'NuXious' fumes rise in China-west slugfest on Omicron




As the world grapples with Omicron and maverick UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson comically serenades the new strain of the virus as "OH-my-kraan," China has been pushing back by going to town with its zero-Covid policy and vaunted measures to rein in the pathogen.

Chinese state media has been balking at western reports pointing a finger at the East Asian nation warming up to the 2022 Winter Olympics amid citizens taking to winter sports refusing to be cowered by the intensifying freeze.

Tabloid Global Times hit out at American network CNN and other outlets, saying, "They only see China's "calm," but they seem to forget how it has firmly adhered to the path of "dynamic zero-case" policy, implementing strict measures for overseas arrivals, and effectively carried out rounds after rounds of nucleic acid tests."

An opinion piece in the daily -- published in English and Chinese -- took umbrage at the western world by underscoring the resilience of its citizens.

"Chinese people are very sensitive to every mutated variant of the novel coronavirus. Few countries in the world could attach such great, if not greater, importance to the Covid-19 epidemic as the Chinese government and public have done."

Amid recurrent jousting between the west and the country of about 1.5 billion over origins of the virus, the Greek letters "Nu" and "Xi" have entered the slugfest arena. The World Health Organisation refused to name the virus "Nu" as the purported international steward of people's health thought it could be confused with "new", and "Xi" was not used for what WHO believes could be controversial.

Xi is the family name of the Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Beijing's pushback against the western world's attempts at cornering it over Omicron, yet again after nearly two years of slugfest over the origins of Covid-19 "is a reflection of deeper tensions that not only have to do with Taiwan but also with China and Washington's grip over the Pacific", said Jairo Lugo-Ocando, professor of international journalism at Northwestern University in Qatar.

"China is trying to assert itself as the new superpower. However, economically it is still far from matching the US in many areas. China's access to markets depends on its own access to the $US. To compensate for that, it is trying to assert itself militarily in the Pacific. Here is where the danger of things going out of control lies, added Lugo-Ocando.

On the other hand, US politicians have found a scapegoat that helps them galvanise support. Former US President Donald Trump was perhaps the most vocal in blaming China not only for the downfall of jobs in the industry but also for a series of other problems that the US faces, the Venezuelan-British academic told IANS.

Omicron, dubbed a "virus of concern" by WHO, threatens to bring the world back on its knees after a virtually two-year healthcare armageddon.

China has been vociferous in denying it is not behind the origin of the virus as the world's second largest economy where traditional Chinese medicine runs parallel to western Medicine finds its feet on a world stage in continuous flux due to geo-strategic concerns from the South China Sea to Ukraine to Sudan -- another African country where China has a large economic footprint. -IANS

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