China’s insistence on a zero-Covid strategy puzzles many but Han Yong Hong believes that the country may have little choice. She explains China’s unique circumstances and the challenges it faces.
In the face of greater challenges in containing Covid-19, China seems to have tweaked its zero-Covid strategy in Xi’an to that of “zero cases in communities”. Even so, the situation since a lockdown started on 23 December 2021 seems chaotic. What else needs to change as authorities tailor their approach to different cities and situations? Zaobao correspondent Yang Danxu examines the issue.
Like many of us experiencing pandemic days, cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai spent the last two years living quietly. Early last year as the pandemic started getting widespread in the US, he mused about the irony of the situation: the ancients were led by the nose by plagues and could only lift their prayers to the gods. Today, medical technology may be more advanced but a cunning coronavirus has once again brought populations into a tailspin. But even as fate plays tricks, politicians still spend their energy mulling over battling the pandemic without bringing down Wall Street. Are humans just cogs in the economy, and even a plague won’t change that?
Like many of us experiencing pandemic days, cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai spent the last two years living quietly. When the virus was just starting to spread in Wuhan last year, he was in Shenzhen but managed to cross back to Hong Kong before the lockdowns. As he left the material life behind and got into the rhythm of staying at home, he sought solace in books, calligraphy and his beloved Kunqu opera. For all the things that are out of our hands, at least we have gained time for introspection, self-reflection and growth. That much is within our control.
Andrew Delios, vice dean of the Master of Science Programmes Office at the National University of Singapore, observes that media reports have often cast a suspicious eye on China’s actions, even those that deserve to be celebrated such as the development of the Sinovac vaccine. Imbalanced and agenda-driven reports will only lead to greater distrust and suspicion among countries, just when the world needs to work together on constructive solutions.
Putting ideology and biases aside, there was no unlawful coercion in China’s Covid-19 measures and no ethical redlines were breached, says Deng Xize. Based on contract theory, people give up some of their rights in exchange for benefits. It is thus expected that people would accept strict measures under the threat of the pandemic. In fact, most of the Chinese population adhered to the measures, with some going overboard in certain cases.
Yu Zeyuan observes that local governments in China are racing to implement ever-tighter coronavirus measures in the face of an uptick in cases recently. Is this an overreaction and all too much of a show to demonstrate responsibility and preparedness at the citizens’ expense?
China has received favourable assessments from several quarters recently, from its handling of the pandemic to the way its economy is set to surpass the US’s earlier than planned. However, instead of revelling in such praise, China is keeping a relatively low profile. Zaobao correspondent Yang Danxu looks at why China is playing it cautious.
Even as 2020 will go down in history as the year of the coronavirus, economics professor Zhu Ying notes that it also marks a shift in how Western countries view China — and not in a good way.