[Meanwhile] Who would believe China’s Covid stats?

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[Meanwhile] Who would believe China’s Covid stats?

The author is the Beijing correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo.

It’s my third year as a correspondent in China, but this is the first time for things to be so reckless. I am talking about the Covid stats in China. There has been a lot of criticism so far, but this time, it crossed the line.

On Dec. 23, China’s National Hygiene and Health Commission stopped officially announcing the number of Covid-19 cases. The day before, the leaked details of the committee’s closed meeting showed that at least 250 million people were infected from December 1 to 20. The document also stated that 36.99 million people were infected on Dec. 21 alone, but the commission lowered the number.

Since then, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention under the commission made announcements on the positive cases. As of Jan. 8, there were 14,171 new confirmed cases. But according to the regional centers for disease control in Sichuan Province and other areas, up to 80 percent of the total population are infected.

The discrepancy in death statistics is even greater. While intensive care units at Chinese hospitals and crematoriums have already been saturated, the official number of deaths on Jan. 8 was three. The number on Jan. 4 was zero. The Chinese government claims that there are two categories of global standards to determine Covid deaths, and China applies one of them. But China’s standards are disputable. The WHO disease statistics guideline is based on death within 28 days of infection. In the U.K. and Hong Kong, death within 28 days of infection is considered to be caused by Covid. It is 30 days in the U.S. state of Massachusetts and India, and 60 days in Taiwan. But China only recognizes deaths from direct causes such as pneumonia when determining Covid-19 related deaths.

That’s why most people are reluctant to have Chinese people visiting their countries or to travel to China, even after China completely opened its borders on Jan. 8. One of the key concerning factors is variants, and it is likely to occur from a place with a large number of cases. While China claims that no variant was discovered during every news conference, it has lost credibility.

As countries around the world reinforced disease protection against arrivals from China, the Chinese Foreign Ministry criticized it as “disease control with political intention.” The Chinese government threatened to take corresponding actions against those countries. Reporters snorted rather than being surprised. What has happened to China? What China lost the most to Covid-19 is the trust of the world.
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