‘China’s Fauci’ faces plagiarism probe for urging softer Covid-19 Policy

Dr Zhang Wenhong. (Photo courtesy: AFP)

(TibetanReview.net, Aug16’21) – A top doctor in China’s fight against the coronavirus is under investigation for plagiarism for his 20-year-old doctoral thesis, weeks after he made a social media post questioning the country’s zero-tolerance strategy to control the Covid-19 pandemic, reported the AFP Aug 16.

The Coronavirus was virtually extinguished in China through hard lockdowns, closed borders and massive test and trace campaigns after it first emerged in the central city of Wuhan in late 2019. The country has been basking in the success of its effort while the pandemic continues to seriously impair the health systems and economies across the world.

But the Delta variant has breached China’s defences, with record local infections in dozens of cites – albeit still in low numbers – prodding authorities to reintroduce travel restrictions, mass testing and hyperlocal lockdowns.

Given this new situation. Zhang Wenhong – a leading doctor described by state media as “China’s Fauci”, after the top US infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci – said countries have to find a way “to learn to live with it”.

“The way China will choose in future will… help establish communication with the world and a return to normal life, while protecting citizens from fear of viruses,” Zhang was quoted as having written on China’s Twitter-like Weibo on Jul 29.

But his suggestion of a softened approach to China’s zero-case approach to virus control enraged nationalists who stalk China’s social media. As a result, Zhang found himself accused of “pandering to foreign ideas,” while an apparent witch hunt targeted his academic credentials.

Posts on Weibo accused Zhang of plagiarising his doctoral thesis published two decades ago, the report said.

And on Aug 15, Fudan University in Shanghai said it was “aware of the online criticism and had launched an investigation into the degree it awarded Zhang in 2000.”

Earlier, a teacher in east China’s Jianxi province was detained by police for 15 days after commenting last week on a news article saying the country could “coexist with the coronavirus”, the report said, citing a local government notice.

The report said academics and scientists had rallied around Zhang, in a country where all non-state sanctioned information linked to the pandemic is highly sensitive and had led to arrests and smear campaigns on social media.

“Who will dare to speak out and act according to their professional judgment in the future?” Yan Feng, from Fudan’s Chinese literature department, was quoted as saying on Weibo, referring to Zhang’s treatment.


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