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China's coronavirus recovery is 'all fake,' whistleblowers and residents claim

China's coronavirus recovery is 'all fake,' whistleblowers and residents claim

China's coronavirus recovery is 'all fake,' whistleblowers and residents claim

China's coronavirus recovery is 'all fake,' whistleblowers and residents claim

China's claims of how it's handling coronavirus recovery should be taken with more than a few grains of salt.

Even before COVID-19 became a global crisis, Chinese leaders had been criticized for their handling of the situation and lack of transparency about the disease's progression.

Things now look like they're on the upswing, and businesses even appear to be headed back to work — but whistleblowers and local officials tell Caixan that's just a carefully crafted ruse.

Beijing has spent much of the outbreak pushing districts to carry on business as usual, with some local governments subsidizing electricity costs and even installing mandatory productivity quotas.

Zhejiang, a province east of the epicenter city of Wuhan, claimed as of Feb. 24 it had restored 98.6 percent of its pre-coronavirus work capacity.

But civil servants tell Caixan that businesses are actually faking these numbers. Beijing had started checking Zhejiang businesses' electricity consumption levels, so district officials ordered the companies to start leaving their lights and machinery on all day to drive the numbers up, one civil servant said. Businesses have reportedly falsified staff attendance logs as well — they "would rather waste a small amount of money on power than irritate local officials," Caixan writes.

In Wuhan, officials have tried to make it appear that recovery efforts are going smoothly. But when "central leaders" personally survey disinfecting regimens and food delivery, local officials "make a special effort" for them and them alone, one resident told Caixan. And in a video circulating on social media, residents can be seen shouting at visiting leaders from the apartments where they're being quarantined — "Fake, it's all fake."

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China's coronavirus recovery is 'all fake,' whistleblowers and residents claim
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Lights Are On but No One’s Working: How Local Governments Are Faking Coronavirus Recovery

China's coronavirus recovery is 'all fake,' whistleblowers and residents claim
Workers at a factory in Tianjin's Xiqing district on Feb. 19

Local companies and officials are fraudulently boosting electricity consumption and other metrics in order to meet tough new back-to-work targets as the spread of Covid-19 in China wanes, a Caixin investigation has found.

As new coronavirus cases in China slowed in recent weeks, local governments in less-affected regions pushed companies and factories to return to work, typically by assigning concrete targets to district officials. Company insiders and local civil servants told Caixin that, under pressure to fulfill quotas they could not otherwise meet,they deftly cooked the books.

Leaving lights and air conditioners on all day long in empty offices, turning on manufacturing equipment,faking staff rosters and even coaching factory workers to lie to inspectors are just some of the ways they helped manufacture flashy statistics on the resumption of business for local governments to report up the chain.

Electricity consumption data has regularly been used as a proxy for the business resumption rate when reporting to Beijing and to the public.==>si Anissandi paling percaya amee Dongengan PKC waaa!!!!emoticon-Ngakak (S)

The East China province of Zhejiang has been lauded as a prime example of the nation’s industrial recovery from the coronavirus outbreak by China’s top economic planner, which reported on Feb. 24 that its work resumption rate was more than 90%.

Nevertheless, a civil servant in one district of the provincial capital, Hangzhou, told Caixin that from Saturday plants were instructed to leave their industrial equipment idling for the whole day,while offices were told to keep computers and air-conditioners running, when Beijing began checking the resumption rate by examining power consumption figures.

Caixin has chosen not to name the district to protect the identity of the civil servant, who could face repercussions for revealing the information publicly. But reached by phone, one company insider in the district said they saw such directives in multiple corporate WeChat groups.

Another said they received the order too, but their operations had already resumed two weeks prior, and its production lines were in normal operation by Feb. 29.

Another executive said they were not informed of the electricity use target, and said they were running at about one-fifth of normal capacity, with only a small proportion of machines in use.

Hangzhou’s target was for corporate electricity consumption that day to hit 75% of what it was on Jan. 8, and that it should return to at least 90% of that by March 10.

The real resumption rate in one industrial park in Hangzhou over the weekend was 40%, the civil servant estimated, far below the 75% target.

The district official pointed out China is further subsidizing electricity costs as a way to incentivize businesses to resume,and said many companies would rather waste a small amount of money on power than irritate local officials.

Insiders told Caixin that in some cases, rather than giving companies direct targets, local governments assigned quotas to local district officials who were then directly responsible for meeting them.

Those officials would regularly visit the companies, prodding them to resume production in the guise of expressing “care and support.” That pressure is likely what drove them to switch on their machines.

Zhejiang Provincial Government Deputy Secretary-General Chen Guangsheng boasted to press on Feb. 24 that a segment of manufacturing plants in Zhejiang reported a work resumption rate of 98.6%, and service enterprises 95.6%. More than 99% of the coastal province’s companies with annual export value above $10 million had resumed business, the provincial leader said.

A company in Wenzhou, a major commercial center in the same province, confirmed it had received a designated power consumption target equal to half of the level before the outbreak, and had been running its air conditioners all day long to meet the goal.

Zhejiang is not the only place where the reality on the ground is said to deviate from government figures.

In the small industrial city of Botou, some 230 kilometers (143 miles) south of Beijing, Caixin found factories reported by the local government to have reopened their doors had not in fact resumed production.

The head of one told Caixin that despite reports up the chain, the local government’s unwillingness to risk an outbreak meant it had not actually restarted. “The local government still forbids factories to actually resume work,” the executive said. “We have returned to the offices, but production has not resumed at all.”

He further said the Botou government asked him to falsely report the number of employees who had returned to work, and even went so far as to directly coach workers about how to lie if they received calls from inspectors.

Prolonged suspension of production had led to the loss of technicians and business orders, he added, because some of the company’s peers in other parts of China had resumed manufacturing ahead of them.

Replying to Caixin’s request for comment on Monday, the Botou government said at least 228 enterprises in the Botou area had resumed business, but some companies might have said they did not because while they were registered as having resumed, they may not have been prepared to immediately commence production.

They said companies were permitted to resume normal business after reporting to the local government, but could only begin operation after officials confirmed virus control measures were in place.

A source in a smaller enterprise in Botou told Caixin companies have been allowed to resume production after meeting certain virus containment requirements, but face the further logistical issues as many rural roads remain blocked. Without a way to get raw materials in and send products out, there’s not much point in businesses returning to production.

Open data from Baidu Maps shows overall traffic flow inside the Botou city over the weekend was still less than half of the average last year, after two weeks of slow recovery starting from Feb. 18.

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Recovered coronavirus patient, 36, dies of the disease five days after being discharged from a hospital in Wuhan

The 36-year-old was pronounced dead when he was in isolation, it is reported
The hospital had deemed the patient as fully recovered just five days before
Field hospitals have started to hold back discharging their recovered patients
This came after several former patients had tested positive again in rechecks
The novel coronavirus has killed 3,301 and infected over 96,440 people globally

A former coronavirus patient has died five days after he was declared recovered from the disease by a Chinese hospital, media reported.

The 36-year-old man, Li Liang, died on Monday during post-recovery quarantine in Wuhan, Hubei Province of central China.

He suffered a sudden death triggered by respiratory obstruction and failure, according to a death certificate provided by his wife, named by media as Ms Mei.

The cause of death was concluded as the novel coronavirus.

China's coronavirus recovery is 'all fake,' whistleblowers and residents claim

China's coronavirus recovery is 'all fake,' whistleblowers and residents claim

Li Liang was discharged on February 12 after being treated for 13 days at the Guobo makeshift hospital in Hanyang District of Wuhan.

He tested negative on two consecutive days and showed normal temperature for over three days before he left the hospital, according to Guangzhou Daily.

Another alleged hospital discharge letter stated the patient was allowed to leave the hospital 'after an examination conducted by the medical expert team'.

Li Liang was then put under quarantine at a hotel designated to observe recovered patients.

He was rushed to hospital on March 2 and pronounced dead by the doctors after all rescue efforts failed.

Chinese web users have found some media reports on the incident appear to have disappeared.

Field hospitals in Wuhan have started to delay discharging their recovered patients from yesterday after an order came from the city officials, the press report.

This came after a large number of discharged patients had tested positive again, according to The Paper.

China's coronavirus recovery is 'all fake,' whistleblowers and residents claim
A former coronavirus patient has tested positive 10 days after being allowed to leave the hospital and go home, sparking fears that recovered sufferers may still carry the lethal virus. Pictured, a patient is discharged from Leishenshan Hospital in Wuhan on February 18

A former coronavirus patient tested positive again last week after being discharged from a hospital in Zhejiang Province 18 days ago and then passed a two-week quarantine period.

The Chinese resident, known by his surname Wang, reportedly went for a recheck after reading stories about other recovered patients being infected again.

Another recovered patient also tested positive 10 days after being allowed to leave the hospital and go home, sparking fears that recovered sufferers may still carry the lethal virus.

State media said the person was discharged from a hospital in south-western China's Sichuan Province and then went into self-quarantine straight away.

Experts suspected that doctors had not given the patient accurate virus tests before declaring his recovery.

The virus has infected over 80,400 people in China, including 3,012 deaths.

South Korea, Iran and Italy are the worst-affected countries outside China as the worldwide toll of those infected by COVID-19 reached more than 96,000, including 3,301 deaths.

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China's coronavirus recovery is 'all fake,' whistleblowers and residents claim

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‘It’s all fake!’ Angry residents shout at Chinese vice-premier in coronavirus-hit Wuhan

As Sun Chunlan walks through locked down estate, locals yell out that it was cleaned up and grocery deliveries arranged in time for her visit
She had been inspecting the distribution of necessities to households and afterwards told officials to face up to the real problems

China's coronavirus recovery is 'all fake,' whistleblowers and residents claim
Vice-Premier Sun Chunlan on an earlier visit to a social welfare institute in Wuhan. She is leading the government’s response to the crisis in the city. Photo: Xinhua

ice-Premier Sun Chunlan and her entourage as they visited the Kaiyuan Gongguan estate on Thursday morning, according to videos of the dramatic scene posted on social media.
Sun, 70, is the most senior Chinese official in Wuhan
– she has been in the city since late January leading the government’s response to the crisis.

But as she walked through the grounds of the complex, residents protested, saying the management company responsible for the estate had quickly cleaned up before she came and arranged for fake volunteers to deliver groceries to its locked down households, according to Taoran Notes, a social media account linked to the official Economic Daily.

China's coronavirus recovery is 'all fake,' whistleblowers and residents claim
Sun Chunlan and her entourage seen in a still from a video walking through the grounds of the estate as residents shout from their windows. Photo: Weibo

The episode has been much discussed online and, unusually, it was also covered by Chinese state media – including Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily, which ran a commentary slamming the estate manager for trying to deceive the visiting officials.

Wuhan, a city of 11 million people where the new virus strain first emerged in December, has been in lockdown since January 23 in a bid to limit the spread of the disease. All residents have been barred from leaving the city since then, and from February 10, with some exceptions, they have had to get approval to even leave their homes. Other cities in Hubei province, where Wuhan is located, have also been locked down in an unprecedented mass quarantine effort.
The coronavirus continues to sweep the globe and has so far infected more than 98,000 people and claimed over 3,300 lives

Vice-Premier Sun had been inspecting the distribution of daily necessities to residents at the estate in Wuhan when she was heckled. Afterwards, she told local officials to face up to the real problems and do away with bureaucratic formalities, according to official news agency Xinhua.

Zhu Lijia, a professor at the government-affiliated Chinese Academy of Governance, said there was a general agreement in Beijing to put an end to staged inspections by politicians.

“There is a wide consensus to chip away at such bureaucratic formalities,” Zhu said. “But it has been the practice for a long time, and getting rid of it will be a long-term task.”

Inspections of factories and neighbourhoods by senior Chinese officials have long been criticised as staged and an ineffective way to gather information on the ground.

Beijing has allowed more public criticism of such inspections in recent years, as President Xi Jinping has repeatedly vowed to get rid of bureaucratic formalities and fake reports by lower level officials.

In this year’s annual Lunar New Year gala, broadcast live on state-run CCTV, a comedy routine even poked fun at the inspections, with an official making a staged visit to a hospital and only caring about posing for a publicity shot.
But there is no sign that this much-criticised practice has stopped, even with the country facing what Xi has called its worst public health crisis since 1949

China's coronavirus recovery is 'all fake,' whistleblowers and residents claim
Premier Li Keqiang visits workers at the construction site of a new hospital in Wuhan in January. Photo: EPA-EFE

Ying Yong, the new party chief of Hubei province brought in to handle the crisis
, was taken aback during a similar visit to a residential compound in Wuhan on February 26, according to a video carried by local media.

When he shouted up to residents asking if there were any problems that needed to be resolved, the reply was loud and clear: “There’s no problem at all.”

Puzzled, he tried again. “I’m sure there are problems, but let’s solve them together,” he said.

Premier Li Keqiang got the same response in late January when he asked workers rushing to build a new hospital for virus patients in Wuhan if they needed anything.

“We don’t have any problems,” Li was told, according to local media footage of the exchange.

It was later reported that some of the workers at the site had not been given enough masks to wear during the construction and a few had contracted the disease after they joined the project.

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