Criticising China could slow down the battle against Coronavirus

Sally Madden

Western criticism of China’s handling of Covid-19 might slow down the process of battling the virus, according to experts.

American public health officials and national security advisors have warned that repeated criticism of China on the behalf of Donald Trump administration’s could lead to China being hesitant to share their information on the virus.

The warnings come after Trump openly blamed China for the pandemic: “Certainly, the world is paying a big price for what they did,” he said. He has also repeatedly referred to the coronavirus as “the Chinese virus.”

China has now become a model to the world on how to handle the virus, as western countries, such as Italy and the U.S.A have come under increasing scrutiny.

China has sent 300 intensive care doctors to Italy in order to assist with the coronavirus outbreak that has devastated the country. The Chinese government has also shared the genome sequence of the virus, and Chinese scientists have written and released many studied on the virus, making the country vital in battling the virus.

Trump’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, has accused China’s government of distorting vital health data and said its response “creates risks to people all around the world”, a sentiment that many experts are agreeing with.

Dr Micheal Breen, an Associate Professor at the School of Law and Government, says that China is aware of the power this information gives them.

“Like most authoritarian regimes with a single leader for life, China is acutely aware of the power of information. It is an expert at suppressing the free flow of information and using the information to change the narrative about events. This crisis is no different,” he said.

However, some feel that criticism of China is rooted in racism. When naming the virus the Wolrd Health Organisation (WHO) purposely avoided using the word Wuhan.

However, it has become clear that some of China’s early responses to the virus were questionable. It is now a matter of public record that the Chinese government detained and censored scientist who predicted the outbreak, or tried to blow the whistle on the regime’s handling of the virus.

Additionally, the Chinese called a lockdown in Wuhan on January 23, seven weeks after the virus had first appeared. By then, mayor Zhou Xianwang admitted that more than 5 million people had already left Wuhan.

Dr Breen added that China undoubtedly owes the world an explanation for their handling of the outbreak.

“China has questions to answer about how it handled the crisis. If we don’t eventually get answers to these questions then perhaps some hostility is justified,” he said.

“China suppressed information and arrested doctors in the early part of the outbreak. There are questions to answer about how it handled this outbreak and the extent to which its actions facilitated the spread of covid-19 across the world,” he continued.

Sally Madden