The Chinese Communist Party is suppressing real information about COVID-19 and punishing people and countries that demand to know the truth.
Americans who aren’t aware of this are susceptible to believing false information about the CCP, and how its system and economic and military power threaten Americans’ health and security. Without being armed with accurate information, Americans cannot effectively hold government officials accountable for their approach to China.
In October, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs released a study that found that a majority of Republicans (64 percent) say the United States should actively work to limit the growth of China’s power, while a majority of Democrats (60 percent) favor friendly cooperation and engagement with China. Americans’ favorable views of China have declined across the board in recent years, but the results of this study are still concerning. The CCP’s behavior during the ongoing pandemic should alert Americans to the dangers of trusting China to honor its legal and ethical commitments.
China’s gross deception during the pandemic illustrates the CCP’s obsession with cultivating a glowing reputation of the regime’s control and its determination to contrast its system with open and democratic systems. All of this, of course, comes at the expense of the health and care of the Chinese people and the citizens of other nations.
China Points the Finger at Everyone Else
Chinese officials would have the world believe the novel virus originated anywhere but China, and the government refuses to accept any responsibility for its actions that directly caused the scale of the spread of the virus worldwide along with its attendant human suffering. A Chinese official lashed out and ridiculously accused the U.S. Army of bringing the virus to China.
Chinese officials seem to have since settled on pushing the myth that China has detected coronavirus on frozen products, including chicken wings from Brazil, squid from Russia, shrimp from Ecuador, pork from Germany, salmon from Norway, and beef from Brazil, Bolivia, and New Zealand. In the latest round of disinformation, Chinese state media is blaming COVID-19 on imports of Australian steak.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been clear: “Currently, there is no evidence to suggest that handling food or consuming food is associated with COVID-19.” There is consensus on this point among medical experts from our ally nations.
Western media should stop reporting information from Chinese state media and Chinese officials about transmission rates, causes of infections, and the origins of the virus as though it is credible. Examples include articles about the supposed frozen food and infected workers mentioned above — and this Reuters article, titled “China says American troops may have brought Covid-19 to Wuhan.”
There’s more. For its headline, CNN went with “China’s PLA Navy is controlling coronavirus and aircraft carrier’s deployment proves it, report says,” which has since been changed due to outcry. USA Today published this doozy, called “This is what China did to beat coronavirus. Experts say America couldn’t handle it,” and NBC ran with “As Covid-19 runs riot across the world, China controls the pandemic.”
It isn’t enough for reporters to include a disclaimer saying the claims have not been checked. There is no doubt the assertions are baseless and politically motivated to harm the accused country and deflect blame from the CCP for the origins and scale of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The CCP Punishes Dissenters
The CCP has restricted the publication of academic research on the origins of the novel coronavirus. Therefore, when Chinese “disease researchers” offer quotes or scientific findings, it is only because the regime has vetted and approved them.
We know what happens when doctors simply try to reveal critical information or shine a light on the abusive censorship of Chinese authorities. Dr. Ai Fen, an emergency unit director at Wuhan Central Hospital, publicly criticized the hospital’s management for dismissing early warnings of the coronavirus. Like the whistleblower Dr. Li Wenliang, whom media reports claim died of COVID-19, CCP authorities reprimanded Ai when she tried to warn about the emerging epidemic.
Ai said Li’s death was one reason she decided to speak out. “If I could have known, I would have told everyone, even though I was warned. I have thought many times — if only time could be turned back,” she said. (The U.K. Guardian posted an even more aggressive translation of her remarks: “If I had known what was to happen, I would not have cared about the reprimand. I would have f-cking talked about it to whoever, wherever I could.”)
According to “60 Minutes Australia,” shortly after her public interviews, Ai disappeared. In April, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Foreign Minister Marise Payne joined the United States in its calls to get to the bottom of the COVID-19 origins, publicly urging an international investigation and for China to allow transparency in the process.
Payne also joined the United States in questioning the credibility of the World Health Organization (WHO), saying she did not believe the WHO should run the inquiry. “It will need parties, countries to come to the table with a willingness to be transparent and to engage in that process and to ensure that we have a review mechanism in which the international community can have faith,” she said.
Almost immediately, China’s ambassador warned that Australia’s calls for a true, thorough international investigation would result in China punishing Australia economically by consumer boycotts of students and tourists visiting Australia, and in boycotting sales of popular agricultural exports, such as beef and wine. The result has been much more than a “consumer boycott.” The Chinese government issued a blacklist, according to Bloomberg News, which was delivered verbally to commodities traders. It covered coal, barley, copper, sugar, timber, wine, and lobster.
Then in November, Chinese regulators imposed heavy tariffs on Australian wines, slapping duties of between 107.1 and 212.1 percent imports. In an expression of solidarity with Australia against the punitive tariffs, the National Security Council announced it will be serving Australian wine at its holiday reception. Solidarity among the nations of the free world and courage like Australia’s will certainly be needed as China becomes more entrenched in its refusal to cooperate and as Beijing’s disinformation campaign rages on.
Don’t Give China a Platform
Despite U.S. and Aussie doubts about the credibility of the WHO, the organization formed an international team in September to “investigate” and build on China’s findings. Last week, the United Nations convened a meeting of world leaders on the COVID-19 pandemic, but U.S. officials said it was essentially a charade designed to allow Beijing to spread CCP propaganda.
The two-day meeting of the U.N. General Assembly began Thursday with some 53 heads of state, 39 heads of government, and 38 ministers who made pre-recorded video statements. China was not held accountable, nor was the CCP’s misinformation campaign thwarted.
Simply including China in multilateral organizations without demanding it meet basic standards of responsible behavior and transparency merely empowers the CCP. The Trump administration was right to continue raising questions about the origins of the pandemic and the CCP’s behavior, and the Australians are bravely holding the line by insisting on a credible international investigation and at great cost. All countries should be making the same demand.
In the meantime, China should be denied platforms — through the media and international forums — to spread its corrupting lies.