Daily Mail| 16 March 2020| Read original news here
Mario Vargas Llosa, who has won the Nobel Prize in Literature, claimed that the coronavirus would not have spread around the world had China been a free and democratic country, not a dictatorship.
The Peruvian author’s remarks have infuriated Beijing officials, who lodged a formal complaint about his ‘irresponsible attack on China’ as well as ‘ridiculous and evil views’.
So far, the coronavirus pandemic has killed more than 6,600 people and infected over 170,000 around the world.
Mario Vargas Llosa, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2010, has claimed that the Chinese political system was to blame for the spread of the coronavirus across the world. Pictured, Mr Vargas attends ‘Tiempos recios’ colloquium on March 4 in Madrid, Spain
Coronavirus fears have gripped Spain as the number of cases has surpassed 9,400. A woman donning a face mask is pictured standing outside a Mercadona supermarket in Valencia on March 16, the day the chain announced time and capacity restrictions to prevent queues
The death toll in Spain has spiked to 335. Members of the Military Emergency Unit (UME) are pictured work during disinfection works at the International Airport in Malaga on March 16
Mr Vargas, 83, made the comments yesterday in a column titled ‘Return to the Middle Ages?’ on El País, a daily newspaper in Spain.
In the opinion piece, Mr Vargas compared the coronavirus panic that is gripping Spain to humans’ fears of death in history, especially during the plague in medieval times.
He argued that the coronavirus was only able to take hold across the world due to the initial cover-up by Chinese officials.
He wrote: ‘None of these would be happening in the world if [Communist China] had been a free and democratic country, not a dictatorship as it is.’
Mr Vargas argued that more than one prestigious medical workers had sounded the alarm of the virus before the outbreak started, but ‘instead of taking corresponding measures, the government intended to cover up the news and silence that or those sensible voices’.
The writer accused Beijing of trying to stop the news from spreading ‘just like all dictators’.
He likened the coronavirus outbreak to the Chernobyl disaster during the Soviet era, claiming that the slow reaction from China has caused it to lose time in the development of vaccines against the disease.
Over 60,000 people have been infected and 2,407 people have died of the virus in Europe
Mr Vargas condemned the Chinese government of ignoring the warnings of the virus given by ‘more than one prestigious medical workers’. One of such whistle-blowers include late Dr Li Wenliang (above), who was punished for alerting the public before losing his life to the virus
A woman cries while paying tribute to Dr Li in front of Wuhan Central Hospital on February 7
Flowers are put in front of Wuhan Central Hospital by Wuhan mourners on February 7 after the hospital declared Dr Li dead. The card that comes with the flowers carries a message reading ‘the long night is about to arrive. I, from today, will begin to be on watch as long as I am alive’
Mr Vargas also urged developing countries not to follow China’s political model.
He said: ‘It is good that this has happened now and the world has discovered that the truth would always be crippled by the absence of freedom.
‘Will those fools who believe the Chinese example – that is a free market with a political dictatorship – is a good model for the Third World for once understand it (my above point)?
The Chinese Embassy in Peru today lodged stern representations against Mr Vargas’s commentary, accusing him of attacking China ‘irresponsibly’ and making ‘ridiculous and evil’ argument.
In a statement, the diplomatic mission criticised Mr Vargas for linking the virus’s origin with China.
It said: ‘Viruses don’t have borders and are the common enemy of mankind. It is unreasonable [for one] to accuse or criticise a different political system. Nor will it resolve any issues.
‘We hereby reiterate that all countries have the right to choose a development route that is suitable for their own situation.’
So far, the coronavirus pandemic has killed more than 6,600 people and infected over 170,000
The health crisis has caused chaos in Europe as well as the US. Pictured, an international traveller wearing a face mask arrives at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on March 12
Coronavirus fears have gripped the United States with multiple cities going into lockdown. People are pictured walking by LA Live center in downtown Los Angeles on March 15
The letter went on to hail the ‘series of unprecedented and effective’ measures taken by the Communist Party to curb the epidemic.
It praised the Chinese people for their great ‘efforts and sacrifice’ in ‘locking the virus in its epicentre and winning time for other countries’ to fight the outbreak.
It continued: ‘We don’t know if Mr Vargas Llosa has made any contribution to the fight against the epidemic for Europe and Peru, but at the same time, the Chinese side is indeed providing great support and help for all sides to battle the disease.
‘Therefore, in this special and critical juncture, [we] urge Vargas Llosa that, as a public figure, if [you] cannot make contributions, at least do not spread irresponsible, evil comments that are filled with prejudice. ‘
Mr Vargas was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2010 ‘for his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual’s resistance, revolt, and defeat.’
The news comes as China tries to deflect blame for the contagion and reframe itself as a country that took decisive steps to buy the world time by placing huge swathes of its population under quarantine.
It also comes as the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak has shifted from China to Europe, with Italy and Spain among the worst hit.
China’s President Xi is pictured delivering a speech at Wuhan’s Huoshenshan Hospital, a makeshift medical facility built from scratch in 10 days, as he visits the epicentre on March 10
More than 60,000 people have been infected and over 2,400 people have died of the virus in Europe, including some 24,700 cases and 1,800 deaths in Italy and over 9,400 cases and 335 deaths in Spain.
Infections and deaths in the UK have soared to 1,543 and 40.
Meanwhile, global deaths and infections have overtaken those inside China for the first time since the beginning of the outbreak in December.
More than 93,000 people outside China have been infected by the virus, compared to 80,955 in China.
While over 3,400 international fatalities have occurred in comparison to 3,213 deaths reported by Beijing.