COVID-19 has hurt the Chinese government’s standing on the world stage. Taking full responsibility will save face; no amount of spin will.
COVID-19 Originated in China
The earliest stages of the outbreak offer the clearest facts, before any political implications could distort the data. The emergence of COVID-19 has been carefully traced by qualified experts in the fields of virology and immunobiology to Wuhan, China.
What’s more, COVID-19 was predicted by scientists who have been warning the world to expect an outbreak from that quarter for over a decade.
This is all a matter of public record around the world, where political leaders can no more control the press than they can control college kids on Spring Break.
China’s earliest efforts to suppress- not the spread of the outbreak- but information about the burgeoning health crisis is also a matter of public record everywhere outside China.
The heartbreaking story of the hero doctor who tried early in the crisis to warn public officials and was punished by the government, only to later die of the virus himself, is as tragic as it is illustrative of a regime with strict control over the media.
Yet, the Chinese government is now trying its best to win the coronavirus propaganda war. Blaming it on the U.S. may be fine in China, with no non-state owned media outlets to challenge that narrative. The rest of the world will not be so easily brought into line.
There is no getting this genie back in the bottle for Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
Taking full responsibility for its mistakes- and admitting the fatal flaw in a fully state-owned media- is the only way out of this crisis for the Chinese government.
This has already hurt China’s long-term prospects more than any member of the Chinese authority could have guessed. Some of the ramifications will take years to undo, if indeed they can be undone.