The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is under growing scrutiny for its handling of the pandemic. But cover-ups under the Chinese regime are nothing new.
“The CCP’s efforts to cover up bad news, to downplay bad news, that happens almost on a daily basis,” said Sarah Cook, Senior Research Analyst for China Hong Kong and Taiwan at Freedom House.
As the CCP virus spread to the rest of the world, Beijing’s lack of transparency came to the forefront.
Cook said the system in China is set up in such a way as to cover up failures. This includes silencing its citizens as well as incentivizing local officials, she said.
“When there were first signs of human to human transition … the local officials in Wuhan [were] having stronger political incentives to hold large gatherings, both political ones and Chinese New Year celebrations rather than shutting the city down,” she said.
Medical ethics group Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting released a report this week outlining Beijing’s pattern of deception to deny, hide, propagate disinformation, then capitalize on the gains. They say the regime’s cover-up of the virus follows this pattern.
“History has repeated itself with the cover-up of COVID-19,” said Rob Gray, Deputy Director of Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting. “This is not the first time that we’ve seen the cover-up of medical tragedies in China.”
Forced Organ Harvesting
In 2019, an international people’s tribunal in London chaired by former U.N. war crimes prosecutor Sir Geoffrey Nice unanimously concluded that forced organ harvesting has happened in China on a substantial scale.
They found the main victims were practitioners of Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline suppressed in China.
The CCP was invited to give evidence at the tribunal several times but did not respond.
“The only kind of official response was from the World Health Organization, which doesn’t even look at this issue. And they basically came back with warmed-over Beijing arguments about why this wasn’t true,” said Ethan Gutmann, an investigative journalist and co-founder of the International Coalition to End Transplant Abuse in China.
And there are no signs that forced organ harvesting in China has stopped during the pandemic. Chinese state media reports from March show Chinese doctors boasting about a successful double lung transplant. The unusually short waiting time indicates that someone could have been killed for those organs.
‘Rethinking of Attitude Toward the CCP’
The pandemic has cast a stark light on the Chinese regime. In the UK, there is a growing chorus of politicians demanding a review on UK-China relations following the crisis.
Human rights advocate Benedict Rogers has been calling for a rethink for years.
“Possibly one of the good things to come from this terrible crisis is a rethinking of policy and attitude towards not the Chinese people and the country, but the Chinese Communist Party regime,” said Rogers, Deputy Chair of the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission.
He said finding the cause of the virus is not the only thing that needs closer attention; forced organ harvesting also needs to be investigated further.