The world can learn much by paying attention to how the outbreak of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus*, commonly known as the novel coronavirus, has been handled in China.
There were at least two well-known doctors at Wuhan Central Hospital during the outbreak, the whistleblower Li Wenliang and whistle provider Ai Fen.
Dr. Ai Fen is the director of the ER. She saw a test report with SARS coronavirus positive from a patient on Dec. 30. She sent the report to a friend. The report immediately circulated in a circle of doctors. Dr. Li was one of the eight doctors who circulated the report.
The reaction was almost instant. At 10:20pm, the hospital sent a message conveying the Wuhan Health Commission’s notice that anything about the “Unknown Pneumonia” should not go public. One hour later, the hospital sent another similar notice. Two days later, in the morning of Jan. 2, Dr. Ai was called to the hospital office and was rebuked by a hospital official who also conveyed orders from higher authorities. Dr. Ai did not talk about the virus afterwards, not even to her husband until Jan. 20.
Dr. Li and seven other doctors who were considered the whistleblowers got more serious punishment. They were not rebuked by the hospital authorities but by the police on Jan. 3. The information censorship was very successful. All doctors who knew about the outbreak kept silent. The rest of China and the world were kept in the dark for at least another twenty days.
The converup and censorship had begun before Dr. Ai shared the test report. Wuhan Central Hospital sent out the first “unknown pneumonia” patient sample on Dec. 24 and got the result back on Dec. 27. The report indicated that a coronavirus was found in the sample with 70 percent similarity to SARS coronavirus. Another report from a second test facility stated simply “SARS.” Both facilities were private companies.
The hospital reported to Wuhan Health Commission the same day. In other words, the Wuhan authorities knew of the disease three days earlier than Ai Fen did. While the Wuhan Health Commission can directly order the hospital to silence doctors, only administrative authorities can order the police to punish whistleblowers. The coverup was already at the city government level as early as Jan. 3.
Other organizations covered up the outbreak. On Jan. 1, Hubei Provincial Health Commission notified the gene sequencing companies not to take the Wuhan Pneumonia samples, not to test the samples, not to submit scientific papers, and not to reveal the results to the public. Furthermore, all samples must be destroyed.
On Jan. 3, the National Health Commission formally banned all non-governmental facilities from testing samples related to Wuhan pneumonia. This is the story told by the Beijing financial magazine Caixin in the report “Tracing the Novel Coronavirus Gene Sequencing: When Did the Alarm Sound.” The Caixin article was taken down several hours after being published.
An esteemed, senior doctor named Zhong Nanshan was used to manage the end of another coverup. Zhong went to Wuhan on Jan. 19 and left for Beijing the next day. Before he left Wuhan, he announced that the virus was capable of human to human transmission, which had been denied before by authorities at different levels.
Before Zhong, two groups of experts had been sent to Wuhan by the China CDC. Why could Zhong find something within one day while so many experts staying in Wuhan couldn’t? Caijing, another Beijing-based financial magazine, interviewed an expert from the second group. When visiting different hospitals the expert group asked whether hospital staff had been infected—the key evidence for human-to-human transmission. The experts had never gotten an answer.
Zhong had won a good reputation for fighting SARS and is the leading Chinese official for fighting respiratory infectious diseases. An outsider to Wuhan, he hadn’t been involved in the previous coverup. He had the authority to change the status of the epidemic disease, and he could change the tone without exposing the government’s wrongdoing.
Zhong, then, was just another tool of the Party. During this outbreak, even partial “truth” from the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) becomes part of a big web of lies.
From day one, every Party and government organization, and the hospitals and individuals inside the system, have been involved in weaving a web of lies. Anyone who intentionally or unintentionally exposed the lies was immediately silenced. This was not done by any individual because the censorship happened in different organizations, at different levels, and by different authorities.
‘Disasters Make the Nation Strong’
The CCP’s institutions are designed for keeping its power, not for preventing and handling natural disasters, especially not for something like the novel coronavirus.
The pattern is usually like this. When a large-scale natural disaster such as an earthquake or flood happens, the CCP doesn’t need to do much for the victims and survivors. Digging up survivors is for taking photos or videos—saving life is the least concern.
During the Sichuan earthquake in 2008, classrooms collapsed, killing the schoolchildren inside, while government buildings remained standing. But officials were never held accountable for the corruption that caused the shoddy school construction. The CCP’s “solution” was to jail the parents and activists who sought the truth and justice.
In fighting disaster, the most important work is to brag how great the CCP is. The people can only see the gratitude of the survivors to the Party, the red flag-waving rescue teams, the award and victory celebration ceremonies, and so on. As time goes by, people who have no direct experience of the suffering can only remember the propaganda while totally forgetting the victims and the officials responsible for the disaster.
This pattern is captured in the CCP slogan, “disasters make the nation strong.” It might be difficult to understand that natural or even man-made disasters can be transformed to a “good thing” to enhance the CCP’s power. After the victims, the survivors, and the activists are silenced, CCP can easily make the majority who have not suffered personally support its rule. The disasters don’t make the nation strong. They make the CCP strong.
During this Wuhan virus outbreak, the CCP has gone even further. “Disasters make the nation strong” has become “CCP saves the world.” The CCP has claimed that China bought time for the world and this claim has even been echoed by some Western media.
But if the CCP didn’t cover things up, there was no need to “buy time.” The CCP is very good at making a small problem big, then using all resources to fight the “big problem.” People see the CCP fighting the big problem so efficiently that they tend to forget the big problem was originally created by the CCP. This is part of the CCP’s information war.
From the beginning, Chinese authorities have tried to blame someone else for the outbreak. The first scapegoat was Huanan Seafood Market (HSM). HSM as the source was mentioned three times on formal occasions by Chinese authorities, on Dec. 30, 2019 and Jan.11 by the Wuhan Health Commission, and on Jan. 22 by Gao Fu, the Director of China CDC.
However, three papers, two from Lancet and one from the New England Journal of Medicine, all by Chinese doctors and scientists, published between Jan. 24 and 30, tell a different story.
In the first 41 cases, 13 of them had no HSM contact history, and the first case, and 2 out of 3 of the following cases, had no HSM history. Since those cases were all confirmed before Jan. 11, the Wuhan Health Commission was aware of the fact that HSM could only be the first cluster, and not the original source. Denial of human-to-human transmission is one thing, while intentionally misleading about the origin of the disease is a totally different issue. What did they want to hide?
The second scapegoat is the pangolin, the odd mammal with scales whose meat is considered a delicacy. On Feb. 7, a research group at South China Agriculture University announced to the public that they had found a coronavirus in the pangolin that has 99 percent similarity to the coronavirus causing the Wuhan pneumonia.
However, when interviewed by Nanfang Daily, one of the researchers, Shen Yongyi, pointed out that the pangolin sample was not from their own collection but from a certain specific government unit. Shen said that they revealed their results to the public, instead of publishing them in a scientific journal first, under huge pressure.
Since these two scapegoats didn’t work well, the new target is the United States. Zhao Lijian, the spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry Department, has claimed that a U.S. military team brought the coronavirus to Wuhan. This was not Zhao’s personal mistake. Before Zhao’s accusation, the SARS-fighting Zhong said that because the coronavirus outbreak appeared in China doesn’t mean it originated in China. Then Zhao’s accusation and similar finger pointing have flooded China’s social media.
If the HSM and pangolin were put forward to find someone, anyone, to blame, out of a spontaneous response, the decision to point at the United States is a well-orchestrated strategy from the top circle of the leadership. Why does the CCP want to do something so obviously wrong that nobody around the world would believe? The CCP is trying to turn the controversy over the coronavirus to its advantage, especially in China.
What else could be more effective and convenient than blaming the United States? The United States has been the number one scapegoat for all the CCP’s own problems for the past 70 years.
Did the CCP lie about the Wuhan outbreak at the early stage? Yes. Is the CCP still lying now? No doubt. Will the CCP lie in the future? Definitely. What should we do? Don’t trust anything from the CCP. That’s what Taiwan has been doing and doing so well. During the SARS outbreak in 2003 Taiwan was abandoned by the World Health Organization (WHO), which favors the CCP. Facing the coronavirus, Taiwan can only rely on itself. The most important lesson the rest of the world can learn from Taiwan is not to trust the CCP or WHO.
While some countries believe that Taiwan should be accepted by WHO, it turns out that it’s not Taiwan that needs WHO, but the whole world needs Taiwan.
*The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.