Imagine that you live in China and have found yourself under a complete COVID-19 lockdown.
What does your life look like?
Since the pandemic began, Xi Jinping’s government has imposed a policy of “zero COVID” for entire cities to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Many cities in China are very large, larger than the state of Washington’s entire population of 7.7 million. Beijing, the capital of China, has nearly 22 million people. Shanghai, one of China’s major seaports has a population of over 26 million. Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong province in southern China has population over 15 million.
During a city-wide lockdown, exit and entry into a city are strictly limited, if not forbidden. A person’s activities are severely constricted. Individuals are locked into buildings and not allowed to leave unless possibly to buy food. Businesses cease to function. Shanghai was put into lockdowns for weeks at a time.
“Entire apartment building units are locked down if a single resident is found to have COVID, and people are not allowed to leave for at least five days. Food and other essential supplies can be ordered for delivery.” (NBC Miami.)
On Nov. 26, In Urumqi, Xinjiang province’s capital with a population of 3.5 million, a fire broke out in a residential high-rise killing 10 people and injuring 9. Based upon screenshots of conversations, this particular compound had been placed on stricter levels of lockdown, making it more difficult for residents to get to safety. Fire trucks and their hoses could not get close enough to the building because cars could not be moved due to dead batteries.
“Makeshift barricades and bolted doors have become a key feature of efforts to prevent people who might have been exposed to the virus from leaving their homes and buildings.” (The Print.)
Riots have broken out in several large cities across China. Some rioters openly call for the resignation of Xi Jinping and the end of the Chinese Communist Party. Such demands are against the law in China and can result in arrest and imprisonment.
George Friedman, head of Geopolitical Futures (GPF), gives this compelling rationale for the lockdowns:
“We are left, then with two possible explanations. One is that the government is trying to contain a mutation that the outside world is unaware of [which is highly unlikely]…. The second and more reasonable explanation is that Beijing instituted draconian policies to assert control of places that were already restive or unstable. COVID-19 was, in this scenario, merely a pretext” (“Eurasia in Crisis”, November 29, 2022 GPF).
Xinjiang province is one of those “restive” areas. It has a high number of Uyghur’s, Chinese Muslims, who have been sent to concentrations camps, due to their religion and non-Chinese culture. Up to a million have been imprisoned in “reeducation camps”.
Xi came to power in 2013. He was just recently confirmed for an unprecedented third five-year term. His goal has been to shift capitalism to “State-Owned Enterprises” and to tighten his grip on power. Xi’s decisions have caused a slowing economy with the loss of jobs and rising unrest and a decreasing gross domestic product.
Dictatorial control by Xi has become more important than economic growth. The problem is that a dictator doesn’t want to be told bad news. To tell him the truth could result in imprisonment and death. As Friedman notes:
“To have this happen at the same time the power of Russia has become perishable [due to failing war in Ukraine], and at the same time the EU is more and more uncertain about its unified direction, suggests the whole of Eurasia is in crisis. In turn, that means the relative power of the United States is rising dramatically.”
For all of America’s faults, the U.S. is in far better shape than its near-peer competitors, China and Russia. Be thankful you live in this country. Be grateful you don’t live under the “zero-COVID” lockdowns in China. Appreciate the fact you live in a representative democracy with checks and balances to prevent the rise of a dictator. If you lived in China, you would not have the freedoms you enjoy today.