first_imgTHE BAFFLING RECOVERY OF CHINA FROM CORONAVIRUS: WHAT INFERENCES CAN BE DRAWN – II? This article is a sequel to my earlier article “The Baffling Recovery of China from Coronavirus: What Inferences Can be Drawn”?, published on 31st March 2020.There are some other facts that give credence to or support the theory that coronavirus is not an entirely a natural occurrence but a human contrived phenomenon that went berserk. Li Wenliang, the 33 Year old Chinese whistleblower doctor who was first to sound the alarm about the deadly outbreak of the disease was silenced by the Communist Party Authorities. He was subsequently reported by Authorities to have died of the virus. Li was hailed by social media as a hero.  When he whistled about the virus, he was detained and silenced by Wuhan police, who accused him of spreading lies. It was later on that the authorities offered condolences on his death and appreciated his contribution to his family to assuage their feelings and to pacify the reactions of the society. Apparently, this was also a diplomatic effort of the Chinese Government to pacify the world which had shown strong reactions. In view of the way Li was treated and punished at the early stage, many people in China do not believe the Government’s version that he died of virus; hence his death is shrouded in mystery.Then, a respected neurologist, Liu Zhiming, 51, who was Director of Wuchang Hospital in Wuhan died after contracting the novel coronavirus, despite a “full-effort rescue”. According to Wuhan’s municipal health commission, Liu became the most prominent victim of the outbreak. This sparked an outpouring of public anger and grief. Many people say they do not exactly know as to how the Director of the Hospital died, and his death is still suspect in the eyes of the public.Social media users also began voicing their fury toward the Chinese Government on Communist Party’s failings and demanding freedom of speech, echoing the sentiments of the 1989 Tiananmen uprising. As the torrent of outrage built up, the government in Beijing turned to a familiar tool – censorship – as it sought to prevent the already staggering public health crisis from taking a volatile turn. It is widely believed that the condolence messages, however, were not likely to assuage public anger at the way Li and seven other medical workers were silenced, as well as anger over his death, and at the way initial news of his passing was apparently censored.Several fearless and independent citizen journalists and video bloggers who were exposing the stark realities and shortcomings of the Government on coronavirus were reported to have been chased or hounded, and some were reported to have disappeared or gone missing. It was later known that many of them were detained. What exactly happened to them, nobody knows. For instance, Chen Qiushi, a human rights lawyer who had acted as a citizen journalist in Wuhan since the early days of the coronavirus outbreak, went missing. Qiushi posted multiple videos taken while he was roving between hospitals and empty streets to report on mismanagement of the epidemic by the Chinese government. The citizen journalists do not work for a registered outlet but work as watchdogs in public interest. In the wake of increased public anger against the authorities, some took upon themselves the risk of offering the outside world a first-hand glimpse of the situation in Wuhan. Beijing had censored the more critical coverage from Chinese media, and silenced specific voices.That China did not disclose and shared information on coronavirus at the early stage has been severely criticized by the Unites States and some other countries. Even after six weeks of announcing the appearance of a new, highly contagious and possibly lethal virus, China did not share important data that could help contain the pandemic. In view of the seriousness of the matter, the World Health Organisation (WHO) decided to send a team of top experts to China to study the situation to help China respond to COVID-19 outbreak spreading out of Wuhan, but Beijing did not accept the offer. The world was disappointed with lack of transparency on sharing full vital data with other countries and maintaining secrecy.A new study published on January 24, 2020 in The Lancet pointed out that the virus and its spread among humans took off weeks earlier than Chinese officials said. The study further pointed out that: (1) More than a third of the earliest cases had no connection with the animal (Extreme) market; (2) The outbreak’s first (or “index”) case also had no connection to the market; and (3) There was direct evidence of human-to-human spread as early as January 2, 2020. The study explained that China purposely played down the health emergency, as it did during the SARS outbreak of 2003.The fact that the Lancet report is different from the official early Chinese account did raise enormous concerns around the truthfulness of information coming out of China, Steven Hoffman, the Director of the Global Strategy Lab and a global health professor at York University said, “If China did intentionally withheld information that would not only be bad for public health but also illegal under international law. It would be a violation of the International Health Regulations, a legally binding treaty that covers how 195 countries respond to outbreaks like this one.”Beijing not only silenced whistleblowers but also underreported infections. Why did China hesitate in sharing full level of information at the beginning of onset of the virus itself is indicative of the fact that it had some guilt to hide which led it to suppress the vital information; it was much later that it yielded to share the information. A natural disaster can happen anywhere in the world and it is in the interest of and the bounden duty of the country suffering from the disaster to share information with other countries so that they could render timely help to it and could also evolve some common strategies to ward off the calamity from occurring or spreading in other countries.China blocked a discussion in the UN Security Council on the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the world, which was sought earlier this week by Estonia. Again, it is an obvious indication that China has something to hide. According to diplomatic sources, while Russia and South Africa said that there was no direct link between the spread of virus and threat to peace and security of the world, China used this support of Russia and South Africa to shot down the proposal saying that there was no consensus within the UNSC (a mandatory requirement to take up any proposal). Russia and South Africa are close trade partners of China with the latter being the stepping-stone to Beijing’s access into Africa. China, has thus managed to obstruct a discussion on the pandemic in the UN Security Council with the help from Russia and South Africa.(Prof) Manohar Bhatialast_img

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