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26 Jan, 2021 16:24

As Wuhan returns to normal a year after lockdown, it’s a bitter pill to swallow for US media

As Wuhan returns to normal a year after lockdown, it’s a bitter pill to swallow for US media

Wuhan, where Covid-19 was first identified, has now returned to a life resembling that before the virus swept in, after China was able to control the outbreak of the disease with strict but necessary lockdown measures.

Seeing Wuhan’s success ought to bring a ray of hope to those around the world facing the worst of their country’s outbreaks; yet, in their annual retrospectives, American media is downplaying China’s successful containment measures and casting them as somehow an attack on core Western values. 

The New York Times, MSNBC, CNN and other outlets have indeed pointed out the fact that life in Wuhan has returned to normal, showing pictures of maskless night clubs, large celebrations and other functions totally unfamiliar at this point to many across the world. But, according to these outlets, the measures were harsh and came at a “huge personal cost” to Wuhan residents. 

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These outlets also went on to lambast a new museum in Wuhan that details the city’s harrowing battle with the virus. According to them, the museum and other patriotic media reports about the events that took place in Wuhan are part of a “narrative” that the Communist Party of China (CPC) is trying to spin. 

China has spent much of the past year trying to spin the narrative of the pandemic as an undisputed victory led by the ruling Communist Party,” the New York Times wrote. 

The paper also noted, although with a different choice of words, that people in Wuhan believe the “narrative” and view early missteps in handling the outbreak with some level of forgiveness after seeing the abject failures of countries like the United States. 

When one simply looks at the numbers, there is really no need to “spin” any “narrative” in the first place. Despite all the criticism, China has performed better than many other countries in its battle against Covid-19 by implementing public health measures that were actually inspired, in part, by the Harvard School of Public Health, as scientist William Haseltine recently pointed out in a Forbes column. 

This fact is reflected not only in China’s extraordinarily low daily case numbers. China was also the only major economy in the world to report economic growth in 2020 and, correspondingly, surpassed the US as the world’s top destination for foreign investment. 

An astute observer of Chinese media (traditional and social) during the time of China’s all-out war against the coronavirus might also note that many of the doctors and officials depicted in the media on the frontlines at this time had CPC pins, indicating that they are Party members. 

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So, with this in mind, whatever “narrative” China is trying to spin about its encounter with Covid-19 is what those familiar with the English language might call ‘the truth.’

On the contrary, US media is clearly obfuscating from the fact that Washington has totally failed its citizens on Covid-19. Around 420,000 Americans have died from the virus and more than 25 million have been infected. Across many parts of the country, Americans are undergoing loathsome but very much necessary stay-at-home orders, restrictions on freedom of movement and business closures – with the alternative being a literal return to the Dark Ages. 

There is no comparison between how the US and China managed their situations and any appeal to civil liberties or personal freedom to justify the cataclysmic failure of America is, in my opinion as a US citizen, as insulting as it is ridiculous. 

The hostility against China’s success can be explained by the fact that Covid-19 has exposed the failures of America’s socioeconomic system beyond any shadow of a doubt. As a country, it is, and has been for some time, fundamentally unable to care for its most vulnerable – and the political system simply cannot account for it. Rather than adapt to this reality, Washington is trying to manipulate reality. 

Perhaps the most hellacious part about this anti-Chinese narrative being spun in the US is the idea that China, after all it endured last year, might return once again to the same fate during the Lunar New Year celebrations – which it seems the US media actually wants to happen, given their tone in reporting on new Covid-19 cases in China. 

But China's successful containment of the virus the first time provided important lessons – and key contact-tracing infrastructure that (perhaps, to the disappointment of the American media) would make a second uncontained outbreak unlikely. Even if the unexpected were to happen, China has proven that it is able to adapt to these challenges swiftly.  

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.