During the 4th June 1989 student pro-democracy protest in China, which is remembered as the Tiananmen Square massacre, the Chinese communist government claimed that “no shots were fired.”
We asked with all due indignation ‘Why were we not told about the SARS epidemic?’ when the SARS cover-up by the Chinese communist party was finally exposed in 2003. Not to mention that the 88-year-old doctor who exposed this cover-up is still under house arrest in China.
How could we not know for 20 years about a violent, drawn-out, massive campaign that aims at “eradicating” 100 million innocent Falun Gong practitioners for their dedication to a popular meditation and exercise practice that helps improve body, mind and moral character? We all need to rethink about a government that can kill its own peace-loving citizens for their organs and has the gumption to cover-up. Besides the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners, Uyghur Muslims too are victims of organ harvesting and so are Christians and Tibetans persecuted.
Is anyone listening?
Wearing Blinkers to Avoid Public Scrutiny
When the current Wuhan coronavirus first surfaced, the initial reaction of the Chinese Communist Party was to deny that anything devastating was happening. It was declared “controllable” until the evidence was getting out of hand and became a “public health emergency” of worldwide concern in just over a month: from “no human-to-human transmission” to tens of thousands of confirmed cases. (Get Live Updates here.)
Following the complete quarantine of 11 million people in Wuhan, smaller cities in the Hubei province followed the same. Around 35 million people are living in cities that have been placed under mass quarantine due to the coronavirus outbreak. From a mere 45 infections on 16th January 2020, the list of infected people has grown to over 80,000 cases globally. And the death toll from this deadly virus has been growing by over 20% daily.
According to Johns Hopkins CSSE data, the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), officially named as Covid-19 by the WHO, has spread to 34 more countries apart from China alarming public health authorities across the world. As of 27th, Feb. total of 82,548 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus infection, including 2,810 deaths (in countries like China, Iran, South Korea, Italy, and the Philippines, Japan, France, and Taiwan) have been reported across the world.
Now if this doesn’t sound like a lot right now, based on studies in the New England Journal of Medicine this new coronavirus spreads as rapidly as the 1918 Spanish flu which killed 59 million people worldwide.
People out of frustration ask: Is this a natural disaster or a man-made tragedy? How can a national system have so many loopholes? Why does the Chinese Communist Party keep concealing the truth? When the whole nation was mobilized to resist the “epidemic,” emergency supplies could not be distributed in time due to poor coordination.
Gagging up Freedom of Expression
China’s state censors keep improving its great firewall and continue to block its citizens from reading true information on the Internet. They clamped down on digital items related to the outbreak of the new coronavirus. Local news reports that expose the dire circumstances in the city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak were blocked and social media platforms of posts from Wuhan residents were cleaned up.
A local resident’s WeChat account along with thousands of others was suddenly sealed off. Since she exclusively uses WeChat to communicate with people, she lost contact with hundreds of friends and relatives.
She asks, “Is writing a few sentences about the lack of face masks now enough to get one’s account suspended and branded a traitor? I do not do anything to disrupt the country.”
The anger of people in Wuhan and across Hubei is palpable. They are incensed why local officials have been so slow to respond to the outbreak, and why the information was censored about the coronavirus in news reports and on social media. They’re also frustrated being prisoners in their own homes, with no end of the quarantine insight.
Time and time again during the crisis, people have seen that the Chinese Communist Party, with its readiness to mobilize an enormous security apparatus, lacks the human touch and a well thought out plan to handle this critical, nationwide emergency. A fifty-seven storied hospital with 10,000 beds was built in 19 days, but this architectural feat was of little value for people since they were quarantined and had to overcome all kinds of roadblocks to reach the hospital and often did not.
While it’s hard to say what the actual toll on China’s population is so far, official numbers describing diagnoses and deaths are far from the true numbers. One thing clear is the unexpected emergence of the virus and swift spread around the globe has changed how Chinese people perceive and express their views about their government.
Whistleblower Is First Declared a Traitor and Then Honoured as a Martyr
Li Wenliang, a 34-year-old doctor in the central city of Wuhan, became well-known after he made a December social media post about a SARS-like illness. But days after Li’s warning on social media, he was reprimanded by police for rumor-mongering online. Soon after, on February 7, Dr. Li infected while working on fighting against the coronavirus outbreak died.
But for hours, there was confusion since earlier reports of Dr. Li’s death on Chinese social media were deleted and replaced by messages saying he was being treated. Then hours later he was finally reported dead again by the hospital where he worked. This unleashed a wave of fury stoking fresh anger online from citizens questioning not just the initial response, but also the overall competence of the Communist Party. To quell the ire of the general public Dr. Li was honored as a martyr. Wuhan’s government, which initially sanctioned Li, called his death unfortunate. “We express our deep condolences and regret,” it said. “We pay tribute to him for standing on the frontline to fight against the epidemic and express sincere condolences to his family.”
In the weeks that followed, the virus exploded into the epidemic that infected more than 25,000, halted travel across parts of China, and led to the mass quarantine of Wuhan, a city of more than 10 million. Healthy Wuhan residents complained they were forced into mass coronavirus quarantine, risking infection.
“I think now (they are carrying out this) one size for all sweeping policy,” said a Wuhan resident, referring to the government behest to “round up everyone who should be rounded up.” “They would rather wrong 10,000 people than miss that 100.”
Dr. Li’s warning and the police reprimand have raised issues within China about the incompetence of the government that could have done a lot more, earlier to stop the spread of the infection. Also, the manner in which the death of Dr. Li was shrouded in secrecy exposed the Chinese officials’ concern for stage-managing rather than giving transparent updates about developments related to the virus.
The regime might put on a front of its infallibility but Dr. Li’s death is a reminder that unexpected challenges can emerge and can shake the ground under for even the mightiest of rulers with an iron fist.
For Chinese people, it is important to realize that the outbreak of coronavirus in China is a tragedy caused by the communist system. The best way to escape doom is to understand the indifferent nature of the Chinese Communist Party and distance oneself from this ruthless organization.
Most people in China at some time or another have been compelled to take membership with the Chinese Communist Party. Mass killings during the Cultural Revolution, the Tiananmen Square massacre and the long-drawn persecution of Falun Gong practitioners made people realize the evil designs the communist party had on the common man. As a result, people, in order to be free from the clutches, have slowly started withdrawing membership from the party. As of now, more than 350 million Chinese people have quit the Party and its affiliated organizations and the number is rising daily.