Sinophobia, racism prevent West from seeing China’s COVID fight fairly
Published: Dec 15, 2022 08:39 PM
Illustration: Liu Xidan/GT

Illustration: Liu Xidan/GT

Editor's Note: 
As China is optimizing its COVID response after three years of successful anti-virus fight, a new wave of Western media hellbent on distorting facts is emerging. The Global Times is publishing a series of articles to debunk some of the misinformation. This is the first article of the series.

As China made its decision to pivot away from its zero-COVID approach to the pandemic, which has beset the world for the past three years, the Western media, despite having scathingly criticized China's approach, have been no less sympathetic in praising the shift. Despite having misleadingly portrayed the policies of lockdowns as a form of state oppression, headlines have immediately shifted to scapegoating the country for new outbreaks. As one notorious tweet on twitter read: "millions of Chinese will export COVID everywhere, creating more disruption in the rest of the world."

Likewise, reports on the BBC and other mainstream news outlets have also sought to create depictions of epidemic, chaos and disorder throughout China. If it wasn't clear already, no matter what China does in the respect to the pandemic, it can do nothing right.

It is also motivated by an underlying fear and anxiety among Western elites that China's own successes may far surpass their own, something which has frequently occurred throughout the pandemic. While people died in large numbers in Western nations, China persisted in prevention and control for three years, saving lives and protecting vulnerable people. This has produced a race to try and diminish or pour cold water over China's successes wherever possible.

At every single stage of the COVID-19 saga, Beijing has been scapegoated, targeted, and attacked by Western media and politicians, who have used every aspect of the pandemic, from its origins, to respective containment policies, to vaccines, to moving away from it, as a stick to beat it with. Quite explicitly, the COVID-19 pandemic has been the single most politicized and weaponized pandemic in history.

There is a glaring double standard in scrutinizing different countries' COVID policies. Despite the fact over 1 million American citizens died of the COVID-19, the highest out of any country in the world, this was deemed inconsequential and irrelevant in the eyes of the media, and never was there any scrutiny of the US' pandemic policies, who effectively gave up two years ago. Although China put in a significant and consistent effort, often at a cost to itself, to save lives, the country was severely attacked for its policies. Thus, the fact that the media have not praised China's decision to change course, but launched new attacks attempting to frame the situation as a catastrophe, shows just how politically motivated and bad faith this narrative truly is.

Why should a single country, government or people be "blamed" for a pandemic? The sentiment of politically weaponizing a disease is a staple of racism and xenophobia. Throughout history, it has been common to project "responsibility" and public discontent over a given pandemic onto a foreign "other," which builds into discourses and assumptions that this given other is responsible through being uncivilized, unhygienic and backward. This builds the frame of mind that the "civilized" and "progressive" population who has been hit by the given disease could not have brought it about on their own accords.

The point being that COVID-19 is merely a weapon to attack China and its people with a view to promoting foreign interference, promoting American-led geopolitical goals and undermining the Chinese government. 

For most part of the past three years, the focus of Western media and politicians is relentlessly attacking China's zero-COVID policy, framing it as brutal and inhumane. The theme nonetheless has been the same, no matter what China did in respect to the pandemic, the mainstream media line of attack simply shifted to conform to a new narrative. The fundamental interest of such coverage was not legitimate scrutiny or criticism, but to undermine international opinion of China wherever possible.

The author is a British political analyst. This is the first of a series of articles exposing Western slander toward China's anti-epidemic efforts. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn