Deep Background

Randy Phillips on China’s Handling of Covid-19


May 7, 2020

“I expect my government to give me the straight facts,” Randal Phillips, a Mintz Group partner who heads its work in Asia, said when asked by a reporter whether the Chinese government has earned credibility in its handling of the coronavirus crisis.

Phillips was interviewed on the show Brian Ross Investigates on the Law and Crime Network, and recalled the earlier Sars outbreak in 2003, when he was CIA station chief in Beijing.  Chinese officials set “a pretty low bar” for credibility in that public-health crisis, he said.

The Beijing government is doing better this time than it did in 2003, but “there’s still a tremendous level of cynicism on the part of the Chinese populace as well as the American business community in China” about Beijing’s official statements about the virus.  One problem, he said, is that earlier in the contagion, China changed the definition of what constituted a case of covid-19 several times. “There’s tremendous cynicism that we’re getting the complete scoop here.”