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General Sec­retary of the Com­munist Party of China Xi Jinping (photo: Wiki­media Commons)

As COVID-19 restric­tions have lowered the world’s volume to an eerie hush, the virtual world has lit up as those lonely in quar­antine seek cama­raderie, news on the pan­demic, or simply a cure for boredom. 

In the midst of this boom in online activity, there has been one notable silence: A lack of outrage against the Chinese gov­ernment. 

On the con­trary, in an effort to deflect blame, the media has painted coro­n­avirus as a freak accident of nature, or justice for humanity’s sins against the envi­ronment. Ever-sen­sitive to political cor­rectness, the media has con­demned Pres­ident Trump as racist for using the term “Chinese Virus” despite the fact that many viruses have been named after their place of origin, such as the Spanish Flu, and many members of the media used this term before Trump. Rather than focusing on what actually matters — a  global pan­demic that, at the time of this writing, has killed more than 20,000 people — the media has put ter­mi­nology and pro­tecting China from blame at the fore­front of its agenda. 

Make no mistake: The spread of the coro­n­avirus is a result of China’s corrupt gov­ernment. The media’s reluc­tance to call out China is not an iso­lated incident. In fact, it  reveals the pattern of not only the media but also world leaders who chose to remain silent as the Chinese gov­ernment endangers the world with unethical policies. 

China lost its chance at curbing the novel coro­n­avirus twice. The first time was after the SARS coro­n­avirus out­break in 2002. This virus was also caused by China’s wet markets and killed 774 people globally. No longer able to ignore the glaring public health risk for fear of public outcry, China loosely enforced bans on the markets for a short period before allowing them to run amok once again. Had China used an infin­i­tesimal portion of its budget to con­tinue shutting down these markets, the current crisis could have been avoided entirely. 

The second time the Chinese gov­ernment missed its chance at pre­venting the pan­demic hap­pened when it was first alerted of the out­break in December 2019. Rather taking appro­priate action to contain and remedy the sit­u­ation, Chinese lead­ership silenced and per­se­cuted the heroic Chinese doctors, researchers, and jour­nalists who risked their lives to warn the world of the impending crisis. If China had restricted travel to Wuhan, where the virus is said to have orig­i­nated, early on and not wasted pre­cious time that could have been spent devel­oping vac­cines and a response strategy, the current sit­u­ation would likely be far more hopeful. 

Instead, China’s gov­ernment self­ishly attempted to cover up the con­se­quences of its own irre­spon­si­bility. And the world is paying the price. 

In the light of this sit­u­ation, there has been a strange, dis­con­certing lack of public outrage. Even when China’s Min­istry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Zhao Lijian, blamed the U.S. mil­itary for causing the pan­demic without evi­dence, it only lasted one news cycle. Donald Trump choosing to call the coro­n­avirus the “Chinese Virus” as a response, however, has remained a favorite talking point.

China’s failure to take respon­si­bility for the sit­u­ation is unac­ceptable, but frankly under­standable. The response of the American news media, however, is not. The morally-upright thing for the Chinese gov­ernment to do in this sit­u­ation would be to accept blame for the cat­a­strophe, apol­ogize, and give rec­om­pensory money and medical sup­plies to the victims. But it comes as no sur­prise to anyone that China is deflecting. China is a nation and nations act nation­al­is­ti­cally — in their own favor, and for their own interests.

What has proven incon­ceivably hyp­o­critical  is the mes­saging of the news media and lack of backlash by world leaders against China. While the media is hyper-focused on Pres­ident Trump for using the term “Chinese virus,” it fails to report on the 1 million Uyghur Muslims that the Chinese gov­ernment is holding in con­cen­tration camps because of their race. In a world economy dependent on Chinese exports, no one is willing to speak out and face the con­se­quences. 

Until world leaders and the media stand up to Chinese Com­munist Party, the novel coro­n­avirus will not be the last time the world suffers at China’s hands. 

Carly Fisher is a sophomore studying history.