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Chinese officials attack Peruvian author for saying coronavirus outbreak began in China

Illustration of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus, COVID-19. (CDC/TNS)
March 17, 2020

Chinese authorities are once again attacking an opponent for his comments criticizing China over its handling of the coronavirus outbreak, calling him “prejudiced” and “irresponsible” for stating that the coronavirus outbreak began in China.

The Chinese embassy in Peru issued a statement on Sunday, after writer Mario Vargas Llosa published a column in Spanish newspaper El País earlier that day. In the column, Llosa said the coronavirus originated in China. He added that if the Chinese had a democratic government and didn’t try to silence whistleblowers, the outbreak of the deadly virus could have been contained.

“We regret Vargas Llosa’s inappropriate China-related remarks this time, believing that his remarks reflect a lack of understanding of China and serious prejudice,” the Chinese embassy in Peru wrote in a statement, according to a translation.

The first cases of coronavirus, also called COVID-19, originated in Wuhan, China. And while China appears to have stabilized the spread of the virus, more than 80,000 individuals have been infected and 3,100 have died from it.

As the number of cases in China have stabilized, the Chinese government has been on a mission to control the narrative surrounding the virus.

The reaction to Llosa’s column has been much more mild than the Communist Part’s reaction to internal dissent and criticism. Internally, critics of the Communist Party’s response to the coronavirus outbreak have disappeared.

One such critic was Ren Zhiqiang, 69, a real estate tycoon in China. Ren published an article criticizing the Communist Party and Chinese President Xi Jinping, calling him a power-hungry “clown.”

“I see not an emperor standing there exhibiting his ‘new clothes,’ but a clown who stripped naked and insisted on continuing to be an emperor,” Ren wrote. “You don’t in the slightest hide your resolute ambition to be an emperor and your determination to destroy anyone who won’t let you.”

Other people have been punished for going against the ruling party’s guidance, too. The whistleblower who first brought attention to the coronavirus, a Chinese doctor in Wuhan, was reprimanded for warning the public about the virus. The doctor, Li Wenliang, 34, died later in a Wuhan, China, hospital from the coronavirus.

On March 11, the World Health Organization officially declared the virus a pandemic. Two days later on March 13, President Donald Trump declared a national emergency. According to John Hopkins’ latest tracking data, there are nearly 180,000 cases of coronavirus around the world, more than 7,000 deaths, and more than 78,000 people have recovered from the virus. There are more than 4,100 cases in the United States and at least 71 deaths from the coronavirus, according to the tracking data.

On Wednesday, Trump announced a ban of all U.S. travel to and from Europe for 30 days that took effect Friday. Italy is the second worst-hit country in the world with almost 28,000 cases and 2,100 deaths.