Covid’s Cold Reality Catches Up to Xi Jinping’s Denial
Category: Op/EdVia: s • one month ago • 4 comments
Just like that, the government of China decides it no longer needs quarantines, announces it won’t be updating some of its wildly unbelievable statistics on Covid cases, and opens up the country to foreign visitors. After nearly three years of a spectacularly repressive “zero-Covid” philosophy that locked up millions of people inside their homes — sometimes by welding doors shut in Wuhan apartments buildings — Xi Jinping and the Chinese government offer an Emily Litella–esque “never mind,” turn on a dime, and reopen their society hoping that the consequences of more widespread Covid infections don’t become too severe. Keep in mind that a recently leaked document contends that 250 million Chinese citizens caught Covid-19 in the month of December.
The consequences of Beijing’s sudden about-face are . . . predictably dire: “Emergency rooms are turning away ambulances, relatives of sick people are searching for open beds, and patients are slumped on benches in hospital corridors and lying on floors for lack of beds.” (If we’re ever going to see a more severe variant emerge, it’s likely going to be in this mega-explosion of new cases.)
Now, I welcome the authoritarian Chinese government’s acceptance that it cannot control and quarantine its way to victory over a virus that is as contagious as the common cold, particularly when so many of its citizens live in close quarters in crowded cities. But it would be nice if governments and civil-society elites around the world would openly acknowledge that the Chinese government lies all the time. Some of us have been pointing this out since the start of the pandemic, and others have noted this for decades! Everyone — from the U.S. government to the EU, the World Health Organization, the United Nations, the World Bank, international economic institutions, and multinational corporations — that regularly deals with the Chinese government acts as if its statements mean something beyond what Beijing wants the world to believe. We endured this ordeal — with lingering impact on the lives of Americans — in large part because of the dishonesty of the Chinese government, whether you subscribe to the lab-leak theory or not.
All health data coming out of China are consistent with what the Chinese government wants the world to believe and are likely at odds with the truth. They’re worse than useless to the extent that they steer epidemiologists astray.
This should also blow up the narrative that China is some sort of supercompetent, ruthlessly effective colossus offering the world a brutal but effective governance alternative to Western liberal democracy. Beijing demonstrates at least as much incompetence, butt-covering, dishonesty, spin, denial, and corruption as Washington, London, or Paris. China simply doesn’t have a free press to expose the mess.