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Officials in Beijing branded the pandemic a “test of fire” and painted a comprehensive picture of its “painstaking efforts” to identify the virus, stop its spread and raise the alarm across the world. The report glosses over any failures or delays to pass on vital information when the outbreak began in central city of Wuhan last December and praises local and provincial authorities for their decisive actions.
China’s fight against COVID-19 is extraordinary and should be remembered forever
It says the World Health Organization was constantly updated from January 3 when Chinese scientists quickly released the genome sequence.
Chinese president Xi Jinping is praised for playing a pivotal role throughout the crisis.
The report said: “Confronted by this virus, the Chinese people have joined together as one and united their efforts.
“They have succeeded in containing the spread of the virus. In this battle, China will always stand together with other countries.”
Critics have dismissed the report as state propaganda which provides a sanitized version of events and leaves out political and bureaucratic problems that exacerbated the crisis when it first emerged.
There is no mention of Li Wenliang, the doctor who was reprimanded by the police for raising an early alarm about the virus or the young Chinese bloggers who were taken into custody after creating videos of the suffering in Wuhan.
There is nothing on local officials’ delays in reporting cases and underplaying the outbreak or their subsequent dismissals.
Instead, officials are lauded for dedicating themselves to defeating the virus and managing “an effective and well-functioning, whole-of-the-nation control mechanism”.
Speaking at the press launch of the report yesterday, a top Chinese official dismissed international accusations about Beijing’s conduct as “completely unwarranted and unreasonable”.
China has much at stake in global perceptions of its actions and the view from the international community could have a big effect on Beijing’s world standing in the months and years ahead and its ability to continue playing an ever more assertive role in international organizations and in geopolitical affairs.
Three ministers, two vice ministers and the president of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences held a joint news conference to release the report at the State Council Information Office.
Xu Lin, the minister who oversees the office, characterised China’s handling of the disease in heroic terms.
He said: “China’s fight against COVID-19 is extraordinary and should be remembered forever.”
Ma Zhaoxu, vice minister of foreign affairs, complained bitterly about foreign criticisms of China’s handling of the coronavirus and said critics “went all out to smear and slander China — this is spreading a political virus, and in responding to such politicized practices, China, of course, will push back resolutely”.
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China today challenged US Senator Rick Scott to show evidence supporting his accusation that Beijing is trying to slow down or sabotage the development of a COVID-19 vaccine by western countries.
Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said: “Since this lawmaker said he has evidence that China is trying to sabotage western countries in their vaccine development, then please let him present the evidence. There’s no need to be shy.”
Donald Trump and other top officials in Washington have repeatedly criticised China’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak, which has infected more than 4 million people globally and killed more than 400,000.
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