The Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs (MOCA) has released civil affairs statistics for the fourth quarter of 2022 after a significant delay. However, unlike previous years, they did not disclose the cumulative number of “cremated remains” for the entire year of 2022. This has raised suspicions about the number of people who died from the epidemic during that period.
China’s National Bureau of Statistics had previously announced that 10.41 million people would die in 2022, based on data collected from November 2021 to October 2022. This data did not include the COVID-19 outbreak that occurred from November to December of the same year.
The Ministry of Civil Affairs has typically published civil affairs statistics every quarter, and the statistics for the fourth quarter are usually released by April of the following year at the latest. However, the statistics for the fourth quarter of 2022 were not released until June 9, and the cumulative number of “cremated remains” for 2022 was not disclosed as usual.
The ministry has not provided any explanation for the delay or the omission of the cremation data. Some independent media outlets have highlighted this unusual situation but have refrained from criticizing the authorities for potentially hiding the number of COVID-19 deaths.
According to previously released data from the Ministry of Civil Affairs, the number of cremated remains in the first three quarters of 2022 was 4.776 million, a 10 percent increase compared to the same period in 2021.
The cremation rate in China for 2021 was 58.8 percent, showing a 3.1 percentage point increase from 2020. However, the ministry has not announced the cremation rate for 2022, although estimations from the funeral industry suggest it could be over 60 percent.
Since the Ministry of Civil Affairs has not disclosed the number of cremated remains for the fourth quarter of 2022, it is impossible to estimate the number of deaths during that period. Therefore, the exact number of people who died from the epidemic during the outbreak remains unknown.
Source: Central News Agency (Taiwan), June 13, 2023