The Chinese government has imposed restrictions on the publication of academic research on the origins of coronavirus.
According to a central government directive, academic papers on the pandemic will be subject to serious scrutiny before being approved for publication.
Some online notices published by two Chinese universities on the coronavirus that were published earlier have been removed from the web site.
In a new policy by the central government, it said “Studies on the origin of the virus will receive extra vetting and must be approved by central government officials,” according to the now-deleted posts.
This appears to be effort by the Chinese government to control the narrative on the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.
Since the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic, over 100,000 people have died and 1.8 million people have been infected.
Early findings about coronavirus cases such as when human-to-human transition first appeared raised questions over the official government account of the outbreak and sparked controversy on Chinese social media.
Currently, the Chinese authorities appear to be tightening their grip on the publication of Covid-19 research.
CNN reported that a Chinese researcher who spoke on condition of anonymity due to fear of retaliation said the move was a worrying development that would likely obstruct important scientific research.
“I think it is a coordinated effort from the Chinese government to control the narrative, and paint it as if the outbreak did not originate in China,” the researcher said.
“And I don’t think they will really tolerate any objective study to investigate the origination of this disease,” he added.
The Chinese Ministry of Education’s science and technology department had issued a directive saying “academic papers about tracing the origin of the virus must be strictly and tightly managed.”
“Other papers on Covid-19 will be vetted by universities’ academic committees, based on conditions such as the “academic value” of the study, and whether the “timing for publishing” is right,” it said.
The directive is an output of a meeting held on March 25 by the State Council’s task force on the prevention and control of the pandemic.
The document was first posted on the website of one of China’s leading universities, Fudan University in Shanghai.
Similarly, the China University of Geoscience in Wuhan also posted a notice about the extra vetting on Covid-19 papers on its website.
The page has since been deleted, but a cached version of it remains accessible.
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