Even Beijing Kept Under Dark Over Covid-19 Outbreak For Weeks Initially, Finds US Intelligence

Local officials hid initial information to hoard medical supplies, besides fearing retribution from Beijing

On several occasions, the Donald Trump administration criticized China for covering up Coronavirus details from the world, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo often blamed Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for the COVID-19 pandemic for which "today we're all still wearing masks and watching the pandemic's body count rise."

But intelligence officials in the U.S. found that a far more complex scenario was responsible for the pandemic, which killed over 787,000 people and affected millions of people. As per the intelligence report, the local officials in China hid the threat of the SARS-CoV-2 from the top government leaders in Beijing for weeks after their initial finding. This new finding doesn't contradict Trump administration's criticism of China, rather, adds a new perspective to the global health crisis.

The Truth of Coronavirus

Chinese President Xi Jinping

The New York Times reported that as per U.S. officials, the internal report has revealed that local officials from China's Wuhan—where the Coronavirus pandemic began—withheld COVID-19 related information from the central leadership, possibly out of fear of retribution.

Michael Pillsbury, director for Chinese strategy at Hudson Institute and an outside adviser to President Trump said that this latest revelation "makes a huge difference if it was Wuhan or Beijing." He added that if the Chinese President Xi Jinping was unaware of the initial Coronavirus cover-up, it could impact the diplomatic relations between the U.S. and China.

The intelligence report was commissioned as a follow-up to a May 2020 report from the Department of Homeland Security that claimed officials initially suppressed information about the virus outbreak in a bid to hoard medical supplies.

According to a law enforcement official, the DHS analysis said, "We assess the Chinese government [CCP] intentionally concealed the severity of COVID-19 from the international community in early January 2020 while it stockpiled medical supplies by both increasing imports and decreasing exports."

Beijing Guilty Too

Xi Jinping
China Central Government Reuters

As per the former and current U.S. officials, the report, which was circulated in June—with classified and unclassified section—still supports the overall notion that CCP officials hid important information about the outbreak from the world. The U.S. officials also added that even though local authorities spent initial weeks by hiding facts from the Central government, Beijing played a role in covering the Coronavirus outbreak by withholding information from the World Health Organization (WHO).

When WHO recently made some changes to its Coronavirus timeline, it came out in public that Chinese authorities did not self-report the outbreak to the global agency, instead, the virus first came to the attention of WHO when the officials of U.N. agency came across Chinese media reports about a "viral pneumonia" outbreak.

However, the NYT report came after a former CCP member Cai Xia, who called Xi Jinping a "mafia boss," claimed that China never reported the actual number of Coronavirus deaths in the country. Xia was recently expelled from the party following her remarks on the Chinese President in a leaked audio recording.

Cai Xia
Former CCP member Cai Xia Twitter

As per Xia, officials in Wuhan and inside the party informed Xi Jinping late out of fear of retaliation. She said, "In the beginning, he [Xi Jinping] did not get the real news, but he said in a meeting on January 7 that the situation was under his personal command."

"If he knew on January 7, why did it take until January 20 to announce the outbreak? So, shouldn't he bear responsibility?" she questioned adding that even if Xi Jinping took stock of the situation, he mobilized resources after considerable delay.

Related topics : Coronavirus