In the real time humanitarian crisis green-lit under the cover of a virus of unknown origin China is ground zero. Agendas have wasted no time racing to take center stage by authoritarian-leaning governments. A new report tells of a disappeared Chinese legal activist, another in a long line of detained and disappeared individuals who have reported truths or rightfully criticized China’s public health response. The report states,
“The activist is the latest critic to be caught up in Mr. Xi’s far-reaching efforts to limit dissent in China. The crackdown, which has ensnared scores of activists, lawyers, journalists and intellectuals, is likely to intensify as the ruling Communist Party comes under broad attack”
Yaqiu Wang, a China researcher at Human Rights Watch said “The Chinese government persists in its old ways: silencing its critics rather than listening to people who promote rights-respecting policies that actually solve problems,”
Online censors are busy erasing voices, debate and information from the web with a gleefully broad and hypocritical brush. The popular news outlet Zerohedge was permanently suspended from Twitter for early journalism connecting dots to suggest that the COVID-19 virus may have lab origins. Fast forward over a week, when the public narrative now signals it is safe to investigate and report on potential virus origins, and corporate media headlines regularly report what was a bannable offense just a week ago.
While the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) has continually praised China’s response to the reported COVID-19 outbreak, the U.S. has not fared much better. President Trump has given praise to China’s handling of the public health response while at the same time, reports coming out from the White House are claiming that China’s reporting can’t be trusted on its surveillance and virus origin.
China is regularly disappearing whistleblowers and citizen journalists giving truthful accounts and information out of the world’s largest modern-day display of population lockdown with 760 million citizens under some type of quarantine restrictions.
Published open access at The Lancet on February 13 was commentary titled Authoritarianism, outbreaks, and information politics by Matthew M. Kavanagh, Ph.D. of Georgetown University’s Center for Global Health Science and Security.
With global health authorities like the WHO praising China, Kavanagh’s Lancet article approaches the question “Are autocratic states such as China better equipped than their more democratic counterparts to respond to disease outbreaks?”
After citing several points of reality that occurred as the COVID-19 outbreak unfolded in China, Kavanagh concludes:
“Without open media and an opposition to check on bureaucratic hierarchy, knowledge from the front lines of the 2019-nCoV outbreak did not reach Beijing.”
Kavanagh further states,
“It seems that authoritarian information politics inhibited a rapid response to the 2019-nCoV outbreak in China, which could have limited the crisis…Yet, in building capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to outbreaks, democratic openness and competitive politics seem more asset than inadequacy.”
Professor Richard Horton, Editor-in-Chief of The Lancet and co-chair of the W.H.O.’s independent Expert Review Group tweeted this message out at the W.H.O. recently challenging the health organization’s silence towards the unfolding Chinese authoritarian response:
The arrest and detention of government critics is not part of the standard public health response to an epidemic. I hope WHO makes clear its opposition to repression of freedom of speech. https://t.co/RS3B6KIs5k
— richard horton (@richardhorton1) February 17, 2020
Widespread reports tell of the medical community scrambling to race through drug testing in light of the virus fear campaign on Chinese patients as longtime investigative journalist Jon Rappoport writes,
“…here come the antiviral drugs. They’re ordinarily used for other diseases (malaria, HIV) or, in one case, no disease yet (unapproved, unlicensed). But it’s time for “heroic measures.” A better term would be “reckless experimentation.”
As Mao-style social controls blanket China, will the W.H.O. take a more humanitarian position and step up to lead the global medical and health community towards a more democratic and open public health approach?