/Censors Show Zero Tolerance for WHO Criticism of China’s Zero-COVID Policy

Censors Show Zero Tolerance for WHO Criticism of China’s Zero-COVID Policy

On Tuesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) and called on the government to transition to another strategy for dealing with the pandemic. The move was poorly received by the Chinese government, which . As numerous Chinese cities and with Xi Jinping’s order to intensify the struggle, many are wondering how to safely return to normal life. Agence France Press described :

“When we talk about the zero-Covid strategy, we don’t think that it’s sustainable, considering the behaviour of the virus now and what we anticipate in the future,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a press conference.

“We have discussed about this issue with Chinese experts and we indicated that the approach will not be sustainable.

“Transiting into another strategy will be very important.”

[…] “We need to balance the control measures against the impact they have on society, the impact they have on the economy, and that’s not always an easy calibration,” said WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan.

He said any measures to combat the Covid-19 pandemic should show “due respect to individual and human rights”.

Calling for “dynamic, adjustable and agile policies”, Ryan said early responses to the crisis in many countries showed that a lack of adaptability “resulted in a lot of harm”. []

Just last week, the Chinese government doubled down on its strict approach. The Politburo Standing Committee warned against anyone who might “” China’s dynamic zero-COVID policy, and Xi Jinping told officials to “.” Given that Xi has , the WHO’s critique was not welcomed by the government. As the Associated Press reported, :

Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said at a daily briefing Wednesday, “We hope that relevant people can view China’s policy of epidemic prevention and control objectively and rationally, get more knowledge about the facts and refrain from making irresponsible remarks.”

“The Chinese government’s policy of epidemic prevention and control can stand the test of history, and our prevention and control measures are scientific and effective,” Zhao said. “China is one of the most successful countries in epidemic prevention and control in the world, which is obvious to all of the international community.”

Earlier Wednesday, deputy director of Shanghai’s Center for Disease Control Wu Huanyu reaffirmed the approach’s importance in eliminating a waning outbreak. He told reporters that while progress has been made, relaxing prevention and control measures could allow the virus to rebound.

“At the same time, now is also the most difficult and critical moment for our city to achieve zero-COVID,” Wu said at a daily briefing. []

of the government’s zero-COVID policy. Josephine Ma from the South China Morning Post described how :

Censors moved quickly to scrub the comments from the Chinese internet, removing a Weibo post on the United Nations account on Wednesday morning.

After the post on the UN’s Weibo account was censored, internet users searching for the post were given a notification that the content was illegal.

Many Weibo users complained that not only were screen captures of the UN post removed, but even pictures of Tedros became a target of China’s sophisticated social media censorship apparatus.

“Even some of the Ghebreyesus pictures were censored – will this one stay?” said one Weibo user, as he posted a picture of the director general.

Another wrote: “Even the United Nations news centre [account] and Ghebreyesus were censored, it is getting worse”. []

On WeChat, an article featuring Tedros’ comments posted by the UN’s official public account has been “banned from sharing due to a violation of relevant laws and regulations.” Video clips of his speech are also being removed from the platform. pic.twitter.com/rGpOa2SDlF

— Nectar Gan (@Nectar_Gan) May 11, 2022

2/4 Left screenshot shows at 1pm Sogou’s Weixin search results were all from 2022, and no results were from govt. mouthpieces. Right screenshot taken at 3pm shows no results from 2022, and only results from Xinhua, People’s Daily, Guangming Daily, and the China News Service. pic.twitter.com/GcFp87OrUo

— William Farris (@wafarris) May 11, 2022

Screenshots too pic.twitter.com/54M7xsBXT2

— Wenhao (@ThisIsWenhao) May 11, 2022

WHO Chief says China’s Zero-Covid-Policy is unsustainable – WHO’s official post gets censored on Weibo. And the entry #Tedros in Chinese is “not found according to relevant laws and regulations”. pic.twitter.com/RkBzVqggxD

— Martin Aldrovandi (@martinaldro) May 11, 2022

Pretty sophisticated if most people don’t even know they’re being censored. https://t.co/57pS2XM1NK

— Bill Birtles (@billbirtles) May 11, 2022

The censorship may signal a reversal of Tedros’ previous good standing in China. In 2020, after a visit to Beijing, Tedros stated that he was “very encouraged and impressed” by Xi Jinping’s commitment to controlling the outbreak, and   Lily Kuo at the Washington Post highlighted one Weibo comment reflective of the changing tide: “I thought […] Seeing all these posts get removed, now I see I was overthinking [their friendship].” CDT Chinese has collected , some of which are translated below:

天晴也带伞:In the last few months, we have bid farewell to , and today we are saying goodbye to Mr. Tedros [a play on the characters in Mr. Tedros’ Chinese name].

老宇的私密:Different voices are not permitted, for the sake of this “.”

MonsieurJulio:If we can shut down the official social media accounts of the United Nations, we’re not far from ruling the entire planet.

波尼特卡9:Has Director-General Tedros turned traitor?

hfs3hw:Now I finally understand the term “no matter what the cost.”

住在芒果街:I don’t know if we can figure our way out of this. All I know is that we regular folks are on the verge of losing our minds …

DemEnthusiast:Regardless of whether he [Mr. Tedros] has colluded with Beijing in the past, today he said something sensible. []

Remember when Tedros and WHO covered up for China? And China paid it back by snarking about the West’s handling of Covid? How tables turn cannot but wonder. https://t.co/2DzM3jE7Nu

— Sari Arho Havrén (@SariArhoHavren) May 11, 2022

Foreign Minister Wang Yi in 2020: those who pour dirty water on WHO and Director Tedros will only stain themselves

Chinese web censor in 2022: Tedros’ comment on China’s zero policy breaches relevant laws and regulations and sharing is prohibited pic.twitter.com/4NPZSPG3mE

— 杨涵 Han Yang (@polijunkie_aus) May 11, 2022