Chinese people paying price for ostrich-like attitude of CCP
The ostrich would bury its head in the sand, refuse to see the world outside and think it is the cleverest. This has been the approach of Chinese government and CCP on COVID pandemic. When the whole world was moving towards normalcy, CCP stuck to its impractical and unreasonable zero-covid policy. The ultimate sufferers have been the Chinese people. Many innocent souls have lost their life in China to the harsh restrictions.
The draconian lockdown measures in China have invited the condemnation of the whole world. While Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom James Cleverly has said the spontaneous protests against the policies of President Xi Jinping and the Communist Party of China are evidence that people in China are unhappy, White House has said the U.S. is closely watching the developments in China and would continue to stand up to the rights of peaceful protestors.
“The Chinese government and the international community should take note of the rare protests in China over the weekend,” Cleverly said on November 29, 2022. “It’s clear that the Chinese people themselves are deeply unhappy with what is going on, about the restrictions imposed upon them by the Chinese government. These are the voices of the Chinese people taking on the government. It would be right if the Chinese government listens to what those people are saying.”
On the same day, White House National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby said in a news conference: “Our message to peaceful protests around the world is the same and consistent. People should be allowed the right to assemble and to peacefully protest against policies or laws or dictates. We are watching this closely and we would see where things go. We continue to stand up and support the right of peaceful protest.”
He said President Joe Biden was staying informed on what was happening inside China. “Nothing has changed about the President’s firm belief in the power of democracy and democratic institutions and how important that is. This is a moment to reassert what we believe in when it comes to free assembly and peaceful protest. We have done that and we will continue to do that.”
Former Prime Minister of Australia Kevin Rudd has said that the unprecedented protests in different Chinese cities against the zero-Covid policy may be due to the distrust of the people of China of the regime of President Xi Jinping. The current protests appear to be about more than just Covid measures. “This is now a metaphor for a much broader set of distrust on the part of the Chinese people about different aspects of what Xi Jinping’s regime is doing.”
There had been protests in China earlier, like the Tiananmen Square protest that had led to the massacre, occasional protests over labour rights and land disputes and sporadic demonstrations over human rights that had been suppressed. “But this seems to be general, seems to be across multiple cities at once. It doesn’t seem to be centrally coordinated, it seems to be spontaneous,” Rudd has said.
China has been repeatedly advised by various international quarters to have a relook at its vaccination policy and focus on vaccinating the most vulnerable people. A low rate of vaccinations among the elderly has been identified as a major reason Beijing has resorted to lockdowns; while the emergence of more contagious variants of the virus has put increasing stress on the effort to prevent the disease from spreading.
Ironically, Beijing has not sought help from Washington by way of the supply of vaccines to control the Covid situation in China. “We are the largest suppliers of Covid vaccines around the world. We have not received any requests or any interest by China to receive our vaccines,” John Kirby said.
U.S. Senators have said it is time Washington should get tough with Beijing. Senator Marco Rubio and Congressman Chris Smith have said in a statement that the zero-Covid policy of the Communist Party of China is outrageous. “In addition, the CCP restricts all human rights and freedoms in Xinjiang, Hong Kong and across China. It has robbed the Chinese people of their human dignity,” they have said.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has said: “Many Chinese companies with well-known ties with the Chinese Communist Party continue to sell microchips to US businesses that have contacts with the federal government. This provides serious risk to the privacy and national security of America.”
Rubio and Smith, who are ranking Republican members of the Congressional Executive Commission on China, have said: “These protests are not about a public health crisis, but a human rights crisis. The United States must be unwavering in our support for the Chinese people as they bravely call for freedom.”
In a separate statement, Senator Ted Cruz, member of Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has said that the Communist Party of China since the beginning of the pandemic has been desperate to cover up the origin, nature and consequences of Covid-19.
“They lied and continue to lie to the world, and as a result, millions of lives were lost and immense suffering was caused. Now their coercive campaign of denial has converged with the systematic human rights atrocities, including their ongoing genocide of the Uighur and other minorities in Xinjiang,” Cruz has said.
“The people of China are not to blame for the Chinese Communist Party’s actions. In fact, many of them were already protesting the CCP’s handling of the pandemic, and now those protests have escalated into open criticism of the regime. They are bravely standing up for their rights.”
Bowing in respect to the bravery of those risking everything to make a stand against the Communist Party of China, House Foreign Affairs Committee Lead Republican Michael McCaul has said that the protests in China are a reminder of two critical facts; “First, Xi Jinping’s lifelong dictatorship and dystopian governance are neither popular nor unchallenged. Second, the CCP represents its own interests, not the well-being of the people of China who are its victims and who share the desire for individual liberty that every American treasures.”
Managing Director of International Monetary Fund Kristalina Georgieva has urged Beijing to recalibrate its tough zero-Covid approach, aimed the near-impossible task of isolating every case, because of the impact it has been having on the people and on the economy. “It is time for China to move away from massive lockdowns and towards a more targeted approach to Covid-19,” she has said. “Targeting allows contain the spread of Covid without significant economic costs.”
Lockdowns have slowed everything in China, from travel to retail traffic to car sales; with cascading effects of the disruptions in the supply chain in the whole world, the IMF Managing Director has said in Berlin in an interview to AP. IMF does not expect the Chinese economy to grow at more than 3.2 percent in 2022-23, a rate below the global average.
Experts have pointed to the crucial difference between China and the rest of the world in the approach to Covid-19. At the outbreak of the pandemic most countries had resorted to tough lockdown measures to contain the virus the way China had done. The rest of the world had viewed the regulations as temporary till vaccines were widely available. China has, however, stuck steadfastly to its strategy of zero-Covid, refusing to access from elsewhere more effective vaccines and relying on the less effective Chinese vaccines.
Such ostrich-like attitude was well enough in the days of Mao Zedong, but not today; in the days of television and the internet. With an eye on the freedom now enjoyed by people in the rest of the world, the weary people of China, confined to their homes, have burst into protests.
The ostrich would bury its head in the sand, refuse to see the world outside and think it is the cleverest. The arrogant rulers of the Communist Party of China have, however, responded with a customary show of force to suppress the protests; vowing to “resolutely crack down on infiltration and sabotage activities by hostile forces.” Hundreds of SUVs, vans and armoured vehicles with flashing lights were parked along the streets of Beijing on November 30. Police and paramilitary force personnel conducted random ID checks and searched mobile phones of people for photos, banned apps and other potential evidence that they had taken part in the demonstrations. An unspecified number of protestors have been arrested.
Chinese universities have started sending students home as the ruling Communist Party wants to prevent more protests. They seem not to have forgotten that in the 1980s the seeds of the historic Tiananmen Square protests for democracy had been sown in the universities of China.
Some anti-virus restrictions were eased on November 29, but these seemed to be a possible effort to defuse public anger following the protests in eight cities during the weekend. In cities like Guangzhou and Chengdu, testing requirements and controls on movement were eased. But many of the rules that had brought people into the streets of Shanghai, Beijing and at least six other cities remained in force. World Health Organization Emergencies Director Dr Michael Ryan reminded China that “it is really important that governments listen to their people when people are in pain.”