Customers enjoy dessert at a sweet shop in Liwan District of Guangzhou, capital of south China's Guangdong Province, Dec. 1, 2022. (Xinhua/Deng Hua)
BEIJING, Dec. 10 (Xinhua) -- The only thing that remains constant is change itself -- The consensus of philosophers in both the East and West sounds especially wise and relevant in today's world that is full of change due to COVID-19.
Based on the facts that the pathogenicity of the current Omicron strain weakens, the vaccination rate nationwide rises and China continues to accumulate experience in containing the epidemic, the country has recently optimized and adjusted its anti-COVID measures to respond to the needs of the people and facilitate the orderly recovery of normal production and life.
This is a continuation of the rationale of the Chinese government, which has always been proactive in its understanding of changes and response to them -- prioritizing people and their lives, respecting science, and seeking truth from facts.
Residents select vegetables in Liwan District of Guangzhou, capital of south China's Guangdong Province, Dec. 1, 2022. (Xinhua/Deng Hua)
But unsurprisingly, some biased Western media outlets have been continuing their criticism and accusations aimed at China's latest move, as they have been doing since the COVID outbreak. They tried to use all kinds of reasoning and models to prove that China's "optimizing" at this time -- in their words, "a U-turn" -- is another mistake. They claimed China's decision was based "on impulse" and was made "with no preparation," which "risks 1 million COVID deaths in 'winter wave'." They argued it would "cause economic disruption" and "push up global inflation," posing risks to the whole world.
Ironically, over the past years, almost the same rhetoric was deployed by these media when throwing stones at China's proactive prevention and control measures to fight the epidemic.
Some had foretold that strict COVID restrictions would "bring an economic toll" to the world's second-largest economy, while others had smeared China's scientific epidemic responses as they would "exacerbate disruptions in the global supply chain," "intensify global inflation concerns," and "rattle global markets."
In May this year, an article published by Fortune quoted an expert as saying that China's strict COVID policy would result in "disruption to economic activity." This month, however, it was the same author who questioned China's adjustment of its COVID response, claiming the "inevitable COVID outbreak" to follow will likely "cause further economic disruption." The author's self-contradiction invites only ridicule.
To these biased journalists, strict prevention and control measures are wrong. Adjustments and optimizations are also wrong. So one wonders what is right in terms of their thinking? Maybe for them, nothing is right. The "only constant" is their blind criticism of China's COVID policies.
In a sense, such criticism stemming from these media is no longer based on science and facts, but is a habit and even an addiction -- just like a lollipop is to a five-year-old. Misleading reporting on China to the world, based on such a mindset of "unprincipled criticism," will only lead to misunderstanding, estrangement and even hatred.
The reason for their constant criticism is the entrenched arrogance and prejudice of some Western media outlets. To them, no matter whether it is the anti-epidemic approach, or a development or governance model, as long as it is "different," it is wrong and bad.
Facts and figures speak loudly. The COVID-19 death toll in the Chinese mainland stands at less than 5,300, while the number in the United States has long passed the tragic milestone of 1 million. From 2019 to 2021, the average life expectancy of the United States declined an appalling 2.7 years because of its "lying flat" approach towards the virus, while China has overtaken the U.S. in terms of life expectancy during this period.
It has been clearly demonstrated that China has effectively juggled its COVID response with its economic and social development. China's steadfast approach gained time to help it better understand COVID, to research and develop vaccines and therapeutics, as well as to boost vaccination levels.
A government that has saved millions of lives and safeguarded people's health should not be misconstrued and discredited.
Medical workers help a 101-year-old COVID-19 patient surnamed Li as she leaves the Guangdong Second Provincial General Hospital in Guangzhou, south China's Guangdong Province, Nov. 26, 2022. (Guangdong Second Provincial General Hospital/Handout via Xinhua)
In the past three years, China has equipped itself with technologies and drugs that are proven to be effective in COVID diagnosis and treatment, and also made continuous progress in pathogen detection and epidemiological investigations. Over 90 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated thanks to China's unceasing efforts in vaccine research and development, while people's health awareness has also been greatly enhanced.
These aggregated factors have laid a solid foundation for the current epidemic prevention and control work, and provided the precondition for further optimizations.
It is worth noting that China's fine-tuning of its COVID policy is proactive rather than passive. While advancing the latest optimization plan, China does not shy away from acknowledging the challenges, and is determined to ramp up vaccination efforts among the elderly and increase the capacity of intensive care units (ICU).
Different countries have different national conditions in terms of medical resources and demographic situations, and differ in sociocultural orientation. As the world stands at a crossroads and humanity is faced with COVID-19 as a common enemy, we need to focus on mutual understanding and cooperation, and must let go of ego and bias. ■