Some people won't know the name Li Wenliang. Nor will they have a chance to thank him. He died in China on February 7th of the plague he warned was coming. The Wuhan ophthalmologist was just 34 when his heart stopped, a husband and father -- with another baby on the way. "He wasn't an idealistic whistleblower. He was not a dissident. He wasn't even political," one reporter mourned. "He was simply a doctor doing his job." And for that, China silenced him. Permanently.
Dr. Wenliang was treating patients when Chinese officials arrested him. Furious that he'd sounded the alarm over the mysterious virus exploding through the region, they made him sign a statement to keep quiet. "We solemnly warn you: If you keep being stubborn, with such impertinence, and continue this illegal activity, you will be brought to justice -- is that understood?" It was the beginning of a massive, regime-wide cover-up that's claimed 19,000 lives and sent the global economy spiraling out of control.
Now, with the world in utter chaos and people dying faster than countries can bury them, the fury over China's deadly conspiracy is white hot. Leaders like Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), who are watching with horror as the infections ravage America, are determined to hold the Chinese Communist Party responsible. "Since day one, [they] intentionally lied to the world about the origin of this pandemic." He talked about the orders for laboratories to destroy samples and the persecution of doctors like Li. "It is time for an international investigation," Hawley insisted. "...The Chinese Communist Party must be held to account for what the world is now suffering."
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, whose agency is getting frantic calls from Americans trying to get home, understands better than anyone the human toll of China's actions. "Every day, every week matters in terms of how this information is transmitted around the world. That is, when you share this information, the best scientists around the world can begin to work on it. You can start all the processes, not only vaccines and things that mitigate, but you can begin to put in place the things that will cause the spread to be decreased. And it's multiplicative -- so every day that the Chinese Communist Party sat on this information and didn't do the right thing... [they] increased the number of people who would be exposed, and thereby put all of us all around the world -- the Chinese people as well -- at unnecessary risk."
Even now, he said on "Washington Watch" Tuesday, the disinformation campaign continues -- not just in China but in Russia and Iran as well. "They're talking about it coming from the U.S. Army, and they're saying maybe it began in Italy -- all things to deflect responsibility." And yes, countries have more urgent problems on their hands right now, but "the world needs to understand what's really going on," the secretary insisted, "because it's still important."
If nothing is done, this culture of lies will continue to cost the world innocent human lives. "It's still important to have transparency even today. This is an ongoing global crisis, and we need to make sure that every country today is being transparent sharing what's really going on, so that the global community, the global health care, infectious disease community can begin to work on this in a holistic way. My concern," Mike said frankly, "is that this cover-up, this disinformation that the Chinese Communist Party is engaged in, is still denying the world the information it needs so that we can prevent further cases or something like this from recurring again."
In Iran, where the government ignored the virus to keep turnout high for the February elections, the casualties have been astronomical. Now, of course, they're lying to their people and trying to turn them against America because they know their grip on their regime is very tentative. If they can shift their focus away from themselves, the Iranians can hide what they knew and when they knew it. But, as Secretary Pompeo points out, "the people most harmed by the absence of transparency and good governance are the people of their own country." And as much as Iran and China try to deceive them, the people know it.
So maybe, the secretary said, one of the best outcomes we can hope for in this catastrophe is that they see a country like America treating people with dignity and respect. "Those are the things that fundamentally separate us from regimes like... Iran and the Chinese Communist Party. And it's why, when we move our way through this... as I know we will, the people all around the world will see that is our system -- a republic where we have freedom and liberty and we know that our rights come from our Creator -- these are the systems that will ultimately prove to be most effective at delivering good outcomes for every human being."