The Chargé d’Affaires of the US embassy in Malta seems to have a special liking for spreading disinformation about China in Maltese media. The latest example is his article in the Sunday Times of Malta on March 29 in which he distorts facts, again.

This diplomat alleges that the COVID-19 virus originated in China. However, researchers from the US, Europe, Japan, China and the World Health Organization have told the world that the origin of the novel coronavirus is still unclear. Even though the epidemic first broke out in China, it does not necessarily mean that the virus originated there. China, like every other country, is a victim of the virus.

To find the origin of the virus is important for defeating the epidemic, but this can only be done by scientists. We should all respect science.

This diplomat accuses China of lacking transparency in response to COVID-19. The truth is, China has been in close touch and shared information with WHO and countries around the world since day one.

Between China and the US, for example, since January 3, China has been providing regular updates to the US regarding the epidemic situation and response measures.

On January 4, at a phone conversation between the two CDC Directors, the Chinese side briefed the US side about the outbreak, and the two sides agreed to maintain close contact on information sharing and technical collaboration.

On January 27, China and the US health ministers talked on the phone. The US side expressed appreciation for China’s transparency in its response effort and the ongoing cooperation in the health sector.

On January 28, W. Ian Lipkin, professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Infection and Immunity of Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, started his one-week field trip in China to learn about the virus.

On January 29, China’s National Health Commission (NHC) informed the US side through the official channel that the US was welcome to join the China-WHO Joint Mission on COVID-19. The US side thanked them for the invitation on the same day.

From February 16 to 24, the China-WHO Joint Mission, which included two American experts, paid a nine-day field visit to China. They spoke highly of China’s control measures, noting that China’s action bought precious time and provided useful experience for the rest of the world.

On March 12, the US embassy in China was invited to attend an international briefing on China’s experience in tackling COVID-19 jointly held by China’s NHC and WHO.

On March 13, President Trump told reporters that the data China shared “has been helpful” for the US to control the virus.

This diplomat claims that China’s political system impedes the effort to control the epidemic. The truth is, under the strong leadership of the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese government, the Chinese people are united as one and determined to face down the challenge of COVID-19.

Our political system enables us to mobilise resources on a grand scale in times of need. Two high-standard hospitals for treating infections were built in Wuhan in only ten days. More than 40,000 doctors and nurses from across the country went to Hubei Province to offer help. Measures announced by the government have the support of the Chinese people. They readily followed these measures. Hence China has brought the epidemic under control within a relatively short period of time, setting a new standard for outbreak response.

This diplomat accuses China of hindering international cooperation. The truth is, China’s action echoes its belief that humanity is a community with a shared future. China has been actively engaged in international cooperation.

Recently, China has announced emergency aid, including testing kits and medical masks to more than 80 countries and international and regional organisations such as WHO and the African Union.

China has sent medical teams to Iran, Iraq, Italy, Serbia, Cambodia, Pakistan and other countries.

China has donated US$20 million to WHO to support its international cooperation efforts.

Local authorities, companies and civil society in China have provided assistance to countries most affected by the epidemic, including the US.

Here in Malta, Maltese medical experts have held video conferences with their Chinese counterparts to share experience. China is sending medical equipment to Malta.

What this diplomat writes is in fact similar to recent remarks by some American politicians. Instead of taking a science-based and constructive approach to counter the epidemic, they choose to blame China, using the term “Chinese virus” or “Wuhan virus” to stigmatise China’s efforts. Such actions are against the advice of WHO. Doing so is immoral and will not help the US defeat the epidemic.

This diplomat enjoys calling his country an “open society”. What puzzles me is why this “open society” has been resorting to protectionism, while China and the rest of the world are calling for keeping the economy open?

Why is this “open society” practising unilateralism when the rest of us are calling for multilateralism?

Why is this “open society” urging “America First”, when the rest of us are calling for international cooperation?

Why is this “open society” abandoning the Paris Agreement on climate change and the Iran nuclear deal when the rest of us are stressing the importance to abide by international rule of law?

And now when the international community needs more than ever to join hands in fighting COVID-19, this “open society” diplomat is inciting division through disinformation.

A lie, even if it is repeated a hundred times, will not become the truth. It is important to do some serious studies and get the facts right before commenting on anything.

Wang Zhaofeng is the deputy chief of mission of the Chinese Embassy in Malta.

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