According to a governmental directive, as well as online publications published by two Chinese universities, China executed restrictions on the release of any type of academic research on the roots of the COVID-19. The publications shared by these two universities, however, removed from the web. Under the latest policy from the Chinese government, all academic researches on novel coronavirus will be subject to extra examination before its submission for publication.
‘Beijing tightens grip over coronavirus research..’
The origins of coronavirus are a grave matter of global concern: I trust that attempts by China to impose academic censorship on new knowledge will be robustly dealt with by @WHO. https://t.co/bqCeuttvhM pic.twitter.com/rGcfeh9sqD
— Adrian Hilton (@Adrian_Hilton) April 13, 2020
According to the now-removed posts, researches on the origin of the coronavirus will receive additional scrutiny and must need the approval from the central government officials of China. A medical official in Hong Kong who works together with the researchers of the mainland to publish a clinical analysis of coronavirus cases in a global medical paper said his research didn’t experience such vetting in February.
How Coronavirus affected the whole world
The enhanced scrutiny seems to be the recent effort by the government of China to regulate the narrative on the COVID-19 pandemic’s origin. The outbreak claimed over one lac lives and infected over 1.8 million people across the world since it initially broke out in Wuhan, the Chinese city in December. Since late January, the researchers in China published a series of novel coronavirus research in significant international medical journals.
Some studies about initial COVID-19 cases, for example, when human-to-human transition first observed – raised concerns about the official Chinese government account of the epidemic and raised controversy on social media in China. At present, the officials of China seem to be tightening their hold on the publication regarding the origin of coronavirus. A researcher of China on a condition to keep his name confidential says that the government step was a disturbing development that would probably hinder crucial scientific research.
The researcher further adds that it is an effort with the coordination effort from the government of China to control the narrative and present it as if the epidemic didn’t originate in China. According to him, he does not think they will bear any objective research to find out the origin of the outbreak.
Increased Scrutiny on the research publication
According to the Ministry of Education’s science & technology department’s announcement, academic publications about finding the origin of the epidemic must be tightly and firmly managed. The order consists of layers of approval from different departments to publish these papers, starting with the academic committees at universities. Afterward, they need to send those papers to the science & technology department of the Education Ministry, which then further forward the papers to a task force under the State Council for examination.
Just after the universities wait for the response from the task force, which will submit the papers to journals after approval, other papers on Coronavirus will vetted by academic committees of the universities, based on circumstances such as the academic worth of the research, and check the precise timing for publishing. The order based on directions issued during the meeting on 25th March under the task force of the State Council on the control and prevention of the coronavirus. Initially, the paper posted on Friday morning on the official website of Fudan University, one of the leading universities in China.