“China’s Anti-Pandemic Efforts Deserve Objective and Fair Judgment” H.E. Mr. Zhang Yiming, Chinese Ambassador to Namibia.
Windhoek, May 11-The COVID-19 outbreak has dragged the whole human race into an unprecedented and fierce war with a highly infectious disease on a global scale. Led and guided by President Xi Jinping, the Chinese government set up an open and transparent national system for collective outbreak control in the shortest possible time by swiftly taking the most rigorous, comprehensive, and thorough measures. After more than three months of hard work, China has achieved great success in the fight against the coronavirus with the local transmission basically cut off. On 8 May, there were only 1 new infected cases and 2 suspected cases in China, all of which were imported. As of 24:00, 8 May, China reported 176 confirmed cases under treatment and accumulative 82887 confirmed cases along with 4,633 death.
Despite the defense net that China has built up with determination, unity and sacrifice, this dangerous disease has evolved into a worldwide pandemic. At present, the number of confirmed cases outside China has exceeded 3.6 million. Facing the increasingly severe global anti-pandemic situation, China is making every effort to provide the international community with assistance and share its anti-pandemic experience. However, some politicians in Western countries are not focusing on tackling the coronavirus outbreak, but keen to politicize the pandemic by scapegoating and stigmatizing China. Some of them labeled the virus with China or befouled China to hide the truth, and some are even clamoring for claims and compensation from China. It is clear that they are buck-passing its own failure by blaming others. Referring to the virus as Chinese virus, peddling the theory of Chinese responsibility or clamoring for compensation from China are ridiculous hocus-pocus for all rational persons. Those slanders are merely framing-up and political blackmail and manipulation with legal cover, which are full of de facto mischief, legal ignorance, and political prejudice.
There is no scientific evidence to support the so-called virus made in China theory and the hoax of Wuhan Virus Research Institute creating the virus. Those are all ill-intentioned false accusations. In fact, the source of coronavirus is a scientific issue that deserves research and demonstration by scientists and medical experts. The joint statement published in The Lancet by internationally authoritative medical experts pointed out that the COVID-19 had originated from the nature is not man-made. China is just one victim of this disease. On 1 May, the World Health Organization (WHO) held a routine media conference, during which Dr. Michael Ryan, Executive Director of WHO, was questioned whether the new coronavirus came from Wuhan Virus Research Institute. He answered that many scientists had studied the virus gene sequence and been convinced that it is indeed from the nature.
It is definitely that it is not China that has created the COVID-19. The origin of the virus still needs time to verify. No matter what the truth will be, it is meaningless to blame certain country, since no one wants to see the outbreak. What we need most now is unity, solidarity, and fighting together. Faced with this sudden outbreak with a new virus that humans know almost nothing about, China has paid a huge price and successfully contained the epidemic, and thus won time for the world and contributed to the global fight. By any means, China’s efforts should be fairly evaluated, rather than suffering blame or unreasonable claims. The intention of demanding for China’s reparations is nothing but shifting blame to China for the inadequate response of someone else. Blame game finds little support, and ends up nowhere.
The subtext of befouling China to hide the truth is that the Chinese government knew the danger of COVID-19 but took non-transparent way on purpose, which is not the fact. As we know now, coronavirus is a new virus and needs time to find out and scientifically assess its property, transmission mechanism, and perniciousness. At the initial stage of the outbreak, there was no scientific evidence to show its infectivity and fatalness.
On 27 December 2019, China received an unknown case report from Wuhan. China released the first pandemic notice and reported to the WHO Office in China on 31 December. Since 3 January 2020, China has been updating the WHO and relevant countries, including the United States, about COVID-19 on a regular basis. On 12 January, China released the whole genome sequencing of the coronavirus, and on 20 January, China confirmed the human-to-human transmission and shared it with the whole world. On 23 January, at the eve of Spring Festival, the most important traditional festival in China, China put Wuhan, the epicenter of the pandemic, under quarantine. At that time, there were 571 confirmed cases in China and only 10 cases abroad. On 30 January, WHO announced it as the Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), and there were only 82 confirmed cases outside China then. On 23 February, one month after the lockdown of Wuhan, the US reported 35 cases and except for the 76 cases in Italy, most European countries had not found any cases at the moment.
In fact, the Chinese government took decisive steps to stop the spread of the virus immediately after confirming the outbreak of the epidemic, which had won a precious time window of at least one month for the international community to respond to the epidemic. Unfortunately, some countries did not realize the seriousness of the epidemic and failed to take precaution measures in a timely manner. Richard Horton, the editor-in-chief of the prestigious medical magazine “The Lancet”, said that “we knew in the last week of January that this was coming. The message from China was absolutely clear, but some countries wasted the whole of February and early March before they acted”. Should these countries humbly reflect on their mistakes. At the end of February, the WHO Director-General warned with a pointed sign that “No country should assume it won’t get cases; that could be a fatal mistake”, while a certain American politician was burbling that “It’s going to disappear. One day —it’s like a miracle—it will disappear”.
By contrast, Namibia adopted a completely different approach. After the first case was confirmed on March 14, the Namibia government immediately declared a state of national emergency, and took decisive and forceful measures such as lockdown and social distancing. No new cases were reported for more than 30 consecutive days since the report of the 16th case, and no death cases and community transmission occurred. It can be said that Namibia has done a much better job than many western countries, demonstrating the Namibian government’s high sense of responsibility for protecting people’s lives and health.
As we all know, according to international law, the premise for a country to assume “state responsibility” is the conducting of “international wrongful acts.” So, has China committed “international wrongdoing act”? The answer is definitely no.
First of all, the COVID-19 epidemic is a global public health emergency, which is legally considered as “force majeure”. There has never been a precedent in international practice that a country firstly affected by an epidemic should assume “state responsibility”. To this date, no one has required a certain country to be responsible for and compensate for a pandemic such as H1N1, AIDS, and mad cow disease. In 2009, H1N1 flu first broke out in the United States and spread to 214 countries and regions, causing nearly 200,000 deaths. The United States has been confirmed as the source of the virus. Has anyone asked the United States to compensate for that?
Secondly, since the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic, China has always been acted in an open, transparent, and responsible manner and has tried its best to curb the spread of the epidemic. The so-called Chinese cover-up or nonfeasance did not exist. China actively carried out international cooperation. The measures taken in notification, prevention and control are extremely fast, transparent and effective, many of which go well beyond the requirements of the International Health Regulations. Regarding China’s early response to the epidemic, the WHO expert team visited China on site and submitted a comprehensive report, highly appraising China’s response. The Director-General of the World Health Organization Tedros has repeatedly stated that “the high speed and massive scale of China’s moves are rarely seen in the world”. China has been working closely with the WHO and its prevention and control measures, diagnosis, and treatment plans are emulated by other countries. China has sent 15 batches of medical experts to 16 countries to help fight against the COVID-19 and has been working day and night to produce anti-epidemic materials for the world. What should China be answered for? On the contrary, those countries saying that COVID-19 is just common flu accounts to a cover-up. Claiming the virus will disappear like a miracle is in fact nonfeasance.
Virus is the enemy of the whole human race. It does not respect borders or races. To defeat the virus, the mankind needs to choose confidence over panic, unity over division, and cooperation over scapegoating. The Chinese people will never forget the heart-warming help from the international community. To reciprocate the goodwill we received, China has actively contributed to global anti-epidemic fight through coordinated response, experience sharing and material support, on the basis of persevering in the domestic prevention and control work and actively fulfilling its own anti-epidemic responsibilities. Justice naturally inhabits man’s heart. No one could discredit or distort the facts and truth that China responds to the COVID-19 in a timely, responsible, and effective way, and history will give its objective and impartial verdict.