Critical comments deleted: China stops online debate about restrictive corona policy

Criticism by the World Health Organization (WHO) of Beijing’s restrictive corona policy has brought Chinese censorship into action. After WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus made critical statements about the Chinese zero-Covid strategy, searches for the keywords “Tedros” and “WHO” on the Chinese online network Weibo on Wednesday yielded no results. WeChat app users were also unable to share an article published on an official UN account.

A hashtag that internet users had used in lively discussions about the WHO criticism was apparently blocked on Wednesday. Critical comments on the zero Covid strategy have been deleted. For example, one user asked: “Will our government listen to the recommendations of the WHO Director-General?”

Tedros had described China’s restrictive corona policy as “unsustainable” on Tuesday. “When we talk about the zero Covid strategy, we don’t think it’s tenable considering how the virus is behaving now and what we expect for the future,” said the WHO chief.

Chinese experts have been informed of this assessment. Tedros considers a realignment of the strategy to be “very important”.

WHO Emergency Director Michael Ryan added, with a view to China’s corona strategy, that it was time for a restart. It is important to respect “individual rights and human rights” in all measures to combat the pandemic and to balance “control measures against the impact on society and the economy”.

The WHO expert responsible for corona, Maria Van Kerkhove, said it was impossible to completely stop the transmission of the virus worldwide. “But we have to contain the transmission because the virus circulates so much.”

The Chinese government is also coming under increasing pressure at home because of its zero-Covid strategy. Especially in Shanghai, which was hardest hit by the omicron wave and has been in lockdown for almost seven weeks, displeasure with the strict measures is growing.

A spokesman for China’s foreign ministry did not respond to journalists’ questions about the WHO criticism on Wednesday. Beijing’s policies are “scientific and effective” and will “prove their worth” in retrospect, he said. (AFP)

By Editor

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