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Even the New York Times calls China’s zero-covid policy “Kafaesque.” Four slices – each of which is evidence of the reality either of covid Derangement Syndrome or of the vileness of political authorities:

As fire was raging in the mountains surrounding the southwestern Chinese metropolis of Chongqing, 10 million residents stood in 100-plus-degree heat to get Covid tests. Two cases were detected that day in August.

A week earlier in Xiamen, in the country’s southeast, pandemic workers swabbed the throats of fishermen before they tested their catch of fish and crab. Cars got swabbed, too, at an auto show last week in Chengdu, in the southwest

When a strong earthquake struck Chengdu on Monday, the first instinct of many residents was not to run for safety but to ask for permission to leave their homes under lockdown. “Don’t come downstairs! @all,” a property manager warned in a group chat. In Luding County, the epicenter of the earthquake, which killed at least 86 people, the local government told residents to make sure they got tested every day.

Mao didn’t care that people starved to death or that the country was thrown into chaos in those two disastrous campaigns. Mr. Xi doesn’t seem to care that his campaign has been extremely disruptive even as the coronavirus has become much milder, if more transmittable.


The Communist Party has defended its policy, saying that relaxing the Covid restrictions could cause widespread infections in a country with limited medical resources and a large population of older people, among whom 15 percent are not fully vaccinated. The party said it would crack down on any speech or behavior that distorted, questioned or disapproved of the policy.

Many Chinese buy into the narrative and willingly act as foot soldiers in the party’s fight against the virus.

Last week, passengers on a bus in the northeastern city of Dalian scolded a man for wearing merely a surgical mask, not an N95 respirator mask that the local government required in an announcement a few hours earlier. “Get off the bus!” they yelled at the man, according to official Chinese media. “You’re wicked.” One of the passengers called the police, who led him off the bus.


Local authorities have become increasingly harsh in punishing those who don’t follow the zero-Covid rules. In recent months, many people were detained by the police for five to 10 days for failing to get Covid tests. Officers in the northwestern province of Shaanxi detained a 20-year-old man for five days in August because he had skipped two Covid tests and had ridden a bike. His behavior “posed risks of spreading the virus,” they said.

Pandemic control workers, in their white hazmat suits, have come to embody the absurdity and the brutality of the campaign.

James Melville tweets: (HT Jay Bhattacharya)

Excess deaths per country.
January 2020 – June 2022.
Sweden 🇸🇪 has one of the lowest excess death rates in the world. An inconvenient truth for some people.

2020 was a very bad year for economic freedom.

Writing for Reason, Dan Drezner warns of the dire consequences that will arise if the world retreats from globalization. A slice:

No progress has been made on reviving the WTO as a force for trade liberalization. There has been a moratorium on new trade deals. Tai has insisted despite all evidence to the contrary that the China tariffs provide bargaining leverage, so the trade war with China persists. The Biden administration has made scant effort to increase immigration flows.

The two administrations’ signature foreign economic deals reflect their resistance to the open global economy. The Trump administration renegotiated the North American Free Trade Agreement, which became the more restrictive United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA). The Biden administration launched the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity to entice partners away from excessive dependence on China. The most telling fact about this proposed agreement is that it does not include what trade negotiators call “market access”—i.e., reduced import barriers. This is a trade deal with no additional trade in it.

Jukka Savolainen decries the politicization of yet another “scientific” journal.