Wuhan: Crowds return to nightclubs as they reopen
On New Year’s Eve, crowds filled the streets of Wuhan – the Chinese city believed to have been the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak – as the majority of the world adhered to strict lockdown measures. The festivities came 12 months after the World Health Organisation (WHO) received word of cases of “unknown pneumonia,” which later became known as the world’s first outbreak of Covid-19. The images, including ones showing hundreds gathered in front of the old Hankow Customs House building – one of the city’s most popular spots – sparked outrage around the world.
Mr Ellwood agreed that it “felt like a kick in the teeth,” adding that there is “a feeling of when will this end for us too”.
China’s economy has boomed in recent months, with the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) tipping the nation’s “skilful management of the pandemic” as the main reason.
Reacting to the reports, Mr Ellwood said it was now “a question of whether they had done it deliberately”.
He added: “What we can say is the pandemic has absolutely devastated economies and authoritarian regimes have used their iron fist to be able to clamp down and enforce rules in a much tougher manner than open democracies like ourselves.
Xi Jinping has been tipped to step down
A man holds a banner reading ‘Wishing Wuhan A Safe 2021’
“Not only that, but they have actually seized further power.
“In the same way the Government has gained emergency powers here in the UK, other nations including these less democratic nations have used this as an excuse to gain further surveillance and control over their people.
“I expect they will be reluctant to relinquish them. You have to understand the ruthlessness that these countries operate with.”
This morning it was reported that the World Health Organisation (WHO) team due to investigate the origins of Covid-19 in Wuhan had been denied entry to China.
Two members had already set out on their journey – one has now turned back and the other is in transit.
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People attending New Year bell-ringing ceremony in front of Hankow Customs House
The WHO said the problem was a lack of visa clearances and was “very disappointed”.
But Mr Ellwood, who is Conservative MP for Bournemouth East, believes there is an ongoing cover-up in China, orchestrated by its government.
He added: “I don’t believe China has come through this to the success that they claim.
“The death rate in Wuhan is 10 times higher than what I believe is in the public domain.
“But they clamp down on any comments on the Internet and arrest anybody who dares to speak out and challenge the government line.
“So we have to take it with a pinch of salt – what China and other similar countries claim to be a success in the pandemic.”
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Global Covid-19 stats
The virus was first detected in Wuhan in late 2019, with the initial outbreak linked to a wet market.
As of this week, the city of 11 million people has reported 50,354 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 3,869 deaths, according to the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission.
But a recent study by the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggested the number of infections could be closer to 500,000.
The study used a sample of 34,000 people in the general population in Wuhan and other cities in Hubei province, as well as Beijing, Shanghai, and the provinces of Guangdong, Jiangsu, Sichuan and Liaoning to estimate Covid-19 infection rates.
The researchers found an antibody prevalence rate of 4.43 percent for Covid-19 among residents in Wuhan.
And as cracks appear to show in the official story from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), defence industry consultant and former British Army Officer Nicholas Drummond previously said such a scenario could spell disaster for President Xi.
Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood walks towards the Houses of Parliament
Tedros Adhanom, Director General of the World Health Organisation, (L) shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping
Speaking to Express.co.uk, he stated: “One of the things about the pandemic is that it will reset our relationship with China.
“The lack of leadership from China, that inscrutable lack of openness led to a global crisis, and China did that deliberately so it could emerge from the pandemic in a stronger economic position.”
In 2018, the National People’s Congress in China passed a law to remove the two-term limit on the presidency, effectively allowing Xi to remain in power for life.
But Mr Drummond – who is currently advising the Defence Select Committee over the Government’s Integrated Review – believes the communist state could be under pressure to oust him.
He added: “I don’t think we want to be antagonistic towards China, it’s a great country full of great people.
“I think we may see Xi changed for a new leader and that would improve relations.
Seafood market in the central China city of Wuhan that was closed after the coronavirus outbreak
“They need a new broom if they want to reset relations with the West.
“The last thing we want to do right now is to trigger a new Cold War with China, it would cost us trillions and we don’t want to do that now.”
Mr Drummond believes that if China senses its behaviour has damaged its economy as well as its standing in the world community, it may feel it has to respond.
He added: “This could mean that the CCP forces XI Jinping to step down. It would be an act of contrition that would help to restore more positive Sino-Western relations.
“If Xi refuses to go, there could be a power struggle and China could unravel from within, but this is an unlikely scenario.
“If Xi is as powerful as some think he is, then nothing will happen. But this will accelerate a new Cold War.”