Obscure Western scholars seek eyeballs with open letter accusing Chinese system

By Li Aixin Source:Global Times Published: 2020/4/16 21:08:40

A family walk on Madison Avenue wearing protective masks during the coronavirus pandemic on April 08, 2020 in New York City. Photo: AFP

In the time of the unprecedented pandemic that calls for collaboration worldwide, observers noted some bottom-barrel, disqualified, self-claimed academics were peddling hate by smearing China in an attempt to steal the spotlight after the latest such attempt was unveiled in an open letter to the public on Tuesday. 

The open letter entitled "The Communist Party's rule by fear endangers Chinese citizens - and the world" and signed by a so-called international group of public figures, security policy analysts and China watchers, in a response to another open letter written by 100 Chinese scholars to people of the US, published on The Diplomat on April 2.

It claims the Chinese scholars exemplified "nauseating adulation" to the Chinese system, stressing that the roots of the pandemic are in a cover-up by CPC authorities in Wuhan. 

Chinese experts called the accusation ridiculous and wonder where exactly these people found the "adulation" part in the Chinese letter. 

A signatory of Chinese open letter Long Xingchun, also an adjunct senior fellow of the Academy of Regional and Global Governance, Beijing Foreign Studies University, told the Global Times on Thursday that the Chinese letter raised two appeals  stop politicizing the pandemic and emphasize the need of cooperation, which has echoed by some US politicians and heavyweight China watchers. 

On April 3, a group of high-level former US government officials and experts in the US-China relationship made a response in a joint statement, which reads "no effort against the coronavirus - whether to save American lives at home or combat the disease abroad - will be successful without some degree of cooperation between the United States and China," even if it also pointed out there are still huge divergences between the two. 

Yet the latest letter is filled with pure ideological bias, attacks and lies, analysts said. The letter pinned the sources of the pandemic on China's system and accused China of"silencing" doctors who wanted to warn others.

The late Chinese ophthalmologist Li Wenliang, a whistleblower at the early stage of the epidemic, is a hero, Su Hao, another signatory of the Chinese open letter and the founding director of the Center for Strategic and Peace Studies at the China Foreign Affairs University, told Global Times Thursday. "Yet putting his name with other controversial figures and even dissidents together is a move to sow division within the Chinese society," he added. 

Li was awarded an advanced individual title and designated as a martyr in early April.

Chinese Ambassador to the US Cui Tiankai had made it clear in an interview with Axios on HBO in March. Cui explained Li was consulting with his colleagues about the virus, and not trying to warn the public. Somehow the information leaked outside the circle of his fellow doctors. By then, the government could not make major decisions based on leaked information, Cui added. 

The article referred "courageous and conscientious Chinese citizens including Xu Zhangrun, Ai Fen, Li Wenliang, Ren Zhiqiang, Chen Qiushi…,"claiming that they "risked their life and liberty for a free and open China."

Su argued such remark suggested all those people, including Li, are in the same camp to struggle against the Chinese system, which is totally confusing right and wrong in an attempt to sow discord among Chinese people. 

"The initial response to the virus in China was indeed not quick enough, and there were missteps," Long said, but adding they were understandable since nobody knew anything about the virus at that time. Once more knowledge about the virus was obtained, China adopted decisive measures to control the outbreak as well as holding officials who fail to fulfill their duties accountably, observers noted.

China has published a clear timeline on COVID-19 information sharing, experts said, suggesting the writers of the article should do some research before making groundless smears. 

In December 2019, Wuhan Municipal Health Commission released a briefing on its website about the pneumonia outbreak in the city, and starting January 3, China has been regularly informing the WHO, relevant countries and regions about the pneumonia outbreak, according to the timeline.

"It is not worth taking seriously and virtually none of the names listed are public figures," Tom Fowdy, a British political and international relations analyst wrote on Twitter Wednesday, adding it is a bottom-barrel grouping of some of the most cringe-worthy anti-China idiots, many of whom are not even qualified, with no respected scholar in sight. 

Su echoed the view, pointing out the drafter of the letter, Andreas Fulda, is merely an assistant professor at the University of Nottingham, which can hardly be compared with the joint statement on April 3, signed by Susan Rice and Stephen Hadley, national security advisers under presidents Obama and George W. Bush, respectively, Joseph Nye, Harvard University political scientist who coined the phrase "soft power," and Graham Allison, Harvard professor at the John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Among the signatories was Anastasia Lin, a Chinese-born Canadian citizen and a practitioner of Falun Gong, an illegal cult that has been banned by the Chinese government in accordance with the law. 

These people are phony publicity seekers, observers noted. Setting aside the fact they are mostly not known to the public, even if people do some research about them, many of them are filled with anti-China bias, and Tuesday's letter is merely a tactic, full of loopholes, to serve their ideological purposes, they said. 

If they insist on hyping up the blame game, "we can use the exact logic of theirs for counterattacks," Su said, adding as China has taken the epidemic under control, the virus is having quite a few Western countries in its grip with coronavirus deaths surging. "Shall we say their rules are endangering people's lives not only in their countries but also in the world?" Su asked.


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