(Clearwisdom.net) The spread of SARS in Beijing has become a focus of attention over the world. Numerous medical staff have caught the disease. On Saturday, April 26, the international information center of the Queens public library held a special seminar on SARS. Dr. Xu Jianchao, associate researcher from the Medical School of Yale University, political analyst Mr. Hu Ping, and Shi Shan, a reporter from Free Radio Asia were invited to discuss SARS issue from the perspective of medicine and sociology.

Queens public library holds SARS seminar. Dr. Xu Jianchao, associate researcher from Medical School of Yale University Political analyst Mr. Hu Ping

Talking about SARS from the Angle of Medical Science

Beijing Medical workers treating patients with SARS

Dr. Xu Jianchao gave a detailed introduction on SARS from perspectives of its cause, ways of spreading, diagnosis, treatment and prevention. He pointed out that SARS spread from Guangdong last November. Medical scientists found it was caused by a type of corona virus with an incubation period of 2 to 7 days. It is currently known that the transmission of this virus occurs through close contact with symptomatic individuals or direct contact with infectious material including dispersal of large respiratory droplets. It is commonly held in the medical circle that unknown modes of infection still exist.

The Party Has Inescapable Responsibility for the Spread of SARS

Shi Shan addressed that when he tried to gather information, he found out that the Chinese government concealed information about the epidemic. He considered that the Chinese government had an inescapable responsibility for the spread of SARS.

Shi Shan pointed out, according to media reports, on November 16 last year, the first SARS patient sought medical treatment in hospital in Heyuan, Guangdong Province. In the middle ten days of December, seven medical workers were infected and it was reported to the Guangdong Provincial authorities. However, on January 3rd of this year, the local newspaper reported that there was no infection in Heyuan but only colds caused by the weather change. In the middle of January, many medical workers from the attached hospital of Zhongshan Medical Institute were infected. People became aware of the spread of the epidemic through emails and mobile phones. People started buying large quantities of medicine deemed to have preventative effects.

In mid-February, Guangdong Provincial Department of Health confirmed the existence of SARS. Overseas media started following the trails and reporting the situation. However, the Guangdong media suddenly stopped reporting on SARS. That was during the occasion of Chinese New Year. Many workers in Guangdong returned home to celebrate the New Year and the virus was taken to different places in the country. Experts from Guangdong Provincial Virus Research Institute told media that the SARS epidemic was not under control but they were ordered to stop talking about the issue.

In March, World Health Organization requested Beijing to investigate the SARS epidemic. Beijing refused. The WHO declared that Guangdong was an epidemic region. Beijing approved WHO's investigation on the surface, but adopted means of transferring patients to continue covering up the situation. Although now Beijing announced that SARS was an epidemic, and demanded truthful case reporting, the ones who report are the governments rather than the public. Furthermore, this news was not widely reported to the public but only conveyed as an inner document inside the party.

Shi Shan thought that when SARS emerged, what the Chinese government considered was not how to control the spread of the illness, instead, they were concerned about the political stability and the economic growth rather than people's lives.

Importance of Press Freedom from Perspective of SARS

Renowned political analyst, Mr. Hu Ping pointed out that recently the Chinese government changed its strategy and started publicizing the information of the epidemic. But this alteration was not from the change of itself but was due to outside pressure. If no foreigners or people from Hong Kong had been infected, if there had no pressure from other countries' media and from WHO, and if all patients were Chinese, it is hard to imagine what would have happened.

Although the Chinese government changed its attitude, the data they published were still not credible, because that is the only voice that can be heard. Recently, the Chinese government tries to seize those who spread "lies" on Internet. But those formerly considered as lies were verified as truth later on. Health Minister, Zhang Wenkang was the true liar.

Hu Ping considered that only an open society was able to be immune from lies. From the September 11 incident, we can see that when an open society encounters a crisis, people support the government and carry a natural ability to resist lies. People cooperate, act rationally, and show their hearts. Volunteers got together and coordinated many relief activities to help without government involvement.

People might ask why no one blamed the United States for the spread of AIDS, but everyone blamed China for the spread of SARS because the Chinese government hid the information and there is no press freedom in China. China's international image was also greatly damaged because of its covering up the information of the SARS epidemic. Its credibility suffered a disastrous decline.

Hu Ping quoted an economist's words, "Humans will not die of hunger except where humans force other humans to die of hunger." That economist found out in his research that great disastrous famines occurred in places where there was no freedom of the press. Hu Ping said in the end, "Perhaps people are unable to conquer the natural disaster, but we should be able to control manmade calamities."

The Government Is Suspected of Falsifying Official Death Certificates

Caption: This person's brother-in-law died in the Attached Hospital of Zhongshan Medical Institute in Guangdong Province. The death certificate issued by the hospital wrote, "dead of cerebral haemorrhage". However, at that time the hospital used "infection" as the reason to prohibit family members from visiting the decedent. This person suspected that his brother-in-law died of SARS, but the real cause was deliberately covered up by the Chinese government.

Several staff members from the Chinese Consulate in New York attended the seminar.

Recently, an article circulated on the Internet claiming that the SARS virus came from a biochemical virus from America and Russia. Biochemical and medical experts laughed at this, saying most people do not know much about the high technology and some people took this saying as having some scientific basis. Since many people in China have caught the disease, Chinese people have started blaming America and Russia.

An American specialist on China issues, Mr. Shi Cangshan said, "Whenever the Chinese Communist Party encounters some difficulties, it will fabricate lies to divert people's attention and shift the responsibility to some other place and instigate hatred. During the Iraq war, the Chinese government used the state-run media to instigate Chinese people into misunderstanding America and to hate America. This time, the spread of SARS nearly made the Party and the people perish. They are scheming how to shift the responsibility and put the blame on America or other countries so as to escape their own responsibilities." Shi Cangshan said, "China's media is 100 percent controlled by the Party. Eighty percent of overseas Chinese media are either supported by the Party or have the Party as a shareholder, including direct investment, indirectly buying shares or using 'red merchants' to buy shares. At present, some famous media in Taiwan also have Party investment. It is really easy for the Party to spread lies."