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  • Writer's pictureXiaodong Fang

5 things the Chinese government should be blamed for the outbreak of the Wuhan Coronavirus

As of the end of January 2020, the Wuhan Coronavirus has killed at least 200 people out of more than 9,800 infected (See the update of the Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Situation Summary at the CDC website). The disease has spread to all the 32 provinces in China and spread to at least 22 other countries, including the US.

Photo Courtesy of CDC/Unsplash

Although the Chinese authorities quarantined the entire city of Wuhan and many other cities, with all transportation halted, whether the quarantine can stop the disease remained unclear and the measures may be too much too late. The coronavirus has become a global health emergency as threat rises inside and outside China. I list 5 things the Chinese government should be blamed for the outbreak of the Wuhan Coronavirus, which is now out of control.

1. Delayed response to the disease

The public awareness of the mysterious pneumonia-like illness has already existed in late 2019, but the Chinese government did not make any official action to contain the disease until late January 2020.

The first reports of the potential coronavirus began to trickle in on New Year's Eve. According to an NPR report, "Online, people in the city of Wuhan began reporting suspected cases in their neighborhoods and asking for help." Wuhan's police "responded" quickly, not to the disease, but to the people who reported it. "Eight people disseminating rumors (about the disease) have been investigated and dealt with according to the law."

2. Prioritizing political stability over public health

One of the reasons behind the delayed response is a "balancing" of pros and cons by the Chinese authorities, which unfortunately (and unsurprisingly), prioritize political stability over public health.

The Chinese authorities censored the media coverage and personal discussion of the disease in social media. According to a BuzzFeed report, police in Wuhan have arrested at least eight people for "spreading rumors" about the coronavirus, according to state media, and there are reports that up to 40 people have been investigated for similar charges around the country. The government crackdown on online rumors is routinely used to censor information the party doesn’t like, even if it is in fact true and not misinformation at all.

Without the transparent access for people to know the real situations of the disease, local government in Wuhan even held a holiday banquet for Lunar New Year, which allowed a gathering of more than 40,000 people to go on January 19, 2020.

3. Inapt leadership

Chinese President Xi Jinping maintains a low profile since the coronavirus epidemic turned into a national crisis. Xi rarely appears in newscasts connected to the outbreak.

The "do nothing" Xi now faces perhaps his biggest political challenge to date. Unlike the Hong Kong protest movement or the trade war with the US, analysts say he can't easily blame hostile foreign forces for a homegrown epidemic -- ostensibly exacerbated by initial mishandling in Wuhan.

4. Inhuman lockdown

The quarantine of Wuhan, a city with 11 million population, is unprecedented in world history and perhaps another case of the massive human rights abuses in China.

Under the quarantine since January 23, 2020, Wuhan is running low on food, hospitals are overflowing, and foreigners are being evacuated as panic sets in after a week under coronavirus lockdown.

The Chinese government is already infamous of imprisoning at least 1 million Uighur Muslims. If the Wuhan lockdown does "work" (even minimal) to prevent further diffusion of disease, China will claim “legitimacy” for such an inhuman approach and probably spread it to more areas of social and political controls.

5. Rejecting foreign experts to study the disease

Unable to cure and contain the disease, the Chinese government refused foreign experts into China to study the coronavirus outbreak.

According to DailyMail, amid its outbreak of coronavirus that has killed over 100 people and sickened more than 4,500, China refused two direct offers from the US to send infectious disease experts to help fight the virus's spread, and a third made via the World Health Organization. 

Combating the internationally wide-spreading disease shouldn't be the domestic affair of China. The Chinese government was acting like an ally to the viruses.


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