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Speculation Over ‘Emerging Hemorrhagic Fever’ in China Underscores Distrust of State Media on Matters of Global Health

In the month leading up to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, set to start February 4th, online rumor has bubbled about an emerging hemorrhagic fever. Speculation began after China’s newspaper, Global Times, published a December 19th, 2021 article reporting epidemic hemorrhagic fever cases in Xi’an, China, a city of 13 million residents.

On December 20th, Global Times reported that Xi’an residents had been unnerved by an “emerging hemorrhagic fever.” Later, on December 23rd, Global Times announced Xi’an was officially locked down after “Chinese analysts said that the city faced the dual challenge of cluster COVID-19 infections and the spread of hemorrhagic fever.”

China’s Global Times sought to alleviate concerns, citing a health expert from Wuhan University, Yang Zhanqiu, as emphasizing that “a mature medical response strategy” was in place that almost certainly would ensure that “hemorrhagic fever shouldn’t have any chance to emerge as a big outbreak.”

China’s state-affiliated media ceased all reporting on hemorrhagic fever cases after Global Times published a December 24th article reiterating that the Xi’an lockdown was a response to a dual-threat of “both COVID-19 cases and hemorrhagic fever cases.”

China’s Sudden Silence On ‘Hemorrhagic Fever’ Ignites Speculation

Almost immediately, distrust of reporting by Global Times became apparent as social media posts began surfacing that appeared to show information that contradicted the reports being published by China’s state-affiliated media.

Speculation of a more serious problem, beyond what China’s state-affiliated media was reporting, was fueled by social media reports of a continuing hemorrhagic fever problem in Xi’an.

Unconfirmed social media posts included video, allegedly showing busloads full of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) military health personnel in hazmat suits in Xi’an. There were also pictures, allegedly appearing to show victims of hemorrhagic symptoms lying in the streets of China. While another video appeared to make a claim that “major hospitals in Xi’an have successively admitted many cases of hemorrhagic fever patients.”

On January 3rd, 2022, novelist and columnist, Porochista Khakpour, reported conversations with friends in China, writing on Twitter – “…friends in China are talking about a hemorrhagic fever outbreak in Xi’an.”

Khakpour noted, considering her conversations with friends in China, she was surprised at not seeing more reports about it within her social media timeline. Yet, with China’s blocking average Chinese citizens from posting to platforms, like Twitter, a noticeable lack of uncensored news from China, as noted by Khakpour, is exactly what would be expected.

Censorship of Information Out of China Leads to Deep Distrust

Distrust of Chinese state media is exacerbated by the documented stifling of citizens’ speech by China’s Communist Party (CCP). In a 2021 article, The Wall Street Journal reported increasing efforts by the CCP “to control narratives and strangle criticism” by blocking the use of foreign social media and even imprisoning citizens that are caught posting to platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

As Yaqiu Wang, of Human Rights Watch, told The Wall Street Journal – when it comes to China, “the government knows well from its domestic experiences that propaganda only works when it is coupled with censorship of opposing views.”

Benjamin Harnwell, international editor of “Steve Bannon’s WarRoom,” recently wrote that inherent mistrust in CCP censored information, as published by China state-affiliated media, means that “knowing what is going on in China is dependent on sifting through their official lies, deflections, and dezinformatsiya.”

With the Beijing Winter Olympics in sight, and speculation brewing, what has become increasingly clear is that there exists a deep distrust of information shared by the CCP.

The result is that uncensored social media reports are often given greater weight over China’s own state-affiliated news. Unfortunately, the result is confusion over what is true or not, particularly on matters of potential global health impact.

Biblical Relevance

As Pastor John MacArthur recently highlighted, in a post COVID-19 world, nations have found themselves increasingly mired in “… dealing with information and misinformation, and chaos and confusion…” As a result, the world is much more on edge, particularly when it comes to even a hint at the possibility of some new dire illness that might sweep the globe.

We live in a world where Jesus’ description, in Luke 21:11, of “famines, and pestilences,” as part of the “birth pangs” of the last days, have come to carry even greater significance and context for the current generation. So, when one hears rumors of an “emerging hemorrhagic fever,” the natural tendency, is to become alert.

As Christians, we see that the Lord calls us to be people who exercise our reasoning (Isaiah 1:18) and that we be men and women who are discerning (Proverbs 22:3; 1 Thess. 5:21).

It would be foolish to simply ignore when China, a communist-led nation, (where the current global COVID-19 pandemic began), starts publishing reports about an “emerging hemorrhagic fever” and then suddenly goes completely silent on the topic. Wisdom dictates that we demand more. Benjamin Harnwell convincingly argues that “unless independent scientists can get into China immediately and start testing, the wisdom of going ahead with the Beijing Winter Olympics looks evermore questionable.”

Continuing to properly exercise discernment, however, also necessitates that, as Christians, we “test everything,” including carefully examining the veracity of unconfirmed social media reports, particularly where we are living in a world, in which we are increasingly “… dealing with information and misinformation…”, as John MacArthur has observed.

As Christians, we can be confident, even in uncertain times, that our “God is not a God of confusion but of peace,” (1 Cor. 14:33); that He will not abandon us. As we seek to navigate the world around us, even in times of chaos and confusion, we can be sure of the heavenly promise – “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all…” (James 1:5).

Brandon Beckham is a licensed attorney who joined Harbingers Daily as a News Reporter in 2021.


Brandon Beckham is a licensed attorney who joined Harbingers Daily as a News Reporter in 2021.


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