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Is it Right to Hold China Accountable for Covid 19?

Global speculation about China’s role in this pandemic

Let me make one thing clear, I do not believe that Covid 19 has been a man-made biological weapon, created in a Chinese laboratory, or any laboratory, for that matter.

There seem to be growing speculation and conspiracy theories by the day however-Australian and American governments alike, putting China and the WHO in the crossfire. Scott Morrison was astounded as to why wet markets in China have re-opened.

America and Australia-such beacons of democracy.

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Yet, Can we hold China accountable at all for the global pandemic? Is there something to answer for?

Last night, Trump announced that he had seen evidence to show China had created the virus in a lab.

Even if there was a conclusion, that the virus was man made-and there has not been quite the opposite. How would it be known to be from a Chinese lab? Does it come with a sale tag?

It goes without saying that Trump has a chip on his shoulder about China, and even more so now that his response to the pandemic will ultimately decide upon the upcoming election.

Why he seems to think China is a scapegoat, to be the most effective game-changer; is a discussion for another day.

China’s figures as it stands for the global pandemic, are currently at 84,373 cases and 4673 deaths. This is far from believable. For a country where the first outbreak was recorded, and that had to shut down for almost three months it is not tangible that they would have only seen, just under 5000 deaths. In the United Kingdom alone, we are in the 9th week of the outbreak, the 6th week of lockdown, and already we have nearly 27,000 deaths, and we are nowhere near the population of China at 1.4 billion (Wikipedia, 1st May 2020).

It is widely known that China has an oath to secrecy and reputation-ally hides the truth, even in the face of a global pandemic. You only need to look at the social media coverage coming out of China to see how heavily it is being policed and censored on a daily basis. (BBC News, 7th February 2020) They did however report the virus to the WHO on 27th December 2019 (Express, Hardtalk, Sackur, 1st May 2020), and their reaction was totalitarian-they have apparently seen no new cases, enabling the country to re-open. However, how much this is true, is questionable.

Yet a country that censors the thoughts and feelings of its’  own people on such a level, during a crisis that will have taken their families cannot be trusted.

Of course, we cannot confirm whether China did indeed have more deaths than those reported, but we can listen to the stories. Pictures of corpses lying in cities, forgotten and alone. And transmissions of doctors crying out a warning for the rest of the world-silenced by China’s republic (BBC News, 7th February 2020), before China had decided to report the disease. There seem to be different reports as to when the Chinese doctor: Dr. Li Wenliang blew the whistle, some say the 27th of December and some on the 30th. Whenever it was, the Chinese authorities did not report to the WHO until 31st December (Express, Hard Talk, Stephen Sackur). In the meanwhile, accusing Dr. Li of salacious rumors. The man has since died.

I think it is fair to say that Dr. Li would not have taken to the media if he believed the Chinese government to have taken what he had to say seriously. Chinese culture very much upholds status and power above all else.

There have also been reports via the morning tv program ‘This Morning’ with Phillip and Holly: whereby a British ex-pat living in China, contracted the disease in November. The Chinese authorities may have known about this virus for a month.

The UK Ambassador for China has denied the virus to have emerged from Wuhan on the BBC’s Hardtalk program, the epicenter of the Chinese outbreak. The UK ambassador did not answer the journalist’s question, put to him during the Hardtalk program. Stephen Sackur asked if the ambassador agreed whether it was important to review the Chinese reaction at the beginning of the outbreak in Wuhan, which led to a pandemic. The ambassador answered that they would have to “agree to disagree”. The ambassador is speculative about whether the virus originated in Wuhan. Yes, this is speculative, but Sackur was asking him if he thought the response in China needed to be reviewed. Perhaps that was a more difficult question to sidestep. He then went on to say that China had reported the outbreak as early as they could-in reference to the same question.

 The fact is, we cannot say for certain by all means, that the pandemic originated in China-there have been symptom-related reports in Dubai as early as September last year and other locations; but we can say there is evidence that the epidemic was not dealt with quickly enough. This may have prevented the disease from even spreading, or having the ground to reproduce.

One thing that can be said, I do think the Chinese dealt with the virus admirably, once they did act: building hospitals in a week and closing down their entire 1.4 billion population-who were not even allowed out for food. This was all coordinated through designated community managers. Something to be admired, and reflected upon in our own handling, for future times to come.

Where the virus originated, we may never know, yet we are all affected by this and we must all come together on this. It will not be beaten by accusations and what has been seen as growing racism towards the Chinese. Reports of tourists being spat upon, not to mention the growing unease I witnessed prior to the lockdown in the UK.

Yes, it is not the first time that a highly infectious disease has come out of China and has come out the wet markets that are so integral to this ancient, and largely agricultural nation.

It is of no surprise either, that such a scenario would arise when coagulating both wild animals and water, which were present at the Wuhan wet market. (Marron, National Geographic, 16th April 2020).

SARS, back in 2003, also came out of a wet market in China. (Ellis, Vox, 6th March 2020) Bird Flu in 2013 also emerged in China, and it was also linked to wet markets. (WHO

It is not rocket science to pertain this: water is a haven for bacteria and I have witnessed what these wet markets are like; having lived in Thailand for three years. Everything is washed down at the end of the market: tables, chairs, floor, drapings, everything-with the discarded food-before people have left, and you could easily be wearing sandals. You can imagine then, that anything infectious-if it can live in water, can travel, and can immediately spread if it makes the jump from animal to surface. Polio anyone?

I also understand the significance behind the wet market, which is a fresh food market: serving the deep culinary traditions of old cultures.

In contrast, we are now in a different time. 

We all have to be held accountable, not just the Chinese. The very those that blame the Chinese, have also got some questions to ask of themselves.

The UK Chinese ambassador-Liu Xiaoming said:

“This is not the first time that some politicians want to play world police. This is not the era of ‘gunboat diplomacy. This is not the era when China was still a semi-colonial and semi-feudal society. This is the third decade of the 21st century. Those people cannot understand it. They think they still live in the old days when they can bully China and the world. If the WHO does not act their way, they stop their support and criticise the WHO to be ‘China-centric’. That’s simply not right. (The Guardian, Wintour, 30th April 2020)

That is simply not right.

It is widely being reported and remarked upon, that the WHO has allowed the re-opening of wet markets in China, however, the WHO is not able to control governments and can only advise. They are currently advising the ban of wild animals in wet markets, and regulations in order to run them.

Misinformation is almost as contagious as Covid 19, it would seem. 

At the end of the day, China is responsible for its’ people and how they run their wet markets, for as we have all experienced-we are all connected and it has a knock-on effect upon us all. They are accountable in their practices and in their response-which are both admirable and questionable. Hopefully, they will be able to come to terms with this.

They are not alone.

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