What is Xi trying to hide?

The New Yorker has a very good article on the origins of Covid. They don’t take a definitive stand on the question, but along the way make some important points:

Before the pandemic, President Xi Jinping promoted wildlife farms as a means of poverty alleviation, and the industry, which was largely unregulated, employed more than fourteen million people. “There’s this incredible network of people involved in farming and raising animals and trying out new ideas,” Daszak told me last year. “It’s entrepreneurial, it’s chaotic, it’s the sort of farms that are half falling apart, with mixed species in them.” The W.H.O. report stated that some wild-meat suppliers to Wuhan were located in south China, where horseshoe bats that host sars-like coronaviruses primarily reside. Perhaps that is where the virus crossed from bats to animals, and those sickened animals were brought to Wuhan, where they were sold in Huanan and the city’s three other known live-animal markets. . . .

From one perspective, proving the virus has a natural origin is even worse for China. If wildlife farms were responsible for the pandemic, that would implicate the policies of President Xi Jinping. If there was a lab leak, just one, or a few, scientists are culpable of an accident. Either way, it is likely that the Chinese government prefers a storm of swirling theories, within which they can continue to push their own: that U.S. soldiers brought the virus to Wuhan in October, 2019, during the World Military Games, or that the American government manufactured the virus in Fort Detrick, Maryland. Or they can blame imported frozen food. The conspiracy theories branch out from there, in their own kind of evolutionary tree.

I’ve made the same point. The animal market theory should be worse for China’s reputation than a lab leak. Do you think Xi Jinping is more worried about the cause of Covid being his grand plan to develop an animal wildlife industry employing 14 million people that threatens to create repeated global pandemics, or more worried about a lab leak from an obscure Chinese scientist doing research funded by the US government? I don’t think people are looking at this from the Chinese point of view.

Or perhaps Xi doesn’t know the source of Covid and is engaged in a cover-up because he’d be embarrassed by either a wild animal market or a lab leak source for Covid. He just wants to confuse the issue with crazy theories of a US origin.

In the end, human beings are probably to blame either way:

Still, humans have changed the equation. Calling viruses zoonotic obscures the role we play in their evolution, whether in the wilderness, a wet market, or a lab. What is an ecological niche when humans have their hands in everything? 

PS. WaPo has an interesting piece on the discovery of a huge cave system with horseshoe bats in Hubei province, with wild animal farms nearby:

A reporter observed human traffic into Enshi caves, including domestic tourism, spelunking and villagers replacing a drinking water pump inside a cave. Defunct wildlife farms sat as close as one mile from the entrances.

But the Chinese government is covering this up:

Beijing has been less than eager to find answers in Hubei, as it touts its own theory that the virus may have originated overseas. One foreign scientist who worked for years with the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters, said the institute’s field research in bat caves has been suspended since the pandemic began. . . .

A person with knowledge of the Wuhan market supply chains, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect his contacts, told The Post that live animals sold at markets in Wuhan were sourced from Hubei, particularly Enshi and Xianning prefectures, as well as from Hunan and Jiangxi provinces.

Chinese authorities have deflected questions about the presence of live wild animals at Wuhan markets before the outbreak. A Scientific Reports study in June that catalogued illegal sales of live wildlife at the markets has not been covered by China’s state-run media. The two Chinese authors did not respond to requests for comment about what they knew about those supply chains.

Why was the evidence from the crime scene destroyed? What is Xi trying to hide?



19 Responses to “What is Xi trying to hide?”

  1. Gravatar of David S David S
    16. October 2021 at 02:56

    Personally, I’m not interested in the origin story of of Covid-19–viruses are like gravity–fundamentally mysterious and occasionally having a big impact on our life. The larger question you raise is what kind of China is Xi trying to create? And, how much control does he have (or think he has) over the trajectory of his country? I think the pandemic revealed some nuances in the framework of the authoritarian state that Xi seems to be invested in creating. The successes that the Chinese have had in controlling the virus have largely been the result of a technocratic elite employing state power to lock down cities and enforce other control measures. Some of their failures are manifested in the breakdown in their ability to project a consistent narrative–either internally or to the rest of the world. The massive investments that Xi and his inner circle are making in technology to control all electronic messaging will ultimately fail. Granted, I’m not expecting a democratic revolution anytime soon, but I’m at least confident that attempts to deify Xi will be limited. Like Trump, he’s mortal.

  2. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    16. October 2021 at 06:48

    Scott’s question presumes he is hiding something——like all governments, Xi’s is in the business of hiding many things. The difference between China and America is the latter at least can try to expose what is being hidden without being jailed. But we manage to create great confusion anyway as to what is true and false.

    Trump does not believe if there was a lab leak, that it was done on purpose—yet believes there was a leak. Scott has always believed the Wet Markets made China and Xi look worse if the leak came from there. But it certainly does not make him look worse outside of China. I assert that—-but it seems pretty clear.

    Therefore, does it make him look worse in China? That seems to be the implication of Scott’s view. I have no idea how problematic that is for him regarding maintaining popularity and power. But my sense is it has no impact.

    I do not know what he is trying to hide—-but he is in the business of hiding—-so to reveal what really was the origin story of Covid will just raise more issues. Therefore hide everything you can.

    I admit to confusion as what Scott is trying to get at—as if there might be something so outrageous Xi is trying to hide that it could weaken him—(as if he is not in the business of hiding). That is, of course, possible—-but I don’t think so.

  3. Gravatar of TGGP TGGP
    16. October 2021 at 08:12

    My understanding was that evidence that would have been helpful to trace the source of COVID was cleaned up by the mayor of Wuhan rather early on. Xi might prefer that the origins never become clear to the international community so there’s no way to clearly blame him, but people below him also want to avoid blame from above.

  4. Gravatar of Henry Henry
    16. October 2021 at 10:26

    This is the first article that Sumner has written which is critical of the CCP. I’m pleasantly surprised.

    But I’d have to agree that the origin story is meaningless.

    The virus almost certainly originated in China. And so what? What then? A meaningless piece of paper condemning them? To illustrate your total lack of power, we are still waiting, forty years later, for China to open their markets. You call on the U.S. to handicap itself – forcing the govt to play by one set of rules, while the world’s most dystopian country plays by another set of rules.

    I’d also like to point out that last year, while Trump was in office, you wrote several articles promoting what was then mainstream talking points: namely, that the Virus DID NOT originate from China and that intelligence reports were “wrong” and the WHO’s analysis was “fair and correct”.

    It’s good to see you finally changed your tune, although one does wonder whether the shift was predicated on Biden replacing Trump, instead of based on hard facts.

  5. Gravatar of Ray Lopez Ray Lopez
    16. October 2021 at 12:53

    @Michael Rulle – right on point, excellent comment. Indeed, the lab leak theory would make Xi look MUCH worse in the eyes of the West,and that is who Xi’s China is trying to impress. Our host Sumner refuses to see the elephant in the room…

    @David S, @Henry – you two are quite ignorant. The origins of the C-19 virus is vitally important to all of us. If it’s a lab leak, then future research in this area is likely to produce another epidemic. A science writer once pointed out that there were plans to cross the Ebola virus with the fast spreading smallpox virus. You’d like that? Makes C-19 look like the common cold.

  6. Gravatar of rinat rinat
    16. October 2021 at 13:12

    Daily update that Sumner’s totalitarian left party is trying to destroy your country.

    The average American (fat guy) now has less than 1000 dollars to his name. He does, however, have massive debt and a (nasty body) which will one day need to be reckoned with. Sumner loves to talk about injustice and bullying, yet he gives your debt to future generations so that his baby boomer thugs can live like Kings. That is “bullying” to a degree we haven’t seen since the Spanish Secession.

    A new globalist vaccine passport will force one to take a “blood test” to prove their level of antibodies. No antibody, no food. No antibody, no employment.

    The new thugs in Canada, not far from the land of liberty, are setting up “isolation centers”, which are more likely to become reeducation camps for those who don’t share the same sentiment as the orwellian state apparatus.

    Australia’s left leaning thugs are no longer hiding their totalitarian intent. They’ve consolidated and centralized industry and govt, and are out in full force.

    Is America next to succumb to the totalitarian left? Or will you defend your liberty?

  7. Gravatar of jayne jayne
    16. October 2021 at 15:35

    Xi = Hitler.

    And yes, the left is almost always totalitarian.

    If they don’t get their way, they ask for “court packing”, or they push through bills by side stepping the 60 senate majority, or threaten the “filibuster”, or threaten your right to own a weapon, or threaten your free speech by calling it “hate speech”, so on and so forth.

    This is simply what they do. And Sumner, instead of choosing the side of liberty, has chosen to side – time and again – with disgusting scoundrels.

  8. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    17. October 2021 at 07:59

    Michael, You said:

    “The difference between China and America is the latter at least can try to expose what is being hidden without being jailed.”

    Tell that to Edward Snowden. Yes, China is 1000 times worse, but our hands are not clean.

    You said:

    “Scott has always believed the Wet Markets made China and Xi look worse if the leak came from there. But it certainly does not make him look worse outside of China.”

    I’d put it this way. To intelligent people, the wet markets look worse for China, because the West doesn’t have them. For the unintelligent, the lab leak looks worse because they don’t realize that we also do dangerous gain-of-function research.

  9. Gravatar of DF DF
    17. October 2021 at 09:49

    No Prof. Sumner, The lab leak would be far worse for Xi. The “intelligent people” you speak of in the West wouldn’t have the courage to criticize China on culinary practices for fear of being labeled as racist. If bush meat is to blame, Western elites would browbeat any one suggesting China doesn’t need to consume it.

  10. Gravatar of Harry Harry
    17. October 2021 at 12:00

    Perhaps a more pertinent question is “what is Biden trying to hide”.

    16800, deaths from the vaccine. More than all other vaccines combined.

    Here is what the FDA said about the booster:

    “It’s more a gut feeling rather than based on really truly serious data,” said Patrick Moore, a member of the committee and a professor of molecular genetics and biochemistry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. “The data itself is not strong, but it is certainly going in the direction that is supportive of this vote.”

    So the same people who cry “antiscience” when a scientist presents real data, are the same people who say their methodology — a method that apparently uses “gut feeling” to determine their research conclusions is the new “real science”.

    In America today, feelings are more important than data.

    pseudoscience of the middle ages as returned!

  11. Gravatar of harry harry
    18. October 2021 at 08:07

    Davos, and the extremely creepy Klaus Schwab (is there anyone uglier in human history), just demanded countries include a “carbon tax” in their vaccine passports.

    So the evil Darth Vader’s motives have finally been revealed. A vaccine that, according to the latest lancet article, provides relatively little benefit is the precursor to their new feudalism.

    It won’t effect me. I have a few million to spare on paying “carbon taxes” for my travel, but I doubt the average American (including the low paid economist) will be able to.

    Family vacation? Overseas travel?

    Not for Joe the plumber.

    The left is mentally sick. And their new “religion”, in the form of supranationals embodies the old catholic church.

    Klaus Schwab is the new pope.

    I do hope with his riches he will at the very least consider fillers and botox, because my god he looks awful.

    Ugly people really do have a vendetta against humanity!

  12. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    18. October 2021 at 08:32


    Anyone “smart” enough to know what “gain of function” means knows that China and the US do it—including supporting (albeit, indirectly) China’s activity.

    Further, anyone “smart” enough to know a leak occurred from a Wuhan lab, will–like a good Bayesian–realize the odds are higher that China is sloppy and perhaps even purposeful (sending citizens to Milan–tricking Pelosi into thinking it was racist to assume the Chinese did it).

    People do not care what kind of food others eat or how they distribute it.

  13. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    18. October 2021 at 09:24

    “Further, anyone “smart” enough to know a leak occurred from a Wuhan lab, will–like a good Bayesian–realize the odds are higher that China is sloppy and perhaps even purposeful (sending citizens to Milan–tricking Pelosi into thinking it was racist to assume the Chinese did it).”

    Sometimes it’s hard to tell if commenters are joking, or if they’ve gone completely QAnon.

  14. Gravatar of Ray Lopez Ray Lopez
    18. October 2021 at 23:54

    To understand Sumner, recall Fabian socialists and economists Sydney and Beatrice Webb went into Stalin’s Russia during the height of the 1930s Great Purges and thought it was great, that there was nothing bad happening in Russia. (Wikipedia): Soviet Communism: A New Civilization? — in later editions the question mark was dropped, as was any public doubt the Webbs might have about the nature of the USSR — has since been roundly condemned. In the preface to an anthology of Left Book Club publications,[23] for instance, British historian A. J. P. Taylor is quoted as calling Soviet Communism: A New Civilization “the most preposterous book ever written about Russia”. In the early 1930s Malcolm Muggeridge, one of Beatrice’s own family by marriage, and himself the son of a Fabian, told her in no uncertain terms of his horrified disapproval of the Soviet system.

    Likewise, Sumner is so smitten by the fact a billion poor Chinese got a bit richer–I guess he grew up being asked to clean his plate because there are starving kids in China–that he’s willing to overlook the worse excesses of Xi.

  15. Gravatar of Ray Lopez Ray Lopez
    18. October 2021 at 23:56

    @myself–correction: the book by the Webbs was written in the early 1930s, not the late 1930s but it was apparent even then with the Ukraine mass starvation that Stalin was a bad man.

  16. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    19. October 2021 at 05:18


    First, Qanon is a parody. Of the left’s beliefs—-but that is a side point.

    To the point—-we are discussing perception, are we not? I have said nothing about my beliefs other than my belief on what looks worse for China and why——what food they eat or a Wuhan lab leak. I guess we must forever disagree on this. And what difference does it make anyway? As you said, “China is 1000 times worse than the US” . We agree on that.

  17. Gravatar of David S David S
    19. October 2021 at 06:30

    Scott loves China so much that he even wrote a book that reveals secret methods of monetary policy that would help them avoid a recession. Where is the outrage? Where is the congressional investigation?

    What would be hilarious is if Xi’s moral posturing led him to embrace an Andrew Mellon-like cleansing of the economy. If China manages to repeat Japan’s mistakes, that would be something.

    Of course, an authoritarian regime can simply declare that there is no recession and that the glorious leader is providing for all human necessities. That always turns out well.

  18. Gravatar of rinat rinat
    19. October 2021 at 08:39

    If you grew up in Russia or Venezuela, you can see what is happening. It’s all too familiar.

    JFK was a good democrat, who was fiscally right and socially left. Lyndon Johnson, for the most part, was the same. Combine that with goldwater’s racism and Nixon’s crimes, and it’s not hard to see why the baby boomers were “captured” by the romanticism of the left. Many of them, like Sumner, remain dedicated to that party.

    Jimmy was a bit further to the left than JFK, but Jimmy was true to himself and to his countrymen. He was incredibly authentic, although his foreign and domestic policies did not yield good results.

    But the woke crowd of the new democrat party, which now owns about 48 seats – minus Sinema and Manchin, are all inauthentic totalitarians. They want POWER. The babyboomers still don’t see it. They see “camelot”. They see “happily ever after”. And they continue to vote unwittingly (some) and wittingly (others) for totalitarianism.

    Trump used to say “the one thing about the democrats is they all stick together”.

    But that is the redflag isn’t it.

    Trump, of course, meant that they stick together when voting. And that there are very few factions within the party. But we can also view this from another angle, an angle that resonates for those who grew up in Venezuela, or the old Soviet Bloc. And that is the left has become a monolithic “machine” that seems to be “controlled”. Controlled by an agenda, by a foreign actor, by monied interests…perhaps all, or perhaps none. But they are increasingly lockstep, even threatening to spend tens of millions going after senators from their own party, who they claim are “not with the program”, or “compliant” with their agenda. As you can see, this new party has no room for dissent. Speaking your mind is now a capitol offense, punishable by the loss of your congressional or senate seat. Lockstep is the new name of the game.

    All of this, historically, has been the first step to totalitarianism. These types of parties usually attempt to create an enemy within the public. In Russia, the enemy was the rich. In the U.S., they are now taking a twofold approach. The enemy is not just rich, but rich and white. And everyone who is white is rich. They make no distinction between the white orphan and the white billionaire. To them, it’s all the same. And it has to be to garner support, and to implement the programs they need to obtain power. Once in power, they will ethnically cleanse the self proclaimed “bad guys” from society, or banish them to reeducation camps.

    Look for the modern day totalitarian buzzwords.

    “Build back better” (old decentralized capitalism should be replaced with centralized capitalism: i.e., one party, one rule, one supranational govt)
    “critical race theory” (a new form of segregation. race division, internal division, creates disharmony among the people. They want your hatred aimed at each other, not at the corrupt politicians)
    “destroy the nuclear family” (they need people dependent on the state, not their families. And they need to control the education of your children to ensure compliance. Nuclear families tend to do better economically, and tend to own property.)
    “hard right” (hard right is a term they now used to describe any conservative that is patriotic, believes in individualism, questions the societal implications of an increased rate in mass immigration: e.g., downard pressure on wages, social strife, ghetto’s, shared values, possible collapse of society, etc. They use this term to create a psychological association with the word immigration. When you hear that word, they want you to think “good”, and anyone who questions that word is considered “hard right”, and “hard right”, means “bad”)

    The list goes on and on. But you get the point. They are not coming for you. They have already arrived. The only question now is whether the U.S. is smart enough to stop them.

  19. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    21. October 2021 at 10:41

    “the fact a billion poor Chinese got a bit richer”


Leave a Reply