The announcement of 60,000 deaths linked to COVID by Chinese authorities could heighten tensions in the country of Xi Jinping, who has produced no plan to contain the virus’ spread among the country’s ravaging population.
“China is facing an internal problem because they’ve been very vocal about how they’re handling COVID, and the perception of the Chinese people is that the government is doing a fantastic job when it comes to that. It’s about containment, but when it comes to managing it, that’s a different matter,” he said. ” said Guy St-Jacques, former Canadian ambassador to China.
The Chinese government issued its first statement yesterday for the first time since the lifting of ultra-restrictive health measures in early December of a “zero COVID” policy.
“Between December 8, 2022 and January 12, 2023, a total of 59,938 [décès] It has been identified in medical institutions across the country,” Health Authority official Xiao Yahui told reporters yesterday.
However, Mr. St-Jacques warns.
“This is part of a propaganda operation because it is clear that there are many more deaths than that,” he said. According to all the reports confirming, for example, the workload faced by the incinerators, but also all the knowledge we have gained in the last three years about the virus and the infection rate, the death rate and the vaccination rate. »
However, according to him, as the World Health Organization asked him last week, it is clear that China is trying to be more transparent. But we should not forget that the Middle Kingdom is still “very touched” regarding its management and the origin of the epidemic, Mr. St-Jacques insists.
“She has been withholding information for a long time because she is anxious to explain the source of the problem, and it is becoming a whole face-saving issue. We are far from the truth and eventually we will have a better idea of excess mortality because these statistics will come out,” he believes. .
Same story with China expert and columnist Loïc Tassé RegisterFrom a statistical point of view, who points out that the government statistics do not match.
“Given the inequity of the Chinese health system, one would expect more deaths in the worst hospitals in rural areas and some cities. The numbers they give may be wrong, because half the population seems to have caught COVID-19,” he said.
Anger and dissatisfaction
Since the health measures were lifted, the virus has spread like wildfire among the population due to protests and economic problems in the country. Last week, many Quebecers complained about it Register Within a few days the disease struck. Several media outlets also reported that hospitals were overflowing with patients battling the disease.
And especially the elderly, with very fragile health, find themselves the first victims of pollution. According to government data, the average age of victims in the balance sheet released on Saturday was 80.
“A lot of grandparents die, which is a huge burden for the people and the parents, because in China often the grandparents take care of the grandchildren while the parents work,” explains the former representative. of Canada.
In addition, Guy St-Jacques says that the most obvious result of health measures without a change plan is that people realize that the Chinese government has had three years to prepare a plan and has done nothing. According to him, this could contribute to increasing discontent in the country.
For Loïc Tassé, refrain from raising the displeasure that the government did not publish the actual number of deaths.
“There is public dissatisfaction with the handling of COVID-19, and this dissatisfaction has spread to other areas: it affects the administration of Xi Jinping and the administration of the Chinese Communist Party. So, this is one of the reasons why we underestimate the number of deaths, because we don’t want to scare people, but we don’t want to increase their discontent. , because people are quick to blame the government. , he says, unemployment among the youth and other subjects such as the real estate crisis are increasing discontent in the country.
After all, it is very difficult to predict whether this anger will lead to demonstrations, as we saw in late November when we were fed up with health measures.
“People’s discontent is huge, it will increase, people will talk about it during the Chinese New Year, that’s for sure. The Chinese Communist Party will often take action to respond to this discontent,” said Mr. Tasse thinks he doesn’t see any resistance movement ready.