The COVID-19 outbreak is not only a public health issue. It’s also about human rights. Find out how the pandemic exposed Communist China’s brutal regime.
I remember discussing the first case of COVID-19 in Canada with a friend. The Toronto Star was reporting that a man in his fifties had presented at Sunnybrook hospital with symptoms of the novel coronavirus.
He had just come back from a trip to someplace we had never heard of called Wuhan, China and Sunnybrook staff quickly placed him in isolation. We patted ourselves on the back.
We knew that the Greater Toronto Area had been through Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003. China wasn’t going to fool us a second time.
MUCH LARGER NUMBER OF CASES THAN SARS EVER HAD
As things have turned out, we’ve had a much larger number of COVID-19 cases in Canada and around the world than SARS ever had. SARS infected 375 people in Toronto and killed 44.
So far, the COVID-19 outbreak has infected 5,551 cases and killed 366 Torontonians. Our early hubris about measures to prevent a pandemic was premature, to say the least.
Both the SARS and the COVID-19 outbreaks started in China. They’re both caused by very similar coronaviruses that seem to originate in bats and find their way into the human population.
BOTH THE SARS AND THE COVID-19 OUTBREAKS STARTED IN CHINA
China isn’t the only place where new contagious diseases appear. Ebola and AIDS started in Africa, and MERS started in camels in Saudi Arabia, for instance.
Yet, there are cultural factors in Communist China that can lead to disease outbreaks becoming far worse than they need to be. The main concern is the lack of human rights in the world’s most populous country.
Human Rights Watch reports that the Chinese government is arbitrarily detaining three Beijing-based activists. They also arranged for two citizen journalists to “disappear” back in February.
CHINESE GOVERNMENT DETAINING ACTIVISTS AND JOURNALISTS
All five of these people were merely doing what I’m enjoying doing right now. They were sharing knowledge and opinions about the COVID-19 outbreak.
Yaqui Yang is a China researcher at Human Rights Watch. He outlined the issue this way, “So much about the coronavirus in China will never become known because the Chinese government has muzzled those trying to share critical information.”
Yang’s point arguably reflects an even greater injustice than the violation of the five individuals’ human rights. Every human being on the planet is entitled to know how the COVID-19 outbreak arose and what reducing the spread involves if another outbreak appears..
EVERY HUMAN BEING IS ENTITLED TO KNOW HOW COVID-19 AROSE
As we’ve discussed in earlier stories, a doctor spotted the first known case of COVID-19 on December 1, 2019. His patient was an elderly man with dementia who was virtually housebound and had no connection to the Wuhan Seafood Market. His wife got sick five days later. This first couple’s illness had to be a human-to-human transmission.
Wuhan doctors started to notice a group of connected cases of pneumonia that they couldn’t explain on December 21. Also, in late December, physicians saw exponential growth in pneumonia cases among patients with no connection to the Wuhan Seafood Market. This suggested that human-to-human transmission had begun to take off.
Chinese health care authorities told their first two lies on December 31. A health officer with the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission notified the public that, “The investigation so far has not found any obvious human-to-human transmission and no medical staff infection.”
TOLD THEIR FIRST TWO LIES ON DECEMBER 31
The truth was that two doctors were showing apparent symptoms of infection at this point. Doctors who’d had to care for a person with COVID-19 were convinced that the virus was passing human-to-human, despite the local Health Commission’s assurances.
Associated Press has obtained an intelligence report from the Department of Homeland Security dated May 1 2020. The document reports that Communist China, ” “intentionally concealed the severity” of the COVID-19 outbreak throughout the month of January.
INTELLIGENCE REPORT SAYS CHINA STALLED INFORMING WHO
The intelligence report concludes that China stalled informing the WHO that COVID-19 was “a contagion” to buy time. The Chinese government wanted to bulk purchase gowns and face masks from other countries before word got out.
It took three weeks for Chinese health authorities to alert the World Health Organization (WHO), despite the similarity of the COVID-19 outbreak to the 2003 SARS debacle. Based on what China reported, the WHO didn’t recommend any travel restrictions at that point.
On January 1, the Wuhan Public Security Bureau issued a summons to Dr. Li Wenliang for “spreading rumours.” He reported to the police station two days later. They forced him to sign a statement confirming that he had acted illegally and promising not to commit any more “unlawful acts.”
SUMMONS FOR “SPREADING RUMOURS,” FORCED TO SIGN STATEMENT
Seven other people who had been discussing the COVID-19 outbreak on social media disappeared that day. Agence France Press reported that the Chinese government “had punished eight people for ‘publishing or forwarding false information on the internet without verification.’”
They were referring to Dr. Li and seven others. Nobody has seen or heard from the other seven dissidents since.
In truth, all Dr. Li had done was to write an email to his colleagues, warning them that he was seeing an outbreak of a SARS-like illness. He urged them to take precautions to protect themselves and to prevent its spread. His only crime was telling the truth.
175,000 PEOPLE FLED THE CITY, ENSURING SPREAD OF COVID-19
Two other telling things happened on January 1. The Hubei Provincial Health Commission ordered a genomics company to stop testing samples from Wuhan, and 175,000 people fled that infected city, unwittingly ensuring the spread of COVID-19 around the world.
On January 2, a study showed that only 27 out of 41 patients had a connection to the seafood market. The report published later than month stated, “We are concerned that 2019-nCoV could have acquired the ability for efficient human transmission.”
The next day, China’s National Health Commission issued an order to health institutions not to publish any information about the COVID-19 outbreak. Labs were to forward any samples to designated test facilities or destroy them.
LIES THAT THERE WAS NO EVIDENCE OF HUMAN-TO-HUMAN SPREAD
The Wuhan Municipal Health Commission reiterated its earlier lies that there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission and no sign of medical staff infections. They made a similar statement on January 5 as part of an update on cases.
Dr. Li came down with a fever and a nasty cough on January 10 after unknowingly seeing a patient with COVID-19. The hospital admitted Dr. Li as a patient on January 12, and the staff moved him to intensive care and put him on oxygen support within days.
Despite Dr. Li’s condition, throughout the first three weeks of January 2020, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission reported, “At present, no medical staff infections have been found, and no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission has been found.”
covid-19 OUTBREAK SPREAD TO THAILAND AND JAPAN
The COVID-19 outbreak spread to Thailand and Japan that week. Neither of the two patients had been to the seafood market, further indicating human-to-human transmission.
January 18 was the Lunar New Year. As we mentioned in an earlier story, one of the reasons the mayor of Wuhan was reluctant to draw attention to the COVID-19 outbreak was that the city had organized a potluck dinner for 40,000 families.
It went ahead, even though doctors knew the virus was contagious. All of those families gathered in one place to share home-cooked meals with one another in the middle of an epidemic.
CHINESE ARMY LOCKED DOWN WUHAN AND CLEARED THE WAY
As we also noted in that earlier story, on January 20, China’s leading epidemiologist, Zhong Nanshan, went on national television, declared the outbreak to be a crisis and exposed the coverup. By January 23, the Chinese Army had locked down Wuhan and cleared the way for medical workers and contact tracing experts to do their jobs.
Dr. Li tested positive for COVID-19 on February 1 and passed away on February 7. From this point forward, China imposed brutal public health measures with no regard for human rights.
We’ve seen unconfirmed reports of authorities welding apartment doors shut with people inside. Authorities forcibly removed people from their homes and placed them in quarantine, even when there were small children involved.
Police Meticulously Tracked People with Databases
In typical communist Chinese fashion, police meticulously tracked people using sophisticated databases. Facial recognition software linked directly to records of each person’s contagion risk and arbitrarily decided who could and could not enter public places.
The lockdown stamped out the COVID-19 outbreak, but at what cost? Chinese citizens were already living in a big data-fueled police state when draconian new restrictions imprisoned them in their own homes.
On March 19, China reported no new COVID-19 cases for the first time. By the end of March 2020, three-quarters of China’s industry was open for business again.
Public Demanded Greater Government Transparency
Dr. Li’s death hit the Chinese people hard. There was widespread mourning, and the public started demanding greater government transparency.
The party leadership panicked and imposed even harsher censorship, both on social media and on state broadcasters. They wanted to cover up their own coverup and shift the blame for the COVID-19 outbreak somewhere else.
Due to its weak leadership, the most convenient target was the United States. Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian started floating the rumour that the US military had brought the virus into the country. The Military World Games had taken place in Wuhan in the fall of 2019.
China’s President, Xi Jinping, Appeared to Be Gloating
China’s president, Xi Jinping, took another tack at this point and appeared to be gloating. Just to rub in the fact that China’s industry was back in business, he ordered companies to send personal protection equipment and test kits to 82 countries.
The shipments came at a time when the US was unable to meet its domestic needs for these items. Many recipients have since complained about the quality of the Chinese products.
So what does all this tell us about Communist China? Above all, it remains an obsessively closed and secretive society.
Great Wall of China is More Than a Relic
The Great Wall of China is more than a relic, it’s a state of mind. In terms of telecommunications, China has an equally impregnable firewall censoring social media going in and out of the country.
Communist China has also erected a mental wall to isolate themselves from universal human rights. China’s psychological wall of secrecy is so intense that it is willing to lie at the cost of thousands of lives.
Their dishonesty and obfuscation have meant that we will probably never know how the COVID-19 outbreak arose. It may have cropped up among the animals in the seafood market, escaped from a lab or been carried out of a cave by a farmer looking for bat guano for fertilizer.
Regime will Allow Thousands to Die to Keep a Secret
Not only will this regime casually allow thousands of people to die to keep a secret, but they will also persecute dissenters without a moment’s hesitation. Saving face matters more than saving lives.
And so the world faces a global crisis during which the peoples of the world can trust none of the world’s three great powers. Whether we consider China, Russia or the United States, the public views each of this era’s leading nations with distrust and cynicism.
Rival governments seem more interested in competing than cooperating, and image matters far more than substance in Beijing, Moscow and Washington. The lesson for world leaders is to act transparently and to find ways to cooperate rather than compete.
We always have more to learn if we dare to know.
China: Free Covid-19 Activists, ‘Citizen Journalists’
NPR’s Spotty Report on the Wuhan Labs
The Comprehensive Timeline of China’s COVID-19 Lies
Xi Jinping Won the Coronavirus Crisis
Human Rights Call to Action from UN Chief
COVID-19 Opportunity Squandered Because of Denial
China’s Secret Muslim Persecution