Can We Trust China to Ban Wet Markets?

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China Wet Market

[otw_shortcode_dropcap label=”W” font=”Ultra” background_color_class=”otw-no-background” size=”large” border_color_class=”otw-no-border-color”][/otw_shortcode_dropcap]et markets can be found globally, many of which are “quite unsanitary, with blood, entrails, excrement and other waste creating the conditions for disease that migrate from animals to people” and have created “zoonotic diseases” such as “Ebola, HIV, bird flu, swine flu, and SARS” reports National Review.

In late February, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress issued an “edict banning the country’s ‘wet markets,’ including those in Wuhan, the source of the current COVID-19 outbreak.” In the released statement, China notes “it is necessary to strengthen market supervision, resolutely ban and severely crackdown on illegal wildlife markets and trade, and control major public health risks from the source.”

We’ve been down this road with China before. A wet market from the southern Guangdong Province of China gave the world the infamous SARS outbreak in 2003. However, only a temporary Band-Aid was put in place when China placed a ban on wet markets and the wild-animal industry. When the World Health Organization declared SARS was contained, China lifted the ban. 

National Review details China’s sordid past with wild animal farming indicates it’s here to stay. Under Mao Zedong’s state control of rural production “tens of millions of Chinese citizens had died of starvation under a system that could not produce enough food for China’s population.” Mao’s successor lifted the controls to “allow peasant farmers to provide for their own sustenance. Rats, bats, civet cats, pangolins, and other wild animals became staples of rural farming” notes National Review.

Wild animal farming assisted in the growth and danger of wet markets. “Sixty million Americans caught the H1N1 ‘swine flu’ virus in 2009, while the SARS outbreak killed nearly 800 people worldwide. The COVID-19 death toll is already multiples of that.”

National Review begs the question “can we even trust Beijing to keep such bans in place, particularly with a slowing economy and persistent rural poverty?” Governments such as China, whether on purpose or accidental, are incapable of regulating such markets. Therefore, the only solution is for the wet markets to be closed before they continue to be the breeding ground of global pandemics.