China has been facing criticism since the Coronavirus outbreak hit the country in December 2019. Recently, after a documentary sparked debate on whether Novel Coronavirus has originated in Wuhan's disease control authority as it showed Chinese virologist catching wild bats in mountains, US intelligence claimed that Beijing has concealed the extent of the virus outbreak.
As reported by Bloomberg, according to three US officials, in a classified report to the White House, intelligence community clearly mentioned that the country has covered up the extent of the coronavirus outbreak, under-reporting both total cases and deaths suffered due to the disease. While two of these officials claimed that China's COVID-19 numbers are inaccurate, they mentioned that its public reporting on Coronavirus cases and deaths is intentionally incomplete.
US and China, in the middle of COVID-19 pandemic
As of now, China has reported 82,000 infection cases and more than 3,000 deaths in the country. On Wednesday, April 1, US President Donald Trump said Beijing's data about COVID-19 appear to be on the "light side." But Trump did not mention about any intelligence report during the White House brief, instead said that "Their numbers seem to be a little bit on the light side, and I'm being nice when I say that."
The US President Trump also added that US and China were in communication to find a solution to the Coronavirus outbreak. Earlier Trump also said that he had a "very good" conversation with Chinese President Xi Jinping after the recent reports revealed that US has surpassed the initial COVID-19 epicentre China in terms of most infection cases.
However, on Wednesday Vice President Mike Pence said "The reality is that we could have been better off if China had been more forthcoming," and added 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."
Chinese authority under criticism
At this moment when each and every country stand in a vulnerable condition due to the Coronavirus pandemic, transparency and spreading information are expected to be the best key elements to know more about the virus. But, recently Wuhan residents claimed the government is lying about the Coronavirus death toll. One of the residents said, "The incinerators have been working round the clock, so how can so few people have died? They started distributing ashes and starting interment ceremonies on Monday."
Just a few weeks ago it was also revealed that in a tech-savvy country like China, where millions of people use mobile phones, more than 21 million cell phone accounts were cancelled while in past three months 840,000 landlines were closed. This unusual data indicated that probably these closed numbers belonged to the people who died due to the Coronavirus in the country and China covered it up.
On Tuesday, March 31 Deborah Birx, the State Department immunologist advising the White House on its response to the Coronavirus outbreak said that "The medical community made -- interpreted the Chinese data as: This was serious but smaller than anyone expected. Because I think probably we were missing a significant amount of the data, now that what we see happened to Italy and see what happened to Spain."
Intelligence report on China's cover-up
China is not the only country which is criticized for keeping others in dark and not being transparent, as officials have pointed to Iran, Russia, Indonesia and especially North Korea, which did not report a single case of COVID-19 in the country.
As reported by Bloomberg, after the revelation of the intelligence report, editor-in-chief of China's state-run Global Times, Hu Xijin said that the US intelligence tactically wanted to divert the attention from the US and other western countries which have been struggling to control the infection and death toll due to the surge of COVID-19.
Hu mentioned that "To fake the casualty data, which departments will be deployed? Who will implement the plan? It will involve many different departments in many places to get total numbers. If one of them is faking once, they have to fake it all the time. The risk of screwing up could be very high."
In several occasions, US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo accused China of covering up the extent of the problem and for delaying to share information, as the Asian country kept quiet for first three weeks in December, when the outbreak started in Wuhan. While requesting other countries to be transparent, Pompeo also mentioned that "I would urge every nation: Do your best to collect the data. Do your best to share that information."