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Monday, May 20, 2024

Coronavirus origin: The politics which will allow more viruses to spread

China’s squalid wet markets, like in Wuhan, are the perfect breeding ground for the spread of such a deadly pandemic and the politics is supporting such markets.

The outbreak of coronavirus is already being viewed globally through partisan lens of right-wing nationalism, making bids to curb the virus difficult. China finds itself taking the flak for being non-transparent on the actual number of cases and the provenance of the disease.

A pandemonium of allegations are making the rounds on how the “sick man” of Asia, as described by the Wall Street Journal, launched a biological weapon against the Western world.

The coronavirus is Christmas for fake news peddlers. Take Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton who gained notoriety with a speculation of his own about how the virus was created in Wuhan’s biosafety level 4 super laboratory, the only one in China to carry out research on human infectious diseases.

Cotton who spoke like a true Republican crusader abandoned all reason by “deducing” that the coronavirus might be an experiment gone wrong or purposeful release of a bio-weapon, hence, China poses a Soviet Union level threat.

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Unfortunately for the Chinese, such diseases have in a way become synonymous with their country. Wind the clock to 2003, SARS emanated in a wet market situated in Southern China spreading to over 27 countries resulting in almost 800 deaths.

The traces of the coronavirus were found in farmed civet cats. So far we know there is some evidence that the virus originated in a bat and transmitted to a pangolin before infecting a human. For the symbiont to jump between species all three have to come in contact with each other and China’s squalid wet markets, like in Wuhan, are the perfect breeding ground for the spread of such a deadly pandemic.

The decision to permit private farming came in the 1970’s when the Communist government unable to feed its 900 million population beset by famine. Therefore, while large corporations controlled production of popular foods like poultry, peasant households in order to eke out a living turned to wild animals.

With government backing, this measure resulted in poverty alleviation; and in 1988, the Wildlife Protection law was amended to term wildlife as state-owned resources providing immunity to those involved in farming and trading of these animals.

This was a spur for small farms, as breeding and domestication of wildlife turned into a multi-million dollar industry, which also became the hub for illegal trading of endangered animals from around the world, funneled into Chinese wet markets for great profits.

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Due to the immense lobbying power of the industry over the Communist government, there have only been temporary bans on the trade of infected and endangered animals over the years.

In other words, it has been encouraged to grow as products generated by the industry are marketed for its sex-enhancement, disease curing qualities making them quite popular with the small Chinese elite.

Muhammad Firas Shams is a gold medalist in BA (Hons.) Journalism from Beaconhouse National University (BNU) & is currently working with the think tank, Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI). The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.