West’s pandemic falsehoods debunked

Global Times, 2020/4/16



Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

In the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, China has worked hard to overcome the peak of the outbreak and people have started to return to work and resume production.

It is the hope of people around the world, who are still at the most difficult stage of their anti-virus war, to receive anti-epidemic assistance. Yet some bizarre accusations against China have arisen. There are suggestions that “China concealed the extent of the coronavirus outbreak” and “China sees opportunity to expand global influence amid pandemic.” There have also been ridiculously claims for compensation from China. This attempt to cast blame on China is designed to divert attention from their own country’s inept responses to COVID-19. We must recognize these as obfuscations that so regrettably undermine humanity’s efforts to end the pandemic.

The Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China refutes the six types of typical buck-passing remarks in the current situation.

The article is written by Wang Wen, Jia Jinjing, Yang Fanxin, Guan Zhaoyu, Wang Peng, Zhang Mengchen from Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn


I. Accusing China of concealing coronavirus akin to calling white black

Some Western media and politicians have alleged that China deliberately concealed the number of infections and deaths caused by the COVID-19 epidemic in China. They even claim China shared disinformation that led to their underestimation of the extent of the outbreak and thus delayed their response to the virus.

Such rhetoric is rampant in the West, but in essence it is an attempt to justify the West’s inability to fight the pandemic. China released a report on April 6 on the timeline of the country’s information sharing of the virus, in response to those discredited remarks.

The report shows in detail, how China regularly shared information and its prevention and control measures with the US since January 3. Including 30 exchanges in one month.

Over the past three months, American experts have been invited to China to better understand the situation. There have also been intensive communications, such as summit talks, communication between top diplomats and between the two countries’ public health authorities. During this period, US President Donald Trump also repeatedly praised China’s efforts and expressed gratitude to China.

On April 8, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a timeline of operations against COVID-19, and the content of the timeline is being continuously updated. According to the timeline, China reported a set of pneumonia cases as early as December 31, 2019, and identified a novel coronavirus. The WHO put itself on an emergency footing to deal with the outbreak on January 1. Many countries and regions have achieved good results under the early warning issued by the UN health agency and China.

According to recent research of Yale University, prevention and control measures, such as a city lockdown, compulsory quarantine, community management, and restricted outdoor activities, implemented in China since late January have greatly reduced the transmission of COVID-19, which was effectively put under control by mid-February. As of February 29, national and provincial level public health measures implemented in China had effectively prevented more than 1.4 million infections and up to 56,000 deaths across the country.

China’s achievements in fighting the virus are obvious to all. The allegations made against China’s handling of the epidemic are themselves an information virus.


II. False accusation that China misled the world

The COVID-19 outbreak continues to ferment globally, with Europe and the US being most severely hit.

On April 9, 1,601,302 cases were confirmed globally, with the number of confirmed cases in the US exceeding 460,000; 5.6 times great than in China. The number of infections and deaths in New York City has exceeded those in China. New York’s coronavirus-related death rate is greater in China’s Wuhan. The number of confirmed cases in the EU was more than 650,000, with 54,600 deaths, or 16.4 times more deaths than in China. The death rate in Europe was 8.4 percent, or 2.06 times great than China’s.

US President Donald Trump has repeatedly blamed China for offering misleading information. Informed people can clearly see this is an excuse to shirk responsibility for his administration’s inept response to the epidemic. After analyzing Trump’s remarks on COVID-19 from January 22 to today, we found that his statements made at different stages of the outbreak show his transformation from bystander to participant.

The first stage for Trump’s transformation was from January 22 to February 25, when there were very few confirmed cases in the US. At that time, Trump’s tweets said the US was in close contact and cooperation with China, suggesting China was doing a good job.

In the second phase, from February 26 to March 9, the US epidemic began to break out and affected three major stock markets. Trump declared on Twitter that the virus was spreading slowly in the US with a death rate well below 1 percent, and a candidate vaccine was beginning clinical trials.

In the third phase, from March 10 to 14, when the coronavirus began hitting the entire US, Trump’s changed his tone and began calling COVID-19 a “horrible scourge.” Americans were thus advised to reduce nonessential travel and a national emergency was declared. He said the federal government would “unleash the full power” to defeat the virus.

In the fourth phase, from March 15 to March 18, the virus spread rapidly in the US, and Trump’s position changed dramatically. For the first time, he publicly called COVID-19 a “Chinese virus,” and he found himself in hot water.

The fifth phase from March 19 to the present, the outbreak in the US is out of control. Trump begun to blame China, slander China for not informing him of the virus earlier and offering disinformation. He even accused the WHO of siding with China, and moved further to suspend WHO funds.

In addition to Trump’s finger-pointing statements that were contrary to known facts, some senior US officials have also defied facts by accusing China of misleading the world and threatening to hold China accountable for the outbreak. On Saturday, the senior US health official Dr. Anthony Fauci said China had delayed the world’s understanding of the coronavirus when it suggested in January the virus was being transmitted only “from an animal to a human.” He said that after the pandemic, the origins of the misinformation will be investigated.

The Trump administration’s repeated attempts to blame China, redefine the timeline, defend the US stock market and promote his reelection campaign, reflect the fact that in the face of a catastrophe, Trump is more concerned with political issues than saving lives.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus responded to Trump’s criticism without naming names: “If you don’t want many more body bags, then you refrain from politicizing it.” Democratic candidate Joe Biden had this warning that seems more practical than political: “As we prepare to reopen America, we have to remember what this crisis has taught us: The administration’s failure to plan, to prepare, to honestly assess and communicate the threat to the nation led to catastrophic results. We cannot repeat those mistakes.”

III. The ‘China accountable’ fabrication

Claims arguing that “China should be held accountable for the coronavirus pandemic” have been rising in the field of international public opinion.

A mainstream Bolivian newspaper quoted Patricia Janiot, a senior anchor for CNN, in an editorial published on March 29, propagating that China should take the blame for the pandemic, writing off China’s enormous sacrifices and tremendous outcomes in fighting the virus, and neglecting other countries’ improper responses to the outbreak.

The allegation is apparently rife with lies and prejudices. Accusations such as “China had concealed the extent of the coronavirus outbreak for two months” and “China supplied faulty coronavirus test kits to Spain” are a pure fabrication based on misinformation or hearsay.

The truth is China was the first country to report the coronavirus outbreak and the first to effectively curb the epidemic. The country took decisive measures to curb the spread or the virus and was the first country to release the genetic sequence of the virus and openly shared it with the international community.

As the domestic situation improves, China has begun to offer help to other countries and regions around the world. So far, China has provided assistance to at least 89 countries and four international organizations and has become the world’s largest supplier of medical materials. China’s transparent sharing of data has also contributed greatly to the development of vaccines and drugs in other countries.

Chinese President Xi Jinping on March 26 at the Extraordinary G20 Leaders’ Summit called on G20 members to “jointly help developing countries with weak public health systems enhance preparedness and response.”

Many state leaders are also becoming aware that large-scale infectious diseases are one of the major challenges facing humanity in the era of globalization, and to overcome the pandemic, all countries must closely unite rather than blame each other.

Seeing China’s strong leadership in the global fight against the virus, an increasing number of international media outlets have realized that China has indeed been practicing the vision it proposed of building a global community with a shared future for humanity, and has been fulfilling the obligations of a responsible world power.


IV. Requesting compensations from China unwarranted

The International Council of Jurists and the All India Bar Association have filed a petition at the UN Human Rights Council, seeking compensation from China over the global pandemic, India’s media reported on April 4.

The complaint accuses China of “surreptitiously developing a biological weapon capable of mass destruction,” and urges China to “adequately compensate international community and member states, particularly India.”

News of similar suits can be found in the US, the UK, Australia and many other parts of the globe. Although different in form, they are in essence the same – requesting China be held accountable for the global spread of the virus. These attention-grabbing headlines are designed to manipulate public opinion, tie the virus to China and discredit the country.

Various organizations and politicians in many countries have acted in concert to ask for an apology and reparation from China, reminding many Chinese of the “Gengzi compensation,” also known as “Boxer Indemnity,” in early1900s, in which several Western states humiliated China by requiring compensation after Eight Nation Alliance invaded China and suppressed the Boxer rebellion.

But a century has passed, and China is no longer what it used to be. In 2020, China no longer needs to worry about foreign invasions, although the public opinion war against China, waged by certain politicians in some countries, is worrisome.

Today’s demands for compensation from China are eerily reminiscent of those of a century ago; both are designed to make the victim pay, and both are filtered through conspiracy theories and rumors.

Many authoritative institutions and the academic community, such as the WHO and Nature, have repeatedly reiterated that where the virus was first reported has no direct relation with where the virus originated. And one can never blame others for the losses caused by their own improper responses to the outbreak.

China has always upheld solidarity and cooperation during a critical time. The unwarranted claims that demands compensation from China are poisonous and misleading. The global fight against the coronavirus is likely to be an arduous protracted fight. All countries should show solidarity and strengthen cooperation instead of complaining or blaming each other.


V. ‘Low-quality export’ – bite the hand that feeds

After four months of effort, China’s virus fight has achieved good initial results, while the global pandemic situation is far from positive. In this disaster facing all humans, China has adhered to the concept of a community with a shared future for humanity and has sent medical supplies, including masks, test kits and protective outfits, to 130 countries and four international organizations. In addition, numerous private organizations, social groups and individuals from China have offered assistance to the world by various means.

However, US-led Western countries have refused some of China’s medical supplies and hyped China’s low-quality exports. Traditional media and social media have also hyped this sentiment to the public which urgently needs these supplies.

There have been some exceptional cases caused by the different standards in China and other countries. Some profit-seeking Chinese companies have produced and exported low-quality products, but these have been exposed and halted. China has enhanced its supervision of these exporters and imposed stricter criteria on their products.

Meanwhile, we have noticed there are forces that are attempting to exploit this issue. In the wake of the outbreak, some foreign media and officials have spared no effort denouncing China, and alleging it is responsible for the novel coronavirus. Radio France Internationale (RFL) claimed that China will be far less passive in responding to criticism. The notion quickly spread as Western countries continue to demonize China. Even Josep Borrell, head of EU foreign policy, recently wrote in a blog referring to China that “there is a geopolitical component, including a struggle for influence, through spinning and the politics of generosity.”

Yet the fact is during the initial stage of China’s fight against the virus, it also received substandard supplies from other countries. Of course there are profit-driven companies around the world that have produce low-quality products. The hype against China by foreign media stems from fear of China’s growing strength and a deliberate attempt to meddle in the favorable relations China has with many other countries.


VI. Ungrateful ‘mask diplomacy’ accusation

Facing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, some international public opinion makers have again repaid China’s goodwill with evil intent. Since March, French media including Le Monde and Le Figaro have reported that European leaders and governments should be vigilant of China’s aid during the epidemic fight, and should be wary of China’s so-called widespread publicity of its aid. Some Western media even described China’s foreign medical aids, including face masks, as “mask diplomacy.” They call it China’s “politics of generosity,” accusing China of fighting for geopolitical influence and taking advantage of the difficulties facing others.

This is not new. The international public opinion’s short-sighted slander of China has never ceased. In recent years, Western media reports about China’s economic growth, the Belt and Road Initiative or China’s overseas investment and construction, always seek an imaginary dark side and impugn China’s motives. These reports claim China is attempting to redraw the world map, or planning to exert geopolitical influence or suggest China is embarking on an aggressive diplomatic path. This type of reporting exacerbates the anxiety of neighboring Asians countries, the US and other countries.

Looking back at the Chinese history, the world can see that China spread its technology of papermaking, movable type printing, gunpowder and the compass to other countries and greatly promoted the progress of human civilization. China has made transformative explorations in the fields of science, including astronomy, geography, medicine, mathematics, agronomy. China made inventions in textiles, cooking, clothing, food, construction, shipping and other areas that are closely related to daily life today. China’s brilliant achievements in astronomical instruments, musical instruments, metallurgy, water conservancy and other technological fields made tremendous contributions to human civilization and provided important material support for the West’s Age of Discovery.

The Chinese civilization has developed over the last 5,000 years, and the very idea of human development is based on the thousands of years of human civilization. Under the impact of the pandemic, China has upheld the vision of building a global community with a shared future. China was the first to mount a national fight against the epidemic, during which it actively supported other countries. Yet, ill-intentioned Westerners maliciously continue to point a finger and blame China. This is worrying. In the past, people all over the world appreciated each other’s contributions to human civilization. Today, why are these people treating China’s support and contributions in a narrow-minded way? It is regrettable to see people in power in the West who care more about private interests than saving lives.



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