SupChina illustration by Derek Zheng
Alongside the global battle against COVID-19, there is also a war of competing narratives about the origin of the coronavirus, who should be blamed for it, and how much. Here are the major recent skirmishes:
U.S. intelligence officials doubt China’s numbers on COVID-19 cases and deaths, and submitted a report relaying these doubts to the White House two weeks ago. The report reflects the mistrust and hostility that continues to dog Sino-U.S. relations despite the two countries recently reaching an apparent truce.
Asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 are finally being included in China’s official reports. The announcement by the National Health Commission comes after days of mixed messaging and increasing calls for transparency after reports of asymptomatic transmission of the virus.
Numerous countries have accused China of exporting substandard medical equipment. The news of faulty equipment comes after Chinese government agencies and charities donated millions of face masks, testing kits, and other medical supplies to countries around the world as part of an attempt to recast its role as savior in the pandemic.
However, China’s propaganda offensive continued undeterred, with the Party naming Dr. Lǐ Wénliàng 李文亮 an official martyr of the COVID-19 epidemic and state media encouraging Chinese citizens to travel to Serbia when the pandemic ends, following the Serbian president’s praise of China’s medical generosity.
The World Health Organization and China have been accused of making numerous mistakes in their initial COVID-19 response in a new report published by The Institut Montaigne, “Fighting the coronavirus pandemic: China’s influence at the World Health Organization.”