by Nilantha Ilangamuwa 20 February 2020
Many opinions have been penned and circulated the globe over a new outbreak of novel viral influenza. It has been killed over a thousand of innocent Chinese people according to official figures. As it came from China, no candlelight vigil had been holding at major cities in western countries, self-proclaimed pioneers of humanity and guardians of human rights. The Eiffel Tower, a manmade wonder, in Paris most of the time weeping for the plight of humanity is yet to go off or dim to commemorate those victims in China and elsewhere. Because it has come from China many conspiracy theorists were flagged their theories than what we have seen after the terror attack 9/11 decades ago.
Significantly, less attention to the core issues of viral influenza, but more games are playing on the surface to mock at the Chinese governing system. Consequently, not only Chinese but those who lives and origins in East Asia and South East Asian regions are being discriminated and intimidated in various countries. What a sad era we live in. Impartiality has been defeated by narrow-minded prejudices. We are more disconnecting from the real world and fellow human than ever. This is nothing but a continuation of what we have been compelled to move in last few decades.
We marked the dawn of new decade by hammering humanity viciously and malevolently. Many fatal incidents reported continued the doublespeak and double-behaviour of policymakers and key players of global power. US made deadly drone named MQ-9 Reaper targeted the Iranian Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani and head of the Popular Mobilization Front or Hashd al Shaabi in Iraq Abu Mahdi al Muhandis and killed them at the country’s civilian airport, earlier named as the Saddam International Airport but later Bush-Blair scheme that robbed Iraq the airport has renamed as the Baghdad International Airport. The brutal assassinations have sparked the round of protests and questioned the partial and biased implementation of international laws and regulations. Subsequently, the Iranian retaliation, thanks to God, has been annulled due to the internal and external public pressure. However, the assassination of Soleimani is not secondary to the series of assassinations reported against Iranian scientists allegedly schemed and operated by Israeli Mossad years ago. The covert operations are continued. Fortunately, the planned open war against Iran has been postponed.
However, Syria is still crying while Yemenis are starving to death and the cholera outbreak is continued. Libya is back to hell. On some strange reasons, the international media and other influential parties have less attention towards those humanitarian crises but China is now on the top in discourse for a bad reason.
The outbreak of the novel coronavirus which is now officially recognized as the COVID-19 is creating new forms of propaganda machinery against and pro-Chinese ideology. Interesting enough, the debate on COVID-19 is more political than the health concerned issue. Conspiracy theorists and fake news mongers are sending various reports through Social Media and other outfits to elevate the social panic.
Among other reports, in last fortnight this writer received two shocking fake news on the outbreak of COVID-19. One was “revealing” that the Chinese government is planning to get the approval from the Supreme People’s Court to kill over 20,000 conformed viral infected people to prevent further spread of COVID-19 in the country. Another fake newsmonger came on one of the TV channels and told that the confirmed cases of the COVID-19 in China over 150 million and the number of death mounted over 50,000. But “the Chinese central government is hiding the truth,” he said. Bad enough, most of these “commentators” sound proved that they have deliberately ignored that they are talking about fellow human beings not the roosters or frogs on the well. Aren’t they ashamed?
Meanwhile, two interesting conspiracy theories came into light. According to one theory, the COVID-19 was stolen from Canadian top bio-chemical lab and brought it into China where mistakenly it has been released to the public in Wuhan’s wet market, the epicentre of the virus outbreak. Second, pointing at an event organized by the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security last year where the panel of experts discussed the possible outbreak of novel coronavirus throughout the world. Event 201, pandemic simulation, organized by the centre to visualize “an uncontrolled coronavirus outbreak spreading like wildfire out of South America to wreak worldwide havoc.” Therefore, US authority was blamed for using a secret bio-weapons targeted Chinese people to the meltdown Chinese economy. However, the allegation was officially turned down. But there is nothing to surprise when rumours are flying while the truth is having turtle walk in this era of post-truth.
However, after the ground experiences, Chinese experts like many others enhanced the experimental capacity of virology. Most of the experiences aimed at a single objective, are the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS)-CoV or similar type of virus going to come back?
The Wuhan Institute of Virology, Chinese Academy of Sciences (WIV-CAS) in many papers predicted the outbreak of novel coronavirus is inevitable. In 2016 “Zhengli Shi and colleagues at WIV-CAS discovered 11 new strains of SARS-related viruses in horseshoe bats (especially in Rhinolophus Sinicus).” Subsequently, their paper was released to the public domain by predicting the novel coronavirus is going to outbreak near future. Refuting the conspiracy theories one of the country’s best virologists Dr Shi reaffirmed the impossibility of engineering novel coronavirus in a lab. COVID-19 “(the 2019 novel coronavirus) is a punishment by nature to humans’ unsanitary lifestyle. I promise with my life that the virus has nothing to do with the lab,” she said.
It is no doubt; however, Chinese authority has been accepted that there was a delay in informing the virus outbreak at the local government level which caused more damage to the capacity of mitigating the outbreak. But once it officially declared rapid actions against COVID-19 taken by the government and other responsible agencies are impressive. This shows the improvement of the Chinese system in every layer of society. As, China, history has proven is not only a country but the ideology. Mere criticism and sinophobia will not serve the purpose if anyone desiring to understand China.
Imagine the situation in Wuhan and surrounding during the time where 72-year-old Chairman Mao Zedong used annual swimming event in 1966 to boost his reputation and image after devastating Great Leap Forward. And compare the history with the current social improvement China achieved little more than fifty years later. It is indeed remarkable and for other countries there are many lessons to be learnt. Should we not happy about them?
Not only Wuhan but entire China will prove that they can rise after any crisis as crises are an inevitable part of Chinese history. Over again and again Chinese people and the system has proved not only they can overcome the crisis but also spread the positive message around the globe. It is not delusional hypothetic to say like Hiroshima and Nagasaki aroused out of ashes after been victim of the most devastating cold-blooded war crimes in the known history, Wuhan will teach the world how to rise against not only out of epidemic but also from discrimination, intimidation, and bulling. In another words, it is time to realize that COVID-19 is testing the quality of global humanity and our responsibilities towards the victims.
Every human life is the matter of serious concern and no one can downplay with the number of death unless and until it’s factually confirmed. Our moral duty is not spreading fear among the people to escalate panic but given them shoulders to rise. Our human qualities shall prove during other difficult time. It is easy to leave people when they are weak, but it is also easy to join them when they are strong. Prejudices are not the tools to judge a country or community which has gone through series of crises and achieved impossibilities of late generations. Fear and panic are the fundamental enemies of the health issues. Our very meaning of the life is to keep aside those emotions and take decisive scientific actions to improve the livelihood of all.
(The writer is an author and former editor. The views expressed in this article are writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or institute.)