China’s communist government is choking off information about the Chinese virus — and even the leftist media is noticing.
While Western governments struggle to protect their populations and economies as they come up with ways to counter the coronavirus pandemic that had killed more than 115,000 worldwide by Monday, officials in the country where it originated are clamping down on the information that gets out about it.
— Rep. Michael Waltz (@RepMichaelWaltz) April 13, 2020
According to a report Saturday in The Guardian, Chinese researchers announced to the world a new government policy requiring all research about the origins of the coronavirus to go through a government approval process before being published.
“In terms of priority, controlling the narrative is more important than the public health or the economic fallout,” political scientist Steve Tang, director of the SOAS China Institute think tank in London, told the U.K. outlet. “It doesn’t mean the economy and public health aren’t important. But the narrative is paramount.”
And in typical fashion for a totalitarian government, the notice of what amounts to censorship of the scientific process was itself censored from two university websites.
“Two websites for leading Chinese universities appear to have recently published and then removed pages that reference a new policy requiring academic papers dealing with Covid-19 to undergo extra vetting before they are submitted for publication,” The Guardian reported.
“Research on the origins of the virus is particularly sensitive and subject to checks by government officials, the notices posted on the websites of Fudan University and the China University of Geosciences (Wuhan) said. Both the deleted pages were accessed from online caches.”
As reported by The Guardian, the deleted notices were not actual information about the source of the coronavirus or research that had been done on it, but statements informing researchers that all future information must be submitted to the country’s Ministry of Science and Technology — which no doubt holds the same relationship to actual science and technology as the fictional Ministry of Truth did to objective reality in Orwell’s “1984.”
In other words, unless and until information can be manipulated for ends approved by the Chinese communist government, it’s not likely to be getting published in China any time soon.
And that means the rest of the world, with its hands full dealing with a plague released on the globe by the Chinese Communist Party’s dishonesty and ineptitude, will keep battling without a key source of information.
Considering China’s murderous duplicity about the spread of the virus – first hiding it, then allowing potential carriers to go abroad, then lying about its origins in a cynical attempt to blame the United States – the latest moves might not be surprising, but they’re still stirring outrage.
— Papaio Khun H นวลพรรณคาราวัฒน์ 🎗😷 (@SaveHKPapaH) April 13, 2020
— Dawn After Night (@freedomnowla) April 12, 2020
— SangTheCuree (@sateer55) April 12, 2020
While the Chinese censorship itself might not be surprising, what is surprising is that the left-wing media are actually covering the story.
It was broken by The Guardian, the U.K.’s version of The New York Times – with all that implies about its politics – and picked up by reliably liberal outlets such as Newsweek and even CNN, the network best known these days as a Democratic propaganda outlet at war with the Trump administration.
“I think it is a coordinated effort from [the] Chinese government to control [the] narrative, and paint it as if the outbreak did not originate in China,” one researcher told CNN. “And I don’t think they will really tolerate any objective study to investigate the origination of this disease.”
As U.S. Democrats have already made clear, the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus is going to be used as a weapon to attack him during the presidential campaign. A party with a presumptive presidential nominee as weak as former Vice President Joe Biden is going to play as dirty as it has to.
It’s not going to help the Democratic cause — or Biden’s hopes in November — when even liberal news outlets are reporting China’s continued attempts to stonewall the world about information that could help vanquish the coronavirus enemy.
But as Kevin Carrow, a senior researcher of Chinese studies at Australia’s Monash University, told The Guardian, the Chinese have their own propaganda goals to consider.
“They are seeking to transform it from a massive disaster to one where the government did everything right and gave the rest of the world time to prepare,” he said.
If that were true, the coronavirus might never have made it to the West, and even if it had, it might not have shut essentially shut down the world’s most productive economy and idled millions of American workers.
The Chinese Communist Party has much to answer for when it comes to this 21st century plague.
Choking off information about the coronavirus isn’t going to change that.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.