Local officials in Wuhan, China, withheld information on Covid-19 threat - US intel
- US intel found that local officials failed to report the coronavirus threat to Beijing for weeks, hindering attempts at stemming the spread of the virus, The New York Times reported Wednesday.
- According to an internal report relayed by US officials to The Times, local officials in Wuhan, China — where the coronavirus originated — hid information on the coronavirus from central government leaders, likely out of fear of retribution from the country's Communist government.
- The Trump administration has previously accused China's central government of covering up the virus, but the US intel, which was circulated in June, shows the complexity behind the situation as the outbreak unfolded.
- "It makes a huge difference if it was Wuhan or Beijing," Michael Pillsbury, director for Chinese strategy at Hudson Institute and outside adviser to President Donald Trump, told The Times.
- The internal report was commissioned as a follow-up to a report from the Department of Homeland Security that said Chinese officials hid the coronavirus to hoard medical supplies, the Associated Press reported in May.
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Intelligence collected by US agencies found that local officials in China hid the threat of the coronavirus from government leaders for weeks, The New York Times reported Wednesday.
The internal report, according to US officials who spoke to The Times, revealed that local officials in Wuhan, China — where the coronavirus originated — withheld information on the coronavirus from Beijing officials, possibly out of fear of retribution.
The Trump administration has previously accused China's central leaders of initially covering up the virus and letting it spread globally. The internal report uncovered by US intelligence agencies shows the complexity behind the situation as the outbreak unfolded.
"It makes a huge difference if it was Wuhan or Beijing," Michael Pillsbury, director for Chinese strategy at Hudson Institute and outside adviser to President Donald Trump, told The Times. He added that if Chinese President Xi Jinping was not involved in covering up the coronavirus, it could impact the diplomatic relations between the US and China.
The internal report was commissioned as a follow-up to a May report from the Department of Homeland Security that said Chinese officials initially hid the virus in a bid to hoard medical supplies, according to the Associated Press.
"We assess the Chinese government intentionally concealed the severity of Covid-19 from the international community in early January while it stockpiled medical supplies by both increasing imports and decreasing exports," the DHS analysis read, citing a senior law enforcement official to The Times.
The US intel, which was circulated in June, does not absolve China's fault in the global spread of the virus, current and former administration officials told The Times. Chinese officials spent the initial weeks of the coronavirus outbreaks by silencing doctors who attempted to sound the alarm on the virus.
One doctor in Wuhan, Dr. Li Wenliang, posted online about being quarantined at the onset of the coronavirus outbreak in the city, and three days later, Chinese authorities forced the doctor to sign a document denouncing his initial warnings as "illegal behavior." Li died from the coronavirus in February.
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