I realized something today, as I laid in bed and did my daily (or hourly) #Wuhan and #Coronavirus tag scrolls on Twitter. I can’t tell you how many articles I’ve read, how many sources I’ve researched, or how many videos I’ve watched on the topic. I’m absolutely fascinated by it – or as my friends on Twitter might say: #NotObsessedJustConcerned. Some may describe this alleged obsession as a fear of getting sick, or a fear of the pandemic that could arise from this situation. Both are mildly true, but I realized that I am most fascinated and deeply angered by the way the Chinese government is handling this situation. I do understand China’s history with the SARS virus and why their measures during this outbreak are – err – overtly aggressive? The quarantining of tens of millions of people, the halting of their economy, the growing military presence, the countless makeshift hospitals popping up all over Wuhan. Those can all be explained away by my less shall I say, invested friends as the Chinese government just being proactive because of past outbreaks. Okay, fine.
My bone to pick with (commie) China is the lack of transparency throughout this entire situation. It’s no secret that China silences their people – especially when it comes to opposition of the government. You’re as good as in jail if you choose to speak out against the government. The Chinese people are afraid of their government, and honestly, they should be. The “whistleblower” who first exposed the coronavirus epidemic, Dr. Li Wenliang, was summoned by authorities in the middle of the night to sign a letter stating he make false statements about the virus. He died of the virus last week. The story of Dr. Wenliang is a deeply sad, albeit morbidly poetic tale of the dangers of government censorship. The disappearance of citizen journalist, Chen Qiushi, who was reporting from Wuhan is another casualty by China’s government and their desire to control the narrative coming out of China. Their desire to control the narrative is worth more than any of their citizens lives – that they have made abundantly clear. As I tweeted earlier, always be skeptical of a government who silences their people. I know that we don’t have a dog in the fight against the Chinese government. I know that their people are oppressed and censored, and I know that, unfortunately, there’s nothing I can do about it except point out how wrong it is. The part of me that demands liberty and freedom of speech and small government is having a very hard time accepting that.
Not only are they willing to steal anyone’s freedom to push their narrative, they are ignoring offers for aid from foreign countries and the World Health Organization. Come to whatever conclusion you’d like for why that is, but the truth remains that they are choosing the option that maintains their lack of transparency with the world and with their people. The World Health Organization has declared the novel coronavirus a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern.” In my opinion, China shouldn’t have the option to say “no thanks” to aid from the WHO at this point. But I understand the insignificance of my opinion on an issue like a world health crisis. I am not even going to begin talking about how the reported numbers have to be so much lower than the truth, but it’s something to take into serious consideration when assessing this situation.
I’m so invested in this issue because while I might trust our government to handle an outbreak like this properly, I am concerned about why more people are not demanding more transparency from China when it comes to something that very negatively affects not only their country and their people, but the entire world. The virus is already in 30 countries. I know how many people the normal flu or pneumonia kills every year. But this isn’t the normal flu – this is a previously unrecognized virus, brand new to scientists. We know very little about the virus currently and have no idea how it could behave in the coming weeks. It is something to be concerned about, conspiracy theorist or not. This virus may not cause a global flu pandemic, but the next one might. China shouldn’t be allowed to maintain the lack of transparency they have displayed to this point because this is not just a China problem, it is everyone’s problem now. It would benefit everyone (this time or next) to make sure there is a unified, diverse, proactive effort in tackling the scary-movie-level pandemic that may one day realize itself. We have a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and I can’t very well pursue happiness if I die from a flu virus.