Less than a week after China’s state-run China Daily censored a column written by a group of European ambassadors, less than three months after three of its correspondents were ejected from Beijing over an op-ed the regime didn’t like, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) handed over an op-ed page to Xie Feng, commissioner of the Chinese Foreign Ministry in Hong Kong.
Xie used the WSJ’s editorial space to repeat China’s political narrative of the Chinese coronavirus pandemic.
The European ambassadors saw the English-language version of their op-ed edited, without their consent, to remove an oblique reference to the “outbreak of the coronavirus in China.” The Chinese-language version was censored in its entirety.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry, on the other hand, was given free reign in the WSJ to praise China, castigate those who demand a full investigation of the virus’ origins, and claim efforts to hold the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) accountable are preventing the world from coming together to fight the disease.
Among the many bitter ironies of Xie’s op-ed is that he comes very close to making the same statement that got the European ambassadors censored by his tyrannical government: “In early 2020, caught in the Covid-19 outbreak, Wuhan, a transport hub of 11 million people in China’s Hubei province, locked itself down for 76 days. Making tremendous sacrifice against all the odds, it created a strong first line of defense for China and the world.”
The Europeans did not even mention the city of Wuhan.
The CCP is evidently nervous about people noticing that it seeks to use the pandemic it unleashed to expand its political and economic influence because its WSJ piece took pains to deny that it wishes to do exactly that. Of course, Beijing cannot help it if people around the world notice that its cooked books and endless obfuscations make Chinese Communism look so superior to free-market democracy that they want to give authoritarianism a try:
While China never intends to export its system or model, its efficiency, spirit and sense of responsibility in the lifesaving battle against Covid-19 should be obvious. But some have started rumors that the coronavirus was produced synthetically in China. Social media amplifies these falsehoods. Tasuku Honjo, a Japanese Nobel Laureate from Kyoto University, was forced to issue a public statement denying that he had claimed the virus had been “manufactured in China.” Some American politicians touted evidence—none of which has been produced—that the novel virus originated in a Wuhan laboratory. But even the Trump administration’s own scientists, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, have dismissed such theories.
Identifying the virus’s origin is a serious scientific issue. It is up to scientists to research and draw evidence-based conclusions. Politicians shouldn’t meddle in the process, much less stigmatize others.
Beijing is aggressively blocking every attempt to organize a fair international investigation of the coronavirus, even from organizations that are notoriously solicitous of the CCP’s feelings, like the World Health Organization (W.H.O.).
No sooner had the Foreign Ministry’s article gone live at the WSJ than China slapped 80 percent tariffs on Australian barley and banned beef imports to punish the Aussies for daring to demand a probe into the origins of the Wuhan virus.
Xie did his best to muddy the waters and credit China for discovering the virus and warning the world about the threat it posed, sweeping the CCP’s endless lies and obfuscations about the virus under the rug. He also pushed the latest CCP propaganda line that hassling China about the origins of the virus could make fighting the pandemic more difficult because it will scare people away from reporting it:
Outbreaks have occurred world-wide, and there is dispute about where the virus first appeared. A pneumonia of unknown origin with flulike symptoms was seen in some countries in late 2019. According to recent research by University College London’s Genetics Institute, the pandemic may have started sometime between Oct. 6 and Dec 11. A growing number of countries have found that their assumed “patient zero” had not traveled to China and that the local dominant strains of the virus are different from those in China.
China was the first to spot and report the outbreak, identify the pathogen, and share its genome sequence with the World Health Organization and the rest of the world. Yet China has been accused of coverups and delays and put in the dock. At the same time, those who failed to test, report and act in a timely fashion are passing judgment on others. Isn’t it a bit ironic?
As the timeline changes and possible cases are discovered in other countries that predate those found in China, some are anxious to shift the blame instead of reflecting on their own failures in the virus’s early days. Was it because they lacked the techniques, or perhaps a sense of responsibility? Could there have been any undercounting or even coverup? Should a country be labeled as the origin of the virus, held accountable and made to pay for others’ inept responses simply because it was the first to report what it found? If so, what country will be willing to test people and honestly report the findings in the future?
Among the many problems with this argument is that China and the world’s other authoritarian regimes are already lying with mad abandon about their coronavirus outbreaks. Iran, Syria, North Korea, and every other despotism have been slow to admit outbreaks and quick to cover up the full extent of infections and deaths. Iranian doctors are reaching out to foreign media organizations to charge the regime in Tehran with risking their lives and murdering their colleagues by lying about the epidemic. It is not unreasonable to wonder if every dictator in the world got the idea they could lie about the coronavirus to mitigate its political damage by watching Beijing get away with it.
“Fighting Covid-19 should be everyone’s first concern. The enemy is the virus. Scapegoating China will neither make up for the time that has been lost, nor save the lives that are at risk. We are teammates in this battle, not rivals,” Xie wrote in his conclusion, a declaration that would come as news to the Australians this morning.
Communist China does not seem interested in treating Taiwan, author of the world’s best coronavirus response plan, as a “teammate,” either, unless constant threats of lethal violence are the epitome of team spirit.