[Translation by Human Rights in China]
In the beginning of March, “A Battle against Epidemic,” a book whose publication had been trumpeted by the propaganda machine of the Communist Party of China just days earlier, was hastily withdrawn even before its release. Many thought, therefore, that there is a limit to the CPC’s shamelessness after all. But to everyone’s surprise, merely two days later, the Xinhua News Agency published an article with this headline: “With Reason on Our Side: the World Should Thank China” (理直气壮，世界应该感谢中国), proving, yet again, that the CPC’s shamelessness knows no bounds.
The Xinhua article says:
Currently, there is this din blasting that China owes the world an apology. This is very ridiculous, because China has made enormous sacrifices to combat the novel coronavirus epidemic and paid enormous economic costs to cut off the transmission routes of the coronavirus. No other country has made such great sacrifices and efforts.
. . .
We should now say, with reason on our side, that the United States owes China an apology, and the world owes China a thank-you; without the enormous sacrifices and efforts made by China, the world could not have gained a precious window of time to combat the novel coronavirus epidemic; one can say that China has, by its own strength alone, staunchly held off the novel coronavirus epidemic for a very long time. It’s truly earth-shattering, and the gods themselves would be moved!
Xinhua’s article is playing a game of counterattack, the thief yelling “catch the thief,” and shedding the blame. Its crux is to portray the coronavirus epidemic as purely a force majeure event, evading and covering up the manmade disaster. The pivotal point in the development of the epidemic is that in its early stages, the Chinese authorities—first and foremost Xi Jinping—did not allow public announcement of it and refused to activate emergency protocols, hence missing the window to prevent the spread of a largescale epidemic, causing a public health disaster in the entire Wuhan, the entire Hubei Province, the entire China, and even the entire world.
The Chinese authorities, especially the “almighty” Xi Jinping, had made a huge screw-up that they then tried to hastily fix. And just as the remedial efforts began to yield some results, they rushed to publicize them in a vain attempt to steer the world’s attention to only the remedial efforts and away from the screw-up itself. And they even went so far as to say that “the world owes China a thank-you.” The culprit has shockingly become the savior. Is there anything more shameless than this? In publishing this article, what Xinhua ends up bill-boarding is not a case of “reason on our side,” but a guilty conscience. The authorities know that they have become the target of widespread disdain, and there is no way for them to directly defend themselves. Therefore they need to muddy the waters, divert attention, and play the offense as their defense.
This narrative of “the world owes China a thank-you” is extraordinarily absurd, without a doubt. But saying “China owes the world an apology” is not correct either. We should say: It is the Chinese authorities, first and foremost Xi Jinping, who owe an apology to the people of Wuhan, the people of Hubei, the people of China, and the world.
Hu Ping is a veteran democracy activist and political commentator. He is a member of Human Rights in China’s Board of Directors.
[The original Chinese was published by Radio Free Asia on March 4, 2020.]