(Minghui.org) “For any infectious disease outbreak in China, whether new or recurring, China's National Health Commission would know about it within six hours,” declared Gao Fu, head of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in June 2019 at a major forum, “This is because we have established an effective, nationwide information submission system.”

Gao was not lying. After the Chinese Communist Party covered up the SARS epidemic in 2003, the WHO mandated that China establish an infectious disease reporting system, which was then listed as one of the accomplishments in the 2017 China State Council Information Office’s white paper titled “Development of China’s Public Health as an Essential Element of Human Rights.” This system was tested in July 2019 with more than 8,200 participants from 31 provinces and provincial-level cities. The test scenario was about how to respond should a virus break out in 2020.

A virus did break out. And the reporting system was turned into a water-tight mechanism to block information, suppress whistleblowers, and mislead the public.

A System Failure

According to news reports and scientific research, coronavirus infections occurred as early as December 1, 2019. By mid-December of last year, there had already been several cases of human-to-human transmission. On December 30, Wuhan Central Hospital received test results of coronavirus. Doctors reported to higher officials and passed on the information through social media.

But none of these communication channels worked. Because they sounded the alarm on the outbreak, Ai Fen, Li Wenliang, and other doctors were punished by the Wuhan police for “spreading rumors.” They were charged with “illegal acts of fabricating and spreading rumors and disrupting social order.”

China's National Health Commission and CDC both have branches at every level of government, with the former overseeing the latter. After the coronavirus broke out, the National Health Commission sent officials to investigate the situation in Wuhan on December 29. At that time, multiple hospitals were reporting cases of coronavirus.

On December 30, the Wuhan Health Commission sent a notice to healthcare workers, warning them of an unknown pneumonia, without mentioning the coronavirus. It also prohibited medical staff from discussing the information.

On January 3, 2020, the National Health Commission issued a policy (Document 2020 No. 3) with the following instructions:1) All regional governments and health commissions need to manage samples of coronavirus that caused Wuhan pneumonia according to regulations on “Highly Pathogenic Microorganisms (Type 2);”(2) Without authorization, no organization is allowed to provide test results to any other organizations or individuals;(3) all medical facilities must immediately stop any ongoing viral testing;(4) all medical facilities must destroy all samples from patients;(5) front-line doctors in Wuhan are not allowed to disclose any information about Wuhan pneumonia.

This series of events shows that the public did not know about the coronavirus virus outbreak because officials at each layer withheld information in order to follow the Party’s narrative—and punished anyone who dared to challenge that protocol.

China’s Internet Army

Disinformation is only part of the picture of China’s censorship and manipulation of information. Outside mainland China, the CCP heavily influences public opinion, especially on social media platforms.

An article from Radio Free Asia on April 28, 2020, reviewed three Twitter accounts over the past 100 days, including Hua Chunying (@SpokespersonCHN), Zhao Lijian (@zlj517), and the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (@MFA_China). Hua is the director of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Information Department and Zhao is her deputy director.

A total of 4,574 tweets were posted from the three accounts between January 1 and April 10. In January and February, the tweets mostly praised the CCP's success in combating the coronavirus and exuding “positive energy” (a slogan proposed by the CCP leadership since 2014), but there was no information about the ever-increasing confirmed cases.

Since February 20, these tweets changed from depicting China as an outbreak area to bragging about itself as the savior of the world. On March 12, one day after the WHO declared the coronavirus pandemic, Zhao tweeted that, “It might be the US Army that brought the epidemic to Wuhan.”

In fact, nearly 80% of the tweets posted by the three Twitter accounts were critical of the U.S. It is worth noting that Twitter is banned in China. While ordinary Chinese citizens could face jail terms for accessing such platforms, these CCP officials abused them to promote the CCP propaganda and attack the West.

The CCP has a massive internet army whose job is to mislead the public, both inside and outside China. In addition to paid staff, about 10 million volunteers were recruited to monitor the internet according to BBC News on April 7, 2015. A document from the Youth League [2015-9], a junior organization of the CCP, revealed that about 4 million of these volunteers were college students.

Tangshan Earthquake

The CCP cover-up and mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic is not the first time that the regime has downplayed disasters in the name of maintaining stability.

Another example is the Tangshan earthquake in Hebei, China, on July 28, 1976. With a magnitude of 7.6, Chinese authorities said that about 240,000 people died in the calamity. Experts believe the majority of the deaths could have been avoided.

Two weeks before the disaster, the Beijing Earthquake Office detected unusual signals and contacted the National Earthquake Bureau for immediate measures. The bureau did not reply until July 26. “The earthquake warning in Sichuan Province is already chaotic. Tangshan is close to Beijing, so think twice before messing things up!” replied an official.

Geng Qingguo from the Beijing Earthquake Office said that predicting earthquakes above a magnitude of above 5 was fairly easy even with technologies at that time, let alone the Tangshan earthquake that had a magnitude of 7.6. “Plus, 6 hours before the earthquake, there were already abnormal sound and light from the ground. Had the local residents been warned, the loss of life would have been significantly less,” he said.

The Disasters Continue

Many areas in China have been experiencing flooding since June. As water levels increased in the Chu River, one branch of the Yangtze River, officials gave the authorization to blow off two places on July 19 to discharge water. Although the goal was to protect Jiangsu Province, many places in Anhui Province were instantly submerged.

Similar things have happened in many areas. Yichang, the second-largest city in Hubei Province, was flooded on June 27. Local residents suspect officials intentionally discharged water to protect the Three Gorges Dam.

“If we’d been notified ahead of time about the discharge, the losses would have been much less,” one Netizen wrote. “The Party treats us like dirt. People’s lives mean nothing as long as the Party exists,” another one added.

Speaking at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum on July 23, U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said he grew up and served in the army during the Cold War. “And if there is one thing I learned, communists almost always lie. The biggest lie that they tell is to think that they speak for 1.4 billion people who are surveilled, oppressed, and scared to speak out,” he remarked.

“Quite the contrary. The CCP fears the Chinese people’s honest opinions more than any foe, and save for losing their own grip on power, they have reason – no reason to,” he explained, “Just think how much better off the world would be – not to mention the people inside of China – if we had been able to hear from the doctors in Wuhan and they’d been allowed to raise the alarm about the outbreak of a new and novel virus.”

But for too many decades, Western leaders have ignored this. “We can’t ignore it any longer. They know as well as anyone that we can never go back to the status quo,” he said.

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