The world has been watching the siege of Shanghai, starving people in perpetual lockdown and subjected to mass testing in pursuit of Zero COVID.
Is Beijing about to join the party? Not the Communist Party.The other party. The lockdown party.
Beijing will conduct mass testing of most of its 21 million people, authorities announced Monday, as a new COVID-19 outbreak sparked stockpiling of food by residents worried about the possibility of a Shanghai-style lockdown.
The Chinese capital began mass testing people in one of its 16 districts where most of the new cases have been found. The city also imposed lockdowns on individual residential buildings and one section of the city. Late in the day, health officials said the testing would be expanded Tuesday to all but five outlying districts.
That’s a convoluted way of saying 11 out of 16. But in short it means that China’s capital is getting close to being locked down and you can bet that Communist elites are preparing for the worst if it does happen. Much like Manhattan under Cuomo and De Blasio, expect the elites to vacate.
But that ignores the bigger question.
Beijing isn’t Shanghai, much as Shanghai isn’t Wuhan. The backlash in Shanghai is the result of an upwardly mobile population with some of the same isolationist arrogance of New Yorkers being forced to submit to misery, terror, and deprivation.
What happens if that COVID circus comes to Beijing?
Post-Cold War China thrived by providing many of the benefits of Western life while insulating its more upwardly mobile citizens from the political terror that requires running the totalitarian state.
During the lockdown, that insulation has been wearing thin. A few weeks of terror in Shanghai has already damaged Communist rule more than all the other protests in Hong Kong, the outrage over Xinjiang or any of the other controversies that seemed external to life in megacities where the shops always have more gadgets and tomorrow belongs to the party.
Can the Communists survive a lockdown in Beijing? Certainly. But it may lay the seeds of their destruction.