Translations of key Chinese articles and blogs about the Covid-19 Outbreak

Some key pieces of information related the Covid-19 outbreak were published in Chinese media. Quite often these articles have now been deleted. Here is a list of pieces I translated.

Shanghai Journalism Review, Issue #2 2020 (translation of front page)

Source: Personal blog
Author: Little Mountain Dog (小山狗), an identified employee of Vision Medicals
Date: Jan 28, 2020
Takeaway: A key testimony on the near full sequencing and early genomic analysis of SARS-CoV-2 on 26/27 Dec 2019, with warnings clearly communicated to CDC and Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences by 28 Dec.

Source: Personal blog
Author: Little Mountain Dog (小山狗), an identified employee of Vision Medicals
Date: Jan 30, 2020
Takeaway: ‘Self-criticism’ statement denouncing her previous post, using standard party-speech.

Source: Caixin (财经)
Authors: Fang Gongyiliu, Li Shiyun, Liu Yiqin, Iris Xin, intern Ma Kexin (房宫一柳 ,黎诗韵, 刘以秦, 信娜, 实习生马可欣)
Date: Feb 1, 2020
Takeaway: An excellent article describing the obstacles and systemic biases in the reporting of early Covid-19 cases in Wuhan.

Source: Eight o’clock health news
Author: Wu Jing (吴靖)
Date: Feb 11, 2020
Takeaway: A good article about the Yofu hospital close to the market and the early cases seen there (with a suspected market cluster on Dec 12, 2019). Also good on self-reporting biases and systemic biases.

Source: Freezing Point Magazine (杨海 冰点周刊)
Author: Yang Hai (杨海)
Date: Feb 20, 2020
Takeaway: The key article to understand the reporting bias towards the market introduced by the Wuhan Health Commission and its tug of war with the Hubei CDC.

质疑 | 穿山甲是新冠病毒的中间宿主么?啮齿类或许也有可能
Source: Personal blog
Author: Little Mountain Dog (小山狗), an identified employee of Vision Medicals
Date: Feb 24, 2020
Takeaway: LMD strikes again and strongly criticize the ‘99% similitude’ pangolin press-conference of the Feb 7, 20020 and the preprint that followed.

Source: Caixin (财经) with Jeff Zhao (王小, see also #13 and #15)
Authors: Iris Xin and Jeff Zhao (in Wuhan), with help from Sun Aimin and Xin Ying
Date: Feb 25, 2020
Takeaway: A good article looking at the failure of the CDC epidemic reporting system at the start of the outbreak.

Feb 25, 2020: CDC Gag Order issued on the very day the WHO mission left China, targeting CDC offices.

Caixin (财经)
Authors: Gao Yu, Peng Yanfeng, Yang Rui, Feng Yuding, Ma Danmeng (记者, 高昱, 彭岩锋, 杨睿, 冯禹丁, 马丹萌)
Date: Feb 26, 2020
Takeaway: A important article going through all the identification of the virus by different teams (starting with Vision Medicals on Dec 26, 2019) and the reason why that information, including sequences, was not released for more than 2 weeks.

Source: Health Times (健康时报)
Author: Wang Zhenya (王振雅)
Feb 27, 2020 for 1st Version
- Mar 3, 2020 for 2nd version, with retraction of suspected Nov cases, on the day the the State Council gag order was issued.
Takeaway: A key piece highlighting suspected Nov 19 cases, which were shortly after retracted on the day the State Council Gag Order was issued.

Mar 3, 2020: all-encompassing Confidential State Council Gag Order, which also recommends organizing publications with the propaganda department, like ‘a game of chess’.

“看见”的力量 — 透视疫情报道与国家治理能力现代化
Source: News Reporter Magazine (记者 杂志)
Authors: Li Hongbing, Zhou Yuqiao (李泓冰, 周玉桥)
Date: Late Feb or Mar 2020
Takeaway: A prize-winning piece that proclaims its allegiance with the party, blames near exclusively local authorities (a safe option that has some merit, but is nevertheless an oversimplification), and looks at the role of the local media reporting and the local propaganda department.

风险社会的技术治理与应急决策 — 以新冠肺炎疫情的早期处置为中心
Source: China Law Review (中国法律评论)
Author: Chen Baifeng (陈柏峰)
Date: Mar 24, 2020
Takeaway: A piece by a journal of the Institute of Law (Chinese Academy of Social Sciences) that ends up strongly questioning the lack of transparency and reporting in the early days, and exposes the tug or war between Wuhan and Hubei authorities as well as the self-censure by the medical profession. Also looks at structural issues faced by the CDC, especially the internal division between the Bureau of Disease Control and the Centre of Disease Control and Prevention, showing how the Hubei and National CDCs were sidestepped and without administrative powers against the Wuhan Health Commission.
Last discusses structural (if not existential) issues with the party.

Source: Personal blog
Author: Little Mountain Dog (小山狗), an identified employee of Vision Medicals
Date: Apr 4, 2020
Takeaway: Little Mountain Dog expresses her pain and anger at seeing that the occasion to sound a proper warning based on her sequencing and analysis of Dec 26/27, 2019 was missed. Questions the authorities’ rationale for not not sounding the alarm.

Source: Personal blog
Author: Jeff Zhao (王小)
Date: Apr 3, 2020
Takeaway: A careful piece that stays within the official praises for Xi Jinping and the central government, but nevertheless exposes the design and conceptual flaw in the CDC epidemic reporting system that was hardly used in the early days of the outbreak.

Source: Caixin (财经)
Authors: Xiao Hui, Bao Zhiming and Gao Yu (萧辉, 包志明, 高昱)
Date: Apr 13, 2020
Takeaway: A strong piece on the early cases at the Zhongnan hospital in Wuchang (on the other side of the river, not on the market side) and the reporting blocks it faced, including actual unexplained deletions of early cases it entered into the CDC epidemic reporting system. The piece is careful and starts by asserting its supposed alignment with the party’s objectives.

Source: Personal blog
Author: Jeff Zhao (王小)
Date: May 5, 2020
Takeaway: A dive down on the practical flaws in the CDC Epidemic Reporting system and how a proper system should instead be designed.

Source: Personal blog reproduced as articles
Author: Watson (Hua Sheng, 华生)
Date: Feb 17 to Apr 3, 2020
Takeaway: Watson (Chinese nickname for Hua Sheng) is a successful and respected Chinese economist who was sent to reeducation in the countryside at age 15, during the Cultural Revolution, just like Xi Jinping. He wrote a series of popular blog entries about the cover up by the Wuhan and Hubei authorities in Dec 19 and Jan 20. He tends to totally absolve the party and central authorities, to which he seems to be rather close, but nevertheless offers some interesting elements on the local power dynamics in the early days of the outbreak.

Source: Caixin (财经)
Authors: Bao Zhiming, Qin Jianxing, Gao Yu, Xiao Hui (包志明, 覃建行, 高昱, 萧辉)
Date: Mar 10, 2020
Takeaway: This is much more than a description of the situation within Wuhan Central Hospital. The politically acceptable link to Li Wenliang’s story is actually the occasion of a most ravaging article on the tug of war between the Health Commissions and the CDC, and on how the CDC was totally bypassed for political reasons, with a detailed description of the institutionalized mis-reporting and a long list of tricks (deletion of cases, likely fake test results, etc) used till around the 20 January 2020.

Source: Caixin (财经)
Authors: Xie Haitao, Zhang Yingyu (谢海涛, 张颖钰)
Date: Apr 7, 2020
Takeaway: A description of some front line small clinics in the early days of the epidemic, following the superspreading event at the market. Focusses on the story of Liu Deyan and his wife, who managed the ‘Wuhan Zhongsheng Outpatient Clinic’. The article also includes some reporting on the Influenza A wave in Wuhan at the time.

Source: Caixin (财经)
Authors: Yu Qin, Li Shiyun (俞琴, 黎诗韵)
Date: Feb 26, 2020
Takeaway: An interview with a member of the second group of expert sent to Wuhan, detailing the limitation of their work in front of lies from local authorities, while resulted in a denial of human-to-human transmission and the epidemic getting out of control.



Opinions, analyses and views expressed are purely mine and should not in any way be characterised as representing any institution.

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Gilles Demaneuf

Opinions, analyses and views expressed are purely mine and should not in any way be characterised as representing any institution.