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Did China Do It Right?

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Recall that the lockdowns that came to the U.S. in 2020 had an unusual origin. It was from Wuhan, China. That city’s experience became the test and the model. We saw all the images of the wicked effects of the virus. People were dying on the streets and body bags were piling up. 

But the government came to the rescue. It dragged people into quarantine. It locked people into their apartment units. It banned travel. The power of the Communist Party in all its glory was deployed. Lo and behold, the virus went away. 

Thus did China show the way. Neil Ferguson of the Imperial College in London was impressed and so was Dr. Anthony Fauci in the U.S., as we learn from his emails. Ferguson said “it was an effective policy,” adding: “It’s a communist one-party state, we said. We couldn’t get away with it in Europe, we thought. And then Italy did it. And we realised we could.” Fauci carried on an extensive correspondence with Chinese officials during that very time. 

The presumption has been all along that China managed somehow to suppress the virus, and so should we. So we did too, using much the same tactics with stay-home orders, travel restrictions, school and business closures, and the end of mass events. Eventually in the U.S., the consensus emerged that none of this was working, that we needed to learn to live with the virus that was not a mortal threat to most anyone but the aged, infirm, and immuno-compromised. Besides, we had vaccines and growing natural immunities. 

Now we see what opening looks and feels like in most parts of the country. Fauci (“I am the Science!”) is under fire, and so too are those governors who panicked while ignoring all American law, values, and traditions of liberty as the first principle of life. We too adopted the dictatorship of the power/medical elite in the name of virus suppression, some states more than others. There has proven to be no actual medical benefit to the lockdowns while the economic and cultural costs are indescribably enormous. 

Well, let’s check in on how China is doing today. What says the New York Times? It turns out that lockdowns are back in full force. This time the spot is the home of China’s most prestigious universities, Guangzhou in the southern part of China. It is locked down in the name of virus control. Millions quarantined, tested, locked in their homes. This is all because of the latest and greatest new variant, from India given the name Delta. 

The Times writes on this as it did of Wuhan a full year and a half ago: “Neighborhoods under strict lockdown. Thousands quarantined. Millions tested in mere days. Overseas arrivals locked up for weeks and sometimes months. China has followed variations of that formula for dealing with the coronavirus for more than a year — and a new outbreak suggests that they could be part of Chinese life for some time to come.”

Track and trace are again in full operation: “The city tested practically its entire population of 18.7 million between Sunday and Tuesday, some of them for the second time. It has also put neighborhoods with a total of more than 180,000 residents into total lockdowns, with practically no one allowed out except for medical testing.”

There are several questions we are right to ask. 

First, what happened to the great suppression of January 2020? Is the CCP willing to admit that it did not work? Of course not. Even so, the renewal of lockdowns speaks for itself, raising fresh questions as to why the U.S. (and the rest of the world) copied China in the first place. 

Second, if the first lockdown did not drive the virus away, what is this one supposed to achieve? Surely we can grow up, wise up, and recognize that viruses are not somehow scared of governments. Every virus that has ever existed still exists but smallpox and rinderpest that have been eradicated through vaccines and herculean efforts over many decades. There are particular reasons why that happened in those cases while it is not likely ever to happen with common and multivariate coronaviruses. 

Third, why are lockdowns being deployed in this particular case? Is the virus striking down people in the street? You have to get to the end of the New York Times article to see that in the entire Guangzhou province that only 157 people are in the hospital with the virus and there are only 10 new cases per day out of a population of 126 million people – 0.0001%. Meanwhile, Worldometer still shows the whole of China completely flatlined in cases and deaths. 

I’m not one for conspiracy theory, and I spent many years reading the New York Times at face value (go easy on me). But this whole news story is starting to make me wonder. How can we know for sure that this is not just theater to scare the Americans into locking down yet again? It seems to work last time. Why not try again? Just how stupid are the Americans? 

I’ll just point out that the same day that the news of the China lockdown came to the U.S., National Public Radio ran a big story on the Delta variant on the loose here at home. Meanwhile, our old friend Dr. Fauci gave an interview saying “The Delta variant currently accounts for more than 6% of the sequenced cases in the United States. This is a situation, the way it was in England” before it supposedly took over. “We cannot let that happen in the United States,” Fauci said.

I don’t know but this is all a bit much. Fortunately, most Americans have tuned out this stuff months ago. How much disease panic can anyone really endure? There is too much maskless bliss alive in this today to imagine that Americans will go back. I’m pretty sure. 

As for full-blown lockdowns, I truly cannot imagine that people will put up with any more of this. Maybe this is all about the drive for universal vaccination even though new studies come out by the day confirming the power of natural immunities even on the variants. You can search all day and find not one word from Dr. Fauci on that. 

In any case, the upside of this propaganda from China, if that’s what it is, is that anyone can now say definitively that the China model of disease suppression did not work here or even in China. The only group that seems to benefit from this model of virus control is the government itself. Why anyone in a country that calls itself free should put up with this nonsense is the real question.

Author

  • Jeffrey A. Tucker, Founder and President of the Brownstone Institute, is an economist and author. He has written 10 books, including Liberty or Lockdown, and thousands of articles in the scholarly and popular press. He writes a daily column on economics at The Epoch Times, and speaks widely on topics of economics, technology, social philosophy, and culture.


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