Clamping down move by China is possibly a part of an attempt to control the narrative surrounding the highly infectious coronavirus pandemic.
Bejing| Cracking down on publication of academic research about the origination of the novel coronavirus by China is possibly to be part of a wider attempt to control the narrative surrounding the deadly worldwide outbreak, documents published online by Chinese universities appear to show, according to The Guardian report.
Leading Chinese universities’ websites appear to have newly published and then took down pages which reference a new policy requiring academic papers regarding the COVID-19 to undergo extra vetting before they are submitted for publication.
The websites of Fudan University and the China University of Geosciences (Wuhan) posted notices that said: “Research on the origins of the virus is particularly sensitive and subject to checks by government officials.”
Both the deleted pages were accessed by The Guardian from online caches.
The director of the SOAS China Institute in London, Prof Steve Tsang, said the government of China had a substantial focus on the way evolution and management of the virus is understood since the beginning of the outbreak.
“In terms of priority, controlling the narrative is of more importance than public health or economic fallout. This does not propose that the economy and public health aren’t important. But the narrative is paramount,” Prof Steve Tsang said.
In the first weeks of the pandemic, there was a cover-up by local officials and now with the virus infecting more than a million people globally and caused heavy casualties mainly across Europe and the US, details about its origin may be considered particularly sensitive.
With reference to the reports of new regulation Tsang said, “If these documents are authentic it would suggest the government really wants to control the narrative about the origins of COVID-19 very tightly.”
The novel coronavirus is believed to been originated at a wet market in Wuhan city of China’s Huanan province. Scientists say that the virus possibly originated in bats and then crossed on through an intermediary host before infecting the first human.