The Chinese government is deep into a disinformation campaign denying that this all started in Wuhan. A key component of that campaign is controlling the language used to describe the pandemic, stripping it of its connection to Wuhan and China.
The Chinese government caused this worldwide pandemic. It started in Wuhan. It should have stopped in Wuhan, but the Chinese government covered up, lied, and destroyed evidence.
How various countries responded is not the problem. The Chinese government threw the world overboard, and now is claiming the world should have known how to swim better.
The Chinese government now is deep into a disinformation campaign denying that this all started in Wuhan. A key component of that campaign is controlling the language used to describe the pandemic, stripping it of its connection to Wuhan and China, mandating that only generic terminology is used. Meanwhile, Chinese diplomats and media spread claims that the virus either started in the U.S. or was planted in Wuhan by the U.S.
So if you claim that calling it Wuhan coronavirus is racist, you are part of the cover-up. Speaking the truth is not the problem, covering up the truth is the problem.
Two things are true at the same time: The Chinese government did this, and Chinese/Asians are not collectively responsible for the Chinese government’s crime against the world and must not be harassed or otherwise discriminated against.
Some things I’ve been reading that are recommended (emphasis mine):
Once the virus made its inevitable outward march, claiming lives beyond China’s borders, the CPC mounted a major public relations exercise that exploited common human decencies to evade accountability. Criticism of the Chinese government was equated with racist prejudice against ordinary Chinese people. The result: rather than confront China, precious energies were exerted to avoid the trap set by China. In February, the Mayor of Florence launched a campaign encouraging Italians to “hug a Chinese”, describing it as a “fight of solidarity and unity against virus”. The People’s Daily, a mouthpiece of the CPC, applauded young Italians advertising their virtuousness on the Internet with photos of themselves hugging Chinese tourists without mentioning a word about the mortal perils of human contact.
China didn’t owe an apology or an explanation to the world: the world owed China proof of its anti-racism.
Some American commentators and Democratic politicians are aghast at Donald Trump and Republicans for referring to the pandemic as the “Wuhan virus” and repeatedly pointing to China as the source of the pandemic. In naming the disease COVID-19, the World Health Organization specifically avoided mentioning Wuhan. Yet in de-emphasizing where the epidemic began (something China has been aggressively pushing for), we run the risk of obscuring Beijing’s role in letting the disease spread beyond its borders….
Well before the new coronavirus spread across American cities, the Chinese regime was already rather creatively trolling U.S. publications, expelling American journalists, and “weaponizing wokeness” over anything it perceived as critical of China’s role in mishandling the epidemic. To hear Chinese spokespeople use the language of racism and prejudice is somewhat surreal, considering this is a regime that has put more than 1 million Muslims and ethnic minorities in “reeducation” camps.
Of course, Americans will have to be vigilant against scapegoating Asians in general or the Chinese people in particular. With one of the highest infection rates and death tolls, Chinese citizens have suffered enough. The Chinese leadership, however, is another matter. A government is not a race. It’s a regime—and easily one of the worst and most brutal in our lifetime. Criticizing authoritarian regimes for what they do outside their own borders and to their own people is simply calling things as they are. To do otherwise is to forgo analysis and accuracy in the name of assuaging a regime that deserves no such consideration.
It should be obvious that racism against Chinese Americans, or Chinese in general, is as bad as racism against anyone else.
But that truth coexists with another: that the People’s Republic of China and its regime is America’s foremost foreign enemy, and Xi Jinping’s ambitions against us must find our resolve to defeat them.
This bears noting in light of the furor over President Trump’s decision to refer to the coronavirus as the “Chinese virus.” My opinion is that the virus should be referred to, in Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s chosen fashion, as the “Wuhan virus.” That descriptor correctly identifies the virus’s Chinese origin without connecting it to Chinese people or things unrelated to it — in other parts of China, in Hong Kong, in Taiwan, in Singapore, and worldwide.
Still, China must not escape its culpability for allowing a domestic epidemic to become a global pandemic. That matters now more than ever, in that Xi’s regime is trying to rewrite history and defame the United States.
The ruling Chinese Communist Party is directly, indisputably responsible for this pandemic. No matter how this virus originated, they’re the ones who set it loose on us. They covered up the initial outbreak, they lied to the world about how contagious the virus is, they allowed travel in and out of Wuhan, they silenced all the doctors and scientists who tried to warn the world, and now they’re trying to blame the United States for their own incompetence and dishonesty and sheer malignant evil.
It’s not racist to say so. Telling the truth doesn’t make you responsible for the actions of racists. Thinking so, saying so, only helps the people who did this to you.
But some Americans would rather die, literally, than admit that there’s someone in the world who’s even worse than the guy who lost the popular vote in 2016. Trump broke their hearts and destroyed their minds, and now they’re going down coughing.
China has made an enemy of the entire world. If you try to cover for them, you can’t be trusted. You may not realize you’re only helping the tyrants who did this to us all, but you are. You’ve fallen for a massive, insidious, lavishly funded propaganda campaign. The Chinese government is appealing to Americans’ fear of being called racist, in order to manipulate us into remaining silent about our own killers.
How did that work out for Italy?
The immediate diplomatic battle is over-use of terms such as “Wuhan coronavirus” or “Chinese virus” by senior members of the Trump administration. Various American news reporters and commentators have condemned such usage as racist, xenophobic, or offensive,9 mirroring accusations leveled by the CCP10—even though these outlets and others now critical of the term were using “Wuhan virus” just a few weeks ago.11
Others argue that debating the use of these terms is pointless and a waste of time.12 They contend that “little is gained by repeatedly emphasizing the origins of the coronavirus—which are already well known despite China’s propaganda—or engaging in tit-for-tat rhetorical exchanges with Beijing.”13
This report takes a contrary position. Consider why the CCP is so eager to wipe terms such as “Wuhan coronavirus” from common parlance and official language. From a geopolitical perspective, COVID-19 is deeply troubling to the party because it changed the global conversation from how quickly China can construct a one thousand–bed hospital, build a dam, or commercialize self-driving cars to how the country is ruled and governed. Initial attempts to control information and suppress dissent rather than prevent a health crisis posed awkward questions about the strength and resilience of Chinese society under authoritarian institutions.
Disputing the name “Wuhan virus” is China’s first big hurdle in distancing themselves from the virus. They would much prefer “coronavirus” or the scientific name “COVID-19,” despite the fact that scientists and doctors have a long-held practice of naming a new disease after a population or the site of its first major outbreak. So of course one of the easiest positions for The Atlantic to publish was: Wuhan = bad, COVID-19 = good, and for good measure, blame the name discrepancy on “conservatives” deploying “racist tropes.”
Meanwhile, several articles have decried the problematic ways in which Chinese eating and hygiene habits have been discussed in light of the outbreak, especially because they may lead to stereotyping Chinese people as a whole for being barbaric and uncivilized. These stereotypes, they fear, will only end up fueling xenophobia and racism. The temptation here is to avoid falling into the trap of cultural relativism. It’s perfectly appropriate to criticize China’s rampant consumption of exotic animals, lack of hygiene standards and otherwise risky behavior that puts people at risk for zoonotic infections. Until these entrenched behaviors based on cultural or magical beliefs are divorced from Chinese culture, wet wildlife markets will linger as time-bombs ready to set off the next pandemic, which in a globalized age is proving only too easy to do. We already know that more than 75 percent of emerging diseases originate in animals and that in the last century, at least 10 infectious diseases jumped from animals to people. China should be aghast at its role setting off the global domino effect at Wuhan Seafood Market in late 2019.
After countless infections and death, the obliteration of trillions of dollars and the radical retooling of modern life as we know it, the least China could do is introduce higher food safety regulations, eradicate all wet markets and ban the wildlife trade, once and for all.
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