Western narrative on China's COVID response hypocritical, to appease domestic audience
Published: Dec 26, 2022 11:18 PM
Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

When China carried out dynamic zero-COVID approach, some Western media had been calling for China to reopen. But when China recently eased its COVID-19 measures, not surprisingly, they badmouth China's move.

Some Western media have recently slandered China's adjustment of the epidemic prevention and control policy from various perspectives. The Associated Press on Sunday posted an article entitled "China's COVID-19 surge raises odds of new coronavirus mutant." A report by the Telegraph on the same day said China's COVID-19 "catastrophe put the global economy at risk." An opinion piece by Washington Post's editorial board brazenly attributed China's surge of infection to vaccines, claiming that "China unwisely eschewed the effective mRNA vaccines for less-effective Chinese-made shots."

For Western countries, especially the US, the matter has never really been related to the epidemic or how China responds at any time. After regarding China as their main competitor, some Western media outlets, notably those from the US, have speared no effort to smear China on any topic that can criticize China. The COVID-19 epidemic has also become one of their anti-China tools and has been entirely weaponized even since the initial stage of the outbreak. 

At every turn of the pandemic, many Western officials and the media faithful to them have sought to score political points by pointing figure at Beijing. Whatever China does, there will always be a steady stream of attacks pursuing to exploit the pandemic to discredit the Chinese government.

By badmouthing China's policy adjustment, these Western media outlets intend to sow discord between the Chinese public and the government by inciting the public's dissatisfaction toward the current approach to epidemic. Preferably it could provoke a color revolution, an old trick they are good at playing, said the observers.

In addition, they want their groundless smear to defame China's international image and global influence, so as to isolate China in the international community. China's success in fighting the epidemic over the past three years has been spoken highly of by far-sighted people both at home and abroad. US and the West are very jealous over this matter, worrying that China's international prestige will surpass theirs.

"By doing so, they may hope to reassure their domestic audience. In the stage when original and Delta strains raged, Western society witnessed vast death toll due to incompetent prevention and control measures, which triggered public discontent. Western media's criticism of China's recent policy change is out of domestic consideration," Lü Xiang, an expert on US studies and a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

According to Zhang Yiwu, a professor at Peking University, since the outbreak, the West has been anxious that by virtue of China's different and much more effective approach in dealing with the epidemic, the country will achieve a smooth transition without heavy loss, which will in no doubt hit the West's domestic and overseas images.

Experts said that China's policy adjustment is based on scientific and rational assessment. Omicron spreads much more rapidly compared to other COVID-19 variants, and the Chinese government has also tried to curb it, but it proved to be very difficult to control. Omicron is far less likely to cause death than Delta and original strains. 

The Chinese government has done its upmost to help the people of the whole country avoid the period with the highest fatality and infection rates. However, what the West did during that period was a mess. In the US, between January 3, 2020 and September 26, 2021, there were 895,693 deaths associated with COVID-19. What qualifications do these media have to criticize China's policy adjustment?

These Western media outlet's intents are just wishful thinking. China's society is actually very resilient and it is not so easy to mess up China. The Chinese people's trust in their government is far higher than these media outlets describe. Amid the recent infections surge, majority of Chinese netizens expressed their gratitude to the government for protecting them for the past three years. Chinese society understands that the previous strict epidemic prevention and control and the later adjustment are all made based on China's actual condition, rather than being forced to do so. 

China's current difficulties will turn to be temporary as some of the country's economic activities have already begun to resume. Take Beijing as an example. In some shopping malls, one has to wait in line for dine-in. In the past week, the number of hotel reservations by Beijing tourists to Sanya in South China's Hainan Province increased by 30 percent compared with the same period last year. It is believed that the Chinese economy will usher in a spring soon.

The Western narrative system about China is very hypocritical and driven by Schadenfreude and malicious intentions. This kind of narrative does no good to help address internal woes of the Western societies other than make them feel better about their incompetence temporarily.