By Dennis Etler
CNN, like all major Anglophone news outlets, tries to portray itself as fair and independent-minded, but all their reports that deal with China, Russia and Iran, among others, are replete with implicit biases. They take as given certain underlying assumptions that cannot be challenged.
Case in point, their coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic. The disease, caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, was first identified in Wuhan, capital of Hubei province, the People’s Republic of China (PRC). For all Western news agencies that means, for all intents and purposes, it originated in Wuhan. But, where a new viral disease is first identified does not necessarily mean that is where it originated.
There is mounting evidence that healthy people under the age of 50 can be silent carriers of the virus. Most are either asymptomatic or come down with a low-grade cold or mild flu-like symptoms. Hence, the virus can lurk around in a population before it reaches a critical mass and grows to epidemic proportions.
Once it gets embedded in a population it will spread to infect more of its most vulnerable members, the elderly, those with pre-existing medical conditions and compromised immune systems.
Once that occurs the healthcare system of a country can become so overburdened with patients in need of intensive care that the entire medical infrastructure begins to crumble, impacting other patients in need of urgent care. That is what initially happened in China and later on in Italy and elsewhere.
But here a distinction must be made. China had no prior warning when the novel coronavirus first came to its attention in Wuhan in December 2019. Soon thereafter, on January 22, when Wuhan was locked-down and China went into quarantine mode, there were only 580 identified cases and 17 deaths associated with COVID-19.
It is extremely disingenuous to state that, “China’s handling of the outbreak in the early weeks has come under intense scrutiny and deserved criticism,” especially since the West had months of advance warning and did nothing to prepare for its inevitable global spread.
Once medical professionals in Wuhan became aware of the new viral pneumonia that was cropping up they informed the Chinese CDC and within a matter of three weeks, by January 8, 2020, the coronaviruses’ genome was sequenced, allowing for the production of diagnostic test kits.
Within less than two weeks as caseloads and deaths mounted, China began an all-out campaign to contain and control it in Wuhan and Hubei, preventing the virus from spreading across the rest of China. How does that compare with the Western response?
They just sat on their hands, whistling a happy tune while denigrating China in its hour of need, leading to racist taunts and discrimination directed against people of Chinese and Asian origin.
China had no advance warning. It had to discover for itself what it was dealing with. Whatever alleged initial mistakes occurred, if you want to call them that, they were completely understandable, especially given the track record of the West which had at least two months to prepare for the viral onslaught.
The Chinese government and the Chinese people united as one to defeat the virus with great heroism and sacrifice. To say as CNN does that, “Only a few weeks ago, domestic anger over the government’s handling of the outbreak and an alleged initial cover-up was reaching boiling point,” a gross exaggeration and misrepresentation.
Whatever grousing occurred paled in comparison to the call to arms that the population responded to. The Western media-hyped whatever discontent was expressed online and blew it all out of proportion.
As regards allegations that China’s questioning of the origins of the coronavirus is unfounded, there is mounting evidence to the contrary that deserves consideration. The US is always quick to accuse others of wrongdoing with the scantiest amount of evidence, but when the shoe is on the other foot, they scream bloody murder.
Is it a mere coincidence that a SARS-CoV virus was being studied and experimented on at a US Bioweapons lab at Fort Detrick which was cited in August 2019 for unsafe conditions that may have led to contamination of wastewater? Or that the US sent over 300 military personnel to the World Military Games in Wuhan in late October 2019?
Or that four foreign military participants came down with an unknown respiratory illness during the games? Or that genetic studies conducted in Taiwan and Japan indicate that the ancestral form of SARS-CoV-2, the COVID-19 coronavirus does not occur in China but is found in the US and elsewhere? Or that the Wuhan wet-market is now known not to have been the first source of the coronavirus.
There is ample reason to at least investigate the circumstances surrounding the origins and spread of the coronavirus. But, neither the Western media nor the governments they represent will ever entertain the possibility that there is reason to doubt the Western narrative.
As far as the West is concerned whatever China has accomplished can only be grudgingly accepted, while whatever sins the West engages in are unfortunate mistakes.
Dennis Etler is an American political analyst who has a decades-long interest in international affairs. He’s a former professor of Anthropology at Cabrillo College in Aptos, California. He recorded this article for Press TV website.