Many were perplexed earlier this week by a headline proclaiming that Beijing would disclose a number of “asymptomatic” COVID-19 patients who hadn’t been previously included in the country’s numbers. As it dawned on them that the CPC was finally conceding, in its own roundabout way, that it had doctored the numbers during the height of the outbreak, rumors started to swirl, and reporters started picking up phones and calling their sources in the intelligence community.
That apparently culminated in the leaking of a classified intelligence report that detailed US intelligence’s findings about Beijing’s efforts to conceal the extent of the outbreak. The fact that China lied about the numbers probably surprised absolutely no one. But everybody knows how Beijing hates it when the international community says the quiet part out loud. Especially at a time when Beijing appears to be slowly reinstating lockdown conditions amid a resurgence in cases that officials have blamed on foreigners.
President Trump was unsurprisingly questioned about the report during last night’s press briefing. When asked, Trump denied that he had received an intelligence report like the one described by Bloomberg, but he added that China’s data do ‘appear low’.
“Their numbers seem to be a little bit on the light side, and I’m being nice when I say that,” Trump said.
And as we reported at the time, Vice President Mike Pence told CNN on Wednesday that “the reality is that we could have been better off if China had been more forthcoming.”
That was probably the final straw for Beijing. Because on Thursday morning, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying – a name that’s probably familiar to readers from the time China accused the US of ‘inciting panic’ during the early days of the outbreak (remember, the one Democrats wanted to reverse) – defended China’s handling of the outbreak as “open and transparent.”
“Some U.S. officials just want to shift the blame,” Hua told a regular briefing in Beijing. “Actually we don’t want to fall into an argument with them, but faced with such repeated moral slander by them, I feel compelled to take some time and clarify the truth again.”
Hua hit back by asking what the US has been doing for the last two months while the virus quietly spread across the country.
Hua questioned the speed of the U.S.’s response to the virus after banning arrivals from China on Feb. 2. “Can anyone tell us what the U.S. has done in the following two months?” she said.
According to the US intel report, China intentionally lowered case totals and death tolls, and withheld information to its global partners during the early days of the outbreak. Though Beijing eventually resorted to strict lockdowns that would never fly in the West, crushing the outbreak by sheer intensity, its repeated “adjustments” to its counting “methodology” sowed widespread doubt about China’s numbers. Officially, the country has reported roughly 82k cases and 3,300 deaths.
But experts suspect that the real totals for both could be far higher, tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of mild cases were likely left out, while the surge in the number of bodies quietly cremated showed up in some surprising places.
Thu, 04/02/2020 – 10:30
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Author: Tyler Durden