China Tries To Control Coronavirus Research Amidst US-China Row On Virus Origin

According to a central government directive and online notices published by two Chinese universities, China is restricting the publication of academic research on the origins of the novel coronavirus. However, it has already been removed from the web.

Under the new policy, all academic papers on Covid-19 will be subject to added evaluation before being submitted for publication. Studies on the origin of the virus will receive extra scrutiny and must be approved by central government officials.

Is this the latest effort by the Chinese government to control the report on the origins of the coronavirus pandemic?

Chinese researchers have published a series of Covid19 studies in influential international medical journals, since January. This includes findings about early coronavirus cases. This includes when human-to-human transition first appeared which have raised questions over the official government account of the outbreak and sparked controversy on Chinese social media.

But now, Chinese authorities appear to be tightening their grip on the publication of Covid-19 research. A Chinese researcher said that the move was a worrying development that would likely obstruct important scientific research.

Based on the directive issued by the Ministry of Education’s science and technology department, academic papers about tracing the origin of the virus must be strictly and tightly managed.

The directive lays out layers of approval for these papers. Starting with the academic committees at universities. Then they are required to be sent to the Education Ministry’s science and technology department. It will then be forwarded to a task force under the State Council for evaluation. Only after the universities hear back from the task force can the papers be submitted to journals.