The Chinese Protests

At The Conversation David Goldman concludes his analysis of the protests in China with this observation:

The key issues are how to move from the current “dynamic zero COVID” policy towards something else, and indeed what that should be, given the inadequate health coverage in much of the country.

I don’t rejoice in civil disorder in any country including China. I have no idea of how serious a challenge to the regime these protests are—I certainly won’t get that from our news media. IMO the situation is somewhat worse than is being portrayed. A significant component of the problem is the insistence on self-reliance. The Chinese authorities have steadfastly refused any vaccine that wasn’t developed in China and it is my understanding that, however limited in their effectiveness our vaccines may be, the Chinese vaccines are that much more limited. We’ll just need to see what materialized.

As long as China’s “zero COVID” policies remain in force and lockdowns remain a primary strategy, Chinese suppliers cannot be deemed reliable. That underscores what we should be doing anyway—nearshoring and onshoring the production of more of what we consume.


Bill Hayton adds an interesting if dispiriting conclusion:

Anyone who doubts the Communist Party’s determination to remain the country’s sole political force clearly hasn’t been following events in Hong Kong, Xinjiang or anywhere else in China for the past decade. Whenever there has been a choice between control and disorder, the Party has chosen control, even at the expense of reduced economic growth and popular dissatisfaction. That is why, for all the bravery of the weekend’s anti-lockdown demonstrators, they will not succeed. Yes, the Party faces another systemic problem — but it will take more than a few photogenic protests to make them change course.

13 comments… add one
  • steve Link

    Daughter is living in Shanghai and has been sending me pictures and short videos of the protests. People out in the streets chanting F*ck Xi Jinping. Her sense is that people are tired of the lockdowns, want to work and that the fire is a much bigger deal than is thought here in the US. A high percentage of people in the big cities live in those high rise apartments. They really have been locked in at times when under cooked restrictions.


  • Best of luck to her. For her sake I hope the protests don’t get out of hand.

    Presumably, fire escapes are locked under shutdown conditions.

  • jan Link

    Agree with Steve that the fire was far bigger of an accelerant to the protests than originally relayed here in the U.S. Also, the protests have fanned out to other areas in China. And, yes people are tired of the rigid COVID practices in China where any new case of COVID is tracked down, put in a hospital, and their family members shuttled off to a quarantine camp. Nonetheless, the globalist WEF has publicly stated China should be viewed as a “role model” for other countries to follow!

  • CuriousOnlooker Link

    To put things in perspective.

    In 1989, the protests reached a magnitude where multiple cities had millions of protester for a period of 2 months — all in a time when most Chinese were rural. The most serious protests post 1989 occurred in Hong Kong in 2003 and 2019; with about 500,000 and 2 million people on the streets.

    The protests seen so far appear to be in the order of thousands, although in multiple cities which is rare.

    My observation would be to compare these protests to the trucker protests in Canada in February of this year. The trucker protests was borne of despair over the never-ending nature of pandemic restrictions; the government imposed a harsh crackdown (in 20/20 hindsight it was excessive); but the government relaxed the restrictions in a hurry afterwards and everyone forgot about it.

    In some sense the answer to Mr Goldman’s question is answered by Mr Hayton. “Living with COVID” is what comes after “Zero COVID” because if the policy choice is “Zero COVID” with risks of large protests vs keeping power via “Living with COVID” — Mr Hayton’s observation on the Communist parties priorities applies.

    As to the vaccines — I’ll make the point again. The Chinese vaccines are within 2-3% of mRNA vaccines effectiveness after 3 doses. The main issue that occurred in Hong Kong (Chinese and mRNA vaccines) and Taiwan (mRNA vaccines) that applies to the mainland is a low percentage of extreme elderly (75+) who are vaccinated. Some have surmised nothing except the reality of community spread will convince the holdouts to vaccinate.

  • steve Link

    ” Nonetheless, the globalist WEF has publicly stated China should be viewed as a “role model” for other countries to follow!”

    I haven’t seen anyone advocate that we follow the Chinese model among evidence based practitioners or public health people. (Where she lives a new case of covid is to automatically put in the hospital. If there is a quarantine they are quarantined in their homes.)


  • jan Link

    This is what I heard this morning…that family members go to these camps for an indefinite period of time, not quarantined in their homes.

  • jan Link
  • steve Link

    Klaus Schab is not a public health person or a health care practitioner. He is a former engineer who chairs the World Economic Forum. Your article actually says that the construction of camps has begun, not that people are being sent to them. One of the things contributing to the protests is the inconsistency of how covid is managed. The national policy is kind of vague and at the city level the big cities are broken into districts and the person in charge of each district has a lot fo latitude in what they do.


  • CuriousOnlooker Link

    Here’s something new to Americans; “Zero-Covid” as practiced in the “Sinosphere” (China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and to a lesser extent, Korea and Japan) was actually successful and popular during the first 2 years of the pandemic until Omicron.

    Centralized isolation, quarentine is not a nefarious scheme — it is effective at preventing spread (far better then masks) when combined with high tech contact tracing and mass testing.

    Until Omicron, “Zero-Covid” was highly effective, keeping case counts in the 10-100/day in a country of a billion which meant most people could resume their normal lives. But omicron is so contagious “Zero-Covid” requires draconian and depressing restrictions on daily life.

    Maybe the public national policy is vague but the incentivized policy is not. Until now, officials know they will be sacked if there’s an outbreak in the district/city/province they manage.

  • Grey Shambler Link

    Wondering how China’s zero Covid policy has compared to the aggressive trace and quarantine efforts in South Korea.
    It would appear Omicron broke the dam.

  • steve Link

    Yes, zero covid was successful if your only goal was preventing covid deaths but it comes at a big cost and is why public health people dont generally advocate for their approach. There are trade offs and you need to decide which ones you will accept.


  • CuriousOnlooker Link

    I forgot, the antipodes (Australia and New Zealand) also successfully implemented Zero-Covid until Omicron as well.

    For those countries that had the capability and will to do it; Zero-Covid presented no trade-offs until Omicron. They had less disruption to daily life and less morbidity / mortality then other countries. Its been pigeonholed, but Australia / New Zealand didn’t require people to have masks, gatherings were much less restricted for most of 2020/2021.

    I would say compared to China’s Zero-Covid is what you would expect to scale South Korea’s policy by 25 times. A much more efficient implementation, but also much less flexible and bureaucratic.

  • CuriousOnlooker Link

    Events are trending towards my analog with the Canadian trucker protests

    1. Harsh crackdown on protests — occurred
    2. Drop “Zero-Covid” and moving to “Living with Covid” — striking change in tone and actions from the Government over the last few days
    3. Everyone forgets about it in 6 months — see in 6 months

    One aspect that could have ripples outside of China in 2023 and worth looking for. China has pent up demand from deferred consumption in 2022, and the economic situation is very weak due to various regulatory measures; the possibility exists the Government will rollout “Stimies with Chinese characteristics”.

Leave a Comment