Just two years ago China’s President Xi Jinping boasted during his 2021 New Year’s address that the Communist regime “put people and their lives first .” He added that “we wrote the epic of our fight against the pandemic.” President Xi and his henchmen have lauded the initial success of China’s zero-COVID policy as proof that China’s authoritarian model of governance is far superior to the democratic model.
The Chinese Communist regime is a totalitarian dictatorship that revolves around total loyalty and obedience to President Xi and the party he rules with an iron hand. President Xi anointed himself the “Core Leader” and inscribed “Xi Jinping Thought” into China’s Constitution. Xi has followed in the footsteps of Chairman Mao Zedong’s one-man rule.
President Xi’s arrogance blinded him to the reality of COVID-19 until it was too late. His rigid adherence to his zero-COVID-19 policy long after its practical usefulness, if any, ran its course led to unprecedented public protests. President Xi then did a sudden U-turn and abandoned his zero-COVID lockdown policy without adequate preparedness for the health crisis that would inevitably follow. As a result, COVID-19 is spreading like wildfire throughout China. Meanwhile, the United States and many other countries have put the worst of the pandemic behind them, and their people are moving on with their lives.
COVID-19 originated in China. At the get-go, the Chinese dictatorship did everything it could to hide the truth about the coronavirus’s origin, and its human-to-human transmissibility, from its own people and the rest of the world. But the deadly virus’s rapid spread beyond China’s borders gave the lie to the Communist regime’s deception.
As the spread of COVID-19 turned into a pandemic, governments around the world, including the Chinese regime, imposed stringent lockdowns, business shutdowns, and border controls. But China stood out with its egregious measures.
President Xi’s extreme zero-COVID policies included mass quarantines, bolting people inside their homes, and intensive surveillance. The regime set up facilities for frequent mandated testing on a mass scale. The regime sacrificed the Chinese people’s economic well-being for the “collective good.” The Chinese dictatorship’s complete subordination of the individual to the arbitrary collectivist demands of the state was in full display.
The regime’s harsh measures worked at first. The number of infections and deaths from the disease was far lower in China than was the case in other countries. But rather than use the opportunity to develop policies and infrastructure that would enable China to transition away successfully from zero-COVID, President Xi and China’s propagandists did something else entirely. They weaponized the regime’s initial success in containing the spread of the virus within China to make China’s regime look far better than the United States. President Xi doubled down and kept his rigid zero-COVID policy in place. The United States, with its millions of COVID-19 cases and so many deaths, was in no position to lecture China about human rights or effective governance, Xi and his propagandists claimed.
“As the Covid-19 epidemic takes away hundreds of lives every day in the U.S., that country’s propaganda machinery is engaging in vicious smears against China’s dynamic zero-case policy of epidemic prevention,” wrote Hu Xijin, a prominent propagandist for the Chinese regime. Hu Xijin’s article was published by Global Times, an ultra-nationalistic Chinese state media outlet, on January 14, 2022. Hu Xijin is the former editor-in-chief of Global Times.
“The dynamic zero-case policy itself is a special policy in this hard period that aims at protecting people’s lives,” Hu Xijin added. “It is scientific. Insisting on the dynamic zero-case policy is also the collective will of the Chinese people. Although the policy is sometimes compulsory due to the special situation, it is clearly at the service of people’s common interests. And it is always collectively supported and cooperated with.”
Sometimes compulsory? Whatever President Xi decides must be done at any given point of time is compulsory for all of China – no questions asked. President Xi dictates what constitutes “the collective will of the Chinese people.” But President Xi badly miscalculated how much abuse the Chinese people were willing to take in the case of his COVID-19 restrictions.
As President Xi’s zero-COVID policy dragged on, many ordinary Chinese people could no longer bear their day-to-day suffering. They risked their lives to publicly protest the seemingly endless harsh policies imposed by President Xi and his apparatchiks.
Finally, President Xi took notice. He decided that crackdowns by his security forces alone would not be enough to quell the growing angry demonstrations. So, rather than risk damage to his carefully cultivated image on the global stage as the highly successful leader of a responsible superpower, he reversed course. With little warning, President Xi lifted his zero-COVID policy. But the move has backfired. China was not prepared for the widespread outbreaks of COVID-19 infections that are now strangling the country, just as its economy was beginning to make a comeback.
The Chinese regime failed to prioritize the development and deployment of a successful vaccine against the coronavirus, with modifications to address mutations such as omicron. As a result, many Chinese, particularly the elderly most vulnerable to a deadly infection, have not been immunized. President Xi and his loyal party members failed to systematically mobilize enough healthcare workers and build up sufficient hospital capacity in time to deal with the inevitable surges of gravely ill patients once the zero-COVID mass lockdowns ended.
As a result, China’s hospitals are overwhelmed. There are severe shortages of trained health workers who are not ill with the virus themselves. “The ICU is full,” a doctor in one besieged hospital said. People are dying in droves.
It is estimated that at least 5,000 people are dying a day,” according to a report in the U.S. Sun. “Crematoriums are reportedly already working 24 hours to cope with the number of dead soaring as huge queues of hearses line the streets.” The U.S. Sun article reported that Airfinity, a predictive health analytics company, is predicting that “daily cases could reach 3.7 million per day in January and 4.2 million in March, up from the current level of one million.” The total number of deaths could ultimately reach as high as 2.1 million by the end of March, according to Airfinity.
Not surprisingly, the Communist regime is covering up the devastating surge of fatal cases of COVID-related deaths in China. The regime does not want to admit that it could have reduced the extent of the death toll but for its rigidity and gross lack of preparedness. After reporting official infection and death totals that were utterly divorced from reality, the regime stopped releasing such totals on a daily basis altogether.
The Communist regime responded as all dictatorships normally do. Lies. Lies. And more lies. Holding onto power at all costs is the regime’s number one priority.
Democracies are far from perfect to be sure. As Winston Churchill once said: “Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.…”
Over time, the United States managed to successfully overcome the worst of the COVID-19 health crisis and economic devastation that followed in its wake. This is not to discount the ninety-nine million reported cases of COVID-19 in the United States, including over one million tragic deaths. Nor is it to discount the infringement on individual rights during the height of the pandemic, including the controversial vaccine and mask mandates, prolonged school closings, and inconsistent shutdown policies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confused the public with guidelines and recommendations that turned out to be mistaken. Social media platforms too often did the government’s bidding and suppressed information about COVID-19 that turned out to be accurate.
That being said, the U.S. successfully climbed a steep learning curve in order to take control of the COVID-19 crisis with teamwork and pragmatic, multidisciplinary problem-solving.
Essential workers such as first responders and health care personnel showed up for work voluntarily, not because of government coercion. Americans adapted by working remotely. The government provided substantial economic relief to cushion the effect of the COVID-19 restrictions on people’s day-to-day lives and prevent a deep economic depression. And perhaps most importantly, the U.S. led the way in the development of highly effective vaccines in a record amount of time, which have been widely deployed. Businesses and schools have reopened. The masks have come off. More and more people have started returning to normal living.
In the end, America’s open, democratic society, capitalist economy, and the partnership between the private sector and the government proved to be far more successful in addressing the COVID-19 crisis than the closed, totalitarian Chinese regime.
China’s leadership had the advantage of learning from other countries’ mistakes and to use these lessons learned to develop best practices. But President Xi’s arrogance meant that it was his way or the highway.
Ronald Reagan noted years ago the reasons for rejecting “the arbitrary power of the state” and the “collectivism” that “stifles all the best human impulses.” The Chinese regime’s disastrous mismanagement of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic adds one more reason to the list.