NY Post Editorial Board: China’s deadly COVID cover-up was worse than we thought
China launched an obscene effort to protect its own image at huge and deadly expense for the entire world
A new report finds China censored and suppressed alarming information on the severity of COVID-19 in the early days of the virus; Gordon Chang, author of ‘The Coming Collapse of China,’ reacts.
Fresh evidence published jointly by The New York Times and ProPublica confirms that Beijing has been trying to keep COVID-19 information from the rest of the world since the very start of the pandemic.
On Feb. 7, Li Wenliang, the doctor who blew the whistle on COVID-19, died of the disease he’d warned the world about. While working at Wuhan Central Hospital in China’s Hubei Province, he saw a new version of the severe acute respiratory syndrome known as SARS, which also originated in China in 2002.
As news of the 34-year-old doctor’s untimely death spread and grief went viral on social media such as Weibo and WeChat — Beijing set out to bury the truth.
“They ordered news websites not to issue push notifications alerting readers to [Li’s] death. They told social platforms to gradually remove his name from trending topics pages. And they activated legions of fake online commenters to flood social sites with distracting chatter,” the Times-ProPublica team reports.
In all, the Hangzhou offices of Beijing’s Internet regulator, the Cyberspace Administration of China, issued more than 3,200 directives and 1,800 memos in its COVID-censorship drive — all leaked by the hacker group C.C.P. [Chinese Communist Party] Unmasked.
“At a time when digital media is deepening social divides in Western democracies,” the investigative team warns, “China is manipulating online discourse to enforce the Communist Party’s consensus.”
In January, before the coronavirus had even been definitively identified, the CCP began working overtime to mislead the world about the truth to protect the party’s image as infections began soaring — even making the disease look less severe. As a result, the world lost its best chance of preventing the global pandemic.
This is a damning expose from two left-leaning news organizations. Now it’s up to left, right and center to unite in holding the CCP to account for its obscene effort to protect its own image at the huge and deadly expense to the entire world.
UPDATED 1:50 PM PT – Saturday, December 26, 2020
In the early days of the coronavirus outbreak, China’s ruling communist party took extensive steps to control the narrative surrounding the virus as well as to fight public opinion.
These documents show thousands of directives and memos reportedly from the country’s internet regulator, the ‘Cyberspace Administration of China.’ According to the documents, the internet regulator aimed to make the virus appear less threatening in addition to making authorities seem like they were competently handling the situation.
To do so, the Cyberspace Administration of China used specialized software to allow the government to track online trends, coordinate censorship activity and manage fake social media accounts.
These directives date back as far as early January. They mandated that news sites only use government-published reports when discussing coronavirus. Furthermore, news stations were forbidden from comparing the virus to the SARS outbreak of 2002.
At the beginning of February, Chinese President Xi Xinping called for tighter control of digital media with a directive saying regulators should work to ‘influence international opinion.’
On February 7, this came to a head with the death of coronavirus whistleblower Dr. Li Wenliang. He had warned of a new viral outbreak before succumbing to the virus himself.
Authorities began an immediate crackdown and said expressions of grief would be allowed, but anyone ‘sensationalizing’ the story would be dealt with ‘severely.’
Following Li’s death, online memorials vanished and police detained people who were working to archive deleted posts.
By late May, authorities were alerted to confidential opinion analysis reports published online. Officials ordered cyber administration offices to get rid of internal reports.
According to researchers, hundreds of thousands of people work part-time in China to help shape the country’s online narrative, including low-level government employees, university students and teachers.
This is not the first report that demonstrates China’s effort to censor its own people. Reports dating back to early 2020 showed the Chinese messenger app ‘We-Chat,’ owned by ‘Ten-Cent Holdings,’ blocked keyword combinations that criticized President Xi, local officials and policies linked to the outbreak.
The U.S. and other nations have long accused China of suppressing information about the coronavirus. This information could have potentially changed the tide of the outbreak.