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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Singer

Cooking the Covid Numbers

Why Does the Truth Scare Governments?

The latest rage in the propaganda war between China and the U.S. is over the amount of afflicted and dead with Covid-19 in China. China reports a death toll of approximately 2,500 in Wuhan and fewer than 4,000 people throughout China. Yet reports and leaked photographs of thousands upon thousands of urns being delivered to mortuaries in Wuhan, thriving cremations, and a clamp down on data and news cast the official numbers in serious doubt. China has a history of cooking numbers, from mortality during crisis to economic production. So why should this time be any different? It isn’t. Not only am I not surprised, but I also do not really care. It does not change reality.

The politicians certainly seem to care though. On one side you have a government that has historically been scared of releasing true numbers (about most anything) because of a) its failed initial response to the crisis, b) concern over how the populace will respond, and c) matters of reputation. Their goal is to stay in power. On the other side you have a government a) desperate to deflect criticism over its own failed response and preparation for the same crisis, b) eager to score points against political rivals, and c) burnish its reputation. Their goal is to stay in power. Wait, now I have confused myself. Which is China and which is America? Guess this does not really matter either.

While the politicians bicker and boast, people are getting sick, people are dying, economies are collapsing, and none seem prepared to be true leaders. In such times, I take heart that through it all there are examples of individuals and groups reaching out to help each other. This is what should be emphasized, this cross-cultural connection that will be key to keeping relations on as even a keel as possible below all of the surface noise.

--Andrew Singer


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