International Asia NYT writer says world is suffering because Xi govt delayed announcing Wuhan...

NYT writer says world is suffering because Xi govt delayed announcing Wuhan virus outbreak

Wuhan Mayor is cited as claiming that five million people had fled the city before the lockdown on Jan 23

Author

Date

Category

- Advertisement -

A New York Times opinion piece by Nicholas Kristof on Jan 29, entitled “Coronavirus Spreads, And The World Pays For China’s Dictatorship”, has accused President Xi Jinping of using his authoritarian leadership to control information, rather than stop an epidemic.

The writer claims there was a delay in the virus outbreak being announced, not only to the world but even to “his own people”.

The virus was first seen on Dec 1, followed by concerns raised among Wuhan city’s medical personnel a few weeks later. At that point, the writer believes, alarm bells should have been rung, which would have resulted in an outbreak smaller in scale.

The authorities instead turned their attention on those who wanted to publicise the growing health threat. Kristof writes: “A doctor who told a WeChat group about the virus was disciplined by the Communist Party and forced to admit wrongdoing. The police reported giving “education” and “criticism” to eight front-line doctors for “rumormongering” about the epidemic; instead of punishing these doctors, Xi should have listened to them.”

- Advertisement -

To make matters worse, while the World Health Organization was informed by the Chinese authorities on Dec 31, 2019, concerning the virus outbreak, the people who stood to be most affected by it were only told on Jan 20.

Kristof added that the Mayor of Wuhan said he had not been allowed to even talk about the virus until late in January. From the time of the first diagnosis until China began to seriously address the issue with a lockdown of the city on Jan 23, a gap of several weeks, people came and went out of Wuhan as they pleased, taking no health precautions. He cites the Mayor as saying that, by that time of the lockdown, five million people had fled the city.

The delay in making information about the outbreak known also prevented hospitals from stocking up on much needed supplies and protective gear. The article adds: “Some doctors were reduced to making goggles out of plastic folders.”

Kristof says: “One reason for the early cover-up is that Xi’s China has systematically gutted institutions like journalism, social media, nongovernmental organizations, the legal profession and others that might provide accountability. These institutions were never very robust in China, but on and off they were tolerated until Xi came along.”

Perhaps the problem, the writer says, is that as a dictator, Mr Xi may be surrounded by people who only tell him what he seems to want to hear. “Dictators often make poor decisions because they don’t get accurate information: When you squelch independent voices you end up getting just flattery and optimism from those around you.”

Kristof also expressed concern about the virus reaching the Muslim community in the far west of the country, where health services are severely limited.

He ends his article by saying that Mr Xi should be in trouble: “I don’t know if Xi is in political trouble for his misrule, but he should be. He’s a preening dictator, and with this outbreak some citizens are paying a price.” -/TISG

Read related: Xenophobia on the rise as Wuhan coronavirus spreads

Xenophobia on the rise as Wuhan coronavirus spreads

Follow us on Social Media

Send in your scoops to news@theindependent.sg 

- Advertisement -

Leong Sze Hian faces backlash for crowdfunding, shares hate messages he received

  Singapore — Some of the wind has gone out of blogger Leong Sze Hian's crowdfunding campaign and he has been getting hate messages too. Mr Leong took only 11 days to raise the S$133,000 the High Court ordered him to pay as...

M’sian worker and sole breadwinner suffers a stroke and severe memory loss in SG; family with two young kids crowdfunds for S$100K

Singapore -- A 34-year-old Malaysian man who was working in Singapore lost his memory after collapsing from a stroke. He is the sole breadwinner for his family, and his wife and two young children are crowdfunding to pay his medical bills. In...

Just close the borders: netizens on the stricter measures amid rising Covid-19 cases

Singapore – With the recent announcement of stricter measures amid a rise in community cases within Singapore, social media is abuzz with netizens going back to border controls, noting these might have prevented such a scenario. The Ministry of Health (MOH) announced...
Follow us on Social Media

Send in your scoops to news@theindependent.sg 

Theindependent