Chinese Foreign Ministry new spokesman Zhao Lijian gestures as he speaks during a daily briefing at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs office in Beijing, Monday, Feb. 24, 2020. China’s foreign ministry on Monday said it didn’t matter that three expelled journalists had nothing to do with a Wall Street Journal editorial that Beijing deemed racist, and called on the paper to apologize. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
The Daily Mail reports that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s scientific advisors warned him that the real number of coronavirus cases in China could be “15 to 40” times worse than what they’ve told the world.
Officials at “No. 10” are especially angry over Beijing’s attempt to blame U.S. soldiers for bringing the virus to Wuhan. One source told The Daily Mail, “There is a disgusting disinformation campaign going on and it is unacceptable. They [the Chinese government] know they have got this badly wrong and rather than owning it they are spreading lies.”
Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, the British government had planned “a major review” of their foreign policy [relating to China]. The review has been postponed “until the impact of the virus can be assessed.” Their source said, “It is going to be back to the diplomatic drawing board after this. Rethink is an understatement.” A second source said, “There has to be a reckoning when this is over. The anger goes right to the top.”
In a recent op-ed, former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith wrote, “Once we get clear of this terrible pandemic, it is imperative that we all rethink that relationship and put it on a much more balanced and honest basis.”
According to the Daily Mail, “No. 10 believes China is seeking to build its economic power during the pandemic with ‘predatory offers of help’ countries around the world.”
British officials are now more worried than ever about PM Johnson’s “decision to allow Huawei limited involvement in 5G” and they are “mobilizing to press him to reverse the plan.”
A senior Cabinet Minister told The Daily Mail, “We can’t stand by and allow the Chinese state’s desire for secrecy to ruin the world’s economy and then come back like nothing has happened. We’re allowing companies like Huawei not just into our economy, but to be a crucial part of our infrastructure. This needs to be reviewed urgently, as does any strategically important infrastructure that relies on Chinese supply chains.”
Johnson promised last year that he would “roll out super fast broadband for the whole country – and that will be hard to achieve on time without Huawei.”
However, I imagine the Prime Minister might be more persuadable once this latest episode is behind him.
Last week, an article in The Washington Post recommended that readers view Beijing’s “official numbers” with skepticism. They reported:
An article in the journal Science estimates that 86 percent of Hubei’s cases were undocumented by the time authorities extended the lockdown to Wuhan and other cities on Jan. 23.
It is also likely that officials reported lower numbers of deaths from covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Especially once the central government’s propaganda mission to win the “people’s war” against the virus became clear, numbers shifted to achieve that vision. Such shifts would probably be subtle — not hundreds or thousands of hidden deaths, but instead excluding deaths that could be attributed to other types of pneumonia or heart failure, for instance.
In a rare public admission of failure, if not deception, the Chinese government disclosed today that cases of a dangerous new respiratory disease were many times higher than previously reported, and stripped two top officials of their power. […]
Admitting to the existence of more than 200 previously undisclosed SARS patients in military hospitals, the official, Deputy Health Minister Gao Qiang, said that as of Friday Beijing had 339 confirmed cases of SARS and an additional 402 suspected cases.
Ten days ago, Health Minister Zhang Wenkang said there were only 22 confirmed SARS cases in Beijing. Last Wednesday, the World Health Organization caused a stir here by estimating that there could be as many as 100 to 200 cases.
On Saturday, I posted here about the “staggering” number of urns that had been delivered to local funeral homes in Wuhan. The urns contained the ashes of loved ones that were ready for distribution to family members. The sheer number of them sparked more speculation that China had under-reported the number of coronavirus deaths.
As of Thursday, the Chinese Government’s official total of confirmed cases of coronavirus was 81,340 and the death toll was 3,292. On Friday, the government claimed only one new person had been infected through local transmission, but that there had been 54 new imported cases. Remarkably, the country reported that there had been zero new locally transmitted cases in the previous two days, though there had been imported cases.
Many people have been reluctant to believe those figures. But 15 to 40 times as many?