Commentary by Carl Brizzi
Evidence of China’s deliberate cover-up of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan is obvious. The Chinese government suppressed critical information about the virus, allowing it to spread unchecked in the crucial early weeks and months critical to containment.
Even more pernicious, the Chinese government censored, and detained, courageous doctors attempting to sound the alarm and warn fellow citizens about the gravity of what was to come.
Left commentators and Democratic politicians are aghast that President Donald Trump is referring to the pandemic as the “Wuhan Virus” and “China Virus” and repeatedly pointing to China as the source of the pandemic. In naming the disease “COVID-19”, the World Health Organization intentionally side-stepped mentioning the origin of the virus, obscuring China’s role in letting the disease spread beyond its borders.
The Chinese Communist Party pretended there was little to be concerned about. The government only instituted a lockdown in Wuhan on Jan. 23—seven weeks after the virus case first appeared. As events in Italy, the United States, Spain and France have shown, quite a lot can happen in a week, much less seven. By then, Mayor Zhou Xianwang admitted that more than 5 million people already had left Wuhan.
As if that weren’t enough, check out recent history for an even more damning account. In a 2019 article, Chinese experts warned it was “highly likely that future SARS- or MERS-like coronavirus outbreaks will originate from bats, and there is an increased probability that this will occur in China.” In a 2007 journal article, infectious-disease specialists published a study arguing that “the presence of a large reservoir of “SARS-CoV-like viruses in horseshoe bats,” together with the culture of eating exotic mammals in southern China, is a time bomb. The possibility of the reemergence of SARS and other novel viruses from animals or laboratories and therefore the need for preparedness should not be ignored.”
It was ignored.
Some on social media question whether this is a time for blame. Let me be clear: Yes, it is. Accounting for responsibility when a disaster happens—particularly one likely to devastate entire countries, leaving hundreds of thousands, if not millions, dead—is not beside the point. Particularly, as Chinese officials move to take advantage of the crisis and launch a disinformation campaign claiming that the U.S. Army introduced the virus.
This pandemic reminds us that China is not a responsible global actor and will not become one. I will not forget, neither should you.