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Information warfare: Western media spreads false info on virus

By Asad Ullah and Muhammad Hayat | | Updated: 2020-02-11 14:24
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Very recently, China confronted a significant challenge, not because of novel coronavirus but mostly because of information warfare.

With people around the world looking at China with terrified eyes, some countries suspended their flights and warned citizens to avoid traveling to China. China indeed suspended some of the planes after negotiation with other countries only to prevent the spread of the virus, but it never meant that all are disappearing here. Instead of spreading false information worldwide to increase information warfare, people around the world must appreciate China’s struggle in the current rampant disease.

The question is, why is Western media spreading such false information about the current virus while disregarding the noteworthy measures taken by the Chinese government. Besides I also want to reference here is that why do most of the people firmly admit as accurate almost everything that Western media highlight?

Because of the media, almost every person in the world knows about the novel coronavirus (nC-2019). Typically any novel outbreak gets more attention than a common disease, and indeed it is a severe threat to health authorities. However, it could be more crucial if we redirect some of our latest hyper-vigilance toward the flu, which appears to be more deadly than the scary coronavirus. But then again, how much we do understand about the flu that traumatized the United States?

In the comparative study, the coronavirus has killed 1,016 people and infected about 42,638 people on the Chinese mainland, as of Feb 10. The mortality of nC-2019 is (2.08%) much lower than other SARS and MERS with a mortality rate of 9.3 percent and 34 percent, respectively. By contrast, the influenza that hit America alone has infected roughly 19 million people and killed more than 10,000. According to the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the 2019-20 flu season has been the nastiest in the last 10 years, and will probably continue for several weeks.

Case in point: In 2009, when the H1N1 virus broke out in the United States, no one called it the American virus or Western virus. Nonetheless, the current coronavirus, when it broke out in China, was called the China virus or virus red flag. When the H1N1 spread to the whole world which sickened millions of people worldwide, no one said anything about American people; nevertheless, when the novel coronavirus infected about 150 people externally, the Western media started to censure China as well as Chinese students abroad. When H1N1 infected almost 100,000 Chinese citizens and killed thousands of Chinese no one called the virus by different names.

Information warfare is an act of revenge. Instead of sharing false information to spread chaos and panic, the media must appreciate the recent struggle of China. Diseases indeed are not very easy to control or develop vaccines against to treat diseases and avoid spreading. The Chinese government has taken a severe step to control the outbreak of the virus. Apart from precautions and quarantine, in the fragile situation, the Chinese government built Wuhan’s Huoshenshan Hospital, one of the two makeshift hospitals dedicated to treating the patients infected with the coronavirus. The hospital covers an area of 34,000 square meters and provides 1,000 beds.

In such a short time, China is the only country that builds makeshift hospitals for infected people. Through the gigantic struggles of both the Chinese government and the doctors who devoted all their time to overcome the outbreak, this will surely be overwhelmed.

Thus, in such circumstances, the world must come together to fight such diseases not only in China but all around the world. The discovery of vaccines is indeed essential for future threats and the same epidemic. Humanity has nothing to do with power politics.

The authors are Asad Ullah, a master’s degree student at Shandong University majoring in international relations, and Muhammad Hayat, a PhD student at Shandong University majoring in microbiology.

The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of China Daily and China Daily website.


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