Beijing Facing a 'Chernobyl Moment' for its Pandemic Handling, Experts Say

Beijing Facing a 'Chernobyl Moment' for its Pandemic Handling, Experts Say
A security guard wearing a facemask amid the concerns over the COVID-19 coronavirus closes a gate outside the forbidden city (back) in Beijing on April 12, 2020. (Nicolas Asfouri/AFP via Getty Images)
Eva Fu
The Chinese regime’s attempt to cover up the CCP virus outbreak marks the country’s “Chernobyl moment,” according to an open letter signed by over 150 politicians and experts on China.

The April 14 letter pinpointed the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) authoritarian rule as the root cause of the global pandemic and urged for a review of what its draconian policies may have cost the world.

“The current global crisis has been caused by the regime so many of you have been tolerating or supporting for decades,” stated the letter addressed to Chinese citizens and friends of China worldwide. Politicians who have signed on the letter include multiple parliament members from Britain, Lithuania, Estonia, the Czech Republic, and the European Union.

The 1986 Chernobyl disaster in then-Soviet Ukraine 34 years ago remains the worst nuclear accident in world history and likely led to tens of thousands of deaths. Kremlin officials did not acknowledge the catastrophe for days despite the lethal threat of radiation fallout on Soviet citizens and neighboring countries.

“Totalitarian governments rule by fear and lies,” said Jakub Janda, executive director at Czech-based think tank European Values Center for Security Policy.

After decades of the communist occupation in his own country, Janda saw “many similarities between Soviet communists and current Chinese communists,” he said in an email.

“The current COVID-19 pandemic coverup by the CCP is the same thing Soviet communists did during the [1986] Chernobyl disaster. Just this time, it’s much worse,” he said. The think tank also endorsed the letter.

‘Roots of the Pandemic’

Chinese authorities knew there were human-to-human transmission risks for the virus, but hid the information from the public, initially telling the World Health Organization (WHO) there was no clear evidence of such risks. It was only on Jan. 20, three days before the epicenter of the virus, Wuhan, went under lockdown, that the regime publicly confirmed it.
Wuhan’s mayor, in a Jan. 27 interview with state media, admitted that the central government had made the decision to withhold information about the outbreak.
Meanwhile, a string of police summons, arrests, and forced disappearances continued in China as the regime suppressed citizen journalists Fang Bin and Li Zehua, and doctor Li Wenliang, who voiced critical warnings from the ground.
College student Zhang Wenbin disappeared shortly after he posted a message reflecting on the ruling regime’s history of repression and calling on the Party to step down.

The latest open letter called the CCP cover-up the “roots of the pandemic” and urged people to “never forget that China’s Chernobyl moment was a self-inflicted wound.”

An April 7 report by Washington-based think tank the American Enterprise Institute estimated that China likely has around 2.9 million confirmed cases rather than the reported figures of less than 100,000. A recent report by the UK-based Henry Jackson Society suggested that the Chinese regime is responsible for at least $4 trillion of pandemic-related damages worldwide.

“The global pandemic forces us all to confront an inconvenient truth: by politicizing all aspects of life including people’s health, continued autocratic one-party rule in the People’s Republic of China has endangered everyone,” the letter said.

A growing body of U.S. lawmakers and international experts have also highlighted the Chinese regime’s role in the global health disaster.

On April 14, seven Republican senators called on the WHO to release communications it sent and received from the CCP relating to the virus. A Wisconsin state senator introduced a resolution to condemn Beijing for “deliberately and intentionally” misleading the world about the true situation in Wuhan—a response to the local Chinese consulate requesting he praise the regime’s outbreak containment efforts.

The letter makes a point of drawing a distinction between the CCP and the Chinese people, who are most victimized by the regime, and shows solidarity with them.

“I think that the Chinese people are a wonderful and great people,” Wisconsin Senator Roger Roth told The Epoch Times. “They’ve just been held hostage by this brutal, oppressive regime for the last 70 years.”

“China is so much larger than the regime that occupies its halls of power,” said Shuvaloy Majumdar, director of the Centre for Advancing Canada's Interests Abroad at Ottawa-based Macdonald-Laurier Institute.

"The people of China, and friends of the people, deserve to know that the propaganda their government is disseminating is patently false, that the world shares in the aspirations and fears of the Chinese people," he said via email.

Zhang, the recently disappeared student, is one example of a greater awakening in China “beyond government propaganda at schools and wider control of information,” Majumdar said.

“The Chinese people are discovering the truths of the Communist Party legacy.”

Eva Fu is a New York-based writer for The Epoch Times focusing on U.S. politics, U.S.-China relations, religious freedom, and human rights. Contact Eva at