The State Council Information Office on Sunday published the white paper “Fighting COVID-19: China’s Action,” a glowing account of the government response to the novel coronavirus outbreak that also defends against criticism Beijing has earned for its opacity and misinformation about the virus, from both domestic commentators and foreign diplomats. Reuters reported on SCIO comments at the unveiling of the white paper:
“Some foreign politicians and media have presumed guilt for the origin of the virus, put labels on the virus and politicized the epidemic,” Xu Lin, head of State Council Information Office, said at a briefing in Beijing Sunday. “The fabricated assumptions — like the ‘China origins of the virus,’ ‘China concealed the virus’ and ‘it’s China’s responsibility’ — are utterly baseless, unreasonable and disrespectful of science.”
[…] China has adamantly defended its actions. It’s also sent medical supplies and doctors to countries battling infections, with President Xi Jinping pledging to make any Chinese-developed vaccine a “global public good.” At the same time, Beijing has sought to cast doubt on the theory that the virus originated in China, with a foreign ministry official having promoted conspiracy theories that linked the outbreak to the U.S. military.
The white paper published Sunday by the State Council Council Information Office describes as a “calculated slur” accusations that China concealed information about the virus or that it didn’t disclose the actual number of deaths. It also says Beijing shared information in “clear and unambiguous terms” but that this was ignored by certain countries, which now seek to blame China for their own failures. […] [Source]
On Monday, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Hua Chunying was questioned about the SCIO report:
China News Service: Yesterday China’s State Council Information Office released a white paper on the country’s fight against COVID-19. But some foreign media say that the white paper is meant to defend China’s behavior. What is your comment?
Hua Chunying: China’s State Council Information Office yesterday issued a white paper entitled “Fighting COVID-19: China in Action” and held a press conference where officials of relevant authorities outlined its content.
China issued the white paper not to defend itself, but to keep a record. The history of the combat against the pandemic should not be tainted by lies and misleading information; it should be recorded with the correct collective memory of all mankind. This white paper has documented China’s arduous efforts in fighting COVID-19, outlined our best practice in epidemic prevention, control and treatment, shared the Chinese people’s experience and feelings going through the difficult times, and expressed our confidence and strength in solidarity, cooperation and victory against the virus.
As COVID-19 continues spreading, the world is still going through tough times. China will continue to uphold the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind and work with the international community for solidarity, cooperation and an early victory against the pandemic. [Source]
The Office of the MOFA Spokesperson’s official Weibo account cited Hua to further spread her message at home: “The history of the combat against the pandemic should not be tainted by lies and misleading information; it should leave a correct collective memory for all mankind.”
Many netizens called the comment into question, reminding the spokesperson of Beijing’s tireless track record of tainting reality with lies and misinformation, some of which her department then spreads to the world. CDT Chinese editors have archived exemplary responses to the MOFA spokesperson’s post, several of which are translated below:
@ 普通网友张小晃: “Leave a correct collective memory for all of mankind” this sentence immediately made my computer crash. Can I ask, what does “leave” mean? And “correct”? “Collective memory”? What is the “correct collective memory of all mankind”? Why does a representative of such formidable state power use the narrowest and most exclusive wording?
@LuckyRaaachel: What is correct, anyway? Who has the authority to define what is “correct,” and by what virtues were they given that authority? What will be the fate of those people with incorrect memories?
@开开就是开开呀: “Correct collective memory,” emmmmmm. Why don’t they just erase the memories in everyone’s heads? Wipe it all clean and write it back up in accordance with authoritative drafts [common language from state censorship directives].
@Juvenapple: Huh, is a memory “correct” or “incorrect”? Shouldn’t “truth” be the higher values we seek? Correctness can only be composed of an infinite amount of truth.
@圆香芹啊: Correct collective memory, sounds like North Korea.
@塔奇库玛110: Is there a correct collective memory of the Three Years of Famine? How can we talk about a proper collective memory when we haven’t even reflected deeply on the Cultural Revolution?
@散热鸵鸟: Is the foreign ministry a Nazi department? Is there a correct collective memory of Auschwitz?
@焦溜丸子好吃: Memory is made of a mixture of personal experience and feeling, as every individual’s experience is different, so too is everyone’s memory. No person or institution has the right to define what memory is correct or incorrect. So disgusting.
@Tin_Oxide: Whatever the case, I’ve set up a folder to store a whole bunch of incorrect memories.
@De_kleine_Prinz: “Fake! Everything is fake!”
@Cherubear: I want to know, what correct memories are left with the families of those patients who died before they could get into a hospital?
@孔财神儒商俱乐部：As for the fight against the epidemic, everyone feels and remembers it differently. If we’re all left with only a so-called “correct collective memory,” how is that not brainwashing? [Chinese]