Condoleezza Rice says the U.S. must unequivocally reject China’s attempt to “shift the narrative” on the coronavirus pandemic away from its botched response and silencing of physicians.
The former Secretary of State told Hoover Institution Fellow Tom Gilligan on Thursday that China is banking on U.S. officials accepting a “counter-narrative” that omits embarrassing truths.
“You were the National Security Advisor during the SARS outbreak. What are the important similarities and differences between then and now?” Mr. Gilligan asked, Real Clear Politics reported.
“One of the unfortunate similarities is it is hard to get information out of China,” Ms. Rice replied. “With the SARS outbreak, we knew something had happened. it was very hard to get answers from China about what had happened, and that is, unfortunately, a recurring pattern this time around. It is probably the most troubling aspect of this crisis.”
Ms. Rice then said that on some level the Chinese response to the contagion, which originated in Wuhan, should not come as a surprise.
“It is kind of in the nature of the Chinese system — an authoritarian system where control of information is power, control of the narrative is power, so we shouldn’t be surprised that when this outbreak happened in Wuhan, they silenced the young physicians and medical students who were trying to sound the alarm. … But, the Chinese did what authoritarians do, they silenced those who were trying to sound the alarm, and they wanted time to create the narrative that would be blessed by the Communist Party of China, which means it probably had to go to Beijing before you could say anything.”
Data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University puts the number of U.S. citizens infected with the virus 662,045; 28,998 individuals have died as of Friday.
“The Chinese and trying to create a counter-narrative. ‘Well, when we found out about it, we got on top of it. Look at how quickly trough social distancing and quarantine, how quickly we recovered. And by the way, we’ve been helping the rest of the world by sending PPE and help and aid to all of the world,’” Ms. Rice continued. “They’re going to try to shift the narrative from their initial responsibility for not fessing up to what was happening, to we got on top of it and this is how we helped the world. That’s how they’re going to shift the narrative. Don’t let it happen.”
The former diplomat said it was imperative for the Trump administration to be firm in public and private with China about its role in exacerbating the pandemic.
“I would certainly try the persuasion route first because I think if you keep the focus on how this started, and China’s role in that, they will be embarrassed by that,” she said. “If you let them shift the narrative to all they’ve done sending out PPE, you’re probably not going to make progress.”
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