The lengthy rebuttal is Beijing’s latest attempt to maintain its outbreak handling, as it is under international scrutiny for handling viruses and facing increasing calls for independent investigation.
Articles released at the weekend begin with a prologue mentioning Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States.
“As Lincoln said, you can fool some people all the time and fool everyone all the time, but you can’t fool everyone all the time,” he said.
It then provides details of each claim, and cites various media reports, scientific studies and World Health Organization statements to support its rival.
The article condemned claims linking the origin of the virus to China. “Being the first to report the virus does not mean that Wuhan is its origin. In fact, its origin has not yet been identified,” he said, echoing points that have been repeatedly stressed by Chinese officials and government-controlled media.
It also refutes the theory that the virus was created by a laboratory at the Wuhan Virology Institute or leaked from a laboratory in an accident.
When the virus spread throughout the world, Beijing came under international condemnation for allegedly suppressing important initial information about the outbreak and underestimating its severity.
The article sought to refute the initial cover-up accusations of China and delay the release of information about the virus, offering a timeline to show the Chinese government’s “open, transparent and responsible” way of providing “timely information” to the world.
But the article did not mention recognition by the Wuhan mayor that his government did not disclose information about the corona virus “in a timely manner” during an interview with CCTV on January 27.
The Mayor, Zhou Xianwang, said at the time that under Chinese law on infectious diseases, the local government first needed to report the outbreak to the national health authority, and then get approval from the State Council before making the announcement.
The article also rejected Western criticism of Beijing over the case of Li Wenliang, a Wuhan doctor who tried to sound an alarm at the outbreak in late December but was rebuked and silenced by police for “spreading rumors.” He died of the corona virus in early February after contracting from a patient, triggering an outpouring of sadness and anger nationally.
The article said Li was not a “reporter,” as he had mentioned in Western media. Instead, it highlights the fact that Li is a member of the Chinese Communist Party, and has received posthumous awards as a “national health model worker in fighting Covid-19” and “martyrs.”
“Labeling Dr. Li Wenliang as a ‘hero of anti-establishment’ or ‘enlightenment’ is very disrespectful to Dr. Li and his family. This is purely political manipulation without politeness,” the article said.
To calm public anger after Li’s death, the Chinese government has tried to paint Li as a model party member and doctor who has dedicated his life to fighting the corona virus. This launched a week-long investigation into the Li case, which withdrew a reprimand against Li and blamed a local police officer for mismanaging his case – a result that drew criticism on Chinese social media.
The article also countered criticism that Beijing had spread disinformation about Covid-19, saying China was a “victim of disinformation” from “US politicians, intellectuals and media outlets hostile to China.”