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By opening wet markets, Beijing threatens itself and the rest of the world

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Message Janis Makonkalns

Despite the outbreak of COVID-19 still taking place in full force, Chinese authorities have began gradually opening the so-called "wet markets"1, where next to traditional animal produce and seafood one can also purchase exotic animal meat; these markets have often served as ground zero for different animal viruses being transmitted to humans.

At the moment, we are aware of the outbreaks of at least three viruses linked with Chinese wet markets:

1. 2004-2007 epidemic of the bird flu (H5N1);

2. 2002-2003 SARS epidemic;

3. current COVID-19 pandemic.

Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci believes the opening of these wet markets is irresponsibility on the side on Beijing.2 One cannot disagree with this, but despite justified criticism from scientists Beijing has decided to open up wet markets to customers, once again threatening not only the health of its own citizens, but also every person on earth.

While Western countries continue doing everything in their power to stop the virus from spreading, including potentially damaging their economies, China is not willing to do as much as halt the work of a single industry. Therefore, a reasonable question comes to mind--why has the Chinese government, in spite of admitting that these wet markets have been the nests of infection for different viruses3, decided not to shut them down?

One of the arguments coming from Beijing's apologists often has to do with Chinese traditional values, which allegedly largely consist of consuming exotic animals and using them in traditional medicine. Therefore, any issues expressed with these wet markets and their historical significance are being explained by westerners being closed minded or even racist towards the Chinese.

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Latvian freelance journalist and blogger
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