The world can learn much by paying attention to how the outbreak of the CCP 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 Dr. Li Wenliang and whistle-provider Dr. Ai Fen.
Ai is the emergency room director who saw a SARS coronavirus-positive test report for a patient on Dec. 30, 2019, and sent the report to a friend. The report immediately circulated in a circle of eight doctors that included Li.
The reaction was almost instantaneous. At 10:20 p.m., the hospital sent a message conveying a Wuhan Health Commission notice that anything about the “unknown pneumonia” shouldn’t be made public. One hour later, the hospital sent another, similar notice. Then, on Jan. 2, Ai was called to the hospital office and was rebuked by a hospital official, who also conveyed orders from higher authorities. Ai didn’t talk about the virus afterward, not even to her husband, until Jan. 20.
Li and seven other doctors who were considered whistleblowers got more serious punishment. They also were censured, and not by hospital officials, but by police on Jan. 3. The censorship effort turned out to be very successful; all of the doctors who knew about the outbreak kept silent.
Meanwhile, the rest of China and the world were kept in the dark for at least another 20 days.
The coverup and censorship had begun before Ai shared the test report. Wuhan Central Hospital sent out the first “unknown pneumonia” patient sample on Dec. 24, 2019. The report, which the hospital received Dec. 27, indicated that a coronavirus was found in the sample, with 70 percent similarity to SARS coronavirus. A report from a second test facility stated simply, “SARS.” Both facilities were private companies.
The hospital reported the results to the Wuhan Health Commission the same day, which means that Wuhan officials knew of the disease three days earlier than Ai. While the Wuhan Health Commission can directly order the hospital to silence doctors, only administrative officials can order the police to punish whistleblowers.
The coverup was already at the city government level as early as Jan. 3.
Other organizations also covered up the outbreak. On Jan. 1, the Hubei Provincial Health Commission notified 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. It also was ordered that all samples must be destroyed.
On Jan. 3, the National Health Commission formally banned all non-governmental facilities from testing samples related to the Wuhan pneumonia case, which the Beijing financial magazine Caixin recounted, 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 part of another coverup. Zhong went to Wuhan on Jan. 19. Before he left Wuhan to go to Beijing the next day, he announced that the virus was capable of human-to-human transmission, which authorities at different levels had denied.
Before Zhong, two groups of experts had been sent to Wuhan by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC). Why is it that Zhong could find something within one day while so many experts visiting Wuhan couldn’t? Caijing, another Beijing-based financial magazine, interviewed an expert from the second group, and asked those in the group whether hospital staff had been infected—the key evidence for human-to-human transmission. The experts never got an answer.
Zhong had earned 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 could change the tone without exposing government wrongdoing.
Zhong, then, was just another tool of the Party. During this outbreak, even partial “truth” from the CCP becomes part of the lies.
From day one, every Party and government organization—and the hospitals and individuals inside the system—has been involved in weaving a web of lies. Anyone who intentionally or unintentionally exposed the lies was immediately silenced, by 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 occurs, the CCP doesn’t need to do much for the victims and survivors. Digging up survivors is for taking photos or videos—saving lives is the least concern.
During the Sichuan earthquake in 2008, classrooms collapsed, killing schoolchildren, 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 parents and activists who sought the truth and justice.
In fighting disasters, the most important work is to brag about 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 other similar actions. 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 into a “good thing” to enhance the CCP’s power. After the victims, the survivors, and the activists are silenced, CCP can easily generate the support of those who haven’t suffered personally.
The disasters don’t make the nation strong. They make the CCP strong.
During this 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, a boast that has 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 allowing a small problem to grow, 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 problem was originally created by the CCP. This is part of the Party’s information war.
From the beginning, Chinese authorities have sought to pass the blame for the outbreak. The first scapegoat was Huanan Seafood Market (HSM). HSM was formally mentioned as the source by Chinese authorities on Dec. 30, 2019, on Jan.11 by the Wuhan Health Commission, and on Jan. 22 by Gao Fu, the director of China CDC.
However, three papers, including two from Lancet and one from the New England Journal of Medicine, and 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 two of three subsequent cases, had no HSM history. Since those cases were all confirmed before Jan. 11, the Wuhan Health Commission was aware 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 that they had found a virus in the pangolin that has a 99 percent similarity to the coronavirus causing the Wuhan pneumonia.
However, one of the researchers, Shen Yongyi, pointed out in an interview with Nanfang Daily that the pangolin sample wasn’t from the university’s collection but from a certain specific government unit. Shen said that under heavy pressure, results were revealed to the public, rather than publishing them in a scientific journal first.
Since those two scapegoats didn’t work well, the United States has become the new target.
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 Dr. Zhong said that because the coronavirus outbreak appeared in China doesn’t mean it originated in China. Since 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 an equally 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 coronavirus controversy 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 No. 1 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.
Heng He is a commentator on Sound of Hope Radio, a China analyst for New Tang Dynasty TV, and a writer for The Epoch Times newspaper.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.