FPI / February 14, 2020
U.S. President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser suggested that China is not being “honest with us” about its handling of the Wuhan coronavirus.
The Trump administration is “a little disappointed in the lack of transparency coming from the Chinese” and “I don’t know what their motives are,” Larry Kudlow told reporters on Thursday.
Kudlow’s comments came after Hubei province, where most cases of the virus have been reported, changed the way it counts the number of infections. That change led to a 15,000-count spike in the number of infections reported.
The director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the agency had offered to help China with the virus as early as Jan. 6 but had not heard back.
“There’s a lot of information we don’t know — that’s why I offered to provide assistance, direct assistance, and send our CDC folks over there back on Jan. 6 to really help them gather that information and also to help us see the information first hand that we need to help make the right public health recommendations for our nation,” Dr. Robert Redfield told CNN on Wednesday. “That letter has not been responded to yet by the official Chinese government.”
Meanwhile, no analysts have suggested what many are thinking: That the coronavirus crisis would be exploited to sustain the Chinese Communist Party’s increasingly tenuous grip on power and provides a dangerous solution to the dangerous Hong Kong uprising. Despite the global crisis the outbreak has created, China’s military is still on the move as this week’s edition of Geostrategy-Direct reported.
Related: In back-to-back drills, China exercises aerial blockade of Taiwan, February 11, 2020
Supreme leader Xi Jinping’s lack of visibility amid the worst crisis of his tenure could be a sign of trouble at the top ranks of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), said Bill Bishop, a China specialist who publishes the newsletter Sinocism. “There have been periods in the past where he has ‘disappeared’ from view for several days, but this ‘absence’ in the midst of a crisis is spurring rumors even faster than usual.”
Xi’s dropping out of sight is unusual, Bishop added, considering the supreme leader has assumed Mao-like status since assuming the top leadership spot in 2012.
“One of the key political tasks of all party members is to protect the core, i.e., Xi Jinping, and while you would think the ‘people’s leader’ would want to be seen close to the people perhaps in this case the risk of him catching the virus may be too high, and images of him wearing a mask might be anathema to the propaganda wizards,” Bishop said.
Several researchers have voiced suspicions over the communist government’s reporting process on the deadly virus, suggesting there is likely a much higher infection count.
Kerry Brown, a China analyst at King’s College London, told The New York Times that after Hubei province shared its diagnosis method that “It’s pretty clear that there is an issue with trust about whatever the Chinese government comes out with at the moment.”
Kudlow said Xi had previously told Trump that he would accept help from the U.S. but that so far “they won’t let us.”
“I don’t know what their motives are. I do know that apparently more and more people are suffering over there,” Kudlow said. “Is the Politburo really being honest with us?”