WUHAN, China -- While the rest of the world is grappling with the incalculable toll from the COVID-19 pandemic, in Wuhan, China, the birthplace of the devastating coronavirus, locals are partying like never before.
Over the weekend in Wuhan, the popular Maya Beach Water Park was filled with thousands of people frolicking in swimsuits and goggles for an electronic music festival, many perched on rubber dinghies or wading up to their chest in water.
The water park reopened in June after Wuhan gradually opened up after a 76-day lockdown, and life now appears to be back to normal.
A performer on stage at the front of the water waved at the crowd, packed close and waving their arms back, some snapping photos on phones protected in plastic pouches round their necks.
Another performer on a water jet board entertained his audience by hovering above them with sparks shooting from his back.
Some of the crowd had donned life jackets, but none of the tightly-packed party-goers were seen to be wearing face masks as a DJ in bright yellow headphones played on stage.
The first known cases of COVID-19 emerged in Wuhan late last year, a city of 11 million people, before the virus spread across the world, killing hundreds of thousands and crippling economies.
The world looks on in disbelief
These scenes of carefree jubilation will likely not sit well with those around the world who are suffering immensely from the unprecedented pandemic that originated in Wuhan.
As of Monday (August 17), COVID-19 has infected over 21 million people and killed 770,000, wreaking an incalculable political, economic, social and health toll on every country in the world with no end seemingly in sight.
Observers around the world will also not be happy to see that Beijing is actively trying to portray itself as the global hero of the pandemic.
In the most recent example of the Chinese disinformation campaign, the National Museum of China opened up a new exhibit, "Unity of Strength", which showcases paintings, sculptures and calligraphy that depict what the regime says is its success in responding to the crisis.
However, Bejing's narrative of "heroic deeds" belies its true role in the pandemic.
Earlier in 2020, Chinese authorities, knowing a deadly outbreak was afoot, said nothing for almost a week, allowing the virus to take hold in Wuhan and spread across the world, while deliberately suppressing or destroying evidence of the outbreak.
Since the beginning of the crisis, Beijing has been actively attempting to deflect criticism of its role in the coronavirus pandemic by promoting conspiracy theories and has been caught flooding the news and social media with blatant disinformation about the virus.
Meanwhile, Chinese companies are taking advantage of the pandemic to turn a profit.
Between March and May, China exported more than 50 billion face masks -- a 10-fold increase from total production last year, according to analysts.
As part of this effort, Chinese authorities are forcing Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region to work in factories to produce personal protection equipment (PPE), much of which has been proven to be shoddy and ineffective.