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Opinion: Who should be held accountable for a global coronavirus spread?

China Plus Published: 2020-05-15 20:04:56

By Chen Feng

The upcoming World Health Assembly virtual meeting may be derailed, from finding a solution, off-target to finding a scapegoat. It would be no surprise to see member states arguing and counter-arguing, among others, on who should be held responsible for the global spread.

The US government appears determined to hold others accountable for its own failure at home. It never has stopped pointing fingers at China, either by calling COVID-19 as “Chinese virus” or “Wuhan virus”, or by alleging it was man-made in a Wuhan lab.

U.S. President Donald Trump abruptly halted a press conference on May 11th after being challenged by an Asian American reporter whom he told: "Don't ask me. Ask China." [Illustration: China Plus/Wang Longyin]

U.S. President Donald Trump abruptly halted a press conference on May 11th after being challenged by an Asian American reporter whom he told: “Don’t ask me. Ask China.” [Illustration: China Plus/Wang Longyin]

Groundless, but they worked in shifting attention from Washington to Beijing. Not my failure, it’s theirs; not that I failed, it’s them causing trouble, as the U.S. leader recently said: “Ask China!”

Now, Washington is blaming China for allowing 5 million people to leave Wuhan before the city was locked down, and some of them may have flown to Milan, New York and other places. Again, the playbook is pre-judgement, then find evidence or fabricate “evidence”.

To counter these arguments one by one:

A label after China is racism;

Saying COVID-19 was made in Wuhan is sheer fabrication and conspiracy, as the world’s leading scientific institutions, top epidemiologists and even US researchers and intelligence agencies call it original in nature;

And then “spreading from China”, the WHO and the world’s top scientists admit that China’s swift lockdown actually contained the spread. Several US cities and a few other countries have reported cases and deaths that could’ve occurred at a similar or even earlier date than the first cases identified in Wuhan. We now know that US and European infections were caused by a different strain of COVID-19 from that in China.

But such specific counter-arguments may just fall in a trap of shifting attention. To determine who is really responsible for causing the spread globally, and in the U.S., the following few questions must be answered, by judging the words and deeds of national leaders, whether they are leading or misleading us.

People walk near Hollywood and Highland on May 14, 2020, in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles. [Photo: AP/Mark J. Terrill]

People walk near Hollywood and Highland on May 14, 2020, in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles. [Photo: AP/Mark J. Terrill]

First, are science and scientists respected or sidelined in taking measures – wearing face masks, social distancing or reopening, using disinfectants and medications?

Second, do figures (with updates) reflect the real picture of all infections and transmissions, without loopholes?

Third, do they do enough to reach consensus and coordinate domestic and global actions, or do they widen differences at home and abroad? Do they work with regional leaders, foreign countries and global health agencies in a joint combat, or do they oppose others more?

And, are they consistent in responses or do they just flip-flop?

In short, do they act like leaders who take responsibility to safeguard public health, or do they care about something else more than human lives?

Find the truth and the answer to “who’s responsible” is self-telling.

Note: Chen Feng is an editor of China plus. The article reflects the author’s own views.

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