China politics

‘China’s Numbers Are Fake’: US Intel Told Trump Beijing Hid Extent Of Coronavirus Outbreak, Report Says

"Intentionally incomplete".

In news that will surprise no one but will doubtlessly draw a sharp rebuke from Beijing assuming it’s communicated to the public by the Trump administration, the US intelligence community told the White House last week that China is (or at least was) engaged in a coverup related to the country’s COVID-19 outbreak.

That’s according to a trio of officials who spoke to Bloomberg.

Anecdotal evidence (assuming you want to call urn counts “anecdotal”) as well as common sense has long dictated that Beijing likely wasn’t telling the whole truth with regard to how many infections and deaths the country suffered at the hands of the coronavirus which, by most accounts, originated in a wet market in Wuhan.

A classified report delivered to the White House last week calls China’s reporting “intentionally incomplete”, the unnamed officials told Bloomberg, without providing details. Two of those sources did say the report “concludes that China’s numbers are fake”.

You’ll note that New York now has far more cases than Hubei, the original epicenter of the outbreak, if you go by China’s official count.

The US as a whole has more than double the total number of infections reported by Beijing.

Indeed, if you believe China’s official figures and trust the current trajectory (China’s curve has flattened almost completely), it’s likely that China will fall out of the top-five list when it comes to total cases.

To some, that seems somewhat implausible, considering the sheer number of people in China compared to, for example, Italy and Spain, which each have more than 100,000 confirmed cases and account for around half of the world’s deaths from the virus.

China famously changed its methodology for reporting cases on multiple occasions during the worst days of its own epidemic and only this week revealed what it says is reliable data on asymptomatic cases, which total just ~1,500.

As Bloomberg notes in the same piece (and I’m not going to get too far into this, as “Chinese urn counting” isn’t really my purview), “stacks of thousands of urns outside funeral homes in Hubei province have driven public doubt in Beijing’s reporting”.

Of course, as mentioned above, you don’t need to count urns to doubt China’s reporting. All you need is a rudimentary understanding of the country’s political system and some experience with how they report economic data.

The question has never been so much whether China underreported virus cases and deaths, but rather by how much, as that could have ramifications for how the rest of the world prepared for the eventual spread. That’s something Deborah Birx mentioned Tuesday.

“The medical community interpreted the Chinese data as ‘This is serious, but smaller than anyone expected'”, she told reporters at the daily coronavirus briefing. “I think probably we were missing a significant amount of the data [given] what we see happened to Italy and Spain”.

Obviously, China isn’t alone in being suspected of undercounting, but it is most assuredly in a league of its own when it comes to the possible scope of that undercounting, and thereby with respect to its responsibility to the global community.

You can expect Chinese officials to be particularly sensitive about this and to lash out at the US should the Trump administration decide to publicly (and formally) accuse the country of leaving the world unprepared for one of the worst epidemics in modern history.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, North Korea still has no confirmed cases.

As laughable as that is, it could actually be some semblance of true. ​After all, if you don’t have the capacity to test for something, then you can say it’s not “confirmed”.


14 comments on “‘China’s Numbers Are Fake’: US Intel Told Trump Beijing Hid Extent Of Coronavirus Outbreak, Report Says

  1. And now the USA will step up to the plate with real factual data from our government and corrupted corporate entities, right. …

  2. The primary target of the Chinese cover up is the Chinese people- the rest of the world is the secondary target of the cover up.

  3. Let’s see if Trump condemns China/Xi for attempting to make their “numbers” look good.
    That will be really rich

  4. Anonymous

    Anyone who was paying attention to social media reports from China was well aware of the true extent of the problem no later than beginning of Feb. CCP was scrubbing the leaks as quickly as possible, but it was pretty clear what was going on.

  5. Jim Bianco said this: Why did China shut down a nation (during Chinese New Year at that) of 1.3B for just 81K cases and what 3700 deaths? They get 3700 deaths in a single day across that country. It was far more serious than officially reported.

  6. Gone are the days when one could keep the numbers down by keeping cruise ships at sea.

  7. The WHO only spends 4-5% of their budget on improving world access to medicines. The travel budget is twice that. Total budget is $4.8B.
    China is not the only irresponsible world citizen.

  8. I haven’t looked recently, but in February it was easy to go to youtube and find video of Chinese SWAT teams in hazmat suits dragging people out of apartments and throwing them into vans. Evidently part of the process to isolate the exposed.

    Another video showed people who had dropped dead in the streets of Wuhan. All this was referenced on Epsilon Theory, which led me to look for it.

    I went to Sam’s every morning for a week after viewing those videos. It was clear the situation was much worse than being reported.

  9. I came on THIS site and quoted some numbers weeks back and said that if those numbers panned out, we were in trouble.Those numbers were surpassed. How did I know this? Simple. I went on Promed-edr where I could easily breakout the numbers for Wuhan. I’m not the brightest bulb in the rack but even I could recognize that we were seeing an R(0) > 5 and a CFR of 18%. This information was readily available in January. There is no way they should have been surprised or needed more data.

    I can’t for the life of me get my numbers below a quarter of a million dead for the US still I can see light at the end of the tunnel. The problem is that it is a long tunnel and we still have not entered it yet.

  10. It shouldn’t surprise us that our two favourite leaders (yes, Boris is playing the same game over in the UK) are deflecting from real shortcomings of their own by pointing the finger of blame at foreigners. It also shouldn’t surprise us that for a sizeable section of our respective populations, the message will be internalised without hesitation.

  11. The solvency of life insurance reinsurers is going to be a good indicator of excess mortality in a few months.

  12. China had reported enough numbers for this to be taken seriously. Lots of movement with Chinese tendency to travel home for New Years. Scientists knew we needed to act fast as this would be hugely contagious.

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