Drawing timely lessons from deadly coronavirus crisis

By Li Qingqing Source:Global Times Published: 2020/2/16 21:26:40

A cured COVID-19 patient waves goodbye to a medical worker at the "Wuhan Livingroom" makeshift hospital in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, Feb. 15, 2020. (Photo by Gao Xiang/Xinhua)

The outbreak of the novel coronavirus pneumonia in Wuhan, Central China's Hubei Province, has disclosed some problems in China's governance. One of the most important is that the official information about epidemic should be released in a timely manner and Chinese mainstream media reports should come earlier than rumors.

During our arduous fight against the ongoing epidemic, there have been rumors and concealment. For example, during the prevention and control of the virus, some internet users posed on China's Twitter-like social media platform Weibo that the entire internet would be shut down in Wuhan. Another Weibo user even posted a video online in which she declared that three dead people were lying on the ground, without being properly taken care of, in a hospital in Wuhan. The video was proved fake afterward. Such rumors increased people's anxiety and fear, adding obstacles to the country's fight against the epidemic. This requires us to strengthen publicity and public opinion guidance.

An article published by Chinese President Xi Jinping on Sunday in the fourth issue of this year's Qiushi Journal, a flagship magazine of the Communist Party of China, said that the government should release official information frequently and in a timely manner, face up to the existing problems and respond to people's concerns.

Hubei officially announced 14,840 new cases of affection on Thursday, including 13,332 clinically diagnosed cases. That number was huge compared to previous numbers. Although most people were shocked when they first saw the number, they soon felt relieved because they knew that the government was reporting the truth without any concealment. Such an attitude of seeking truth from facts is a reflection of the Chinese government's responsibility to the people.

Passively refuting the rumors is not conducive to guiding the overall direction of public opinion. It only makes our fight harder against the epidemic. Only when the official information is released earlier than rumors can we effectively control rumors and increase the credibility of the government.

We must also proactively respond to issues raised by the outside world. Some Western countries have complained about China's release of information during the outbreak. This is actually understandable, and we should admit that there have been problems. Only by ensuring timely release of authoritative and accurate information can China win more international respect and improve its relations with the outside world. Indeed, there have also been malicious rumors, but to fight back, we need to release accurate information in a timely manner.

China's influence lies on not only how the country responds to the epidemic this time, but also how it responds similar events in the future. Most important is whether we can draw lessons from the epidemic, improve governance and combat bureaucracy.

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