(p. A5) Communist Party leaders oversee an authoritarian system that inhibits local officials from freely sharing information with national-level officials, they said, and this has had deadly consequences for the world. It is a version of the so-called Chernobyl effect, where local officials avoid telling central authorities about a catastrophic event until it is far too late, American officials said.
Moreover, officials in Beijing have tried to spread disinformation about the origins of the virus. The C.I.A. has said since at least February  that Chinese central officials were not sharing everything they knew about the virus — including a more accurate case count — or doing all they could to help the world prepare for the pandemic.
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(Note: bracketed year added.)
(Note: the online version of the story was updated Sept. [sic] 17, 2020, and has the title “Local Officials in China Hid Coronavirus Dangers From Beijing, U.S. Agencies Find.”)