China’s anti-corruption agency on Friday began investigating the death of Dr Li Wenliang who had found a resemblance between the novel coronavirus strain and the SARS, pointing at the possibility of a conspiracy hatched by greater forces. The ruling Communist Party of China sent a high-level inquiry committee to Wuhan on Thursday, where the doctor had died at the Central Hospital.
Meanwhile, the world’s largest car-producing plant of Hyundai has closed. The company has sent 25,000 employees on forced leave.
Probe into death of doctor looks farcical
Dr Li had told his colleagues in medical school on 30 December what he had reckoned was the reason for the spread of the infection. He described its threat as that of SARS (2002) virus. Four days later, Wuhan Police questioned the 34-year-old doctor and heckled him for spreading “rumour”. The police then forced him to issue a statement saying that the resemblance he had talked of was a misjudgement. The police made Dr Li sign on a statement that claimed his finding was mere speculation.
The harassed doctor said during an interview, “If the officer had already told the people about this epidemic, the situation would have been better. More openness and transparency should be adopted here.”
In this scenario, people across China are calling the probe into the death of the doctor and researcher a farce.
Hyundai factory closes
The car plant of Hyundai, which has been shut down, is located in Ulsan, South Korea. There are five plants in this complex. Its annual car production capacity is 1.4 million units. For most auto companies based in China, component manufacturing plants have come to a standstill. Hence the company faced a shortage of wiring harnesses used to connect electronic systems of vehicles. Out of compulsion, the company has had to close its plants in South Korea.
Hyundai has forcibly sent 25,000 of its employees on leave without full wages. According to an estimate, the company may lose about $ 500 million due to the closure of the plant for five days.
French company Renault has decided to close its plant in Busan, too.
The number of people infected with the coronavirus has reached 31,000. On Thursday, Chinese technology company Tencent had inadvertently revealed that 25,000 people had died due to the virus in China already while 1.54 lakh people had been found infected with the coronavirus.
This information leaked at a time after the government of China imposed the death penalty on those who spread false information on the coronavirus. Apparently under pressure, Tencent updated the data on the website following strictures of the government.
Tencent is the second largest company in China after Alibaba. Its founder Ma Huateng is considered close to President Xi Jinping.
China is contending with another allegation that it was preparing for biological warfare in laboratories from where the agent leaked.
A ship China does not care about
On the other hand, the number of patients infected by the coronavirus in the Diamond Princess cruise ship, standing at the port of Yokohama, Japan, for the last five days reached 61. So far, 273 people on board the ship have been tested. The vessel is carrying 3,700 passengers. A person on this ship from Hong Kong was found infected with the coronavirus. Post authorities did not thereafter care to reach out to the ship.
Meanwhile, many people of Pakistan are trapped in China that is now devastated by the coronavirus, but Islamabad has not taken any initiative to evacuate its citizens. The Indian Ministry of External Affairs has said if the Pakistani government were to request for the evacuation of its citizens, it will consider it. Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar was asked whether Pakistanis stranded in China appeared to be asking Prime Minister Narendra Modi for help in getting them out of there. To this Raveesh said, “We have not received any request from the Pakistan government.”