'US wants to shift the blame': China denies hiding coronavirus cases

04 Avril, 2020, 02:51 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Covid-19: Donald Trump questions China’s official figures, says numbers ‘on the light side’

China rejected the American intelligence community's conclusion that Beijing concealed the extent of the coronavirus epidemic, and accused the US of seeking to shift the blame for its own handling of the outbreak.

The top official in Wuhan, the epicentre of the coronavirus epidemic in China, yesterday warned residents to boost self-protection measures and avoid going out as Beijing preaches vigilance to prevent a resurgence of infections. As of Thursday, a total of 81,620 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 had been reported on the mainland, and 3,322 people had died of the disease.

Anticipating a backlash, China's official Xinhua News Agency last month suggested that Beijing could retaliate against the U.S.by banning the export of medical products that would leave the USA stuck in the "ocean of viruses".

"I$3 n response to their endless, immoral slanders, I feel I have no choice but to take a few moments to clarify the truth once again", Hua sighed.

On Twitter - which Hua uses freely despite the Chinese regime banning its citizens from accessing it, raising the question of if Hua is flagrantly breaking her own country's laws - the Communist Party mouthpiece continued to attack American officials who publicized the fact that China's coronavirus data is at best flawed, at worst deliberately manipulated to benefit Beijing. Last month, China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian had triggered a controversy by promoting conspiracy theories claiming that the USA army may have brought the deadly coronavirus to China.

Three unnamed intelligence officials spoke to the news website about the report, with one claiming that it had been provided to the White House last week.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases globally has crossed the 1 million mark, according to the new tally from Johns Hopkins University. The report was received by the White House last week, one of the officials said. The Bloomberg report followed months of reports from anti-communist and human rights publications like the Epoch Times and Radio Free Asia (RFA) finding significant discrepancies between the official death toll in Wuhan, where the virus originated, and the number of dead people being processed by the city's seven funeral homes.

By comparison, the USA has more than 216,000 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus.

American media institutions took the bait, parroting Chinese propaganda by accusing President Donald Trump of being racist by accurately referring to the virus with a name citing where it came from even as their reporters were expelled from China. "Their numbers seem to be a little bit on the light side".

Trump added that the US and China were in constant communication and that Beijing would spend $250 billion to purchase American products.

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Wuhan alone reported 51 new asymptomatic cases and said 705 people who had the virus but showed no symptoms remained under medical observation.

Communications staff at the White House and the Chinese embassy in Washington didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

Deborah Birx, a member of Trump's coronavirus task force, said on Tuesday that the USA medical community saw the outbreak as "serious but smaller than anyone expected because I think probably we were missing a significant amount of the data".

While China eventually imposed lockdowns and mass quarantines, and set up fever clinics to slow the virus's spread, skepticism toward its numbers has lingered.

China has seen its daily case figures drop sharply from the height of the crisis in February, allowing Beijing to push the country's industries to go back to work.

Last week, the US -government funded non-profit Radio Free Asia had already released a report contradicting China's public death toll.

In her remarks Thursday, Hua lashed out at US politicians who keep attacking China. "However, these comments by those USA politicians are just shameless and morally repulsive, and these slanders, smears and blame games can not make up for the lost time, but will only cost more lost time and lives".

Michael McCaul, top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said China lied to the world about the coronavirus and silenced those who tried to report the truth.

"The medical community made - interpreted the Chinese data as: This was serious, but smaller than anyone expected", she said at a news conference on Tuesday. And I'm being nice when I say that, relative to what we witnessed and what was reported.

Doubts about China's transparency in dealing with the pandemic have strained its ties with US. He has repeatedly accused China of covering up the extent of the problem and being slow to share information, especially in the weeks after the virus first emerged, and blocking offers of help from American experts. "They should abandon such politicizing of public health issues". For your security, we've sent a confirmation email to the address you entered. Click the link to confirm your subscription and begin receiving our newsletters.

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