White House Criticizes China for Not Being ‘Fully Transparent’ About COVID Numbers


People wait for funeral services for their deceased relatives at Baoxing Funeral Parlor in Shanghai, China, on Jan. 4, 2023. (Wang Gang/VCG via Getty Images)

The Epoch Times

By Alex Wu

During a White House press briefing on Jan. 25, National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby said that China hasn’t been “fully transparent” about COVID numbers. “And we cannot speak to the veracity of those numbers. We urge China to be fully transparent about what’s going on.”

Under increasing international pressure to share COVID data, the Chinese regime reported nearly 60,000 COVID-related deaths in hospitals between Dec. 8 and Jan. 12, a massive jump over previous reports. However, the new number casts doubts about the actual COVID death toll in China, as it excludes deaths that occur at home, and some doctors have said authorities don’t want them to put COVID as the cause of death on death certificates if there was a concurrent disease present.

The number is also in stark contrast to the images and videos flooding social media that show hospitals and funeral homes being deluged across the country.

The Epoch Times obtained internal documents of the Chinese regime showing that during the peak of the epidemic from Dec. 18 to early January 2023 in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, the daily cremation number was 6 to 7 times higher than the previously reported monthly average. The Nanjing funeral industry is keeping the actual numbers confidential.

Numbers Questioned

International media has noticed that the number of canceled household registrations in many places has soared (Chinese law requires the next of kin to cancel the household registration of a deceased person), and the increased deaths in rural areas have pushed up the sales of coffins. Funeral homes have installed more cremation ovens.

An Epoch Times review of 10 provinces and major cities found that more than 30 funeral homes published tenders for cremation ovens, ash urns, vans to transport bodies, and refrigerators, over the past three weeks alone.

“Because of the sharp surge in business, we urgently need to buy two ash sorting machines and post-processing equipment,” reads one Jan. 19 notice published by Huzhou Funeral House in Zhejiang Province, located south of Shanghai.

Local funeral homes have spent millions of yuan (6.78 yuan = $1) to purchase additional cooler storage for bodies, large trucks to transport bodies, and cremation ovens, since early December last year when COVID suddenly surged nationwide, according to Reuters.

Wang Ning, who works in the Jiangsu medical and health system, told Radio Free Asia that since the beginning of December last year, the number of people whose household registrations have been canceled increased by 3 to 5 times year-on-year, and the number is even higher in smaller cities. “Some of my friends are civil servants, and they have to handle the cancelation of household registration, and the number is three times that of usual. I heard some relevant data from funeral businesses in other places, and the numbers are almost four to five times.”

Epoch Times Photo
A coffin is moved from a hearse into a storage container at the Dongjiao crematorium and funeral home, one of several in the city that handles COVID-19 cases, in Beijing on Dec. 18, 2022. (Getty Images)

The BBC reported that coffin makers in northern Shanxi Province said they have been busy and haven’t had any rest in recent months. Sometimes the coffins have even sold out and people in the funeral business have been “earning a small fortune,” according to a customer.

BBC also reported that when they drove along the road in the countryside, they noticed many fresh mounds of earth with red flags on them. A farmer herding goats confirmed that they were all new graves, “Families have been burying elderly people here after they die. There are just too many.”

Indications of Much Higher Death Toll

In a Jan. 26 article for the Chinese language edition of The Epoch Times, columnist Zhou Xiaohui described some indicators of the huge death toll. He noted that orders for tens of millions of body bags have been placed by local authorities, as shown in posts on social media since Jan. 8.

He cited one post by a business named Changzhou Hiking Outdoor Products, which disclosed that the Civil Affairs Bureau and local governments have been ordering a huge number of body bags. One order was for 30 million bags, and delivery was required within two weeks.

Zhou said that according to public data on funeral-related companies in China, the number of new company registrations peaked in 2021 at 16,800, a year-on-year increase of 16.11 percent. In the first three months of 2022, the number of registrations of funeral-related enterprises was 4,397, a year-on-year increase of 30.7 percent. No subsequent data is available.

Zhou wrote: “The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) dares not publish the number of body bags ordered by its Civil Affairs Bureaus and local governments, the total sales of coffin companies in the past three years, or explain the reasons for the sharp increase in the registration of funeral-related companies in the past three years. What lies behind this is that the CCP is covering up the huge death toll.”