The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) is being censored on China’s internet after questioning the sustainability of the country’s zero-Covid policy.
China’s two biggest social media platforms, Weibo and WeChat censored WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’ comments because it doesn’t align with Beijing’s ‘policies’.
“When we talk about the zero-Covid strategy, we don’t think that it is sustainable, considering the behavior of the virus now and what we anticipate in the future,” Tedros told a media briefing Tuesday.
“We have discussed this issue with Chinese experts and we indicated that the approach will not be sustainable…I think a shift will be very important,” he said.
The criticism from Tedros, came just days after Chinese leader Xi Jinping vowed to double down on the policy of ‘zero covid’ in China and “resolutely struggle” against all critics.
The United Nation’s official press account on China’s Twitter-like Weibo posted Tedro’s comments early on Wednesday morning, attracting criticism from users.
“Resolutely fight against any words and acts that distort, doubt or deny our country’s epidemic prevention and control policies! Down with the World Health Organization!” a reply said.
“Should the UN’s verified account be blocked this time?” another said.
By mid-morning, the post was no longer viewable on Weibo “due to the author’s privacy setting.”
Also Reuters reports that a Weibo hashtag of Tedros’ name has also been censored, with images featuring his face being scrubbed from the platform.
On WeChat, an article from the UN’s official account that included Tedros’ comments has also been “banned from sharing due to a violation of relevant laws and regulations” as of Wednesday morning, May 11.
Beijing also called Tedros’ statements “irresponsible.”
“We hope relevant people can view China’s epidemic prevention and control policy in an objective and rational way, learn more about the facts and refrain from making irresponsible remarks,” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian said at a news briefing Wednesday.
China is still suffering from the fast spread of Omicron and Shanghai, the country’s most populous and cosmopolitan city, has been on lockdown for six weeks while Beijing has shut schools, restaurants and rolled out frequent mass testing to curb its outbreak.