A masked police officer is seen in front of the Tiananmen Gate in Beijing. Photo: AFP

China’s state media is waging a renewed campaign to weed out “noxious thoughts” and whip up patriotism among the masses. This fresh “mental sterilization” drive coincides with emerging signs that the deadly novel coronavirus’s grip on the country is weakening – there has been a steady drop in new cases for four consecutive days.

On Wednesday, Xinhua quoted a popular opinion piece circulating on WeChat, China’s ubiquitous social networking app, as saying that the West, in particular the United States, “owes China a coronavirus apology” for all the smearing and gloating, and that the rest of Asia and even the entire world would have been embroiled in a far worse contagion had it not been for China’s resolute containment and sacrifice.

Earlier, when medical professionals across the nation were still locked in the treacherous battle against the rampaging pneumonic virus, officially known as Covid-19, sycophants at the Communist Party’s propaganda department and the state-run People’s Daily rushed to compile a 100,000-word book extoling the “foresight, care for the people as well as topflight leadership” of President Xi Jinping as he steered the party and the nation in vanquishing the epidemic.

Xinhua reported that the new publication, titled A Great Nation’s Battle against Epidemic (大国战疫), was a compilation of excerpts of state media’s coverage of the Chinese government’s response to the viral outbreak, and editors sifted through reports totaling two million words for key perspectives to present a full picture of Xi’s overarching role and the supremacy of the party and the nation’s socialist institutions. Versions in English, French, Russian, Arabic and Spanish would also be published, they said.

Yet after party cadres across the nation were told to buy and read the new book to fortify their morale as they fight the disease, it was pulled overnight from major online bookstores at the beginning of this month. Some observers say the party’s propaganda chief all of a sudden realized that to effusively praise Xi when the virus was still infecting people could boomerang. However, others say logistical issues such as a shortage of manpower – needed for printing and distribution – due to lockdowns in major cities could be the reason behind the delay in publishing.

This book on Chinese President Xi Jinping’s’s role in fighting the coronavirus pandemic was swiftly compiled but then pulled from online bookstores. Photo: Handout
Chinese President Xi Jinping talks to medical professionals treating patients in Wuhan via video. The leader has not visited the contagion epicenter since the outbreak began. Photo: Xinhua
Xi inspects a drug research lab in Beijing on Monday. Photo: Xinhua

Though state media may have been told to put their new paean to Xi on the back burner, for now, it seems they have decided to focus their energy on the US.

Xinhua said in an op-ed that the spread of the pathogen – which began in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, according to Chinese health officials – had been spiraling out of control in the US “like a single spark starting a prairie fire.” California, Florida and the state of Washington have declared the epidemic a public health emergency. There have been 159 confirmed cases and 11 deaths nationwide, compared with China’s tally of 80,567 and a toll of 3,016 as of Thursday.

Xinhua also ridiculed a prayer gathering in Vice-President Mike Pence’s office in the White House at the end of last month. US President Donald Trump has tasked Pence with spearheading the US federal government’s response to the global outbreak. In a photo released by the White House, Pence sits with members of the government’s Coronavirus Taskforce as they bow their heads and pray for the disease to disappear.

Vice-President Mike Pence meets with the President’s Coronavirus Taskforce on February 26 in his White House office. Photo: Handout

Xinhua quoted US commentator Hemant Mehta as saying, “What else did anyone expect? Science? Reason? Something sensible? Of course not… If this virus truly becomes a pandemic, we’re at the mercy of people delusional enough to think their pleas to God will fix the problem. The same God who presumably created the virus, at least in their minds, will somehow make sure it hurts only a handful of Americans … and a ton of Chinese people.”

The Chinese news agency also asserted that Beijing would not bar American citizens from entering China, even though the US was among the first countries to impose entry restrictions on Chinese travelers. It also said China would not take advantage of the “precarious situation” in the US by limiting the export of masks, protective suits and antiviral drugs, vital medical supplies that American firms do not manufacture.

The conclusion of the article is that the US owes China an apology for its “immoral” words and deeds during the onset of the plague in China, when its politicians and China bashers thought their country would not be hit by the crisis.

A major thoroughfare along the Yangtze River in Wuhan is devoid of traffic, as the central mega city of more than 11 million residents and the provincial capital of Hubei is still under a sweeping lockdown with no one entering or leaving without prior approval to contain the coronavirus contagion. Photo: AFP

Other Chinese papers are also challenging the etiological conclusion that Wuhan was the breeding place of the virus, citing initial investigations by health authorities across the US, Italy, Iran, etc that found that those infected had no contact with Chinese or other Asians before they became ill. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention admitted last week that there had been several infections with “unknown sources.”

Earlier, China also expelled Wall Street Journal journalists over a headline calling China the “sick man of Asia,” which touched a raw nerve as the term evoked bitter memories of denigration when China was invaded by the West in the early 20th century.

Opinion pieces denouncing the US have gone viral in the official discourse and on social media, with strong indignation still spreading. Yet less than a month ago, Xi thanked Trump for the solidarity and donations flowing into China in an hour-long phone call. Xi also penned letters to tycoon Bill Gates and pupils at an elementary school in Utah to thank them for their support for China and hailed the “longstanding chumminess between the two great nations.”

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15 Comments

  1. Japan’s Media: The Coronavirus May Have Originated in the US

    In February of 2020, the Japanese Asahi news report (print and TV) claimed the coronavirus originated in the US, not in China, and that some (or many) of the 14,000 American deaths attributed to influenza may have in fact have resulted from the coronavirus.

    A report from a Japanese TV station disclosing a suspicion that some of those Americans may have unknowningly contracted the coronavirus has gone viral on Chinese social media, stoking fears and speculations in China that the novel coronavirus may have originated in the US.

    The report, by TV Asahi Corporation of Japan, suggested that the US government may have failed to grasp how rampant the virus has gone on US soil.

    However, it is unknown whether Americans who have already died of the influenza had contracted the coronavirus, as reported by TV Asahi. (People’s Daily, English, February 23, 2020, emphasis added)

    On February 14, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said they will begin to test individuals with influenza-like-illness for the novel coronavirus at public health labs in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, and New York City.

  2. I suppose, according to Frank Chen, the following attitude of the US media is alright and not immoral.
    ” China can do no right in its response to the coronavirus, according to western media. Even as the epidemic appears to be subsiding, Beijing is being slammed for being simultaneously too authoritarian and too weak. Accordingly, nothing Beijing does — or doesn’t do — will be enough for the armchair critics of the American press.”
    “CNBC has compared the government’s response to coronavirus to the reaction of Soviet authorities to the 1986 nuclear accident at Chernobyl, citing US financial firm Raymond James“if the virus becomes a true global pandemic, the actions by the Chinese leadership will come under fire as they no doubt contributed to the spread” (emphasis added).”

    “Coronavirus should change the way we think about China,” a Washington Post oped (Feb 11) by Richard Haass of the Council on Foreign Relations declared. He blames President Xi Jinping for “replac[ing] capable technocrats with party loyalists,” sniffing that “China’s leaders mostly have themselves to blame” for the loss of “political legitimacy” he insists they are suffering in the eyes of the people.
    Haass invokes Tiananmen Square, because he wouldn’t be a western political thought-leader if he didn’t, warning that a repeat is imminent “unless authorities get the situation under control and restore economic growth soon.” He then appears to threaten Beijing with a popular uprising complete with “millions of citizens demanding basic competence,” noting that “desperate people can do desperate things.” ”
    This arrogance of the US media and ” experts ” despite the fact that Covid19 comes from the US.
    Covid19 has 5 Haplo groups, A, B, C, D, and E, all found in the US. China only has group C, descended from B which descended from A.

    ” WIRED’s approach to the steadily improving numbers coming out of China was to warn against believing any statistics Beijing published, because “authoritarian countries” always lie about their socioeconomic problems (March 2). Once again invoking Chernobyl, the article cited an Economist study purporting to “prove” that “diseases like Covid-19 are deadlier in non-democracies” and called for extra scrutiny for health data emanating from China, because “authoritarian rulers do not permit a free press or watchdog organizations.” ”

    ” The New York Post buried a reasonable critique of globalism in heaps of anti-China propaganda (Feb 29), blaming Beijing for the economic catastrophe that arrived on US shores on the heels of the epidemic. Admitting that depending on the “tyrannical regime” for vital consumer goods, from auto parts to the face masks that have become a ubiquitous visual reminder of the coronavirus, had dramatically upset the global economy, it proceeded to place all of the blame on China instead of “the West” for outsourcing its industrial base there in the first place.”

    Words in quotation marks are from Rt.Com

    ETC,ETC,ETC…..Ad nauseam.

    1. I think the virus was invented in a small, secretive fjord in Norway. This fjord, specialising in exporting virus infected salmon to a certain market in China sparked an unprecedented strain on China, but the attack was spotted by a Chinese doctor, now a national hero after his demise. The relentless pursuit by Xi and others in his leadership addressed the issue and saved the nation from demise.

      1. Btw, I hail the doctor for his call and feel sad about his suffering and death.
        I myself originate from Norway, but I do not live in that infamous fjord, nor am I a chemist or biologist. Not even secret warfare as the KlcT seems to be close too.

      2. We must protect ourselves against the corona virus with a strong immune system and vitamins. Drugs or vaccines will have more side effects than the disease itself. In other words Corona can be fought. But how can we protect ourselves against 5G? Perhaps everyone has to live in an earthed Faraday cage. We must start designing a wearable one as well. 5G is just another way of the ordered culling of 6000 million of the planet’s population. By comparison the Corona is nothing. Instead of fiddling with the knobs, WE SHOULD START THINKING AND ACTING

    2. China is the source of so many plagues in human history. Rubbish hygiene and animal husbandry.

  3. Frank Chen wrote: ” Some observers say the party’s propaganda chief all of a sudden realized that to effusively praise Xi when the virus was still infecting people could boomerang.”

    Why the possibility that Xi himself ordered the book to be pulled was not mentioned ??

    1. Everybody knows that Xi’s orders come AI, Bluetooth and bump share. All he needs to do is think it!
      And you sir are a failure!

  4. Rather think that Fkk and KlcTan sound much like Chinese propagandists from the Party’s propaganda department – basically, “the virus has nothing to do with China, it is all the fault of the USA”. And we in Australia had the unedifying spectacle of China’s ambassador and his second-in-charge saying that Australia’s decision to (temporarily) halt migration from China was “racist” (and implied that all Australians are “racist” anyway) victimising poor unwitting Chinese. They failed to mention that the Australian ban was only imposed some two weeks AFTER Xi Jinping locked down Wuhan and most of Hubei.

    1. Chinese are very worried about the white fever the Aussies and other Whites induce in their young ladies

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