As we look towards a post-coronavirus world, we must seek accountability for the human toll and economic devastation that this virus has wrought, write Errol Patrick Mendes, Marcus Kolga and Sarah Teich. Below is an excerpt from the article, which can be read in full here.
By Errol Patrick Mendes, Marcus Kolga and Sarah Teich, May 4, 2020
Given that China’s negligence enabled the spread of COVID-19, there are growing international calls to hold them to account, and Canada, which has a number of options available to it, needs to join the chorus.
The Chinese government was responsible for collecting data about its spread and promptly informing the World Health Organization (WHO), governments and scientists around the world. Instead, China suppressed, falsified and obfuscated data and repressed advanced warnings about the contagion as early as December, well before the start of the global pandemic. The Chinese government also joined Moscow in exploiting confusion around the pandemic by engaging in information warfare through blatant disinformation on the origins of the virus, suggesting it was developed as a tool for U.S. biological warfare.
In recent weeks, Beijing’s focus has shifted towards promoting “humanitarian engagement.” Chinese ‘‘aid’’ have included COVID-19 test kits and personal protective equipment (PPE), turning out to be faulty in many cases. Several European countries have even banned their import. Last week, the Canadian government announced that one million face masks recently purchased from China failed to meet standards and would be returned.
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Errol Patrick Mendes is a professor of constitutional and international law at the University of Ottawa and a recipient of the Order of Ontario. Marcus Kolga is an international human rights activist expert on foreign disinformation and influence operations and a Senior Fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute. Sarah Teich is a Canadian lawyer focused on human rights and security issues, and an expert on counter-terrorism.