Asian Cardinal: China Has ‘Primary Responsibility’ for Coronavirus Pandemic

Newly-elected Cardinal Charles Maung Bo leaves after a consistory inside St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015. Pope Francis welcomed 20 new cardinals Saturday into the elite club of churchmen who will elect his successor and immediately delivered a tough-love message to them, telling them to put …
AP Photo/Andrew Medichini

The president of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences said Thursday that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has “primary responsibility” for the global coronavirus pandemic and owes the world “compensation for the destruction it has caused.”

There is “one government that has primary responsibility for what it has done and what it has failed to do, and that is the CCP regime in Beijing,” writes Cardinal Charles Maung Bo (pictured), the archbishop of Yangon in Myanmar, which borders China.

“Let me be clear — it is the CCP that has been responsible, not the people of China, and no one should respond to this crisis with racial hatred toward the Chinese,” Cardinal Bo states in a powerfully worded op-ed for UCANews. “Indeed, the Chinese people were the first victims of this virus and have long been the primary victims of their repressive regime. They deserve our sympathy, our solidarity and our support.”

“But it is the repression, the lies and the corruption of the CCP that are responsible,” he says.

More and more voices are being raised against “the negligent attitude shown by China, especially its despotic Chinese Communist Party (CCP) led by its strongman Xi Jinping,” the cardinal writes, citing law professor James Kraska that “China is legally responsible for Covid-19 and claims could be made in the trillions of dollars.”

The cardinal’s remarks and his strong denunciation of the Chinese communists stand in sharp contrast to the conciliatory approach adopted by the Vatican in dealing with the communist regime in recent years.

Pope Francis has refused to criticize the intense crackdown on religious freedom by the government of Xi Jinping and has kept silent concerning the repression of student pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

In September 2018, the Vatican signed a secret agreement with the CCP regarding the appointment of bishops in China and later told Catholic clergy that they are free to join the state-run Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, which is independent of Rome.

The pope has insisted that the communist government protects religious freedom in China and that “churches are full.” Meanwhile, the chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, the Argentinian Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, has insisted that the CCP has created the best model for living out Catholic social teaching today.

In his op-ed, Cardinal Bo chronicles China’s culpable suppression of the news of the coronavirus emergency.

“Instead of protecting the public and supporting doctors, the CCP silenced the whistleblowers,” he observes. “Worse than that, doctors who tried to raise the alarm — such as Dr. Li Wenliang in Wuhan Central Hospital who issued a warning to fellow medics Dec. 30 — were ordered by police to ‘stop making false comments.’”

Moreover, the cardinal adds, young journalists who tried to report on the virus then “disappeared.”

“Li Zehua, Chen Qiushi and Fang Bin are among those believed to have been arrested simply for telling the truth,” he notes. “Legal scholar Xu Zhiyong has also been detained after publishing an open letter criticizing the Chinese regime’s response.”

Bo underscores the “deep concern that the Chinese regime’s official statistics significantly downplay the scale of infection within China,” while denouncing China’s false accusation of the United States Army as cause of the pandemic.

“Lies and propaganda have put millions of lives around the world in danger,” he states.

The CCP’s conduct in the coronavirus pandemic “is symptomatic of its increasingly repressive nature,” Bo notes, a phenomenon revealed in its “intense crackdown” on freedom of expression and freedom of religion.

This despotism has gone beyond the borders of mainland China, he observes, and Hong Kong itself, “once one of Asia’s most open cities, has seen its freedoms, human rights and the rule of law dramatically eroded.”

The CCP’s “inhumane and irresponsible handling of the coronavirus,” he continues, has proven what many already thought: “that it is a threat to the world.”

“China as a country is a great and ancient civilization that has contributed so much to the world throughout history, but this regime is responsible, through its criminal negligence and repression, for the pandemic sweeping through our streets today,” he insists.

“The Chinese regime led by the all-powerful Xi Jinping and the CCP — not its people — owes us all an apology and compensation for the destruction it has caused,” the cardinal concludes. “As a minimum, it should write off the debts of other countries to cover the cost of Covid-19.”

“For the sake of our common humanity, we must not be afraid to hold this regime to account,” he states.

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