Uyghur Massacre To Be Marked In Washington

Staff: Taipei: On Monday, July 5th, Xinjiang Concentration Camp victims will march alongside activists in the US capital from the White House to the US State Department as they remember the victims of the 2009, Urumchi Uyghur Massacre

The march will take place between 1:15 and 3pm local time, with three survivors of the notoriously brutal Xinjiang concentration camps marching and making themselves available for on-location interviews.

Victims and human rights activists around the world continue to call for decisive global action to end China’s ongoing genocide of Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples in East Turkistan (renamed Xinjiang by Beijing) and it is understood this latest bid to bring a light to bear on the actions of the Chinese authorities will be streamed live on both Facebook and Twitter (links below).

Concentration camp survivors Mihrigul Tursun, Tursunay Ziawudun and Zumret Dawut along with political refugee and Prime Minster Salih Hudayar in addition to other victims and activists will be in attendance.

Mihrigul Tursun

Mihrigul Tursun

Tursunay Ziawudun

Tursunay Ziawudun

Zumret Dawut

Zumret Dawut

On July 5, 2009, China’s Communist regime responded to protests by Uyghurs against the repressive policy of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) by perpetrating a massacre in Urumqi, the capital city of East Turkistan.

Military forces from Beijing shot Uyghur protesters using live rounds, and arbitrarily arrested thousands.

Beijing then used the incident as an excuse to unlawfully abduct Uyghurs for several months after the massacre. As a result, hundreds of Uyghur men disappeared as wide-scale police sweeps increased.

The Financial Times estimated that some 4,000 arrests had already taken place by mid-July 2009.  Urumchi’s (Urumqi) prisons were so full that the newly arrested people were held in Chinese military warehouses.

Following the incident, Internet access, mobile phone service, and outbound international calls throughout the region were blocked to prevent the flow of information in and out of the area. 

Internet access was not restored until May the following year.

Twelve years have now passed, and the situation in East Turkistan has worsened since Xi Jinping has come to power with Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Tatars, Kyrgyz, Uzbeks, and other ethnic Turkic people in the region facing oppression daily for simply belonging to one of these ethnic groups.

Images: supplied

Links:

Facebook:  Facebook.com/ETAwakening
Twitter:     Twitter.com/ETAwakening

Burmese Military Displaces 250,000

Staff: Bengaluru: Less than a week after Min Aung Hlaing, the current head of the Tatmadaw military junta ruling Burma thanked Moscow for making the military of the south east Asian nation “one of the strongest in the region” the United Nations humanitarian agency has said that almost quarter of a million Burmese now require assistance, having been forcibly displaced in recent fighting.

Burma – also known as Myanmar – has been in turmoil since February 1st when the military deposed and later arrested Aung San Suu Kyi and leading members of the National League for Democracy (NLD) government

Hundreds have been killed in protests and at times all out battles between the Burmese military and civilian militias, something hindering efforts by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in ascertaining just how many people need help – and where. 

The OCHA has now said that around 180,000 have been displaced in the state of Kayin in the east of the country on the Thai border, with another 20,000 currently in makeshift camps in Chin State bordering India in the west.

Speaking in the east of Burma, the Karen National Union (KNU), has said in recent days that “The KNU will continue to fight against military dictatorship and provide as much protection as possible to people and unarmed civilians.”

Almost 900 are known to have been killed by the Tatmadaw to date in protests, with over 6,000 currently being held in prisons around the country according to the now banned Association for Political Prisoners.

Why The Lab Leak Theory May Not Be A Conspiracy!

Staff: Tokyo & San Francisco: A rumor started circulating in the United States a few days ago claiming that a top-ranking Chinese official, Dong Jingwei, defected to the US in February with his daughter, Dong Yang, via Hong Kong, and in the process handed Washington a dossier of information regarding the purported Wuhan lab leak.

Dong, it is believed also happens to be the vice-minister of State Security in China’s Ministry of State Security, also called Guoanbu, which in effect equates to America’s CIA – basically their spy agency.

If these rumors are true, China will have suffered its most prominent defection ever. And potentially its most crippling.

According to reports, this has prompted the Biden administration to change its stance on the origins of the coronavirus.

Initially, America’s outspoken left-wing media and President Biden’s own Democratic Party discredited the likelihood that the virus originated in a lab, dismissing it as a Donald Trump conspiracy theory.

Chinese-language anti-communist media and Twitter are now abuzz with rumors surrounding Dong and his daughter, Dong Yang, according to SpyTalk, a magazine covering US intelligence, defense, and global affairs.

One tweet by Han Lianchao, a former Chinese Foreign Ministry official, now a pro-democracy activist in the United States, sparked speculation about Dong’s defection.

The topic of Dong’s defection was it seems broached by Chinese officials at the Sino-American summit in Alaska, according to Han, himself a defector following the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.

Recent developments now serve to bolster the possibility that the Wuhan Lab Leak theory isn’t merely a conspiracy theory after all, and that we could all be the victims of a botched lab experiment or, worse, a premeditated bio-war launched from China.

China’s use of its weight inside the Global Health Organization to purposefully propagate misinformation about the severity of the outbreak is not hidden from the rest of the world.

Before the novel coronavirus was formally discovered, China began censoring information about the outbreak in early January 2020.

When the infections spread quickly a few weeks later, the authorities pounced on anything that suggested China’s response was overly “negative.”

The Wuhan Institute of Virology, which is run by the Chinese Academy of Sciences and is Asia’s largest viral bank, is a high-security bio-safety lab.

The lab holds at least 1500 lethal viral strains and is located just six kilometers from the Huanan Seafood Market, which was recently identified by researchers as the Wuhan Virus Ground Zero.

The Wuhan lab published a report in 2018, claiming that peasants living in close vicinity to Yunnan bat caves possessed antibodies to the ‘bat coronavirus, indicating the possibility of human transmission.

Then, in November 2019, three lab personnel became ill with symptoms that were similar to both COVID-19 and ordinary seasonal diseases.

According to The Wall Street Journal, this information was revealed in an undisclosed US intelligence study.

The novel coronavirus was discovered in two patients at the Wuhan Hospital the following month.

When samples were delivered to Dr. Shi Zhengli, China’s so-called ‘batwoman’ and director of the Wuhan Virology Lab, she determined that the virus circulating in Wuhan (nCOV19) had a genetic structure 96.2% similar to a bat coronavirus being studied at the lab.

Despite all this, China chose to conceal this information from the world.

Furthermore, when the number of patients in China increased dramatically in January 2020, China’s National Health Commission instructed all institutions not to publish any information regarding the illness, and the Chinese government began retaliating harshly against those who did.

Doctor Li Wenliang was the first to raise the alarm about the spread of a new coronavirus in Wuhan.

On February 7th, 2020, he died of COVID-19 after being accused by the nation’s police of circulating false information.

China not only withheld information about the disease, but also waited an eternity to respond.

Beijing took action only after it became difficult to conceal the epidemic; the first acknowledgment was made in late January 2020, despite the virus being discovered in November 2019.

On the 23rd of January 2020, China eventually ordered a lockdown, but five million potentially infected people had already fled Wuhan.

The country took no precautions to prevent its citizens from spreading the deadly illness around the world.

The lab leak hypothesis started gaining steam only 18 months after the Wuhan virus began to spread.

This gave Beijing sufficient time to erase all the evidence.

In July last year there were floods in Wuhan, and Jennifer Zeng, a Chinese activist, claimed that the move to erase records was undertaken intentionally.

Zeng believes that Chinese officials are attempting to obliterate proof of China’s role in the Wuhan virus pandemic.

Be it the Asian flu of 1956, the H5N1 flu of 1997, the SARS epidemic of 2002, or now the coronavirus, China is a country that has served as a breeding ground for a number of deadly diseases.

And, even if the lab leak theory is untrue, it cannot be denied that China not only withheld information from the rest of the globe, but also misled us about the severity of the outbreak.

After all is said and done, there is no disputing that China played a prominent role in spreading the current coronavirus throughout the world; a virus that has turned our lives upside down and has the capacity to halt, if not obliterate, the advancement of the entire human species.

At the very least, China owes the rest of the world an explanation, if not compensation.

Phuket In Thailand To Reopen To Tourism

Staff: Tokyo: Thai authorities have in the past 24 hours confirmed their intent to reopen the popular holiday destination of Phuket to vaccinated local and foreign tourists, and COVID free Thais on July 1.

The decision came about as the nation’s deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Supattanapong Punmeechaow and a trio of senior ranking officials inspected the area and met with local governor Narong Woonciew.

The Phuket governor said the so-called ‘sandbox scheme‘ was vital to the region’s economy and post-COVID revival and added that he was delighted Phuket had been chosen as the site to lead the sandbox scheme.

Proposals have been made several times in recent months at sites around Thailand to work towards closed off enclaves from which visiting foreign tourists could not leave during their stay, and with local population interaction limited.

A degree of control will still be maintained once the sandbox scheme gets underway with tourists visiting from elsewhere in Thailand requiring either two recorded doses of the Sinovac vaccine or a single dose of AstraZeneca’s vaccine, or having proved negative for the virus with a RT-PCR test at least a week prior to arrival.

Visitors from overseas are likely to be required to undergo a full 14 day period of quarantine despite already being vaccinated the governor said.

In preparation for the opening, the province of Phuket, roughly 850km south of the capital Bangkok, will vaccinate almost half a million locals to help effect a ‘herd-immunity’ in the local populace.

Once reopened to tourism on July 1st, over 600,000 tourists, including 129,000 from overseas are expected to flock to Phuket in the months leading up to September.

Similar schemes are expected to be put in place for three more popular beach destinations in Koh Phangan, Koh Samui, and Koh Tai – all in the Gulf of Thailand – by mid-July.

Image: Deepain Jundal – Unsplash

Uyghurs Condemn Silence of Muslim World, Praise Western World

WASHINGTON – On Tuesday, June 22, Canada led a statement by more than 40 countries at the United Nations calling on China to allow the U.N. human rights chief immediate access into East Turkistan, to investigate the mass internment, forced labor, and other atrocities against Uyghurs. 

Prime Minister Salih Hudayar

Salih Hudayar – Prime Minister of the East Turkistan Government in Exile, the democratically elected official body representing East Turkistan and its people

“Some 40 countries, including Israel, backed a statement at the U.N. condemning China’s ongoing atrocities against Uyghurs and other Turkic people in East Turkistan,” said Prime Minister Salih Hudayar of The East Turkistan Government in Exile. “Sadly, Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina were the only Muslim countries to support the statement,” he added.

The overwhelming majority of Muslim countries across the globe have been increasingly silent on China’s ongoing genocide of Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples, who are majority Muslim.

Countries like Pakistan and Turkey, which often accuse the west of Islamophobia, continue to turn a blind eye as Chinese investments and loans buy their silence.

A recent report by the Oxus Society for Central Asian Affairs found that the Islamic World by in large has been collaborating with China’s ongoing global campaign against the Uyghur in exchange for lucrative economic investments and loans. 

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) claims to “protect the interests of the Muslim world in a spirit of promoting international peace and harmony among various people in the world.” Yet, it has failed to condemn China’s wholesale attack against Islam and the ongoing genocide of Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples in East Turkistan.

“The Islamic World has failed to live up to its promises of Muslim solidarity. It failed to stand by us; instead, they are standing with China who is oppressing East Turkistan and its people,” said Vice President Abdulahat Nur of the East Turkistan Government in Exile.

“We condemn the silence and the hypocrisy of the Muslim world on China’s ongoing genocide against East Turkistan and its people,” stated Prime Minister Hudayar. 

Does the Muslim world not see Uyghurs and other East Turkistanis as Muslims? Or is the temporary wealth they receive from China more valuable than Islam and their very responsibility towards humanity?” Prime Minister Hudayar asked

The East Turkistan Government in Exile is calling on the Islamic world, especially Muslim governments and organizations like the OIC, to rectify their mistakes and come to the aid of the oppressed, majority Muslim, people of Occupied East Turkistan.

Israel Stands Up To China Over Uyghurs

Staff: Tokyo: Jerusalem has indicated it intends to adopt a new approach to China’s continued oppression and genocide of its Uyghur minority.

By signing a condemnation of Chinese policy at the United Nations Human Rights Council earlier this week, the Israeli government joined over 40 other nations in signing the multilateral statement.

Notably, however, the statement was devoid of the term ‘genocide‘ in reference to Chinese concentration camps and reports of systemic oppression including forced sterilization of hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs in north west China.

China had previously backed condemnation of Israel’s recent actions in the Gaza Strip, and state backed media in Beijing has made a claim that rich Jews have undue influence in American media and financial circles.

The statement read in part “(W)e are gravely concerned about the human rights situation in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Credible reports indicate that over a million people have been arbitrarily detained in Xinjiang, and that there is widespread surveillance disproportionately targeting Uyghurs and members of other minorities, and restrictions on fundamental freedoms and Uyghur culture. There are also reports of torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, forced sterilization, sexual and gender-based violence, and forced separation of children from their parents by authorities” when read out by Canadian Ambassador in Geneva Leslie Norton.

Ambassador Norton went to refer to those nations signing as “shar(ing) the concerns expressed by UN special procedures in their March 29 statement on alleged detention, forced labor and transfers of Uyghurs and members of other Muslim minorities and in a letter published by UN experts describing collective repression of religious and ethnic minorities” also referring to the “deterioration of fundamental freedoms in Hong Kong under the National Security Law and about the human rights situation in Tibet” adding “(W)e call on Chinese authorities to abide by their human rights obligations.”

The full list of signatories includes: Albania, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Belize, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Haiti, Honduras, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Marshall Islands, Monaco, Nauru, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Palau, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the Ukraine.

Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:GnuCivodul

Taiwan’s Water Shortage – A New Norm

As the plum rain season descended on Taiwan, the rain it dropped into rivers, water tables, and ultimately reservoirs around the island, has seen the drought that started in April gradually come to an end.

And due to global warming, with climate change hitting Taiwan as everywhere, coupled to no typhoons making landfall across Taiwan last year in a 56 year first not seen since 1964, Taiwan really did struggle to make it through its annual three month ‘dry season’.

The impact was felt more by people living in central and southern Taiwan than in the north with many of the nation’s most important reservoirs’ volume dropping to as low as 10% of capacity, and some reservoirs effectively drying up altogether; the famous tourist attraction Sun Moon Lake in central Taiwan made headlines nationwide for its desert-like appearance due to a lack of water, and central Taiwanese cities in Taichung and Miaoli were forced to impose water restrictions from early April.

In recent decades and historically, rainfall in Taiwan is usually around 2.6 times the world average.

However, we still have to face the reality of water shortages.

To this end a fundamental problem we now face is how to avoid wasting water to prevent such shortages from becoming the new norm in Taiwan.

One aspect often overlooked is the water price in Taiwan; far below the global average, making it hard to control the usage of water as it is seen as “too cheap” to worry about.

According to data, Taiwan’s water price is the third lowest in the world, at around a quarter of the price billed in the US and Japan.

One CM (cubic meter) of water costs just NT$9.24 (US$ 0.33).

At these prices it is easy to ignore water controls.

Education is of course a crucial step in saving water. Taiwanese are sometimes considered wasteful in their water use because of a lack of knowledge in how to reuse water.

Many people see the water used in a bath and after washing dishes as dirty, used and thus incapable of being used again.

However, bathwater is actually still reusable.

Water used in a bath can be used to flush the toilet, water from a dehumidifier to water plants, etc.

Promoting such concepts through education, on the Internet, and in TV commercials could help people learn, benefiting both reservoirs and the individual.   

California in the western US also faced a period of drought this year – like Taiwan since April.

Forty one of the state’s 58 counties have declared a state of emergency. Nonetheless, the governor still hasn’t announced any restrictions on the use of water. But why?

California experienced a long dry period between 2011 and 2019.

In the midst of this – in 2015 – they had the first water restrictions forced upon them, reducing usage by 24%.

From that point in time Californians learned how to save water in their daily lives. Many simply fixed leaking pipelines, shortened showering times or reduced the time set aside for watering lawns, and so on.

Nowadays, overall water usage has decreased 16% compared to 2013, even though the population has risen by almost 1.5 million in the same time.  

Singapore is another potential role model on water issues, and is closer to home.

Although the rainfall in Singapore is also above average, this tiny country is still suffering from water shortages due to high demand and limited land capable of collecting water.

As Singapore’s water supply agreement with Malaysia will expire in 2060, and along with it around 50% to 60% of the current water supply used in Singapore could dry up, the government continues to look at efforts to be independent on water issues.

One plan centers on four desalination plants, which could supply 30% of all the water needed across the country.

The island nation has also developed techniques to reuse water as ‘juvenile water’ to (re)supply non-domestic water usage.

Furthermore, the Singaporean government also educates their citizens on how essential it is to save water including promoting concepts using videos and advertisements, or education at schools.

So, while climate change is continuing to affect our water supply, Taiwanese too have to come up with alternatives to deal with the new norm of water shortages around the globe.

Taiwan’s government and our people should learn from others’ experiences, otherwise the situation will become worse – a lot worse.

Text: Kent Kuo

Image: redcharlie

Uyghurs Welcome New ICC Chief Prosecutor

urge him to investigate Chinese officials for genocide

WASHINGTON: –  British barrister Karim Khan (pictured above) was sworn in as the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor on Wednesday, in The Hague.

Khan pledged to reach out to nations that are not members of the court and try to hold trials in countries where crimes are committed. 

The East Turkistan Government in Exile (ETGE) welcomes Khan as the new chief prosecutor. 

“We urge him to act swiftly to investigate and prosecute China’s officials responsible for the ongoing genocide of the Uyghurs,” said President Ghulam Osman Yaghma of the East Turkistan Government in Exile.

Last Thursday,  lawyers for the East Turkistan Government in Exile and the East Turkistan National Awakening Movement submitted a dossier of further evidence proving how China continues to capture and persecute Uyghurs who fled to other countries in an attempt to escape genocide and persecution.

The new evidence showed that 85% to 90% of the Uyghur population in Tajikistan, a state party to the Rome Statute, were targeted by the Chinese government and forcibly taken back to China-Occupied East Turkistan (Xinjiang). 

ETNAM in front of US Capitol

Members of the East Turkistan National Awakening in front of the US Capitol

“Based on this new dossier of evidence presented to the ICC Prosecutor, showing the actions of Chinese authorities directly in Tajikistan – an ICC State Party – it is clear that the ICC does have jurisdiction to open an investigation,” said British Barrister Rodney Dixon, who is representing the East Turkistan Government in Exile at the ICC. “The evidence shows a highly organized and systematic plan by the Chinese authorities to round up Uyghurs living in an ICC State Party and deport them back into China where they are never heard from again,” Mr. Dixon added.

On behalf of Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples, the East Turkistan Government in Exile and the East Turkistan National Awakening Movement submitted a formal complaint last year on July 6, 2020, urging the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate and prosecute Chinese officials responsible for genocide and other crimes against humanity.

In November 2020, the ICC complaint was backed by over 60 Parliamentarians from 16 countries yet the ICC’s former Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announced there wasn’t sufficient evidence to establish jurisdiction at the time and had requested further evidence in December of 2020. 

The East Turkistan Government in Exile and Uyghurs across the globe call on Karim Khan, the new chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, to act quickly and open an investigation against China’s officials, including President Xi Jinping, for their role in the ongoing genocide against Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples in East Turkistan. 

“The world needs to act to end China’s genocide of Uyghurs. We have great hope that the ICC’s new prosecutor, Karim Khan, will agree that they have jurisdiction and can investigate and prosecute these crimes. It is now more critical than ever, given that numerous governments and parliaments have already recognized this ongoing genocide,” said Prime Minister Salih Hudayar of the East Turkistan Government in Exile.

Taiwan African Ally Elects New Capital Mayor

Taiwan’s ally in the Horn of Africa, Somaliland, has elected a new mayor in its capital city.

A decision demonstrating the clear and decisive voice of more than 26,000 eligible voters elected Mr. Abdikarim Ahmed Moge mayor of the nation’s capital, a city like Taipei in Taiwan spearheading hopes for increased levels of recognition on the global stage.

The tally is being seen as a clear indication of a city that wanted to and has thus successfully rid itself of its former Mayor Mr. SOLTELCO, but in reality, a lot more happened in the background for Mr. Moge to clinch the race for Mayor of Hargeisa.

Mr. Moge’s path to becoming a mayor was less than perfect in that he faced multiple hurdles from within his own party of Waddani.

The Waddani leadership even pursued potentially backing another candidate for Mayor of Hargeisa.

Although described by those that know him well as incorruptible and as someone with a rigid moral code who rarely compromises and has in the past walked away from a cabinet position, Mr. Moge is showing early signs of political savvy by involving the President to intervene in shoring up and solidifying his position.

The President, sensing an opportunity to correct his own past mistake of passing on Mr. Moge to run as a Kulmiye candidate and score a major political win, then backed Mr. Moge, met him on several occasions and even went so far as to getting Mr. SOLTELCO to stand aside – essentially paving the way for Mr. Moge to take over as Mayor of Hargeisa.

Despite harsh campaign rhetoric, Mayor Moge has been rather kind and conciliatory towards the outgoing mayor and has even stated that he will rely on his expertise to run the city.

While Somalilanders hope he has not sold his soul to the devil to gain the president and SOLTELCO’s support, this is not an ironclad agreement and nothing compels Mayor Moge to maintain a close working relationship with the man who left Hargeisa an oozing cesspool.

As such, lets hope that his conciliatory tone to the outgoing Mayor is a simple gesture to help SOLTELCO save face.

Mr. Moge’s true litmus test is yet to come, and soon the focus of an inpatient public whose needs have been long neglected will move from SOLTELCO onto his own shoulders.

This is a fork in the road for Mayor Moge, whereby one option leads to a bright political future and possibly a future presidential run, and the other to one that repeats the massive failures that will confine him to the same trash bin of history currently occupied by Mr. SOLTELCO and his acolytes.

For Mayor Moge to be successful, he will need an aggressive plan to reevaluate and overhaul the various functions of the local government.

Efficient tax collection alone will not suffice, but needs to be complemented by a solid plan and nerves of steel to combat the deep-rooted and pervasive culture of corruption that plagues the city.

This would, for example, include the removal of dozens of bogus advisors who bled the city dry for years as a part of a network of complicit grifters.

The new mayor must start with a clean slate, and understand what kind of institution he is taking over.

He will need to have a deep understanding of the types of corruption he’s facing (open, hidden, and both pervasive) and more importantly; what functions were outsourced and the true cost of these non-compete tenders.

Another important change the new mayor will need to institute is total transparency and honesty with the public.

He needs to make a sincere effort to keep the public informed of exactly how much money is in the local government’s coffers, and what kind of debt is being left behind by the former Mayor SOLTELCO.

This can be only achieved by the deployment of independent auditors to properly assess the financial wellbeing of Hargeisa’s local government and by sharing the results of the audit with the public.

The corruption that took place under former Mayor SOLTELCO was rather imaginative, but the most harmful forms of this corruption are those in place to enrich SOLTELCO and his friends long after he leaves office (a common practice of the political elite in Somaliland).

These include the outsourcing of major functions of local government such as refuse collection, the Land Registry to GEOSOL, and the placing of the local-government-owned construction equipment in the Berbera Corridor project under a privately owned company.

Many of these outsourced programs including the Land Registry to GEOSOL deprive the city of Hargeisa of millions of dollars of revenue which is the primary reason why Hargeisa remained a literal disaster zone under Mayor SOLTELCO and it is these resources that Mayor Moge’s success or failure will depend upon.

How aggressively Mayor Moge pursues the massive trail of corruption left for him by SOLTELCO over choosing political expediency and delivering for the 26,000 voters who placed their hopes and confidence in him will tell us everything we need to know about who we’ve entrusted Hargeisa with for the coming five years.

First published in the Somaliland Chronicle

Guangzhou COVID Cases Has China Worried

Staff: Bengaluru: It is widely known that when the coronavirus first emerged in Wuhan, China, in late 2019, the Chinese government downplayed the pandemic threat for several critical weeks.

But now, after clusters of new COVID-19 infections have emerged across the capital of China’s  southern Guangdong province, Guangzhou, authorities in China have conveniently blamed the resurgence of cases inside the country and elsewhere in Southeast Asia including Vietnam and Malaysia on India’s ‘slothful response’ to the Indian variant of the virus now named ‘Delta’ by the World Health Organization.

Reflective of China’s nervousness due to the spike in infections in Guangzhou and other nearby cities, China has subsequently stepped up mass testing even in those cities that have yet to report a single case.

According to Chinese officials, a 75-year old Guangzhou resident who dined together with her friends at a dim sum restaurant was the first case of infection of the highly transmissible strain first detected in India. 

There is still no clarity about the chain of transmission but according to Global Times (June 4th), for the first time, China is facing the threat of a community transmission of COVID-19 infections in Guangzhou.

Since May 21, the total confirmed case tally in the wider southern Guangdong province of China, has now passed the 120 mark.  The province is clearly struggling to contain the spread of the virus. The State Council, in effect China’s cabinet, has even dispatched a special expert team to Guangzhou to study the outbreak and implement virus control measures.

It is not just the provincial capital city of Guangzhou that is worried. Neighboring cities including Foshan, Maoming, as well as tech-hub Shenzhen close to Hong Kong have also reported cases of COVID infections.

According to local media, the situation in Guangzhou is ‘alarming’ and authorities have imposed strict lockdowns.

Strict containment and rigid stay-at-home orders too have been harshly enforced by the authorities. Long queues and large crowds can be seen in various districts of Guangzhou waiting outside inoculation sites, many without appointments. 

The surge of infections and fear of community transmission has affected the normal life of the people of the city in a big way.

To prevent the spread of the virus, Guangzhou has now beefed up community and travel restrictions and has also stepped up its nucleic acid testing, epidemiological investigation and the control of key personnel and areas.

For some time, the city even had to suspend its vaccination drive to devote crucial human resources towards mass testing, and those who had been to high-risk areas in the city were asked to get tested at least twice every three days.

Those leaving Guangzhou via its airports, railway stations and bus stations are asked to present negative nucleic acid test results completed within 72 hours, besides green health codes.

Offline classes for schools and colleges have also been suspended.

Due to the restrictions, most inbound and outbound flights at Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport, the world’s busiest airport during the pandemic in 2020, have been cancelled.

The city has also suspended the operations of cinemas, theatres, KTVs, Internet cafes and other entertainment venues amid rising numbers of new locally transmitted cases and asymptomatic cases turning into confirmed cases.

Seeing the severity of the situation, China has also set up four temporary nucleic acid testing laboratories with the capacity to test 120,000 samples a day in a bid to facilitate mass testing and a roll out of vaccinations for the under -18s as well as postponing the Shanghai Air Expo, for the second consecutive year.

Shanghai, too, has reported COVID infections, triggering a pre-emptive response suspending all COVID-19 vaccination appointments to concentrate medical forces on further mass nucleic acid tests.  

According to Jin Dong-yan, a molecular virologist and professor at the University of Hong Kong, the virus was in stealth transmission in Guangzhou for some time before its detection in May, making the outbreak somewhat bigger, though controllable. 

As in the past, information on the COVID outbreak is being suppressed and downplayed as the ruling Communist Party’s grand plans to celebrate its upcoming 100th anniversary move forward.

The embarrassment of admitting the disruption and chaos caused by a pathogen born on Chinese soil, and the instinct of Chinese officials to immediately squash bad news are being put to the test.