Usually, most Tuesdays we take a look at business, marketing, tech or social news in and around China. Today we are going behind the scenes to look in a bit more detail at the Shanghai Covid lockdown. Again, our aim is to illustrate there is better, more objective and relevant info re China available than what most western media provides.
Let’s be blunt here, the Shanghai Covid response was an unmitigated, gigantic disaster. In an earlier article we posed some of the logic and reasons behind the current Covid Zero policy China is currently pursing. Namely fear of triple or higher figure death rates, especially among the senior population who have a lower than average inoculation rate, yet present a higher than average mortality rate.
However, no matter how good the intentions were, the debacle in Shanghai ended up not just inconveniencing, but severely hurting it’s people on a massive scale. The economic cost is being calculated in billions of Yuan. The human and social cost has still to be counted and is likely to run deep and long.
Not to mention the inestimable cost of the damage to Shanghai’s reputation and trust in administration in the short to medium term in the eyes of both local Chinese and long term foreign residents.
So how on earth did something that was supposed to contain the illness and spare the people misery end up being such a monumental, outright utter shambles?
Clearly as a marketing business, we are in no position to be able to answer that. Equally clearly however was the shallow, mud raking, controversial, sensationalist reporting by western media backed by an administration struggling to solve its own social issues and citizen dissent.
Knowing full well that the average reader only looks at headlines, western media exploited this to their advantage with click bait headings and content that barley went much deeper. The inference was that these “draconian” lock downs, mass imprisonment, concentration camps ( which half a year back many other countries were also practising) were the work of an evil regime hell bent on controlling and subjugating its population. And brainwashed western readers swallowed it.
Shanghai: Paris of Asia.
Shanghai has always been thought of (and tends to behave) as a little bit different from the rest of China. In the 1920’s and before, it ranked as one of the world’s most fashionable and “places to be” and be seen in. In the west at that time, Shanghai was often referred to as “The Paris of Asia.” A cosmopolitan glamours city. Even today, many foreigners content Shanghai is one of the worlds easiest and more comfortable cites to live in.
Shanghai in its turn has since the 1990’s been working to improve and build on this reputation by modernising its governance structure, involve the people more in decision making, preempt issues and generally improve the overall quality of life in Shanghai.
The city’s ultimate goal — the creation of a diverse network of governing bodies and mechanisms as part of a transition from a government-dominated society to a “small government-big society” model — seemed within reach.
So what the heck went wrong in Shanghai?
Obviously, quite a lot resulting in eventual panic, confusion and chaos as Covid exploited and magnified the cracks and weaknesses in the system. So for a deeper look we turn to Yu Ping, deputy editor-in-chief of the Journal of International Social Sciences, a publication of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences. His article is translated here courtesy of Sixth Tone:
Several hours after we published we found an interesting if not slightly cheeky article from the “Great Opionist” Elon Musk. In brief he warns that China’s shrinking population is about the get serious. Hmmm, so maybe THAT was the reason the CPC have been instigating province wide lockdowns? Locking people together for 5 or 6 weeks hoping they might propagate? Will be interesting to watch for a Shanghai baby boom end of 2022 early 2023!
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