2020 will always be remembered as the year of the Coronavirus Pandemic. It truly turned our lives upside down. But how much do you know about the origin of this virus in China? 

Everyone loves the party game “Two Truths and a Lie.” Can you identify which of the following statements is NOT true?

A. China’s government covered up the initial outbreak while COVID-19 spread abroad from Wuhan, seeding the global pandemic.
B. China’s ruling Communist Party has tried to dodge its responsibility for the global pandemic, by blaming the initial outbreak on the U.S.
C. China, with its low reported COVID-19 case and fatality statistics, has set a great example of how to handle the coronavirus.

A. TRUTH! When the novel coronavirus outbreak emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan last winter, China’s government spied on, detained and silenced local doctors who tried to sound a warning, hid the true magnitude of the rising case numbers, denied that there was any serious risk of human-to-human transmission, did nothing to stop Wuhan from holding a communal potluck dinner for 40,000 families, and allowed huge levels of holiday air traffic out of Wuhan and the rest of China to destinations around the globe. It was not until Jan. 20th, almost two months after severe cases began turning up in Wuhan hospitals, that China admitted what had been evident within its surveillance state for weeks: the new disease carried deadly risks and was highly contagious.

B. TRUTH! After COVID-19 cases traveling out from China had seeded a ruinous pandemic abroad, China’s government tried to further cover up its failure (or refusal) to contain the outbreak at the source, in Wuhan. Chinese Communist Party officials engaged in a propaganda blitz to blame others, insinuating, first vaguely, then specifically, that America was to blame. At various stages they also tried blaming Italy, and Russia.

C. LIE! China’s government has lied, grossly under-reporting its cumulative COVID-19 case numbers as lower than Costa Rica, and fatalities as lower than Belgium. China has blocked all independent attempts to verify the real numbers, severely restricting all foreign access, kicking out many foreign reporters and censoring, jailing and disappearing domestic truth-tellers. Whatever suppression of the virus Beijing has currently achieved, it has come by way of ratcheting up the restrictions and brutalities of a totalitarian system, wielding pervasive surveillance, invasive control and harsh punishments that permit no freedom or privacy. Adopting China’s model in an open democracy such as America would mean the end of a free society.

Thankfully, the U.S. is not a totalitarian country like China. And thankfully, the U.S. has more recently become more aware of the rising threat posed by China. 

Read more about foreign policy in our latest policy focus: “From America First to America Last?”