With the Wuhan Coronavirus (COVID-19) causing panic in the rest of the world. I began to notice multiple articles praising China’s response to the virus. With the virus under relative control, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has shifted its attention from containment to rehabilitating its public image. One of the most complicit in this effort is the World Health Organization (WHO).
On March 12, 2020, the WHO declared that the Wuhan Coronavirus outbreak has become a pandemic. For those of us living in east Asia, the severity of the virus has been well known. Unfortunately, the belated pandemic declaration by WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has resulted in over 100,000 reported cases.
Much of the blame can be linked to the WHO’s reluctance to declare the Wuhan Coronavirus as a global emergency back in January. As new cases began to appear in countries besides China, Tedros said, “At this time, there is no evidence of human-to-human transmission outside China.” A week after the virus spread to several other countries, he declared the virus a global health emergency.
In an interview with Vox, the WHO’s assistant director general, Bruce Aylward, praises and defends China’s response to the virus. He goes on to say, “China’s bold approach to contain the rapid spread of this new respiratory pathogen has changed the course of a rapidly escalating and deadly epidemic.”
This is in spite of that same government, sending security forces to the house of Li Wenliang, an ophthalmologist based in Wuhan, who was trying to warn fellow doctors about a mysterious new disease appearing in his hospital in late December. After several negative tests, Li Wenliang tested positive for the virus on January 30 and passed away on February 6.
Li is not the only medical professional to die from China’s politically delayed response. With over 3,387 health workers in China infected with the Wuhan Coronavirus, Ai Fen, a doctor at the Wuhan Central Hospital, spoke out after watching several of her colleagues die from the virus.
In a case similar to Li Wenliang, Ai Fen received a report from a patient warning about a virus similar to SARS. She sent a photo of the report to one of her colleagues. As the photo began to disseminate around the Wuhan medical community, she was summoned by the hospital’s disciplinary inspection committee and reprimanded for “spreading rumors” and “harming stability.” The disciplinary committee forbid her from spreading messages or images related to the virus.
All Ai Fen could do was ask her staff to wear protective clothing and masks, even though hospital authorities told them not to. In spite of this, the WHO’s COVID 19 report praised China’s governors and mayors for sending thousands of healthcare workers and supplies to Hubei Province and Wuhan City.
While the WHO continues to coddle and praise the CCP, Beijing has turned its attention to whitewash its role in the spread of the Wuhan Corona Virus both inside and outside of China.
Besides the active censorship and harassment of whistle-blowers and citizen journalists in China, the Central Committee Publicity Department, formerly known as the Propaganda Department, published a book titled, A Battle Against Epidemic: China Combating Covid-19 in 2020. The book aims to recount the heroic leadership of President Xi Jinping, the vital role of the Communist Party, and the superiority of the Chinese system in fighting the virus. The book was met with scorn on Chinese social media and was subsequently removed from the publisher’s website.
On March 10, Xi Jinping visited the city of Wuhan for the first time since the Wuhan Coronavirus outbreak. In order to prepare the city for Xi’s visit, the city’s newly appointed CCP chief, Wang Zhonglin, called for a “gratitude education campaign,” where Wuhan citizens would express their thanks to Xi and the party for tackling the virus. The suggestion was met with harsh online criticism, Chinese netizens were quoted saying, “People are dying every day,” and “Food prices are continuing to rise.”
Outside of China, Beijing has engaged in a coordinated campaign with its embassies to accuse other countries of being the source of the virus. According to a recently released document, the CCP is encouraging its embassies to refer to the Wuhan Coronavirus as the “Italian Virus” or “Japanese Virus.”
China’s Ambassador to South Africa tweeted, “Although the epidemic first broke out in China, it did not necessarily mean that the virus originated from China, let alone ‘made in China.”
According to Zhao Lijian, US military athletes are one potential source of the virus in China. The spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, tweeted, “it might be the US army” that brought the Wuhan Coronavirus to China.
Italy, the hardest-hit country outside of China, exposed another Chinese spokesperson for lying about Italians chanting “Grazie, Cina!” in Rome while playing the Chinese national anthem.
In Peru, the Chinese embassy in Lima blasted Nobel laureate, Vargas Llosa, for his comments about the virus. Llosa criticized China’s political system, saying, if it weren’t for China’s undemocratic political system, this pandemic wouldn’t be happening. China’s embassy in Lima chastised Llosa for his “irresponsible” comments he made with regards to China and the Wuhan Coronavirus outbreak.
Beijing should be held accountable for its failure to respond in a timely and transparent manner. Had it listened to the early first reports, China could have prevented 95 percent of Wuhan Coronavirus infections. Instead, the rest of the world has been seized by a crisis that could have been prevented.