Cover Photo: TTF Visuals
Distorting Data: On Wednesday the US intelligence community concluded that China has concealed the extent of the coronavirus outbreak in its country, under-reporting both total cases and deaths it’s suffered from the disease, according to Bloomberg. China has publicly reported only about 82,000 cases and 3,300 deaths. That compares to more than 189,000 cases and more than 4,000 deaths in the US, which has the largest publicly reported outbreak in the world.
On The Left: While left-leaning outlets do acknowledge the somewhat suspicious data coming out of China, they have also said that “the US-China coronavirus blame game is undermining diplomacy” (The Guardian), that “breaking from China is exactly the wrong answer” (The Atlantic), that “Trump’s enablers blame China to shield him from accountability” (Washington Monthly), and that “Like It or Not, [the] Crisis Burnishes China’s Governance Model” (SCMP). Furthermore, Robert Peckham of Foreign Affairs wrote about “How [the] Coronavirus Is Showing China’s Strengths” and three weeks ago Ian Johnson wrote for the New York Times that “China Bought the West Time [but] The West Squandered It.” To summarize, there has been a more lenient, apologetic tone towards China by left-leaning outlets.
On The Right: Meanwhile, right-leaning outlets have been much harsher and eager to believe that China was lying. In the American Conservative, Barbara Boland wrote “How China’s Lies Brought the World to Its Knees”. Jonathan Soo Hoo of the Washington Examiner said the “US and World Governments Should Send China the Bill.” James Kraska of War on the Rocks wrote that “China Is Legally Responsible and that Claims Could Be in the Trillions”. Lastly, Jianli Yang & Aaron Rhodes argue in the National Review that “China’s Censorship and Distortions Are a Threat to the Globe”. To summarize, the tone has been much sharper in terms of blaming China for the current global epidemic that has killed over 45,000 people across the world.
Flag This: Fears that China was distorting statistics arose as early as January. Halfway through the first month of the year, Business Insider noted that “China’s handling of 2003’s SARS epidemic sparked concerns of another pandemic and state-sanctioned cover-up.” During the SARS epidemic the Chinese government concealed information from the public and did not inform the WHO of the outbreak until February 2003, allowing the disease to flourish. Moreover, as a months-long lockdown in China comes to an end, “skeptics are throwing shade on the government’s narrative,” GZERO Media writes. “As funeral homes release cremated ashes to family members of those who succumbed to the disease, residents say there have likely been over 40,000 deaths in Wuhan from COVID-19.”