Findings on Dr. Li incident reflect facts, public sentiment

Source:Global Times Published: 2020/3/19 19:58:40

A photo of Li Wenliang is among the flowers people sent to the Central Hospital of Wuhan on February 29. Photo: Cui Meng/GT

The investigation team dispatched by China's top supervisory body to probe issues related to Dr. Li Wenliang just reported the result of their investigation. It concluded that the reprimand order issued by Zhongnan Road Police Station, Wuhan Public Security Bureau was inappropriate and the law-enforcement process didn't conform to standards. The investigation team requested and urged police authorities to revoke the reprimand and hold related people accountable.

Some people might be dissatisfied with the decision which only requests to revoke the reprimand order. They may expect arrests of a few high-ranking officials and a verdict on the Wuhan government's performance in the initial stage of the outbreak.

But the team was sent to investigate issues involving Li, instead of the performance of the Wuhan government and Hubei provincial authorities. It is believed there would be additional probes into the Wuhan government's slow action and inadequate response in the early stage, and any mishandling will be strictly held accountable. After the epidemic concludes, the country will conduct a comprehensive review and reflection, when the accountability mechanisms will certainly not be overlooked.

In early March, Li was already honored as an outstanding individual in fighting the deadly coronavirus, a significant signal which was obviously related to the early work of the inspection team. The investigation team further withdrew the reprimand. These two developments indicate that Li had been completely "exonerated." The country has given Li the affirmation and respect he deserves.

It is worth noting that public opinion has played a role in promoting these changes. The high-level investigation team was a response to the strong reaction from the public. The team's final decision should be seen as the embodiment of the country's ultimate principles - complying with the aspirations of the people and seeking truth from facts.

Facing up to mistakes and correcting them in a timely manner is key for a country and society to make continuous progress.

Li's experience was painful for the Chinese public. It reflected Wuhan's poor response to the epidemic at the early stage and the public's attitude toward it. Our society needs to continuously explore the causes of the crisis and learn lessons from it, which requires the Chinese people's collective reflection that covers much more than the work of the investigation team. However, as the investigation team has given justice back to Li, people can see that China understands the general logic and direction of this crisis.

The investigation team has been working longer than the other three teams. It is the last one to announce the results of its investigation to the society. This shows that its work is the most difficult. Every fact must be repeatedly checked to withstand public scrutiny and the test of history.

A tsunami of public opinion surfaced when Li died. Li was given many labels. That was the hardest time for China's fight against the epidemic. The public was strongly dissatisfied with Wuhan's early response. The future of the epidemic's development and whether Wuhan's lockdown would be effective remained unclear after the central government intervened. The complexity of public sentiment added extra meaning to Li's incident. We should carefully screen that which belongs to the incident and which should be separated.

The investigation team dispatched by the National Supervisory Commission was not affected by domestic and international sentiment and opinion and what the ream relied on were the facts. Our society needs such a fact-based attitude, while holding such an attitude is the most challenging.

The "fact" in public opinion may show another face with the influence of social values and public expectations. Restoring what happened to Li and making the investigation result closest to the truth, which the public accepts as well, is a process wherein Chinese society becomes more mature in the internet era.

The investigation has ended. It was generally fair to Li. But reflection must go on as to why the coronavirus epidemic took place in China 17 years after the SARS outbreak. The reflection will make an impact as relevant people are held accountable. There is a lot to be done to make the country's preventive and control mechanism work effective and allow the country to draw experiences and perfect its modern governing capabilities. The work goes beyond the inspection on Li and his colleagues.

Posted in: EDITORIAL

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