Local Chinese officials hid early COVID findings from Beijing, U.S. finds

Officials in Beijing were kept in the dark for weeks about the potential devastation of the virus by local officials in central China, according to American officials familiar with a new internal report by U.S. intelligence agencies.

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The report concluded that officials in the city of Wuhan and in Hubei Province, where the outbreak began late last year, tried to hide information from China’s central leadership. The finding is consistent with reporting by news organizations and with assessments by China experts of the country’s opaque governance system.

Local officials often withhold information from Beijing for fear of reprisal, current and former American officials say.

The new assessment does not contradict the Trump administration’s criticism of China, but adds perspective and context to actions — and inactions — that created the global crisis.

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