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China is pushing back on claims it purposely falsified the number of people infected with coronavirus and said of the 12,500 people who died during the country’s first mandatory lockdown, 10,000 did so of other causes.
“We didn’t conceal death figures, and the numbers are accurate,” Lu Shaye, Chinese ambassador to France, said Wednesday.
Asked to explain the massive uptick in funeral urns and long lines at funeral homes in Wuhan, the epicenter of the global pandemic, Lu blamed the backup on funeral homes closing during the lockdown.
“Funeral homes in Wuhan reopened on March 23,” Lu said on BFM TV. “You saw a lot of people waiting in line because over the two months of lockdown in Wuhan, apart from the coronavirus deaths, there have been about 10,000 people who died of other reasons.”
China has been widely criticized for how it’s reported its numbers and has been accused of suppressing life-saving data to show the world it had a handle on COVID-19.
On Thursday, China reported it had 1,863 coronavirus patients being treated for the disease despite declaring publicly it had cured the outbreak. It’s also the first time the number of current patients have dipped below 2,000, according to China’s state-run media. The announcement came following allegations Beijing was padding its numbers to show success in its treatments where there was none. The country reported it has 81,589 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 3,199 deaths.
On Wednesday, three U.S. intelligence officials accused China of underreporting the number of patients and deaths and said in a report sent to the White House that China’s public record of COVID-19 infections was deliberately deceptive and incomplete.
Hudson Institute senior fellow Dr. Michael Pillsbury told Fox News that China’s main objective is to spin data and silence critics who speak out on Beijing’s shortcomings.
“Whenever you become a China expert, the first thing you’re taught is about Chinese belief in the power of deception, that nobody ever tells the truth,” he said on “The Story with Martha MacCallum.” “Everything is done for a principle, a larger goal.”
On Wednesday, President Trump said he could not confirm the veracity of the numbers of coronavirus cases and deaths being reported by China. He added that the numbers from China “seem to be a little on the light side.”
National Security Adviser Robert C. O’Brien put it a little more bluntly.
“We are not in the position to confirm any of the numbers coming from China,” he said. “We just have no way to confirm any of those numbers.”
Fox News’ Andrew O’Reilly contributed to this report.