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Stigmatization of China over coronavirus must be stopped

By Zhong Sheng | People's Daily Online | Updated: 2020-03-23 17:11


US President Donald Trump addresses his administration's daily coronavirus task force briefing at the White House in Washington, March 20, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

The exacerbating COVID-19 pandemic around the world calls for joint efforts from global countries.


However, some US politicians are showing ill mentalities and intentionally associating the pandemic with China, stigmatizing the country by calling the pandemic "Wuhan pneumonia" and "Chinese virus." Such practice is extremely irresponsible and immoral, which will not only do nothing good to the epidemic control in the US, but also seriously impede international solidarity in the battle against the virus. China firmly opposes and condemns such smears, and urges the US to correct its mistakes and stop the groundless accusation against China.


Viruses are a common challenge faced by the entire human race. To associate a virus with specific countries goes against the principles of international organizations. The World Health Organization (WHO) reiterated that the origin of the novel coronavirus has not been confirmed yet, and the world needs to focus on how to curb the virus and avoid stigmatization.


By naming the disease as COVID-19, the WHO hopes to not associate the term with any region or country, and the names of certain contagious diseases had once led to stigmatization and other unfavorable results. The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) emerged in some Middle East countries in 2012 triggered broad controversy because it was named after the region. Base on such experiences and lessons, the WHO and other institutions proposed in 2015 a guiding principle on naming newly discovered contagious diseases, advocating to name them with neutral and general terms.


However, such principle is neglected by some US politicians who only spread stigmatization and create panic, which just reveals the dark side of their mind.


The origin of the virus is a scientific issue, and to discover it calls for scientific and professional researches. Now relevant tracing work is still underway, and no conclusion has been reached yet on the origin of the virus.


"I think it's also important in terms of looking at the emergence of any disease; disease can emerge anywhere. Coronaviruses are a global phenomenon; they exist on a global basis," said Michael Ryan, Executive Director of WHO Health Emergencies Programme at a press conference. "It's really important that we don't start to ascribe blame to geographic origin and that we look at this in terms of how we respond, how we contain and how we stop this virus."


Daniel Lucey, an adjunct Professor of Medicine-Infectious Diseases at Georgetown University Medical Center noted that first human infections must have occurred in November 2019—if not earlier—because there is an incubation time between infection and symptoms surfacing.


However, the US politicians have already started the blame game and smearing, and are preventing fact-based discussion, when the origin of the virus is not confirmed yet. What do they want?


The world must use science to conquer stupidity and conduct cooperation to eliminate prejudices, especially when global public health security is facing severe challenges. "This is a time for prudence, not panic. Science, not stigma. Facts, not fear," counselled UN chief António Guterres.


However, certain US politicians are totally brainless and unscrupulous. They don't care about facts, and what they do is just repeating the ridiculous prejudices that have long taken roots in their mind.


Even after Robert Redfield, the director of the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention admitted some Americans who seemingly died from influenza were tested positive for the novel coronavirus in the posthumous diagnosis, and agreed it was "absolutely wrong" to label the COVID-19 as the "China Virus", the US politicians are still covering the facts and smearing China in almost a crazy way.


The pandemic is a test for countries' governance capability, and also reflects their performance in international cooperation. The preoccupied problems of the U.S. in politics and health care have been exposed, and the country must face up to them and fill the shortages to safeguard the health of its people.


And yes, the American public are disappointed. Stephen Morrison, senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and director of its Global Health Policy Center recently questioned the US government: "The Chinese bought us a month of time to prepare ourselves by imposing these astonishing and draconian measures. Unfortunately, we didn't make good use of that time and now we're heading into a very dangerous situation."


The Chinese government has always shared information with the US Chinese experts shared therapeutic plans with their American peers, and Chinese enterprises are also trying to help the U.S. to fight the virus.


However, these still failed to stop the US politicians from attacking and smearing China, as it is a way for them to divert public anger. They are returning evil for good and undermining the international cooperation on combating the pandemic, which is totally irresponsible for people's health.


The virus is still rampant, and the American politicians are advised to blame and smear less, focus on the business of their own country, and play a constructive role in safeguarding global public health security.


(Zhong Sheng is a pen name often used by People's Daily to express its views on foreign policy.)


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