China on Wednesday censored the words of the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) and called them irresponsible, after he publicly criticized the zero Covid policy advocated by communist leaders. If the restrictions linked to Covid-19 are lifted all over the world, the Asian country, struggling with an epidemic outbreak, continues to impose confinements and quarantines as soon as a few cases appear.

Coupled with the near-closure of borders and reduced international air connectivity, this policy is causing growing exasperation in China. In particular in Shanghai (East), whose 25 million inhabitants, confined since the beginning of April, complain of supply problems and fear of being sent to quarantine centers with random comfort.

An “unsustainable” policy according to the boss of the WHO

In this context, the director general of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, considered on Tuesday, in remarks unusually critical of China, that the zero Covid policy was “not sustainable”. “Switching to a different strategy is very important,” he stressed.

The zero Covid being firmly defended by the most senior communist leaders, in particular President Xi Jinping, the censors quickly intervened to counter the diffusion of these remarks. On the Weibo microblogging site, the hashtags #Tedros and #OMS no longer yield any results on Wednesday.

As for users of the ultra-popular social network WeChat, they cannot republish or transfer an article from the official UN account, published on the platform and which mentions the WHO boss’s criticisms. Discussing the subject online with one of his contacts or sending screenshots of articles or tweets mentioning these remarks on his WeChat wall remains possible.

“Irresponsible remarks” according to the Chinese government

For its part, the press remains silent. Chinese authorities say their strategy puts human life ahead of material considerations and has averted the health crises that have hit other countries. Asked about the words of the head of the WHO, a spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Zhao Lijian, estimated Wednesday in front of the press that the measures of China were “scientific and effective”.

“We hope that the person in question has an objective and rational view of China’s epidemic prevention and control policy, has a better understanding of reality, and refrains from irresponsible remarks. »

The former editor of the nationalist tabloid GlobalTimes, Hu Xijin, very influential on the Internet, considered the criticism of the WHO inappropriate. “If they say the Chinese method is not sustainable, they should come up with one that is more effective and sustainable. But they don’t give any!, he wrote to his 24 million Weibo followers. The WHO will not take any responsibility if China relaxes (its health policy) and a lot of people die. »

Abandoning zero Covid could lead to 1.6 million deaths in the country, according to a study by researchers from Fudan University in Shanghai, published this Tuesday in the journal Nature.

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