The Chinese government told the press that it had no new domestic coronavirus cases, and that the remaining new cases were from travelers who came to the country. The mainstream media accepted the government’s claim without skepticism, which is problematic when it comes to authoritarian governments and their tendency to fudge data.
NBC News headlined the news of China’s alleged success, “China reports no new coronavirus cases, offers medical aid overseas.” The article did not mention the Chinese propaganda or disinformation campaigns, nor did it cite a study that blamed the government’s alleged cover-up for the virus’s spread.
The New York Times wrote, “China hits a coronavirus milestone: No new local infections.” But the headline had a positive spin on it, without acknowledging the skepticism necessary when dealing with Chinese government reports and statistics.
The media should be skeptical of the Chinese government because the government is responsible for promoting anti-American conspiracy theories, such as the claim that the U.S. military spread the virus among the Chinese. Public health officials agree that the coronavirus began in Wuhan, China, and has since spread across the world.
Also, the Chinese government suppressed information about the virus’s initial diagnosis and therefore delayed any potential preventative solution or countermeasure to be enacted on a global level. A study said that if the Chinese government had acted three weeks earlier than they did, the number of cases would have been reduced by 95% and it could have limited its geographic spread. Instead, the government allegedly told medical personnel to destroy any data they had on the coronavirus, told doctors not to report information on it, and had a local health commission refer to it as a “pneumonia of unclear cause” despite evidence to the contrary.
China blames the United States for starting the coronavirus pandemic, and vice versa, but the media should take into account the Chinese government’s lack of credibility when it comes to coronavirus news.
It should not accept the Chinese government’s statistics at face value because that trust was undermined by the government’s lack of response to contain the coronavirus and subsequent government-promoted conspiracy theories.