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COVID-19 May Have Been Around for Years, Says Oxford Scientist

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The COVID-19 virus may have been circulating for years and so trying to identify its geographic origins could be a waste of time, according to a leading scientist.

Tom Jefferson, an honorary senior research fellow at the Oxford, England-based Centre for Evidence Based Medicine, told CGTN it was important to depoliticize the discussion and focus on how the virus behaves and spreads.

“People have tried to pinpoint: ‘It comes from Russia; it comes from China; it comes from there; comes from there.’ Maybe it comes from nowhere,” he told CGTN’s Emma Keeling. “I am not sure that pointing to the exact geographic location is very helpful, unless we have a clear idea of some particular animal/mankind interaction, which happened in a particular situation and could shed light on this situation.”

So far, no one with expertise has come forward with evidence to explain the exact origin of COVID-19.

 

Maybe it comes from nowhere
 –  Tom Jefferson on the origin of COVID-19

 

The World Health Organization (WHO) has shared a similar message to Jefferson, also pointing out the unhelpfulness of using geographic locations to try to work out the origin of COVID-19.

The WHO’s comments came after U.S. President Donald Trump used the expression “Chinese virus” on several occasions when referring to the coronavirus.

When Trump faced accusations of racism, he replied by saying: “It’s not racist at all. No it’s not at all. It’s from China. That’s why. It comes from China. I want to be accurate.”

 

U.S. President Donald Trump has previously used the expression ‘Chinese virus’ when referring to COVID-19. /AP

 

Recent testing of sewage in Barcelona has suggested the virus may have been present in the Spanish city in March last year, many months before China identified the pathogen in the city of Wuhan in December 2019.

Jefferson said that, while the Barcelona results still require confirmation, other research in France and Italy also suggests the disease may have been circulating much earlier than previously believed.

The Oxford researcher has called for further studying of all microorganisms in order to understand how they evolve, how they live and how they transmit.

If these things are known “we can intervene,” he said.

Many viruses, he noted, are known to lie dormant in the environment for long periods before suddenly becoming capable of causing dangerous outbreaks.

“If the Barcelona results are confirmed, it would certainly suggest that kind of thing,” he said.

“The question is, what wakes them up and what makes them aggressive?” Climatic conditions such as wind, humidity and levels of ultraviolet radiation are factors that scientists have considered may activate deadly viruses, but more research is required to understand them better, he added.

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CMG Holds Cooperation Forum with African Media Partners

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China Media Group (CMG) has set up a new collaboration platform with Africa. The “Our African Partners: CMG Media Cooperation Forum 2021” brings together under one umbrella CMG and African media.

The event culminated with the issuance by 36 partners of a joint declaration outlining the principles and aspirations of the forum, which include acting as responsible public information disseminators, strengthening and deepening cooperation, and amplifying Chinese and African voices on the global stage.

In his opening address, Huang Kunming, head of the Publicity Department of the CPC Central Committee, urged Chinese and African media to remain objective and impartial, and stand for justice. Both sides in the partnership will continue to treat each other sincerely and enhance people-to-people connection, he assured. Huang emphasized expanding digital benefits through innovation under the partnership.

Commenting on China-Africa media cooperation amid unprecedented changes in the world, Gregoire Ndjaka, CEO of African Union of Broadcasting, said “it testifies the common desire to appreciate the efforts made in this vast project” and presents the opportunity to start over on a more solid basis.

Media representatives, policy makers, media and communication scholars from China and more than 40 African countries attended the event which was held both online and offline in Nairobi. CMG president Shen Haixiong and several other chief executives of African state broadcasters were present.

“From the ancient Maritime Silk Road to the Belt and Road Initiative today, China and Africa have been going in the same direction,” Mr. Shen observed in his remarks.

On his part, Iqbal Survé, the Chairman of South Africa’s Independent Media, said China’s experience in digital media can help African media bring about better news flow and benefit African people.

“China, we know, is a world leader in the space of online media and online technology. China has played a very important role in showing how technological advancement can work to the benefit of its people,” Survé said, adding: “We in Africa are hungry to emulate that particular example of China and to see how we can use technology in order to bring about better news flow and meet the aspirations of the African people.”

Dr Naim Bilal, the Managing Director of Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, said his organization was looking forward to more cooperation with CMG in technology, content sharing and training.

Mallam Yakubu Ibn Mohammed, the Director General of Nigerian Television Authority proposed the setting up of a central video server maintained and funded in partnership for better information and content sharing.

“Chinese and African media should seize the opportunities of a time of change and tap into potential for cooperation in areas including exchange of content, exchange of staff, and co-production,” Dr Ayub Rioba, the Director General of Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation, said.

In their speeches, Senegalese Minister of Culture and Communication, Abdoulaye Diop; Ambassador Erastus Mwencha, the former Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission and Amin Alhassan, the Director General of Ghana Broadcasting Corporation
were optimistic the forum will deepen collaboration between CMG and African media on the one hand and, relations between China and Africa on the other.

“One lesson that we witnessed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic is the lack of policy coordination, production and distribution of vaccines and vaccine nationalism. I salute the media for highlighting this serious lacuna. This should be extended to all other areas of human endeavor and must be based on facts and figures,” Mwencha observed.

In the panel discussion, Prof. Peter Kagwanja, the President and Chief Executive of Africa Policy Institute; Dr. David Monyae, the Director of Center for Africa-China Studies at the University of Johannesburg; Dr. Ayub Rioba, the Managing Director of Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation; as well as media experts from China tackled the challenges of imbalance in global information flow, climate change, and a rigged global trading system.

The forum also showcased cooperation projects between CMG and its African media partners, including an agreement on broadcasting Chinese films and TV shows with select African state broadcasters; an agreement between CMG’s Hausa Service and Nigerian media companies setting up a common platform for Hausa-speaking media; and CMG French Service’s media event “Sino-African Kungfu Show”.

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Xi Says CPC is the ‘Strong Force’ to Lead Chinese People Forward

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The past 110 years have proven that the Communist Party of China (CPC) is the “strong force” to lead the Chinese people to realize national rejuvenation, President Xi Jinping said at a meeting in Beijing on Saturday marking the 110th anniversary of the 1911 Revolution.

“The Party was chosen to lead by history and by the people… Without the Communist Party there would be no new China and no national rejuvenation,” said Xi, also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission.

The 1911 Revolution, or Xinhai Revolution, overthrew the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and put an end to the absolute monarchy in China.

The history of the Xinhai Revolution began with the Wuchang Uprising, an armed rebellion against the Qing Dynasty rulers that broke out on October 10, 1911 in what is today’s Wuchang District, Wuhan City, in central China’s Hubei Province.

The Revolution marked a historic step, leading to the establishment of the Republic of China (1912-1949) and ensuing social changes in the country.

The People’s Republic of China was then founded in 1949.

On Saturday, Xi said that “socialism with Chinese characteristics has proven to be the only correct path” to realize national rejuvenation.

“On the journey ahead, we must uphold and develop socialism with Chinese characteristics, keep adapting Marxism to the Chinese context and the needs of our times, remain firmly committed to our aspiration and our path, and make sure the future of China’s development remains firmly in our own hands,” he said.

Xi added that “the Chinese people must rely on our own heroic efforts” to achieve national rejuvenation. “Never has history taken a peaceful or tranquil course; it has always advanced amid setbacks and difficulties.”

He quoted late Chinese leader Mao Zedong, who said: “Our forefathers never stopped waging unyielding struggles against domestic and foreign oppressors… By our own indomitable efforts, we the Chinese people will unswervingly reach our goal.”

Xi called on China to “seize the opportunities that the era has offered” in a world that is “undergoing momentous changes of a kind not seen in a century.”

“Through courage and skill, we will overcome all major risks and challenges that may impede our path to national rejuvenation and resolutely safeguard our national sovereignty, security and development interests.”

Xi urged that “the Chinese people and the nation must stick together through good times and bad and rely on our strong unity to overcome all risks and challenges on the road ahead.”

He noted that a united people with a great spirit of patriotism has always been “an important instrument that has allowed the CPC to rally the people’s support and pool their strength” for all endeavors.

He also pointed out that both “a stable and united domestic environment” and “a peaceful and stable international environment” are required to achieve national rejuvenation. “Our people hope to successfully realize national development, but they also hope to see all peoples of the world leading happy and peaceful lives,” he said.

“On the journey ahead, China will always fly the flag of peace, development, cooperation and mutual benefit, strive to promote the building of a human community with a shared future, and endeavor to improve the global governance system,” Xi said.

In his speech, Xi also reiterated that the Taiwan question will be resolved as national rejuvenation becomes a reality. “This is determined by the general trend of Chinese history, but more importantly, it is the common will of all Chinese people.”

“National reunification by peaceful means best serves the interests of the Chinese nation as a whole, including our compatriots in Taiwan,” he said.

Xi called on compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Straits to “stand on the right side of history and join hands to achieve China’s complete reunification and the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.”

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CMG: Continue to Support Taiwan Entertainers to Perform on the Chinese Mainland

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The gala celebrating the National Day of China broadcast by China Media Group (CMG) has received a warm response at home and abroad. Many entertainers from Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan regions performed on stage with their mainland counterparts, presenting a high quality gala.

In response to the recent threats against actors and actresses by some media in Taiwan, the spokesperson for the Culture and Art Program Center of the China Media Group has replied as follows:

“At every major festival of China, the China Media Group will produce special programs and invite entertainer from Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan to join with those in the mainland to participate in the performances and share the glory of the festival.

Taiwan entertainers participating in the variety shows and other activities are well received by the audience.

In disregard of the facts, some media have frequently threatened, intimidated, and slandered Taiwan entertainers who have contacts with the mainland. We are firmly opposed to this. We reiterate that we welcome entertainers from Taiwan to participate in our programs.”

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