The CCP realized a pandemic was developing on January 13. In a secret meeting on January 14, it decided not to disclose the information, until January 20. The move costed the world tens of thousands of deaths.
by Massimo Introvigne
On April 15, 2020, the Associated Press announced that it had obtained from unnamed Chinese sources, and verified as authentic, documents confirming that the CCP, under personal instructions from President Xi Jinping, waited six days, from January 14 to January 20, before disclosing information about the COVID-19 pandemic. These six days were crucial, both for China and the world. It was during these six days that the city of Wuhan tried to break a Guinness world record by hosting the largest potluck banquet ever, attended by more than 40,000 families, and millions traveled from the city in preparation for the Chinese New Year festivities. Without the six-day delay, this would not have happened, and the epidemics might have been contained in Wuhan, without spreading through the whole world.
What happened exactly, and why? We know that the first case of what was later identified of COVID-19 was detected in Wuhan on November 17, 2019, and in December local doctors started contacting the authorities, telling them that a new deadly coronavirus was at work, and posting their findings on the Internet. As a result, they were arrested on January 1. This intimidated the doctors in Wuhan, who failed to report new cases, even if they were well aware of them.
While preventing doctors to speak about it, Beijing was aware of what was going on. The Associated Press reports that it sent two teams of experts to Wuhan. The head of the first one, Xu Jianguo, told the Hong Kong newspaper Takungpao on January 6, that everything was under control and that there was “absolutely no chance” that travel from Wuhan would spread the disease elsewhere (the link we provide may not work, as Takungpao is controlled by the CCP and may now have removed the article). The CCP itself was not fully persuaded, and sent a second team of experts on January 8. His head, Wang Guangfa, appeared in television on January 10 to state that it was just a “pneumonia,” with “mild symptoms” and “under control.” He fell ill with COVID-19 himself in late January. On March 15, he posted on Weibo, that in fact he “always suspected” that the virus was spreading quickly from human to human—but was not allowed to tell the public.
It seems that, until January 13, the CCP believed that it would be possible to suppress the information about the virus, as long as it was confined to Wuhan. What persuaded the CCP that this would not be possible was a case detected in Thailand on January 13. If the virus was spreading abroad, suppressing information was no longer possible. On January 14, the head of China’s National Health Commission, Ma Xiaowei, held a secret teleconference with provincial health officials, and distributed a memo that has now been leaked to the Associated Press. He told them that he was forwarding instructions coming directly from President Xi Jinping, and that Xi was aware that what was developing was “the most severe [health] challenge since SARS in 2003,” and that “human-to-human transmission is possible.” Ma used the word “pandemic,” and insisted that keeping social stability and preparing for the provincial and national CCP congresses was paramount. He admitted, however, that the case in Thailand had “changed significantly” the situation.
The Associated Press has also obtained a 63-page document sent by the National Health Commission to provincial health officials shortly after Ma’s teleconference, detailing instructions on how to deal with a serious epidemic, without “publicly disclosing” nor mentioning on the Internet what was going on. The result was that data started flowing to Beijing showing that travelers from Wuhan had spread the virus to several other cities and provinces. Finally, on January 20, President Xi Jinping and his top health advisers went public and told China and the world about the epidemic.
By no means we can consider the six-day delay as short. Between January 13 and 20, thousands were infected in Wuhan, if not tens of thousands, and allowed to travel to other Chinese provinces and abroad. If we are all locked down throughout the world, mourning the deaths of relatives and friends, it is largely because President Xi and the CCP kept secret the information about the virus for political reasons, until it was too late.