Given the growing frequency and severity of viral epidemics, there simply is no excuse for the depth of the COVID-19 crisis. All governments urgently need to come together to create new mechanisms and protocols for preventing such disasters from recurring.
According to one recent study, if Chinese authorities had openly acknowledged the threat and responded properly just three weeks earlier than they did, the spread of COVID-19 could have been reduced by as much as 95%. Because local negligence, ignorance, and censorship prevailed at the critical moment, the entire world is now paying an enormous price.
While the WHO has undoubtedly played an important role in combating global health threats over the years, it, too, has faced criticism for being overly bureaucratic and slow to respond. Indeed, during the Ebola crisis, it was the United States, not the WHO, that stepped in to prevent a wider disaster.
China’s Misplaced Pandemic Propaganda
As the COVID-19 pandemic escalates, China has shifted its propaganda machine into high gear, in an effort to change the narrative about the virus’s origins and the Chinese response. But when this crisis is finally over, people will remember what China’s leaders did, not what they said.
But, far from learning from past mistakes, China’s leaders are trying to cover them up. As virtually the entire global economy effectively shuts down to contain the China-born virus, and deaths in Italy – the pandemic’s new epicenter – exceed 7,500, the Communist Party of China has shifted its propaganda machine into high gear. Its goal: change the narrative of the COVID-19 crisis.
At home, this has meant touting the CPC’s leadership in mobilizing the country to “win the war” against the virus. It has also meant encouraging the spread on Chinese social media of exaggerated or outright false stories about Western democracies’ “inept” responses to the outbreak.
Abroad, China’s propaganda machine is trumpeting declining infection rates as evidence that strong centralized leadership is more effective than democratic governance. Meanwhile, the government is sending humanitarian assistance – including health-care workers and medical supplies – to hard-hit countries like Iran, Italy, and the Philippines.
But if Chinese leaders hope to use the COVID-19 pandemic to build and project soft power, they are likely to be sorely disappointed. For starters, the world is nowhere near ready to forget the role that its initial cover-up played in allowing the virus to spread.
Categories: Wuhan Coronavirus