(Compiled from Associated Press and NY Post) Washington — U.S. officials believe China covered up the extent of the coronavirus outbreak — and how contagious the disease is — to stock up on medical supplies needed to respond to it, intelligence documents show.
Chinese leaders “intentionally concealed the severity” of the pandemic from the world in early January “while it stockpiled medical supplies,” according to a four-page Department of Homeland Security intelligence report dated May 1 and obtained by The Associated Press.
The revelation comes as the Trump administration has intensified its criticism of China, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saying Sunday that that country was responsible for the spread of disease and must be held accountable. …
Not classified but marked “for official use only,” the DHS analysis states that, while downplaying the severity of the coronavirus, China increased imports and decreased exports of medical supplies. It attempted to cover up doing so by “denying there were export restrictions and obfuscating and delaying [providing information on] its trade data,” the analysis states.
The report also says China held off informing the World Health Organization that the coronavirus “was a contagion” for much of January so it could order medical supplies from abroad — and that its imports of face masks and surgical gowns and gloves increased sharply. …
China informed the WHO [about cases of an unknown respiratory illness] on Dec. 31. It [notified] the U.S. Centers for Disease Control on Jan. 3 [but has since then refused reqests from the CDC to have our experts visit the lab in Wuhan. On Jan. 14, the UN’s World Health Organization (which has shielded China from the beginning) announced Chinese authorities have seen “no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus.” Only on March 11 did the WHO finally declare the coronavirus a global pandemic.].
Chinese officials [silenced] doctors who warned about the virus early on and repeatedly downplayed the threat of the outbreak. …..
On April 5, the New York Post reported:
Leading US manufacturers of medical safety gear told the White House that China prohibited them from exporting their products from the country as the coronavirus pandemic mounted — even as Beijing was trying to “corner the world market” in personal protective equipment.
Executives from 3M and Honeywell told US officials that the Chinese government in January began blocking exports of N95 respirators, booties, gloves and other supplies produced by these companies’ factories in China, according to a senior White House official.
China paid the manufacturers their standard wholesale rates, but prohibited the vital items from being sold to anyone else, the official said.
Around the same time that China cracked down on PPE exports, official data posted online shows that it imported 2.46 billion pieces of “epidemic prevention and control materials” between Jan. 24 and Feb. 29, the White House official said.
The gear, valued at nearly $1.2 billion, included more than 2 billion masks and more than 25 million “protective clothing” items that came from countries in the European Union, as well as Australia, Brazil and Cambodia, the official said.
“Data from China’s own customs agency points to an attempt to corner the world market in PPE like gloves, goggles, and masks through massive increased purchases — even as China, the world’s largest PPE manufacturer, was restricting exports,” the official said.
Compiled from reports published at AP .com on May 1, 2020 by Will Weissert and NYPost .com on April 5 by Ebony Bowden and Bruce Golding. Reprinted here for educational purposes only. May not be reproduced on other websites without permission.
1. What did the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s intelligence report reveal about China’s coverup of the coronavirus outbreak? (What did the communist leaders of China do and why?)
2. Define hoard, obfuscate and contagion as used in the article.
3. a) What did the DHS analysis conclude about China’s imports and exports of medical supplies?
b) How did the communist government try to cover up their nefarious actions?
4. Why did China delay admitting that the coronavirus “was a contagion” for so long?
5. What did executives from 3M and Honeywell tell US officials in early April about medical products they manufacture in China?
6. Watch the news report under “Resources” below.
a) By what percent were the amount of exports of surgical gloves, face masks and ventilators reduced by the Chinese government following the coronavirus outbreak?
b) How did the communist government respond to the DHS intel report detailing their hoarding?
7. Ask a parent the following:
a) How do you think the the world should respond collectively to China’s actions?
b) What do you think will be more effective in responding to, and holding China accountable for, this egregious behavior: a U.S.-led effort, or a United Nations-led effort? Please explain your answer.
a) Define the term to “lose face.”
b) Compare the actions of the Soviet Union’s communist leaders in the wake of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster with the actions of the Chinese communist rulers of China. What can you conclude about a communist system of government’s regard for human life and well-being?
The UK Daily Mail reported April 1:
On Thursday a Chinese government report emerged detailing its foreign trade for the first two months of the year, when the country was at the peak of its virus crisis.
As COVID-19 infections began to spread across the globe in January and February, China saw a “rapid growth in imports of commodities and key consumer goods.”
More than 2.46 billion pieces of medical materials, including masks and protective equipment, were inspected by National Customs in China between January 24 and February 29, according to the report.
The report states the agency had expedited the entry of supplies by introducing “zero-delay customs clearance of epidemic prevention and control materials.”
It comes days after Chinese organizations operating in Australia were reported to have sent bulk medical supplies to China at the height of the crisis.
Chinese-owned real-estate developer Risland Australia was reported to have flown 80 tons of medical supplies on a corporate jet to Wuhan in late February.
Video footage emerged showing boxes of surgical masks stacked up at the airport before being sent to Wuhan on February 8 – when there were 15 cases of coronavirus in Australia.
Another Chinese property company, Greenland Group, re-tasked its employees to purchase face masks, hand sanitizes, antibacterial wipes, thermometers, Panadol and other medical items in bulk for shipment to China.
Greenland bought up three million surgical masks, 500,000 pairs of gloves and bulk supplies of sanitizer and antibacterial wipes in Australia and other countries where the company operates.
The goods were hoarded at Greenland’s Sydney headquarters and were sent to China in January and February.
A whistleblower said the exercise was a worldwide effort and continued until the end of February.
Australian hospitals are now struggling to cope with a shortage masks and other protective gear as the number of coronavirus cases in the country continue to soar.
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