Financial Times Screeches at China’s “Propaganda” for Sticking to Zero Covid Policy

It’s sobering to see multiple examples every day in the press that those in the West who fancy themselves as in charge have lost their minds, drunk on arrogance and provincialism. Today’s example is a new story in the Financial Times that berates China (although as you will see “berates” is too mild a word) for daring to stick to its zero Covid policy. Worse, the pink paper depicts China’s policy as “propaganda” as opposed to “policy”.

You can see I am not making this up:

It’s painful to have to make obvious points: since when does the UK have a vote on how China conducts its internal affairs? And the health of its citizens is an internal affair. The fact that all sorts of Western companies located manufacturing operations their or contract for essential components or inputs was a business decision. In the early 2000s, I though it was crazy for any non-Chinese company to invest in China due to the risk of expropriation (which actually has happened quite a lot, just not in the way I envisaged, via intellectual property theft). So for US and European companies and their media lackeys go into a meltdown over their excessive commercial exposure to a country that does not prioritize profit the way they do is rich.

Now it would be one thing if the Financial Times has a factual anchor, say that the number of infections in Shanghai made it pretty much mathematically impossible, to get Covid back down to a really low level, and hence Chinese officials were fighting a clearly losing battle. In fact, the one bit of hard information the article contained potentially showed the reverse, that the Shanghai lockdowns were starting to tamp down on the infection trajectory:

And it mentions that new infections on Wednesday, 27,719, were only slightly higher than the Tuesday count of 26,330

The article itself is largely a flabby whinge with anecdata about how the lockdowns are too costly:

On Thursday, China’s official Xinhua news agency published an article warning that the country’s medical system risked “breaking down” in the event of a mass Covid outbreak. It echoed President Xi Jinping’s comments on Wednesday calling for citizens to “overcome complacency” in “response to the virus’s mutation”….

Beijing’s decision to enhance its lockdown measures to fight the spread of the highly infectious but milder Omicron variant stands in marked contrast to most of the rest of the world, which is learning to live with the virus.

Ah, but what about the subhead, “Healthcare official says Beijing’s coronavirus prevention policy is ‘not viable’”? That “healthcare official” is a single unnamed nobody:

One official close to China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention expressed concern about tightening controls on the healthcare system.

The official, who did not want to be named, said: “From a medical standpoint, I don’t think the zero-Covid policy is viable any more. Shanghai is running out of medical professionals to measure test results and beds to accommodate patients.

“If we don’t want to live with Covid, the only solution is to become stricter.”

“Official close to” the Chinese CDC is not in the CDC. There’s no reason to think this person has any statistical, science, or medical expertise. My bet is it’s something like an unhappy liaison in one of the local governments.

And the problem with Shanghai staffing is being addressed, so saying there aren’t enough medical personnel in Shanghai to cope with the infection peak is true but incomplete. It was reported last week that China was sending 10,000 medical professionals plus 2000 military medics to assist in Shanghai. So not even mentioning the increase in manpower is dishonest.

The economic commentary is merely indicative. Bo Zhuang, who works in Singapore-based for Loomis Sayles, complains that China will suffer because its economy “relies on supply chains” but cites only how EV makers, most notably Tesla have suspended operations. Note “suspended,” not closed shop. The authors mention that “Dozens of electronic components manufacturers in Kunshan” also stopped production on Wednesday. How big are they? How many do they employ? We have no idea if this is at all noteworthy.

The story closes by mentioning obstacles to getting food and medications at the start of the lockdowns, but then has to concede that they seem to be getting better, and warned of stockpiling around the country due to lockdown fears.

More pink paper readers than I expected weren’t buying it. For instance:

Well you can’t propaganda your way out of ineffective vaccines, so you have to propaganda your way through things like lockdowns and economic hardship.

Out of office
FT – Pls qualify your accusations of it being “propaganda”. It’s quite a serious accusation yet thrown around quite casually these days. Is that simply any government message that you as a publication don’t agree with? Objectively, China has done quite superbly compared to other countries in terms of overall death toll and its approach deserves some serious study by the west. While you may disagree with its approach, explain why instead of quite simplistically calling it “propaganda”.

And a few days ago, our esteemed commentariat drilled into contributing factors that the Financial Times skipped over, that Shanghai views itself as better than the rest of China, and due to that and its economic heft, act as if it can make its own rules. Now that that’s backfired, the central government has been asserting more control. For example, from PlutoniumKun:

Shanghai has always historically been ‘different’ from the rest of China. It was always less ‘Chinese’ and more outward looking, with a very distinctive culture and language, even before it was forcefully Westernised. Even working class Shangainese always tended to look down on the rubes from the rest of the country. After the Revolution Beijing looked and Shanghai with deep suspicion and kept the city on a tight leash. Shanghai was the last city permitted to cut loose in the 1990’s and go for full speed development. It actually benefited from this as it was able to avoid some of the mistakes made by the first wave of Chinese tiger regions

And GeorgeSiew:

Shanghai in the chinese popular consciousness is a cesspool of greed and hedonism. These are the most reviled of all sins in chinese morality. The chinese fought many culture wars between the cities and country side. With the cities most extremely represented by shanghai having lost every time. The ccp represents the culture of the country side and traditional chinese morality. Anyone that understands china knows that. Shanghai is not where you look to for the moral center of china but just the opposite. Ppl in china don’t worship shanghai, it is an annoying place with annoying people with a very unscrupulous reputation that they tolerate.

Scientist GM made the critically important points, that contrary to non-Chinese propaganda, Covid can be beaten, and even more important, China has done far better than the West economically with its “fewer but way way harder” lockdown approach:

COVID can be made to completely go away in most of the world within 6 months and from the whole world within 5-10 years, if the political will is there. Technically it’s not that hard.

The end game here is that a super nasty variant comes at some point and then everyone else is forced to apply the same methods as the Chinese, or will completely collapse socially.

Such an event is still very much possible, and don’t take my word for it, while there was still SAGE in the UK, their reports were talking about that as a very realistic possibility too.

And it will catch everyone who has decided to “live with it” completely unprepared because when you are drowning in a sea of COVID you are not going to notice the rain drops falling on your head from the outer bands of the hurricane that is just about to hit you.

We watched that movie with Delta and Omicron — new variants spread undetected and unimpeded when there are tens and hundreds of thousands of infections. It will happen again and again — you let one in, you let all of them in.

The Chinese are known for their long-term thinking, and they presumably understand these things very well. So why give up the winning position?

P.S. Anyone who thinks the West is successfully “living with it” is completely deluded. I work in science and have some contacts in the tech world too, and I can tell you first and second hand how “well” things are doing. R&D has ground if not to a complete halt, to a fraction of what it was. We got shut down initially in March 2020 and that actually looked like a good opportunity to clear the backlog of things that had to be finished. But then it became clear we are not going to actually solve the crisis and the downward spiral (which I predicted immediately when the decision to let it rip was first made) started.

We got back to work in the summer of 2020, and with masking and low cases in the community things were kind of somewhat normal.

But then the cataclysmic pre-vaccination winter surge of 2020-2021 came and people dispersed again, and everything was once again disrupted.

Then people were vaccinated and decided that they can take their masks off, which lasted all of a month-month a half, before the summer-2021 surge started and another disruption.

Then there was a very brief period of semi-normality in October-November 2021 after which Omicron hit, and once again the lab became deserted (and for the first time for a really good reason — a lot of people did catch it at that time, while almost nobody did during previous waves).

So basically we had a few brief periods of somewhat normal work over two years. But this isn’t McDonalds, it is research where continuity is of extreme importance, as is direct interpersonal interaction, which is how news ideas get born and developed.

The end result is that the last two years have been largely a waste, and that things have nearly completely fallen apart — collaboration networks have been disrupted, internal research group cohesion is gone (and it will be hard to rebuild — half of the people have turned over in that time, which is normal, but they have not gotten to know each other at all and the new ones have not been integrated the way these things usually happen under normal circumstances).

In stark contrast, in China they are kicking our ass now — there were several things I was working on before the pandemic hit that I could never finish because of all the disruption and that have been meanwhile put out by scientists in China. Where work has proceeded without those disruptions.

So we are rapidly falling behind and will be falling behind further and further if it continues this way.

All of this is without going into the “highly beneficial” to productivity in intellectually intensive fields effects that the brain damage from repeated COVID infections will have.

And without talking about the moral injury aspect of it — everyone is extremely demotivated and working at a fraction of their usual levels, even the ones who are under the delusion that “it’s over” (because the overall internally competitive atmosphere in which people pushed each other to do great things is gone), and it has been made abundantly clear to everyone that we are physically disposable. Yes, even we who are supposed to be the best and the brightest (don’t take this the wrong way — I am not thinking of myself as more important than people working “essential” jobs, but society does at the very least give the appearance of seeing it that way).

It’s an analogous situation in the tech world. They’re still mostly working from home there, but it is not really working out very well. I’ve had this conversation several times. People were sent home during the first lockdowns and there were a lot of projects already in motion to finish, which they did as for that sort of thing — it has been decided what will be done, what is needed after that is for people to go in their corners and do it — WFH works fine. But then the pipeline dried up, just as it did for us in pure research — because people weren’t around each other, there were no new ideas and it became difficult to organize new projects.

But yeah, we are living with it perfectly fine because on TV they are showing politicians without masks, sports arenas are full without restrictions, and people can go to restaurants. You know, the stuff that is really really really important is giving the appearance of normality, and that is all that matters, right?

In other words, GM reveals that the Financial Times shrillness and “propaganda” charge is pure projection. A pandemic is a terrible situation to have to contend with. But China is coping far better than the West is, both from a health and an economic productivity standpoint. Not only can’t we admit it, but we lack the imagination to believe that with sufficiently aggressive measures, we too could get Covid under control. But then we’d also have to admit that all the deaths and morbidity costs were the result of cowardice, greed, and laziness.

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  1. PlutoniumKun

    I think another element behind the type of reporting from the FT is that journalists and even academic commentators are tied into an echo chamber of educated, westernised ‘locals’ on twitter and other social media. We’ve seen this with Russia, Iran, Korea, etc., where because someone whose surname and ethnicity indicates that they are native to that country, then somehow they know better what is happening on the ground than anyone else. I’ve seen lots of ethnic Chinese people living in Shanghai and elsewhere in twitter essentially echoing the line that zero covid doesn’t work, the restrictions are causing terrible suffering, etc. They are having a very big impact on western views via the media, but I doubt very much that they really represent the majority view. They are a small elite of English speaking upper middle class professionals whose views and opinions are indistinguishable from their white equivalents in New York or London because they went to the same schools and read all the same sources.

    I’ve no idea what the ordinary Chinese man or woman on the street of any mid level city in China thinks, but I’m pretty certain they are more in favour of a zero covid strategy than the Shanghai elite. I think there has been a lot of shock and dismay around China at the incompetence of the authorities in Shanghai and the brutality of some of the lockdowns – many horrible clips have been doing the rounds on social media. I think Beijing has certainly taken a hit in terms of its reputation for competence (which ultimately, is the bedrock of its claimed right to rule the country). But I doubt that its under any real pressure to change course. Its even possible they see this as a blessing in disguise, as its a very good opportunity to put some manners on the Shanghai political elite, who have always seen as a bit full of their own sense of self esteem and power.

    1. wolfepenguin

      I agree with what you’re saying about the “westernized” locals point. Here in Hong Kong, we let it rip and you had the expat community and those aligned with them in I-banking all in on “living with the virus”. It was a mixed bag as some wanted stricter lockdowns, but most people were generally skeptical of the government’s ability to implement everything.

      As for what the average person in Shanghai is thinking, well, I have two friends in lockdown, and their experience is worlds apart. Part of the problem with any lockdown in China comes down to the quality of the community leaders where some are amazing and others are beyond incompetent with I suspect most in the middle. So, one friend was fine, and she got her deliveries and lockdown was inconvenient while other suffered quite a bit where his community leader went missing in action. But things have gotten better from what I’m told, so part of it is the early mess associated with a fast lockdown (which you kind of have to do by both speed and secrecy as letting people know would mean they would try to leave the city and thus spread the virus).

      I am, however, somewhat surprised by the slow and steady increase in cases. There are cases popping up in communities that didn’t have cases. So, I suspect it might be surface transmission from packages. If one isn’t wiping it down, then there is a possibility of it spreading that way. I know it’s a rare case in the west, but it’s more commonly discussed out here in Asia ( With that said, I think give it another week, and we’ll start to see an effect because each lockdown is unique due to nature of the variant.

      Also, it doesn’t look like Hong Kong is going to live with the virus. We still due to building lock-down mandatory tests now that cases are going down to around 1000 a day, the government will try to back to some semblance of covid zero (at least I hope so). Schools are re-opening soon but mask mandates, vaccine mandates, and antigen testing are the norm. Kids, parents, and teachers are expected to submit daily rapid antigen tests ( I don’t think that I have seen anything like this in the US or elsewhere in the west.

      1. GM

        Unfortunately, any kind of “reopening” in HK does suggest they are not going to get it back to zero.

        There was no point doing mass testing in March, too many cases.

        Now is the time to do it, but you can’t just do mass testing and open up everything — you need to combine it with other NPIs if you are indeed aiming for elimination.

      2. Skunk

        Another possibility for some unexplained cases could be persistent virus in seminal fluid or in the male reproductive tract more generally. As previously discussed in NC, persistence of EHV in testes is a proven cause for some cases of Ebola, years after apparent recovery from infection. There may be other immune-privileged anatomic sanctuary sites as well. See for example
        The prostate is a known infection site for MERS-CoV, according to

    2. GM

      >I’ve no idea what the ordinary Chinese man or woman on the street of any mid level city in China thinks, but I’m pretty certain they are more in favour of a zero covid strategy than the Shanghai elite

      That’s a general theme in history — the average person may see things very differently from the elites, but it is the elites who write the history, and then we get a very distorted picture of reality.

      The average Chinese doesn’t care about freedom of travel as he was never going to do tourist trips to Dubai and Paris regardless of whether borders were open or not, he has to work for a living and does not have the money to spend of frivolous consumerism. What he cares about is not getting sick. So it is in his best interest for borders to remain as tightly sealed as possible and for lockdowns to be as swift and effective as possible to stamp out whatever leaks in the border defenses there might be.

      But he is nowhere to be heard in Western media.

      You can also go back further to other issues with the same theme, given what dominates the headlines right now.

      To this day there is very strong nostalgia for the time pre-1989 in much of Eastern Europe. The reason for that is very simple — communism was actually good for the majority of people there, and the poorer an area was prior to 1917/1945, the more people are fond for communism. What actually happened under communism was that the lives of the bottom 95% of the population were drastically improved, those who suffered were the wealthiest 5%. However, the educated urban elites all belonged to that 5%, and they were also always very pro-Western. They are the ones who have been writing the history in the last 30+ years, and telling everyone how hellish things were, the average person on the street — who now has no free healthcare, no free housing, no social safety net, and no prospects for upward social mobility for his progeny of the kind that existed previously — is not present in the picture at all. It is not shown at all in the West but you now see regular people sending off the Russian soldiers waving a 50/50 mix of Russian and Soviet flags, and you also see people in the Russian-speaking parts of Ukraine meeting the Russian soldiers with Soviet flags. Which is very naive in terms of its reflection of reality — modern Russia is actually more neoliberal than even the US — and there is a strong element of russophilic/patriotic sentiment in it (as distinct from the purely social one) but it still does show where people’s hearts are.

      But you will never see that actually very common perspective being shown in the media.

      1. BeliTsari

        Media of, for, by, about and solely from a Creative Class™ perspective (pervasive for the last several eons) is speciously oblivious as ever, but interns & freelance participants subliminally feel where their next gig compels they say. Yuppie folks (escaping white-flight suburban parents to gentrify red-lined Blacks out of cities) begat two generations post Powell Memo/ Reagan Miracle ‘Murika? “They Live,” “Idiocracy” and “RoboCop” were for us, poor, stupid, bad kids who couldn’t stomach more than a couple paragraphs by Ayn Rand & see Zeke Emanuel, David Brock & Marie Jana Korbelová as detrimental to “our” children’s future well-being? There’s a lethal, worldwide plague we have to kill off and recently, they’re using a scary virus to make us another offer we cannot refuse? ALL media, government, academia, social networking… The Resistance, is aimed directly at monitizing our liquidation. Catastrophe Capitalism’s a pleonasm?

      2. Susan the other

        The one big difference I see that makes Russia less neoliberal is their wide-spread political attitude, usually voiced by both Putin and Lavrov, in favor of national sovereignty (and China as well). That actually makes Russia a big stumbling block for globalized neoliberalism. And they have taken this Ukrainian opportunity to actually separate themselves from western neoliberals by refusing to use the dollar instead of absurdly enduring sanctions from Lilliputians. All this points to a basic mindset that is still very different from our neoliberal-financialized-globalized capitalism. Neoliberalism does conserve the spirit of free-wheeling, creative capitalism, theoretically. But practically it has nowhere left to go – without serious social modification.

        1. Susan the other

          And just to tie this in with stricter and more effective control of Covid – it probably cannot be done on a disconnected global scale. In order to control things on the ground we need to localize.

        2. GM

          There is a faint hope in Russia that isolation and going on a wartime footing will force the government to abandon the previous economic policies and move back to something more socially fair.

          If the oligarchs are all banned from the West, they have nowhere for their yachts to go and a lot less access to obscenely expensive goods to splurge on.

          The USSR would have been much better prepared to fight the current war precisely because it was isolated and autarchic to a much greater extent. Also because resources were not wasted the same way — take a look at the list of megayachts on Wikipedia, it’s mostly Russian owners (notably, not a single Chinese). Abramovich has two in the top 15, and he has a third smaller one too (why does a man need two megayachts?). How many cruisers, missiles and tanks could have been built instead of hundreds of yachts? Also, none of these yachts was even built in Russia, it was German, Swedish, Italian, etc. shipyards. And now they are being seized. Complete total waste of real national wealth.

          There is clearly some understanding of that fact, whether it will be followed by meaningful actions remains to be seen.

          And yes, there is a general spirit that is different from the West.

          But when you look at the actual policies, they had a 13% flat income tax. You don’t have that even in the US, the ideological center of neoliberalism and libertarianism and nobody is even discussing it seriously yet. In fact, it’s very curious that nearly all of the countries with a flat tax are in the former Eastern Bloc, and it is also very low (10-15%).

          P.S. Last year in Russia they introduced a second higher rate, at 15%. A tiny baby step, but maybe it will be followed by others.

  2. Dikaios Logos

    The hostility to China’s Zero Covid policy is easily the worst anti-Asian racism in America. Our ruling class can’t acknowledge that the Chinese are better at anything important. We (Americans) are ruled by hateful fools.

  3. Sardonia

    Perhaps those kindly Brits might offer their help in dealing with Covid in Shanghai – something like (once again) offering opium to all citizens there, so that they might be more “at ease” in just letting Covid take over.

  4. allan


    New York State Department of Health Announces Emergence of Recently Identified, Highly Contagious
    Omicron Subvariants in New York and Urges Continued Vigilance Against COVID-19

    Department’s Wadsworth Center Identifies Two Sub-lineages of BA.2—BA.2.12 and BA.2.12.1—
    Potentially Contributing to Increased Transmission Reported in Central New York and Surrounding Regions

    Combine highly transmissible variants, crappy data,
    a message of `calculate your own personal risk’, and stir.
    This is what `learning to live with it’ is going to mean for a very long time.

    1. Gawr Gura

      >This is what `learning to live with it’ is going to mean for a very long time.

      Until some rich kid dies at least.

    2. BeliTsari

      First they push their pram through you, Instagramming their mindfulness coach. Then they laugh at you. Then they accuse you of being for POOTIN. Then they kvetch about “live with it,” directly into your face at 120dB, MASKLESS. Then Hoschul & Adams declare a new RUSSIAN variant has turned uppity essentials into tiny-penis eating zombies and you need to return to your machine and work hard for boss, pending intubation, etc. “Make the lie BIG, keep it SIMPLE then repeat it until they give you $12 million a year on MSNBC!” Jesus Gandhi King

  5. Basil Pesto

    Meanwhile: Post COVID-19 pulmonary fibrosis; a meta-analysis study

    Looks like it’s freedom from deadly and dangerous pathogen for China, and pulmonary fibrosis, blood clots &c. for the rest of us ?

    Ah, but who among us could possibly have predicte…

    Studies investigating the prevalence of pulmonary fibrosis in previous SARS pandemics have shown a prevalence of 62% and 33% after SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV, respectively


    1. GM

      It’s surprising it’s that low for MERS given that MERS is 3-4 times deadlier than SARS1. Or perhaps that is in fact influenced by the high fatality rate of MERS — the seriously affected simply didn’t make it in the “after” category.

      BTW, if you listen to talks by Ralph Baric (the most prominent expert in the field prior to the pandemic), he is still talking about pulmonary fibrosis like it is going to be a huge problem, which sounds surprising when you hear it now in 2022, as we have been talking very little about it — if people talk about LongCOVID, it is rarely with a focus on the fibrosis. But he throws around some very disturbing double digit percentages that don’t line up even with the pessimistic estimates for LongCOVID prevalence.

      Part of it is the usual “this will be a big problem, give me money to study it” scheme.

      But it might also be the case that he is telling the truth and there is a lot of early stage pulmonary fibrosis right now that is subclinical but will manifest itself later. And it’s not going to be 10-15% by then given that people will be on who knows which round of reinfection by the time the scale of the problem becomes apparent…

      1. Basil Pesto

        I recently watched that 2020 Baric lecture I’ve seen you link to. With the “successfully creating durable vaccines against Coronaviruses is hard actually” slide, lol. Pretty informative stuff. All the masking info is in there too with the Q&A with the journalists at the end and he’s pretty clear about it from the beginning, with N95s and so on, before there was much controversy attached to the idea.

        What’s sobering is that even at that stage he already seemed to have given up on containment/elimination already. Do you think that might have been him talking his book a bit given that he mentions his lab was working on a “broad spectrum” (if that’s the right word) vaccine? Is it perhaps the result of a surfeit of “entrepreneurial spirit” in the science? (It’s hard to market elimination.) Or am I off base here?

        1. GM

          The part about masking is truly remarkable in that video — I recall he said something in the spirit of “No, we don’t use N95 in the lab, that’s not sufficient, we use PAPRs”. Right around the time Fauci was telling people not to wear masks at all.

          In terms of containment, I don’t know how much he knew about the political aspect of the problem at the time. He is presumably plugged into the relevant information networks, and I can’t imagine he wasn’t extensively consulted very early on.

          Also, the plan for a flu pandemic was indeed to let it burn.

          But of course this isn’t a flu pandemic that comes and goes, this is as if we never had any flu, and from now on we have flu but baseline 10x worse, with variations around that baseline that viral evolution and shifting immune landscapes bring. The appropriate response was the one we roll out for Ebola/Nipah/etc. outbreaks. But you recall Boris Johnson’s speech from mid-February and the call for “taking it on the chin”, etc.

          So it is quite possible that Baric knew it was not going to be contained.

          Of course there is an assumption here that he is an honest pure scientist who truly cares about saving lives, and I don’t see that as a warranted assumption. He also never called for containment for 2+ years, and neither did any of the other key figures in the field, in fact they kept almost total silence.

  6. wolfepenguin

    I also find that figure comparing Hong Kong to Shanghai misleading because it severely underestimates how badly Hong Kong was under-testing during the height of the omicron outbreak. Even by late March, Hong Kong only managed to hit testing capacity close to 5,000 because of teams sent in by the mainland (

    Given that the estimated case number thrown around of 40% of the population being infected (, I’m pretty sure those stylized figures are probably not so parallel. Since Shanghai’s testing capacity should be much higher (both official PCR and rapid antigen) and are most likely testing everyone rather than those merely close contacts or exhibiting symptoms, the figure is pretty misleading. For example, that bump in day 35 for Hong Kong is when the government accepted rapid anti-gen test reports from the public, and that was only for those who voluntarily reported (I know many who were positive and did not report).

  7. Louis Fyne

    FT irony alert: China’s zero Covid is putting a lid on oil prices.

    Add 15, 25% to the price of oil and every western Establishment leader will be gone from office in the next election.

    DC Dems and Boris already have it bad as is.

  8. SocalJimObjects

    Speaking about Covid in China, recently there was a superspreader event at Guangzhou’s Baiyun District. According to the following news article dated today,, around 20 plus people, made up of bar patrons and waiters at the Dilu bar were found to be Covid positive. The bar gets thoroughly disinfected every three days, and wearing a mask is compulsory for workers at the bar.

    Anyway, Guangzhou, just like Shanghai is a first tier city. Maybe this latest incidence will turn out to be nothing, but imagine if China were to have not one but two first tier cities under lockdown ……

  9. lance ringquist

    i fixed up the article a bit.

    the financial times is hysterical about chinas shutdown because its a complete humiliation of free trade free market economics

    the whole world gets to see what happens to countries that embrace the quackery of free trade/free markets

    they get possessed by a cesspool of greed and hedonism, fertile breeding ground for fascism

    incapable of manufacturing and employing people at wages that the workers can survive on

    china is destroying covid in their country, its the power of central planning and protectionism

    china is kicking the west asses who cannot even make their own aspirins, the utter humiliation!

    we will have to admit that all the of costs we are bearing now is the results of cowardice, greed, and laziness.

    LENINS greatest achievements were nafta billy clinton, tony blair, and the free traders:)

    1. Pat

      I don’t know that they are worried about that, whether people are happy with the government response to anything. I think they are more worried that continued shortages of necessary items will kick their globalization is better BS in the keister. I have heard more people talking about why don’t we make it here and rejecting the cheaper excuse. It isn’t just the jobs crew now thinking too much of manufacturing etc has been sent out of the country. People have begun to realize how much of their day to day life is dependent on cargo ships. If people demand change to that, it affects not just the manufacturing businesses, but the transport businesses, fuel industry, tech industries, and on. All of which will take a hit to stock prices, bottom lines and executive compensation.

      1. flora

        Serious question: how do we “make it here” under the green new deal guidelines? Are these two good things in conflict? Is there a compromise?

        1. lance ringquist

          under free trade we do not innovate much any more, unless its a financial innovation(scam), which ruins our civil society.

          its much cheaper for the rich to just use comparative advantage, and there is only one real comparative advantage human and environmental degradation. anyone who claims different is a lying fundy spreading complete economic rubbish.

          we will just have to force innovation, that is what protectionism and regulation does.

        2. Jeremy Grimm

          My serious answer to your question — I am ignorant of … and immediately skeptical of … green new deal guidelines. “Paint the roses green? Sure we can paint them any color you like.” == that’s how I feel about the Green New Deal et al. — though I am willing to listen and consider reasons to amend my snap judgment of ‘green’.

          How do we “make it here”? We do not, with or without green new deal guidelines. Without an industrial policy, green or otherwise, that protects ‘infant’ industries [to steal a term from Hamilton], we will NOT “make it here”. Without an industrial policy designed to promote small enterprise — we will NOT “make it here” and not make it locally — I intend by this, an industrial policy that actively and vigorously dismantles monopoly, monopsoly, and Cartels private [e.g. Cargill] and public. Without such industrial policy, we will NOT “make it here” and we will not make it locally. [I am not holding my breath awaiting the necessary epiphany afflicting those who ‘lead’ us.] And the ongoing resource depletions mean that if the u.s. does NOT “make it here” and does not make it locally … it will not be available except at prices even the wealthy will gasp and swoon over.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            We repeal and/or abrogate all our Free Trade Agreements and resign from all our Free Trade Organizations memberships. Then we are legally free to introduce as much protectionism as we dare introduce in reality-based stages.

            We use that moving screen of protectionism to restore a viable shadow or stub of our former industrial thingmaking industrial ecosystem. The Free Trade Conspirators spent several decades destroying the American Industrial Civilization economy and it would take us just as many decades to restore a survival-sufficient shadow of that Civilization-economy back into existence.

            Meanwhile, the Outer World would put strangulation sanctions on us to try and torture us into resuming our membership in the Corporate Globalonial Free Trade Plantation. We would have to be ready for that.

            If we are not ready for that right from the start, then any effort we begin at National Survival Restoration will soon fail and be destroyed and we will be re-occupied by the Free Trade Conspiracy Forces.

      2. lance ringquist

        and its not even cheaper, michael hudson has proven that. we pay someone elses prices.

  10. Jeremy Grimm

    “It’s sobering to see multiple examples every day in the press that those in the West who fancy themselves as in charge have lost their minds, drunk on arrogance and provincialism.”

    This is my takeaway after reading and thinking about this post. But it’s not only sobering, it is frightening and deeply disturbing. I believe it may reflect a strange acceleration of the Collapse. I had thought the Collapse would begin outside the Empire and spread toward the center, but it seems the opposite may be happening and happening much faster than my slow efforts to adapt. I hoped there might be more time. Climate Chaos, resource depletion, looming threats of nuclear war and winter, systemic collapse, and to all this now add the incredible insanity of those leading us.

    1. flora

      I keep thinking of this series NC has run a few times.

      Journey into a Libertarian Future

      The vision has the goal of replacing all democratic govts and democratically accountable public processes with corporate and wealth directed activities.
      If the “visionaries” want to accomplish this, how better than by imploding or collapsing the current economic structures of democratic countries (even of not-so-democratic countries)? Tear down to “build back better” – for some definition of “better” for a select group. (Too foily?) / ;)

      I recommend reading the whole series. The libertarian neoliberalista’s are dead serious about their economic ideas, their desired “ownership of government”, and their belief in the “danger of democratic government”.

  11. Alex Cox

    Moon of Alabama ran an article a few weeks ago about English language MSM articles re. China where the headline ended ‘… but at what cost?’ For example, China beats Covid… but at what cost? China builds HSR… but at what cost?

    There were scores of such headlines, many of them in the FT.

    1. Basil Pesto

      I think it’s very much worth reflecting on the fact that the country that just… got on with building an enormous HSR network in ~20 years without worrying about the “costs” (“we’re indebting our grandchildren!!” – far better to make them sick and condemn them to an earlier death instead) is also able to frequently put down Covid outbreaks with relative ease in a matter of weeks (in part thanks to daily mass testing, apparently deemed ‘a bit much’ in the west).

      Not enough has been made of austerity policy and the failure to control Covid in the west, imo (and it’s actually been quite a sizeable missed opportunity for those, like me, of an MMT persuasion, to hammer this point home)

  12. Safety First

    1. I think it is a very important datapoint that China’s figures for infections include asymptomatic carriers – and these comprise well over 90% of the total infection figure on any given day. What this suggests to me is that most of these people are being captured via mass testing of the population of the sort that just has not been done in the US/UK. And if this is true, then comparing China’s infections and “curve” to those of Western countries becomes fairly meaningless, as you’d either have to exclude the mass testing results from the one or add some hypothetical “unreported asymptomatic infections” figure to the other.

    All a long way of saying, I do not believe at present even Shanghai’s infection situation is anywhere near as serious as, say, New York City’s had been.

    2. Speaking of NYC. One, just in the past two weeks the number of hospitalised patients in NYS/NYC went from 833/255 to 1164/359, clearly nothing to worry about if you are the health authorities. [Data from

    Two, from that same website’s section on infections, I’ve been noticing that in the past 2-3-4 weeks Manhattan, which accounts for ~20% of NYC’s population, has had ~35% of recorded infections. And higher positivity rates than other boroughs, double or more than double, in fact. So either there is some sort of testing antics, capers and chicanery, or NYC’s poshest areas decided to go Full Gridiron and carry on as if the epidemic does not exist…very odd.

    3. It always amuses me that the dichotomy in places like the FT is – zero-covid-totalitarian-authoritarianism vs. ECONOMIC benefits. It’s not – zero-covid-totalitarian-antidisestablishmentarianism vs. hundreds of thousands of deaths, because, I suppose, that is not a very favourable comparison to make.

    I mean – assume the average death rate from this iteration of the virus is 0.5%, and in reality it’s about double that (and double once more as the health care system becomes overwhelmed), but sod it. Ok, 25 million shanghainese…is that a word?..times 0.5%, equals 125k deaths. In the course of 2-3 months, most likely. That’s the real trade here, you are trying to choose where on the spectrum of mortality you are going to end up – 5-10-20, 5-10-20 thousand, or 50-100-200 thousand. So what are we really saying to China – how dare you not kill a bunch of your own citizens? Odd, this…

    1. GM

      I think it is a very important datapoint that China’s figures for infections include asymptomatic carriers – and these comprise well over 90% of the total infection figure on any given day. What this suggests to me is that most of these people are being captured via mass testing of the population of the sort that just has not been done in the US/UK

      There have been plenty of full testing studies on contained populations (prisons, ships, well defined superspreading events, etc.). True asymptomatic have never exceeded the 20-25%, even with Omicron.

      In fact we had the first such study for BA.1 within two weeks of Omicron appearing — the Norway Christmas party superspreader event — and there were almost no asymptomatics there (it was something like 80/82 with symptoms). And that was the weak BA.1

      The Chinese are simply lying about the real numbers — most of the “asymptomatics” are not in fact asymptomatic. That is the conclusion that follows from the known facts.

      They are not alone in this — take a look at this post:

      For the gory details.

      The difference is they are actually trying to contain it while in the West the goal is to cover up mass infection and mass death

      1. JRD22566

        I’m an American living in Shenzhen. While I don’t have personal experience with the testing regimen in Shanghai, I do for the recent wave in Shenzhen. For a week, the entire city was tested every day. I’m wondering if such a high frequency of testing might result in high rate of “asymptomatic” cases, many of which are “pre-symptomatic.” At least in SZ, many “asymptomatic” are eventually “confirmed.”

  13. haywoo

    Anecdote about $0 co-pay at-home covid tests in the US:

    This week, I have been to FOUR pharmacies in my large southeastern US college-town and failed to get free covid tests at each one.

    1) My local independent pharmacy no longer sells at-home tests as a matter of policy. Okaaay…
    2) CVS had a big booth announcing free tests but it required a sign up-process online and the cashier said it would take a half-hour at least to get everything authorized. Since everyone there was coughing, I chose to go home and register online.
    3) CVS’s online portal was unable to bill my insurance on two separate orders and suggested I pay-out-of-pocket. No thank you.
    4) Walmart’s pharmacy also had a little sign in the corner about free tests but the pharmacy cashier had no idea what that program was. Another pharmacy worker came over to ask me for my test prescription. Before I had a chance to explain, another tech said they were out of tests but “might get a few by tomorrow morning, I dunno.”

    Also, my second USPS free covid test order never arrived. The first batch came within 15 days. It’s now been six weeks.

  14. Sutter Cane

    Thank you for running this. The propaganda about China, and how their success in preventing mass deaths is bad actually, has been making me feel crazy. The idea that there is any alternative besides unchecked infection and eugenics must be vilified by the west at all costs.

    Personally, the trade off between a few weeks of serious lockdowns but then living life normally for the rest of going on two years, with the added bonus of not having millions of dead and disabled people, seems like a better deal compared to let ‘er rip.

  15. ArvidMartensen

    I don’t believe that our oligarchs and their support crews believe that Covid is benign. Their minions who follow the real research most likely know about Long Covid and deaths by demographics etc. Eugenics having a new moment?
    Second, the oligarchs and their support crews running the West are looking for ways to increase their wealth and power. Which trends if encouraged will lead to a rising tide that will lift most billionaire superyachts? Obviously not Covid elimination, as shown by the increasing handwringing in the press about China’s Zero Covid policy.
    But China obviously sees eliminating Covid as in their long term geopolitical interests. They also read the medical research. If Covid leads to damaged brains and bodies, then rampant Covid in the West might lead to the end of Western hegemony sooner rather than later. Who would not want their aggressive competitors to become infirm and incapable of serious thought and action?
    Perhaps China is playing a long term game, waiting for the West to defeat themselves, thus leaving the way open for China to take over.
    The stakes are a lot higher than just some supply chain issues, and the West knows it, and China knows it.

    1. Skunk

      Of course they don’t believe it. The entire response has been a fiasco. It was obvious back in January 2020 that the infections wouldn’t be contained in China. The best response would have been a zero COVID policy, and the best window of efficacy for containing the virus in any given country in the West was long before it was declared a pandemic. Instead, most world leaders pretended the virus wouldn’t be a problem. Of course they knew this wasn’t true.

      What we’ve seen is a case study in the tensions between politics and public health. In the West, short-term business interests were able to supersede long-term public health goals. Western countries will be paying the price for years, if not for generations.

  16. drumlin woodchuckles

    The Financial Times speaks for the same establishment which seeks to infect every single person on earth with covid. Since the ChinaGov is not playing along with Operation Global Jackpot, the Global Merchants of Jackpot will try manipulating the ChinaGov’s brain any way they can, since they can’t use brute force to make China spread covid all over China. And if they can’t hypnotise the ChinaGov into spreading covid to every Chinese, then the ChinaGov won’t do it. And the Financial Times will just have to cry itself to sleep.

    1. SocalJimObjects

      Yep, a couple of days ago, I said the quality of your neighborhood committee matters A LOT. That too has been the experience of my Mandarin teacher, a Shanghai resident. She also said that she now feels a lot closer to her neighbors after this experience. I am sure the opposite is true if you happen to live in a badly managed neighborhood/complex.

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