SARS as a learning experience for China

At his National Day address yesterday, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao cited SARS as a great learning experience and demonstration of how the government and its citizens can rise up to overcome obstacles:

Addressing more than 1,000 government officials and foreign diplomatic envoys at the Great Hall of the People, Wen heralded the national spirit and unity reflected in the war against SARS, which could be the foundation to achieve modernization of China….

China was caught by surprise by the onslaught of SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), Wen said. The Chinese Communist Party Central Committee and the State Council took a series of resolute measures, mobilizing and organizing the people throughout the country to wage a bitter campaign against the epidemic and thus far winning a significant victory.

I hope he doesn’t mind if I have a somewhat different picture of what SARS demonstrated about the CCP.

If the government hadn’t lied about SARS in the first place the crisis would never have reached the magnitude it did in March. Before “mobilizing and organizing the people” to fight SARS, they had mobilized the medical community and forced them to hide dying SARS patients in ambulances to keep the WHO unaware of them. So I look at grandiose speeches like this as Abu Sayaaf-style mumbo-jumbo.

A reminder: I love China. It’s just its government I can’t stand. I am dying to get back there, if only for a visit. There are people and places I miss so much, if I had the cash I would be off to Beijing and Shanghai every weekend. It’s dizzying to imagine how far such a great people could go with a truly legitimate government. Hypocrisies like the above SARS speech remind me just how slimy and self-serving the CCP scoundrels are.

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