A catastrophe of incalculable proportions is being consciously unleashed on the Chinese people by the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CCP), which has completely lifted its Zero-COVID policy.
Every day, news reports from China reveal how far the government’s policy shifts have gone and how deep the resulting crisis has become. For the past two weeks, mass testing has ceased and the COVID-19 contact and exposure tracing mobile app has been shut down. On Wednesday, China stopped counting asymptomatic COVID cases. After more than two years in which China had the most accurate data on COVID-19, official figures no longer reflect reality. Quarantine protocols are also lifted and workers infected with COVID-19 are now forced to return to work.
Embracing all the lies of the United States and other Western powers, the CCP’s official rhetoric turns reality upside down. It no longer presents a Zero-COVID policy as the solution to end the pandemic, but rather asserts that the pandemic is the solution to end the Zero-COVID policy. A massive infection with the “light” Omicron will lead to a wave of infections, referred to as the “COVID exit wave” by official media. According to Zhong Nanshan, a lung disease expert and one of the CCP’s key COVID policy official voices, by mid-2023 the surge is expected to subside and China will return to “pre-epidemic conditions.” .
In fact, China is reintegrating into the dystopian world of “COVID forever”, in which the massive infection of the world’s population has allowed SARS-CoV-2 to mutate and evolve into increasingly infectious variants. and immunoresistant. With each new global surge, millions more people are re-infected with the virus and experience worsening damage to their bodies, with increasing sections of the population dying or being disabled by Long COVID.
The spread of COVID through the Chinese population provides the virus with a vast new pool of transmission in which it can mutate into new, possibly more virulent forms. The end of Zero-COVID could have a catastrophic effect on the world in the form of renewed and worsening waves of global infection.
Although official data is no longer accurate, there is strong evidence that China’s public health infrastructure is already overwhelmed with severe cases. Anyone with a supposedly “mild” infection has been ordered to stay home, but hospitals and medical centers are unable to handle the massive influx of patients. The situation is serious enough that doctors with COVID-19 who show only “mild symptoms” should stay at work but avoid contact with elderly patients. Such a policy will make medical care the main vector of viral transmission.
The rationale for this new policy was presented in an editorial in the world times. “There is a consensus that the virus is too contagious to avoid infection. Although their symptoms may depend on luck, almost anyone can survive the virus and the risk of death is negligible.”
Zhong quantified this “negligible” risk to the press on Friday, saying “only” 0.1% of those infected would die. A 0.1% death rate from a virus “too contagious to avoid” in a country of 1.4 billion people could mean a death toll of a million or more.
However, the estimate of 0.1% is low. Singapore, with the highest vaccination rate in the world, suffered a 0.45% death rate from Omicron in 2022. A quarter of a million people have died of COVID-19 in the United States during of the past year. How many more could die as a nation of 1.4 billion relatively immunologically naïve people is open to the ravages of the virus? Numerous scientific studies, including one published Thursday by the University of Hong Kong, have been published in recent months. There is no uncertainty in their prognoses: Hundreds of thousands, possibly as many as two million, are at risk of death as a result of the lifting of Zero-COVID.
Factories and businesses are deserted in Beijing and other major cities due to both massive infection and fear. News reports are replete with tales of workplaces in which 90% of workers are staying home with fever symptoms, with growing reports of companies forcing sick workers back to work and the government preparing to follow suit.
While the CCP repeats the criminal “herd immunity” policy of the United States and the imperialist powers, there is one key difference: to carry out its policy of mass infection, the Chinese government is forced to reverse a popular and successful elimination strategy, which was not the imposition of the CCP bureaucracy on the people, but it was in many ways the reverse.
Zero-COVID was the planned and coordinated expression of popular determination to take the necessary steps to prevent mass infections and deaths. The success of the policy hinged on the collective choice of working-class communities to make sacrifices, including submitting to regular mass testing and enduring occasional lockdowns, to prevent the spread of the disease.
It was not the Chinese people who demanded the lifting of Zero-COVID, but international financial capital and its spokespersons in the Western media; they hollered for it and did everything to poison international public opinion against China’s public health measures.
The New York Times published op-eds, editorials and articles that denounced China’s ‘totalitarian’ health measures, portrayed quarantine facilities as concentration camps, compared public health workers to Nazis and in the name of ‘freedom’ , “human rights” and “democracy,” demanded mass infection. As China struggled to stay safe from the global pandemic, Washington destabilized the world, provoked war in Ukraine, threatened war on Taiwan and imposed trade war measures on China.
In late November, Western media latched onto small upper-middle-class protests in China to once again demand the lifting of Zero-COVID. The white paper protests on the campuses of China’s elite universities were not a wave of defiant opposition from the Chinese people, but rather functioned as the interface between CCP strategy and Western propaganda demands. They were staged in front of global press cameras to dramatize the “public demand” to lift Zero-COVID, a policy the CCP had already adopted at the insistence of international finance capital.
The CCP carefully planned and launched the lifting of Zero-COVID long before the protests. In early November, he had brought in consultants from Hong Kong for the process, changed budget priorities and announced on November 11 the 20 measures that constituted the first stage of the Zero-COVID rollback. Barely a month later, the vast protective infrastructure, carefully created by the Chinese people, is in ruins.
Zero-COVID organized, planned and formulated as policy the measures that emerged from grassroots efforts in Wuhan and nearby cities to prevent the spread of the pandemic in early 2020. Before the capitalist powers of the rest of the world had adopted a strategy for the pandemic, an eliminationist approach was already in place in China.
US imperialism then set the agenda for global capitalism, pioneering the techniques and lies of mass infection and death in the service of sustainable profits. Country after country followed Washington’s lead, removing measures first of elimination and then of mitigation, in a policy of “herd immunity” and “living with the virus”. It is this disease containment regime, this “COVID forever” policy, not Zero-COVID, that has isolated China.
The power and privileges of the CCP leadership lie in its ability to control and supply the labor force of China’s vast working class for exploitation by global capitalism. The upper echelons of the party wield state power to ensure the successful interface of imperialist finance capital with Chinese labor, while preserving national sovereignty as the political basis of their authority. Their political vision is an expression of this function and is entirely nationalist.
There is no possible national solution to a global pandemic. Either Zero-COVID will succeed as a global strategy based on socialist politics, or COVID-19 will continue to spread globally for the foreseeable future. The CCP has no way out of China’s isolation and is capitulating to global imperialism.
Knowing that lifting Zero-COVID would be unpopular and could become the source of an explosive class conflict, the CCP leadership deliberately decided to forgo half measures. With extraordinary speed, before the opposition could organize, they demolished all that opposed the reopening to international finance capital. Seeking to atomize the Chinese working class and break its social solidarity, the government has adopted a new slogan: “Be the first responsible for your own health”.
It is imperative that the Chinese and international working class oppose the lifting of Zero-COVID and fight for its re-enforcement not only in China, but around the world. Planned and coordinated public health as a common goal and a collective right must be the guiding principle of a global movement of the working class, to save millions more from death and decay.
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