What are you hiding from yourself

Critics disappear, the EU is demonstrated : China is so boldly covering up the origins of Corona

China arbitrarily amended the joint declaration with the EU on establishing diplomatic relations 45 years ago. The Beijing government deleted a passage from the document stating that the Wuhan coronavirus had spread and triggered a global pandemic.

At the same time, the People's Republic of the EU is threatening otherwise not to publish it in the English-language state newspaper "China Daily". There is only published with the approval of the Chinese Foreign Ministry. The EU embassy has bowed to censorship, reports the "Süddeutsche Zeitung".

China wants to replace the USA as the leading power

So the list of Chinese cover-up attempts is getting longer and longer. EU diplomats call it a "nuisance" that the EU should be presented in this way. Any concession would evidently encourage Beijing to increase the pressure and test further unreasonable demands. China's goal is to use the US's poor reputation under President Donald Trump to position itself as the world's new leading power.

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At the end of April, Beijing successfully urged the EU to tone down its report on Chinese disinformation about the origin and spread of the coronavirus. For weeks, China has been asking European governments, including the German government, to praise the Chinese way of dealing with the pandemic as a role model.

Beijing is threatening states that do not follow the thesis of the China model or even demand an international investigation into the trigger and course of the global pandemic, such as Australia, with sanctions. Chinese scientists, corona patients, and citizen journalists who contradict the propaganda image suddenly disappear and never reappear.

Chinese critics disappear, including the eventual "patient 0"

This includes, for example, researcher Huang Yan Ling. She worked in the high-security virology laboratory in Wuhan, which has been researching corona virus strains for years. After critics of the regime claimed on China's social networks that she was "patient zero" of the pandemic - and not a visitor to a wildlife market, as Beijing claims - she disappeared. All references to her and her research have been deleted from the laboratory's website, as have the references in social networks.

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The case of citizen reporters Fang Bin and Chen Qiushi is similarly disturbing. Fang Bin, a businessman in Wuhan, had thwarted the official propaganda about the processes at the origin of the pandemic with self-made videos and aroused initial doubts as to whether China is truthfully portraying the situation and whether the official figures about infected and dead people are correct. No one has heard from him since February.

As a human rights lawyer, Chen Qiushi had already quarreled with the state during the unrest in Hong Kong. In January, he went to Wuhan and made videos about the real situation in the hospitals. He also disappeared in the first half of February.

Allegations of the "Five Eyes" - and how Beijing uses them

A few days ago, a report by the intelligence services of Australia, Great Britain, Canada, New Zealand and the USA about China's cover-up methods became known. They have been cooperating as the so-called "Five Eyes" since the Second World War. They largely agree on the allegation of the cover-up, but differ in their assessment of where the pandemic started.

The USA emphasizes the "laboratory theory": that the virus comes from the high-security laboratory in Wuhan and that it escaped in an accident by disregarding the safety regulations. The other countries rate this as not impossible, but unlikely.

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Beijing takes advantage of such differences. It portrays the conflict as a propaganda war between the US and China, in which many traditional US allies do not follow their claims. It also asserts contradictions between the US and other Western democracies that are not at the center of the controversy.

For example, it alleges that critics are holding on to the long-disproved theory that the pandemic was caused by an artificially produced virus from the laboratory in Wuhan. In fact, most scientists consider the artificial virus theory to be refuted. But that does not contradict the accusation that a natural virus on which the scientists in Wuhan were researching originated in the laboratory and infected people there, who then spread it in the city.

Why does the Federal Republic not stand by Australia's side?

Even if the allegations of the USA and especially its President Trump should be exaggerated, the much better-founded criticisms of the governments in Australia, Great Britain, Canada and New Zealand remain. And the question arises, why does the federal government not expressly stand by Australia's side when China tries to silence Australia with threats of sanctions?

Are Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Heiko Maas once again placing economic interests above solidarity with a friendly democracy, which should be one of Germany's closest allies in an increasingly authoritarian world? Even in the conflict between Canada and Saudi Arabia over human rights in 2018, quiet kicking was the German motto. The Saudis imposed economic sanctions on Canada after Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland criticized the human rights situation. Germany did not jump aside, but declared that it was not interfering in the interests of "third countries".

China has hindered vaccine research

China's secrecy has hampered other states' preparation for the pandemic and delayed work on vaccines by months. The timeline that the Australian newspaper "Daily Telegraph" puts at the end of its article on the "Five Eyes" report reads like a harrowing indictment. Since early December, China's authorities have known about the new virus and that it is transmitted from person to person. But it was not until the end of December that they made this public. At the same time, Beijing began to censor the news about the virus.

On Jan. 10, China claimed the outbreak was under control and the disease was usually mild. Authorities closed Professor Zhang Yongzhen's laboratory in Shanghai on January 12, a day after he shared important information about the new virus with colleagues abroad. In the following weeks, Beijing forbids Chinese scientists to pass on samples of the virus to foreign scientists.

It prevents two things: that they can work on possible therapies and vaccines, but also that they can draw conclusions about the origin from the samples.

It is certainly possible that there is nothing more than the usual methods of an authoritarian system to maintain control over the flow of information. But it is also possible that what really happened in Wuhan should not come to light. That can only be clarified through an international investigation with access to all sources - as requested by Australia, among others.

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