Citizens globally are in uncharted waters as we sit and wait in hopes that the coronavirus will exit our lives just as abruptly as it entered. Looking to other countries such as China, where the virus originated, is our best guess as to what the future holds. Unfortunately, China’s public relations cannot be trusted, and The Epoch Times paints a harrowing picture that the Chinese may have suffered far worse than they are letting on.
China has reported 81,171 people infected with COVID-19, 3,277 of which were fatalities. However, the Epoch Times exposes new information which may indicate the official numbers reported by the Chinese government are far, far from accurate. According to the Epoch Times, “The number of Chinese cellphone users dropped by 21 million in the past three months, Beijing authorities announced on March 19. Deaths due to the CCP virus may have contributed to the high number of account closings.”
Why on earth would 21 million cell phone accounts no longer be necessary? The Epoch Times offers potential explanations such as migrant workers no longer using multiple cell phones for their home and work cities during the quarantine period. Another justification could be fears of the unknown economic future forced the cancellations of a luxury people figure they can live without to save money.
U.S.-based commentator Tang Jiangyuan claims this is suspicious, at best. It is basically “impossible for a person to cancel his cellphone,” said Tang. “Dealing with the government for pensions and social security, buying train tickets, shopping…no matter what people want to do, they are required to use cell phones” Tang added. Not to mention, China is requiring its citizens to use their cell phones to track their movements in order to generate “health codes” which amongst other things can determine if permission to travel will be restricted.
An article in the New York Times backs Tang’s assertion and explains how China leans heavily on its cell phone users and their usage to track its citizens not only for coronavirus health measures but to monitor its population as well. Cell users are assigned a green, yellow or red “health code” and in some cities, “residents now how to register their phone numbers with an app to take public transportation” reported the Times.
In addition to the health measures, the Times discusses how China monitors its population:
The Times’s analysis found that as soon as a user grants the software access to personal data, a piece of the program labeled ‘reportInfoAndLocationToPolice’ sends the person’s location, city name, and an identifying code number to a server. The software does not make clear to users its connection to the police. But according to China’s state-run Xinhua news agency and an official police social media account, law enforcement authorities were a crucial partner in the system’s development…
While Chinese internet companies often share data with the government, the process is rarely so direct. In the United States, it would be akin to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention using apps from Amazon and Facebook to track the coronavirus, then quietly sharing user information with the local sheriff’s office.
In conclusion, the Epoch Times suggests “lacking data, the real death toll in China is a mystery. The cancellation of 21 million cellphones provides a data point that suggests the real number may be far higher than the official number.”