As the coronavirus pandemic continues to wreck havoc across the globe, China's communist government is still actively censoring information about the novel virus.
Two leading universities in China that published academic research on COVID-19 had the information forcibly scrubbed from their websites, yet another indication that the Chinese Communist Party is determined to hide what they know about the virus from the international community.
The universities — Fudan University in Shanghai and the China University of Geosciences in Wuhan — had recently published research data about the virus, The Guardian reported.
Now, those websites only show a message from the CCP about a stricter government vetting process for the publication of academic research related to COVID-19. The messages say that only research approved by the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology can be published.
A source told the Guardian the new government controls applied to only COVID-19 research.
Professor Steve Tsang, director of the SOAS China Institute in London, told the Guardian that the development proves the Chinese government's main COVID-19 concern is controlling the narrative and managing its international perception.
"In terms of priority, controlling the narrative is more important than the public health or the economic fallout," Tsang said. "It doesn't mean the economy and public health aren't important. But the narrative is paramount."
Kevin Carrico, a Chinese affairs expert at the Australia-based Monash University, agreed with Tsang.
"They are seeking to transform it from a massive disaster to one where the government did everything right and gave the rest of the world time to prepare," Carrico told the Guardian. "There is a desire to a degree to deny realities that are staring at us in the face … that this is a massive pandemic that originated in a place that the Chinese government really should have cleaned up after SARS."