November 29, 2022

Protests in China

Hundreds of demonstrators and police clashed in Shanghai on Sunday night as protests over China's stringent COVID restrictions flared for a third day and spread to several cities in the wake of a deadly fire in the country's far west.” Reuters

Both sides condemn the Chinese government and argue that zero-Covid is not a sustainable strategy:

“China is stuck… A sudden and complete opening would result in widespread deaths and overwhelm the health-care system, especially because China’s elderly population is under-vaccinated. Ideally, China would prepare and launch a mass vaccination campaign, importing the highly effective mRNA vaccines Pfizer and Moderna developed. Over time, China could join the rest of the world in living with the virus, allowing individuals to stay home if sick rather than herding them into quarantine centers and lockdowns…

“But after so many months of insisting that the Communist Party and Mr. Xi know best — that rigid ‘zero covid’ is the only correct approach — changing course would imply they erred. China’s economy and its people’s health depend on whether this authoritarian system can respond to the voices of protest, ditch its own propaganda and show flexibility.”

Editorial Board, Washington Post

“Western vaccines at least help prevent severely acute cases, and deaths are usually limited to narrow demographic ranges of elderly and immune-compromised individuals. Three years into the pandemic, China should have prepared itself to deal with those risks by bolstering its health-care response. Instead, they’ve stuck with their useless vaccines and lockdowns. The result? For the first time in decades, a popular revolt has arisen in the streets against the entire system that has literally imprisoned the entire country. The people no longer want an end to the lockdowns, but an end to seven decades of Communist Party rule altogether…

The perpetual lockdowns are not sustainable — not economically either, but clearly not politically. People can only be cowed for so long by a virus, especially once they have learned that the rest of the world has long since returned to normal and deal with it entirely differently. This is Tiananmen Square multiplied by dozens, perhaps hundreds, and police at some point will get overwhelmed by the momentum of popular revolt unless Xi changes his policies.”

Ed Morrissey, Hot Air

What can the rest of us learn from China? First, autocracy is not, in fact, superior to democracy. Autocrats can act quickly and decisively, but they can also make huge mistakes because nobody can tell them when they’re wrong. At a fundamental level there’s a clear resemblance between Xi’s refusal to back off zero Covid and Vladimir Putin’s disaster in Ukraine. Second, we’re seeing why it’s important for leaders to be open to evidence and be willing to change course when they’ve been proved wrong…

“Crucially, the lesson is not that we shouldn’t pursue public health measures in the face of a pandemic. Sometimes such measures are necessary. But governments need to be able to change policy in the face of changing circumstances and new evidence.”

Paul Krugman, New York Times

“The CCP is consistently callous towards its people’s well-being, but this callousness has traditionally impacted more on migrant workers and the rural poor. This time, the Party’s all-encompassing COVID-Zero lockdowns have affected the property-owning and educated middle class and the rich, and this brings with it unintended consequences. Millions of Chinese people across the nation, from all sections of the repressed country, are now willing to risk imprisonment, torture, and even death to stand up to their oppressors…

“This national uprising disproves the prevailing pessimism in the West towards the possibility of substantial grassroots resistance to the CCP. We are now seeing that silence does not necessarily indicate capitulation to repression. The possibility of resistance is ever present, if only the opportunity presents itself… Now, more than ever, it is imperative that leaders in the free world openly express their support for the Chinese people, and their condemnation of the CCP’s repression.”

Miles Yu, New York Post

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