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Why the Silence on Lockdowns?


Not so long ago, those who opposed the strict Covid lockdowns that were imposed across the world in early 2020 were mocked, vilified, and censored. But shockingly, stopping the economy and shutting everyone in their homes failed to meaningfully slow the spread of the coronavirus in every country where it was tried.

Unbeknownst to the vast majority of the public, these lockdowns were unprecedented in the western world and weren’t part of any democratic country’s pandemic plan prior to Xi Jinping’s lockdown of Wuhan, China. Worse yet, intelligence authorities have long since confirmed that the Chinese Communist Party used multiple modes of influence to popularize these policies globally.

Surely, a story of that magnitude would at least pique the interest of our leading disinformation experts and think tanks—given their oft-professed, non-partisan, completely patriotic concern with disinformation campaigns by authoritarian regimes? But alas, no serious, institutionally-funded study of disinformation on the world’s Covid lockdowns and mandates has yet taken place.

What might explain this lack of curiosity? Does the silence of think tanks mean pro-lockdown disinformation didn’t happen? Unfortunately, it’s well-documented that it did. On the contrary, in early 2020, these very same think tanks and self-proclaimed experts were, with few exceptions, not opposing the CCP’s pro-lockdown disinformation, but instead vocally supporting the implementation of lockdown policies!

How could this happen? Subsequent testimonials have revealed that when Xi Jinping first locked down Wuhan, both western health and national security officials began fretting incessantly, unbeknownst to the public, that SARS-CoV-2 might be a supervirus that leaked out of the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

In his book, Jeremy Farrar—one of the leading voices behind lockdowns in the United Kingdom and regarded by some as the UK’s Anthony Fauci—recalled secretly discussing the possibility of a lab leak with Fauci and others:

By the second week of January, I was beginning to realise the scale of what was happening… In those weeks, I became exhausted and scared. I felt as if I was living a different person’s life. During that period, I would do things I had never done before: acquire a burner phone, hold clandestine meetings, keep difficult secrets… In the last week of January 2020, I saw email chatter from scientists in the US suggesting the virus looked almost engineered to infect human cells. These were credible scientists proposing an incredible, and terrifying, possibility of either an accidental leak from a laboratory or a deliberate release… This issue needed urgent attention from scientists—but it was also the territory of the security and intelligence services… The next day, I contacted Tony Fauci about the rumours over the origins of the virus … Depending on what the experts thought, Tony added, the FBI and MI5 would need to be told… Patrick Vallance informed the intelligence agencies of the suspicions; Eddie [Holmes] did the same in Australia. Tony Fauci copied in Francis Collins, who heads the US National Institutes of Health.

Security and intelligence services were indeed informed of the possibility of a lab leak and, being the hawks they are, reacted in the most dramatic possible fashion. The national security community grew suddenly hawkish on China, issuing dire warnings about the CCP and investigating hundreds of scientists in chemistry and biology for foreign ties—apparently out of a concern about bioweapons. Prominent officials began writing endlessly about the Wuhan lab.

Biosecurity personnel began discussing “curfews of indefinite duration … [to] paralyze the economy and ask the population to stock up on food and medicines … something like this would soon be called ‘lockdown.’”

The pro-lockdown lobbying of these biosecurity networks was lent substantial weight when the World Health Organization reported back from China with rousing news that the lockdown of Wuhan, “unprecedented in public health history,” had “reversed the escalating cases.” In a press conference on February 24, 2020, WHO Assistant Director-General Bruce Aylward—famous for later disconnecting a live interview when asked to acknowledge Taiwan—put it bluntly:

What China has demonstrated is, you have to do this. If you do it, you can save lives and prevent thousands of cases of what is a very difficult disease.

Aylward’s press conference came three days after ten municipalities in Lombardy, Italy, were placed under a Chinese-style lockdown—the first pandemic lockdown in the modern western world—in keeping with Italy’s commitments under the Italy-China Implementation Programme on Health Cooperation signed three months prior. On the same day the Lombardy lockdown was signed, Italy’s Health Ministry issued testing guidance to labs across the country. Large numbers of cases were detected, and on March 9, 2020, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte placed all of Italy under lockdown.

Conveniently, this timeline is a near-perfect match of that foretold by the anonymous stock tipster on January 30, 2020, that he or she had “friends and family in the medical industry and field, including at CDC and one close friend at WHO,” and felt guilty not disclosing what they knew:

[T]he WHO is already talking about how “problematic” modeling the Chinese response in Western countries is going to be, and the first country they want to try it out in is Italy. If it begins a large outbreak in a major Italian city they want to work through the Italian authorities and world health organizations to begin locking down Italian cities in a vain attempt to slow down the spread at least until they can develop and distribute vaccines, which btw is where you need to start investing… I just think it’s a really shitty thing to not be sharing this information with the public because they arrogantly think we’re all irrational and shouldn’t be informed as they are.

And then, when Italy adopted China’s lockdown policy, the rest of the world followed suit, believing they could stop the virus dead in its tracks—and apparently missing the awkward fact that they were now trying to stop a virus from China with a totalitarian containment policy that had, itself, been conceived in China.

A report later released by the Canadian Armed Forces revealed that military leaders had seen the coronavirus as a unique opportunity to test propaganda techniques on the public, “shaping” and “exploiting” information to bolster government messages about the virus. Dissenting scientists were silenced. Psyops teams deployed fear campaigns on their own people, disregarding any and all collateral damage, in a scorched-earth campaign to drive consent for lockdowns.

It was a rare convergence of narrative between western think tanks, the Chinese Communist Party, western disinformation experts, the CCP’s disinformation army, western media outlets, CCP media outlets, western health officials, and the western national security community, all joining forces to mollify the public into compliance and supposedly stop the spread of a supervirus.

With their powers combined, they managed to destroy countless businesses, upend human rights, kill millions, cast hundreds of millions deeper into poverty, strain the mental health of billions, and transfer trillions of dollars in wealth from the world’s poorest to the very richest—all while failing to slow the spread of a virus that was subsequently confirmed to have an infection fatality rate under 0.2%.

Since the fall of 2020, when more information about the CCP’s pro-lockdown propaganda campaign started to come to light, think tanks and disinformation researchers—having initially supported lockdowns—largely went silent on the subject. In some cases, they continue to insist it was the right choice given what they knew at the time; in others, they quietly mumble that it shouldn’t be done again. Yet still they refuse to engage in any serious discussion or analysis of the provenance of these ruinous policies. The reason why is every bit as simple as it seems: They’re saving face.

Saving face, in this context, means pretending things did not happen which would cause the public to seriously question these experts’ competence. Saving face is not patriotic. Saving face serves no civic, altruistic, or constructive purpose. Saving face means exploiting a power differential, gaslighting, and even conspiring to prevent those whom one does not deem worthy from knowing the truth about one’s actions or the motivations behind them. It is incompatible with democratic governance.

Think tanks, policymakers, self-proclaimed disinformation experts and elites of all stripes refuse to discuss the role that disinformation played in the lockdowns they supported for one reason: They messed up, big time. If this information gets out, their careers may never recover. They were playing checkers, and Xi was playing Go. Game over.

Republished from the author’s Substack

Published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
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  • Michael Senger

    Michael P Senger is an attorney and author of Snake Oil: How Xi Jinping Shut Down the World. He has been researching the influence of the Chinese Communist Party on the world’s response to COVID-19 since March 2020 and previously authored China’s Global Lockdown Propaganda Campaign and The Masked Ball of Cowardice in Tablet Magazine. You can follow his work on Substack

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