The government of China brazenly defended its actions with regard to the coronavirus outbreak in the country in 2019 through a fresh and detailed account today — under continued fire for its early mishandling of the coronavirus. Self-certifying China for combating the outbreak as a ‘model’ for the world, the report claims the country passed the “test of fire” with “painstaking efforts” to identify the virus, stop its spread and warn other countries. Missteps or mischief by the government obviously finds no mention in the report.
The report says local and provincial officials acted decisively. It claims China informed the World Health Organisation (WHO), with which the world smelled the Communist Party’s nexus, in time and in detail, beginning 3 January while adding the country itself did not know of it before 27 December 2019!
The report certifies lifetime President of China Xi Jinping for having played a pivotal role throughout the crisis. “Confronted by this virus, the Chinese people have joined together as one and united their efforts,” the report said. “They have succeeded in containing the spread of the virus. In this battle, China will always stand together with other countries.”
China resumes propaganda, fails to explain muzzling of voices
Resuming the state propaganda it had begun in March but discontinued when coronavirus returned to the country, the report offers a sanitised version of the sequence of events, censoring political and bureaucratic problems and, of course, not even mentioning the role of the notorious P4 Lab in the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
The certificate of sorts does not mention Dr Li Wenliang whom the police arrested and detained for raising an early alarm about the virus.
The report goes silent on other medical practitioners in Wuhan who had raised the alarm.
China does not talk of the civilians whom it came down heavily on with police action for raising their voice against the handling of the outbreak that turned into a global pandemic.
Now glossing over the fact that it had suspended local officials for delays in reporting cases and underplaying the outbreak, now China lauds them for fighting the virus through “an effective and well-functioning, whole-of-the-nation control mechanism.”
The report does not say anything about institutional and company reports being pulled down from their websites either.
The report does not challenge scientists accusing it for “creating” the virus.
It is silent also on the origin of the virus, about which it had given vague, speculative, mutually contradictory answers over the past five months. In a news conference on 7 June, a top Chinese official rubbished accusations about Beijing’s conduct as “completely unwarranted and unreasonable”. This was a clear reference to the Donald Trump administration’s allegation that China is to blame for the pandemic.
The government of China deputed its entire propaganda machinery behind the report, involving three ministers, two vice-ministers and the president of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, who addressed the press conference together this morning at the State Council Information Office, a propaganda agency.
Minister of this office Xu Lin explained the handling of COVID-19 by China in heroic terms thus: “China’s fight against Covid-19 is extraordinary and should be remembered forever.”
Xu claimed that 480 journalists from state news media had risked infection by reporting from the epicentre of the outbreak in Wuhan and the rest of Hubei Province. The deputy foreign affairs minister said the Chinese journalists “have also uncovered some issues and pressed for their solution.” At the same time, the report or the ministers did not clarify why it had then declared scribes from the US reporting COVID cases as persona non grata.
When intelligence agencies found China had created the virus
While the rate of infection is reducing remarkably once again in China, with just six new cases across the country reported on Sunday, with five of them having originated abroad and one in the southern island province of Hainan, the country recorded more than 89,000 cases and more than 4,600 deaths while the faraway United States confirmed almost 20 lakh cases and nearly 1 lakh 10 thousand deaths — kind of comparative figures that made the world suspect China had deliberately made and unleashed coronavirus on the world to end up being the sole superpower in economic terms.
But then, it was not speculation alone. Intelligence agencies from different parts of the world have concluded that the virus was indeed a creation of China by design.
Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Ma Zhaoxu today lamented such criticisms of China, saying critics had gone “all out to smear and slander China — this is spreading a political virus, and in responding to such politicized practices, China, of course, will push back resolutely.”
Chinese ‘cooperation’ with the world
The report while highlighting its “cooperation” with the US, notes that the heads of the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention and its Chinese equivalent spoke to each other over the phone on 4 January and again four days later. In the first call, the report says, the Chinese official briefed his American counterpart about a “new pneumonia” and “the two sides agreed to keep in close contact on information sharing and cooperation on technical matters.”
China’s National Health Commission minister Ma Xiaowei said that China had not covered up the epidemic. “We have not delayed in any way” the release of information, he said. According to him, his country was stepping up preparations for prompt detection of future outbreaks of diseases. “We shall also develop a smart early-warning system with multiple triggers,” he said. He did not explain how the existing, post-SARS early-warning system, active since late 2002 and early 2003, mostly failed during the coronavirus outbreak.
The report does not explain, if China was cooperating with the world in fighting the pandemic, why it prepared itself with the necessary safeguard and, at the same time, sold substandard medical equipment to other countries.
Time for a little sycophancy
The news conference today was also an occasion of showcasing his ministers’ sycophancy for permanent President Xi. Praising him at length, the report describes in military terms he was a “resolute commander in combat”.
It says Xi “called for a greater effort to marshal the resources of the whole country to reinforce Wuhan and Hubei,” while failing to explain he was roaming around rather casually in the midst of the epidemic in the city.
Two months after the outbreak, President Xi had said China had “won a vital battle in defending Wuhan and Hubei against the novel coronavirus, and achieved a major strategic success in the nationwide control efforts.” The report quotes the president as saying that he had “made key decisions at critical moments and led the Chinese people in an all-out fight”.