The United States does not currently have more coronavirus-related deaths than China, despite media claims, according to a senator on the Select Committee on Intelligence.
Sen. Ben Sasse (R., Neb.), who sits on the committee that deals with classified intelligence, said the Chinese Communist Party continues to lie about the actual death toll from coronavirus in its own country. While the senator would not discuss specific intelligence, citing classification reasons, he said information he has viewed shows the United States does not surpass China in terms of deaths.
"The claim that the United States has more coronavirus deaths than China is false," Sasse said on Wednesday in a statement sent to the Washington Free Beacon. "Without commenting on any classified information, this much is painfully obvious: The Chinese Communist Party has lied, is lying, and will continue to lie about coronavirus to protect the regime. Beijing's garbage propaganda shouldn't be taken seriously by the World Health Organization, by independent journalists, or by the American epidemiologists who are going to beat this terrible virus."
China has reported some 81,500 cases and 3,300 deaths, according to publicly available data. The U.S. infection number stands at 191,000 with more than 4,000 deaths, making it the worldwide leader if the public numbers are to be trusted.
Lawmakers and senior U.S. officials have charged China with lying since the coronavirus first exploded. The United States estimates that the number of those killed in China, Iran, and other repressive regimes far exceeds the numbers officially reported.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been among the senior U.S. officials pushing back against China's disinformation.
In a call with foreign media outlets on Wednesday, Pompeo said China and a number of other countries are downplaying the disease's impact.
"We have certainly seen them," Pompeo said, referring to "disinformation campaigns" by a number of countries. "We have seen it not only from Iran and Russia but from China and others as well trying to tell a narrative. And the narratives are different, but each of them has the same component, which is to avoid responsibility and try and place confusion in the world, confusion about where the virus began but also confusion about how countries are responding to it and which countries are actually providing assistance throughout the world."
One GOP congressional aide familiar with ongoing debate over international coronavirus figures told the Free Beacon reports of mass alarm in China contradict the Communist regime's public rhetoric.
"The CCP has a legitimacy problem here. The Chinese people feel it and the rest of the world is seeing it," said the source, who would only speak on background. "They lied about COVID-19 from the start. Shutting down movie theaters and reports of massively increased cremations just don't square with the nothing-to-see-here numbers they’re pushing."
Classified U.S. intelligence reports indicate that China has not only hidden the number of infections in the country, but also the number of deaths. U.S. officials have concluded that information provided by China has been forged to mislead the international community.