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China: the impossible transparency on Wuhan

Editorial of the “World”. The message could not be clearer. At a time when the World Health Organization (WHO) is preparing to send, in early January, to China, after bitter negotiations with Beijing, a group of ten international experts to investigate the origins of the Covid-19 epidemic, a court in Shanghai sentenced to four years in prison, Monday, December 28, a 37-year-old Chinese woman, Zhang Zhan. His only crime: chronicling the lives of the inhabitants of Wuhan, the first to be confined.

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The signal thus sent by the Chinese authorities, at all levels, has at least the merit of consistency. In what concerns the epidemic from China, and especially its origin, in the city of Wuhan, transparency is not in order.

Very weakened by several hunger strikes, force-fed, Zhang Zhan was found guilty, during a hasty trial, of having “Sought quarrel and caused unrest”. Former lawyer, Christian, the young woman had gone to Wuhan to observe and report on this first experience of sanitary confinement. For just over two months, she had shared videos on YouTube of hospitals overwhelmed by the influx of patients and Wuhan people struggling with conflicting orders from local authorities. Through these scenes of daily life at the time of Covid-19, this improvised journalist in fact denounced the propensity of the communist authorities to use threats and intimidation to impose health order and control the epidemic.

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It is this insolence, more than any of the facts or images revealed, that has earned him today to be punished for example, as the Politburo, the ruling body of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), s ‘is congratulated, Friday December 25, 2020, according to New china, of “Decisive role” of the party in the fight against the epidemic, since it allowed “A glorious victory, absolutely extraordinary”, in this full year “Rare risks and challenges”.

The imperative of “National security”

Seven months into the official centenary of the CCP, the 1er July 2021, any threat to the party’s monopoly, but also to the story of its governance, whether yesterday (the Cultural Revolution, Tiananmen, etc.) or today (the fight against the pandemic or the “vocational training” of the Uighurs), constitutes an attack on the “National security”. This, said President Xi Jinping on December 12, 2020 outside the Politburo, must be “A major priority for the next five years”. Military, cybernetic, economic, environmental and health security, but also and above all ” Politics ” : “Any hidden risk with potential security implications must be identified and nipped in the bud”, said the Chinese number one.

So it was necessary “Nip in the bud” the risk Zhang Zhan, whose lawyer’s license was suspended after she supported the Hong Kong protest movement of 2019. His conviction and the detention of three other bloggers do not lend much to optimism for the mission of the WHO experts who will spend six weeks in China, including two in quarantine.

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They will have access to samples collected by Chinese researchers and will be authorized to work on the basis of work already carried out. There is no shortage of questions, however, especially on unspoken words from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. But their mission risks quickly colliding with the imperative of “National security”.