"China is to blame because the culture where people eat bats & snakes & dogs & things like that, these viruses are transmitted from the animal to the people and that's why China has been the source of a lot of these viruses like SARS, like MERS, the Swine Flu."
Sen. John Cornyn : The Hill
COVID-19 - Chinese Government Response
China appears to have gotten a second wave of COVID-19 under control following an outbreak at a sprawling Beijing produce market last month. Zhang Wenhong, head of Shanghai's COVID-19 clinical experts team, said that "Beijing has set a clear example that China will ward off a new wave of infections -- domestic or imported -- through a prompt and refined epidemic control response." On 01 July 2020, Beijing reported one new confirmed case and two asymptomatic cases after massive testings were conducted around the Xinfadi wholesale market in the city's southwestern Fengtai district, where a new outbreak was detected on June 11. While that broke Beijing's run of 56 days without any new local infections, no new deaths have been recorded as a result, the article said.
The contrast in leadership is "striking" when compared with the United States. While Chinese officials talked of "wartime mode" and "explosive" situation at the "battleground" by Xinfadi market, US President Donald Trump said 01 July 2020 the virus would "just disappear" as the United States saw a daily record high of more than 52,000 new infections.
The WHO mission to China to uncover the origins of the coronavirus failed to identify the source of a pandemic which has swept across the world, but the team on 09 February 2021 ruled out the Wuhan lab-leak theory propagated by Donald Trump. Experts believe the disease -- which has killed more than 2.3 million people worldwide -- originated in bats and could have been transmitted to humans via another mammal. WHO foreign expert Peter Ben Embarek said identifying the animal pathway remains a "work in progress", adding the absence of bats in the Wuhan area dimmed the likelihood of direct transmission. It was "most likely" to have come from an intermediary species, he said, before backing up China's position that there was no evidence of "large outbreaks in Wuhan" before December when the first official cases have been recorded.
China informed the WHO of the outbreak on 31 December 2019. It contacted the US Centers for Disease Control on 03 January 2020 and publicly identified the pathogen as a novel coronavirus on 08 January 2020.
The spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) was basically curbed in Hubei Province and its capital city Wuhan, Chinese President Xi Jinping said 10 March 2020 while inspecting epidemic prevention and control work in the city. Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, said that initial success has been made in stabilizing the situation and turning the tide in Hubei and Wuhan. At least 59,000 people in mainland China had recovered from the disease, according to the National Health Commission, while more than 3,000 had died. World Health Orgnaisation reported that 70 percent of those infected with the virus in China had recovered. China had registered 80,754 cases in total, with almost 60,000 having been released from hospital and 17,721 still receiving treatment.
The World Health Organization said travel restrictions would have only a limited effect on stemming the spread of infections — despite the fact that international traffic to and from China was far greater in early 2020 than it was in 2003, at the time of the SARS outbreak. And its assessment was not borne out in reality. The governments that suspended flights to and from China at an early stage, including Taiwan and New Zealand, had the most success at containing the coronavirus.
Trump's handling of the pandemic had been at best a total disaster. Coronavirus reshaped the political map of the presidential race, putting Republicans on the defensive in key states. "Trump spent vital weeks praising China's response as successful and transparent while deceiving the American people about the extreme threat we faced and failing to prepare our country," Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates said. "China played Donald Trump for a sucker, and now all of us are paying an atrocious price for his malpractice." A memo from the Democratic National Committee indicated Democrats would push the talking point that Trump "rolled over in a way that has been catastrophic for our country" and "put himself and his political fortunes first" in order to avoid offending the Chinese.
A Gallup poll released on 17 April 2020 showed Trump'ss approval rating dropping by six points, to 43 percent, since mid-March, the steepest drop since he took office in January 2017. So by April 2020 there was a full-court press to blame the whole mess on China. “I take no responsibility at all” Trump said early on. “I blame China,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said 16 Aprirl 2020. “This virus came out of China. It didn’t come out of the United States. The Chinese lied to the world about the nature of the virus. We lost a lot of time.”
The AP said 15 April 2020 top Chinese health officials laid out an assessment of the situation of the novel coronavirus pneumonia (COVDI-19) outbreak in a confidential document on January 14, however, the public was warned on January 20. If the public had been warned a week earlier to take actions such as social distancing, mask-wearing and travel restrictions, cases could have been cut by up to two-thirds, AP's re-port said, citing a research paper entitled "Effect of non-pharmaceutical interventions for containing the COVID-19 outbreak in China" published on medrxiv.org.
ABC News reported 08 April 2020 that as early as November 2019, U.S. intelligence officials warned that a contagion sweeping through China’s Wuhan region was changing the patterns of life and business and posed a threat to the population, with analysts warning of a “cataclysmic event.” Their concerns were reportedly detailed in a November 2020 intelligence report by the National Center for Medical Intelligence (NCMI), a component of the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency. The analysis raised alarms about the threat the disease could pose to U.S. forces in Asia, which depend on the NCMI’s work. The report was the result of analysis of wire and computer intercepts, coupled with satellite imagery. It was briefed multiple times to the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon’s Joint Staff, and the White House, culminating with a detailed explanation in the President’s Daily Brief in early January 2020. Other intelligence community bulletins reportedly began circulating through confidential channels across the government around Thanksgiving. These analyses said China’s leadership knew the epidemic was out of control even as it kept that information from foreign governments and public health agencies.
This report is somewhat difficult to believe, since it places the origins of the outbreak at least a month earlier than other reporting, and it is difficult to understand how the effects of such an outbreak could be visible in satellite imagery, and yet not be noticed on the ground.
On 14 April 2020 Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, announced the “Ending Chinese Medical Censorship and Cover Ups Act of 2020,” legislation to sanction Chinese officials over suppression of medical experts, journalists, and political dissidents. “Had the Chinese government acted responsibly, the coronavirus outbreak might not have turned into a global pandemic and hundreds of thousands of lives, millions of jobs, and trillions of dollars could have been saved,” Cruz said in a statement. “As we’ve seen over the last several weeks, China’s censorship and suppression are now not only a threat to human rights in China and around the world, they are a direct threat to U.S. national security and our economy,” he said.
White House trade advisor Peter Navarro hit a new low when he told the Fox Business Network on 20 April 2020 that China may not have shared data on early coronavirus infections, because "they're racing to get a vaccine and they think this is just a competitive business race, it's a business proposition so that they can sell the vaccine to the world."
US officials believe China covered up the extent of the coronavirus outbreak — and how contagious the disease is — to stock up on medical supplies needed to respond to it, intelligence documents show. Chinese leaders “intentionally concealed the severity” of the pandemic from the world in early January, according to a four-page Department of Homeland Security intelligence report dated May 1 and obtained by The Associated Press 03 May 2020. Not classified but marked “for official use only,” the DHS analysis states that China increased imports and decreased exports of medical supplies, while “denying there were export restrictions and obfuscating and delaying provision of its trade data”.
On 31 December 2019, China informed the World Health Organization about an outbreak of an unknown form of pneumonia in the city of Wuhan in the country's Hubei province. In a classified report to the White House in late March 2020, the U.S. intelligence community concluded China concealed the extent of the coronavirus outbreak in China, intentionally under-reporting both total cases and deathsfrom the disease. “The claim that the United States has more coronavirus deaths than China is false,” Senator Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican, said in a statement after Bloomberg News published an account of the intelligence report 01 April 2020. “Without commenting on any classified information, this much is painfully obvious: The Chinese Communist Party has lied, is lying, and will continue to lie about coronavirus to protect the regime.”
Michael McCaul, top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said "They lied to the world about the human-to-human transmission of the virus, silenced doctors and journalists who tried to report the truth, and are now apparently hiding the accurate number of people impacted by this disease".
As the number of COVID-19 deaths of the US surpassed that of China, Western media started to question whether China's data was trustworthy. Trump told reporters that China’s “numbers seem to be a little bit on the light side”, adding that he was “being nice” putting it that way. Vice President Mike Pence told CNN that the US “could have been better off if China had been more forthcoming,” adding that “what appears evident now is that long before the world learned in December that China was dealing with this, and maybe as much as a month earlier than that, that the outbreak was real in China.”
Deborah Birx, the immunologist advising the Trump administration on its response to the outbreak, said "I think we're probably we were missing a significant amount of the data [from China] now that what we see happened to Italy and see what happened to Spain."
China’s foreign ministry responded to what it called the “shameless” claims made by some US politicians regarding the People’s Republic’s coronavirus response. “We are very sympathetic to the gravity of the situation in the United States, and we can understand that some people in the US want to get rid of the responsibility, but we do not want to get into any meaningless arguments,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a press briefing.
On 26 February 2020, Xinhua News Agency announced publication of the book "Great War Epidemic-2020" under the guidance of the Central Propaganda Department and the State Council Information Office. The book reflects "President Xi Jinping's public sentiment, mission, strategic vision and outstanding leadership as a great power leader. Under the centralized and unified leadership of the Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core, the Chinese people introduced the emergency mobilization and concerted efforts to start the epidemic prevention and control of the People’s War, the general war, and the stagnation war. The significant advantages of leadership and the socialist system with Chinese characteristics demonstrate China's tremendous efforts to actively cooperate with the international community and jointly maintain global and regional public health security."
By the year 2020 Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, chairman of the Central Military Commission and President of the People's Republic of China, had attained a supreme power in China not seen since Mao Zedong. In "War of the Worlds" H.G.Wells wrote of "minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic" who are eventually defeated by "by the humblest things that God, in His wisdom, has put upon this earth". By virtue of his supreme power, Xi Jinping also has supreme responsibility, and if the coronavirus outbreak is mishandled, he will be to blame.
Chinese emperors claimed to have the Mandate of Heaven (tianming) over tianxia, or “All Under Heaven”. The Chinese Communist Party's notion of what China stands for include deference to authority, hierarchy of respect, adherence to order. The Son of Heaven was believed to possess the Mandate of Heaven not because he was of divine or heavenly origin, as in the case with the Japanese Emperor. He had obtained the right to rule because he had conformed to the moral law and was justified in retaining it only so long as he remained virtuous.
The Mandate of Heaven, the divine right to rule, was perceived to have been withdrawn when natural disasters occurred. When the Mandate of Heaven was believed to have been withdrawn there was no longer any obligation of filial piety due its former possessor. And it was commonly believed to have been withdrawn after a series of misfortunes and disasters had been attendant upon a dynasty. For the belief in the force of the moral law was so strong that it was inconceivable that these misfortunes would have come had the members of the dynasty acted in conformity with that law. Their troubles were due to their lack of virtue.
In an interview with Fox Business on 30 January 2020, US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said diseases like the Wuhan coronavirus were "another risk factor that people need to take into account" when considering where to locate operations. "I don't want to talk about a victory lap over a very unfortunate, very malignant disease. But the fact is, it does give businesses yet another thing to consider when they go through their review of their supply chain," he said. Many retail chains, from H&M and IKEA to Starbucks and Apple, had temporarily closed their stores or shortened store hours in China.
IHS Markit wrote 30 January 2020 that "The estimated economic impact of SARS was an approximately 1% reduction of China's 2003 GDP. Using this as a benchmark for the potential maximum economic impact of COVID-19, China's real GDP growth in 2020 could be reduced by 1.1 percentage points from IHS Markit's current baseline forecast of 5.8%." Chinese stock market went through a bloodbath on 03 February 2020, the first trading day of the Year of the Rat over coronavirus woes. The benchmark Shanghai market shed 229.92 points, or 7.72%, at closing, while the Shenzhen market was down 8.45 %. ChiNext dived 6.85 %.
“This is the probably the greatest political challenge that (President Xi Jinping) has faced since taking office in 2012,” said Allison Sherlock, China researcher at the Eurasia Group, a risk consultancy. “The mishandling of the virus didn’t just lead to the rapid spread of the outbreak, it also eroded trust in the government. And they’re going to try to do everything in their power to ensure that people start believing in their local officials again,” she added.
Richard N. Haass, President, Council on Foreign Relations, wrote 31 January 2020 that "China’s slow, defensive, & inept response to the coronavirus highlights the systemic flaws in its decision-making & underscores why assumptions re its future eco & pol trajectory are not just wrong but understate likely problems/disruptions."
“Here, suddenly, obviously, it is not even possible anymore for the internet censors to control the cynical questions in the internet of the population whether the leadership is really managing this crisis in the right way,” Volker Stanzel, a former German ambassador to China, said. “So here, we have the first time ... obviously and openly, for all to see who go on the internet, the authority of Xi Jinping is put into question,” Stanzel said.
On the first day of the first lunar month on January 25, the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee held a meeting to listen to the report on the prevention and control of pneumonia epidemic of new coronavirus infection, and to re-research, redeploy, and mobilize the epidemic prevention and control, especially patient treatment. CPC Central Committee General Secretary Xi Jinping presided over the meeting and delivered an important speech. Xi Jinping stressed that the current situation of epidemic prevention and control is still grim and complicated. Under the unified command of the Party Central Committee and the Central Military Commission, the entire army must keep in mind the purposes of the People's Army, act on the order, dare to shoulder heavy burdens, dare to fight hard, and actively support local epidemic prevention and control.
Xi Jinping said 29 January 2020 the country was waging a serious fight against the "demon" coronavirus outbreak. "The epidemic is a demon, and we cannot let this demon hide," Xi said. In January local cadre were more focused on projecting stability than adequately responding to the outbreak. Several senior figures, including Hubei governor Wang Xiaodong, were subjected to rare social media derision for their errors in responding to the crisis. Wuhan released a serious official notice of the disease rather late and the city didn't start to urge people not to leave until recently.
Lack of information and sudden announcement of the city's lockdown sparked heated online discussion triggering panic among the public. Chinese media and the Internet also continue to report that hospital beds are tight, patients are not treated effectively, and the hospital is lined up. The Hubei authorities issued a notice asking the hospital not to reject patients, but there are still reports that the hospital has limited ability to treat patients and many patients can only be isolated at home. The analysis indicated that the actual number of infections far exceeded the statistics of the authorities due to the reasons that those who were not admitted to the hospital were not included in the statistics, and because of the lack of kits and some patients could not be diagnosed.
Local authorities in Wuhan and Hubei were under tremendous pressure for not disclosing sufficient public information promptly, in addition to a serious lack of preparedness ahead of the city's lockdown. Social media comments have been sharply critical of the Hubei authorities. The provincial governor corrected himself twice during a news conference over the number of face masks being produced in the province. Wuhan Mayor Zhou Xianwang told state broadcaster CCTV the city's management of the crisis was "not good enough," a rare public self-criticism for a Chinese official, and said he was willing to resign. The mayor of Wuhan admitted the city failed to provide information about the new coronavirus in a timely manner. Zhou Xianwang said the local government was required to get authorization before making a disclosure. He delivered a courageous side blow to Beijing when he stated that, as a local politician, he would not have had the authority to release such information without approval from above.
The Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission – Beijing’s top political body responsible for law and order – ran a social media commentary on 21 January 2020 telling Communist Party officials “Anyone who puts the face of politicians before the interests of the people will be the sinner of a millennium to the party and the people,” the commentary on its Chang An Jian account read. “Anyone who deliberately delays and hides the reporting of [virus] cases out of his or her own self-interest will be nailed on the pillar of shame for eternity,” it added. The commentary cited an instruction issued by President Xi Jinping on 20 January 2020 that the virus must be “resolutely contained” and that all cadres must make “the safety of people’s lives and their physical health” the top priority.
Chinese premier Li Keqiang visited Wuhan on 27 January 2020, promising reinforcements amid growing public anger over the city government's failure to respond adequately to a fast-changing public health emergency. Li, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, is head of the Leading Group of the CPC Central Committee on the prevention and control of the novel coronavirus outbreak.
With the spread of the new coronavirus, Chinese people everywhere did everything they could to block roads, build walls, and dig trenches. More than one video circulating on the Internet shows that returning to Wuhan from outside People were sealed off at home by their neighbors with wooden boards and metal frames. There were abusive attacks on Wuhan people, even a lot of shots, and some local governments even offered a reward for reporting unregistered Wuhan people. "Neighbors report each other. It's against the law to know and not to report. It's on the line and it's like catching a counter-revolutionary," said Mr. Lu, a resident of the community. Yu Jie, a Chinese writer in exile, observed that in the face of the epidemic, on Chinese social media, "discrimination and cursing of Wuhan people is far more than questioning and criticizing the remarks of the party state and Xi Jinping".
In the past, the Chinese government used facial recognition, big data, and other means to hunt out corrupt officials. Today, the people of Wuhan have become a "prey" with nowhere to hide from high technology.
The number of people killed by the COVID-19 rose to 908, crossing the fatality toll of 774 people believed to have died in the 2002-03 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome epidemic. The government announced 08 February 2020 that another 3,399 people had been diagnosed over the last 24 hours, reversing two days of declines, and raising the total accumulated number of cases on the mainland to 34,546. A total of 3,062 new cases were reported on the mainland over the 24 hours through midnight 09 February 2020. That was up 15 percent from the previous day and broke a string of daily declines.
With more than 100 more deaths and nearly 5,000 new infections on 13 February 2020, China's coronavirus showed no signs of peaking. Hubei on 13 February 2020 announced 14,840 new cases, including 13,332 clinically diagnosed cases, with 242 new deaths. The total number of infections in the province climbed to 48,206, with 1,310 deaths. No inflection point was in sight despite numbers of newly reported cases dropping for two consecutive days. The nCoV2019 epidemic began to show a new trend of contagion from cities to rural areas and transition from imported to community infection. China’s National Health Commission said about 6,101 of those being treated, or nearly 17 percent, were in serious condition. The Corona virus caused severe symptoms in 10-15% of cases. 80% to 90% of deaths from this virus are happening in elderly patients, mostly with other existing health problems, not younger people.
Chinese health officials said 16 February 2020 that the number of new cases of the coronavirus has slowed for the third consecutive day. The health commission confirmed 1,843 new cases, representing a drop from higher numbers of new cases in recent days. Over the previous two days, China had reported more than 7,500 new infections.
It is not clear what, if anything, these statistics are measuring. China's statistics differ from those of WHO because in early February 2020 China's government changed its methodology for diagnosing and counting new cases, causing a spike in the numbers of reported cases. Under the new method, doctors can use lung imaging and other analyses to diagnose a patient instead of relying on laboratory testing. And some individuals report being denied access to laboratory testing. Thus to some extent, these numbers may simply be counting the ability [and / or willingness] of medical staff to administer tests, rather than the "actual" number of clinically diagnosable presenting cases. Schrodinger's Cat with Chinese characteristics.
The response from some parts of the local governments had been utter chaos. On 01 February 2020 Huanggang, a city neighboring Wuhan, which records the second-largest number of novel coronavirus infections, punished 337 officials for slacking off from their duty in combating the coronavirus. Six of them were dismissed from their positon. The current healthcare system was completely unready for a situation like this. Some observers thought the government and hospitals had learned something from the SARS outbreak and prepared ourselves for another emergency like this. But no - they learned nothing. In China, a lack of properly trained general practitioners means the first line of defence often does not exist. There is a lack of trust in clinics and GPs, who are often difficult to find, and people prefer to go straight to hospital as soon as they need medical care.
The government blamed the Lunar New Year holiday, when factories traditionally close, for the shortages of masks, goggles and other crucial supplies. Shortly after the SARS epidemic, the Chinese government established and updated several times a medical materials reserve system that was supposed to ensure sufficient supplies in the event of any public health emergency. However, reports filed with the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention suggest reserves at some hospitals had not been maintained.
On January 23, the Chinese government decided to close Wuhan. Officials announced on 23 January 2020 that Wuhan ’s urban buses, subways, ferries, and long-distance passenger transportation were temporarily suspended, and the airport and railway station corridors were temporarily closed. Later, as the epidemic worsened, 16 other cities in Hubei Province were also closed. Huanggang City, near Wuhan, adopted strict measures to require one person from each household to go out every two days to purchase living supplies, and other personnel were forbidden to go out. The scale of Beijing's measures so far is unprecedented. Only an authoritarian one-party state could have implemented them so rapidly: Some 56 million people were under quarantine and air, rail and long-distance bus traffic has been suspended in at least 14 cities. There had been no demonstrations, let alone riots, in the regions affected. There seems to be a high tolerance amid the population for the government's draconian measures.
Entrusted by Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, Premier Li Keqiang on 27 January 2020 inspected efforts to prevent and control the novel coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province. Authorities hoped the new Leishenshan facility in Wuhan will be completed on February 3. Workers started construction six days ago. Videos and pictures from the site show they are on course to build the much-needed hospital that will house 1,000 patients. During the 2003 SARS outbreak, 7,000 workers built the Xiaotangshan hospital in the suburbs of Beijing in just a week. The Huoshenshan Hospital, which means the hospital of the god of fire in Chinese, will be placed under military rule once its construction is completed.
By 28 January 2020 more than 4,130 medical staff from around China specialized in both Western and Chinese medicines had arrived in Hubei Province to assist local medical work. It is expected that altogether 6,000 medical staff will arrive in Hubei. More than 10,000 beds will be ready in Wuhan soon, including those in the two new hospitals being built, which are enough to treat patients with novel coronavirus: Jiao Yahui, deputy head of medical policy and administration bureau under National Health Commission.
In addition to the designated Huoshenshan and Leishenshan hospitals built to meet growing demand from coronavirus patients, Wuhan will convert Hongshan Stadium and Wuhan International Conference & Exhibition Center into hospitals so it can provide 1,000 beds.
China's army on 02 February 2020 was given control of a nearly-finished field hospital that will treat patients at Wuhan. Some 1,400 military medics will treat patients at the 1,000-bed hospital, dubbed "Fire God Mountain", which will receive its first patients on Monday – just 10 days after construction began. The second field hospital, "Thunder God Mountain", was set to start admitting patients on 06 February 2020, with 1,600 beds – 300 more than originally planned.
Ten days after locking down Wuhan, authorities on 02 February 2020 announced similar draconian curbs on people movement in Wenzhou, 800km away. Wenzhou is a coastal city of nine million people in Zhejiang province, part of the eastern industrial heartland that has powered China's economic rise over recent decades. Only one resident per household is allowed to go out every two days to buy necessities and 46 highway toll stations have been closed, authorities announced. The city had previously closed public places such as cinemas and museums and suspended public transport. the manufacturing hub of Wenzhou put off the opening of government offices until February 9, private businesses until February 17 and schools until March 1.
Similar measures had been announced in the provinces and cities of Heilongjiang, Shandong, Guizhou, Hebei and Hunan, while the major cities of Shanghai and Beijing were on indefinite leave pending developments.
By 25 January 2020 efforts to contain the outbreak caused major disruption in China, with almost 20 cities facing travel restrictions, affecting at least 56 million people. Screening stations had been set up at bus, train and plane terminals nationwide - but while these helped contain SARS, such screening is unlikely stop the spread of the the Wuhan coronavirus, that can transmit during the period from infection to symptoms. China banned the wildlife trade and extended the Lunar New Year holiday until 02 February to prevent transmission accelerating when people return from holidays.
The US, Japan and several European countries were working to evacuate their citizens from Wuhan, and the wider Hubei province in some cases. The World Health Organization on 26 January 2020 said in a situation report that the risk was "very high in China, high at the regional level and high at the global level."
More Chinese cities, including one just 175 kilometres (110 miles) from Shanghai, were put under lockdown on 03 February 2020. Around 12 million people are affected by the new restrictions, adding to the tens of millions of people already quarantined in and around Wuhan, ground zero for COVID-19. The city of Taizhou, parts of Hangzhou –– including the district that is home to the headquarters of Chinese tech giant Alibaba –– and some of Ningbo will only allow one person per household to go outside every two days to buy necessities, city officials said.
Zhang Jin, Party secretary of the Hubei Provincial Health Committee, and Liu Yingzi, director of the committee, were both removed from office, China Central Television reported on 11 February 2020. Incompetence and slow response to the crisis at the early stage of the outbreak has put local authorities of Wuhan and Hubei under spotlight while the public urged that those officials who failed to raise the alarm in the first place and fulfill their duties should be held accountable for the people who have been suffering, some of whom lost their loved ones. The government of Wuhan and Hubei Province seemed to be panicked after the outbreak, they rushed into making serious enforcement measures all at once.
On 12 February 2020 five Hubei officials were sacked due to violations of work discipline and failure to fulfil duties amid the coronavirus outbreak, including an official from the cultural and tourism bureau of Wuhan.
On 13 February 2020, Chinese state media announced that the party secretary of Hubei province, Jiang Chaoliang, was sacked and would be replaced by the mayor of Shanghai, Ying Yong. This came after Hubei province registered the highest-ever one-day total of infections and deaths from coronavirus following a change in how it counts cases. Authorities had been optimistic that infections had peaked.
Wang Zhonglin, a member of the Standing Committee of Shandong Provincial Party Committee and Party Chief of Jinan, was named Wuhan's new Party chief on 13 February 2020, replacing Ma Guoqiang, according to a decision by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC). The official announcement of the reshuffle came after a series of problems were exposed in the epidemic prevention and control work amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Since the outbreak, the central government sent an inspection group to guide the epidemic control work in Hubei, and a number of local officials have been questioned and punished for failing to fulfill their duties in the prevention and control work. The top CPC discipline authority urged strict law enforcement in the COVID-19 battle, and officials who fail to fulfill their duties must be held accountable. More efforts should be made to correct bureaucratism and formality for formality's sake in Wuhan and Hubei.
In the fight against the outbreak in Shandong, Wang also served as the general commander in giving instructions to the prevention and control work in Jinan, and showed up at different public places including markets, residential areas, and railway stations without reminding local officials in advance. He also required no one to accompany him and no briefing in the office but made an inspection in the field to guide prevention and control work.
Hubei Province reported 1,638 new cases of novel coronavirus pneumonia on Feb 11, with 94 new deaths and 417 cases of recovery. The total number of infections in the province climbed to 33,366, with 1,068 deaths and 2,639 cases of recovery. Hubei on 13 February 2020 announced 14,840 new cases, including 13,332 clinically diagnosed cases, with 242 new deaths. The total number of infections in the province climbed to 48,206, with 1,310 deaths.
Hubei Province reported 4,823 new cases of novel coronavirus pneumonia (including 3,095 clinically diagnosed cases) on Feb 13, with 116 new deaths and 690 cases of recovery. The total number of infections in the province climbed to 51,986.
Once the central-level decision-making is initiated, China's institutional advantages, such as the power of mobilizing, will play out, which also shows that its decision-making mechanism has the ability to adjust quickly in correcting mistakes, holding officials accountable and fixing the loopholes, Chinese analysts noted. "After the decision is made and the whole country mobilized, our system's advantages could fully play out," Jiang Shigong, a law professor at Peking University, told the Global Times on 14 February 2020. "The outbreak exposed problems embedded not only with our governing mechanism but also the mentality of officials that has been falling behind the requirement of a modern country's development". Local policymakers abandoned the principle of seeking truth from facts, delaying a response and stressing other factors over sticking to the scientific and fact-driven evaluation.
The outbreak of the novel coronavirus pneumonia served as a litmus test to filter out qualified officials and Communist Party of China members, as 20 frontline officials have been awarded promotions by 20 February 2020. The central government also ousted Party officials for breaching rules and disciplinary guidelines, evident in 385 problems, involving 620 officials - six bureau-level - penalized for misconducts, according to the discipline inspection and supervision organ of the government. Suggesting clear rewards and punishments as an effective tool to strengthen the governance and maximize the role of Party members at this difficult time in the wake of the nationwide fight against the virus, Chinese experts, however, cautioned against misusing such evaluation criteria as a tool for bureaucracy and political retaliation.
On 24 February 2020, Wuhan authorities retracted a policy easing the city lockdown hours after its announcement. The previous release was reportedly signed by a deputy mayor of Wuhan before getting approved by senior officials of the city's epidemic prevention and control command center. Despite positive signs, China's health authorities announced 25 February 2020 that epidemic prevention and control of COVID-19 in the epicenter Wuhan will continue the "strictest-ever" measures, while top officials of Hubei Province warned that the complex epidemic situation required that related authorities should be cautious rather than trust in luck. Down to community levels, urgent tasks such as screening of potential virus carriers and safeguarding medical and daily necessities supply still face difficulties in practice.
Wang Zhonglin, Wuhan's new Party chief, investigated some communities in Wuhan, which should be implementing strict 24-hour closed-off management, in secret — only to find many loopholes still existed in their management. For example, cars were able to get into communities without being investigated by community workers, and senior residents who live alone could only get living materials delivered to their homes once a week. Wang slammed such relaxed management and called for every individual to fulfill their responsibilities. "We have paid a lot in this war and come to a vital time when we have to persist, or we would fall short of success for lack of a final effort," Wang noted.
NASA and European Space Agency (ESA) pollution monitoring satellites detected significant decreases in nitrogen dioxide (NO2) over China. There is evidence that the change is at least partly related to the economic slowdown following the outbreak of coronavirus. By January 23, 2020, Chinese authorities had shut down transportation going into and out of Wuhan, as well as local businesses, in order to reduce the spread of the disease. It was the first of several quarantines set up in the country and around the world. The maps show concentrations of nitrogen dioxide, a noxious gas emitted by motor vehicles, power plants, and industrial facilities. The maps show NO2 values across China from January 1-20, 2020 (before the quarantine) and February 10-25 (during the quarantine). The data were collected by the Tropospheric Monitoring Instrument (TROPOMI) on ESA’s Sentinel-5 satellite. A related sensor, the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) on NASA’s Aura satellite, has been making similar measurements. According to NASA scientists, the reduction in NO2 pollution was first apparent near Wuhan, but eventually spread across the country.
The authorities carefully walked back comments made by Wuhan Communist Party secretary Wang Zhonglin, who called for "various forms of propaganda and education activities to carry out gratitude education among the general public, party members and officials." The comments prompted an online backlash, with many commenting online that perhaps the rest of China should be thanking the residents of Wuhan for enduring the initial onslaught of the virus under lockdown to protect the rest of the country. In March 2020 the ruling Chinese Communist Party launched an overseas propaganda offensive questioning whether the coronavirus originated in the country, while backpedaling at home on comments by a high-ranking official calling for "gratitude" from the inhabitants of virus-hit Wuhan. A diplomatic and media campaign had two main aims: to play down the cover-up of the emerging coronavirus outbreak by party chiefs in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, and to push forward the narrative that the virus may not have originated in China at all, according to an expose published by the Catholic French language newspaper La Croix. Chinese ambassadors around the world were ordered to publicly question the idea that the coronavirus originated in Wuhan,
Zhang Ping, consul general of the People’s Republic of China in Los Angeles, wrote in an op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times: "New viruses like this one are a reminder that in the globalized era, epidemics know no borders," hitting out at "ideological" attacks on China and racist attacks on people who appear to be of Chinese descent outside China.
The Chinese city at the center of the coronavirus pandemic for the first time reported no new daily cases, reporting 19 March 2020 that there were no new cases on 18 March 2020. Wuhan spent about two months on lockdown as authorities tried to stop the spread of the virus, and in recent weeks the number of new infections there dwindled. Elsewhere in China, though, with health officials reporting 34 total cases 19 March 2020 among people who came from elsewhere, there was continued concern about such imported cases threatening the substantial progress the country has made.
Wuhan had spent about two months on lockdown as authorities tried to stop the spread of the virus, and in recent weeks the number of new infections there dwindled. Elsewhere in China, though, with health officials reporting 34 total cases among people who came from elsewhere, there is continued concern about such imported cases threatening the substantial progress the country had made. China had been the hardest hit by the novel coronavirus since it emerged in late December, with about 81,000 total cases and 3,200 deaths. Most people who became sick have already recovered.
Wuhan police revoked virus “whistleblower” Li Wenliang's reprimand order following the probe, and apologized to Li’s family. The report released by China's top supervisory body on 19 March 2020 about the matter related to the death of Li Wenliang, the "whistleblower" doctor from Wuhan after a 42-day investigation has revealed the initial warning process in the early stage of combating the coronavirus outbreak in the city.
The report said the investigation team found in December 2019 some hospitals in Central China's Hubei Province receiving patients with pneumonia from unknown causes. On December 27, Zhang Jixian, a doctor from the Hubei Hospital of Integrated Traditional Chinese and Western Medicine reported three patients suffering from pneumonia with unknown causes to the hospital. Wuhan's Center for Disease Control and Prevention arranged an epidemiological investigation and test the same day.
At about 5:30 pm on December 30, 2019, Dr. Li Wenliang received a message from his colleagues. At 5:43pm, Li forwarded the message of "seven cases of SARS were confirmed in the Huanan seafood market" and "the patients were isolated in the emergency department in our hospital" in his WeChat group. At 6:42 pm, Li posted another message saying that "the latest news is that the coronavirus infection has been confirmed, and the virus is being classified. Please do not spread the information and let family members pay attention to prevention." Li was reprimanded by local police on January 3 for spreading "rumors" about the outbreak of the virus. Li died from COVID-19 on February 7.
On 09 March 2020 the French Catholic daily La Croix International (which is normally far from hostile to China) published an investigative report citing confidential instructions sent to Chinese embassies and fellow travelers around the world. According to the report, embassies have been instructed to “raise doubts” in the public opinion, suggesting that perhaps the virus originally came to China from abroad.
Chinese experts urged the US authority to release health and infection information of the US military delegation which came to Wuhan for the Military World Games in October to end the conjecture about US military personnel bringing COVID-19 to China. An American journalist claimed one US military athlete in the delegation could be patient zero of the deadly new disease. George Webb, an investigative journalist in Washington, DC claimed in recent videos and tweets that he believes Maatje Benassi, an armed diplomatic driver and cyclist who was in Wuhan in October for the cycling competition in the Military World Games, could be patient zero of COVID-19 in Wuhan. His conclusions, although without strong evidence, triggered questions on Chinese social media as it came only days after a petition was submitted to the White House website on March 10 listing some coincidences in time between the Fort Detrick lab's closure and the COVID-19 outbreak.
In a rare interview, China's ambassador to the United States, Cui Tiankai, told "Axios on HBO" on 22 March 2020 that he stands by his belief that it's "crazy" to spread rumors about the coronavirus originating from a military laboratory in the United States. Cui had called this exact conspiracy theory "crazy" more than a month ago on CBS' "Face the Nation." But that was before the spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Zhao Lijian, began publicly promoting the conspiracy. Such public differences are rare among Chinese officials who are famous for their ability to stick closely to the Communist Party’s official line.
Cui also blamed people in Washington for spreading unfounded rumors — an apparent shot at Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who has raised questions about whether the virus came from a biochemical lab in Wuhan, China. (There is no evidence for this, either, as Cotton later acknowledged) Ambassador Cui said it was Washington that first started the coronavirus blame game, as the war of words between the two giant economies continued. It is “very harmful” for diplomats and journalists to speculate the origin of COVID-19, it is a job for the scientists, Cui said in an interview with AXIOS and HBO on March 17, calling on Washington’s politicians to stop spreading conspiracy theories. The interview script was made public on March 23 on the website of the Chinese Embassy.
Critics put Xi’s long absence from the public eye and tardy measures in a very unflattering light. Xi feared that his botched response to the emergence of a highly contagious pathogen in Wuhan had exposed him to sharp jabs from foes within the party. Chinese realty tycoon Ren Zhiqiang is known in the Chinese Communist Party for being an outspoken maverick. Ren, a member of the party’s princeling clique whose father served as a deputy commerce minister under Mao Zedong, called Xi a “clown” and likened him to the emperor in the famous story by Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen. “There stands not an emperor in his new clothes but a clown who is stripped of his clothes but still wants to be an emperor,” read the sarcasm-laden piece. A few members of the princeling faction are inclined to political reforms and liberalization.
Asia Times reported "Ren is being held at a secret prison in a suburb in Beijing and that he may be locked up for no less than 15 years as he has been a recidivist, relentlessly attacking Xi. It is said that his interrogators, dispatched by the party’s commission on discipline inspection, have been given instructions from the top echelon of the central leadership to treat him harshly because he has infuriated the top leader."
There was growing discontent over Xi's rule among the second-generation "princeling" faction in the ruling party which includes some prominent offspring of veteran Communist Party heroes and revolutionary leaders. More and more princelings are diverging further and further away from Xi Jinping.
The New York-based Daily Beast newspaper reported 21 March 2020 that the White House was "launching a communications plan across multiple federal agencies," asking officials to stick closely to talking points which focus on accusing China of "creating a global pandemic." The strong ideological bias of some US politicians and media outlets led them to eagerly find faults with each and every measure China has taken to fight the virus. They claim that China's governance system is a complete "failure."
After a 76-day lockdown, Wuhan on 08 April 2020 lifted the outbound travel ban and people's lives in the city gradually returned to normal, with transportation and work resuming. When traffic police began pushing aside the highway roadblocks that had cut off the city's link to the outside world for the past two months; when the first train from Wuhan took hundreds of stranded passengers to their homes; when hundreds of cars crowded the city's highways during the morning rush; when crowds jammed Wuhan's famous commercial spots, Wuhan woke up after two months of lockdown.
The city of Wuhan has corrected its COVID-19 death toll to 3,869 on 17 April 2020, an increase of 1,290 compared with its previous figure, after local government altered its counting method, which analysts said reflects the Chinese government's spirit of "seeking truth from facts and respect for every deceased life during the pandemic". After the rectification in Wuhan, the death toll in the Chinese mainland hit 4,632 from the previous 3,342. The Wuhan government said it has now included the deaths of those who failed to be admitted to hospital at an early stage due to strained resources. Those who were not admitted to hospital were not previously included in the city's death toll as hospitals were overloaded and medical workers preoccupied. The city government also said that as designated hospitals in Wuhan increased rapidly, several failed to report information in a timely manner. Other issues like deaths counted more than once and misreported deaths also contributed to the correction to Wuhan's death toll.
China could face trillions of dollars in international lawsuits for its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which first emerged in Wuhan as early as November, according to a London-based think-tank. Nations who are part of the G7 and other governments could sue the ruling Chinese Communist Party for damages to their economies and national infrastructure after the country breached the International Health Regulations, a legally binding international treaty to which China is a signatory, the Henry Jackson Society said in a report published in April 2020. "These breaches allowed the outbreak to rapidly spread outside Wuhan, its place of origin," the report said, citing the failure to disclose evidence of human to-human transmission for as long as three weeks after first becoming aware of it. It cited a University of Southampton study which found that the spread of COVID-19 could have been reduced by around 95 percent if the authorities had acted three weeks earlier. "Potential damages liable against China at the time of writing could run to ... U.S.$4 trillion from just the G7 nations," the report said, citing 10 potential legal avenues for action against China.
The Chinese city of Wuhan, where the global coronavirus pandemic began, now had no remaining cases of the infection in its hospitals, a health official told reporters 26 April 2020. "The latest news is that by April 26, the number of new coronavirus patients in Wuhan was at zero, thanks to the joint efforts of Wuhan and medical staff from around the country," National Health Commission spokesman Mi Feng said at a briefing. The city had reported 46,452 cases, 56 percent of the national total. It saw 3,869 fatalities, or 84 percent of China's total.
As authorities lifted a two-month coronavirus lockdown in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, residents said they were growing increasingly skeptical that the figure of some 3,800 deaths in the city to date was accurate. It was said that since 27 April 2020, the seven large funeral homes in Wuhan had been handing out the cremated remains of around 500 people to their families every day, suggesting that far more people died than ever made the official statistics. Some social media posts estimated that all seven funeral homes in Wuhan were handing out 3,500 urns every day in total.
Funeral homes had informed families that they would try to complete cremations before the traditional grave-tending festival of Qing Ming on April 5, which would indicate a 12-day process beginning on March 23. Such an estimate would mean that 42,000 urns would be given out during that time.
Another popular estimate is based on the cremation capacity of the funeral homes, which run a total of 84 furnaces with a capacity over 24 hours of 1,560 urns city-wide, assuming that one cremation takes one hour. This calculation results in an estimated 46,800 deaths.
Wuhan has a total population of about 10 million people. According to WHO data published in 2018, life expectancy in China is 76.4 years. Depending on assumption, this would suggest a normal death rate of at least 10,000 to no more than 15,000 people per month. The surplus COVID-19 related deaths would thus represent a doubling of the underlying normal death rate.
Staffers from the Wuhan laboratory "defected" and landed in the hands of Western intelligence, Donald Trump's former campaign strategist Steve Bannon told the Mail on Sunday 12 July 2020. In an exclusive interview with the British media outlet, Bannon claimed that spies, who he said also had "compelling evidence", were building a case against Beijing based on the assumption that the global pandemic had been caused by a leak from the Institute of Virology in Wuhan. "Regardless of whether it came out of the market or the Wuhan lab, the Chinese Communist Party's subsequent decisions hold them guilty of pre-meditated murder", Bannon was quoted as saying.
He contended that he knows "certain defectors are working with the FBI here to try to knit together what happened" at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which he claimed was "horribly run and terribly mismanaged". Bannon explained "They [China] used the time to scoop up all the world's personal protective equipment. This is a murderous dictatorship. The blood is [also] on the hands of the world's corporations – the investment banks, the hedge funds, and the pension funds",, urging European countries and the US to start "calling it out before it leads to the destruction of the West.”
Yan Li-Meng, a Chinese virologist and whistleblower, on 14 September 2929 released a paper explaining how the genome of the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) indicates that it was constructed in a Chinese lab rather than naturally occurring. Yan Li-Meng, a virologist employed as a researcher at the University of Hong Kong's School of Public Health when the coronavirus pandemic began, alleged that the coronavirus came from a Chinese lab and that it is a chimera based on the "Zhoushan bat coronavirus." According to Yan, an examination of the genome sequences released by the Chinese government on 14 January 2020 also showed that the Zhoushan ZC45 and ZXC21 strains were the closest to SARS-CoV-2 and that they are the "backbone" upon which COVID-19 was constructed.
Yan claimed that the origin of COVID-19 was the "PLA-owned Zhoushan bat coronavirus." She accused the World Health Organization (WHO) of "covering up numerous lies for the CCP." Yan released the report on the data platform Zenodo with the title "Unusual Features of the SARS-CoV-2 Genome Suggesting Sophisticated Laboratory Modification Rather Than Natural Evolution and Delineation of Its Probable Synthetic Route." Zenodo is a general open access repository developed under the European OpenAIRE project and operated by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), allowing researchers to store data, software, reports, and any research-related tools.
The paper argued, among other things, that "The receptor-binding motif (RBM) within the Spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, which determines the host specificity of the virus, resembles that of SARS-CoV from the 2003 epidemic in a suspicious manner. Genomic evidence suggests that the RBM has been genetically manipulat... SARS-CoV-2 contains a unique furin-cleavage site in its Spike protein, which is known to greatly enhance viral infectivity and cell tropism. Yet, this cleavage site is completely absent in this particular class of coronaviruses found in nature.In addition, rare codons associated with this additional sequence suggest the strong possibility that this furin-cleavage site is not the product of natural evolution and could have been inserted into the SARS-CoV-2 genome artificially... "
The Vice Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff directly refuted the claim that COVID-19 was created in a lab or released on purpose. At a virtual symposium hosted by the U.S. Defense Department on 18 September Thursday, General John Hyten confirmed that COVID-19 is a naturally occurring disease that first manifested itself in Wuhan, China. He also talked about the lessons from the pandemic that "our adversaries will now understand how biological capabilities can impact the nation." His comments come after a researcher from Hong Kong released a paper claiming COVID-19 was man-made.
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh reports that in a file marked "internal document, please keep confidential," local health authorities in the province of Hubei, where the virus was first detected, list 5,918 new cases on Feb. 10, "more than double the official public number of confirmed cases." Why it matters: "This larger figure was never fully revealed at that time ... China's accounting system seemed ... to downplay the severity of the outbreak." Health experts told CNN the 117 pages of documents had "global consequences" and "laid bare why what China knew in the early months mattered."
China has broadly contained the pandemic and presided over an economic rebound.
The expert mission to China to probe the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic was in disarray 06 January 2020 after Beijing denied entry to the World Health Organization team at the last minute despite months of painstaking negotiations. Ten experts were due to arrive in China for the delicate, highly politicised task of establishing how and where the virus jumped from animals to humans. But with a number of the team already in transit, China denied them entry visas, prodding WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, to say he was “very disappointed”. China is determined to control the origin story of the virus, which has killed more than 1.8 million people around the world and laid waste to global economies.
Scientists initially believed the virus jumped to humans at a market selling exotic animals for meat in the city of Wuhan. But experts now think the market may not have been the origin of the outbreak, but rather a place where it was amplified. It is widely assumed the virus originally came from bats, but the intermediate animal host that transmitted it between bats and humans remains unknown.
Inside China, the narrative of a devastating contagion has been recast as a story of Chinese resilience and strong leadership by Communist authorities. But whistleblowers have been silenced and citizen journalists jailed —including a 37-year-old woman imprisoned last week for four years over video reports from Wuhan during its prolonged lockdown. Foreign Minister Wang Yi recently trotted out the unproven claim “that the pandemic likely started in multiple points around the world”.
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