Politicized memory plays strange tricks. To listen to influential Western voices in 2023 you might imagine that China emerged in December 2022 from long confinement in a zero-COVID prison, a regime dictated by the vanity of Xi Jinping, a regime which inflicted years of comprehensive and repressive lockdowns on a hapless population and revealed the threat posed by the unfettered power of the CCP.
Thank you for cutting through the malignant reporting in Western Media and actually explaining how decisions were made in China.
All epidemics tend to mutate to less deadly, but more contagious variants. With hindsight the Chinese government could have prepared for that, for example by using Western vaccines.
i wonder what 'political memory' will say about gallant little ukraine in a very few years
Very good overview, thanks, though it is a mistake to rely on any Chinese statistics about Covid.
What is clear (because we can check it against OECD data) is that there was an export boom (rather than a “supply chain shortage” due to lockdowns - ie excess demand drove shortages) and (from private citizen commentary) lockdowns were localized and rolling as you noted.
Chine didn’t have the booming post-lockdown growth of the US because Chinese export/factory production increased rather than shut down during Covid. No surprise that Chinese growth is slow now given goods consumption is slowing globally - partly a hangover from the excesses of 2021-2022 fed by reckless stimulus in the US and a temporary shift globally in consumption away from services. Now consumption is shifting back toward services.
The main criticism that remains is that China failed to vaccinate sufficiently prior to abandoning controls. Its own vaccine was not as effective as those developed elsewhere. Elderly people were particularly exposed. Excess death estimates would be particularly useful in establishing how costly this turned out to be.
If the number reported by Beijing were accurate, then your analysis is very interesting.
Adam Posen is predictably lazy in his writing. He's probably regurgitating the tripe he picked up on the Internoodle.
What is the point of your article ?
Can you summarize in less then 50 words?
New Zealand also had an ultra-strict policy. Border and strict regional lockdowns when cases were detected. For those not in regions where cases were detected (Auckland mostly) life was normal. I lived there from Jan-Nov 2021. Then Delta. The same playbook of lockdowns, testing, contact tracing was tried...but then quickly understood it wasn't going to work. Then a rapid pivot to vaccination, eventually hitting 90%+ rate - with daily updates on government site. Then re-opening. All BEFORE Omicron but with a full knowledge that more mutations were coming. Yes, yes...NZ is not China. I get it. But both countries health systems couldn't handle the same response that the US had and both countries understood this. NZ was democratic and thus pivoted aggressively from 'dynamic control' to vaccination at Delta because the population made it clear that it wasn't going to tolerate continued lockdowns. This is where China deviated. CCP eventually responded to "will of the people" (a very generous interpretation) but too prideful to accept foreign vaccinations so just opened up and led to 2 million deaths (we will never really know). that's not an artifact of biased western reporting. centralized decision making can always respond effectively in the short-term but can't adapt. democracy is uglier but the strength lies in the conflict. this post was good to point out some the revisionist history but misses that key point about adaptability.
IIRC, the Chinese government abandoned zero COVID in response to widespread protests.
In other words, they listened to the people.
Contrast the Canadian response.
Covid deaths are easier to identify via excess mortality stats, than the lock down caused deaths from lost income/poverty or lock down lost access to services deaths, which play out of a longer timescale and are mixed with many other causes. The lockdown excess poverty and absence of public services deaths will be higher in poor countries without free public health services or (including China I think) unemployment benefits.
The policy of dynamical clearing and its implementation has been effectively unreported in major media outside China, so much is evident. As your discussion in this post makes admirably clear, absent this perspective commentary on the management of Covid response and the economy by the Chinese government simply isn't germane because ill-informed. The general impression I have had, reinforced by your remarks in this post, is that that oversight by the Chinese government over the most of this episode was remarkably clear sighted and effective, at least as much as any government operation involving a mass population can be. The striking question, then, is why did the generally good Chinese command of policy and implementation go so erratically and comprehensively sideways in 2022, as sketched with valuable chronological specificity in your remarks? Overconfidence? To be sure---but that seems insufficient as an explanation, or at least ad hoc, even if it is the best surmise present evidence can support.
Now there is a _structural_ explanation for why Chinese management of their Covid policy lost coherence in 2022. That structural interpretation also posits an explanation for why initial Chinese government policy response to the outbreak of Covid was less than smooth and transparent in 2019. Not to be a dreadful tease but any discussion of the structural function impacting behavior in that instance is simply too long and complex to enter into here, and anyway a gross imposition if attempted. I would hope to return to this in early Autumn if at that time I'm in a position to begin commentary on the analysis involved. The immediate point is that the transient loss of coherence at mass population level is the outcome of a larger recurrent function of resonance that can be modeled over long periods of time. The 'fit' of that pattern function to ongoing policy trajectories in China implies that 2022 wasn't a circumstantial failure but one significantly induced by larger and longer running functions in population behavior. (I know, I know: that all sounds utterly daft to say in isolation. There's a monograph with copious evidence behind all that, to follow in time.) My larger point in these remarks is that sudden divergences from established policy and performance can be circumstantial . . . but often are induced by mass behavior functions 'behind' policy because within behavioral propagation itself as opposed to specific implementation of policy agency. And those functions have nothing to do with either some putative 'inevitable failures of authoritarianism (sic)' or trends of economic expansion/contraction in themselves at all.
Posen's commentary is entirely wretched, and his remarks are neither substantive nor really intended to be, though no less influential for that as being the propaganda his paying audience much wishes to hear.
It takes quite the leap of faith to believe everything the Western corporate media told you about covid, let alone the CCP. Next you’ll be saying you believed everything the CDC & Fauci said.
Break down, crack down, and lock down, as verbs, are two words. One word as nouns.