8.1 Millions of Mobile Users Missing, China Hiding Large number of Coronavirus Deaths.
Over 10 Million Deaths in China from Coronavirus. China Hiding the Real Facts
Some messages doing rounds on social media show graph figures claiming 81 Lac China Mobile Users are Missing, adding they can be Dead due to Coronavirus outbreak. They go on to say China is hiding from world the real facts about millions of deaths. It is possible, the Coronavirus death numbers China reported are quite less what actually took place, but the millions of ‘missing’ mobile users are not all those dead and unreported.
Origin of Claims: Millions of Coronavirus Deaths in China
On 21st March 2020, Writer and YouTuber Jennifer Zeng posted some messages and graphs saying China Mobile lost 8.116 million users in January and February 2020. Further, she questioned where the users are now, hinting if they left to another world (died). Consequently, she put together some more images saying the three major cell phone carriers in China have net loss of 15 million users in the same period, wondering what happened to them.
The messages became viral on Twitter amidst the growing number of deaths due to Coronavirus across the world. Subsequently, various online outlets and social media channels picked up the story and came up with similar allegations/theories. For instance, an online publication in Hindi language mentioned the tweets saying China is hiding the actual number of Coronavirus deaths. It questions there can be 1 Crore 50 Lacs death in China. A YouTube channel in Telugu language again says and questions 81 lacs phone numbers in China are missing. Some of them also point to the official numbers indicating over 81,000 total affected by the new strain of Coronavirus, COVID-19.
First, the graph images Jennifer Zeng posted on Twitter actually show decline in mobile subscriptions (mobile users) – not people as such. There are no credible reports suggesting 8.1, over 10 or even 15 million mobile users in China are missing. However, it is a fact China Mobile has lost 8.116 million users in January and February 2020, China Telecom losing 5.17 million users in same period and China Unicom losing 1.186 million users in January. In other words, the three major mobile operators in China lost around 15 million subscriptions. But there are many factors to reason the decline in mobile users.
China Mobile’s Executive Director and Chairman Yang Jie said Coronavirus pandemic affected their overall business. The Company said the Coronavirus pandemic has bolstered the growing trend of businesses and customers going online and using more digital and cloud-based services, among others. The accompanying link to a website Jennifer Zeng carried in her tweet mentioned the reason may be related to “number porting”. One of the sources of the article in fact mentions the decline has a lot to do with the popularity of number portability. Some analysts also said the reason is related to the “number porting network” implemented in 2019, allowing change of mobile service without changing the number. The other source of the article is a Facebook post sharing the graph image, describing the allegations.