This opinion article is being published by POLITICO as part of a content partnership with the South China Morning Post. It originally appeared onscmp.com on April 4, 2020.
By now, the early history of Covid-19 is well known, if not clear in its details. The virus was first detected somewhere around Wuhan, in Hubei province, then appears to have entered the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, from where it infected many others. Doctors in Wuhan first noticed the novel coronavirus in December and began exchanging urgent warnings. Local government authorities set out to silence them; some were detained and made to sign documents admitting wrongdoing.
Meanwhile, Wuhan officials went about business as usual, which included a disastrous Lunar New Year banquet attended by about 40,000 families. Soon, many more thousands around Wuhan were infected, with hundreds dead or dying, including ophthalmologist Li Wenliang, who had been punished for trying to raise the alarm.
Realizing it was in the firing line not just for running the nation that had unleashed the deadly virus on the world but also for ignoring, covering up