China’s Censorship of COVID-19

  • Anika Goyal ’23

According to the Chinese government, the COVID-19 outbreak is now contained, but many are questioning whether this information is true or not. With the 2003 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak in China,, there was a significant amount of  censorship and lack of transparency regarding the virus. SARS was only reported to the World Health Organization three months after it was actually discovered. People now suspect that similar issues are happening with COVID-19. A lot of research and data regarding the pandemic and its origin is not being publicized. Recently, the Chinese government “has imposed restrictions on the publication of academic research on the origins of the novel coronavirus” (“Beijing tightens grip,” CNN). From now on, all papers and information regarding COVID-19 go through extra censorship and vetting prior to publication. China is being especially secretive about the origins of the virus. The more research is being done, the more information the government is hiding. There have been four million confirmed cases and around 280,000 deaths. 

As research begins to question the first human contraction of COVID-19 and early cases, Chinese authorities prevent this information from getting out. Currently, all academic papers in the United States have to be managed very specifically. Papers are sent out to the Education Ministry’s science and technology department, then to the State Council. Only after it has been approved can the paper be published. Western and Chinese scientists have stated that COVID-19 originated in bats and was spread to humans. However, the Chinese Government has questioned this idea and stated that there has been no final conclusion regarding COVID-19’s origin. Some Chinese officials are arguing that this virus was brought to China from the United States military. The Chinese government is hesitant to share information regarding the origin of the virus because they do not want to be deemed as a country that is not credible and gives out misinformation. 

However, we have to remember that it is not the Chinese race as a whole that is concealing relevant information about the origin of COVID-19. It is the Chinese government and authorities. The blame should be placed on those that are actively hiding information, not Chinese citizens that have no control. Even in the United States there has been a lot of xenophobia towards Asians in the past couple months, which is racist and uncalled for, considering they are not the ones to blame and suffer from the effects of COVID-19 as well. 

Pandemics are serious issues, and the current one has taken thousands of lives. It has also taken a toll on the global economy and put many in awful situations. In order to prevent a similar situation from happening again and to learn how to better control it, we have to ensure that we have all the information possible.  The Chinese government has to be transparent about information regarding COVID-19. Only this way can we both prevent it from happening again and find a way to prevent the current spread of it. The Chinese government has to be transparent about all details of the virus because now is not the time to hide information. Any information regarding COVID-19 could possibly be critical to stop the spread so that we can return to our more normal lives  as soon as possible.

By Axel de Vernou

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