This NYT piece, China Admits Much Higher Number of SARS Cases, is rather stunning. For rather petty reasons, the government covered up an epidemic that will kill an untold number of people. Now, they’re sorry. A bit late, I’m afraid.

FILED UNDER: World Politics, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. BigFire says:

    Nothing that the Communist Chinese Government does surprises me any more. When the death toll goes up into the millions, it still won’t surprise me. Afterall, to the Chinese government, it’s still only numbers. Ah, to be a Chinese (late of Taiwan) in America only add to my contempt for those in charge in China.

  2. Phil says:

    Indeed. As someone who is blogging this subject from Hong Kong I can certainly say there is incredible frustration with the reaction of the provincial governments’ handling of this. Particularly as it means people have died.

    However, perhaps a little context here:

    Millions are not going to die. What the final outcome will be we don’t know because to be honest the disease is only a few months old and we do not know if (and therefore how) the strain mutates, or if it gets stronger or weaker with each generation.

    The principal culprits are the provincial governments in Beijing and Guangdong, who in true party style, think that bad news can lose you your job. Historically speaking they would be correct.

    But the noises coming out of the central government right now are ones of considerable anger with the provincial governments. China looks foolish as best, criminal at worst in how it handled SARS. The Central government has a new leadership from a new generation who are not so stupid as to think the bluster of the past wil cut it any more. They have already started firing people from high places over this and the announcements in numerous state organs that covering up information would lead to severe punishment is unprecented.

    Short version? The Central Government is making progress. The numbers have just shot up because some people started telling the truth.

    None of us expect miracles or the leapard to change his spots overnight but this might serve a useful purpose in educating China’s new leadership on what happens if they don’t meet the international standards required for the world position they so desperately crave.

    That’s the positive spin. Negative version? We are all going to die. Now is the time to cheat on your spouse while you still can.