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China's lies are poisoning humanity
Paul Lin

By early this month, the number of SARS infections and deaths were clearly falling in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. This is good news, but people are still amazed at how China dealt with the SARS epidemic.

At a news conference called by the press office of China's State Council on May 30, when Vice Minister of Health Gao Qian was asked by a UPI journalist whether former minister of health Zhang Wenkang and former Beijing mayor Meng Xuenong, both removed for covering up the true extent of the SARS epidemic, would receive any punishment, his reply was, "First of all, I don't agree with this journalist that Comrade Zhang was removed because he concealed the SARS epidemic. The Chinese government has not concealed the epidemic."

And when a journalist from the Hong Kong paper Wenwei Po asked him what he thought of Jiang Yanyong (奖ッ), the doctor who revealed the cover-up of the epidemic to Time magazine, and also inquired about Jiang's situation, Gao replied, "I don't understand why everyone is so interested in Professor Jiang Yanyong. We believe that China has fended off SARS thanks to national mobilization and reliance on scientific methods, mass prevention and group control under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese government. ... There are 6 million medical professionals and health workers in China. Jiang Yanyong is but one of them."

If Zhang, Meng and the Chinese government did not cover up the epidemic, then I don't know the reason why they were removed from their posts. Meng himself admitted that the disease was discovered in Beijing on March 1, and that it was not announced because of the ongoing National People's Congress and Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, so it seems he was fabricating facts.

At the time, media around the world were praising the new Chinese leadership for being "pragmatic" and increasing transparency. They even thought it was the beginning of Chinese reforms and Hong Kong media applauded till their hands bled.

But it was all a misunderstanding. China had tricked the whole world, and not just the general public. Even US President George W. Bush called Chinese President Hu Jintao to declare his support, and he also heaped praise on Hu at the recent G8 summit. Bush appeared to have been duped, too.

But the Xinhua News Agency deleted these public statements by Gao, and Bush's praise for Hu was manipulated to sound like praise for the Chinese government. With China's official media daring to openly block and manipulate information, I can't see where the "transparency" would be coming from, or how this could be the beginning of reform.

To show that Jiang, respected as a hero by the public, was not being persecuted and still enjoyed his freedom, China's mouthpieces concocted an interview with him. Some people all along suspected it to be made up to placate the foreign media. As suspected, it was a fake, because, just as Gao said, there are 6 million medical workers in China, so how could the media be so interested in this particular person? This also highlights the Chinese media's lack of public credibility.

The reason Jiang was not allowed by Chinese authorities to travel to the US was obviously his rumor-mongering, since China never concealed the epidemic.

It seems Zhang and Meng's removal from their posts was an act of expediency aimed at allaying public anger, especially in other affected nations. Now that they see the epidemic receding, the CCP once again makes itself out to be infallible. Thus the Chinese delegation to the World Health Assembly did not apologize to Taiwan, to which China has brought harm. Not only that, but it also made it seem as if Taipei was indebted to Beijing.

The Cultural Revolution tore the country apart and impoverished the people, causing the nation to seethe with discontent. The party has since acknowl-edged its responsibility for the mistakes during the Cultural Revolution, Mao Zedong's mistakes during his later years and even reversed cases of "unjust persecution" that had occurred since the the party established political power.

But now there is a slight improvement in China's economic situation, and immediately it begins to behave as if it were rich and powerful, no longer acknowledging these mistakes but instead applying cruel pressure on the members of the 1989 student movement. The Anti-rightist Campaign, the Cultural Revolution, the Great Famine, Mao's mistakes and so on may not be studied or discussed. In short, these events have nothing to with the CCP, which has always been mighty, glorious and correct.

Because it acted as if it were opening up, the US signed three joint communiques with Beijing. China, however, all along looked on the US as a "enemy power," time and again using the communiques to pressure the US.

Little more than half a year has gone by since the eruption and spread of SARS. The fact that China wants to move on and forget the past even before the bodies of those who have died from the disease are cold should be a good lesson to the world and Taiwan. Regrettably, China's continued lies have not been attacked. It is certain to continue lying, harming the world and poisoning humanity, while we can only stand by and suffer the consequences of our own inaction.

Paul Lin is a political commentator based in New York.

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