Investigating China’s Role in COVID-19

COVID-19 has economically, socially damaged intervened national governance and yet the international tension has never been as heated as it is right now. I’d like to share China’s counteract to coronavirus from a logical perspective throughout the past four months.

Brief Timeline:
31 December 2019: Li Wenliang, a 34-year-old doctor working in Wuhan dropped a bombshell about SAR-alike coronavirus warning

3 January 2020, Li was called to a local police station and reprimanded for “severely disrupting social order” over the message he sent in the chat group.

10 January 2020: The first death and 41 clinically confirmed infections caused by the coronavirus were reported.

21 January 2020: The state-backed Institute of Virology in Wuhan filed the patent for using remdesivir, an anti-viral drug for coronavirus

22 January 2020: Confirmed cases were also reported in Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, and the United States.

23 January 2020: China imposed a lockdown in Wuhan, with 571 confirmed cases and 17 deaths reported

30 January 2020: The W.H.O. declared a global health emergency

10 February 2020: Xi has first appeared on the front lines of the fight against the outbreak. On the same day, a team of international experts from WHO arrives in China to assist with containing the coronavirus outbreak.

13 February, the Chinese government has issued extension of order to shut down all non-essential companies, including manufacturing plants

23 February, Italy as the first city outside of china has officially locked down towns, ceased non-essential business operations and schools

1 March: A state health official announces that a patient infected with the novel coronavirus in Washington state has died, marking the first death due to the virus in the United States.

12 March: WHO announces COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic, with over 30,000 confirmed cases and there have been 8000 deaths globally.

13 March: President Trump declares a national emergency about the coronavirus, a $50 billion economic stimulus is proposed

14 March: Hubei Sanitation and Health Committee announces that only Wuhan remains a “high-risk area”, and that the entirety of the rest of the province is considered medium- or “low-risk areas”.

15 March: Lijian Zhao, an official spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, insinuating that the U.S. military may have spread the coronavirus to Wuhan, China, will remain up.

16 March: President Trump described COVID-19 as Chinese Virus on twitter, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Geng Shuang commented The U.S should readdress its mistake and stop baseless attacks against China.

19 March: China reported zero local infections.

21 March: The Netherlands, the Philippines, Croatia, Turkey and Spain have complained about China’s defective masks , it had roughly 30% defective rate

23 March: Cho Jung-tai, chairman of Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) commented “The Chinese Communist Party regime’s approach of maintaining stability and neglecting people’s lives and health has caused the spread of the epidemic,”

25 March: Hubei lifts the lockdown outside of Wuhan, although people will still need to confirm their “Green Code” health classification, designated by Alipay’s monitoring system to travel.

30 March: Hong Kong broadcaster RTHK interviewed Bruce Aylward, the WHO assistant director-general, who denied and hung up on her question about Taiwan’s membership in WHO.

4 April: French officials declared China government has offered a billion surgical masks in exchange of a 5G telecommunication deal with Huawei

6 April: Prime Minister of Britain, Boris Johnson is taken to intensive care

Source: Chartrdaily, published on the day of April 3rd

Overview

The impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) has been so deadly because of the magnification of communication delays, globalization travels and trades as well as access to misinformation in media. However, there are a lot of noises talking about how China is fully responsible for the crisis and rumours about China is using this pandemic to become the world leading superpower.

Misinformation

COVID-19 and SARS belong to the same type of respiratory disease that could be spread by human interaction, as the western countries have never encountered SARS and could only rely on information disclose by China authorities. The severity of the virus is not realized by anyone including close-by countries like South Korea and Australia until it hits Italy and France.

The time gap between the first death in China and Washington is 50 days if the government had reported the true picture of the outbreak there, and the rest of the world could have begun preparation to counteract the pandemic. A University of Southampton study estimates 95 percent of infections would have been avoided if China had acted just three weeks earlier — instead of silencing those who sought to save lives.

Independent Chinese journalists have detailed the Wuhan cover-up: They report that a Chinese lab isolated and identified the strange new virus last December — but that the authorities ­ordered it to stop its work, get rid of its specimens and keep quiet. In late December, When Li Wenliang dropped a bombshell about the potential outbreak of the disease, he was charged and silenced by authorities which indicates (1) the government is guilty about the origin of the virus (Similar to how concentration camp held xinjiang), (2) the government truly believes both cases were made-up rumours and underestimated the outbreak of the virus.

China has historically known for misrepresentation their data and lies about their data from wellness of people to air pollution index, military expendings to criminal rate. Yet none of these information would directly impact other countries but data about COVID could drive decisions for other countries about their precautions and awareness.

If we look into foreign countries, the Japan, South Korea and Taiwan have not been affected drastically by COVID-19. Something they all share in common is that none of them have rely on China’s exports, China does not supply as much manufacturing and industrial goods to these countries than the Europeans and United States, not even close. Secondly, all of them did criticized China’s misleading information act earlier in February, as neighbour country they were already skeptical and realized China’s aggressive foreign approach as reflected as its “Belt Road Initiative”. Thirdly, they were not direct economic competitors of China, it could be coincidences or yet it could be a result of not having much reliance on China’s supply chain despite being one of the most visited sites for Chinese tourism.

WHO

World Health Organization (WHO), who has taken a significant guiding role throughout the pandemic as they centralizes COVID-19, provides national guidance, involves in policy-making process and most importantly act as one of the most reputable resources for public to counteract against the virus.

The privilege Chinese government has over other countries have been apparent, in February 10 WHO has sent a team of health experts to Wuhan to to help assess and contain the virus. WHO has never done anything similar to other countries like Italy or the United States, they have not revealed the severity of the virus instead they have shown agreeableness to China by consistently complimenting China’s performance.

WHO has referred the COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic not until March 12, 2020. At that time there are already 127,000 cases in 125 countries and 4,292 people have died, given the exponential trend of all these cases, it is not reasonable for WHO to declare a pandemic after Italy and Spain imposed national lockdowns. The meaning of pandemic is a trigger to financial markets as well as people in United States, that was the day where school in the United States ceased, work has moved online and people stopped saying COVID-19 is just another flu on social media. If WHO could announce the pandemic earlier, there will not be all these unnecessary deaths happening, in the European and especially in the United States.

Moreover, in 30 March 2020, Hong Kong broadcaster RTHK aired an interview with Bruce Aylward, the WHO assistant director-general, who spoke to journalist Yvonne Tong on a video call. Aylward was asked about would WHO reconsider letting Taiwan, after a long pause of slience, Aylward appeared to hang up on her. A few moment later, she called back and asked if he could comment on Taiwan’s response to the coronavirus, then Aylward replied “Well, we’ve already talked about China.” WHO sided with China’s stance on Taiwan, which is that the island is a breakaway province instead of Taiwan, whom considers itself an independent country. The way how Aylward counteract the question was fearful because he has not mentioned Taiwan once in the interview just like how it is censored in corporations in China.

we put out shoes into WHO, taking a objective logical stance, we would have urge China to report truthful number at the beginning, we would have sent national experts to other countries as well, we would have stopped rumours about people underestimating the severity.

Media Impact

Human psychology are driven by social values and the role social media played in our lives are dramatic and thus thats why media giants have faced criticism arguing they have too much power in manipulating people’s access to media contents. In this pandemic cultural differences have played a huge role and yet media has levered it to the next level.

The mask dilemma, when Eastern countries like Taiwan, Japan and Hong Kong have seen wearing masks whenever you go out as a new normal, western countries were influenced by WHO as they asked people not to wear masks unless they were sick. The difference is dramatically magnified by social media because people who disobey the new social values will get criticized. Another example would be “COVID-19” was just another flu, as it unarmed people’s worry about COVID-19 with historical stats, disregarding to the fact that we have vaccines available and are dealing with it for years.

In mid-March, Trump labelled COVID-19 as a “Chinese virus” shortly after a Twitter made by from Lijian Zhao, an official spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, insinuating that the U.S. military may have spread the coronavirus to Wuhan, China, will remain up. It has ramped out a lot of noises against Trump about racism and false accusations, yet Trump has questioned Twitter about its policy against misinformation about Zhao’s argument. Then Twitter says Presently, direct interactions with fellow public figures, comments on political issues of the day, or foreign policy saber-rattling on economic or military issues are generally not in violation of the Twitter Rules. Twitter rejected Trump’s request and implicitly believe Zhao’s statement was valid. This is an example of how Social Media could skew our perception by allowing false statement like Zhao showing up on our feeds.

In addition, during the pandemic an unicorn video communication company Zoom has skyrocketed from having 10 million to 200 million daily users from last December to March 2020. It was accused for cybersecurity issues as video information is not encrypted properly and users information can easily be stolen by hackers, as foreign corporation amended Zoom as a saviour during the health crisis the security problem has ruin our expectations and yet you guess it, it has something to do with China as well. Its founder, Eric Yuan is a Chinese American who founded Zoom as an American enterprise and conducted its research & development (R&D) in China, which spread concerns about the security of the company during this sensitive state between nations. Video conferences across political leaders, financial institutions contain serious private information that could hurt them if these messages are sold or passed to its competitors.

Trade

Under this pandemic in March alone China has exported 3.86 million masks, 37.5 million pieces of personal protective equipment, 16,000 ventilators and 2.84 million testing kits — Selling a premium and yet defective. The Netherlands, the Philippines, Croatia, Turkey and Spain have filed complaints and have returned half of the masks that has been ordered from China. As these number has spoken about China’s greed for international trade in the meantime when Taiwan has donated over 10 million masks to the US.

For medical equipment, there is a significant shortage if we isolate China in the scenario, if China is able to fulfill its local needs and yet export/donate these much surgical masks and play the saviour game. It does not make sense because when we take a look of the timeline of coronavirus in the United States, if quarantining activities would have to continue at least until the end of the summer, it is impossible for China who has gone through an outbreak and recovered its manufacturing operation like now within 3 months. A few possibilities to rationalize was (1) China was able to effective prevent/cure but isn’t willing to share to others, (2) China has manufactured all these medical supplies upfront before the coronavirus outbreak (3) Manufacturing plants were operating during the outbreak.

In early January, the state-backed Institute of Virology in Wuhan filed the patent for using remdesivir developed by Gilead Science. Research suggested that Gilead’s remdesivir compound and the off-patent chloroquine malaria drug are both “highly effective” in the control of coronavirus infection. However, in fact Gilead science has filed a patent in 2016 for “methods to treat coronavirus infection” without mentioning remdesivir, thus providing the grey area for Chinese scientists to profit from it. China’s act to file for patent is selfish yet conveys its intention to profit from its pandemic.

Moreover, the international shortage of medical supplies may be a result China’s 2.46billion of medical supplies import between January 24 and February 29. A report from the National Customs in China trade report depicted that China imported more than two billion masks and 25 million pieces of protective clothing from overseas before the outbreak reached pandemic levels, mainly through Australia, Japan, United States. It is incomparable if you look at the amount of imports China made early in January and February and the amount of donations China has made to other countries in March and April side by side. This selfish speaks a lot about the government and its protocol when viruses are happening.

Conclusion

It may seemed biased as a lot of points I have pointed out are against the China government but yet I’m really skeptical about everything the Chinese government is doing during these severe moments of the civilization. In January, when everyone sees it as a flu, China sees an pandemic; In March, when everyone sees it as a pandemic, China sees it as an opportunity. The question about China planning it all ahead remained unknown but the fact that their actions are telling everyone else that they wanted to dominate the United States.

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