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As China and the United States race to restart their economies amid a global pandemic, foreign affairs experts say Beijing's claim of a slowdown of COVID-19 cases in Wuhan should be taken with a gigantic grain of salt.
Analysts like Gordon Chang question why the Western world would believe Beijing since the country has been accused of multiple cover-ups and spreading misinformation that may have accelerated COVID-19, which, as of Wednesday, had infected more than 428,400 people and killed 19,120 globally.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Communist Party have touted China's dip in new coronavirus cases, claiming that any pop-ups of the virus are "imported."
"For China, the truth has always been a casualty," Chang told Fox News.
He added that Beijing's high-stakes campaign to get its people back to work and show the world that China, under the leadership of Xi and the ruling Communist Party, has beaten the coronavirus, is a dangerous, if not deadly, game.
"For China, the truth has always been a casualty."
"It's inevitable that China will have another outbreak and it will be serious," Chang said. "Xi has been trying to get China back to work since the first week in February. He has these ambitions of China dominating the world... and he is willing to make sure it happens at the great cost of other people's lives."
Since the coronavirus hit, China's economy has been in tatters. Its services and manufacturing sectors have taken huge hits and its consumer confidence has dipped to an all-time low. Spinning positive news is a powerful way China can start to claw its way back from being seen as a global pariah responsible for the outbreak to an international hero ready to save the day.
However, he said forcing its citizens back to work before the virus is fully contained would be akin to playing Russian roulette.
"My parents and brother live in Beijing and they are scared," Sara Sheng, who goes to graduate school in Virginia, told Fox News. "They are being told one thing but their instincts are telling them another."
Hong Kong, once on the front lines of the war against COVID-19, thought it was in the clear last week when a relatively small number of cases were reported. The city jumped at the good news, signaling to the world that its early actions – wearing masks, social distancing and intensive hand-washing – were working. Of its 7.5 million people, Hong Kong reported only 150 cases at the beginning of March, as numbers around the world spiked. But the breakthrough for the metropolis was short-lived and the new lesson out of Hong Kong is to not celebrate beating the coronavirus too early.
As the territory began opening its borders and allowing residents who were stranded in other parts of the world back in, its number of cases suddenly doubled.
On Monday, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said all non-residents would be barred by Wednesday.
The coronavirus whiplash felt in Hong Kong is also playing out in other parts of Asia including Singapore and Taiwan.
But Chang believes Hong Kong's cautionary tale might not mean much Xi, who is hellbent on projecting his country as indestructible.
"It's either reckless disregard of people's life or he knows what's occurring and pushing forward anyway," he said, adding that Xi believes the dominance of the Communist Party is above all else.