Covid U-turn in China

I always follow the news from China very closely, and these past weeks I’ve been amazed by the speed at which changes are taking place there.

I’m sure you heard about the protests that took place in China at the end of November. Textile workers rioting in Guangdong, protests because of the building block fire in Urumqi, vigils in Shanghai, Beijing and other cities. The government must have finally realized that many people were at breaking point and that they were risking a big unrest, and they finally started lifting covid restrictions. Or maybe they thought it was the perfect excuse to get rid of the dynamic zero covid policy. But the speed at which they’re doing it…

As of last month, China was officially very committed to dynamic zero covid and condemned “the West” (i.e. the rest of the world, as no country still had any covid restrictions in place) for “lying flat” and letting people die. Long covid was going to be the ruin of all countries that did not fight against the virus:

Headline from Chinese newspaper Global Times. Notice the date.

Just a few weeks later, somehow China is already prepared to open up and now quarantine is voluntary. Although one of my colleagues in Shanghai is currently doing forced quarantine in a hotel because one of her flatmates was positive, so not sure how “voluntary” is defined or if it applies to retroactive cases.

Notice how, in the span of 2 months, long covid has gone from being something you’d probably get, to something you most probably won’t get. Link.

I am obviously not against the opening up, but I have a lot of doubts regarding the official narrative. According to the Chinese government, China could not open up because many elderly people had not been vaccinated or boosted yet, and the country’s medical system would be overwhelmed if measures were relaxed and caused too many positive cases. So, have all elderly and at risk people get vaccinated and boosted yet? Have hospital capacity and UCI beds been reinforced and increased? If the answer was “no” last month, how can it be “yes” now? They had 3 years to work on that, and suddenly everything was done and finished in a couple of weeks?

This is from November 5. Link. Now the dynamic zero covid policy is not even mentioned, like it never existed.

So now people in China are divided into two groups, one who is so happy about restrictions being lifted that doesn’t even want to ask questions, and other in which people are scared of a virus which until two weeks ago was officially very dangerous, but now it’s nothing to worry about. Official media are now giving advice on what to do if you are infected. The problem is, in China people go to get an intravenous drip at the hospital for a common cold, so when they are covid positive, you can be sure they are going to flood hospitals, even if they barely have symptoms. But it’s something to be expected, no? They’ve been hearing for 3 years that covid kills.

Maybe now they’ll have to repeat this every day for 3 years before people start believing it. Link.
Last month they were the voice of reason, now they are trolls… Link.
What? Antibiotics? For a virus?

Of one thing I’m sure: when hospitals start being overwhelmed and deaths start creeping up, for Chinese official media, it will be the West’s fault, because somehow the West forced China to open up and of course everybody behind the November protests was controlled by foreign agents. It was not that workers had been out of a job for too long, it was not that the urban youth was completely fed up with not being able to go anywhere, no, it was foreign spies who always wreak havoc in China. In fact, it’s the protestors’ fault for complaining about daily PCRs and quarantines!

Now Chinese people are very confused… They are used to things changing fast, but this surely broke all speed records.

Before: I go buy vegetables to prepare for quarantine. Now: I go buy medicine to prepare to have a fever.
The people: “When will we open up?” Beijing: “Ten” The people: “Ten months? Ten weeks?” Beijing: “Nine, eight, seven…”
Before: “No! We don’t want!” (PCR tests or quarantine). Now: “You don’t care about us or what?”
When my block was locked down: “Let me go! It’s safe outside!”. After opening up: “No, I don’t want to go out! It’s dangerous outside!”