Culture

WATCH: Chinese Government Encourages Italians to Fight Coronavirus Racism by Hugging Strangers

(YouTube screenshot)

As the entire globe judders to a halt in an attempt to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus, a lot of people are wondering how it swept the planet so fast. The following video, produced by the China Global Television Network — an arm of the Chinese Communist Party — might provide a clue.

Titled “Italian residents hug Chinese people to encourage them in coronavirus fight,” the brief video shows a handsome, casually dressed young Chinese man standing in a busy pedestrian area in Florence. He’s blindfolded and wearing a surgical mask, next to a handwritten sign reading the following in Italian and Chinese: “I am not a virus. I am a human being. Free me from prejudice.” Then, as stirring electronic music swells, passersby hug him and touch his face to remove his blindfold and mask.

So much for “social distancing.”

This was released on February 4, 2020. Six weeks later, Italy now has more active coronavirus cases than anywhere else in the world, and the entire country has completely shut down.

Again, this video was released by the Chinese government. Someone who’s far more paranoid and conspiratorially minded than I am might wonder why the ChiComs stifled information about a viral outbreak within their own borders, silencing doctors and others who tried to warn the outside world, while at the same time releasing treacly, upbeat propaganda videos encouraging Europeans to come into direct physical contact with random Chinese people or else they’re racists.

Why, I’m a racist just for pondering the possibility that this is not a coincidence. What sort of evil, oppressive regime would release a deadly plague on the world and then exploit Western sensibilities in order to spread it more quickly? I’m sure the ChiComs were just worried about their citizens going abroad and getting dirty looks from the locals.

Hugs are good. The Chinese are our friends. Calling this the “Wuhan virus” is racist and xenophobic and nationalistic, even though we all know it’s a virus that originated in Wuhan, China. (And even though the press called it “Wuhan virus” right up until the minute somebody told them to stop.) This whole thing is the result of an unfortunate accident, but that’s all it is. An accident.

Right?