The following censorship instructions, issued to the media by government authorities, have been leaked and distributed online. The name of the issuing body has been omitted to protect the source.
All websites delete the Sanlian Life Week article “How will China’s Economy be Impacted if the WHO Gets Involved With the Coronavirus Epidemic?” Do not continue republishing commentary. (January 29, 2020) [Chinese]
The article, published by state-owned weekly news magazine Sanlian Life Week (三联生活周刊), which has been translated in full by CDT, examined the potential economic impact that could follow the World Health Organization’s declaration of the Wuhan coronavirus (reported as “pneumonia epidemic” 肺炎疫情 throughout the article) to be a “global health emergency.” After looking at economic data from 2003, when the WHO declared SARS a global emergency, the article notes that the current economic situation could mean a harder hit this time. The report says the WHO has only applied that label to five other health situations over the past decade, and is very cautious before doing so. If the WHO declares an emergency, it will likely come with more China-focused travel warnings and import/export prohibitions from other nations. CDT Chinese has archived the article, and a translation can be read here.
The WHO refrained from declaring the coronavirus a global emergency last week, noting that while it is an emergency within China there is not enough information about it to declare a global crisis, adding that the decision could come with appropriate evidence. Since then, WHO officials have applauded China’s “unprecedented” decision to lock down 11 million people in Wuhan as a signal of its commitment to containing the virus, but also noted that this approach is “new to science.” (Other health experts have criticized the lockdown, which over a dozen other nearby cities also enacted, as inviting more risk.) In a press conference on Wednesday, the WHO warned that all governments should “take action” to prevent the virus as it continues to spread globally, and announced that another emergency meeting of experts will convene on Thursday to assess the global situation.
The current death toll in China is 132, with nearly 6,000 infected. While China has been more transparent about the outbreak than they were ahead of the SARS crisis in 2002-2003, local authorities in Wuhan were slow to give the situation proper priority, and central authorities are maintaining a tight leash on the narrative currently–leading to much public and online outrage in China.