What Shanghai’s Lockdown Tells Us About the Chinese Communist Party

According to data announced by Shanghai authorities on April 29, approximately half of Shanghai’s population, or 12.38 million residents, were in the Precautionary Zone as of April 28, an increase of 4.53 million from the previous data released on April 20. The Precautionary Zone, ranked as the lowest risk within the three levels of pandemic management implemented by Shanghai authorities, does permit residents to leave their homes. The other two zones are the Control Zone and the Lockdown Zone. Residents in the Control Zone are confined to their communities within which some movement is permitted, while those in the Lockdown Zone cannot leave their homes. As of April 28, there were still 5.27 million people inside the Lockdown Zone.

Shanghai has been locked down for over a month now under the so-called zero-COVID policy of the Chinese Communist Party, whose driving force is political power at all costs. Many related disasters and human tragedies are reported online each day. Due to lack of food or depression, multiple residents have committed suicide by jumping from buildings. Lack of hospital access has caused many patients to die from deteriorating conditions.

As early as April 8, Shanghai’s leading infectious disease expert, Miao Xiaohui, published a lengthy article warning that the zero-COVID policy would trigger a run on medical resources and calling for an early solution to prevent additional deaths during the pandemic. Based on a study of additional deaths from chronic non-communicable diseases such as diabetes during the Wuhan lockdown in early 2020, Miao estimated that the one-month closure of Shanghai could result in nearly 1,000 additional deaths among diabetics alone.

According to Radio Free Asia on April 28, most hospitals in Shanghai are currently closed, leaving hundreds of thousands of patients waiting at home, and surgeries aren’t operational. Many people feel that the “one-size-fits-all” lockdown measures adopted by Chinese officials have caused far more harm to the public than a war.

In a recent appearance on New Tang Dynasty’s Pinnacle View, Ming Chu-cheng, an honorary professor in the Department of Political Science at the National Taiwan University, said that pandemic prevention in Shanghai and other provinces is a bit like fighting a civil war. Ming asserted that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is well aware that its prevention policies are against human nature and will trigger a fierce revolt, and pointed out that the CCP uses very brutal methods to suppress opponents and promote its policies. Ming further explained that during the decades of CCP rule, it has launched many movements, including so-called Resisting U.S. Aggressors, Aiding Korea, Land Reform, the Suppression of Counter-Revolution, the Three Great Transformations, the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution, the Purging of the Red Guards, the Down to the Countryside Movement, as well as its perpetrating the Tiananmen Square June 4 massacre, the suppression of Falun Gong, and in recent years, the suppression of Tibetan monks, Xinjiang Uyghurs, and Hong Kong democracy. Were any of these movements not similar to a civil war against the people?

Ming cited an example from the launch of the Great Leap Forward. At that time, Mao Zedong told his doctor, Li Zhisui, that he was going to launch a production campaign in the next few years, and that he was afraid that more than 10 million people would die. Li Zhisui was puzzled and asked, “If you doing a great leap forward in production, why would people be dying?” Mao just smiled and said nothing. Later, when even more than 10 million people died, Li Zhisui understood the meaning of Mao’s words.

In this edition of Pinnacle View, Jeffery Tucker, founder of U.S. think-tank the Brownstone Institute, shared his view that Xi Jinping’s greatest political achievement seems to be that he had contained the virus, SARS-CoV-2 (novel coronavirus), but in reality, he had not. Tucker explained that Xi Jinping had never contained the virus and that, though lockdowns can slightly delay the spread of infection, you can’t get rid of a virus by blocking it, just like you can’t stop the sun from rising or the sea from rising. The CCP wants to eradicate the virus through coercion, but they will have to do it forever if they are to continue to hide their failure.

Tucker noted that they cannot backtrack at this point. For example, if a Chinese scientist says, “Wait a minute. This is a very mild variant of the virus. We’d better make people immune,” it will be at odds with the Xi Jinping model and contradict the zero-COVID policy. All that they are doing is maintaining and consolidating political power, even if it comes at the cost of economic prosperity and the rights of the people.

On April 8, the Wall Street Journal cited sources close to government policymakers who stated that Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping had hoped to relax the zero-COVID policy and give some flexibility for controlling the pandemic in Shanghai, allowing new strategies in the city in light of the economic losses and public anger. But the surge in confirmed cases in Shanghai forced the authorities to return to strict control. The report referenced unpublished comments to the Politburo Standing Committee where Xi made it clear that China could not retreat from its strict zero-COVID policy even if it meant slower economic growth.

U.S.-based current affairs commentator Heng He told The Epoch Times recently: “Xi Jinping is constantly tied to the dynamic zero-COVID policy. If he releases the zero-COVID policy, it is likely that the opposition will seize this reason to settle accounts with him.”

Shanghai is the most economically developed and prosperous region in China and an important hub in the global supply chain. The port of Shanghai is the world’s largest container port, responsible for 20 percent of China’s foreign trade last year. The Shanghai lockdown has exposed the terrible consequences of the “China model” to the world. Tucker told Pinnacle View that the so-called “China model” became very fashionable in Western intellectual circles a decade ago and that he himself had supported the value of globalization. It argued that China’s opening up to the outside world would usher in more economic freedom and political liberalization, which would be a gradual process toward a more democratic form. However, what happened in Shanghai changed his view.

Tucker asserted that Shanghai has exposed the real problem: when you have economic competition without political competition, one mistake can lead to destruction of the whole country. The huge price of one-party rule has been exposed, and this will change the attitudes of Western businesses currently operating in China as well as the attitudes of Americans interested in studying or working in China. Unless something changes, this will lead China to be increasingly closed to the West. The Chinese leadership will panic when they see growth rates drop or when they see capital start to leave the country. Something has to change or there will be very bad consequences.

Tucker concluded by noting that the lockdown of Shanghai was a turning point for China’s reputation in the world, and now people will be rethinking everything and trying to figure out China’s future.

Pinnacle View, a new TV program launched at the end of 2021 by New Tang Dynasty and The Epoch Times, is a high-end TV forum based on events surrounding China. The program gathers elites from around the world and from all walks of life, focuses on hot issues, analyzes the world’s major trends, and provides viewers with in-depth observations on current events and historical facts.

This edition of Pinnacle View focuses on the systematic reasons behind the Communist Party’s zero-COVID and lockdown policy in Shanghai and other parts of the country, and also analyzes how the Chinese Communist Party’s one-party dictatorship has made extreme policies that run counter to human nature and common sense in the face of public health crises, thus bringing untold human disasters and secondary catastrophes to the Chinese people.

Pinnacle View Production Team