NP View on COVID-19: China's lies allowed the coronavirus outbreak to spread

 No one will ever know how many additional deaths resulted from the determination of China’s leadership to protect itself at the expense of others

 The good news is that Shenzhen has become the first city in China to ban the sale of dogs and cats for human consumption. The move is yet another response to the outbreak of COVID-19, which is believed to have originated in horseshoe bats sold at “wet markets,” which sell an array of live and dead animals, including bats. Dogs and cats are not widely popular as household dishes, but have grown in popularity as pets, prompting the city of 12 million to explain that the ban “responds to the demand and spirit of human civilization.”

Figures suggest China has got the virus largely under control, five months after the first known case emerged. It reported just 90 new cases on Wednesday, about a tenth of the number of people who died that same day in Spain (950) and the United States (850). Beijing’s communist rulers have been moving to slowly relaunch the economy, which plunged dramatically as draconian measures were imposed to halt the virus’s spread. In addition to containment efforts, China’s leadership is now working eagerly to deflect blame for the outbreak and formulate alternative facts to the ones widely reported around the globe.

 A resident pays for groceries by standing on a tree stump to peer over barriers set up around a wet market in Wuhan, China, on April 1. Aly Song/Reuters


They may face a challenge in that China’s credibility, which was never great, has been shredded to a degree even its inventive propagandists may find difficult to overcome. Initially praised for its response to the outbreak, we now know Beijing did its best to hide and then play down the danger, arrest and punish those who tried to issue warnings, glorify media outlets that obediently parroted the government line and expel foreign journalists who couldn’t be frightened or controlled. Mere mention of the fact that the virus originated in Wuhan has been deemed racist and insulting, while officials plant conspiracy theories suggesting a dark plot by the U.S. military.

While such ideas may seem laughable, such is the clout China has achieved in world bodies that the World Health Organization (WHO) — the body many would expect to be at the forefront of the battle against the virus — has itself had its integrity brought into question. Bruce Aylward, a Canadian doctor appointed to lead a joint WHO-China mission on the virus, was subject to blistering attacks on social media for appearing to dodge a question on Taiwan, in deference to Beijing’s political sensibilities. The Hong Kong reporter who asked the question then came under attack from pro-China legislators, while the station she worked for was accused of breaching its obligation to promote China’s “one country, two systems” policy. While the world’s attention was focused elsewhere, China used the COVID-19 crisis to quietly arrest Hong Kong residents and demote the official in charge of the Hong Kong office, replacing him with a dedicated ally of President Xi Jinping.

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National Post
NP View on COVID-19: China's lies allowed the coronavirus outbreak to spread NP View on COVID-19: China's lies allowed the coronavirus outbreak to spread Reviewed by PostDiscus on April 06, 2020 Rating: 5

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