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DavyJonesLocker

Coronavirus - accurate information? what you believe ?

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DavyJonesLocker

I seem to be getting dragged into more and more arguments with people who are branding conspiracies about about claiming vastly underreporting of numbers. This is both inside and outside China  from average folk to media (I spoke on TV and radio) 

The problem is that your either a red commie if you take the side of the CPC or  another conspiracy theorist if you don't (believe a cover up by the WHO etc). No point listing a pile of links but here is an example https://www.businessinsider.com/wuhan-coronavirus-75k-infected-doubling-every-64-days-lancet-says-2020-1 

 

I think there are two aspects, one is that the evidence (for or against a cover up) is cherry picked, backed up by a highly misleading or taken out of context photo  and two many people simply do not understand chinese culture why laws are in place such as that for relating to spreading of rumours, thus immediate skewing their opinion

 

Anyway with this site, although we have our disagreements , everyone is pretty well educated and rational in putting forth their viewpoints so might be a good place to have a sensible discussion  

 

Thoughts?

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Flickserve

Quite early on, I did think 100,000 infections could be possible. Some people might say a coverup. I would say, other factors also do come into account:
 

- Mixing of people in fever clinics.

- Undercounting of mild symptoms. 
- Lack of testing kits. 
- false negatives tests. 
- People initially negative turn positive. 
- Difficulty of counting with a sudden overload of healthcare system

- Deaths before diagnosis confirmed

- changing case definition. 

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DavyJonesLocker

@Flickserve yeah that's pretty much my view, and failure of local government but that's pretty much public knowledge  

 

The overall public perception of the Chinese government by those outside china seems pretty dire from what I can read. (forums, whatsapp groups, youtube, newspapers etc) 

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Flickserve

That perception won’t change in our lifetime no matter what CCP do. 

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realmayo

I think investment bankers are often decent enough people but everyone knows their bonus structure gives them perverse incentives: what is in their self-interest is at odds with what's best for society. So it's largely a structural, rather than moral, issue. 

 

And I guess the same is true for Chinese officials. The incentive to hide bad news from the people and from your political bosses is huge. So I'd be surprised if the infection numbers weren't being downplayed. 

 

I mean, something like GDP data is routinely falsified and even if Beijing wanted a genuine number, it's assumed that it wouldn't be able to get one, because province level data would be falsified by local officials.

 

So it's very likely that the same is true with virus data. 

 

And of course that's assuming this is an animal to human virus. If it's from the lab, then 889 is surely right. 

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roddy

1) Nobody knows how many cases are out there. China clearly doesn't have the capacity to test everyone. It might be catching up, but you don't need to read too many reports from Wuhan to know that there could be thousands upon thousands of cases who haven't yet got near a hospital. 

2) Governments tend not to deal in speculation. I think the best you'd get out of any government would be something along the lines of "We continue to assess the situation as quickly as possible." You're not going to get an official spokesperson from any country's Ministry of Health stand up and say "We don't know, but probably there are XXXX unidentified cases" for fear of "Ministry of Health: XXXX cases?" headlines. So that kind of conjecture or extrapolation gets left to...

3) Civil society - NGOs, academics. Gabriel Leung, here. That's where the really scary, and theoretical, numbers come from. But....

4) China doesn't have much of a civil society and what it does have wouldn't comment in a case like this without Party approval, and who the hell is going to say "Yeah, that's fine, publish a worst-case scenario figure on the front page" in the middle of a national crisis. So we end up with the confirmed figures, and nothing else coming out of China.

 

Under-reporting? Absolutely. But it's not like there are two sets of books here. 

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889

"But it's not like there are two sets of books here."

 

Of course there are! Everyone knows Xinhua has a channel for collecting and publishing information for the public and another for collecting and disseminating information to the Party leadership.

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roddy

Absolutely. But do you think in those books there are confirmed, lab-tested, case numbers that aren't being released? I find that hard to believe. And given that (back of an envelope calculation) a few hundred people die in a city the size of Wuhan every day, and that it's currently winter and there'll be no shortage of respiratory diseases around, and the healthcare system is utterly overwhelmed... I find it plausible that even Xinhua doesn't really know.

 

Hell, I don't know for sure. Maybe they're piling up thousands of bodies in school gymnasiums. 

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suMMit

Daily Mail (I know, but honestly I believe their stats more than the pc papers) says :

 

Does this satellite image show the scale of China's coronavirus cremations? Sulphur dioxide emissions which are produced when bodies are burned reach alarming levels in Wuhan

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7986553/Does-satellite-image-scale-Chinas-coronavirus-cremations.html

 

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889

"But do you think in those books there are confirmed, lab-tested, case numbers that aren't being released?"

 

Obviously, I don't know whether that's the case. But if it is the case, who would be surprised? China's official approach to news propagation hasn't changed much since the Great Famine. One story for the masses. Another for the leadership. Recall that those nightly CCTV news broadcasts haven't changed in decades. Nor has Renmin Ribao.

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roddy

Five minutes having a quick scout around finds this. Seems slightly more plausible to me. I'd love to see the maths on how many bodies you have to burn to match a steel mill for pollution. 

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suMMit
6 minutes ago, roddy said:

Seems slightly more plausible to me. I'd love to see the maths on how many bodies you have to burn to match a steel mill for pollution. 

 

Cheers, I'm glad thats probably the case

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889

"Raise your hand if you believe the US government would admit this?"

 

I call this The American Indian Distraction. Among the most common of Chinese propaganda techniques. You know, if you ever talk about Tibet in China, someone is sure as shootin' going to bring up 19th century treatment of American Indians.

 

They must teach it in schools.

 

In any event, it's question that's as irrelevant as can possibly be for the present discussion, which isn't focused on criticising China for the sake of criticising China, but asking whether in fact we can accept at face value the information being officially provided by China.

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roddy

 

12 minutes ago, 889 said:

Obviously, I don't know whether that's the case. But if it is the case, who would be surprised?

I would be. Would you?

 

I'd be releasing the best figures I had. If they're good, great. If they're not, throw some local officials under the bus (check) and make noises about what a great challenge China faces, and how the people must unite in this military metaphor (check). What else are they going to do, stay awake at night waiting for the NYT to publish leaked internal documents?

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roddy
19 minutes ago, 889 said:

I call this The American Indian Distraction.

Amen. And why is it always America? Not once have I heard "What about the Belgian Congo?"

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889

"I'd be releasing the best figures I had."

 

The Chinese system instinctively rejects the reporting of bad news. It's a mindset, one that's developed over decades.

 

Frankly, I don't think you'd last very long at Xinhua. (That's a compliment.)

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roddy

I would reform from the inside 😉

 

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Jan Finster
Just now, roddy said:
9 minutes ago, 889 said:

I call this The American Indian Distraction.

Amen. And why is always America? Not once have I heard "What about the Belgian Congo?"

 

It is not a distraction at all. This is not about China or the US.  If 889 had said: "Raise your hand if you believe any Government would admit this, if it happened...", I would not bring this up.  

As Roddy rightly says: any goverment is not necessarily dishing out the whole truth. This may not always be a bad thing. 

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