The following report was originally published on April 15, 2020. The Intelligence Ledger has updated this page to reflect current evidence and recent discoveries.
The Pandemic of 2020 has been the largest, deadliest, and most impactful event to occur as of yet in the 21st century. COVID-19 is responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths and millions of hospitalizations. Trillions of dollars have been lost as a result of economic stagnation, and millions of workers now find themselves unemployed. By the time a vaccine or anti-viral treatment is widely available, misery and pain will have entered the homes of hundreds of millions of innocent people.
After an exhaustive investigation, The Intelligence Ledger has found hundreds of examples of Chinese officials and government agencies intentionally deceiving Chinese citizens and the international community. This campaign of deception severely hindered the opening stages of the international response to the virus, and perhaps even worsened COVID-19’s spread at times it could've been halted.
In the following pages, The Intelligence Ledger’s investigative team has compiled an accurate and detailed timeline of events as they unfolded in the People’s Republic of China. Based on open source intelligence, public reporting, and interviews with whistleblowers, it highlights key deceptions that assisted the disease’s spread and reveals the blatant disinformation campaign carried out by the government in Beijing.
November 17, 2019
On November 17, 2020, the first known case of COVID-19 is detected in the People’s Republic of China. A 55 year-old man, overcome by a sharp fever and piercing cough, visits a local hospital in China's Hubei Province. Data obtained by the South China Morning Post indicates that in the days following the discovery, at least 266 more Chinese citizens contracted the virus and came under medical surveillance. From this point, it would take nearly ninety days for the government of the PRC to alert the world to the discovery of a new disease.
December 1, 2019
The first case of COVID-19 acknowledged by the government of China is recorded at a Wuhan medical facility, although it would not do so until two months later.
December 6, 2019
Five days after the first acknowledged COVID-19 patient is examined, his wife is hospitalized with pneumonia and moved to the hospital’s isolation ward. Government officials and physicians note the connection, but refuse to declare the case as an instance of human-to-human transmission. The People’s Republic of China would not acknowledge human-to-human transmission as a reality until January 20, 2020, little under two months later.
December 21, 2019
Medical professionals in Wuhan notice a, “cluster of pneumonia cases with an unknown cause.”
December 25, 2019
On Christmas Day, more evidence of human-to-human transmission emerges as staff members in two of Wuhan’s hospitals are quarantined on the suspicion that they contracted “viral pneumonia.”
December 27, 2019
A genomics company based in the Chinese province of Guangzhou successfully sequences the majority of the virus. Their report correctly declares the virus is similar to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Although its publication would have saved lives and precious resources, the report would remain hidden from public eyes until February 28, 2020. The Chinese government would not acknowledge the disease’s similarity with SARS until several weeks later.
December 30, 2019
Dr. Li Wenliang, a physician in Wuhan, posts in a private WeChat group, "7 confirmed cases of SARS were reported from Huanan Seafood Market." He further notes, "the latest news is, it has been confirmed that they are coronavirus infections, but the exact virus strain is being subtyped." After warning friends to take measures to protect themselves against the respiratory infection, his post is leaked in public forums. It gains widespread attention across China, with censors struggling to contain its spread.
December 31, 2019
Nearly a month and a half after the first known case of COVID-19 on November 17, the People’s Republic of China alerts the international community to a developing situation by contacting the World Health Organization (WHO). According to a report made public by WHO, "the WHO China Country Office was informed of cases of pneumonia unknown etiology (unknown cause) detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China."
The government in Beijing begins to censor coronavirus-related terms, including “Unknown Wuhan Pneumonia” and “Unknown SARS”.
Health experts from the Republic of China, otherwise known as Taiwan, warn the World Health Organization (WHO) that a new and unknown virus is spreading in the People’s Republic of China. The WHO never publicizes or acknowledges their warning.
January 1, 2020
Chinese officials from the Wuhan Public Health Commission order one genomics company to cease testing and immediately destroy all samples of the virus.
The Ministry of State Security, an agency known for its brutality and effectiveness, summons Dr. Li Wenliang and seven other physicians on the charge of, "spreading rumors."
January 2, 2020
The Wuhan Institute of Virology successfully maps the genome of COVID-19, a major step in combating the deadly virus. The Chinese government would not announce the institute’s success for another week.
January 3, 2020
The National Health Commission, China's main federal health agency, orders all institutions to cease publishing information relating to the virus and directs that all samples destroyed or transferred to designated facilities.
The Wuhan Municipal Health Commission publishes its second report, stating dishonestly that, "no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission and no medical staff infections."
According to the New York Times, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar begins to receive reports and data about, "a new coronavirus" from Chinese officials. Secretary Azar quickly informs the National Security Council.
The Wuhan Public Security Bureau interrogates Dr. Li Wenliang, issues him with a warning, and reprimands him for, "making false comments on the Internet.” After signing a, "letter of admonition," and promising to refrain from doing it again, he is released and returns to work.
January 4, 2020
The Wuhan Municipal Health Commission releases a statement updating case numbers, but continues to insist that there is, "no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission and no medical staff infections."
January 6, 2020
In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issues a Level 1 Watch, its lowest, for the People's Republic of China. Based on data and statements from Chinese government, which it does not know are false, the CDC states the cause and transmission are not yet known.
The CDC offers through American diplomats to send a rapid response team to the People’s Republic of China to assist in research, but is turned away by China's National Health Commission.
January 7, 2020
Officials from the central government reveal to the press that the disease in Wuhan has been identified as a novel coronavirus, although they continue to state there is no human-to-human transmission.
During a private meeting with members of the Politburo Standing Committee (PSC) and state health officials, General Secretary Xi Jinping reportedly orders that the outbreak be halted by any means necessary. This meeting would not be known to the public until February, when the New York Times published a scathing piece targeting the Chinese government’s response to the virus.
January 8, 2020
Dr. Li Wenliang contracts COVID-19 at his hospital after coming into contact with an infected patient.
January 9, 2020
The World Health Organization releases a public statement praising Beijing’s response to the virus, advising against any travel restrictions, and declaring the virus does not spread readily between people. Despite the praise for China coming from the leadership of the WHO, mid-level officials are becoming increasingly discontent. American epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s technical lead for COVID-19, angrily declares in one internal meeting, “We’re going on very minimal information. It’s clearly not enough for you to do proper planning.”
January 10, 2020
Dr. Li Wenliang develops a cough and fever as a result of contracting COVID-19.
January 11, 2020
The Wuhan Municipal Health Commission issues a statement that stands in direct opposition to the reality being confronted by frontline doctors, saying, "no new cases have been detected since January 3, 2020." They also report, "no medical staff infection(s) have been found, and no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission has been found."
January 12, 2020
The Chinese government finally shares the genetic sequence of the virus with the world.
January 13, 2020
The government of Thailand reports that a woman from Wuhan tested positive for the virus while visiting the country. It is the first case reported outside Chinese borders. The woman had no contact with the market being accused by the Chinese government of being the epicenter of the outbreak, giving the international community more evidence of human-to-human transmission.
January 14, 2020
The Wuhan Municipal Health Commission continues a pattern of lies by releasing a statement saying, "among the close contacts, no related cases were found." Doctors treating patients with COVID-19 knew this was a completely untruthful statement, as one of the first cases they encountered was a woman who had been infected by her husband.
WHO reports on a twitter post that, "Preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) identified in Wuhan, China." The organization apparently took Chinese evidence at face value, and repeatedly included this fact in statements as the situation developed. By this point, evidence of human-to-human transmission has been available for well over seven weeks.
January 15, 2020
Japan confirms its first case of COVID-19. The Japanese government notes that the patient never visited the market being blamed by the Chinese government for the outbreak. For the international community, this case proves that human-to-human transmission is indeed occurring.
The Wuhan Municipal Health Commission begins to change its tune, writing in a statement, "Existing survey results show that clear human-to-human evidence has not been found, and the possibility of limited human-to-human transmission cannot be ruled out, but the risk of continued human-to-human transmission is low."
Beijing issues orders to Chinese consulates and embassies in the United States, Canada, Australia, and Europe to obtain large quantities of personal protective equipment (PPE) for use in China. During this massive six-week operation, Chinese diplomats attempted to hide the extent of the pandemic while buyers obtained nearly 2.5 billion pieces of PPE.
China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention internally reaches its highest alert-level. However, the Associated Press reports this was, “not to be publicly disclosed.”
January 17, 2020
The Department of Homeland Security, in coordination with the CDC, begins screening for COVID-19 at three US Airports.
The Wuhan Municipal Health Commission issues an update, stating that human-to-human transmission is not occurring, "among close contacts, no related cases were found."
January 18, 2020
Chinese officials allow a potluck for 40,000 people in Wuhan to continue as planned, this despite the fact doctors have warned repeatedly behind closed doors about the human-to-human transmissibility of COVID-19.
January 19, 2020
Officials from the World Health Organization tell the BBC, "Not enough is known to draw definitive conclusions about how it is transmitted, the clinical features of the disease, the extent to which it has spread, or its source, which remains unknown."
January 20, 2020
After nearly two months of mounting evidence pointing to human-to-human transmission, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission says for the last time in a statement that, "no related cases were found among the close contacts."
The same day, the first two cases outside the Hubei Province of China are confirmed in Guangdong Province. In short order, the physicians treating those patients are infected.
January 21, 2020
On January 21, 2020, the United States and South Korea both confirm their first cases of COVID-19.
January 22, 2020
Almost a month after being informed about the virus, the first field team from WHO arrives in China. After meeting with the Chinese Minister of Health, the head of WHO, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, praises the effectiveness of the Chinese response, "the intervention of President Xi and Premier Li have been invaluable, and all the measures they have taken to respond to the outbreak." Mr. Ghebreyesus goes on to state the virus does not constitute a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).
January 23, 2020
Although aware that the virus was spreading uncontrolled for several week, the Chinese government finally institutes a quarantine of Wuhan. By this point in time, hundreds of thousands of people, if not millions, have traveled in and out of the city to various parts of China and other countries.
The Socialist Republic of Vietnam and Singapore each report their first cases.
January 24, 2020
The CDC reports the second case of COVID-19 in Chicago, Il. Within days, new cases are reported in Arizona, California, and New York. With such a dispersed set of cases, hopes of preventing the spread of COVID-19 within the United States slowly drift away.
France is the first European nation to confirm multiple cases of COVID-19.
January 30, 2020
High level leadership of the WHO praise China’s control of the pandemic, and speaks out against border closures, visa restrictions, and mandatory quarantines of travelers from China.
January 31, 2020
The United States begins to deny entry to foreign nationals who have been in China 14 days prior to entry. The Chinese government denounces the move, claiming it is a stark overreaction.
The Chinese government orders residents of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR), mainly Muslim minorities, to quarantine at home for 21 days. Uighur detention camps are not closed, prisoners are not released, and starvation is widespread throughout the XUAR.
February 3, 2020
The Chinese Foreign Ministry issues a scathing statement targeting the US government's responses to the outbreak. It accuses the Trump administration of, "spreading fear."
Dr. Li Wenliang, a doctor who was targeted by the Chinese government for simply speaking the truth, dies of COVID-19.
February 5, 2020
China criticizes Australia’s travel ban on entries from the People’s Republic of China.
February 9, 2020
Chen Qiushi, a citizen journalist who has become popular in both China and the United States for fair and honest reporting from the center of the outbreak goes missing. His followers quickly begin posting #Iwantfreedomofspeech online, but are quickly censored by the Chinese government.
February 19, 2020
The People’s Republic of China expels three Wall Street Journal reporters after their agency publishes an opinion editorial titled, “China Is the Real Sick Man of Asia”.
March 12, 2020
A spokesman for China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Zhao Lijim, says, "It might be the US Army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan." Zhao points to CDC Direct Redfield’s admission that some Americans who appeared to have died from the flu may have died from the virus due to a lack of testing. The conspiracy theory is pushed by government social engineers in China, with some low-level government officials stating that COVID-19 may have been brought to China by US Service-members in the Military World Games that were held in Wuhan.
March 15, 2020
According to the South China Morning Post, Chinese billionaire Ren Zhiqiang disappeared roughly around March 13, 2020, after the real estate tycoon criticized the Chinese Communist Party and General Secretary Xi's response to the pandemic.
March 17, 2020
General Secretary Xi Jinping publicly announces his intention to send supplies and doctors to Italy, the hardest hit country in Europe, as part of an initiative called the, “Health Silk Road.” This is a publicity stunt, as all supplies were purchased by the Italian government.
March 18, 2020
China revokes the press credentials of several American journalists, including staff of the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and Washington Post.
March 29, 2020
Multiple European and Asian states announce large quantities of supplies donated or purchased from the People’s Republic of China are defective.
Dr. Ai Fen, a whistleblower on the Chinese government's suppression of physicians, goes missing.
April 12, 2020
On April 12, 2020, the People's Republic of China directed the aircraft carrier Liaoning (辽宁) and its escorts towards the Republic of China, otherwise known as Taiwan. The Carrier Battle Group, composed of the carrier, two guided missile destroyers, two multi-role warships, and one supply ship, steamed through the 155 mile wide Miyako Strait and past Taiwan. Due to COVID-19, the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) and USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) are unable to preform their intended missions in the Pacific due to numerous COVID-19 cases, leaving China with the only operable carrier in the region.
April 13, 2020
The People's Republic of China sets new restrictions on the publication and dissemination of research relating to COVID-19 online. The order, which can be found here, mandates that all studies and papers on the origin and handling of the virus must be approved by the central government.
April 28, 2020
China's Ambassador to Australia, Cheng Jingye, threatens severe economic consequences if Canberra were to proceed with an investigation into Beijing’s early handling and response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Jingye declares such a probe would be "dangerous" and could result in a Chinese consumer boycott, with central government support, of both tourists visiting the nation and merchandise.
May 3, 2020
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sates there is “enormous evidence” that COVID-19 escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and that the PRC was blocking any investigation into the disease’s origins.
May 11, 2020
On May 11, 2020, the People's Republic of China announced that it would suspend imports of beef from four major Australian producers. Beijing has sought to explain away and mask the reasoning behind its barley tariffs through technical justifications. In reality, the move is in response to Australia’s push for an investigation into the origins of COVID-19.
May 20, 2020
According to researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, nearly half of all twitter accounts talking about COVID-19 and related lockdowns are bots. Although the exact individuals and groups behind the campaign are unknown, it would likely require the expertise and funding of a state actor. Researchers note that the tweets, "appeared aimed at sowing division in America."
July 6, 2020
A law professor at Tsinghua University, Xi Jinping’s alma mater, is detained by the Ministry of State Security for publishing papers critical of the General Secretary’s direction of the outbreak.
By January 24, 2020, the seeds of a global pandemic were fermented outside of China and laid beyond the control of any man, government, or international organization. Precious time that could have been used to prevent the spread of the virus was wasted by an authoritarian regime hellbent on retaining power, regardless of the cost.
Today, the Chinese government continues to lie about the number of cases, number of deaths, and the origin of the virus. This campaign of deception severely hindered the opening stages of the international response to the virus, and cost thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of lives.
The timeline above is based upon open source intelligence and public reporting. The team at The Intelligence Ledger encourages readers to go out and research independently in order to confirm the validity if our reporting. This blatant deception by the dragon has cost the world immeasurably: with hundreds of millions of people impacted, and tens of thousands dead. When the pandemic is finally done, and a cure or vaccine has been found, the nations of the world will want China to pay for the lies they have spread, and thus the lives they have taken.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the United States Army, Department of Defense, or the United States Government.