controlling the narrative?
China is reportedly requiring academic research into the origin of the novel coronavirus to receive additional scrutiny and approval by the government.
Academic papers on COVID-19 under a new policy from China "will be subject to extra vetting before being submitted for publication," and research on the virus' origins will "receive extra scrutiny and must be approved by central government officials," CNN reports.
A directive from the Ministry of Education specifies that "academic papers about tracing the origin of the virus must be strictly and tightly managed." Papers must reportedly undergo vetting from a State Council task force after being sent to the Education Ministry.
The novel coronavirus first emerged in Wuhan, and since then, CNN notes that some research into questions like when there was first human-to-human transmission of the virus have called the Chinese government's account into question. A Chinese diplomat recently pushed a conspiracy theory that the virus originated in the United States, and the U.S. intelligence community has reportedly concluded that China has underreported its number of coronavirus cases.
One Chinese researcher who spoke to CNN characterized these restrictions as part of "a coordinated effort from [the] Chinese government to control [the] narrative, and paint it as if the outbreak did not originate in China," adding, "I don't think they will really tolerate any objective study to investigate the origination of this disease."