News & Politics

5,000 Urns Shipped to Funeral Homes in Wuhan Raise Questions about China's True Death Toll

In this photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, medical personnel wearing protective suits work in the department of infectious diseases at Wuhan Union Hospital in Wuhan in central China's Hubei Province, Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020. (Xiao Yijiu/Xinhua via AP)

Photos of thousands of ash urns from Wuhan have been circulating on Chinese social media, raising additional questions about China’s “official” death toll from the coronavirus. The Chinese government says the total number of deaths from the virus has been 3300 with just 23 deaths in the last week. New cases, the government says, have slowed to a trickle.

The New York Post reports that 5,000 ash urns were delivered to one funeral home in two days, although it was unclear how many of the urns were filled. Other social media posts about the urns strongly suggest there are far more dead than the government is letting on, and they’re threatening the dead people’s families to keep them quiet.

Bloomberg:

The families of those who succumbed to the virus in the central Chinese city, where the disease first emerged in December, were allowed to pick up their cremated ashes at eight local funeral homes starting this week. As they did, photos circulated on Chinese social media of thousands of urns being ferried in.

Outside one funeral home, trucks shipped in about 2,500 urns on both Wednesday and Thursday, according to Chinese media outlet Caixin. Another picture published by Caixin showed 3,500 urns stacked on the ground inside. It’s unclear how many of the urns had been filled.

For the families of the dead, they are caught up in the Chinese government’s efforts to suppress the truth and have little choice but to go along.

The families of the deceased may not be able to say a proper goodbye to their loved ones just yet. Wuhan’s government issued a statement on Thursday prohibiting individuals in the city from tomb-sweeping activities until April 30, meaning they would not be able to observe the traditional April 4 Ching Ming Festival, or tomb sweeping holiday. Other provinces including Guangxi and Zhejiang have also announced similar restrictions.

Two locals in Wuhan who have lost family members to the virus said online that they were informed they had to be accompanied by their employers or officials from neighborhood committees when picking up the urns, likely as a measure against public gatherings.

The message to families is clear: don’t raise a fuss and keep your mouths shut.

“I was told by district government to wait until further notice on when I can pick up my father’s ashes,” one Wuhan resident using the name “Xue Zai Shou Zhong,” meaning “snow in hand,” posted on Weibo. “There is a staggered arrangement for urn collecting.”

Another Weibo user using the handle Adagier said she lost her husband to the coronavirus and had since been contacted by police warning her not to be too emotional — and to stop posting online.

The U.S. government doesn’t believe China’s “victory” over the coronavirus, but plenty of other governments say they do. Even if they don’t, they have geopolitical reasons to go along with China’s lies.

But our media has no excuses. Instead, they report the Chinese numbers uncritically, even admiringly in some cases. It can’t be that they’re not aware that the “official” Chinese government numbers aren’t bogus. They are choosing to believe, or imply they believe because it suits their agenda to make Trump look bad.

You can appreciate the media’s difficulty in penetrating the obstacles placed in their way to ferret out the truth in a totalitarian Communist country. But in a situation that calls for extreme skepticism, the media has come up short.