The world has been gripped with the deadly coronavirus which will likely have grave economic consequences as countries scramble to contain the spread of COVID-19. The virus has spread to almost every continent and it has proved to be extremely difficult to contain. Amid all this, the origin of the virus needs to be tracked down at the earliest.
While all the evidence points to the epicentre of the outbreak, Wuhan, which where the virus is widely believed to have originated, the Chinese government has come out and denied that the origin of the virus is in China in a bid to shed responsibility. The Chinese government instead has decided to pin the blame on the USA.
— Spokesperson发言人办公室 (@MFA_China) March 4, 2020
Let there be no mistake, it was the Chinese government’s initial denial of the virus’s existence coupled with its lethargic handling which has resulted in the virus becoming a global pandemic. The Xi Jinping government ignored the warning signs and allowed the Lunar New Year celebrations to take place.
The airborne virus has virtually spread across the entire country as during the Lunar New Year celebrations on January 25, mass-scale travels took place in China after which Coronavirus has been spread to nearly every part of the country and also Hong Kong where Chinese patients were being taken to receive free and better healthcare until the Hong Kong leadership was pressurised to close the border. The virus has been the most fatal in the eastern part of the country which constitutes some of the most densely populated cities in the world.
China being the authoritarian state that it is, underreported the numbers which caused a huge public outcry in China which was only compounded by the fiasco over Dr Wenliang’s death.
Li Wenliang who was one of the first whistleblowers who tried to warn about the Coronavirus sadly succumbed to the virus after treating the patients of the virus.
His voice was muzzled by the Chinese authorities and as China erupted in grief and anger, the state-run media squarely pinned the blame on local authorities. When Wenliang on December 30, sent a message to fellow doctors in a chat group warning them to wear protective clothing to avoid infection, four days later he was summoned to the Public Security Bureau where he was told to sign a letter. In the letter, he was accused of “making false comments” that had “severely disturbed the social order”. He was one of eight people who police said were being investigated for “spreading rumours”.
In his Weibo post he describes how on 10 January he started coughing, the next day he had a fever and two days later he was in the hospital. He was diagnosed with the Coronavirus on 30 January.
Despite the full-blown epidemic, the Chinese leaders are more worried about the optics and are working overtime to muzzle every dissenting voice. Chinese Human Rights Defenders, a nonprofit organization with extensive contacts in China, has already tracked more than 300 cases of internet users who were penalized for sharing unofficial information on social media.
When it finally accepted the existence of the virus, the Chinese government was woefully underprepared to tackle the virus and their ego prevented them from asking for help. It is no wonder that they resorted to bizarre measures.
The province of Hubei, where the impact of the virus is the most severe, has switched off lifts in high-rise buildings to discourage residents from going outside while Beijing has banned group dining for events such as birthdays and weddings while cities such as Hangzhou and Nanchang are limiting how many family members can leave home each day. Such measures are unlikely to contain the virus.
While coronavirus continued to be China’s headache for a couple of months, now it has spread to over 83 countries with palpable anger against the Chinese government. The eyeball hungry and the forever image-conscious Communist Party instead of tackling the virus is investing all its resources to somehow pin the blame of the virus on the USA.
The Chinese government machinery is now working overtime to deflect the blame. As if living in a parallel world, the Chinese government has patted itself on the back and published a self-praising book titled: “A Battle Against Epidemic: China Combating COVID-19 in 2020”. Unsurprisingly, the book positions XI Jinping as a superhero who saved the world and how the Communist Party played a vital role in ‘containing’ the virus.
The Chinese are looking to up their propaganda game as the book is all set to be translated into English, French, Spanish, Russian and Arabic in a bid to hoodwink the world.
The virus has already caused irreparable damage to the Chinese government’s reputation with the economic damage of the virus is likely to be more serious with Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative on the line.
Thus, the Chinese authorities instead of taking up responsibility are trying to pin the blame on the USA and wash their hands off the virus. From initially blaming the USA for overreacting on the virus to now claiming that the virus originated in the USA, the Chinese propaganda machinery has come a full circle.
The Chinese propaganda machinery is currently claiming that it was the US Military that brought the virus to Wuhan during the Wuhan Military games — a claim which is devoid of any proof.
At a time when the world is arguably facing the biggest health crisis since the turn of the century, the World Health Organisation has found to be of no use as it has been reduced to be an extension of the Chinese propaganda machinery.
The WHO also downplayed the virus in its initial stages and till date refuses to blame the Chinese government for its failures. It has now become a willing participant to push the Chinese narrative as it recently published a 40-page report on how well the Chinese government is tacking the virus.
While the Communist government has imposed a lockdown on Wuhan, the WHO report meekly mentions the lockdown as “strict traffic restrictions” and “the cordon sanitaire”. The report lauds China’s epidemic response measures — but conveniently ignores the late-December / early-January dates that might implicate the party’s initial mismanagement of the crisis.
If there was any doubts on the neutrality of the report, a line in the report reads that: “In the face of a previously unknown virus, China has rolled out perhaps the most ambitious, agile and aggressive disease containment effort in history.”
Here’s an actual sentence that appears in the report, shattering any illusion of objectivity:
“In the face of a previously unknown virus, China has rolled out perhaps the most ambitious, agile and aggressive disease containment effort in history.”
— David Paulk 波大卫 (@davidpaulk) March 1, 2020
Despite all the hullabaloo, the WHO in its report listed the origins of the virus as one of the “key unknowns”. The WHO had one job to do that is to find the index case, which it grossly failed to do.
Finding the index case is paramount to understand the nature of the virus and accordingly plan containment measures. German Health Minister Jens Spahn said that Germany is at the beginning of a coronavirus epidemic after new cases sprung up that can no longer be traced to the virus’s original source in China. “The infection chains are partially no longer trackable, and that is a new thing,” Spahn said. “Large numbers of people have had contact with the patients, and that is a big change to the 16 patients we had until now where the chain could be traced back to the origin in China.”
Various experts have concluded that the virus originated in Wuhan Huanan market, China as of the first 41 cases of the virus, 27 of them had been to the wet market. In a sequence of events which mirror that of the 2003 SARS outbreak in China, the Chinese government closed the market under the pretext of ‘renovation’. The SARS virus too originated in a similar market which spread to 29 countries and killed almost 800 people.
The Chinese are infamous for eating everything that moves under the sun and it comes as no surprise that China has on an average about 80,000 flu deaths every year. The Wuhan wet market where the virus is believed to have originated is a place where live animals are slaughtered for consumption.
Experts believe that just like Ebola, the coronavirus originated from the bats. While the intermediate source is yet unknown, it is widely believed that the virus travelled to pangolins from the bats and then finally to the humans. Wuhan wet market is one of the rare places were bats, pangolins and humans are found at one place, thus resulting in the outbreak of the virus.
The menu of Wuhan’s wet market includes the likes of tiger, camel, snakes, rabbits, bats, bears, foxes and many more varieties of exotic wildlife. The wet markets of China were emboldened by the Communist Party’s decision in 1998 to term wildlife as “resources owned by the state” and protected people engaged in the “utilization of wildlife resources”.
With this law, an industry was born and Just four years later, the SARS outbreak originated in a wet market in South China. When one connects COVID-19 with SARS, you have a simple fact – China refuses to take responsibility for its wet market business, illegal wildlife trade and refuses to crack down on the wet market economy.
China’s denial is suspicious — almost as if it is afraid of the investigations that are opening across the world. From the molecular level to the bigger picture of the pandemic — China could be afraid that its bioweapons programme, if any and even if not culpable in the COVID19 outbreak — could come into the unwanted attention of the world.