7 Reasons China is Lying About the Deadly Coronavirus Outbreak - Dispatch Weekly

April 3, 2020 - Reading time: 9 minutes

The effects of the coronavirus have been felt all over the world and most countries have experienced numerous cases of the rapidly spreading virus. Panic has been felt from the east to the west and much of the world has been subjected to mandatory quarantine. 

China, where the virus began, is still facing issues relating to COVID-19. From the beginning, China has been less than transparent about the severity of the outbreak and today the case is not much different. 

It seems that through this entire pandemic China has continued to cover up the truth about the virus. 

Citizen Lab based in Canada found that the Chinese social network WeChat blocked combinations of keywords on the virus and criticism of President Xi Jinping’s response. 

Wechat although privately owned it has been supported by the Chinese government which uses its data to conduct mass surveillance in China. On the same time fearing from the current economic situation, the People’s Bank of China, on March 16, injected $93 billion into the financial system by offering medium-term loans to banks and cutting the amount of cash that banks must hold as reserves for the third time this year. 

What does China gain from lying about COVID-19?

  1. Control – It’s now apparent that China knew about the virus before it began spreading uncontrollably, however they decided to censor conversations about the virus until around the end of January. This censorship may have been an attempt to keep the virus under control before it got more serious.
  2. Reduce Panic – It is not uncommon for governments to tone down situations to avoid widespread panic among the public. China more than likely though that the virus would not reach the pandemic level and decided to downplay the severity in order to reduce panic. 
  3. Reputation – China has just recently started to become a powerhouse among countries such as America and Great Britain. They do not want their global reputation to be tarnished by a virus that has caused major issues all over the world. China has even launched a global campaign to improve its image in the aftermath of the virus. 
  4. Economic – The Chinese economy suffered greatly due to this pandemic, production and sales have declined at an alarming rate due to lockdown. China has already begun to reopen businesses in an attempt to recover from the economic devastation felt in the first quarter of this year. 
  5. Political – The Chinese Communist Party has been known to subject its country to major catastrophes and coverups have intensified the death toll of natural disasters such as the Sars outbreak. It’s no surprise that the party has put its wellbeing over that of their citizens. Even in the midst of the pandemic Xi has expressed a desire to rejuvenate the nation while major cities remain desolate. 
  6. Xenophobia – This situation has brought to light the widespread xenophobia across the world. There have been multiple occasions where Asians have been physically assaulted and abused due to the perception that this is a “Chinese virus”. It’s plausible that China did not want this to manifest further. 
  7. Heroism – China may be continuing to downplay the virus as they want to emerge a hero in this situation. China had taken on the victim narrative in the early stages, but now it seems they are attempting to be the first country to ‘beat’ the virus. China has even begun airing propaganda highlighting its success in containing COVID-19


China reported death cases

Chinese officials have reported 78,064 infections and 2,715 deaths, mostly in Hubei. But no one trusts the party’s figures. The only certainty about the numbers it releases is that they are the numbers it wants you to believe. 

To change the narrative after Li’s death, the party has called for a people’s war against the virus. China officials have urged journalists to replace “negative content” on social media with “touching stories from the frontline of combating the disease”. 

The state media have posted photographs of pregnant nurses in hazmat suits serving on the frontline; there are masked patients in another field hospital being awarded party membership on their deathbeds, joyfully raising their fists in the air as they pledge undying loyalty to Xi.

China intentionally under-reported total coronavirus cases and deaths, U.S. intelligence says

China has a history of corruption and cover-ups when it comes to addressing crises. So, it comes as no surprise that the handling of the coronavirus pandemic was no different. In this case, the dishonesty from China has affected the entire world. All we can do at this point is scrutinize their actions in an attempt to prevent situations like this from happening again. 

U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo has publicly urged China and other nations to be transparent about their outbreaks. 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.

In the meantime, officials around the world are mounting for restrictions to prevent the panic-buying of protective health equipment, for instance, N95 masks and FFP2 and FFP3 face masks, in amid concern over shortages, as the World Health Organization called on governments and industry to increase production by 40% to help counter the spread of coronavirus.

For the time being, Xi has ordered the country back to work, in order to ensure that the economic targets of his 21st-century goals are met.

DW Staff

David Lintott is the Editor-in-Chief, leading our team of talented freelance journalists. He specializes in covering culture, sport, and society. Originally from the decaying seaside town of Eastbourne, he attributes his insightful world-weariness to his roots in this unique setting.