The Chinese government played a massive role in suppressing Chinese Control Media. Ever since the network entered in 1994 the internet has been under strict control of the authorities. The Chinese social media platforms are under the control of Cyber-administration Authorities and Chinese propaganda. It is evidently predicted that the government had the knowledge of the virus circulating in the country and the threats that the virus brought in. But they were quick enough to ban such news from spreading online.
The media reports and the government briefings are evident that there was delay in the release of information by the Chinese authorities. The Chinese government was largely successful in controlling both the virus and the media. Public information evidently shows that there were nearly 104 cases of the virus as of 31st December and 15 deaths but the public were aware about it around January 20. The Chinese social media platforms started blocking any news regarding the virus and this clearly indicates that they were under the pressure of the government.
Media in Chinese Control
On 30th December Dr. Li Wenliang who eventually died of the virus and some other doctors warned the public about the presence of a new SARS-like virus for the first time. YY, a Chinese streaming platform, introduced 45 coronavirus-related blocked terms in its mobile application on December 31, 2019. The list included “Wuhan unknown Pneumonia”, “unknown SARS”, “unknown SARS”, “P4 virus research lab”, “Wuhan fresh food market” and “Wuhan fresh food market”. 1 The death of Li Wenliang brought in huge criticism from the public and it alarmed the public about the fact that the government was well aware of the situation yet consciously failed to warn the public.
It also brought in agitation and condemnation when the Chinese government started taking immediate aggressive measures to control the spread of the virus. Furthermore, a 69 year old critic of the communist party Ren Zhiqiang on March 15 was found missing after he posted an article condemning the Chinese government regarding the outbreak,- “Without a media representing the interests of the people by publishing the actual facts, the people’s lives are being ravaged by both the virus and the major illness of the system”.
As of March 12, at least 452 internet users in China have been “punished” for “spreading rumours” related to the coronavirus, according to the non-profit group Chinese Human Rights Defenders. (2) Press have been restricted: in one incident, Wuhan police briefly detained Hong Kong journalists from RTHK, Commercial
Radio, TVB, and NOW TV on January 14 outside Jinyintan Hospital and forced them to delete their footage. (3)
Heilongjiang Provincial High Court issued “Emergency Notice on Severely Cracking Down on the Prevention and Control of Criminal Crimes Concerning Epidemic Situations” mentioning that 9 types of 36 criminal crimes involved in the prevention and control of epidemic situations should be severely punished according to law.
Including those who deliberately spread new coronaviruses to endanger public safety, the maximum penalty is death.(4) The Heilongjiang Provincial High Court stated that if the intentional spread of new coronavirus pathogens jeopardizes public safety, it may be suspected of violating Article 114(5) and Article 115 (6), paragraph 1, of the Criminal Law, and violating “harming public” “Security crime” can be sentenced to death.
The media plays a major role in the spread of news to the public worldwide. So the media should be free from any pressure so that the public can rely its trust on the media. The media should be transparent and work for the greater interest of the public. If the media is supressed and is continuously under fear then there no, longer lies any lucidity.
The Chinese authorities initially covered up the news of the presence of the virus from other countries. By the time the world came to know about the virus and started imposing travel ban the virus had already started spreading to many people. And with the return of the people who had earlier traveled to china the virus started spreading to all other countries.
Had the Chinese authorities rather than controlled the epidemic at an early stage in spite of pressurizing the media then the epidemic would not have turned into a pandemic. The Chinese media faced huge criticism from the public and other platforms worldwide for not informing and awaking the public about the virus. If the media had shown transparency in communicating the news about the virus the outbreak could have been controlled to a certain extent.
The virus that originated in China as an epidemic and has today turned into a pandemic could have been controlled had the public been aware of it. By the time the people were informed the virus had already entered the stage of community transmission and it had spread widely in Wuhan and adjoining cities.
Chinese Control is a largely debatable topic on how the government played an enormous role in manipulating the news of COVID-19 and keeping the world in gloominess. Now the Chinese government claims that the situation in China is under control and the lockdown is starting to get lifted in places. The country is reporting few cases and deaths from the virus. Read More in Online blog
Author of the Article:SWATI PRAGYAN SAHOO