ISSN 2330-717X

A Comprehensive Analysis Of China’s Mishandling Of COVID-19

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Four semantically overlapping words denoting self-concern, commonly used interchangeably, are egoism, egotism, egocentrism, and egomania. Egoism is the treatment of self-interest as the very basis of one’s morality. Egotism is the virtue of being excessively conceited or absorbed in oneself. Egocentrism is self-centeredness. Egomania is excessive preoccupation with one’s ego – considering one’s own self to be very important and being able to do anything, and following one’s own ungoverned impulses. Somehow, China has managed to manifest all four of these drives in its irresponsible conduct, criminal negligence, mishandling and suspiciously-timely opportunism pertaining to the ongoing pandemic.

The timeline of China’s dereliction, insincerity, and impropriety doesn’t originate in late 2019 but starts all the way back at 2003. The SARS outbreak occurred in late November 2002 in Guangdong. Subsequently, the WHO requested information from Chinese authorities twice in the following weeks, after an electronic warning system gathered loose clues off the internet that pointed towards a potential outbreak. It wasn’t until February the next year that the WHO was notified of the outbreak. The thawing of Chinese secrecy was still very gradual and laggard, initially limited to mere intimation of the occurrence. It was only in April that the Chinese succumbed to the overwhelming international pressure and begrudgingly let in international experts and investigators. Jiang Yanyong, Chief Physician at a Hospital, and a senior Communist Party member, who had exposed the Chinese coverup scheme which undercounted cases, had to face much restriction and repression in the years that followed.

In May 2003, bushmeat samples from a wet market in Guangdong were studied and found that Palm Civets could harbor the Coronavirus without suffering from the disease or depicting its apparent symptoms. Palm Civets are considered a delicacy in China. Later, Raccoon Dogs, Ferret Badgers, and even Domestic Cats, all significantly popular edibles in China, were also identified as potential carriers. In 2005, a couple studies discovered numerous SARS-esque Coronaviruses in Chinese bats. In 2006, Chinese scientists affirmed the genetic link between coronavirus strains in civets and those in humans. In 2007, a scientist at the Laboratory of Health and Disease Genomics of the Chinese National Human Genome Center stated in his paper, “This SARS coronavirus (SARS-CoV) exploited opportunities provided by ‘wet market’ in southern China to adapt to the palm civet and human.” In his paper, he stresses the potential for “animal-to-human-jumping”, the likelihood of such epidemics, concerns regarding public health in light of such threats, the grave risks posed by wet markets, the prospect of the horseshoe bat serving as a transmitter, and the importance of internationally coordinated effort in event of an outbreak. Another paper that seems to be titled by a time-traveller from 2020 “A SARS-Like Cluster of Circulating Bat Coronaviruses Shows Potential for Human Emergence” was published in the leading scientific journal Nature brought to light concerns regarding direct animal-to-human jump and the prospect of hybrid virus contagions, urging to take lessons from SARS and MERS. In December 2017, researchers from the Wuhan Institute of Virology ( yes the same facility that purportedly houses over 1500 different strains of viruses – a good number of them extremely and purposefully dangerous, and is in midst of the “artificial origins” allegation owing to its proximity to the wet market and the site of the 2019 outbreak) seemed to near-conclusively trace the viral species members of which responsible for the 2003 outbreak to horseshoe bats. The site where they found these bats was a cave in Yunnan province which too was only a kilometer from the nearest village, prompting the scientists to give more than a fleeting mention to the graveness of the threat that these animals posed. The seriousness of the public health hazard posited could be gauged from their statement “…another deadly outbreak of SARS could emerge at any time.” Bats carry a host of coronaviruses, and a host of studies, both Chinese and foreign in origin, have found a high probability of potential spillovers. As regards bats, even traditional wisdom dictates their virulence. People have long been aware of their virtue of being carriers of rabies. Besides these, Nipah, and the Marburg disease, a close relative of Ebola, were all transmitted by its agency. Bats carry a host of coronaviruses and the risk of transmission via an intermediary through a mutation was widely and specifically assessed in scientific literature. Nonetheless, the widespread consumption of exotic wildlife among the Chinese population ran rampant. Currently, the strongest, most credible hypothesis explaining the origins of the SARS-COV-2 involves Bats and Pangolins. China remained, by far, the largest market of illegal trade in wildlife. A 2015 Research had shown that 70% of emerging viral diseases are zoonotic. Time and again, research in China and abroad has been intensifying concerns and affirming the plausibility of a zoonotic-origin viral pandemic. No wonder China has retained a firm grip on such research as of late ensuring nothing slips through its fingers. Any COVID-19 related research whether pertaining to its origin or exploring a potential breakthrough or investigating a curative proposition is subjected to severe scrutiny and meticulous inspection. Any research paper regarding the coronavirus needs to stand this scrutiny which determines if it is approved for international dissemination. Practically no scholarly or academic publication in China can evade notice and pass under the nose of the authorities unprobed. The various checks and measures that are put in place under the pretext of preventing misinformation and prejudice, constitute a potential to deterrence to valuable life-saving information and contradict China’s pretentious self-proclaimed commitment to ‘lead the world in the fight against COVID’ and ‘help others’. Meanwhile folk medicine enjoyed state sanction, with government-authorised centres vending out medicine mostly based on exotic animal products, rooted in traditional beliefs, pseudoscience and superstition. One such animal hailed and coveted for its miraculous properties (besides its meat) is the Pangolin. What had traditionally been inconsistent with the Scientific Socialist, materialist viewpoint soon became a tool of cultural assertion – a handy aid to wield nationalistic clout by invoking spiritual pride. It didn’t get a quiet, passive and tacit affirmation, but rather an active endorsement and promotion by the State. This combined with an expanding middle class and the noveau riche whose epicurean pursuits and adventurousness are well-known ensured that China’s insatiable appetite for exotica persisted. China reopened its wet markets at the end of March, selling amongst others, both pangolins and bats. Although another mutation, hybridisation or crossover occurring soon is implausible given these are chance events and do not occur in quick succession, constant proximity between various existent animal and human viral strains may prove to be a noxious, understudied and poorly-understood brew that might spawn novel plagues. Wet Markets reeking with the stench of filth and squalor now serve as precarious Pandora’s boxes – ill-lit laboratories of pathogens. This prospect coupled with the onset of winters, laxening of travel restrictions, ostensible resumption of “business-as-usual”, and restoration of production facilities, a second outbreak transpiring is no more a far-fetched prospect. It is not just this – many of these so-called wild animals are bred and raised in inhumane conditions in thousands of systematic farms all over China. This poses an even greater jeopardy as artificially-bred animals are genetically less robust, and more susceptible to mutation, aberrations and anomalies. In fact, many biologists deem wet-markets to be a cleaner alternative if they sell freshly-obtained meat or live animals for slaughter, if the animals are procured from the forests. They contest the notion that wild animals are the most insidious carriers of disease and instead opine that the relatively new but booming phenomenon of exotic animal farming for culinary and folk medicinal consumption is largely accountable for the grave public hazard posed. Swine Flu and Avian Flu arose from farm animals – pigs and poultry respectively. Farmed animals are likelier to carry such ailments because selective breeding for desirable productive traits often comes at the expense of other aspects, compromising their natural robustness. Dependance on humans, and lack of open, wild-habitat environmental conditioning renders them immunologically defenseless. Sustained, successive inbreeding, and lack of gene flow and subsequently limited genetic diversity render them prone to having congenital disorders and deficiencies, which in turn might contribute to their development of a proclivity to contracting infectious ailments. China’s deviation from communist principles, scientific observation, civility of conduct, and even basic humane sensibility and prudence simply didn’t cease. In April, it began selling bear bile as a cure to the disease. This baseless folk remedy didn’t just receive passive government sanction, but actively-initiated governmental endorsement, promotion, and sponsorship – China’s National Health Commission itself officially listed it as a suggested measure. China peddled it as the treatment, and extracted it from thousands of bears both home and abroad. Just as with practically any wild animal in China whose body part is said to possess a miraculous healing ability, bears are farmed in China for their bile – in horribly crammed cages amid filth and torment. Such cures are not only a betrayal of people’s trust in governments and administrative authorities but also create a false sense of security and even a perception of panacea-consumption in people, leading them to laxen or even abandon actually-effective measures as regular handwashing, careful maintenance of hygiene, exercising precaution, and immunity fortification. China’s expanding middle class and noveau riche are notorious for latching on to exotic animals as pets and their parts as showpieces, medicines, and culinary items – which are flaunted as status symbols.

Official Chinese government data shows that the nation imported around 2.46 billion pieces of “epidemic prevention and control materials” between January 24 and February 29 valued at nearly $1.2 billion. This included over 2 billion face-masks – some flown-in by repurposed Chinese companies via Corporate flights. Here’s the interesting part – It was only on January 29 that all provinces of the country had upgraded the status of their action to a ‘Class 1 Response to a Public Health Emergency’. In fact Hubei, the province of origin of the outbreak itself only launched a Class-1 response on January 24. By this time, European countries were innocent bystanders – Britain was watching more aloof and casual than the Britons remarking on the daily weather. A couple days prior, Trump had nonchalantly asserted that it was all “totally under control”. Italy donated loads of protective equipment to China, a portion of which would later be ‘sold’ back to it at hefty rates while maintaining the pretext of the supply as “Chinese aid to Italy”. Meanwhile on February 4, Florentine Mayor Dario Nardella urged people to hug Chinese people in a bid to encourage them. While there were some undeniably deplorable cases of racism and arbitrary ostracisation towards the Chinese diaspora, this victim-card playing, tantamount to emotional blackmail, from irresponsible Chinese tourists and temporary immigrants ensured that the virus rapidly and insidiously continued to spread across various nations. Defying prevalent trends of naming diseases from German Measles to Japanese Encephalitis, and conveniently disregarding the implicit exceptionalism of anti-racial activism in not talking about Zika and Ebola’s geographical origin-inspired naming, China and the WHO aggressively crusaded against identifying the virus with China or even Wuhan, either in nomenclature, or in policy action, thereby compromising widespread awareness. Exposition of hypocrisy or inconsistency is of course not the most attending purpose at hand, yet, identification and deportation of very recent arrivals from China and immediate screening and filtration of inbound traffic from China would have gone a long way in curtailing the seed dispersal of the pandemic. WHO sees no racism in the christening of Ebola and Zika but goes out of its way to defend China and argue against the ‘Wuhan Virus’. It’s not just the established nomenclature-defying exceptionalism where WHO departs from the norm – it has been overwhelmingly favourable, sparing, and endearing in its treatment of China, especially if put in comparative perspective with past actions. In any case, China sees little racism in its own land – where people of African origin are popularly discriminated againsthumiliated, dehumanised and outright debarred from certain public places.

China, the world’s largest Protective Equipment manufacturer followed up its frenzy import by a restriction of exports of all such commodities. Thus whether inadvertently or deliberately, China ended up starving countries such as the United States of vital protective gear as masks, suits, gloves, and equipment as ventilators. This was followed by a propagandist, pompous proclaimation of its commitment to generously ‘help’ other nations deal with the ‘global crisis’. Of course this could have very well been dismissed as a coincidence, had it not been for the third concerted step – sale of ventilators and masks at high prices in March through literal bidding, while proclaiming victory over the pandemic and noble charity. Significant portions of such exports were faulty or defective, which not only constituted a breach of trust and caused a temporary loss by proving ineffective in curbing the diseases, they dealt a lasting blow by hampering the prospects of limiting the diseases in the interim which could have been achieved by using an alternative. China’s supplies created a false sense of security while perniciously letting the contagion spread, in an untraceable manner because governments were assured of those using the deployed equipment, making it insurmountable difficult to ascertain their dissipation. China supplied grossly malfunctioning COVID-testing kits to Spain and Turkey while more than half the masks provided to the Netherlands could not qualify its quality checks and were subsequently returned. A similar case was with Australia, Czech Republic and some other nations. In a comic absurdity, Pakistan is said to have been provided substandard, ineffectuate masks allegedly fashioned out of underwears. China, of course, complacently denied the unanimous criticism, even by its conventional allies. Weeks after grievances of abject faults and defects in medical equipment first surfaced, China again sold allegedly dysfunctional PPE, this time to neighbour India. Companies manufacturing ventilators and PPE have mushroomed overnight or existing ones have dramatically repurposed their production facilities towards these, churning out tens of thousands of pieces daily. In the last month alone, China sold 4 billion masks to other countries, many of which were deemed sub par. Not only was China’s selfishness limited to withholding hoarded stocks acquired via donations or mass-purchases out of fear but also to strategically limiting their export even after claiming it had defeated the virus. The strategy is clear – the Dragon wishes to keep its treasured mounds of equipment tucked under its paw, resist humanitarian pressure and release them as late as possible, so as to exact the highest bids of desperation from crisis-ridden countries. China would rather let the crises deepen and fester, so that demand rockets even more. The later China sells its products, the more can it charge – and this rise will be drastic – in lack of equipment, more people will contract the ailment, leading to even more pressing requirement for masks. One can’t be blamed for raising their eyebrows at the questionably opportune coincidence, at least no more than those skeptical of these increasingly credible conspiracy theories. The coincidences do not end here – China was positioned as the monthly chair of United Nations Security Council at the optimal time when the crisis was serious and pressing enough to warrant strong, compulsive, and decisive action but not grave enough to make it a single-minded preoccupation sparing no time to ascertain the blame or hold the wrongdoer accountable. The post is assigned on a rotating basis and the month of March coincided with China’s candidature who refused to hold a discussion when the issue was broached. Now that the infection has incapacitated the international legislative machinery itself and precluded the proper functioning of international institutions, China is under no prospect of immediate investigation, trial or any means of prosecution whatsoever. It also enabled it to summarily put a deadstop to all pertinent queries directed at it, trivialise its mishandling, and belittle the scale and proportion of the spread both home and abroad. By chairing the UNSC, China averted the only phase when not only could it be held answerable for its epidemiological mismanagement but due information extracted from it would prove instrumental in confining the pandemic and potentially saving thousands of lives across countries. Speculation is rife that this crucial positioning bought China enough time to cover its tracks. Incidentally, China’s consistent UN penetration was further bolstered by its recent and controversial appointment to the United Nations Human Rights Commission this month, in spite of its continually dismal human rights track record from Falun-Gong to Christians and Uyghurs, and Tibet to Hong Kong. This enabled it to forego, at least for the time being, any questions raised regarding its harsh, arbitrary, and vehement impositions on residents of infection-affected areas, suspected maltreatment of patients, fierce repression of Wuhanese dissentorsexcision and outright discounting of the sick, tight-clenched grip on both medical and media reports, and the pitiable state of Uyghurs locked down in the Internment Camps at Xinjiang standing risk of both infection and starvation. Control and containment measures provided a convenient ruse and garb for China to clamp down on the Hong Kong Protests. Enacting curfews masquerading as social distancing and lockdown measures even when the threat was sparse, enabled them to fizzle out a protest which was seemed to be at a critical brink. The lockdown was draconian and multifaceted – mouths were sewn shut, curtains were drawn, and everything, even data and research literature, inbound and outbound was carefully filtered. All this happened while China assured, iterated and emphasised that the situation in Wuhan was under control while Xinjiang camps – one of the most tormentous, squalid and congested dwellings in China, stood no risk of infection. Wuhan residents however contended otherwise and took to the streets and then to the social media to vent their frustrations before, during and after the lockdown. Those who begged to differ and vocally-expressed their dissatisfaction were swiftly silenced, and even rounded up. Aggrieved residents of infection-hit areas especially those under strict sealing could failed to even lodge their grievance against the corrupt and ignorant bureaucracy. The Public Distribution failed them and voicing their complaint ended in brutal authoritative repression. As China celebrated its purported “triumph” over the virus, Wuhanese residents voiced their dissent and discontent at times even publiclty. The curiously consistent and eerily prompt “mysterious disappearance” of doctors, journalists (a number of them including outspoken citizens), and pretty much anyone else who tried to expose or publicise its systematic manipulation, lies and deceit, broach international attention to the real extent of the crisis, or even dared to ask questions. Acclaimed writer Wang Fang, perhaps the most popular contemporary literary figure from and in Wuhan, received threats for her exposure of ground reality in Wuhan via her Quarantine Diary. China’s censors automatically delete works that go against the State. The same happened with attempts to present excerpts from the Diary. These automated censors monitor every single post on media outlets, social media and other platforms, and spontaneously excise posts which are skeptical of the government or governance, or in their eyes, convey a remotely underwhelming, critical, or slanderous (read realistic) perspective of China in any sphere. The Retraction covers everything from scholarly works and disfavorable historical documentation to personal vlogs. Be it the esteemed and eminent doctor who had worked on SARS or a physician at Wuhan Central Hospital, anyone who even neutrally and pacifically tried to get the facts right – mere humble correction against the erstwhile official line of the Chinese government vanished without a trace. The latter, Dr. Li Wenliang later reportedly contracted and subsequently succumbed to the same virus which he was trying to prove human-contagious – joining the tragically poetic ranks of Aeschylus and Curie. who China is no stranger to vanishing dissidents – crackdown on dissent is in fact more of a norm than the exception. No matter whether you are an expository journalist – reporter, writer or unaffiliateda reputed but vocal and sincere doctor, an internationally-acclaimed or grassroots social activistor a tycoon – speaking anything mildly or remotely against Chinese interests or propaganda is sure to land you into trouble. Nonetheless, the COVID crisis has both masked and deepened these violations. People vanished even when China and WHO had denied existence of evidence of human-to-human transmission, disappeared as China fought it, and continue to disappear even after China claimed victory over the disease.

China pursued aggressive nationalism and propaganda even in dealing with the disease – taking it as a prestige issue harshly curbed individual rights and outright neglected non-COVID patients. China disregarded its belongingness to humanity in general, very reluctantly sharing any information on the virus or the outbreak and discreetly filtering all information including academic publications, let alone cooperate with other nations in research and development of the virus and the exploration of a potential cure. China is suspected of enacting a massive coverup – severely manipulating and concealing statistics. China’s severe underreportage of the crisis, quite likely considering the extraordinary behaviour of its curve and highly-selective, exclusive, and sparing geographical extent, and its news fabrication in order to convince the world that it has triumphed over the disease are also an expression of this tough-appearance insecurity. In mid-April, Wuhan administration acutely revised its statistics, shooting up the casualty count by 50%.   

WHO’s Director-General Tedros Adhanom’s position as a neutral administrator of an international body is compromised by his background, clear favoritism, inaction, and misinformation, which all reek of the stench of collusion. By trivialising the pandemic – ignoring early intimation, labelling fear of the disease more dangerous and infectious than the disease itself, vehemently ruling out imposition of any travel restrictions or regulations on China, lauding China’s (then) rather deficient, idiosyncratic, and inconsistent response to the disease, and refusing repeated calls to declare the disease a pandemic even in the face of its bourgeoning expanse and pervasiveness. WHO was grossly late on all three fronts – taking cognizance of the disease, acknowledging human-to-human transmission, and formally or even informally conferring upon it the pandemic status – aggravating the negligence of already cavalier and casual European leaders as well as jeopardising ignominous third-world nations which often depend on second-hand information, exclusively from the WHO to enact such provisions. WHO is thus indirectly responsible for both swelling the curve as well as the direct loss of tens of thousands of lives which could have been saved from preemptive and early preventive action. WHO not only ignored Taiwan’s early warning but discriminated against it, consistently and irrationally denying it membership allegedly under pressure from China. Despite having absolutely nil historical basis to its claimed ownership over the territory, China arbitrarily but vehemently considers Taiwan its part and vehemently armtwists almost every nation and international body to not recognise its distinct and independent existence. It went out of its way to evade anything and everything from or about the nation and never for once considered meting it out any, let alone due recognition for its initiatives, even after its concerns were validated. In fact, Taiwan was excluded from its vital Global Detection Network – the same intelligence gathering tool that analyses amassed data looking for cues as the ones that gave the 2003 outbreak away. Taiwan was by far the most prepared for Coronavirus, than any country, and was the one to suffer the least, lasting economic damage and one of the nimblest to flatten the curve. Yet WHO clubs the statistics of Taiwan, one of the medically most-well facilitated nations, with that of China. As late as the 14th of January, the WHO tweeted that no evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus was found. Now this is where some retrospection is required: The first patient (at least the first known to the Western world) was reported on December 1, the first fatal case was reported in December and five days after the onset of his ailment, his wife was reported to have contracted it. In late December, Chinese medical authorities noted a cluster infection of apparent viral pneumonia, as well as a couple medical staff contracting the same, and noted an exponential increase in the number of cases no longer attributable to the seafood market. On the very last day of the year, a day after Dr. Li Wenliang sent messages to fellow doctors warning them of a potential SARS outbreak, and contrary to the obvious, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission declared it had no evidence of human-to-human transmission, a statement it would resoundingly reiterate on January 3 and January 5. The Chinese government continued efforts to suppress all information about the virus: “China’s National Health Commission, the nation’s top health authority, ordered institutions not to publish any information related to the unknown disease, and ordered labs to transfer any samples they had to designated testing institutions, or to destroy them.” On January 8, World Health Organization’s official statement announced, “Preliminary identification of a novel virus in a short period of time is a notable achievement and demonstrates China’s increased capacity to manage new outbreaks . . . WHO does not recommend any specific measures for travelers. WHO advises against the application of any travel or trade restrictions on China based on the information currently available.” On January 10, another set of extensive findings of the Wuhan Hospital Doctors regarding transmission among family members, clashed head-on with the repetitive and emphatic official statement of the city administration. The very next day, breaking the stagnancy of dubiousness, the Wuhan City Health Commission updated, “All 739 close contacts, including 419 medical staff, have undergone medical observation and no related cases have been found . . . No new cases have been detected since January 3, 2020. At present, no medical staff infections have been found, and no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission has been found.” It is important to mind that the first set of infections had already occured in December. Over the next three days, the Commission denied observing any instance of related case, stated that risk of human-to-human transmission albeit not dismissable was low, and again denied any instance of related cases, respectively. This affirmation of denial on part of the Commission would continue till January 20. A day prior to this, the WHO had denied substantial understanding of the mode of transmission of the ailment. Tedros Adhanom continued to unsolicitedly exalt China stating on January 22 that “I was very impressed by the detail and depth of China’s presentation. I also appreciate the cooperation of China’s Minister of Health, who I have spoken with directly during the last few days and weeks. His leadership and the intervention of President Xi and Premier Li have been invaluable, and all the measures they have taken to respond to the outbreak.” A consensus could not be arrived at a WHO Meeting as to whether the event constituted a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) or not. Finally on January 23, 7 weeks since the detection of the first documented case, preliminary steps were taken to quarantine Wuhan. In the meantime, millions had travelled to and from Wuhan, both domestically and abroad, especially due to the Lunar New Year festivities. In spite of all these developments, Tedros Adhanom, in the first week of February, stated that there was no need for the world to take measures that “unnecessarily interfere with international travel and trade”, actively discouraging governments which were going to take initiatives of their own accord out of fear of lagging behind in the competition while rivals continue operating. This came a month before he expressed disappointment and frustration at a number of nations supposedly being unable to follow his instructions and take the pandemic seriously. He persistently glorified as well as defended China of his own volition, to the point where it seems purely politically motivated, given that quantitatively better performing and statistically more transparent nations haven’t even earned a mention. He had described China’s suppressive, confining actions as a “new standard for outbreak control”, drawing widespread flak from human rights activists, and earning the ire of Conservatives and Liberals alike. He also criticised USA’s travel ban on China, even though it was quite late by absolute standards. Tedros’ frequent meetings and explicit closeness with Xi Jinping and other Chinese leaders, his allegiance to a Marxist Party back home, and his general affinity towards fascist socialists didn’t help with the suspicions.  

During and following its COVID crisis, China took a number of steps that, even if seen as incidental rather than premeditated, conspiratorial, strategic or opportunistic, are blatantly disrespectful, undignified, and ill-mannered if not downright unethical and irresponsible. Months into the crisis, China had embarked about a ruthless company purchasing spree taking advantage of dwindling stocks in victimised countries including the US, undertook strategic deployment in a sensitive, international contention-prone and conflict-probable area, held aerial and naval joint military exercises and drills, and expelled American Journalists. The ill-timing of these aggressive deeds and diplomatic muscle-flexing which usually are kept reserved for dire times, made the superpower come across as utterly insensitive, in spite of proclaiming to help 82 countries. These are the just the established truths discounting the umpteen suspicions being floated around even by rather credible organisations – If US intelligence were to be believed, it also conducted a nuclear test; If British Intelligence is to be believed, the possible manmade origin of the virus isn’t entirely out of question; If Nobel Laureate Luc Montagnier is to be believed, the virus escaped out of the Wuhan lab in a failed attempt at devising a cure to AIDS. China’s defense against these conspiracies would have held traction and enlisted support had it not partook in the same games – arbitrarily rebounding any criticism directed at it and responding to allegations by reciprocating them.

As conspiracies increasingly gain traction and conviction, any allegations aside, China’s apathetic Machiavellian behaviour is extremely insensitive, irresponsible, opportunistic, and undue. If China is the mysterious guy in the blazing neighbourhood being unsubstantially accused of being the arsonist who started it, just because he was last seen playing with matches and hoarding oil in his cellar, he undeniably also happens to be the one who reeks of gunpowder, had unusual amounts of both water and burn salve stocked up at its home which he now sells for their weight in silver, and had the suspicious favour of the fire-department who insisted that there was no risk of fire. Further, he also happened to be the one who said that a fire can’t spread despite being warned of his house’s proneness to blazes for years, sat quietly as the fire raged at his own household before subsiding extraordinarily fast, if he were to be believed, by virtue of his nimble action, and gagged those family members of his who yelled “Fire!” or “Help!” or warned his neighbours. Now when the blaze has spread house-to-house, and the rest of his neighbourhood has contracted it, he is running door-to-door offering to buy their hastily-salvaged belongings and possessions. Moreover, having pacified the blaze at home, he now tries to seize, enclose, and claim a disputed piece of land between his house and that of his neighbour. He has also unleashed his dog, and let loose rumours that throwing porcelain at the fire would extinguish it, and some claim to have seen him celebrating with fireworks as the fire still raged on.  

What’s unfortunate is that by the time the world is free enough to hold China accountable, and try to trace its tracks, it would already have covered them beyond the scope of recognition by even the most meticulous and minute of investigations. Any investigation would be futile, spare the possibility that China might have let slip evidence of having covered its evidence. With one too many coincidences, speculation is as rife as the disease itself, and if anything, China’s usual exercise of its clandestine complacence lends credence to the adage “A guilty conscience needs no accuser”. Successive misleading, self-inconsistent and erratic reporting, not taking precautionary measures, not cooperating in investigation of the problem if not actively discouraging it, not participating in coordinated efforts to curb it (let alone leading them), consistently erring on the side of risk, and using a global crisis at least partly directly brought upon by ownself for material and strategic benefits are outrageously treacherous acts unbecoming of any government, let alone a superpower that aspires and claims to be a world leader. China didn’t create the disease, but it sure created the crisis. It was the one to put the ‘Pandemic’ after the ‘COVID-19’.

*Pitamber Kaushik is a journalist, columnist, writer, and independent researcher.


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