The official coronavirus death toll is some 800 people in China . The current official death toll worldwide, outside of China, is 774. But a Chinese billionaire with a history of blowing the whistle on his former government says the real figure is much higher.
Exiled Chinese businessman Guo Wengui recently revealed leaks from Wuhan crematoriums. He claims based on the number of bodies their furnaces are burning, the death toll could be as high as 50,000. Wengui made the bombshell allegations in an interview with former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon .
He also claims to have inside information that there are 1.5 million confirmed coronavirus cases in China. Wengui is emphatic that these are not merely quarantined or “under observation” but confirmed cases of coronavirus infection:
So I got inside information. The truth is 1.5 million people is not only [an] observation, [it] is confirmed [cases]. And the number of people who have died, as the burned bodies show, [is] more than 50,000.
China has struggled to contain the coronavirus. But it has also struggled to contain public outcry against censorship and tight control of information. Dr. Li Wenliang, who sounded the alarm about the disease, succumbed to an infection and died this week. The Chinese government arrested him for blowing the whistle.
Then officials tried to suppress news of his death. Afterwards, millions of Chinese citizens saw the hashtag #IWantFreedomOfSpeech on Mandarin language social media. But the Chinese government censored that too.
Watch VICE’s 2017 profile on Guo Wengui. At the time, he published bombshell documents alleging corruption in the Chinese government. He got the attention of the media and reportedly the U.S. State Department.
Wengui is a mysterious and controversial figure. After falling into disfavor with the Communist Party of China, the real estate developer fled to the United States in 2015.
China has charged him with rape, bribery, kidnapping, money laundering, and fraud. But the U.S. has declined to extradite him. Guo has published a number of other allegations of corruption among top Chinese officials. VICE news says they’re a mixed bag. Some have been proven false, some have been neither verified nor disproved, and others have turned out to be accurate.
Wengui says there are 49 crematoriums in Wuhan, and they’ve been working 24/7 for 17 days. Last week, a crematorium worker identified as “Mr. Yun” told a Chinese newspaper he and co-workers have been working 24 hours a day :
Almost all staff at each funeral home in Wuhan are fully equipped, and all Wuhan cremation chambers are working 24 hours.
Mr. Yun says at his location alone, 100 body bags are required a day. The Epoch Times does have a strong anti-communist party bias, but it has not failed any fact checks in the past. And its reporting in the case of Mr. Yun was picked up by the Daily Mail .
Not all the bodies going into the Wuhan crematoriums are victims of coronavirus. There is still the usual number of deaths from other causes. But these account for a small number of the new round-the-clock pace of cremations .
One crematorium manager told a Hong Kong reporter that, in normal times, his 24 ovens were lit five days a week for four hours at a time. Now, he said, they have so many corpses to deal with that all the ovens are going around the clock.
With reports like these, and the Chinese government’s history of suppressing information to maintain its idea of order, the official coronavirus figures are very questionable.
The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of CCN.com.