Much of the Washington media has decided the big story of the day President Trump says to CBS correspondent Weijia Jiang in the White House “Ask China” after she asked, “Why? [the rate of U.S. testing to other countries] matter? Why is this a global competition for you when Americans lose their lives every day and we still see more cases every day? The general argument is that Trump’s response to Jiang was racist.
Instead of the ten millionth “can you believe President Trump said that?” story, let’s see what’s really going on in China.
Despite their claims, China has not defeated the corona virus
Outside of China, there is widespread consensus that regardless of the actual count of coronavirus deaths in that country, the amount was significantly higher than the officially released number. The Washington Post felt confident enough to write on April 3 that evidence, such as the number of hours crematoriums worked and the number of urns returned from funeral homes, resulted in a death toll of about 42,000 to 47,000.
In mid-April, Wuhan health officials revised their local death toll from 2,579 to 3,869. Half of the previous total is 1,289.5; the increase was 1,290 – almost as if someone randomly decided to increase the existing death toll by fifty percent.
(If you’re wondering which 21 million cell phone plans have disappeared, Chinese cell phone companies stated that they were cancellations resulting from economic and lifestyle changes during the outbreak. While I think the Chinese government’s capacity for dishonesty, cover-ups and propaganda is significant, hiding 21 million deaths would be a real logistical challenge.)
China also claims that it had only a handful of new cases in a country of over a billion people in March, April and so far in May, and only one death since April 17. As far as the Chinese government has defeated the world, they have defeated the coronavirus once and for all.
Or maybe not: “Authorities in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the pandemic coronavirus was first discovered, After a cluster of new community cases, have ordered new Covid-19 tests for all of its 14 million residents. The unprecedented move came after weekend reports of six new coronavirus cases from the same residential complex known as Sanmin. ”
And it’s not just Wuhan again: “On Sunday, the Chinese authorities reclassified Shulan, a city near the Russian and North Korean borders, as a high risk, after a cluster of cases related to a woman with no known history of travel or exposure to the virus. ”
We know that the Chinese national authorities and the local authorities in Wuhan never like to admit bad news unless they have to, and if they admit bad news it is probably drastically subdued.
For a long time in the Soviet Union understood what was really going on obligated ‘read between the lines “ – noticing changes in standard expressions, the lack of certain expected points or other ways of referring to or referring to arguments contrary to the official line of the Communist Party.
Note this article originally in the Chinese business publication Caixin:
On Friday, the National Medicines Regulator approved 30 test kits for the virus, including 19 nucleic acid tests and 11 antibody tests. The combined production capacity of test kits exceeded 9 million per day, according to the National Medical Products Administration.
Statistics from Dongxing Securities showed that in normal business operations, medical institutions in China could test a total of 1.66 million people per day, matching the basic needs of mass testing as social activities resume.
But access to tests was uneven. While major cities, including Beijing, Guangdong and the epicenter Wuhan, have vastly expanded capacity and given residents the opportunity to run tests as they see fit, people in remote areas such as Heilongjiang are still having problems.
There is “no chance” that the coronavirus pandemic will end soon, and countries need to prepare for a “new normal” amid reopening plans, said Zhang Wenhong, chief of infectious disease division at Fudan University’s Huashan Hospital in Shanghai and director of the city’s COVID-19 clinical expert team.
Does this sound like a country that has only had a handful of cases in the past ten weeks?
Nobody wants to be dependent on Chinese imports anymore
Meanwhile, the United States is not alone country that suddenly finds the idea of being dependent on Chinese exports of medical equipment and supplies unacceptable:
The Japanese cabinet in April set aside 248.6 billion yen ($ 2.33 billion) for subsidies to companies relocating production to Japan, up to two-thirds of the travel costs.
While the amount was less than 1% of the 108 trillion yen coronavirus stimulus package, it has clearly kept China on its toes. Beijing urged the Japanese authorities not only to explain the significance of the measure, but also to ask Japanese companies in China whether they intended to leave.
However, the argument was revived when Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga in an interview with Nikkei emphasized the need for more self-reliance.
“Looking at masks, for example, 70% to 80% are produced in China,” he said. “We must avoid being excessively dependent on certain countries for products or materials, and bringing home production facilities for goods for everyday life.”
Suga is Abe’s right-hand man and a major player in his government since Abe returned as Prime Minister in 2012. Suga’s comments reflect something much broader than a temporary policy response to the current crisis.
Does the Chinese government seem and sound like a group of leaders who trust that they will win the battle for world opinion? They are a ban on imports of Australian beef after Australia requested an investigation into the origins of the outbreak. A Chinese coastguard vessel deliberately rammed and scuttled a Vietnamese fishing vessel last month. Chinese coastguard ships stray into Japanese territorial waters. Chinese and Indian soldiers throw stones at each other and engage in fist fighting at their border. The Chinese economy is likely to be responsible the same long, painful climb out of the recession that we and the rest of the world are likely to experience in the coming year.
Does this province look stable to you? Or does China look like a powder keg, with many angry people who have many good reasons to be angry? And does the Beijing government look like a bunch of strategic masterminds, or do they look like they only have one play in their playbook: trying to send public anger over and over to angry nationalism?
Trust only those who are arrested
Finally, elsewhere in China, a new study from Shandong First Medical University concludes, “Our article clearly shows that these events occur naturally in wildlife. This provides strong evidence that SARS-CoV-2 is a laboratory escape. ”
Note that the Chinese authorities want to blur the line between “naturally occurring animals” and “escape from the laboratory”. You can take naturally occurring viruses to a laboratory, either as part of a sample or as part of an animal, and that virus can leave the laboratory – either through the accidental infection of a laboratory worker, or through improper removal of biological material. This happened literally twice separately with SARS in a Beijing laboratory in 2004.
I can understand why a Chinese scientist insists that a laboratory error is not possible. Zhang Xuezhong, a leading Chinese lawyer, argued on social media that restrictions on freedom of expression had made it more difficult for the country to stem the outbreak, and criticized the arrest and repression of Chinese physician Li Wenliang. He was immediately detained by the police for a day and later released.
With such rapid and serious consequences, do you think Chinese scientists will admit, “Yes, mistakes are happening and this virus could be one of ours”?
I suspect that unless you’ve made a deliberate attempt to keep up with news from China, you haven’t heard much of these developments.
You’ve probably heard of that Colorado restaurant that was open and busy on Mother’s Day. You have probably heard that the President and Vice President do not wear masks. You may have heard that Twitter has put in place new rules to fight coronavirus disinformation, but you probably haven’t heard that those rules don’t apply to the January World Health Organization’s tweets stating that the virus isn’t human-to-human can be distributed.
We have national media – news pages, editorial pages, radio, television, web and cable news – that is just hidden with people who know how to tell one story and who only want to tell one story: “Democrats are the good, Republicans are the bad guys. “Even if you agreed – I don’t know, of course – the world is much more complicated than that. When a story like this virus and China arise, they can only observe the events through that pre-existing lens.
ADDENDUM: Because you’re probably looking for things to look out for: Baseball will probably be back sometime around July 4; the movie version of Hamilton coming to Disney + on July 3; Disney still plans to release the live action “Mulan” in theaters in July; and the The second season of “The Mandalorian” arrives as planned in October.