Despite liberalizing economic reforms, the CCP maintained hard-core political control for the decades following. Yet its economy grew and grew.
This gave rise to a new theory:
China seemed to have it all going.
What stopped working in China could not have been expected years ago.
The party believed it had
solved the problem of pathogens via massive violations of human
admitting this now (following two years of urging more
There are videos online of stores being ransacked...
There is talk of revolution in the air...
The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) praised the early 2020 lockdowns in Wuhan.
In one letter dated January 2020, the WHO congratulated China and urged the country to,
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
further underscored the point with a
Neil Ferguson from the Imperial College did too.
And so China became a model for the world:
...and then all but a handful of the countries in the world followed the lockdown paradigm.
To this day, Xi Jinping surely basks in the warmth of this glowing praise. It put China's policy prowess on display for the world.
As I write, Yahoo reports concerning Shanghai:
We can only intuit what is happening here.
For Xi Jinping, lockdowns were his greatest triumph. They seemed to work two years ago. He earned plaudits the world over, and the world followed his model.
Perhaps this filled him and the CPC with a sense of incredible pride and confidence. They had done it correctly and the rest of the world copied the idea, without having practiced the article of lockdown as perfectly as China.
Eventually governments can convince themselves of their own propaganda. That appears to be what happened here.
That illusion prevented Xi and the party from observing what should have been obvious to anyone with a modicum of knowledge about viruses such as this one:
As Vinay Prasad has constantly reminds us, everyone will get Covid.
And through that path, we finally move beyond the pandemic. What has happened now in China is as predictable as the failure of "Zero Covid" in Australia and New Zealand...
This means that cases are nowhere near stopping in China. They will spread to every city, every town, every countryside until vast numbers of 1.4 billion are exposed.
This could mean rolling lockdowns for years to come, along with all the damage and political instability that they necessarily entail. This will surely have a profound impact on economic growth and possibly the credibility of the CCP itself.
The communist party has made a profound error. Most places in the world did.
The US was not Shanghai-level terrible but this is a matter of degree because the theory was tried out here too. In political democracies, politicians and bureaucrats have mostly tried to soft land their gross errors while manufacturing excuses for reopening without apology.
Many want everyone just to forget this whole disaster.
Will that happen in China?
The trouble is the incredible centrality of lockdowns to China's perceived achievements over the last two years.
So long as there are powerful people in Beijing who genuinely believe that lockdown is the path forward - and no opposition party in place to take a different point of view - this will likely continue, raising fascinating questions about the political and economic future of this country.
But China-style dictatorship is not the end either, simply because it contains no operational mechanism for the correcting of egregious errors.
What saved the US from lockdown terror was political pluralism and federalism; China has institutionalized neither. Thus does intellectual error lead to egregiously immoral outcomes.
When governments of the world tried to prove their competence by declaring war on cell biology, they finally met their match.
No matter how powerful a state, there are forces of nature that will always outsmart it.