Melbourne-based newspaper Herald Sun displays a controversial cartoon of Serena Williams that has been widely condemned as a racist depiction of the tennis great, in Melbourne, Australia, Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018. The newspaper defended its cartoonist Mark Knight’s depiction of Williams and is asserting the condemnation, which has come from all parts of the world, is driven by political correctness. (AP Photo)
The editors of the respected British scientific journal Nature issued a statement on Tuesday in which they apologize for associating the coronavirus with China. What is it about making a public apology that makes people feel so noble? Anyway, they call on the masses to “stop the coronavirus stigma now.” They write:
When the World Health Organization (WHO) announced in February that the disease caused by the new coronavirus would be called COVID‑19, the name was quickly adopted by organizations involved in communicating public-health information. As well as naming the illness, the WHO was implicitly sending a reminder to those who had erroneously been associating the virus with Wuhan and with China in their news coverage— including Nature. That we did so was an error on our part, for which we take responsibility and apologize.
The editors acknowledge that it had been common for viral diseases to be named after the places where the first outbreaks occurred as in the German measles or the Middle East respiratory syndrome. But they cite new guidelines introduced by the WHO in 2015, which were designed to “stop this practice and thereby reduce stigma and negative impacts such as fear or anger directed towards those regions or their people.” They continue:
And yet, as countries struggle to control the spread of the new coronavirus, a minority of politicians are sticking with the outdated script. US President Donald Trump has repeatedly associated the virus with China. Brazilian lawmaker Eduardo Bolsonaro — the son of President Jair Bolsonaro — has called it “China’s fault”. Politicians elsewhere, including in the United Kingdom, are also saying that China bears responsibility.
Okay, they can stop it right there. Where did the first case occur? In Wuhan, China
And, yes, the responsibility for the spread of this disease lies with the Chinese government. Rather than alerting the World Health Organization and members of the world medical community, they chose to cover it up. They silenced both the doctors who reported on this strange new virus and the journalists who wrote about it. They tried to conceal the extent and the severity of the coronavirus from the world.
Historian and commentator Victor Davis Hanson described the cover-up in a recent op-ed. He wrote:
Sometime in late November the Chinese Communist Party apparat was aware that the ingredients of some sort of an epidemic were brewing in Wuhan. Soon after, it was also clear to them that a new type of coronavirus was on the loose, a threat they might have taken more seriously given the similar Chinese origins of the prior toxic SARS coronavirus and the resources of a Level 4 virology lab nearby.
Yet the government initially hid all that knowledge from its own people in particular and in general from the world at large. Translated into American terms, that disingenuousness ensured that over 10,000 Chinese nationals and foreigners living in China flew every day on direct flights into the United States (Washington and California especially) from late November to the beginning of February, until the Trump travel ban of January 31.
All this laxity was also known to the Communist apparat in Beijing, which must have been amused when Trump was roundly damned by his liberal critics as a xenophobe and racist for finally daring to stop the influx on January 31 — the first major leader to enact such a total ban.
China will rue what it begat.
That is, it will come to appreciate fully that the supposed efficiency, ruthlessness, and autocracy of the Communist Party — what had so impressed foolish American journalists who once marveled at Beijing’s ability to enact by fiat liberal pet projects such as high-speed rail and solar industries — were China’s worst enemies, ensuring that the virus would spread and that China’s international reputation would be ruined.
Even worse, the CCP launched a propaganda campaign in which they tried to blame the US for the virus.
Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, tried to advance the conspiracy theory that the coronavirus was brought to Wuhan by the U.S. Army when 300 soldiers traveled there in mid-October for the Military World Games. Last month, Zhao sent the following tweets:
This article is very much important to each and every one of us. Please read and retweet it. COVID-19: Further Evidence that the Virus Originated in the US. https://t.co/LPanIo40MR
— Lijian Zhao 赵立坚 (@zlj517) March 13, 2020
2/2 CDC was caught on the spot. When did patient zero begin in US? How many people are infected? What are the names of the hospitals? It might be US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Be transparent! Make public your data! US owe us an explanation! pic.twitter.com/vYNZRFPWo3
— Lijian Zhao 赵立坚 (@zlj517) March 12, 2020
Thankfully, the world was too smart to buy that theory. Chinese leaders quickly learned that the heavy-handed tactics they use on their own citizens won’t fly on the world stage and they backed away from it.
President Trump’s National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien spoke at the Heritage Foundation in Washington last month and said, “There’s lots of open source reporting from China, from Chinese nationals that the doctors involved were either silenced or, or put in isolation or that sort of thing so word of this virus could not get out…If we had been able to sequence the virus and had the cooperation necessary from the Chinese, had a WHO team been on the ground, had a CDC team which we’d offered been on the ground, I think we could’ve dramatically curtailed what happened both in China and what’s now happening across the world.”
He “blasted the Chinese government, and said their “cover-up probably cost the world two months to respond.”
And they are still lying about the numbers of new cases. We know they lied about the death toll in their country. Simply put, the Chinese government cannot be trusted.
The world is not blaming the Chinese people. The government was lying to them as well. They do not share in this failure. That honor belongs solely to the CCP.
And long before we start worrying about political correctness, let’s worry about getting through the most challenging public health crisis any of us has ever witnessed and the economic damage the fight to contain it has brought.
Please, it’s just way too early to worry about the stigma that Chinese students studying abroad may feel.