Roland Boer: Stepping out of the pandemic, Chinese style

In this article for Global Times, Roland Boer – Professor of Marxist Philosophy at Dalian University of Technology, China, and member of the Friends of Socialist China advisory group – analyses the most recent updates to China’s diagnosis and treatment protocol for Covid-19.

Roland opines that, to a significant degree, China has set the ‘gold standard’ in terms of dealing with the pandemic. For three years, while more virulent mutations of the virus were circulating, China adopted extreme measures in order to protect people’s lives – an expression of the CPC-led government’s philosophy that “people come first, and life comes first.” These measures prevented literally millions of deaths, with the result that China’s rate of Covid-related deaths is among the lowest in the world.

Now, however, extensive and continuing investigation by China’s scientists – in coordination with their counterparts around the world – indicates that conditions exist for moving the coronavirus to endemic status. Thus it is now considered as seasonal and non-threatening, given the relatively low virulence of the dominant Omicron strains, China’s high level of vaccination, and the growing pool of treatment options.

Roland also notes that the government and health authorities have carefully learned the lessons of the last three years and that “China’s health system has seen impressive improvement” in response.

On January 6, 2023, China’s National Health Commission (NHC) and National Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine issued China’s 10th edition of its diagnosis and treatment protocol for novel coronavirus infection. This is the NHC’s first national guiding protocol after China announced to downgrade management of COVID from Class A to Class B from January 8. Two items are worth noting here: the definition has changed from “novel coronavirus pneumonia” to “novel coronavirus infection” and its classification is now at a “B” level. The classification has significant implications for the measures taken to deal with the virus, but a question arises: Has China “lain down” before the virus, has it given up on dealing with it? The answer is a resounding no. Instead, China is the first country in the world to move from the coronavirus being a pandemic to it being endemic. This point needs some explanation.

First, for a little over three years I have been closely following China’s approach in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. The results have been nothing less than stunning: the number of per capita infections and deaths are at the lowest level in the world, life expectancy has increased during this time, and the dialectic of economic development and public health has been managed very well. 

The health of the population has not been significantly compromised – as has happened in some other countries – by the earlier and more toxic mutations of the virus, and the level of full vaccinations among the population above 3 years old is over 90 percent. In many respects, China has set a new “gold standard” for dealing with a pandemic. As one example, I have noted the huge amount of discussion with each revision of the measures for dealing with the pandemic, seeing how medical specialists and scientists were dealing daily with the many questions people had. The specialists were always “on message,” seeking to explain the content, connotations, implications, and reasons behind each revision of the measures. Friends and colleagues in China gave me regular updates concerning the experiences with their own families, their workplaces, their concerns, and – most importantly – their hopes.

Continue reading Roland Boer: Stepping out of the pandemic, Chinese style

Ambassador Ma Hui: China and Cuba always support each other

In an interview with CGTN’s Liu Xin, China’s Ambassador to Cuba Ma Hui outlines the Caribbean country’s approach to tackling Covid-19 and highlights the cooperation between the two socialist countries. He further criticises the US embargo and contrasts his experience as Ambassador in Havana with that in his previous position as Minister in the Chinese Embassy in London, both in the ‘time of Covid’.

Unlike the discriminatory approach adopted by the US, UK and some other countries, Cuba has welcomed China’s adjustment of its Covid policies and the country stresses that it always welcomes Chinese visitors. Ambassador Ma praises Cuba for managing to contain Covid despite suffering from a decades-long US embargo. Cuba, he notes, has one of the highest rates of administering vaccine boosters, using domestically researched and produced vaccines. There are currently only a few positive Covid test cases per day, with no deaths reported in the last five months. Cuba developed its own vaccines against all the odds – the only Latin American country to do so. The country is quite developed in terms of biotechnology.

China and Cuba always support each other, Ambassador Ma explained, including in fighting the virus. At the onset of Covid-19, Cuba offered material help to China despite its own difficulties and later China reciprocated, supplying ventilators, oxygen generators, medicines and personal protective equipment (PPE) on several occasions.

Cuba’s achievements are all the more impressive in that they have been won whilst fighting under a US embargo that has imposed huge suffering. Indeed, the Cuban people describe the embargo as another lethal virus. Cuba has not only put up a brave fight at home but has also helped others. Both China and Cuba have a tradition of sending medical teams to developing, and even on occasion developed, countries, and through their heroic efforts, the Cuban people sent doctors to some 30 or 40 countries to help them fight the pandemic.

Comparing his Cuban experience to his time in London, Ma Hui said that for the mainstream media and some politicians, China is a victim of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t”. When it came to Covid, the UK failed miserably but lectures others. However, solidarity and cooperation are the only way out as the virus is a common challenge to all humanity.

Liu Xin’s interview with Ma Hui is embedded below.

Demonizing China’s Covid policies is fearmongering

In this insightful article for Global Times, Friends of Socialist China advisory group member Ken Hammond provides an overview of China’s evolving strategy for dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic – a strategy that has saved literally millions of lives to date.

Ken also discusses the extraordinary hypocrisy of the Western media’s portrayal of this strategy. For almost three years of Dynamic Zero Covid, “terms like ‘draconian’ were constantly used to criticize China’s measures to control and contain the virus”. Now restrictions have been loosened and “China is denounced for recklessly endangering its people and the rest of the world” – in spite of the fact that “governments in America and Europe have effectively abandoned any efforts to deal with the pandemic over the past year.”

The author makes the important point that this hypocritical reporting is part of a broader campaign of demonization – a reflection of rising anger among the US ruling class as all hopes fade away that China might be subjected to a ‘color revolution’ and become “a compliant, subordinate component of the American-dominated global capitalist order.” Ken opines that the relentless China-bashing is the product of a social class that has come to fear “the loss of the power and privileges they have so long enjoyed based on the extraction of wealth from working people around the planet.”

This demonization campaign creates a dangerous situation, fomenting conflict and standing in the way of the development of cooperation and understanding. People who support peace and progress should firmly oppose the propaganda war on China.

China’s COVID policies have saved millions of lives over the past three years. Yet those policies were attacked by some Western politicians, media pundits, and academics every day. Terms like “draconian” were constantly used to criticize China’s measures to control and contain the virus. China’s achievements in managing the epidemic were unmatched anywhere in the world, yet an ordinary citizen of a Western country can have very little idea of that given the relentless demonization of China to which they are regularly exposed.

Now, in the context of new scientific understandings of the latest variants of the virus, and in an effort to balance the ongoing need to protect the lives of the Chinese people with the goal of carrying forward the development of their economy, a new set of policies and practices is being implemented, relaxing many of the restrictions and controls which have been used over the last three years. One might expect that this would be welcomed in the West, yet quite the opposite has been the case. 

China is now denounced for recklessly endangering its people and the rest of the world, even as governments in America and Europe have effectively abandoned any efforts to deal with the pandemic over the past year. Well over 1.1 million people have died in the US. The same media voices, like the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, or The Guardian, which railed against China’s so-called “oppressive” COVID policies, now spout a steady stream of condemnation of China’s efforts to pursue a more flexible, adaptive COVID policy package.

Continue reading Demonizing China’s Covid policies is fearmongering

Has China succumbed to the pandemic or not?

We are pleased to publish below the English version of an article by Adnan Akfirat, Chairman of the Turkish Chinese Business Development and Friendship Association (and member of the Friends of Socialist China advisory group), countering Western propaganda about China’s evolving strategy against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Having lived through 63 days of quarantine in Shanghai in 2022, and then contracted Covid for the first time upon travelling to Türkiye, the author has witnessed at close quarters the accomplishments of China’s Dynamic Zero Covid policy, which saved many millions of lives while China bought time to develop and deploy vaccines and treatments, and to bolster its healthcare system. He notes that China’s extraordinary mobilization of resources for the protection of human life against Covid is testament to the superiority of the socialist system.

Adnan further observes that there has been a positive side-effect of the Covid-19 pandemic in China, in that it has accelerated the improvement of the public healthcare system and stimulated a return to the development of comprehensive, state-funded, high-quality healthcare for all.

The article was originally published in Aydınlık and has been translated into English for us by the author. A shorter version has also appeared in Global Times.

The People’s Republic of China’s policies against the Covid-19 pandemic have been a major concern for US governments. The strict controls and quarantines required by China’s Dynamic Zero Covid policy were denounced as human rights violations. Towards the end of 2022, China determined that the virus was no longer so lethal and adopted a strategy of loosening restrictions. This time, the Atlantic camp accused China of “endangering humanity” and began to impose restrictions on Chinese tourists.

In his New Year’s speech at the start of 2023, President Xi Jinping emphasized that “since the COVID 19 pandemic, we have always put people and life first.” Xi said China has entered a new phase in its fight against the epidemic and “we have adapted our COVID 19 response in light of the evolving situation to protect the lives and health of the people to the greatest extent possible.”

For the last two months, US and European leaders and Western media have been accusing China of spreading disease and making the Chinese people miserable. Unfortunately, the Turkish media has also joined this campaign without questioning it. If you look at Turkish newspapers and TV channels, especially on social media, you will see that “China is collapsing from the disease!”

Continue reading Has China succumbed to the pandemic or not?

Backgrounder: Optimisation of Covid-19 response measures in China

The following report on the optimisation of Covid-19 response measures in China has been provided to us by our comrades at the International Department of the Communist Party of China. It provides a comprehensive description of the changes that have been introduced in the last few months, along with a clear explanation of the rationale behind those changes.

The report points out that the success of China’s Dynamic Zero Covid strategy has meant that “the infection rate and fatality in China have been kept at the lowest level globally”. The extraordinarily low infection rate over three years has given China’s healthcare system, epidemiologists and medical researchers time to better understand the virus, to develop vaccines and treatments, and to prepare medical facilities and supplies.

The authors note that, “in the light of the marked decline of the pathogenicity and virulence in Omicron and the steady rise of China’s capacity for medical treatment, pathogen detection and vaccination, China has taken the initiative to refine its Covid-19 response measures.” The essence of the changes is to shift focus from preventing infection to preventing severe cases and fatality, whilst at the same time allowing a return to some level of normality for the bulk of the population.

The major changes described in the report are: 1) An end to routine compulsory PCR testing; 2) An end to hospital quarantine for asymptomatic and mild cases; 3) An end to nucleic acid test and health code requirements for public spaces (other than schools, nursing homes and medical facilities); and 4) a re-opening of borders to international travellers.

These changes do not constitute an adoption of the type of “laissez-faire” or “let it rip” approach being implemented in the West. The new measures are being adopted in an orderly fashion in response to changing reality, most notably the reduced virulence of the dominant Omicron variant, and China’s high level of vaccination coverage (92 percent). Beijing, Guangzhou and other cities have already passed the peak of infection and are gradually returning to normal – without having experienced high levels of severe illness and death.

The report concludes by citing China’s contribution to international cooperation against the pandemic – “China shared COVID-19 prevention, control and treatment protocols with more than 180 countries and international organisations, dispatched 38 medical expert teams to 34 countries, and provided over 2.2 billion doses of vaccines for 120 plus countries and international organisations” – and calling for continued mutual learning and close cooperation between the countries of the world.

Over the past three years, the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc around the globe and posed enormous challenges to all countries including China. In 2020 when this public health emergency first broke out, the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Chinese government made a decisive decision to categorise COVID-19 as a Class-B infectious disease that would be subject to the preventive and control measures for a Class-A infectious disease in accordance with the Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Prevention and Treatment of Infectious Diseases. The strict management of the disease has enabled China to pull through the difficult times when the virus was wreaking havoc and to withstand multiple global waves. It has also helped buy precious time for the research, development and application of vaccines and therapeutics and getting medical supplies ready, thus minimising the number of severe cases and mortality, and greatly protecting the health and safety of the people.

The global COVID-19 situation has changed significantly. In the light of the marked decline of the pathogenicity and virulence in Omicron and the steady rise of China’s capacity for medical treatment, pathogen detection and vaccination, China has taken the initiative to refine its COVID-19 response measures. We have adopted in an orderly fashion the 20 refined measures and 10 new measures, and decided to manage COVID-19 with measures against Class-B instead of the more serious Class-A infectious diseases, shifting the focus of our response from “stemming infection” to “protecting health and preventing severe cases”. We aim to better adapt our response measures to the new development in the epidemic and features of new mutations, effectively coordinate COVID-19 response and socioeconomic development, protect the safety and health of the people to the maximum extent possible, and restore normalcy to people’s work and life. The shift is science-based, timely and necessary.

Continue reading Backgrounder: Optimisation of Covid-19 response measures in China

A look back on three years of China’s anti-Covid-19 fight

In this important and in-depth article, Tings Chak, researcher and the art director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research and co-founding member of the Dongsheng collective, provides a detailed description of China’s evolving strategy for managing Covid-19, from December 2019 until today. Having lived in China since March 2020, Tings has witnessed each phase of China’s approach at close quarters.

Countering the endlessly repeated claims in the Western media that the recent adjustments and loosening of restrictions (since November 2022) are “chaotic” and will inevitably lead to vast numbers of deaths, Tings writes that “China has used the last three years to try to prepare itself the best that it can by vaccinating the people, studying the virus, building medical infrastructure, training workers, and waiting until a much less deadly strain had emerged.”

In the last two months, there have been outbreaks in several major cities, but the government and health authorities have responded quickly and effectively, for example distributing antipyretic medication for free, ramping up production, and exploring various measures to encourage older people to get vaccinated. There has been no major increase in fatal illness from Covid, and, “in Beijing where I live, people are back and bundled in the streets, at work, and on the subways, with traffic and travel recovering.”

The article was first published in MR Online.

I arrived in Shanghai, 36 hours after leaving São Paulo, a near deportation in South Africa, and a canceled connecting flight. It was March 21, 2020. In the following days, China implemented its mandatory centralized quarantine for all international travelers. Exactly a week later, on March 28, China started its travel ban1 to prevent the spread of a still little-known virus called Covid-19, which was making its way to all corners of the earth.

Nearly three years later, on the coming January 8, 20232, China will officially open its borders, remove the mandatory quarantine and nucleic acid tests for people entering the country, and downgrade the management of Covid-19 from Class A to Class B3. It is not an end of an era; rather, it is a continuation of a rigorous process of confronting a historic and global pandemic, while putting science and the people at its center. It has been an incredible experience to see how the Chinese government and people have taken on this pandemic, while the world has suffered4 6.68 million recorded deaths, with over 650 million people infected. The impact of this virus is one for the history books, the lasting effects to be studied for years to come, and the fight has not yet ended.

The Western mainstream media, however, has been quick to criticize China every step of the way, from the “draconian5” Zero-Covid strategy to the “dystopian6” measures to ensure a safe Winter Olympics games in Beijing, and now to the “nightmare7” of relaxing the country’s Covid-19 requirements. Rhetoric aside, what has the fight against the virus been like in China—characterized by the Zero-Covid strategy—and why are the relaxation measures happening now? It is important to look back at the last three years to understand how we arrived at this point today. Having lived in China throughout the ebbs and flows of the Covid-19 virus, I would categorize the country’s dynamic strategy into four key phases.

Phase 1: Emergency response (December 2019 to May 2020)

Two-and-a-half weeks after I arrived in China, on April 8, the country celebrated the end to the 76-day historic lockdown in Wuhan, where the pandemic first broke out and claimed the lives of 4,512 Chinese people8. It was an emotional and bittersweet victory for the entire country, which had mobilized its people and resources to fight a very deadly and never-before-seen virus.

On December 26, 2019, Dr. Zhang Jixian9, director of the Department of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine of Hubei Province hospital of Integrated Chinese and Western Medicine, saw an elderly couple that had a high fever and a cough—symptoms that characterize the flu. But further examination ruled out influenza A and B, mycoplasma, chlamydia, adenovirus, and SARS. She and her team then quickly determined there was a new virus at play. Three days later, the provincial authorities were alerted, then the Chinese Center for Disease Control (CDC) and by December 31 the WHO was informed10. On New Year’s Day, the CDC officials called11 Dr. Robert Redfield, head of the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, while he was on vacation, to inform him of the severity of their findings.

Continue reading A look back on three years of China’s anti-Covid-19 fight

Human rights crisis as US Covid cases surpass 100 million

The following article, written by FoSC co-editor Carlos Martinez for CGTN, compares the rising hysteria in the Western media over China’s Covid situation with its near-total silence in relation to the ongoing public health crisis in the US. The US has just surpassed 100 million Covid cases; its Covid death toll exceeds 1 million; and its average life expectancy has dropped to 76.4 years – the lowest since 1999. What’s more, as a result of centuries of systemic racism, the impact of this crisis is multiplied for the black, Latino and indigenous population. The media prefers to sensationalize the wave of Covid cases in China – as a form of deflection and diversion, and as part of the generalized campaign of China-bashing. People should be awake to this tactic, and refuse to be fooled by it.

While the United States is failing to provide global leadership in such areas as ecological protection and the pursuit of peace, it has established itself as something of a COVID-19 trailblazer, with by far the highest number of COVID-19 cases and deaths.

This week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. surpassed 100 million. Somewhat surprisingly, this milestone received precious little attention in the Western media, which appears to be far more interested in the evolving COVID-19 situation in China. A Washington Post editorial on December 20 went so far as to claim that “China’s new COVID nightmare could become a global catastrophe.”

Any sentient being would be hard pressed to miss the hypocrisy. The corporate media in the West has, for the last three years, loudly denounced China’s dynamic zero-COVID policy, labeling it as “authoritarian” and “unsustainable.” Now that China’s health authorities have adjusted the strategy in accordance with changing circumstances – the far lower pathogenicity of the dominant Omicron strain, the high level of vaccination, and the improved understanding of how to effectively treat symptoms – all of a sudden U.S. journalists and politicians are concerned for the people of China.

As the veteran Chicago-based education specialist and campaigner Michael Klonsky points out: “The common thread running through all these media stories is that the imperialist mind in the West knows what’s best for China’s health and wealth and has that country’s best interests at heart.”

Continue reading Human rights crisis as US Covid cases surpass 100 million

Covid in China: Western propagandists look set to be disappointed again

The following article by Indian commentator Maitreya Bhakal, originally published in the Global Times, addresses the latest round of Coming Collapse of China hysteria in the imperialist media. Bhakal observes that, having relentlessly mocked China’s dynamic Zero Covid strategy for the last three years, the West is now hoping beyond hope that the lightening of Covid restrictions will trigger a massive public health crisis which will in turn foment widespread dissatisfaction with the Communist Party of China-led government. In these hacks’ fantasy world, the ensuing instability could deliver a mortal blow to Chinese socialism.

Bhakal concludes that the West’s journalists and politicians are destined for frustration: “As with many of their other predictions, whether China’s economy that’s been collapsing for thirty years, or the Communist Party that will be overthrown any time now, Western propagandists look set to be disappointed again.”

If there’s one quality that defines Western civilization, it is racism. Western culture is often filled with bigotry and intolerance.

Few things demonstrate this better than the West’s propaganda around COVID-19.  After all, people generally don’t die in China like the way they do back home. Children aren’t shot in schools, civilians aren’t randomly killed by the police, and drug deaths and violent crime are extremely rare. As a result,  any event that causes Chinese deaths is warmly welcomed by Western propagandists.

As usual, all of this is blamed on China’s political system. Western propaganda is as one-sided as it is lazy: anything wrong in China – from an initial setback against a new disease, to bad weather – is always blamed on China’s supposed “authoritarianism.”

Today, almost three years into the pandemic, Western “democracies” lie devastated. China has four times the population of the US, and its COVID death toll is about 5,200. So far, America’s death toll is 211 times higher, Britain’s 37 times higher, Italy’s 34 times higher, Germany’s 30 times higher, Spain’s 22 times higher, and Canada’s 9 times higher. All these “rich” “democracies” are at the forefront of criticizing China on “human rights”, but they can barely provide their own populations with the most basic human right: the right to live.

So much for the superiority of “democracy.”

Last month, China witnessed a few small-scale protests. The aims and political persuasion of the protestors varied. Some had genuine questions on the direction of China’s COVID policy. Some were protesting local lockdowns in their localities or cities. Some were university students. Some were Westernized liberals. Others were Western propagandists and provocateurs – Western “journalists” or “NGO workers” or “English teachers”, who somehow always seem to materialize at Chinese protest sites. 

Continue reading Covid in China: Western propagandists look set to be disappointed again

Our cold warriors say they know what’s best for China as US covid deaths top 1 million

In this commentary on his Edu/Pol blog, veteran US progressive campaigner Mike Klonsky takes issue with the extraordinary hypocrisy of Western news reporting on the Covid situation in China. Since the start of the pandemic in early 2020, the media has, successively: 1) accused China of hatching Covid in a Wuhan lab; 2) attacked China’s dynamic Zero Covid for being authoritarian and/or ineffective; 3) cried copious quantities of crocodile tears over the recent loosening of restrictions, predicting this shift in strategy could result in millions of deaths.

As Mike points out: “The common thread running through all these media stories is that the imperialist mind in the west knows what’s best for China’s health and wealth and has that country’s best interests at heart.”

John Kirby, the White House national security spokesperson, has stated that the US stands ready to help China in its hour of need. Meanwhile, “US missile cruisers and nuclear submarines, sail into the South China Sea and the White House proclaims that China is enemy number one.” Not to mention the fact that the US is hardly in a great position to be advising other countries on how to manage the pandemic, given that over 300 people a day are still dying from Covid in the US.

Mike concludes with the apt proverb: “Physician, heal thyself.”

Whether it’s about the war in Ukraine or the cold war targeting China, it’s getting harder and harder to distinguish authentic news reports from the cold war propaganda produced daily by western intelligence agencies and willingly regurgitated by compliant reporters and news agencies.

Case in point: The continuing misleading and contradictory stories about China’s battles with Covid. They began, of course with Trump’s unsubstantiated claim that Covid was hatched in a Chinese lab. DT even coined the racist term Kung-flu as an anti-immigration dog whistle.

Then, with Biden, came the next two years, of continuous churn about China’s so-called Zero-Covid strategy which was mocked in the west, but was apparently successful in keeping that country virtually Covid-free while the virus was killing more than a million people here at home.

Not only was Zero-Covid supposedly to blame for China’s and Wall Street’s economic woes, but we were told that the recent anti-lockdown street protests (not unlike those in the west) could even lead to the downfall of China’s President Xi. Instead, the protests actually led to a shift away from Zero-Covid and towards a loosening of many government restrictions.

Continue reading Our cold warriors say they know what’s best for China as US covid deaths top 1 million

Video: What’s going on in China? Protests, Covid, Xi’s Middle East visit

On 14 December 2022, Friends of Socialist China co-editors Danny Haiphong and Carlos Martinez joined Multipolarista editor Ben Norton to discuss recent developments in China.

In the 90-minute stream embedded below, the three discuss some key topics including the recent wave of protests; the changes to China’s management of the pandemic; Xi Jinping’s recent trip to the Middle East; the China-Arab States Summit; China’s position on the Palestinian question; visits to Beijing by Nguyen Phu Trong, Miguel Díaz-Canel and Olaf Scholz; and the death of Jiang Zemin.

The stream was broadcast simultaneously on MultipolaristaThe Left Lens, and Friends of Socialist China.

Analysis of China’s three-year Covid-19 strategy and beyond

In this article, originally published by CGTN, Keith Lamb situates the reaction of the western press to the recent and ongoing modifications made by China to its dynamic zero Covid policy in the context of its coverage throughout the last three years of the pandemic. Basing himself on his time spent in China, he explains that he saw for himself how western reporting was inaccurate; how China would be damned by them no matter what it did; and that it would be foolish for China to take advice from such media and the class it serves.

Keith further notes that China has spent the last three years developing antidotes and modernizing its health service. This has created the basis for the recent changes, which have “already been pounced upon by the corporate media who now, making an abrupt turn, warn that opening up will endanger public health. In light of lockdown propaganda, equated with human rights abuse, this concern for China’s health is just a continuation of using the media to delegitimize China to Western domestic audiences and stir up class divisions in China.”

My time in China during the COVID-19 outbreak taught me three things about transnational corporate media reporting on China. First, reporting was inaccurate regarding events and sentiments on the ground. Second, no matter what China did, it would be damned by these media. Third, considering the inaccuracy and malice it would be foolish for China to take advice from these media and their class interests.

In regard to China’s COVID-19 policy, the corporate press exaggerated minority disgruntlement to convey a totality of an undemocratic hellscape to Western audiences. Lockdowns though implemented organically before they became official policy were presented using an “oppressing human rights” narrative.

Regarding human rights, the U.S. with its laissez-faire policy, favored by transnational capital, lost over one million lives to COVID-19. China has a larger population, denser urbanization, a developing healthcare system, and a family structure where three generations often live under one roof. Had China opened up early, when the virus was most virulent, its death toll could have been higher than the U.S.’s.

If China, urged on by the corporate media, followed the U.S. example then this press, full of schadenfreude, would have vilified China’s governing system which could have faced a crisis for valuing market interests above the democratic interest to protect all life. Ironically, transnational interests would have further leveraged misunderstandings, concerning China’s socialist market economy and the nature of class contradictions in the developmental process, to depict China’s system as aping imperialism.

Continue reading Analysis of China’s three-year Covid-19 strategy and beyond

Zero Covid: Don’t be deceived by US reports on the protests in China

The following article by Scott Scheffer, originally published in Struggle/La Lucha, assesses the hypocritical and purposefully disingenuous reporting in the Western media regarding the recent Covid protests in China.

Scott points out that several outlets are guilty of massively exaggerating the scale of the protests in order to paint it as an emerging “color revolution”. In truth however, “this brief series of protests was not the mass uprising against the leadership of China that the US capitalist class and their loyal media salivate over.”

The author recognizes that, in spite of China’s unparalleled success in mitigating the effects of the pandemic and keeping the number of fatalities remarkably low, after almost three years there is now a level of frustration in relation to some of the more severe Covid measures, particularly lockdowns, mandatory quarantine and daily PCR testing. Indeed, the government has been gradually rolling out policy updates that reflect both the shifting mentality and the evolution of the virus itself. These policy changes were announced even before the recent tragedy in Urumqi, which was a key trigger for the protests.

Scott rightly concludes that “socialist planning and science saved tens of millions of lives in China and will keep China on the right path as the virus ebbs and flows.”

The opportunism of the major U.S. media was on full display in late November over the protests against China’s anti-COVID lockdowns. The protests began in the Xinjiang city of Urumqi after a terrible fire took the lives of 10 people on Nov. 24. People in the district responded to the tragedy by protesting the lockdown that had gone into effect after a COVID outbreak in late summer. 

The protests occurred in somewhere between 15 and 20 cities, including Beijing and Shanghai. The numbers reported by the U.S. press were purposely vague. The liberal PBS claimed thousands in a Nov. 29 headline and then “tens of thousands” in the article. Some reports indicated hundreds in Shanghai, and many pieces didn’t estimate crowd size at all. 

For context, there are about 60 cities of a million people or larger in China, and about 20% of the world lives in China. So even if the claim by PBS of “tens of thousands” is true, this brief series of protests was not the mass uprising against the leadership of China that the U.S. capitalist class and their loyal media salivate over. 

Hoping the protests would mark the beginning of their long-desired “color revolution” in China, the U.S. media’s elation got the best of them and led to the overblown coverage. But the hyperventilating reportage wasn’t limited to slander. There are reports of Western journalists using Telegram channels to guide “activists” from Hong Kong and Taiwan to the locations of some of the protests. 

When the “color revolution” failed to materialize, their giddy predictions gave way to another distortion of the facts. They claimed the CCP is being pushed by the momentum of the protests to ease its COVID policy, which they claim is the result of Xi’s authoritarianism and his desire to always be correct regardless of consequences. 

Continue reading Zero Covid: Don’t be deceived by US reports on the protests in China

China’s Covid policy

This short but informative article by British economist Michael Roberts addresses the current wave of media claims that China is heading into a major Covid-19 surge as a result of the recent slight relaxation of its dynamic Zero Covid policy (ironically, the same media outlets have been demanding China drop this “authoritarian” policy for the last three years).

Michael observes that case numbers, while high relative to a few weeks ago, are still very low compared to other countries in the region; “the current number of serious cases (requiring ICU intervention) – 108 in total – is tiny”; and there have only been seven Covid deaths in China in the last six months.

China is evolving its strategy in line with its hard-won experience tackling the virus over the last three years, as well as the relatively lower severity of the Omicron variant and China’s vaccination rate (around 90 percent).

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning summed it up well recently: “What has happened in the past few years shows that China’s COVID policy has provided maximum protection to people’s lives and health, minimized COVID’s impact on socioeconomic development, and bought precious time for understanding the virus on the basis of science, for research and development of vaccines and therapeutics, and for vaccinating more people across the country. China has the lowest COVID infection rate and death toll among all major countries. We have achieved the most effective results at minimum cost. As has been proven by facts, China’s approach to COVID response over the past few years has been right, science-based and effective.”

Is China heading for an uncontrolled COVID infection surge as it relaxes its strict lockdown policy, as is claimed by the Western media here?

SOME FACTS: China is going through its third major wave of infections, with around 4,000 new (symptomatic) cases a day of late.

But relative to its huge population this is nothing like what’s being experienced elsewhere in north Asia.

Crucially, the current number of serious cases (requiring ICU intervention) in China — 108 in total — is tiny; as elsewhere, that’s around 90% below the peak of previous waves. And only 7 people have died from (with?) the disease in China in the last 6 months.

While global fatalities have dropped to around 1,500 a day (again, 90% below the peak), it’s ironic that those countries with the highest vaccination rates are currently reporting the highest fatality levels. China’s vaccination rates, for what it’s worth, are in the middle of the pack.

Since the start of the pandemic overall Covid-19 fatalities relative to population barely register for China — the US has had almost a thousand times more.

And China’s Covid-19 fatality rate, now falling fast, is in line with other large EMs:

So while there are the usual caveats about the quality/reliability of the data, at the moment there’s no indication that, epidemiologically at least, things are out of control. If we start to see infection rates accelerate exponentially (Chinese New Year seems to be an obvious risk) the story might change. But at the moment rates are fairly steady.

Zero Covid and the protests in China

The following Morning Star editorial takes a look at the recent protests in various Chinese cities calling for an end to Covid lockdowns. The author correctly frames the discussion on China’s dynamic Zero Covid strategy in terms of its actual public health outcomes, in particular its effectiveness in preventing death. “British citizens have been 257 times more likely to die from Covid than Chinese. The fact that this disparity is treated as irrelevant by most commentators says something unpleasant about how little our society values the lives of vulnerable and elderly people.”

Clearly, China’s management of the pandemic has saved millions of lives, and yet, “to an excitable Western commentariat loyally plugging the new cold war line set in Washington, Beijing’s zero-Covid policy is evidence of its paranoid authoritarianism.” Ironically, this “authoritarian” government seems to be responding to rising popular sentiment in favour of loosening Covid restrictions by, well, loosening Covid restrictions. Readers in the West may wish their governments were so responsive to popular opposition to austerity and war.

Establishment media have seized on protests over Covid lockdowns to rehearse their favourite anti-China narratives.

Ever since the world’s first Covid outbreak in Wuhan, the virus has been used as a stick to beat China.

Donald Trump cynically portrayed the pandemic as a Chinese weapon — “the worst attack we’ve ever had on our country … worse than Pearl Harbour.”

Trump’s ravings were seldom taken seriously even by US allies. But the resurrection of the “lab leak” conspiracy theory by the Joe Biden administration made it respectable, and the judgement of a World Health Organisation scientific team, that the virus likely evolved in bats and was “extremely unlikely” to have originated in a laboratory, was howled down.

As one British member of the team complained, “it’s disappointing to spend time with journalists explaining key findings … to see our colleagues selectively misquoted to fit a narrative that was prescribed before the work began.”

Since Western governments have moved on from Covid, the focus has shifted from trying to blame China for the virus to attacking its zero-Covid policy.

Clearly resumed lockdowns are causing genuine anger in some places. The Chinese government has recognised the problems caused by a “one size fits all” approach: reminding authorities in Henan’s capital Zhengzhou for example of the exceptions that need to be made to stay-home orders and rebuking police in Anhui for over-strict enforcement of quarantine.

Continue reading Zero Covid and the protests in China

NYT scolds China for not ‘learning to live’ – or die – with Covid

In the below article, originally published by FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting), Jim Naureckas takes the New York Times to task for yet another of its regular attacks on China’s highly effective Zero Covid policy. He notes that if the Chinese government had followed the same policies as its US counterpart regarding the pandemic, and got the same results, then four and a half million people would have died. As China did not follow the US example, the country has experienced 15,000 deaths – the majority from a spring 2022 outbreak in Hong Kong, which has a different medical and social system to the mainland. Meanwhile, the US has suffered more than a million Covid deaths – and with a current fatality rate of around 450 per day is set to lose around 160,000 more people this year if present trends continue.

Jim notes that nowhere in the New York Times article under review is there any comparison of the respective national death tolls or any hint that the USA’s life expectancy has now dropped below that of China. And whilst the article (like many others of its type in the western media) claims that China’s determination to suppress the virus has triggered an economic crisis, the author notes that in 2020, the first year of the pandemic, China’s economy grew by 2.4% while the USA’s shrank by 3.4%. The USA’s economy is projected to grow by 1.3% this year. However, Goldman Sachs projects 3.0% growth for China.

Four and a half million people.

That’s how many Chinese people would have died from Covid-19 had its government taken the same approach to the pandemic that the United States has taken, and gotten the same results.

Instead, China has had 15,000 deaths from Covid—most of these from an outbreak in the spring of 2022 in Hong Kong, which has its own healthcare system.

Meanwhile, the United States has lost more than a million people to Covid since the pandemic began. Deaths currently continue at the rate of about 450 a day, which would add up to roughly 160,000 a year if present trends continue.

Continue reading NYT scolds China for not ‘learning to live’ – or die – with Covid

Comparing the response to Covid-19 in China and the US

The following article by John V Walsh, republished from Popular Resistance, debunks various misconceptions about China’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and contrasts China’s performance with that of the US. Walsh observes that the deaths per million figure in the US currently stands at 3,042; for China the figure is 3.7. So on this metric – surely the most meaningful in terms of assessing a given country’s public health response to a pandemic – China has outperformed the US by a factor of over 800. Anticipating the usual cries of “you can’t trust the Chinese numbers”, Walsh links to numerous articles in the scientific literature confirming the validity of China’s statistics.

While China clearly pursued a strategy that prioritized human life over corporate profits, the author notes that, ironically, China’s economy has also fared far better than the US’s since the start of the pandemic. Walsh concludes that the Chinese experience “should not be lightly dismissed let alone be the subject of mean-spirited attacks” since the measures taken “may be a means of saving millions of lives when the next variant or the next pandemic strikes”.

Covid Deaths In The US (Over 1 Million) And China (About 5000).

“History Should Judge Us” – and it will.

In May and June of 2022 two milestones were passed in the world’s battle with Covid and were widely noted in the press, one in the US and one in China.  They invite a comparison between the two countries and their approach to combatting Covid-19.

The first milestone was passed on May 12 when  the United States registered over 1 million total deaths (1,008,377 as of June 19, 2022, when this is written) due to Covid, the highest of any country in the world.  Web MD expressed its sentiment in a piece headlined: “US Covid Deaths Hit 1 Million: ‘History Should Judge Us.’”

Second, on June 1, China emerged from its 60-day lockdown in Shanghai in response to an outbreak there, the most serious since the Wuhan outbreak at the onset of the pandemic.  The total number of deaths in Mainland China since the beginning of the epidemic in January 2020 now stands at a total of 5226 as of June 19,2022.

To put that in perspective, that is 3042 deaths per million population in the US versus 3.7 deaths in China due to Covid.  3042 vs. 3.7!  Had China followed the same course as the US, it would have experienced at least 4 million deaths.  Had the US followed China’s course it would have had only 1306 deaths total!

The EU did not fare not much better than the US with 2434 deaths per million as of June 19.

Continue reading Comparing the response to Covid-19 in China and the US

Cuba-China cooperation leads to vaccine breakthrough

We’re pleased to re-publish this important article by Sara Flounders, posted in Workers World on 7 June 2022, about the progress made by a Cuban-Chinese cooperation project towards a universal coronavirus vaccine. Sara explains that these two socialist countries are far better positioned than their capitalist counterparts to work together on projects of long-term value to humanity, because their social systems are centered on meeting human need, as opposed to maximizing private profit. The article goes on to detail the outsized contribution made by China and Cuba to suppressing the pandemic in the developing world, as well as the ongoing and deepening cooperation between the two countries in a number of crucially important areas. Sara concludes: “The growing scientific cooperation of China and Cuba represents a hopeful future for humanity. Global problems can be solved. What is required is economic planning, cooperation and sharing of scientific knowledge and technology.”

Cuba and China formally announced June 2 that they have filed for joint patent for a Pan-Corona vaccine. The new vaccine, a collaboration between the biotechnological sectors of the two countries, is the first patent for a single vaccine effective against the many variants of COVID-19.

News of the jointly developed vaccine is particularly exciting because of the two countries’ cooperative approach in a field that is highly competitive, secretive and totally profit-oriented in Western capitalist countries.

Breakthrough in emerging virus protection

The Pan-Corona vaccine was announced to be effective against present variants of COVID-19 and thus of value in the current pandemic. 

But its strength is that it could also be effective against the appearance of new pathogens belonging to this family of viruses, noted Eduardo Martínez Díaz, president of the state-owned BioCubaFarma Business Group. (, June 3)

The Pan-Corona project is based in a joint biotechnological research and development center, operating since 2019 in the city of Yongzhou in Hunan province, and led by experts from Cuba’s Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIGB). Dr. Gerardo Guillén Nieto, the center’s director of Biomedical Research, explained the project arose at the request of the Chinese and had the approval of Cuba’s Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment. The equipment and laboratories at the Yongzhou center were designed by Cuban scientific personnel. (Radio Havana Cuba, June 3)

The two countries focused on coronaviruses because of the global pandemic and because this is the family of viruses most likely to jump from animals to humans. This phenomenon, called zoonosis, was the cause of previous epidemics such as the 2002 SARS outbreak and the 2012 MERS infection — both serious respiratory illnesses. 

Continue reading Cuba-China cooperation leads to vaccine breakthrough

Why China continues with its dynamic Zero Covid strategy

The following article from Global Times provides valuable insight into China’s strategy for suppressing the Covid-19 pandemic. Liang Wiannan, a renowned epidemiologist and one of the architects of the Zero Covid approach, outlines the expected consequences of the alternative “lying flat” or “living with the virus” strategy, which relies on gradually building passive/herd immunity. Although China’s overall vaccination rate is high, there is significant variation between regions and age groups. To “live with the virus” at this moment would result in severely stretched medical resources, and would pose a serious threat to patients with underlying diseases, children, seniors, and pregnant women. However, the article makes clear that, as understanding of the virus develops, health authorities are able to restrict the negative side-effects of the suppression strategy with the extensive use of nucleic acid testing.

Why won’t China adopt a “lying flat” strategy in face of Omicron like some Western countries do? Liang Wannian, head of the expert group in China’s epidemic response and disposal leading group, said that to passively respond to Omicron is not China’s option as the country still faces unbalanced medical resources. 

Adopting the dynamic zero-COVID strategy could be seen as “purchasing an insurance for 1.4 billion of Chinese people,” Liang said, noting that it helps avoiding large-scale transmissions and outbreaks, protecting people’s lives, effectively diminishing the loss of life expectancy per capita. 

In countries like the US, life expectancy declined dramatically in 2020 after being hit by the COVID-19 outbreak and continued to decline in 2021, these tragic data are seen as historically unusual drops for the US. 

Some countries chose the so-called “lying flat” strategy by living with the virus to gain herd immunity while China is getting immunity by vaccination, Liang said, noting that although 90 percent of population have been vaccinated, there have been unequal results in different ages and regions. 

Continue reading Why China continues with its dynamic Zero Covid strategy

Interview: Comparing human rights in China and the West

We are very pleased to republish this interview given by our Co-Editor Danny Haiphong to Global Times. In his interview Danny compares the very different approaches to human rights in China and the US. He notes how the US constantly raises generally spurious charges regarding the state of human rights in other countries, especially in China, in an attempt to distract attention from its own abhorrent human rights record. This can especially be seen in the contrasting approaches around Covid-19. In China, people and saving human lives come first whereas in the richest country on earth millions are without health care.

To help understand China’s progress in the past decade, the Global Times (GT) has launched a weekly series of interviews with scholars from home and abroad, presenting a holistic view of China’s governance philosophy. The following is an interview with Danny Haiphong (Haiphong), an independent journalist in the US and co-editor of Friends of Socialist China as well as a founding member of the No Cold War international campaign, on how China has made human rights protection a priority and how it has taken human rights moral high grounds.

GT: The US Department of State issued the 2021 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices on April 12, of which 90 pages are used to criticize China’s human rights conditions. At the same time, 2021 was considered to be the US’ most fatal year in history with more than 460,000 Americans killed by the coronavirus last year. Why does the US care more about human rights of China and other countries than its own record? 

Haiphong: The US has politicized human rights for several reasons, none of which have anything to do with genuine concerns about the wellbeing of people. Constant speculation about human rights elsewhere provides a distraction from the shortcomings of the US’ own political and economic system. The US possesses an abhorrent human rights record. An average of three Americans per day are killed by US law enforcement. Nearly one million Americans have died of COVID-19. US wars abroad have taken the lives of millions and destabilized entire regions.

Human rights are also an integral component of US foreign policy. Any nation deemed a threat to US hegemony is condemned for human rights violations. Often, the allegations are unfounded. This is certainly the case in relation to China. The US has spread insidious lies about the so-called human rights violations in China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and Hong Kong Special Administration Region (HKSAR) to justify sanctions and military encirclement. The US’ politicization of human rights is not only hypocritical, but a true danger to humanity. 

Continue reading Interview: Comparing human rights in China and the West

The battle against Covid-19 in Shanghai: a human rights disaster?

In this latest piece, originally published on his Chronicles of Haiphong, our Co-Editor Danny Haiphong unpicks the western media’s propaganda onslaught regarding the current Omicron outbreak in Shanghai and the resultant lockdown. Whilst acknowledging the hardships and frustrations of the current situation, Danny points out that, when condemning China’s zero-Covid strategy, the western media ignores the solidarity and sacrifice of ordinary people.  When it comes to tackling Covid, as in other areas, he notes that the real criminals infringing human rights are to be found in the imperialist countries of North America and Europe.

The city of Shanghai is currently battling an outbreak of COVID-19’s Omicron variant, tallying upwards of 350,000 new cases in a matter of weeks. Much of the city has been placed under some form of lockdown to contain the spread of the virus. Case numbers continue to rise. In predictable fashion, Western media has used the occasion to condemn China’s dynamic zero-COVID strategy. Videos of frustrated residents went viral across the West as an example of the “evils” of China’s communist party-led government.

Indeed, China’s latest battle with COVID-19 has not been without hardship. Logistical issues with food and medical deliveries have been a source of frustration. Tragedy struck when a grassroots healthcare worker died by an apparent suicide, raising concerns about the mounting levels of stress for grassroots volunteers and cadres battling the virus around the clock. The central government has taken rapid measures to alleviate pressure on the local government. Thousands of doctors and volunteers have traveled from other cities and provinces to improve the delivery of food and medications.

As has been the case throughout the pandemic, Western observers have used the latest outbreak in Shanghai to demonize China’s dynamic zero-COVID strategy. The rapid spread of COVID-19 in Shanghai appears to validate Western media claims that China’s zero-COVID strategy does more harm than good. Western countries, led by the United States, have taken a “live with the virus” approach to justify the roll back of all mitigation measures and social welfare protections. The massive death toll to COVID-19 incurred in the West is viewed as merely the cost of doing business. Fatigue over rampant misinformation and inconsistent COVID-19 policy is almost as high as the mistrust that majorities of people in the West possess in their governments.

Continue reading The battle against Covid-19 in Shanghai: a human rights disaster?