CCTV has launched a high profile propaganda campaign claiming that Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, has been contained. As word gets out that the number of infected patients continues creeping up overseas, some parents of Chinese overseas students have made anxious calls to their children in the United States, inquiring about the development of SARS in the US, and even prompting their children to return to China to stay away from SARS.
CCTV reporters have also interviewed tourists in Beijing and some other tourist-oriented cities. When interviewing them, the CCTV reporters carefully avoided touching on the subject of SARS. Later these interviews were broadcast in conjunction with special reports on how SARS has been "controlled" in order to mislead the Chinese populace and to convince them that foreigners do not perceive a problem in coming to China for sight-seeing. Currently overseas reports on the development of SARS in China have been completely blocked.
It has been reported from Beijing that Jiang and his cohorts have dispatched a "special envoy" to CCTV to supervise the coverage of the Iraqi war and of SARS. Jiang has personally commended CCTV's coverage on Iraq war. The development of SARS has been classified as "top secret". Briefings are exclusively controlled by a propaganda team reporting to Jiang. It has been learned that top Chinese leaders have become divided over the policy regarding the reports of SARS.
The situation of the SARS outbreak remains serious in Hong Kong, Singapore, and some other areas. The Chinese authorities have time and again made claims that this severe infectious disease has been effectively contained in China. In Beijing, a doctor named Jiang Yanyong from the No. 301 General Hospital of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) has sent letters to news media condemning the cover-up by Chinese public health departments.
BBC has quoted Dr. Jiang Yanyong as saying that in the No. 301 Hospital of the PLA alone, 60 SARS patients had been admitted for treatment by April 3, seven of whom had died. Based on the figures provided by Zhang Wenkang, Minister of China's Public Health Ministry, there were only 19 SARS cases, including four deaths, in Beijing. Dr. Jiang told journalists that he and other doctors and nurses became very angry upon hearing the figures released by Zhang Wenkang.
Dr. Jiang further pointed out that as early as the beginning of March when the People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultation Conference were assembled in Beijing, top officials of the public health ministry called in leaders of major hospitals for a meeting, announcing that SARS cases were already present in Beijing. As a rule, hospitals were asked to remain silent to help promote stability during the two conferences. Responding to these criticisms, a spokesman from the Public Health Ministry argued that military hospitals are not under the jurisdiction of Zhang Wenkang [so the death cases were none of Zhang's business.]
Doctors in Beijing have revealed that their respective hospitals are fully occupied by patients suspected to be infected with SARS. According to these estimates, it is absolutely impossible that there are only 19 SARS patients in Beijing.
Time magazine, the Associated Press, and Voice of America have also reported that the World Health Organization has again recommended to the Chinese government to provide a comprehensive and public report on the number of SARS patients and related deaths.
The Chinese government has been under criticism for its slow and non-transparent reaction to the spreading of SARS. China had the first SARS case in its Guangdong Province as early as last November, but it did not release any information to the outside world until this February, directly contributing to the wider spread of the infection in Hong Kong and other regions of the world. Some Chinese intellectuals and overseas specialists on China have commented that in the 13 years of Jiang's rule, the Chinese government has resorted to deception and cover-up on numerous important issues. Examples include the June 4th crackdown in 1989, the poison incident in Nanjing City, the suppression of Falun Gong, the collision of Chinese and US planes, etc, including the recent war coverage in Iraq. As SARS has spread across the globe and impacted people's lives everywhere, the habitual deception employed by the Jiang regime has been completely exposed.