The virus cover-up: How China stockpiled the world’s supply of PPEs

NewsThe virus cover-up: How China stockpiled the world’s supply of PPEs

The following has been extracted from the book, ‘Wilful Blindness: How a Network of Narcos, Tycoons and CCP Agents Infiltrated the West’ by Canadian journalist Sam Cooper. The extract comes from the chapter ‘Strike Back Hard’.

Prior to January 1, 2020, very few people could have predicted PPE would become the world’s hottest commodity, and N95 face masks would become life-saving armour. But by mid-January astute observers in supply chain logistics noticed Beijing was scouring the globe for PPE.

In February, my sources were monitoring WeChat and Chinese language website reports that indicated major PPE ops underway in Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa. It became clear that United Front Work Department groups in Vancouver and Toronto were international leaders in Beijing’s PPE logistics. And these United Front operations were replicated worldwide, from Melbourne to Tokyo to Milan to New York to London to Prague. It was all directed from Beijing and run through Chinese consulates. The actors were the same “Chinese overseas” business and community leaders that Xi Jinping uses in normal times to influence politicians in the West. But from January to March, Xi’s tentacles were laser-focused on N95 masks.

On April 30, my story—“United Front Groups in Canada Helped Bejing Stockpile Coronavirus Safety Supplies”—pulled the curtain back on Xi’s clandestine PPE operations.

In the story, I also explained the United Front’s methods and ideology. This was information that CSIS had been trying to raise with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government and previous federal governments. But Canada’s intelligence on China’s subtle attack was ignored by elected officials. And for the first time in Canada, I documented the underground ties between Vancouver’s United Front leaders and the E-Pirate money-laundering network. I believe this is what truly enraged Beijing.

The other thing that must have stung: my analysis showed the Chinese Communist Party had covered up pandemic risk while buying back PPE supplies Chinese factories had previously sold to the world. It was like the ultimate case of insider trading. Conservative party leader Erin O’Toole underlined this point in my Global News story.

“The Communist Party of China willfully withheld information on an outbreak for at least weeks, if not months,” O’Toole said. “It not only gave the world less time to respond, it downplayed the potential severity of the threat. Countries did not make decisions with respect to flight bans and [protecting] PPE stores.”

And Jorge Guajardo, Mexico’s former ambassador to Beijing, told me Beijing acted surreptitiously and left “the world naked with no supply of PPE.”

Eventually, Beijing profited by selling stockpiled PPE back to the world at massively inflated prices and with geopolitical strings attached, Guajardo said.

My story used China’s own customs data to summarize the scale of the operation. In just six weeks, starting January 24, Beijing imported 2.5 billion pieces of PPE, including over 2 billion safety masks. And I used United Front Work Department reports and PPE warehousing pictures from inside China, plus WeChat texts and reports in Canadian cities, to show that over 100 tonnes of PPE were gathered in Canada and shipped to China.

I think it’s safe to say Beijing’s United Front had never been mobilized with such intensity in a condensed time frame. The result was a flood of concrete evidence. It seemed United Front leaders outside of China wanted to prove they had answered Xi Jinping’s call. Part of this was nationalistic propaganda. But it also looked like self-interest. Most United Front “overseas” leaders are businessmen who trade on their guanxi with Beijing to earn fortunes.

(I eventually found that Vancouver casino tycoons airlifted PPE around the world. Mailin Chen, the Guangdong high roller identified in B.C. Lottery Corp. money-laundering records, had flown his private jet to Papua New Guinea to deliver PPE in June 2020. Chen has been a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Congress—a United Front organ. He’s also connected to a high-level River Rock Casino employee de-registered after a money-laundering investigation in late 2017).

Amidst all the evidence sources that documented trailer-loads of PPE delivered to international airports, one report stood out with smoking-gun, end-to-end proof of United Front transactions. The February 2 report from Xinhua, China’s state news agency, focused on “overseas Chinese” groups from Fujian, the United Front espionage hotbed where Lai Changxing and Xi Jinping launched their respective careers. “The menacing epidemic came suddenly. But majestic strength comes from front-line medical staff, party members and cadres, from the people, and from Fujian Chinese and overseas Chinese,” says an English-language translation of the Xinhua story. “Fujians from dozens of countries on five continents joined this invisible battle … they travelled day and night and raced against time to send back batches of scarce supplies for the motherland.”

The report featured detailed PPE case studies from Japan, United States and Canada. But the Toronto Fuqing Chamber of Commerce’s case study was an outlier, with its direct reference to the United Front Work Department’s command and control of operations in Canada. It was also meaningful to me that Xinhua focused on the Toronto Fujian group because I knew this network was important to CSIS.

In 2019 its leaders had attended an anti-Hong Kong democracy rally in Markham, Ont. Photos of the pro-Beijing rally showed the elite of Toronto’s United Front Work Department, men who are well-connected to Beijing, according to evidence compiled by Michel Juneau Katsuya. The Xinhua story said a Toronto Fuqing chamber leader travelled to China in January, and when he recognized the severity of the epidemic in Wuhan, he immediately flew back to Toronto.

According to Xinhua, he raced from the airport in a snowstorm and issued urgent orders sending 200 Fuqing chamber members racing around Ontario buying PPE. And before February 2, many tons of PPE were transferred by Chinese state airlines to receivers that “worked with the United Front Work Department of Fujian, and customs in Fujian” to warehouse “the medical supplies from Canada.”

That sentence was all the evidence I needed. Consider the source. Clive Hamilton, author of Hidden Hand: Exposing how the Chinese Communist Party Is Reshaping the World, has mapped the United Front’s structure. A hierarchy chart published in Hidden Hand shows that Xinhua is just a few steps below the Politburo. The Xinhua report established that Beijing used United Front bosses in China, Chinese state-owned airlines, and United Front groups worldwide to vacuum most of the world’s PPE in January, before other governments knew what hit them. But I need to make some important distinctions because this is an incredibly complex set of circumstances. There was a big humanitarian element involved in sending PPE to China. Community and government leaders in many countries worked together to answer China’s need.

Many Chinese-Canadians sent care packages of PPE to family members. At the time, most of the world apparently believed the coronavirus could be contained in China, so it made sense to send medical supplies where the material was needed. This is all good. What is wrong, though, is that Xi Jinping’s regime was covering up the outbreak and its severity, leaving the rest of the world in the dark. And in 2021, through my Canadian military and intelligence sources, I have learned more about the outbreak in Wuhan. The evidence dovetails with an increasing number of statements from U.S. intelligence and disease control officials, asserting that a disease matching the nature of the coronavirus was found to be spreading in Wuhan as early as October 2019. About 10,000 soldiers were at the World Military Games in Wuhan in October. And I learned from soldiers at the games that about one-quarter of Canada’s team became severely sick in late October, and they flew back to Canada under quarantine. These are extremely fit people. For such a large number of athletes to become sick at once is odd, to say the least. And there are open-source records and accounts from my military and intelligence sources indicating that Wuhan was significantly depopulated during the Military Games, and the Chinese state was engaged in strange behaviours.

“I’m not sure how to explain this,” a Canadian soldier wrote to me. The soldier provided a January 22, 2020, letter from the Canadian army’s surgeon general regarding reports of sickness among athletes at the Games, which concluded “individual risk of having been exposed to 2019 nCoV during temporary duty in Wuhan City is negligible.”

However, a number of the Canadian soldiers don’t believe that assessment, multiple intelligence sources informed me. They believe they were infected with the coronavirus in Wuhan.

“Empty highways, no construction workers, 1000’s of empty Highrise apartments. All empty,” the Canadian soldier wrote to me. “Yes, there were a few people you would see, but this was a rarity. The explanation given by the staff at the World Military Games was that the CCP ordered everyone in Wuhan to leave the city to ‘make room for the athletes’.”

The soldier informed me his superiors decided “to isolate all the sick in the back of the service flight on the way back. People were all kinds of sick. Myself, I had some weird symptoms and lung difficulties while there. It wasn’t until the 12th or 13th of November that I started to get really feverish and terrible coughing fits. From the 15th onwards I was bedridden for about 10 days. I’ve never been that sick before.”

So, my information from Canadian intelligence is some have judged it is highly likely the coronavirus was spreading in Wuhan during the Military Games, and that athletes from a number of nations brought the coronavirus home. Obviously international experts are trying to confirm this information while facing roadblocks from Xi’s regime. And the case hasn’t been proven. But national security experts in the United States and Canada increasingly believe the coronavirus was racing through Wuhan in October 2019, China knew a dangerous virus was emerging, and Xi’s regime covered it up, and collected the world’s supply of PPE as the danger mounted in early 2020.

Back to Canada. The Xinhua report proved how important Fujian United Front networks in Ontario were, in China’s international PPE ops. And I had equally powerful evidence in Vancouver—provided by United Front websites.

One of the reports said on January 23, Yongtao Chen, the chairman of Vancouver’s controlling level United Front group, was ordered by the Chinese consulate to gather PPE desperately needed in Wuhan. WeChat group photos provided supporting evidence. One WeChat photo showed Yongtao Chen standing with the Chinese consulate’s top “Overseas Chinese Affairs” United Front official, and consul general Tong Xiaoling’s deputy. Both men are involved in tactical roles for the Chinese consulate, according to my photo evidence. Yongtao Chen’s eventual successor—a man also seen standing at Justin Trudeau’s elbow in one of my key United Front cash-for access photos—was with Chen and the consulate bosses in the PPE warehousing photo.

Another report said Yongtao Chen worked with the Canada Chao Shan Association, a United Front group connected to the Guangdong Overseas Chinese Federation. This was another huge piece of evidence, because the Guangdong Federation has associations in 131 countries. And its leaders in Vancouver are well-known to CSIS agents in B.C., intelligence sources informed me.

An official United Front report in China said that Franco Feng—a prominent Guangdong Federation leader in Vancouver—had facilitated transnational PPE deliveries into China from Vancouver. And he reported to his bosses in China that “local communities actively cooperate with the embassies and consulates to contact all community overseas Chinese groups to prepare various medical supplies.”

This was another smoking gun quote directly from an official source in China.

I’ll boil down what this all means in very simple terms. The Canada Chao Shan Association had a very important role in Xi Jinping’s PPE collection ops. And after China had the coronavirus under control within its borders, the Chao Sha Association was shipping PPE back to Chinese communities worldwide.

Extracted with permission from “Wilful Blindness, How a network of narcos, tycoons and CCP agents infiltrated the West”, by Sam Cooper. The book is available in India through


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