When disaster strikes, Varney said, U.S. government officials are expected to rise to the occasion — the same goes for China.
“[Xi] holds all the power in China and with it comes all the responsibility,” he said.
According to Varney, the spread of the deadly coronavirus could be a threat to China's power since the outbreak follows after unrest in Taiwan and Hong Kong and handling “key issues” with President Trump.
“And now a dangerous virus appears, just as hundreds of millions of people want to move around the country for the golden week holidays,” Varney said. “He has to contain it and he can't cover it up.”
Varney said the SARS outbreak in China during the early 2000s was “downplayed” by Chinese leadership which led to 800 fatalities. But now, Xi seems to be taking “drastic action” by quarantining 35 million people.
Even though Xi is taking action immediately, Varney said hold up for infection screening is a risk for the economy.
“When travel is interrupted on a mass scale, your economy slows,” he said. “And the one thing China's leadership can't afford is a big economic setback.”
According to Varney, a possible recession would “upset” Xi's deal.
“He keeps absolute power so long as the people keep getting richer,” he said. “The virus is a real threat.”
The U.S. and China’s relationship has shifted drastically since China, not so long ago, was threatening America’s “status” as the world’s largest power, Varney said.
“Now, Beijing is on the back foot,” he said. “If Xi fails to get a grip on this virus, he's in deep trouble. Total power is brittle. One big failure and it breaks."