U.S. public needs to know truth of Chinese "whistleblower": Yale scholar

2020-05-21 06:52:30 GMT2020-05-21 14:52:30(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

WASHINGTON, May 20 (Xinhua) -- The role of Li Wenliang, an ophthalmologist with the Central Hospital of Wuhan who warned of a potential outbreak, "has been distorted without regard for fact," a faculty member at Yale University wrote in an article published by Project Syndicate on Monday.

Stephen Roach, also former chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia, wrote "the first Chinese doctor to report the novel coronavirus was not Li but Zhang Jixian," a doctor in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

On Dec. 27, 2019, three cases of pneumonia of unknown cause were immediately reported by Zhang after she received the patients, the first reporting of suspected cases of a new disease by local authorities in China.

Three days later, Li posted in one of his WeChat chat groups text messages including "seven SARS cases were confirmed at Huanan fruits and seafood market", a photo and a video clip.

"President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have fanned the flames by accusing China of covering up the outbreak and knowingly allowing the novel coronavirus to spread," said Roach. "But their supposed smoking gun, the tragic fate of the heroic whistleblower, Li Wenliang, fires only blanks."

"Contrary to the Western narrative, the initial response of (China's) local authorities was prompt, albeit not without error," Roach added, mentioning that on Dec. 30, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission issued internal documents ordering efforts to treat patients with pneumonia of unknown cause.

On Dec. 31, China informed the World Health Organization (WHO) China Country Office of cases of pneumonia of unknown cause detected in Wuhan.

On Jan. 3, 2020, China began sending regular, timely updates about the novel coronavirus to the WHO, and other countries, including the United States.

Li, 34, died of the novel coronavirus on Feb. 7. He was later identified as a martyr, the highest honorary title awarded to citizens who bravely sacrifice their lives for the nation, society and the people.

"Li's death plays a central part in the conspiracy theories that drive the anti-China discourse of Trump's Republican Party," said Roach, noting a leaked 57-page GOP campaign 2020 strategy document is "filled with distorted accounts of the so-called intimidation of Li."

"The more the U.S. struggles with the ravages of COVID-19, the more desperate Trump and his loyalists are to blame China," said Roach. 

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