Is Rubio serious about COVID-19 testing or just politicizing?
Published: Mar 04, 2021 09:46 PM
Marco Rubio arrives for a Senate Intelligence Committee nomination hearing. Photo: AFP

Marco Rubio arrives for a Senate Intelligence Committee nomination hearing. Photo: AFP

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, China has taken a leading position in the worldwide fight against the deadly virus. However, in the US, a country that still cannot effectively handle the epidemic, anti-China politicians will not let any chance pass to politicize China's efforts in its arduous COVID-19 fight. 

This time, the focus was put on a science-based, effective virus testing measures that have been recently adopted in limited scope in China.

For example, US Republican Senator from Florida Marco Rubio tweeted on Wednesday that, "In case anyone was thinking about taking a trip to #China in the near future.... I think you may want to read this first." He also put a link from a New York Post article entitled, "China makes COVID-19 anal swabs mandatory for foreigners." He might aim to disgust China with such insinuations. However, the comments under that tweet immediately backfired. Rubio was mocked while the New York Post's credibility was thrown into doubt.

A comment with many "likes" said, "As extreme as the measures they are taking... it's still better than ignoring the virus and pretending it doesn't exist like the @GOP has done over the last year."

Another Twitter user imitated Rubio and wrote, "In case anyone was thinking about taking a trip to #USA in the near future... I think you may want to read this first." Then he put a comparison of two charts with new cases in China (in which the curve is extremely low and flat) and in the US (in which the curve is high and rugged).

The New York Post claimed that, "China has made anal COVID-19 swabs mandatory for all foreign travelers arriving in the country." But this is opposite to facts. Anal swabs are highly restricted in China, although they can immediately tell whether or not the person is a virus carrier. Currently, only several Chinese cities, such as Beijing, Shanghai and Qingdao in East China's Shandong Province, are requiring certain international arrivals to take anal swabs before completing quarantine periods. And there are clear preconditions for an anal swab test to be conducted.

For example, according to the Global Times report on Tuesday, Shanghai requires international travelers on planes where more than five people test positive for the coronavirus to undertake a full set of tests: including anal swabs, nasal/throat swab tests, and tests of blood and phlegm.

At present, new COVID-19 cases reported in China are mainly from outside of the country. After sacrificing so much to put two rounds of large outbreaks under control, China apparently has reason to take precautions against imported cases. Especially as new variants of the virus are posing new risks. 

It has been quite common for foreign travelers with negative test certificates who have tested positive during or just after the quarantine periods after entering China. Therefore, it is understandable from the perspective of maintaining the effectiveness of epidemic prevention and control to adopt a quicker, more accurate test measure. 

Besides, people staying under hotel quarantine can submit stool samples instead. 

Still, anal swabs are not commonly adopted in China. A Chinese citizen who recently returned to South China's Guangdong Province from the Middle East didn't take such a test. It was the same for a resident from the island of Taiwan who arrived at Xiamen in East China's Fujian Province on February 23. There can be discomfort during the anal swab sampling process. But in comparison with a potential new round of the epidemic due to the omission if virus testing, the inconvenience along with anal swabs is more acceptable. 

Had an anti-China politician Rubio, or those if his ilk, spent more time figuring out how anal swabs are actually carried out in China, he wouldn't have made himself a fool, and the butt of jokes. 

If Rubio had done more homework and if it hadn't been for his attempts to slander China for the sake of stigmatization, there wouldn't be so many voices mocking himself, his state, and even the entire Republican City. 

It is often seen that when the whole image of an event is still unclear, someone cannot wait but maliciously to hype it up just because China is involved. Rubio's case shows that many international anti-China forces are not seeking what they call justice at all in putting a bull's-eye on China. Managing to pin a demonized label on China is enough for them. But such an approach will finally disgust themselves, as in Rubio's case.

The author is a commentator with the Global Times. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn