China been “more civilized” and “honest” about the crisis from the very beginning.

In as early as December, a Chinese doctor named Li Wenliang warned his fellow physicians about a possible outbreak of an illness resembling what was known before as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). His statement spread like wildfire across social media, but the Chinese police was just as quick in silencing Wenliang. Even media reports of the disease were censored by the Chinese government, deliberately deceiving the world and giving other nations a false sense of security. Following Dr. Wenliang’s death, the phrase “We want freedom of speech” trended on Chinese social media but posts related to it strangely disappeared just after a few hours.  

It was only weeks after the outbreak that the Chinese government acknowledged the extent of the outbreak in Wuhan. Quoting civil society leader Marion Smith, Reynolds wrote, “Beijing denied until Jan. 20 that human to human transmission was occurring. Yet at the same time, Chinese officials and state-owned companies were urgently acquiring bulk medical supplies—especially personal protective equipment like masks and gloves—from Australia, Europe, and around the world.”

According to Reynolds, Beijing deliberately amassed the world’s life-saving resources while claiming that everything was under control in China. Despite the rampant spread of the virus in Wuhan, the Chinese government still refused to halt flights abroad and allowed its citizens to spread the virus around the globe.

Considering China’s poor handling of the pandemic, Reynolds said the global community should teach the Chinese government a lesson, even if that means sharply reducing economic relations with the communist country. “In particular, no one should be relying on them for medicines, medical equipment and other vital goods. Chinese scientists should no longer have easy access to Western laboratories or universities. Chinese political leaders should no longer find it easy to travel the world,” wrote Reynolds.

Reynolds is also urging the Congress to pass legislation stripping China of its sovereign immunity to lawsuits for the damages it has done to the U.S. amid the COVID-19 crisis. He also said China should be stripped of its leadership roles in international organizations, including the World Health Organization.

Reynolds said that while these are harsh penalties, China deserves them. “An example needs to be made. The world is a small and interconnected place now. Those who would profit from globalization, as the Chinese ruling class has, need to show good global citizenship. Now is the time to make that lesson stick,” he wrote.

China Coronavirus COVID-19 An elderly woman arrives in an ambulance to Wuhan Red Cross Hospital after being transferred from another hospital after recovering from the COVID-19 coronavirus in Wuhan on March 30, 2020. HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images