With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting different parts of the world, the virus has become the common enemy of mankind. The world should stand in solidarity to combat the pandemic. However, some Western politicians and media, especially those from the United States, came up with groundless lies. Disinformation, rumors and conspiracy theories about China were making a great clamor. Here are the 18 most common allegations against China and the corresponding facts.
Allegation No.1: China is the origin of COVID-19. It is the “Chinese virus.”
Fact: The origin of COVID-19 remains uncertain. The name of a virus should not be associated with specific countries or regions.
The origin of COVID-19 is a scientific issue which should be determined by scientists instead of politicians. Where the disease was first reported in history was often not the place it originated. The article in the medical journal International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents says that COVID-19 was already spreading in France in late December 2019, and the case is not related to China. WHO points out that scientists are still researching the origin of the virus. It remains unclear where COVID-19 first appeared.
As for naming new human diseases and viruses, WHO guidelines advise against including geographic locations and cultural/population references in the disease name. In February 2020, WHO announced the official names of the novel coronavirus and the disease it causes – SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19. According to some Western media reports, anti-Asian racism is on the rise due to the improper correlation between the virus and the Asians in the US. British journal Nature published three editorials in April, apologizing for falsely relating the virus to China and Wuhan. The magazine stands against COVID-19 stigmatization and irresponsible actions that associate viruses with specific locations.
Allegation No.2: COVID-19 is man-made at the Wuhan Institute of Virology lab.
Fact: All scientific evidence indicates that the COVID-19 originates in nature rather than man-made.
The idea that the SARS-CoV-2 is man-made has been criticized by international agencies and scholars specialized in virology and immunology. Science journals, such as The Lancet and Nature Medicine, published articles proving SARS-CoV-2 is natural in origin. On May 1, Dr Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO Health Emergencies Program, said they have listened to numerous scientists who've looked at the sequences and they were assured that this virus is natural in origin. The hypothesis that the virus was created in a Wuhan lab is “a conspiracy vision that does not relate to the real science,” said Jean-Francois Delfraissy, a French immunologist and head of the scientific council that advises the government on the COVID-19 pandemic.
Even US scientists and intelligence agencies stand against the “man-made virus theory”. Dr Francis Collins, director of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), said in a blog post that the SARS-CoV-2 originates from nature – it is not “a product of purposeful manipulation in a lab.” On April 30, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) said that US intelligence agencies were in the broad scientific consensus, saying that the SARS-CoV-2 was not man-made or genetically modified.
Allegation No.3: SARS-CoV-2 was accidentally leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Fact: There is no evidence of pathogen leaks or staff infectionsin the Institute.
The P4 laboratory at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) is a collaborative project with the French government. The lab is equipped with strict protective facilities and measures to ensure safety. There had been no SARS-CoV-2 in the lab until December 30, 2019 ,when the first COVID-19 patient specimens were delivered there. Up to now, no one in the WIV has become ill with COVID-19.
Dr Peter Daszak, the president of the EcoHealth Alliance, who has been working with the Wuhan Institute of Virology for 15 years, said in an interview that the idea that SARS-CoV-2 escaped from the lab was pure nonsense. The Wuhan P4 Laboratory didn’t have the virus that led to COVID-19, and what has been found now are close relatives, not the same virus. So it’s not a possibility that the virus could have come from that lab. Anthony Fauci, the US NIAID director, also said that the best evidence shows the virus was not made in a lab in China.
Allegation No.4: Chinese are going abroad to spread the virus to the rest of the world on purpose.
Fact: The Chinese government adopted the most strict prevention and control measures in a short time. Very few cases are exported abroad.
Once the outbreak occurred, the Chinese government took the most comprehensive, strict, and thorough prevention and control measures in modern history, which effectively cut off virus transmission channels. On January 23, China temporarily put Wuhan under lockdown. Since January 24, travel agencies and online travel companies in China were required to suspend operating most travel services and products. From January 24 to April 8, there were no outbound commercial flights or train services. Wuhan residents couldn’t travel overseas during this period as well.
Statistics show that very few cases are exported from China. Data in several major Canadian provinces show that the COVID-19 was brought into Canada by American travelers. None of the Russian cases were imported from China. Data from Australian Department of Health shows that the proportion of imported cases from Northeast Asia was extremely small. In Singapore, cases imported from China were less than one-tenth of those from other countries.
Allegation No.5: China’s initial cover-up led to the spread of the virus globally.
Fact: China lost no time in announcing related COVID-19 information in an open, transparent and responsible manner.
On December 27, 2019, Dr Zhang Jixian, director of the respiratory and critical care medicine department of Hubei Provincial Hospital of Integrated Chinese and Western Medicine, reported three cases of pneumonia of unknown cause immediately after receiving the patients. This is the first reporting of suspected cases received by local authorities in China.
Three days after the epidemiological investigation, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission released a situation report on pneumonia of unknown cause in Wuhan. On the same day, China informed the WHO China Country Office of cases of pneumonia of unknown cause detected in Wuhan. The WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and Dr Soumya Swaminathan wrote in a paper on the Lancet, praising Chinese doctors and health departments for their rapid discovery of the new coronavirus during the flu season.
SARS-CoV-2 is a newly discovered virus. In the early stage of the outbreak, there was little evidence proving that it could cause a pandemic. “It takes time to recognize a new disease. During the research process, only after strict authentication of government agencies, can experts be sure of the testing results. Now after recognizing the virus, the testing process is simplified. If the patient is tested positive twice, the case is confirmed,” China’s top respiratory expert Zhong Nanshan said in an interview on January 20.
On January 3, 2020, China began sending regular, timely updates about the novel coronavirus to WHO, other countries including the United States, and China’s Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan regions. China has responded and notified the world about the epidemic in an open, transparent, timely, and responsible manner. WHO said that “the high speed and massive scale of China's moves are rarely seen in the world.”
Allegation No.6: China seriously violated human rights in its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fact: China has put human lives at priority, which is the top “human right.”
The right to life is the most fundamental human right, confirmed and guaranteed by the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Bill of Human Rights. Eduardo Klinger, academician of the Dominican Republic Academy of Sciences, noted that the Chinese government adopted measures that are decisive and responsible for the people around the world to curb the spread of the virus, and the theory of the so-called human right violations is total nonsense.
John Ross, former director of Economic and Business Policy for the Mayor of London, said that China has defended “the key human right” in the lethal epidemic – helping people stay alive. The findings published in the journal Science suggest that China's control measures during the epidemic may have prevented more than 700,000 infections nationwide. The Chinese government strictly controls and treats patients regardless of cost. Internationally, China has carried out concrete anti-virus cooperation and assistance. China's contributions to international human rights are obvious.
Allegation No.7: China did not report the human-to-human transmission of COVID-19 in time.
Fact: China issued strong warnings in a timely manner. The US knew the danger of the virus all along.
SARS-CoV-2 is a newly discovered virus. It takes scientific effort and rigorous process to prove whether the virus can be transmitted from person to person. On January 20, China's National Health Commission informed the media that the novel coronavirus could be transmitted from person to person.
The Chinese government immediately adopted the most stringent, comprehensive, and thorough prevention and control measures. On January 23, China put Wuhan, a city of 12 million people, under lockdown. Hubei Province, with a population of 60 million, was locked down on January 25. China sent a strong and powerful warning to the world in an alarming way.
The US has been well aware of the danger of the virus all along. It was the first country to pull out personnel from its consulate-general in Wuhan and the first to announce entry restrictions on all Chinese citizens. Since January, public health experts repeatedly warned about the epidemic, but the White House officials responded by repeating “don't panic." It was not until early March that the US government recognized the danger and severity of the epidemic situation in the US.
Allegation No.8: China provided false data on confirmed cases and deaths of COVID-19.
Fact: China’s data sharing is open and transparent. The low figures are due to strict prevention and control measures.
China’s relatively low confirmed cases and fatalities are due to the country’s comprehensive, strict, and thorough prevention and control measures. Tedros commented that he had never seen this kind of mobilization in his life.
On April 17, the Wuhan government revised the city's confirmed cases and accumulated death tolls. Some US politicians regarded that as evidence of China covering up a large number of early cases. However, revising data is an internationally accepted practice. Some other countries are continually revising their data, and the US itself is continually revising. Wuhan revised the relevant data, providing strong proof of China upholding the principles of openness, transparency, and responsibility in data releasing.
China’s actions in responding to COVID-19 are transparent. Since January, China has announced the confirmed cases, fatalities, suspected cases, close contacts, and quarantine numbers. Dr. Bruce Aylward, a senior advisor to the WHO director-general, noted in an interview that China is not hiding anything. And the data he collected through talks with physicians from various hospitals and other stakeholders could help corroborate China’s data. Yale Professor Nicholas A Christakis also said that his research sheds light on accuracy of Chinese COVID-19 reporting.
Allegation No. 9: China expelled US journalists to hide the COVID-19 epidemic.
Fact: China's measures are in response to the US oppression of Chinese media outlets in the US, and the country’s release of informationhas been timely and transparent.
On March 18, China announced that it would take countermeasures against US oppression of Chinese media outlets in the US, including demanding that journalists of US citizenship working with the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post whose press credentials are due to expire before the end of 2020 hand back their press cards within 10 calendar days. They will not be allowed to continue working as journalists in the People's Republic of China, including its Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions. China's measures are a reciprocal response to the US long-term crackdown on Chinese media outlets in the US, especially the recent expulsion of 60 Chinese journalists, rather than "hiding the epidemic."
Since the outbreak, China has been open, transparent and responsible, in updating the public on a daily basis on the COVID-19 situation on the Internet. Foreign correspondents in China can attend regular press conferences organized by the Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism of the State Council, the State Council Information Office and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs every working day to ask questions about any issue related to the outbreak. A large number of foreign journalists in Wuhan interviewed and published abundant first-hand reports. Foreign access to information about the outbreak in China has not been affected. China always welcomes media outlets and journalists of various countries to conduct interviews and reports in China in accordance with laws and regulations. China opposes ideological bias, the use of so-called freedom of the press to fabricate fake news, and violations of journalistic ethics.
Allegation No. 10: Taiwan warned WHO about human-to-human transmission of SARS-CoV-2 at an early stage.
Fact: China's Taiwan region did not warn WHO, but sought more information from the organization after Wuhan Municipal Health Commission reported the disease.
After Wuhan reported cases of pneumonia of unknown cause on December 31, 2019, the local health department in Taiwan sent a letter to the National Health Commission (NHC) inquiring about the information released by the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission. The NHC promptly made a written reply through the designated contact points specified in the Cross-Strait Cooperation Agreement on Medicine and Public Health Affairs. On the same day, the health department in Taiwan sent the so-called “warning email” to WHO. The email made no reference to human-to-human transmission. It was primarily an inquiry about information from WHO. The facts are clear. It was the mainland of China who first released the information, and the health department in Taiwan merely relayed the message. Taiwan did not make a report to the WHO first.
WHO has repeatedly clarified that Taiwan did not give it a “warning.” Dr. Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO Health Emergencies Program, clarified on May 4 that the email sent from Taiwan on December 31, 2019 was not a warning, but a request for more information on cases of atypical pneumonia reported by news sources. He doesn't understand why the story is still spreading.
Allegation No. 11: China bribes and controls WHO.
Fact: China maintains good communication and cooperation with WHO, but China has never manipulated the organization.
WHO is a specialized UN agency with 194 member states. WHO's team of experts are authorities from the medical and public health fields. Most member states, including China, explicitly support the work of WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. China has long maintained good communication and cooperation with WHO, but China has never controlled WHO.
It is not China that dominates the WHO. The United States was WHO's largest funder before it announced it would halt funding on April 14. According to WHO official information, membership fees currently account for less than a quarter of the organization's funding, with the rest coming from voluntary donations. If voluntary contributions are taken into account, China is only the 9th biggest contributor. Eleven members on its 21-strong headquarters leadership team are from the US, the EU, Canada and Australia, and only one is from China.
Allegation No. 12: China is responsible for the global spread of the pandemic.
Fact: The claim that China is responsible and should compensate for the pandemic is legally unfounded and unreasonable.
COVID-19 is a natural, not man-made, disaster. China, like other countries, is a victim, not a culprit. A pandemic is a global public health emergency. There is no such a thing as “state responsibility” of the first country to report cases. The 2009 H1N1 influenza virus was first detected in people in the United States and has since spread to 214 countries and regions around the world, claiming nearly 200,000 lives globally, but the international community has never demanded that the US take responsibility or pay reparations, said Geng Shuang, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson.
Internationally, there is no legal basis to hold the countries that first reported the outbreak accountable. China's disease prevention and control measures have not violated any international laws either. In this outbreak, China's channels of releasing information were fast, timely, open and transparent, and many prevention and control measures went far beyond the requirements of the International Health Regulations. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said his hair stood on end when he heard the allegations that China will have to pay and such claims are completely unacceptable.
Allegation No. 13: China took discriminatory measures against Africans in its virus-hit cities.
Fact: China’s COVID-19 response measures apply to both Chinese and foreigners without discrimination. China opposes any differentiated anti-virus practices that target specific groups of people.
In response to allegations that African citizens were discriminated against in Guangzhou, the Chinese Embassy in South Africa on April 24 published a signed article in the mainstream media of South Africa titled "Be Vigilant of the Virus of Evil Rumours to Sabotage China-Africa Friendship."The article pointed out that, in order to protect the health and safety of all Chinese and foreign nationals, Guangzhou upgraded its prevention and control measures, including prioritized and comprehensive testing of all high-risk groups, 14-day compulsory quarantine of all inbound passengers, and requiring 15,000 people to stay at home or go to designated places for collective quarantine. Nearly 10,000 of the quarantined are Chinese citizens, and more than 4,600 are foreigners, including African nationals, as well as foreign nationals from another 13 countries such as the US, Australia and Russia. There is no such thing as "discrimination against Africans."
NigerianForeign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama has rejected rumors about Nigerian citizens being treated improperly in Guangzhou, saying that Nigerians undergoing quarantine there have been treated properly. On April 18, the dean of the African Consulate Corps in Guangzhou confirmed that Guangdong Province and Guangzhou city have taken multiple steps to protect the rights and interests of African expatriates there.
Some African envoys in China have noted that the profound friendship between Africa and China has stood the test of vicissitudes and that no external force can stop it from growing further.
Allegation No. 14: Hackers from China tried to steal US vaccine research results.
Fact: China firmly opposes cyber hacking, and China is already at the forefront of the global race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.
China has always resolutely opposed and cracked down on all forms of cyber attacks. On the contrary, the United States has been involved in many spying scandals such as the WikiLeaks, Edward Snowden and the Swiss Crypto AG incidents, and it has not yet given any explanation to the international community.
Facts have repeatedly proved that the US has been organizing large-scale and indiscriminate cyber spying against foreign governments, enterprises, and individuals for many years. China is also one of its victims.
China has played a leading role in COVID-19 vaccine research, starting early,with high investment, and rapid progress. China has always adhered to the principles of cooperation. Since the outbreak, China has been developing a COVID-19 vaccine using five technical routes, covering the major types of coronavirus vaccines being researched worldwide. So far, several COVID-19 vaccines have been approved for clinical trials in China. Recently, Chinese researchers published the results of animal experiments on a new COVID-19 vaccine in the journal Science.
Allegation No. 15: China's foreign aid program aims to expand its geopolitical influence.
Fact: China ’s efforts to help other countries fight the pandemic is in return for their help and to practice the concept of building a community with shared future for mankind.
The Chinese nation knows how to be grateful and how to reciprocate. Chinese people will not forget the support they received from the international community in the darkest time of fighting the virus.
China's foreign assistance program is derived not only from the spirit of international humanitarianism, but also from the firm belief of a community with a shared future for mankind.
China's kindness has been met with praise from the international community. Global leaders like the president of Pakistan, president of Serbia, prime minister of Italy, and the European Commission president have all expressed their gratitude to China for its help and support. The African Union and presidents of South Africa and Zimbabwe delivered separate speeches thanking China for its strong support of African countries in the fight against the pandemic, calling China's aid a gesture of true friendship, and hailing it as a good example of global anti-virus cooperation.
Allegation No. 16: China intends to paralyze Western economies by spreading COVID-19.
Fact: China and the world are closely inter-linked through economies. The virus has also hit China's economy hard.
China has been a firm supporter of the multilateral trading system. Since China joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001, China's economy has become more and more integrated with the rest of the world. China's foreign trade rose to a historic high of 31.54 trillion yuan ($4.4 trillion) in 2019. Exports grew to 17.23 trillion yuan, which comprised about 18 percent of China's gross domestic product (GDP) last year. China and the world depend on each other. China's interests can only be served in a healthy global economy.
The COVID-19 outbreak has taken a heavy toll on global economies, China is also one of the victims. China's GDP shrank by 6.8 percent in the first three months of 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, the weakest growth rate since 1992 when the country started publishing quarterly GDP data.
Allegation No. 17: China has been hoarding medical supplies and has restricted medical exports.
Fact: China has no restrictions on medical exports. Instead, China has been providing medical supplies to other countries to the best of its ability.
The Spring Festival, the biggest traditional festival in China, usually falls in January and February. The sudden outbreak of the epidemic suspended production and other business activities in many areas and sparked a surge in domestic demand for anti-epidemic supplies. Therefore, it is reasonable that production and export of supplies have declined.
Since the outbreak, despite a still formidable task of combating COVID-19 at home, China has been providing medical supplies to other countries. China has no restrictions on exporting medical supplies. Policy measures such as the announcement on further strengthening quality control of anti-epidemic supplies were introduced to improve quality control of medical supplies and ensure orderly and well-regulated export, which is a commitment to the global anti-pandemic battle.
According to the Ministry of Commerce of China, between March 1 and May 6, China met export orders for anti-pandemic supplies from 194 countries. According to statistics from China's General Administration of Customs, from March 1 to April 30, China exported 27.8 billion masks, 130 million protective suits, and 49,100 ventilators.
Statistics from China’s General Administration of Customs show that between March 1 and May 5, China exported to the US 6.6 billion masks, 344 million pairs of surgical gloves, 44.09 million protective suits, 6.75 million goggles, and nearly 7,500 ventilators.
Even US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo himself said that he hoped China would “continue to live up to its international obligations to provide that assistance to us and to sell us those goods.”
Allegation No.18: Medical items imported from China are shoddy products.
Fact: China attaches great importance to the quality and safety of anti-epidemic supplies. Some of the problems are due to improper use or different standards between China and foreign countries.
Since the outbreak, many countries have purchased medical supplies from the Chinese market. China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson said at a regular press conference on March 30 that China recommended qualified companies to the foreign buyers via diplomatic channels and it hasn’t received any complaints from the buyers about the products purchased via the recommended channels.
Concerning the quality problems of masks bought from China reported by Dutch media, it turns out that the masks were procured by Dutch agency companies. Investigation by Chinese authorities found that the Chinese company had informed the Dutch import company that the masks were non-surgical masks before the shipment. Export declaration procedures were also performed in the name of non-surgical masks.
Some Slovak officials questioned the reliability of the quick coronavirus test kits purchased from China. According to the investigation, Slovak medical workers used these antigen test kits incorrectly with a preceding method applicable to nucleic acid testing, which led to the inaccurate results.
Also, in response to Philippine health official's remarks on the accuracy of China-provided aid of testing reagents, the health department made clarifications that the test kits produce identical results with those provided by WHO.
The Chinese government attaches great importance to the quality and safety of medical supplies. Relevant authorities have stepped up joint actions to tighten quality control of medical exports and ensure proper export procedures.
Since March 31, the Chinese government has issued policies on many occasions, requiring that five types of exported goods including testing kits, medical masks and medical protective suits not only obtain relevant qualifications from the national drug regulatory authority, but also meet the quality standards of the importing country. Chinese customs has also started to require that 11 types of medical supplies such as medical masksbe inspected before being exported.