An employee at a Chinese company reveals how he was ordered to lie to foreign partners to cover up the severity of COVID-19.
by Lin Yijiang
At the end of January, as the coronavirus was sweeping through China, employees of a Chinese company in the eastern province of Zhejiang started receiving numerous questions from their foreign clients about the epidemic situation in the country. “When our clients learned about lockdowns in China’s cities, they wanted to know how severe the epidemic was,” one of the company’s employees told Bitter Winter. “They were worried that the epidemic would affect their deliveries. And if it did, they would transfer some orders to other countries.” He added that clients also complained that there was no accurate information coming from China about the epidemic.
At that time, the CCP spared no effort to block all epidemic-related information and replaced it with propaganda, claiming that the outbreak is “preventable and controllable,” obstructing everyone from learning the truth about its severity. The authorities censored the internet and intensified stability maintenance measures. Dr. Li Wenliang and other whistle-blowers were arrested, so were many citizen journalists who tried to shed light on the epidemic.
When the employee asked his superiors for instructions, he was given a “model” answer to foreign clients, prepared as per the government’s requirements to ensure that China’s export capacities are not damaged. It is said in the text that the outbreak is only in Wuhan, “which is under control,” and “the government is actively taking many measures to deal with it.” The cheat-sheet further states that other cities have not been significantly impacted, and the situation “will be restored soon.” The text ends with a pep slogan: “If you show pessimism to your clients, it will inevitably affect their procurement plans. China’s foreign trade exports need your support. Fight on, China!”
The employee later learned that almost all of several hundred enterprises with foreign ties in the city, as well as in other localities in the province, were demanded to give similar unified answers to their clients abroad.
“China’s trade war with the United States has yielded heavy economic losses, it greatly impacted the country’s export last year because many foreign clients placed their orders with India and other countries,” the employee explained. “The government was worried that if the truth about the epidemic came out, and the World Health Organization listed China as an epidemic area, this would further damage China’s economy, especially foreign trade. That is why we were demanded to give that answer to conceal the outbreak.”
“Our clients still worried that their deliveries might be late, so they insisted on information about the epidemic every day,” the man continued. He recalled that in late February, as the virus has spread to other countries, clients asked about the measures China employed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. As per the company’s instructions, he had to reply: “The epidemic has been under control, but infected employees need to be isolated for some time before returning to work, which might delay your deliveries.”
“In reality, factories already stopped production because of the epidemic and could not ensure deliveries on time,” the employee said. “Still, those working with abroad continued to lie to buy time. It was unnecessary, but the CCP created lies, and then some more, to cover up the facts.”
The man added that he wanted to tell the truth to his clients but was afraid that the government would retaliate against him. “When the pandemic started spreading in my clients’ countries, they truthfully recounted what was happening. I feel so ashamed,” he said.