This was originally written for a Chinese audience and adapted and published in Guancha. — Eds.
The United States (together with its Western allies) always tries to tell China what to do in managing COVID-19 outbreaks, and since the whole city of Shanghai was under lockdown, the U.S. media seems to have even more reasons to criticize China’s anti-virus policy. But here’s the irony: If China had done as “well” as the United States, 380 million Chinese would have been infected and 4.46 million would have died.1 In fact, only 5,226 people died from COVID on the Chinese mainland.2 This is an amazing achievement given that China is a developing country with far fewer medical resources per capita than the United States.3
If China followed the current advice of the Financial Times and the West, and abandoned the dynamic zero-COVID policy, millions of Chinese would die. To be sure, estimates of the likely number of deaths can vary by as much as 70% between models,4 because the models on which these estimates are based make many assumptions. Even the lowest published projected number of deaths (which includes many unconfirmed assumptions in the model) is over 1.6 million 5 and the model does not account for deaths from new COVID variants.
China takes human life seriously. Despite having a per capita income of only 17.3% of that of the United States,6 the average Chinese life expectancy is 77.9 years.7 Preliminary studies find that life expectancy in the United States is 76.6 years.8 American life expectancy declined by 2.26 years between 2020 and 2021. The U.S. media is advocating for China to abandon its dynamic zero-COVID strategy, which is basically advocating mass racist killings. Perhaps it is not surprising that the most violent state on earth is making such noises.
Let’s be objective: the United States is one of the worst countries in the world at controlling COVID-19, which has not only claimed more than one million American lives but has also caused and continues to cause enormous social and economic devastation in the country. This article examines the impact of U.S. anti-COVID policy and what the Western media has to say about it. Three main conclusions can be drawn.
First, the actual damage of COVID-19 to U.S. society has been greatly underestimated. Historically, pandemics have allowed pre-existing structural fractures in capitalist society to be exposed and magnified. The coronavirus has killed over a million people and infection rates remain high; the long-term post-COVID symptoms continue to damage people’s health, with minorities and the poor suffering disproportionately. The functioning of U.S. society has been severely disrupted, with working-class families bearing the heaviest costs. An already decaying healthcare system has been hit hard, with overextended facilities incapable of housing the large number of patients or treating them due to the lack of proper medical and personal protective equipment. Sixty-five percent of nurses across the United States have been verbally or physically assaulted in the past year, and one in three has claimed that they will resign by the end of the year.9
Meanwhile, billionaires and large corporations are reaping huge financial benefits during the pandemic. Selfishness, individualism, and racial hatred is spread throughout American society. In short, the callosity of the U.S. elite class reveals the pathological class violence against the working class in the United States. Marx scientifically points out that the process of capitalist accumulation itself constantly creates a disposable “surplus” population. In the United States, capital has found despicable yet legal ways to “dispose” of this surplus population, and pandemics are one of these ways.
Second, China’s socialist benevolent policy, scientific management, and ability to learn from this pandemic, as well as the discipline and sacrifice of its people, have shown incredible results in protecting people’s lives and preparing for the future. China, as a middle-income country, has the resources to take complex steps to protect the lives of its people. But to the embarrassment of the G7 developed countries, when China developed vaccines, it immediately made most of its production available to the world’s poorest people. This is internationalism. In sharp contrast, the United States, and its private pharmaceutical manufacturers, under its protection, refused to make the therapeutic drug Paxlovid and the vaccines available quickly and cheaply to other countries.
Third, the pandemic has forced the U.S. elite to wage their ideological war in an increasingly intense and virulent manner. They have used their hegemony in the media and other ideological spheres to hide the reality of their own failure to fight COVID, and to exaggerate the distortions and lies about China’s policy and effectiveness in fighting the virus.
The incompetence of the U.S. government has led to millions of deaths
When COVID-19 had not yet spread to the United States, its media and politicians called it a “plague”. Two years later, when COVID had infected more than 84 million people and killed more than 1 million in the United States, they changed their story and said that COVID-19 was–at least after several mutations–equivalent to seasonal influenza, and therefore promoted the policy of “coexistence with COVID-19”. Globally, COVID-19 has a case reported mortality rate of about 1.61%, 1.2% in the United States.10 In the U.S. there were an estimated 460,00 deaths from COVID in 2021 versus 20,342 11 deaths attributed to flu in 2019 (even less in 2021).
Based on global data, Case Fatality Rates (CFR) averaged one percent for Lassa hemorrhagic fever, mumps encephalitis, all less than Covid.12 “Coexistence with mumps” or “coexistence with smallpox” is unimaginable in developed industrial countries, where children with mumps-induced encephalitis are quarantined and smallpox has been eradicated since 1977. Yet the U.S. media and politicians are urging people to coexist with the coronavirus, which has a much higher death rate.
There is a conscious or unconscious belief that infectious diseases will become progressively less lethal as they mutate, eventually becoming a mild and common disease. Although infectious diseases usually evolve in a mild direction in the long term, it may not necessarily be the case in the short term.13 Immunologists tell us that the evolutionary trajectory of the virus depends on the complex interplay of several factors that shape the response of our immune system to the evolution of the virus. In a scenario where the virus has multiple hosts, such predictions become even more difficult.14
The Alpha variant is 40% more lethal than the original virus. Delta is twice as likely to cause severe cases than the Alpha variant, and the statistically relatively low mortality rate is likely the effect of widespread vaccination rather than a reduction in viral lethality. The Omicron variant is slightly less lethal (0.9%) but more infectious and has caused more deaths than the Delta variant in the United States.15 There is no guarantee that the next COVID variant will be less lethal, and it could still kill tens or hundreds of thousands of people. Leading German virologist Christian Drosten recently admitted his own optimistic estimates in the first year of the pandemic were wrong. He also distanced himself from a government committee convened to battle the disease.16 Betting that the virulence of the SARS-Cov-2 virus will reduce with time, cannot be a responsible public health measure.
The Financial Times has reluctantly acknowledged 17 that Europe is now facing a surge in new hospital admissions from the Omicron BA.5 variant. They have further acknowledged that lack of testing, abandonment of outbreak control, and high rates of reinfection in people who have already been vaccinated three times may lead to higher mortality rates in the future.
The effectiveness of herd immunization remains to be seen. When Trump was the U.S. President, he supported White House senior medical advisor Scott Atlas who said that if enough people were vaccinated (or infected with COVID), the virus would have nowhere to spread and die out naturally.18 For the same reason, Biden also focuses on vaccination, arguing that if vaccination rates reach 70% or more, masks can be fully abandoned and social activities resumed.19 But historically, effective herd immunization (e.g., measles) has three necessary conditions: a stable, non-mutating virus, a very effective vaccine, and high vaccination rates. And none of these three conditions existed at the beginning of the COVID pandemic.
In more than two years, COVID-19 has mutated into at least six major variants; vaccines effective against the Delta variant have become limited against Omicron;20 and vaccine efficacy decreases by 20 to 30 percentage points after about six months.21 There is also no evidence that patients infected with COVID-19 are automatically immune (like smallpox or mumps), and the number of reinfections with coronavirus has been rising sharply since the Omicron variant was discovered.22 From the beginning, Chinese central health officials have maintained the right scientific attitude and insisted that no compromise be made until there is sufficient evidence.
Although the cause remains unclear, substantial evidence shows that even after cure, COVID-19 can cause a variety of long-term symptoms, including extreme fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pain or tightness, reduced memory and attention, and joint pain.23 Thirty percent of patients who had been hospitalized for COVID-19 still suffer from long-term symptoms after six months,24 and some patients have had symptoms for more than two years. About one in five patients infected with COVID have developed long-term symptoms, nearly 17 million people across the United States.
British scholar Ravi Veriah Jacques, who recovered from COVID 14 months ago, still has to be bedridden for 13-16 hours a day due to chronic symptoms.25 Catie Barber, a registered dietitian and a 29-year-old long-distance runner in the United States, is still unable to walk and is confined to a wheelchair due to chronic symptoms five months after recovering, and she nearly lost her life to COVID-induced heart disease.26 Vaccination prior to infection provides only partial protection during the acute phase of the disease and has limited impact on long-term symptoms.27 For working class people who have to live on wages, these long-term symptoms can further impair their ability to work and their income levels.
All these facts raise the question of why the world’s most powerful and resource-rich country responded to the catastrophic outbreak of an infectious disease in such a way that its people have suffered so deeply? Around New Year’s Day 2020, officials from the Chinese Center for Disease Control called Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to warn him of the dangers of the COVID virus 28– a new virus that Chinese doctors had just identified a few days earlier. Incredibly, U.S. media claimed that China was withholding information. It was U.S. officials who withheld information from other agencies within the U.S. government, and from the American people. Their incompetence and withholding of information allowed the United States to waste valuable time in developing a response plan.
Class inequality in the pandemic
Trump’s trade advisor, Peter Navarro, predicted on January 29, 2020, that the COVID epidemic would cause 500,000 deaths and trillions of dollars in economic damage. Yet the U.S. government continued to let the virus run its course, and one important reason is that the ruling class that controls the country has suffered very little from the epidemic. Among the 12 U.S. billionaires who have died over the past two years, none of them died from COVID-19. The wealthy U.S. bourgeoisie has a larger per capita living area and better community infrastructure, does not need to clock in and out of crowded factories or offices, and enjoys expensive and superior medical care. As a result, in the two phases that caused large numbers of deaths (late 2020 to early 2021 and August to November 2021), residents in high-income counties in the United States were less than 20% as likely to die from COVID as those in low-income counties.29 When affluent Americans say that no one around them has died from COVID, the odds are that it’s true.
The rich even benefit from the pandemic. In March 2020, the Federal Reserve launched uncapped quantitative easing, expanding its balance sheet by $5.2 trillion by the end of the year. Trump and Biden signed economic bailouts of $2.2 trillion and $1.9 trillion, respectively. These additional monetary issuances quickly brought the U.S. stock market back to all-time highs, thus making ultra-rich stockholders even wealthier. By October 2021, the total wealth of U.S. billionaires reached $5 trillion, a 70% increase compared to March 2021, with the wealth of the top five billionaires (Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Larry Page) increasing by 118%.30 So, it’s no surprise that Musk tweeted “Give people back their godamned freedom” as the epidemic was causing its first spike in deaths at the end of April 2020. After all, every day that workers were quarantined at home meant that his accumulation of wealth was slowed down a little bit. Musk’s wealth, during the epidemic, grew sevenfold, making him the richest man in the world.
Contrary to common perception, the working class has benefited very little from U.S. economic growth over the past few decades. Since 1980, the richest 10% of the U.S. population has grabbed more than half of all economic growth, while the working class, whose incomes are lower than the median, have received only 10% of economic growth. In each of the three periods of economic growth over the past three decades, the top 10% of income earners received about half of all income growth.31 Households with incomes below the median have seen almost no income growth over the two decades from 2000 to 2020.32 The working class are a silent group in the U.S. political environment, and while Trump (with his chief strategist Stephen Bannon) liked to boast about the support of the “white working class”, it was actually the racist far-right lower middle class that was mobilized by his fascist policy. They are mostly white, mostly from small towns or rural areas, running small businesses or doing professional jobs, and they make up about a quarter of the country’s population; they are better off than the working class (though also on the decline), and are often employers of the working class.
After a short period of containment, the U.S. government relaxed controls of the epidemic, guided by a policy of “herd immunity” that had not proven effective for the current phase of COVID. Business owners strongly demanded that all control measures be lifted because they needed their employees back at work to resume production and operations, at the expense of the working class. Working class individuals are four times more likely to die from COVID-19 than people of higher social and economic status,33 but debt pressure and a lack of savings forced them to return to work. Of households earning less than $35,000 a year, 57.3% experienced job loss or income decline during the pandemic, and 60% of households struggled to cover daily expenses; 47% fell behind on housing payments, and 7 million feared eviction or foreclosure within two months; 25% (nearly 11 million people) experienced food hardship.34 In order to make ends meet, the working class has to return to work at the risk of dying from COVID or suffering from chronic symptoms, which Musk calls “freedom”.
While most effective means of preventing and controlling the epidemic were abandoned in the name of “individual freedom” and “restoring society to normalcy,” in reality the bourgeois elite was only concerned with keeping their money-making businesses up and running. In fact, despite the reluctance of the U.S. government to implement lockdown measures, social activity has been severely disrupted, and after more than two years there is still no sign of pre-COVID normality. In the education sector, for example, by the end of 2020, 24 million elementary school students had already lost an average of 54 days of instructional time.35 By the end of November 2021, U.S. elementary and middle schools had experienced a total of 71 weeks of complete or partial suspension (compared to 27 weeks in China).36 In August 2021, the U.S. Department of Education issued a Return to School Roadmap to support school reopening.37 As a result, only days after classes resumed, 120,000 children were infected across the United States and many schools had to close again.38
The long-term inability to resume regular schooling has shown clear negative effects, with students suffering learning losses observed in several states, such as in Texas, where two-thirds of 3rd grade children tested below grade level in math in 2021, an increase of more than 30% from previous years.39 Meanwhile, children from lower-income working-class families who have less access to good IT facilities and distance learning environments, are more severely impacted by school closures. According to estimates from consulting firm McKinsey, children from low-income families lose an average of 12.4 months of learning time (national average 6.8 months) and are expected to lose 4% of their total life earnings (national average 2.2%).40
The U.S. media can’t wait to announce that the U.S. economy has returned to normal after dropping COVID controls; according to CNN’s “Back-to-Normal Index”, the current U.S. economy is back to 93% of its pre-pandemic (March 2020) level.41 The Dow Jones and S&P 500 hit record highs in late 2021, but then fell sharply. From January to April 2022, the S&P 500 fell more than 13%, its worst four-month performance since 1939.42 More importantly, the stock market does not truly reflect the economy, even with the massive stimulus package, real U.S. GDP only grew by a combined 2.11% between 2020 and 2021,43 accompanied by severe inflation and rising prices. The “normality” that the media is so fond of touting, has not materialized for the working class. The U.S. Census Bureau’s Pulse Survey, taken between April 27 and May 9, 2022, indicates that nearly 138M people had difficulty paying their household expenses; more than 31M people had lost employment or received no wages; and almost 74M people had, either sometimes or often, not enough to eat.44 In June 2022, there was an 8.6% year-over-year increase in CPI, the highest rate of inflation in 40 years.45
More significantly, while GDP, to a degree, can indicate the health of an economy, it is a pathological way of thinking to worship GDP growth as the ultimate goal of the country. When adverse events (e.g., widespread natural disasters, wars, pandemics, etc.) occur, commodity prices rise abnormally and this is also counted as GDP growth. Under the GDP Supremacy mindset, it is not optimal to reduce social activities for a short period of time to control the spread of the epidemic; rather, it is optimal to let the virus spread and go on with business and life as usual. The spread of the virus will instead increase medical and pharmaceutical consumption, thus increasing GDP. This is key to why the U.S. government chose to “coexist with the virus,” and the pharmaceutical and testing companies received huge subsidies thanks to the long-lasting epidemic.
The average price of a PCR test in America is $130 ($185 without health insurance),46 which has allowed hundreds of billions of dollars to flow to the companies involved, while at the same time being an argument for the infeasibility of mass testing and a zero-COVID strategy. In comparison, China has reduced the price of a PCR test to RMB3.5 (about $0.52), and the country spent RMB21.6 billion in April 2022 for normalized mass PCR testing, about 0.2% of GDP. This spending will be significantly reduced again after outbreaks are contained. This is a choice made to put people’s lives over short-term economic interests.
One hundred million Americans are currently in debt due to healthcare costs; one in seven people say that they have been denied access to a hospital or other medical facilities because of unpaid bills; and two in three people have stopped treatment because of the cost.47 The complete dominance of capitalist private property rights and the constant curtailment of public goods in the U.S. political system have given Big Pharma a staggering $10 billion increase in revenues, profits, and assets. Pfizer is on track to become a juggernaut with a $100 billion market cap by 2022, with sales of $53.9 billion just for its two major COVID-related drugs,48 and profit margins likely to reach more than 27%.49
The hypocrisy and degradation of the U.S. ruling class
U.S. politicians used outright lies to deceive their citizens, persuading workers that COVID-19 was not dangerous and they could return to work (and make money for the capitalists), when scientific facts relentlessly shattered the illusion of “coexistence with the virus” and the death toll remained high, proving that herd immunity was unachievable, at least in the short term. In March 2020, Trump claimed that warm weather and sunshine would kill the virus. And in April, the United States experienced its first rise in COVID mortality, with more than 2,000 deaths per day and nearly 100,000 deaths in two months. After receiving the best possible hospital care after being infected with COVID in October 2020, Trump made a full recovery and immediately tweeted “Don’t be afraid of COVID. Don’t let it dominate your life.” In December, the United States saw a second spike in deaths from the pandemic, with over 240,000 deaths in three months.50 In May 2021, Biden called on those who had been vaccinated not to wear masks because “vaccination protects you from COVID”. During the Omicron outbreak in January 2022, the country’s daily death toll rose to 2,258, breaking the previous record set in February 2021.51 In late April, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Biden’s chief medical advisor, said that America was already out of the COVID pandemic phase, when the country’s death toll had exceeded 1 million. Less than two months later, he was diagnosed with COVID.
The anti-vaccine and anti-mask movements in the United States have been driven by the depraved lies of government leaders (first Trump and then Biden) concerning COVID. The “rugged individualism” that has been pushed by the U.S. ruling class since the founding of the country is one of the ideological foundations upon which these movements are built. The myth of “pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps” which hides capitalist exploitation, is part of the foundation of the illusory “American Dream”. This narrative portrays evil capitalist slavery and the genocide of Native Americans by “brave pioneers” as the epitome of this “rugged individualism”, one of the pillars of the American Supremacy and Exceptionalism ideas, rather than despicable acts of greed and selfishness. Therefore, it is not surprising that a sizable proportion of the U.S. population objects to the idea of wearing masks or receiving vaccinations to prevent the spread of deadly viruses.
Today, U.S. capitalism, despite its enormous wealth, pollutes the air, poisons the water, murders black people, enforces religious homogenization in schools, burns books, commits mass murder of schoolchildren, and invades and dominates other countries, all under the guise of “freedom”. A customer at a grocery store in an LA suburb threw down her shopping basket and hurled insults at the staff who advised her to wear a mask. At a bagel shop in New York City, a woman walked up to another customer and deliberately coughed in the latter’s face. At a large department store in Flint, Michigan, a security guard was shot dead, just because he told a customer that her child needed to wear a mask inside the store. And who can forget Senator Rand Paul (a Republican from Kentucky) who wandered the Senate chamber and Senators’ gym without a mask the whole time he was waiting for his COVID test result, which turned out to be positive.
In August 2021, while 26,000 children in Florida were infected with COVID-19 in a single week, the state government issued an executive order banning schools from enforcing a student mask mandate. Arizona, Utah, Texas, and eight other states with Republican governors have also banned the mandatory wearing of masks in schools. Some states have even banned mandatory mask wearing in state-run organizations, and even in some private industries. Fourteen states have banned vaccination mandates. In other words, the rights of the individuals far outweigh those of the collective or the society.
The COVID pandemic has clearly demonstrated the moral decay of the U.S. ruling class who, unfortunately, has won the support of a sizable portion of the lower, middle, and working classes. Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick once said,52 “No one reached out to me and said, as a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren? And if that’s the exchange, I’m all in”. Of course, Patrick is not the average working-class senior citizen who must ultimately pay with his life. Since the lieutenant governor has access to the best medical care due to his U.S.$25 million in cash holdings, Patrick recovered from his COVID infection after only a week of minor ailments. What type of society would be willing to sacrifice its senior citizens for wealth and power? A society whose time has come and should be long gone.
U.S. politicians and media outlets always criticize other countries for violating “human rights”. The most fundamental human right, however, is the right to live. The most compelling evidence for the fact that the U.S. government has no respect for human rights is the more than one million people living in the United States who have died of COVID-19. They are simply promoting false human rights–such as having a particular form of government, or access to Facebook–instead of the fundamental rights that humans require, like survival, food, healthcare, and education. As Dr. Paul Farmer, a public health expert who passed away in Rwanda in February, once argued, “Medicine should be viewed as social justice work in a world that is so sick and so riven by inequalities”. The extreme morbidity and inequalities in the United States are reflected in the cruel reality inflicted by the COVID pandemic in the country.
Socialist benevolent policy in China
In stark contrast to the situation in the United States, China has a tried-and-true “dynamic zero-COVID” policy to fight the disease. There is no perfect solution to an emerging pandemic, and each approach has its strengths and weaknesses. A pandemic prevention strategy must first be evaluated by whom it serves. COVID-19 has caused only 4 deaths per million in China (compared to 3,108 in the United States) as of June 27, 2022 53 notably proving that its policy prioritizes the lives of its citizens, especially the poor.
It takes a high level of scientific understanding of the rules governing virus transmission, a thorough comprehension of the limitations of predictive models, advanced statistical knowledge, the awareness of national conditions, the ability to assess prevention experiences, and to modify plans in real time to achieve such amazing results in the fight against complex mutated viruses. Mao Zedong eloquently described the dialectical relationship between the “great benevolent policy” and the “small benevolent policy”: the great benevolent policy must not be hindered by the concern for the small benevolent policy.54 Given that SARS-type viruses (COVID-19 and MERS are on this spectrum) can cause a significant number of fatalities, the dynamic zero-COVID policy can be described as a great benevolent policy.
A dynamic zero-COVID policy can only be successful if the people understand and respect science, give up individualistic thinking, and are prepared to make short-term sacrifices for the long-term benefit of themselves and others. It requires the people to have faith in their leaders and to use deliberate self-criticism as a way to grow and succeed. According to data from several research institutions, more than 90% of the Chinese people trust their government.5556 The fact that the Chinese people are far-sighted, have the capacity to sympathize with others in their pains and difficulties, and can take unselfish action, is the sign of an advanced civilization.
Science plays quite different roles under capitalist and socialist systems. The United States has proven to the rest of the world that, in a capitalist society, science is used to maximize profits, develop inconceivable levels and types of offensive nuclear and other military weapons, and spy on the communications and social media of most of the world’s population. For example, information from every Brazilian’s email and social media account is stored in enormous data centers in locations like Bluffdale, Utah, among other places.57 However, science is not being used to address the medical needs of poor patients or to help develop effective pandemic prevention strategies at the grassroots level.
Large monopolies purposefully impede the advancement of science as a defense mechanism to maintain their monopoly. Science is vilified and people are told lies, such as “global warming is fiction,” when the truth stands in the way of profits. To this day, 30% of Americans continue to reject the idea that human activity is the primary cause of global warming.58
In socialist China, science is respected, fostered, and most importantly, recognized as a servant in promoting the demands of the people and society, something that is reflected in the pandemic in many ways. One small illustration of how science serves the people is the establishment of a dynamic, nationwide network of digital health code platforms and the placement of small, mobile PCR testing kiosks in major cities, outfitted to protect medical personnel and make testing more convenient and faster.
Foreigners often fail to understand the details of how China completes these challenging duties. They regularly receive disinformation about the so-called “authoritarian government of China” from the Western media. They overlook the fact that President Xi’s reaffirmation of the mass line has revitalized 4 million grassroots Party organizations over the past ten years. These grassroots party organizations operate at the bottom of society, in every residential community. The Communist Party of China (CPC) has always attached great importance to improving the ideological and organizational capabilities of its cadres, increasing the connection between cadres and the masses, and creating effective communication channels. One of the greatest organizational feats of humankind is the system for organically managing and organizing food supply, quarantining and transporting the infected to hospitals, and regularly visiting the elderly on a scale of hundreds of millions of people.
The Western media has made a major claim that China’s dynamic zero-COVID policy has failed economically compared to the U.S. policy. However, economist John Ross noted that for the nine quarters between October 2019 and March 2022, China’s GDP increased by 11.5%, while U.S. GDP grew by only 2.8%, according to the global economic indicators’ website Trading Economics and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. China’s economic growth was over four times faster than the U.S. during the pandemic. This comparison includes China’s worst quarter (Q1 2020, -10.5% GDP growth), and places like Wuhan and Shanghai who were most affected by the pandemic.
There are numerous factors that influence GDP growth. Not all areas of China experienced the same effects in the second quarter. Even though China’s overall growth rate may be lower in the second quarter of 2022, it will not have a significant impact on the full ten-quarter period that covers the Pandemic. Goldman Sachs analysts predict that China’s GDP growth will remain above 4% in 2022 and rise to 5.3% in 2023, despite the impact of the outbreaks in the second quarter. China’s GDP growth is estimated to reach 4.2 percent in 2022 by other investment banks like Citi, JP Morgan, and Morgan Stanley.59 By Western logic, it must be concluded that the U.S. policy of extreme tolerance for high mortality rates is the real destroyer of GDP growth.
Only nine new confirmed indigenous COVID cases were detected in the Chinese mainland as of June 20, 2022.60 This figure once again highlights the remarkable achievements of the CPC, the Chinese government, and the Chinese people in fighting against the pandemic.
Why is China smeared for its dynamic zero-COVID policy?
On April 12, Reuters reported that according to the Japanese investment bank Nomura, “as many as 45 cities in China are now implementing either full or partial lockdowns, making up 26.4% of the country’s population”.61 The original source of this data from Nomura could not be found. Then the Financial Times did a simple multiplication and claimed that “45 cities and 373mn people in China were under … lockdown”.62 First of all, this is an absurd number, not only because it has no source, but because, even if you add up the 45 most populous cities in China (the vast majority of which have not had any outbreaks so far this year), the total population is only 293 million.63 The Western media just made up the number of “373 million” based on unknown sources.
Moreover, the method of adding up the total population of cities that had some form of lockdown and claiming that all of them were under total lockdown is a clever and sinister manipulation of data. In most cities where outbreaks have occurred, the number of people actually under lockdown has been a small fraction of the total population and the duration of the lockdown has been relatively short. In Sichuan Province’s Guang’an City, which suffered an Omicron spillover from the outbreaks in Shanghai, for example, a lockdown took place in Linshui County, which only accounts for 21.7% of the city’s population, and lasted just 14 days. Data purportedly released by Nomura imply that the entire populations of these cities were under lockdown in the second quarter of 2022, clearly a huge deviation from the facts.
In fact, the Chinese government continues to learn and adjust its approaches when carrying out the zero-COVID policy. Even when a mega-city, like Beijing, was subjected to another round of strict control because of some pub’s non-compliance with the regulations, the outbreak was contained in less than 10 days, with only about 170 locations (most of which were single buildings) actually locked down. It was estimated that the total number of people under lockdown was no more than 200,000 (less than 1% of Beijing’s resident population). Most people throughout Beijing were still able to carry on with their work and life as normal. For a few weeks, gyms and restaurants were closed in some areas, but supermarkets and takeaway restaurants still secured food supplies. People are able to walk outdoors wearing masks. The Western media misrepresented all of this as “authoritarian lockdowns”.
Despite the obvious falsification and exaggeration of such figures, the Western media have accepted them with great satisfaction. Bloomberg,64 CNN,65 and Kyodo 66 all scrambled to quote the “373 million” figure, and it became “nearly 400 million” in the New York Times.67 When Quartz commented on China’s economy in May, their statement that “nearly 400 million people are under COVID lockdown in China” was used as if it was a fact that required no discussion.68 What followed was “People’s freedom of movement is being restricted in China” (even though American schoolchildren have lost almost three times as many class hours as in China); “China’s economy will be destroyed by lockdowns” (even though China’s economy has grown four times faster than the U.S. economy since 2020, and several U.S. investment banks predict that China’s economy will still grow faster than the U.S. economy), and a host of other lies.
This is a premeditated propaganda war against China’s dynamic zero-COVID policy, designed to discredit China’s socialist achievements in public health. These lies have been widely disseminated in the English-language media and social networks to make billions of people forget that America is so bad at controlling COVID-19 and think that the dynamic zero-COVID policy is wrong. This is cultural hegemony in Antonio Gramsci’s sense: through the manipulation of perceptions and interpretations, the U.S. ruling elite intends to perpetuate its dominance over the world.
Socialist alternatives for public health
The SARS pandemic of 2003 revealed a new trend in public health: as globalization deepens, the global pandemics of infectious diseases are bound to occur more and more frequently. The U.S. performance in the COVID pandemic has proven that a capitalist system that only cares about short-term economic interests and disregards people’s lives and health cannot cope with such a disaster as the outbreak of a pandemic. It sacrifices lives and loses economic development, and only a small group of the bourgeois elite benefit from it. The socialist system represented by China, on the other hand, points to a viable path for how humanity can respond to public health disasters in the future. Nearly-free, normalized universal testing, combined with the dynamic zero-COVID policy of early detection, reporting, isolation, and treatment, is not only effective for the prevention and control of COVID-19, but also provides a solution for the prevention and control of any new dangerous viruses that could emerge in the future.
Both the effective control of new pandemics at home and the rapid delivery of low-cost vaccines to the world’s poorest countries, has proven that Chinese socialism is advancing humanity’s ability to protect itself from future disasters. Over one million more lives lost in the United States thus far from COVID than in China, despite a U.S. population only a quarter the size of China’s, and a mortality rate hundreds-of-times greater in the former as compared with the latter, provide a graphic and sharp contrast, directly challenging the big lie of the “superiority of the capitalist system”. For Washington, which relies on the capitalist system to reap monstrous global rewards, this is a challenge that shakes its very foundations. Therefore, it launched a public opinion war against China’s anti-COVID policy, hiding the reality of its domestic failure to fight the virus, hoping to deceive the Chinese about the global anti-COVID situation, and even spark a “color revolution” in China against the government’s policy.
Although not all countries are able to implement an effective dynamic zero-COVID policy like China due to various objective constraints, China’s experience has shown the world that, in the face of a pandemic, especially when the virus is not fully understood in early stages, “herd immunity” or “coexistence with the virus” can neither be the best nor the only option. Developing countries can also do better than Western developed countries, such as the United States, as long as the people’s basic rights are prioritized over the short-term interests of capital.
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