Representative image Photograph:( Reuters )
Chinese government controlled the flow of information, silenced whistleblowers, and blocked all independent probes into the pandemic
Even after almost a year after coronavirus pandemic gripped the world, there hasn't been any comprehensive and official confirmation on the origins. Though most facts point at China, the country has repeatedly denied that it was the origin of the pandemic and has instead chosen to float theories that blame other countries. But now an investigation by journalists has shed light on how far Chinese government went in order to hide any information to do with the pandemic and its origins. The brazen cover-up by Chinese health authorities has ensured that early warning and early testing was hampered.
Chinese government controlled the flow of information, silenced whistleblowers, and blocked all independent probes into the pandemic. A few Associated Press journalists managed to launch an investigation. They travelled across china to trace the origins of the virus. They interviewed dozens of chinese scientists. Went through hundreds of confidential documents. Their investigation established a pattern of government secrecy and top down control. The hunt began in the lush mountains of southern China, at Moajing mine located in China's Yunan province.
In 2012, six miners spent 14 days removing bat faeces from a mineshaft in Moajing mines. These miners later exhibited symptoms similar to Wuhan virus. They experienced cough, fever and shortness of breath. The mine became an area of intense scientific interest.
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However, as of today, the area has become a black hole. You get no information whatsoever. The journalists who tried to travel to these mines were tailed by policemen in plain clothes and many cars. They blocked the access to mines.
The team then travelled to seafood market in Wuhan where some of the first cases were detected. The journalists were blocked here too. But they managed to obtain internal data from the Centre for Disease Control situated in Wuhan.
The journalists found that Chinese government had ordered CDC staff to not share any data , specimen or other information related to the Wuhan virus. This notification was then spread to all universities, companies and medical & research institutions.
The communication and publication of all research was ordered to be orchestrated like a 'game of chess'. Public opinion teams of the Communist Party were asked to guide all publications...
Absolutely nothing was released. The leaked documents show that Beijing gave a grant of 1.5 million Renminbi to Bi Yuhai, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. This amounts to USD 230,000.
What followed were a series of conspiracy theories that the virus originated elsewhere, in contaminated packages of frozen fish from Europe, in trafficked pangolins from Southeast Asia.
The biggest theory formed through this effort was that the virus was apparently brought by US Army troops during world military games in Wuhan.
In the journalists' investigation, they hit dead end everywhere other than the leaked documents. This was because they were followed at every step. Their movements were monitored. Specialists and citizens were asked not to talk with them. It has been a year and Chinese approach has been more or less the same.
The truth about Wuhan virus may never come out, as 12 months is a long time for any government to wipe-out all evidence. Especially for a government like China's.