Censorship of patients’ social media exposes epidemic malfeasance: expert
Published: May 07, 2020 07:28 PM

Medical workers carry a patient into an ambulance in New York, the US, April 6, 2020. Photo: Xinhua

Drawing widespread attention in the US, Amyiah Cohoon's case also triggered debate in China amid the ongoing global pandemic.

A Chinese netizen translated the teenager's story and shared it on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo, getting more than 10,000 likes. 

A comment read, "Is this a manifestation of the so-called freedom and democracy in the US?" receiving 746 likes. Another popular comment read, "A typical display of US double standards."

Although Luke Berg, Cohoon's lawyer and deputy counsel at the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, said the case is an "extraordinary" one, some analysts believe the teenager's story reflects the US' improper law enforcement and long-existing double standards toward China.

Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations of the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times that the case exposes the hypocrisy of the US, a self-proclaimed model of freedom and democracy allegedly upholding the rule of law. 

The US has had more than 1.2 million coronavirus cases, the most in the world. The girl's messages showed her awareness of self-protection and intention to alert others, consistent with the freedom of speech the US claims to advocate. 

But her local authorities chose to suppress her voice and punish the girl instead of assisting her to handle the difficulties, which was wrong and demonstrated the local authority's abuse of law enforcement, Li said.

Some observers said the local government's handling of the Cohoon case should be attributed to US President Donald Trump's attempts to play down the risks of the coronavirus. 

On March 24, three days before Cohoon was threatened, Trump expressed his hope to "have the country opened up" by April 12, Easter Sunday, despite the fact that the number of confirmed cases in the US had surpassed 50,000. The Trump administration prioritizing its own political and economic benefit over public health and safety has led to people's lack of understanding of the deadly virus and some local authorities' improper handling of cases like the Cohoon's, observers said.

Furthermore, the US has repeatedly accused China of "violating people's human rights and freedom," but it is the US that is conducting such misdeeds, Li said. 

"The US should make all-out efforts to fight the coronavirus at this critical stage, and if it continues to suppress its own people and launch attacks against other countries, it will definitely witness more losses," he said.