In Ukraine, a thesis is being widely disseminated that China has been hugely successful in overcoming the coronavirus epidemic and is now trying to help others in need. However, local media rarely mention PRC’s accountability for the spread of the disease.
Top Ukrainian officials are among those who provide China a positive image. Public figures have praised China as a success story in the fight against the pandemic, and repeatedly thanked the Chinese for providing humanitarian aid to Ukraine. These messages are actively broadcast by the local press.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has named China among other international partners that help the country to overcome the coronavirus pandemic.
“First of all, we have friends in the People’s Republic of China. I thank them for their fruitful and effective cooperation with Ukraine. All problems are resolved quickly and the main thing is that it is done effectively”, said the Ukrainian head of state on his vlog.
Mr. Zelensky also expressed his support for China’s success in overcoming the epidemic.
Health Minister Maxim Stepanov and Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko mentioned China’s success in the fight against the disease.
Ukrainians have already received several humanitarian aid shipments from China. The Chinese have donated rapid tests, medical masks, protection and disinfection tools.
Each such event was accompanied by positive statements from Ukrainian officials.
Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal wrote on his Facebook page, “I am very grateful to the Chinese side for offering to provide emergency humanitarian aid to Ukraine”.
Deputy Minister of Health of Ukraine Andriy Semivolos also thanked the Chinese. “For us, support from the People’s Republic of China is very important, because due to their experience we are able to quickly use proven treatment instead of inventing the wheel again,” he said.
In addition to ‘wholesale’ assistance, the Chinese also helps in ‘retail’. The Chinese Embassy handed over four thousand medical masks to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine. The initiative was met a favorable response from Deputy Minister Yevhen Yenin.
“It’s nice when a dialogue with key international partners from the outset allows for small but practical results,” he said.
China has also positioned itself as a benefactor in the media. For example, this article entitled “China has nearly halted the coronavirus outbreak and is actively involved in fighting the pandemic in Europe, the Middle East and Asia” states that China has begun to transfer accumulated supplies of medical equipment to countries in which the epidemic is on the rise. The piece lists a number of countries in Europe and Asia which have received humanitarian aid from China. For example, the Chinese have sent tests to Serbia and Cambodia, masks to Italy, Spain, Belgium and Korea, gloves and other medical resources to France. The article also mentions Chinese emergency humanitarian aid to fight the disease in Ukraine.
Most reports in local media are unbalanced: while mentioning China’s positive role in the fight against the epidemic, they fail to mention accountability.
Former head of Ukraine’s Health Ministry Ulyana Suprun has spoken out with sharp criticism about the dissemination of information about the success of the People’s Republic of China.
“Now that the virus is spreading all over the world and its economy is plunged into a prolonged crisis, propaganda will only blossom. After all, disturbing news is the best basis for manipulating people’s emotions. Regimes such as China and Russia will not miss the opportunity to do so for their own purposes. Whatever information you hear, always check the source. Information hygiene is as important as washing your hands”, Suprun wrote.
She believes China is responsible for spreading the coronavirus on such a scale.
“It was the lies and pressure on free speech of the Chinese authorities that caused such a wide spread of COVID-19 and such grave consequences for the whole world”, said the former head of the Ministry of Health.
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