A theory about why China lies about its new coronavirus cases

I see people across the spectrum mocking the new coronavirus numbers coming out of China, which minimize new coronavirus cases. Everyone assumes the Chinese Communist Party is circulating false data.

To me, that’s not even a useful observation. All the CCP ever does is churn out false information. I don’t think your average American comes even close to realizing the true scale of China’s propaganda machine and how much of it they themselves are consuming on a daily basis.

A more interesting question is what the CCP derives from their divergence with the western world at this moment.

Many western democracies are hell-bent on catastrophically sabotaging their economies over the coronavirus. What their leaders (and citizens) want from the CCP is data supporting their own panic and extreme response. They are upset that the CCP is not willing to supply it.

The CCP has pretty much opted out of a new world order where policymakers try to universalize their own freak-outs. Of course China has a lot of new cases. But they are seemingly past the point of allowing that to cripple the country economically. They are not going to allow themselves to be bullied into a specific response.

China noticed the virus earlier than everyone else, and they’ve likely reached the “it’s not worth it” phase earlier than everyone else. They are ramping up their economy despite the coronavirus, as western democracies do the exact opposite.

If China does experience a pronounced divergence in economic capacity with the rest of the world, it’s positioning itself to be the top dog in the world in a matter of months. While Trump continues to listen to Dr. Doom and the US enters the Second Great Depression. All because they are more utilitarian in how they manage illness.

The silliest thing Americans ever do is assume that China is an inferior adversary for having an authoritarian government. They want to live in a world where this sort of behavior is punished, but in reality it’s often rewarded. It’s our own political dysfunction that is drawing-and-quartering the country ideologically and practically that isn’t going to be rewarded.

6 thoughts on “A theory about why China lies about its new coronavirus cases

  1. I can’t help but feel that the only thing that justifies this shutdown is some real suspicion that this virus is bioterrorism and engineered to be more destructive than it seems. The only other option is that those who are running our government are even dumber than one could ever have believed. It’s not necessarily Orange Man’s fault (I’d hate to have to be him right now). After all, he isn’t totally autonomous in his role, and the framing of everything in the world in ad hominem terms, that everyone does, makes me sick.


    1. I’m not framing it as an ad hominem. The whole point of being the Chief Executive Officer is that you are ultimately responsible for what happens. That’s not an opinion, it’s literally the job description. You get to pick your teams and you get to decide how much influence any person under you has. Right now, Trump is letting Fauci walk all over him. He’s letting Fauci dictate what happens, and he’s allowing it to have more weight than the economic side of the equation. I think by this point Trump understands that’s a real problem, but he doesn’t have a solution yet.

      I’ve heard so many people suggest this is bioterrorism. China started that whole line of reasoning by accusing the US of deploying the coronavirus during a military operation in Wuhan. Now a lot of people on the right think it’s a bioterrorism operation against the US. This isn’t even a particularly deadly illness, however, by the numbers (not the unrelenting anecdotes in the media). What’s deadly is the panic. If China wanted to design a super lethal bioweapon, I think they could do much better than a cold virus. They’d get more leverage out of mailing everyone in the US an envelope of anthrax, if that’s what they wanted to do. I mean, come on.

      Honestly, I think it’s possible/likely that the people in government are just stupid. People who work in public health tend not to care about the economy because they also tend to be left-wing activists. I think Fauci is one of those. He doesn’t give a hoot about the impact of his policy recommendations because the economy is not something he understands or even likes. He actively pushes liberal darlings, like mail-in voting and microchipping people with their health data. Not because they are reasonable, but because this is his opportunity to push them. People who work in public health tend not to be quants at all, too. They got into it for qualitative reasons. They are the people who think data is the plural of anecdote. That’s why their models are shit.


  2. Also, these two observations are not mutually exclusive: (1) Trump genuinely wants what is best for the country, (2) Trump has a habit of surrounding himself with people who do not deserve to be in government, and it’s *exhausting.*


  3. Good analysis. πŸ‘πŸ‘ China has always been superb at manipulating barbarians. They are also superb at being the first to take advantage of any new situation. I don’t believe that releasing the novel virus was an intentional policy, at least not by the higher authorities, but the capable Chinese analysts were quick to formulate public posture and policy to advance the Chinese national interests.


    1. The one thing the Chinese understand better than the western world is that an economic advantage is the same as a military advantage! How fortunate they were with Obama, who snootily wanted to donate our manufacturing sector to them, so that we could focus on more dignified white-collar jobs. Now we have endless accountants and middle managers who can be replaced with algorithms and we have to beg them for supplies.


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