New York Times continues biased coverage against China during epidemic, containing deviations from the truth: experts

By GT Staff reporters Source:Global Times Published: 2020/2/19 20:53:40

Editor's note: The New York Times' coverage of the outbreak to attack China's political system and treatment of COVID-19 patients is unprofessional, biased, and even inhuman, Chinese experts said, calling on biased Western media to stop ignoring Chinese efforts in medical care and human rights protection. 

The Global Times compiled a list of a few major criticisms of China made in the New York Times juxtaposed to the facts Global Times reporters learned from frontline patients and medical workers.

Photo: IC

People here and across much of Hubei Province are subjects of a vast medical experiment conceivable only in authoritarian China: Is it possible to halt the spread of a virus by putting tens of millions of people under a kind of house detention, warning them to stay inside their homes, and blocking their way out of cities, towns or villages? (Feb 6)

Fact: Starting from January 23, Wuhan in Hubei Province and some surrounding cities have suspended the operation of buses, subways, ferries and long-distance passenger transport, and temporarily closed airports, railway stations and expressways to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Li Lanjuan, an academician with the Chinese Academy of Engineering and expert with the National Health Commission, who led a research group to Wuhan, told the China Central Television that the implementation of personnel management and control in Wuhan is because the epidemic's situation has reached an urgent level. Only strict control of the sources of infection can prevent the outbreak from spreading.

Most people in Wuhan understand that self-quarantine and the city's lockdown is conducive to preventing the epidemic, which is different from what NYT's story suggests. 

The biased report was written by Chris Buckley, a NYT journalist who specializes in Chinese affairs.

Li Haidong, a professor at China Foreign Affairs University, criticized such stories are not objective, full of speculation and lacking in consistency.

Ye Bing, a 49-year-old man living only two stops away from the Wuhan Huanan Seafood market, told the Global Times that he even wishes the city was closed much earlier so that the spread of the virus can be controlled more quickly and people's health can be protected.

The NYT report depicts a one-sided picture of some people who suspect the quarantine and lockdown, ignoring all other positive voices and efforts, making the Chinese public disappointed, said Li.

Amid the national fight against the virus, government officials at all levels, police officials, military forces, enterprises and social volunteers jointly and actively handle social issues for the public. 

More than 30,000 medical personnel from 29 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities, have arrived in Wuhan to lend a hand at the epicenter of the COVID-19 epidemic. 

The Chinese government's strong mobilization ability clearly reflects the effectiveness and progressive nature of the Chinese governing system.

China benefits from community grid management and a nationwide social governance system that enhances the government's efficiency to actively solve people's problems in populous regions. These factors play a crucial role in combating the epidemic. 

In the face of such a major outbreak, there were indeed problems in epidemic prevention work early on, such as the reporting mechanism and shortage of medical resources, Li said. But China responded decisively, strengthened and improved prevention and control mechanisms, and quickly mobilized the country to fight against the epidemic. 

Having lived in China for many years, Buckley has also written many biased reports on epidemic, using one-sided interviews to discredit China.

The NYT focused on covering negative news and did not follow up on China's timely resolution of initial problems, Li noted. The NYT intends to stress the Chinese political model does not solve China's problems as the paper seeks to denigrate China's political and social system.

At a time when the epidemic is so severe, such reports demonstrate no sense of social responsibility or human concern, said Li, arguing that such negative coverage has become a political tool used in strategic competition between China and the US. 

He called the NYT an accomplice in the US government's efforts to smear China.

NYT: Huge shelters for coronavirus patients pose new risks. Many experts are skeptical that isolating thousands of patients in shelters can stanch the spread of the coronavirus. (Feb 12)

Fact: Despite partitions between units, having patients treated in a common space in Wuhan's makeshift hospitals once sparked concerns about the privacy and risks of cross-infection.

However, considering these patients are all confirmed cases, experts noted that cross-infection is not the most prominent concern, as patients were all screened for influenza antigens, and other infectious diseases and viruses, before admission to the makeshift hospitals, Wang Chen, a senior respiratory physician and president of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, explained to the media. In 2003, Wang participated the fight against SARS. 

Wang noted such arrangement is not the best, but the most practical method, which enables a small number of doctors and nurses to conveniently care for the patients and monitor their situation. The measure helps prevent mild patients from infecting family members during residential quarantine.

Zhang Li, a cardio thoracic surgeon who has been working in one of the Fang Cang makeshift hospitals in Wuhan, denied media reports of disorder in the treatment areas. Patients, though initially confused and worried, became optimistic in recent days after receiving detailed explanations and psychological counseling.

Medical workers were given professional trainings about protective measurements for patients with intensive care, as most of them had no experience working in Fang Cang hospitals in the past, Zhang added.

The NYT report associated the containment measures in Wuhan with the steps taken in 1918 in the US to halt the Spanish flu, questioning whether such containment "on a far grander scale" in Wuhan put the infected in higher risk. 

Professor Li Haidong said there is no scientific analogy to compare the quarantine's conditions of Fang Cang hospitals with US isolation conditions for the Spanish flu a century ago. During the past 100 years, human medical technology and social development have made great progress.

Doctor Gao Yongzhe and nurse Huang Wenli talk with patients at "Wuhan Livingroom" in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, Feb. 14, 2020. (Photo: Xinhua)

NYT: The condition in the shelter is grim. The NYT reports quoted a US professor to say the patients who survived recalled poor or even hostile treatment from health care workers, and inadequate food and bathing facilities. Patients became delusional; fights often broke out. (Feb 12)

Fact: Patients at Fang Cang hospitals reached by the Global Times rebutted media portrayals of the makeshift hospitals as being "concentration camps," saying the conditions got improved compared with their beginning days, which is evident both in better sanitation and in the catering of  shrimps, steaks and fish provided for patients.

The Global Times reporters learned the Fang Cang hospital in Wuhan International Conference and Exhibition Center had equipped each patient with a set of bedding and an electric blanket, and the hospital functioned liked public hospitals with nurse stations, emergency rooms, medical supplies warehouses and other professional areas. 

Some patients told the Global Times their medical routines occur orderly, adding that they were given personalized treatment and extra psychological comfort by medical workers besides regular temperature checks and oxygen saturation every day. 

All hospitals in Wuhan, including all Fang Cang hospitals, have turned off central air conditioning to prevent the virus from spreading through the heating system. The government has provided cotton quilts, mattresses, cotton-padded jackets, electrical blankets and electric heaters to keep the patients warm, a frontline doctor told the Global Times.

Many online photos show the patients' breakfast contains fruits, sausages and stuffed buns while patients' lunch boxes offer three types of cuisine and rice, not dissimilar to many of their diets at home.

TVs, radios and books are also provided to relieve patients' boredom and dispel their anxiety during quarantine.

The atmosphere at the temporary hospitals does not look gloomy nor melancholy at all, said patients, but instead is full of vitality and an optimistic melody, especially when medical workers organize patients to do radio gymnastic exercises, to engage in popular dances and sing pop songs, and practice Tai-chi. 

Some Party members among the patients at the Fang Cang hospitals established temporary Party branches on February 9 and volunteered to fulfill their role in improving hospital living conditions and cheering up patients.

The city of Wuhan announced on Sunday to build another 10 Fang Cang hospitals with the aim to offer another 11,465 beds for milder patients infected with COVID-19. So far, the city has established 11 Fang Cang hospitals, with a planned 20,461 beds to treat patients, reports said. 

The NYT plays up negative public opinion harbored among some in the Western world that the Chinese government does not care about its people, Professor Li told the Global times. 

He noted that such sentiment is a stereotype.

NYT: As foreigners flee China, Pakistan tells its citizens to stay. Some stuck in the hot zone worry they are part of a larger geopolitical game. (Feb 11)

Fact: China has attached great importance to protecting the lives and health of citizens of all countries in Wuhan, and provides necessary assistance to countries wishing to return its citizens, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on February 11 following reports claiming some Pakistanis and Nepalis who remained in Wuhan accused their government "sacrificing" them in order to keep their ties with China.

The WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has also repeatedly stressed that hasty evacuation is not recommended and the best solution is to stay and adopt adequate protection. 

Though surrounded by fears and anxiety, more Pakistanis in China never feel abandoned, but instead receive considerate care.

A Pakistani student (C) studying in China poses for photos with medical staff after his recovery at Guangzhou 8th People's Hospital in Guangzhou, south China's Guangdong Province, Feb. 12, 2020.(Photo by Wang Yan/Xinhua)

A recovered Pakistani COVID-19 patient was discharged from Guangzhou hospital last Wednesday upon Chinese doctors' all-out treatment.

Pakistan thanks the Chinese government for treating its citizens, especially those who study in Wuhan, just like their own citizens by providing them protection and comfort.

"The (Chinese) government is directing massive resources toward combating the disease and helping those suffering from it. There is no need to panic. I urge you to stay calm," wrote Pakistani doctor Muhammad Usman Janjua on social media. He is residing in Changsha, Hunan Province, who recently applied to go to Wuhan as a volunteer medical worker.

"I have been in China since a long time and it is a second home to me. Chinese people have given me so much respect and love. Now in this difficult time I'll stand with my Chinese brothers. My family and friends supported the decision," he told the Global Times.

The government has also established special help hotlines for foreigners and every need is being taken care of," Janjua said.

Newspaper headline: Media misrepresentation


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