If China is covering up its Covid death toll, what else is it hiding?
Official statistics clearly cannot be trusted
A story in CityAM this morning will make for uncomfortable reading in Downing Street. The latest business survey from the BDO consultancy has found that more than half of UK firms are worried about reliable access to vital inputs. Supply chain disruptions and labour shortages have already stoked inflation, so the fact that so many producers anticipate further problems is bad news.
Even worse, there’s only so much that our government can do about the root causes. For instance, a deal on the Northern Ireland Protocol may ease Brexit-related impediments to trade, but Rishi Sunak is entirely without influence when it comes to the Covid pandemic in China. Indeed, the entire West has been helpless as the factories and ports that we foolishly rely on have been shut down by Chinese government diktat.
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Last year, Xi Jinping finally abandoned the impossible goal of Zero Covid. To Western relief, draconian restrictions were lifted across China. However, because the Chinese workforce is inadequately vaccinated and thus vulnerable to the virus, the worry is that the disease itself will now disrupt production.
So just how bad is the Chinese Covid surge? According to official sources, the toll of Covid-linked deaths between the 8th December and the 12th January was 60,000. That is obviously tragic in human terms, but remarkably low given a population of 1.3 billion. The question, though, is whether we can trust these figures.
An investigation by the New York Times suggests that the Chinese Government is undercounting the true extent of the surge. To get an unfiltered view of the situation, the NYT team “examined the obituaries published over the past four years by the state-backed Chinese Academy of Engineering and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.”
Between them these institutions have about 1,700 members. Many of them are elderly, so — as one might expect — in most months a few of them pass away. Prior to the lifting of lockdown the monthly toll, indicated by number of obituaries published, was between zero and six. However, there was a dramatic change following the end of the Zero Covid policy. In December 2022, 23 obituaries were published, and in January 2023, there were 17.
The authors of the article acknowledge that the data used in their study is “far from conclusive” — but if the pattern is in any way indicative of the Chinese population as a whole, the death toll must be much higher than the official figures suggest. We can also be sure that much larger numbers of people are getting sick. We should therefore expect further disruption to global supply chains.
There’s a wider lesson here, which is that despite making ourselves materially dependent on the Chinese economy — and thus the policies of the Chinese state — we cannot trust their official figures. While Western conspiracy theorists may go over the top when it comes to the mendacity of our own governments, a high level of mistrust is entirely appropriate when it comes to the Beijing regime.
And it’s not just the Covid statistics that we should doubt. Other sensitive matters, like the real rate of Chinese economic growth or the indebtedness of the country’s property sector, should be open to question. And perhaps most importantly, there is what Beijing claims about Chinese birth rates. It’s not impossible that these are disastrously lower that what is officially claimed.
Though we’ve long feared China — given its rising power and atrocious human rights record — we also need to fear for China. At the very least, we must ask ourselves whether this hybrid communist-capitalist state provides a secure foundation for the global economy.
I’d have thought a sensible person would have stopped trusting CPC figures in the 1950s during the Great Leap Forward.
OK, but to get around that by just inventing your own figures, like the New York Times story above, seems problematic – really even more so.
My independent study, based on things, and stuff I have read, shows the Omicron death rate is basically insignificant in China. I used the fact they are a pretty fit people, and that Omicron seems to only kill the hyper mRNA vaccinated, and the Chinese wisely avoided that, so put the death rate at well below enough to matter at all.
Which does not mean China is not also walking a knife edge from their insane infrastructure and housing debts – and also from global markets decreasing because the West’s Insane covid response and insane creation of a WWIII has almost destroyed Western economies, and has destroyed second and third world economies, and the Global economy (mostly because WEF and their Bit* hes Biden and Boris) is a Dead Man Walking.
Western economies are far from being “almost destroyed”. Compromised, yes, for the time being. Using unnecessary hyperbole is quite common when seeking to convince others; instead, it does the opposite.
”Compromised, yes, for the time being.”
$16 Trillion of Debt created in USA alone for the Covid Years till now. UK and EU is a bit less, but somewhat similar, only not being the reserve currency so cannot manage the debt as no Global big market exists for their currencies as does the $.
A GFC is coming – there is no doubt of that. One bigger and much worse.
Compromised in the sense of standing naked, holding a smoking gun, over the body of your mistress – yes, that kind of ‘Compromised’ is a way of describing the current global economy I suppose.
Or at least recognize that the censorship of dissidents towards the official narrative is basically the digital version of the Great Leap Forward’s morale-boosting sequel, the Cultural Revolution during the 60s & 70s!
Good to see another UnHerd Author covering the threat from the CCP.
Let’s hope the thoughts it prompts aren’t a load of side-show garbage about vaccines again. China is the ‘canary in the cage’ on what happens without a good one. But anyway that’s not the key point here. The key point is the CCP is much more of a threat to our way of life than we’ve been appreciating.
Possibly the scariest but most important book read last year was ‘Spies and Lies’ by Alex Joske. Saw a podcast with HR McMaster extolling it and then grabbed a copy. To quote a passage, also quoted in Wall St journal credited to the CCP – ‘ For now, we are still growing, but our achievements will soon match and surpass yours. Abandon Taiwan, forget universal human rights, cede your sovereignty, give us control of strategic industries and technologies and you might be allowed a place in the coming century—if we’re feeling nice.”.
Whether one agrees with the contention we need more articles like this nudging us out of our slumber.
Who’d have thought it?
Yes, whatever, but what lesson can *we* learn from *our* debacle? Can we trust *our* interpretation of the figures. Are we SO much transparent that we can afford to preach?
If 99% of what the Chinese Government tells us is a lie about covid, it is less of a lie than what our own governments told us of covid; because that is 100% lies.
How about this – we let China be China.
Meanwhile in the West no one in the MSM is concerned whether the Pfizer employee, who boasted that his company were developing new and dangerous variants, is telling the truth.
Did anyone ever believed China at all?
”However, because the Chinese workforce is inadequately vaccinated and thus vulnerable to the virus,”
I think it is proven the mRNA ”vax’ is Much more destructive and harmful than not using it. I consider it fact that covid is a flu and the response (plandemic) is the plague. China not vaccinating with the insanely deadly nRNA, bio-weapon, vax is why they will not suffer much death in comparison to the West.
‘Lies My Gov’t Told Me: And the Better Future Coming (Children’s Health Defense)’ By Dr Malone
‘The Real Anthony Fauci: Bill Gates, Big Pharma, and the Global War on Democracy and Public Health (Children’s Health Defense)’ Robert F Kennedy
‘COVID-19 and the Global Predators: We are the Prey’ Breggin
‘The Bodies of Others: The New Authoritarians, COVID-19 and The War Against the Human’ Naomi Wolfe
Just a couple Best Selling books on Amazon…
sheep, haha, double vaxed, triple boosted?
Double vaccinated, single booster in my case. Had the virus twice as well, but thankfully living in NZ we didn’t get the earlier more deadly strains.
Tell me, if the vaccine is to blame for the people dying, why are excess deaths lower in NZ and Sweden than most other countries when both nations have high vaccination rates? Wouldn’t the fact that both nations didn’t have the long lockdowns compared to other countries imply that they were a more likely source of excess deaths rather than the vaccines?
Neither my husband nor I submitted to the shot. Neither of us have had the virus. You’ve taken the shots and booster, and have had the virus – twice. Why do you suppose that is?
Because I took absolutely no precautions when it was circulating. I drank in numerous pubs, went to sporting events and work on building sites with a constant changing of people. I also have a missus that meets different people every day for work and children in school and daycare therefore I’d say I was always fairly high risk of catching anything that goes around.
I notice you made no attempt to answer my question though, in that if the vaccine is the cause of excess deaths why have NZ and Sweden not suffered anywhere near as badly as other nations despite high vaccination rates in those countries?
I’ve seen several articles recently claiming or implying that Chinese official statistics are not only inaccurate but deliberately fraudulent. What is never addressed is the Why and How of this alleged statistical Potemkin village. Who would falsify information that they themselves would need to rely on ? Who would give false information about the strength of the steel being used to construct a bridge that they themselves will drive over ? Or the quality of the cement used in their own family house ? Accurate death tolls are vital for any public health response and it’s not as if the CCP or their families are somehow immune to Covid. So the secondary implication is that there are two sets of books, false public books and accurate but secret books that are actually being used for the public health plan.So that accurate but secret information would have to go down from Beijing to every level of China, province, city, district, neighborhood. So every party member, doctor, nurse, hospital manager and orderly knows the public information is false but they have the real figures for their own work area written on some secret memos.
And this vast fraud and these secret books have never been uncovered by the west. The same people who believe that they have accurate figures of Uyughar prisoners in Xinjiang. If intelligence agencies could get accurate information about Xinjiang in 2018 then they should be able to get it about Shanghai in 2023.
Of course the simpler explanation is that both these anti-China narratives are bogus.
Or, more likely, none of these entities have access to any information to devise their own independent policies and are just told what to do by the central government. Which one do you find more plausible?
There are ~1.4 billion people in China, maybe 80 million CCP members. There’s no all knowing wizard at the top called “Central Government” There’s a chain of command that runs from Xi Jinping in Beijing right down to the guys laying bricks and sweeping streets. That chain sends information up and gets instructions sent down, through layers of delegated authority, it’s the only way it works and it’s been running like this for centuries.
Sending out bad information also means sending down faulty instructions, why would anyone do that ? If there is a series of secret instructions based on the correct information then where are they ? Why wouldn’t the West make them public ?
There is no Chicom magic that allows Beijing to evade logic, mathematics and reality.
“why would anyone do that”?
Because to Xi and the CCP, retaining power is more important than anything else, including making good policy. Great Leap Forward and its aftermath, anyone?
You’re kinda proving my point, which is no system can work without accurate information. Not a railway, not a factory, not a chip shop and certainly not a massive health system in the middle of a huge epidemic.
During the Great Leap Forward, ridiculous quotas were set by Beijing so local officials exaggerated their output so it looked like they had met their quotas, so even more ridiculous quotas were set and the whole thing was a disaster.
So the only option if this “China is faking their numbers” thesis is true is for them to run two sets of books, like an accountant who’s stealing from the company. One set of fake books for the auditors (in this case the international press) and another set of true books to keep the company running for as long as possible (in this case the Chinese health system).
So where are the true figures ? Why have they never been seen ?
They can’t just be held by the top party officials in Beijing because all the local administrators also need accurate figures to keep their little kingdoms running and so on and so on down the chain of command.
If the smaller local numbers are true but the bigger national numbers are fake then all a western analyst has to do is add up all the local numbers and show they don’t match the nation figures.
This “China is faking their figures” idea is bogus.
There’s no escaping mathematics, not for the Chinese, not for anyone.
The systematic propagation of a doctrine or cause or of information reflecting the views and interests of those advocating such a doctrine or cause.
Material disseminated by the advocates or opponents of a doctrine or cause.
Systematic effort to propagate or win support for a theory or method of action.
If you have an argument to make then try making an argument. Anyone can read a dictionary.
I suspect that there’s a dynamic that works like this:
The lowest ranking functionaries tell their bosses a little fib, spinning the data in a positive direction. Just to keep the boss happy. (In such a dictatorial political culture an angry boss can be literally dangerous.) The boss is happy to have something positive to tell his boss so he doesn’t fuss over the veracity of that data and probably adds a little spin of his own. And so on, all the way to the top. Fear of angering the boss is the engine that drives this machine.
The uber-boss make his desires known through those strangely worded, quasi-theatrical speeches he gives. (Hint: his exhortations are actually expectations, with a bit of veiled threat thrown in.) A simple reading “between the lines” makes it plain to even the most block-headed bureaucrat.
But each functionary still has to produce tangible results, these reports up the chain aren’t just chit-chat.
If the manager of the brick kiln says he’s producing more bricks that he actually does then he’s going to be called on to delivery more bricks than he actually has. If the village headman say fewer people have died than actually have, he’s got dead bodies he can’t officially dispose of, less doctors and medicine in his hospital because he doesn’t officially need them and workers who should officially show up for work but can’t because they’re actually dead.
If you think people are afraid of punishment for not telling the correct story then how much worse will their punishment be if they can’t do the actual physical measurable work required of them ?
The fact remains that real work in the real world requires accurate real information. We’re not just talking about building atomic weapons, stealth bombers, space stations and robots on the far side of the moon, (which are all things China has done). This applies to something as straightforward as cooking dinner. Try cooking dinner if you don’t know how much food is in the kitchen or how many people will be dinning.
Things have to be made to work.
I think you’re being far too logical; applying a set of assumptions that just don’t fit.
The guy at the top never really knows what’s going on. Not in any real detail. At each step down the ladder there’s a functionary who has cultivated “plausible deniability”; he can blame his underlings if there’s ever a fuss. And so on, down the ladder. But there never really is a serious fuss because everyone’s self-interest depends on it!
This is one reason that there are always cost over-runs on large projects.
Many a Western corporation has suffered in just this way. Non-profits and NGOs, too.
I’m sure I don’t know what “far too logical” means, is it the same as being far too correct ? Math and logic don’t bend for political allegiances, it’s people’s perceptions of them that do.
We expect that people or groups try to show themselves in the best light possible, but that isn’t what Peter Franklin is alleging. He’s not claiming that Beijing is doing a P.R. spin campaign but that it’s engaging in a massive fraud and lying that there are thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands of it’s people are alive when they are actually dead.
You may work in some government department or non profit NGO that can constantly pass fanciful reports and projections up and down where nobody really cares or checks their accuracy but the real world still exists.
What happens to these people who are officially alive but actually dead ? Are the old folks still collecting their pensions and living in their homes ? Are the workers still turning up for work and getting paid ? Are the children still going to school and sitting exams ?
What about the bodies ? Try disposing of a dead body anywhere, let alone China without some bureaucrat signing off on it and keeping a record.
If China is faking it’s Covid numbers, then it has thousands upon thousands of statistical ghosts walking around behaving exactly like normal living people. All while being totally unnoticed by western observers.
That’s not just implausible it’s totally impossible.
Remember that Peter Franklin doesn’t believe that there are No reliable statistics coming out of China. He uses the membership roll of the Academy of Sciences so he thinks that’s reliable. But why ? When has the membership roll of a professional organization ever been used as a reliable way of getting a death toll in a global epidemic ?
Has he rigorously checked all the statistical information coming out of China and decided those are the only statistics to be trusted ? Or has he done what most people do and just used the information that fits his preconcieved ideas ?
I think we are left with two possibilities, either Xi Jinping is a sorcerer working with magical powers or Peter Franklin is a journalist working with personal bias.
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