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http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1120764.shtml

One parent who refused to be fully named told the Global Times that "the government said they had organized buses to send these children for checkups and then instead sent them back to school."

  1. Was "sent them back to school" also the goverment said?

It means,

the goverment said they would send these children for checkups, but they didn't?

or

the goverment sent these children for checkups, and then sent them back to school?

  • If it's said by the government, it should be 'send', not 'sent'. In my opinion, it means the government said they had sent these children for checkups, but they didn't, Instead, they sent them back to school. – dan Sep 25 '18 at 6:58
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    No, the "sent" is the clue that this is something they did and not something they said. – JKreft Oct 28 '18 at 19:55
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It means they didn't. The clue is in the tenses.

"the government said they had organized buses to send these children for checkups and then instead sent them back to school."

Said and sent share a tense. "had organized" is a different tense.

The correct parsing of the sentence is this:

"The government said [they had organized buses to send these children for checkups] and then instead sent them back to school."

It's not written for clarity. Compare with:

"The government said that they had organized buses to send these children for checkups. They sent them back to school instead."

However, since it's a quote in an article, it was most likely quoting speech, and wasn't polished.

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