Extracts from Foreign Ministry Spokesperson’s Regular Press Conference
The Paper: Foreign ministers of the US, Japan, India and Australia, or “the Quad” met in Japan on October 6. US Secretary of State Pompeo once again blamed China on covering up the epidemic in Wuhan and detaining and silencing the Chinese citizens who made warnings. Kelly Craft, the US ambassador to the United Nations said that the CCP transformed a local epidemic into a global pandemic. What is your comment?
Hua Chunying: First of all, on “the Quad”, I want to say that this is now the 21st century and we are living in an era of globalization. The interests of all countries are so inextricably intertwined that organizing closed and exclusive cliques will not help enhance mutual trust and cooperation, especially when the international community is now in the depth of major and urgent tasks of fighting the pandemic and reviving the world economy. We hope that relevant countries will bear in mind the common interests of all countries and mankind and focus on beating the virus with collective efforts while creating a peaceful environment and cooperation opportunities for regional and global economic recovery.
As for COVID-19, we have laid out a clear time-line and what we have done and achieved in our fight against it are open for all to see. So where does the “cover-up” allegation come from? The coronavirus is a new kind of virus. As more and more facts emerge and as reports reveal, we all know that the epidemic broke out in various places around the world at the end of last year while China was the first to report the outbreak, identify the pathogen and share the genome sequence with the world. When the high-level experts group determined person-to-person transmission of this novel coronavirus on the evening of January 19 after thorough research and investigation, China made the decision to close off Wuhan to the outside world at the earliest time possible and placed the most stringent measures on isolating Wuhan city and Hubei Province with the rest of the world and on controlling their traffic. On the first day of China’s Lunar New Year,the Central Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China convened a meeting on the outbreak and 31 provinces and regions and cities activated Level 1 emergence response for comprehensive and tight epidemic prevention and control. On January 23, as China placed Wuhan on lockdown, there were only nine confirmed cases outside China. The US, by that time, had only one case. On February 2, when the US closed its borders to the Chinese citizens, the US only officially confirmed a dozen cases.
But now, the confirmed cases in the US have exceeded 7.6 million and deaths have surpassed 210,000. How could the most powerful country on earth, with the best medical resources on hand, screw up this test so badly? There have already been reports by the US media saying that the earliest case in the US may have appeared last October. What had the US done at that time? Why hadn’t it discover and report the outbreak timely? Why hadn’t it taken prompt measures to test as many people as possible and prevent and control the spread of the virus?
It is precisely because China respects science and facts and puts life and people front and center that we have achieved major strategic outcomes in combating the epidemic. Medical experts and scientists who made tremendous efforts and contributions throughout this fight like Academician Zhong Nanshan have been recognized and honored with national awards. US officials like to talk about whistle-blowers, but in contrast, how does the US treat medical experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci and whistle-blowers like Dr. Helen Y. Chu and Captain Brett Crozier? I just saw reports on a Washington Post article by Dr. Rick Bright, former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, who was fired back in April for complaining about government politicizing the science sector. Under the title of “I the couldn’t sit idly and watch people die from Trump’s chaotic, politicized pandemic response, so I resigned”, he wrote: “Of all the tools required for an effective U.S. response to the coronavirus pandemic, one that is sorely missing is the truth”; “Public well being and security have been jeopardized by the administration’s hostility to the reality and by its politicization of the pandemic response, undoubtedly resulting in tens of 1000’s of preventable deaths.” His attorney also said that the government’s disregard for scientific professional knowledge and disrespect for scientists led to a great number of Americans infected or even killed by the virus and that Dr. Bright could not continue working for a government that puts politics above science.
I also saw the latest edition of the TIME magazine this morning. Compared with the depression and despair of an earlier cover depicting the 200,000 deaths, the cover of this edition is more shockingly horrible and cruel. Is the loss of 210,000 lives still not enough to awaken the conscience of certain US politicians? We send this message once again to them: scapegoating others won’t kill the virus or save any patients. They should stop the constant repetition of lies, regain their sense of rationality, focus on epidemic response and try to save American lives.