Corona-chan has unquestionably changed the world, in both good and very, very bad ways. We've seen the bad - far too much of it, by this point - but the good is taking some time to work its way into our daily lives.
One good thing that might come about as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic is a significant shake-up of the Chinese leadership, if not mindset:
The author of the letter, which does not identify him or herself, urges three senior Communist Party officials – Premier Li Keqiang, Chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference Wang Yang, and Vice President Wang Qishan – to convene a special Politburo meeting to discuss “Xi’s issues.” A copy of the letter highlighted by Asia Times notes that Xi’s failure to contain the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak adds renewed urgency to a discussion on his exacerbating tensions with the United States, failing to run basic government operations like functional schools and hospitals, and pouring money into “backward nations” in Africa.
“Given the current severe situation of the new coronavirus epidemic, the domestic economy, and the severe situation of international relations, we are strongly calling for the urgent convening of an enlarged Politburo meeting to discuss Xi Jinping’s issues,” the letter reads.
Given the extremely insular, secretive, authoritarian, and distinctively Asian outlook of the CCP, the fact that such a letter was even circulated among the Party's elite is astonishing in and of itself.
To Western eyes, though - at least the ones who bother to pay attention to what is going on in China, and do not look at the country through red-tinted glasses - the incompetence, stupidity, venality, and callous unconcern for life with which the Chinese have treated a global plague, speaks volumes for the dangers posed by the CCP's leadership to the rest of us.
The ChiComs keep telling us that the virus is contained and under control within mainland China. But actual video evidence and eyewitness reports leaking out of the country indicate that the exact opposite is true right now:
There is no question that the COVID-19 crisis also represents a huge loss of face for the Chinese leadership - which is precisely why the ChiComs are desperately trying to spin the disaster into a triumph for the Chinese way of doing things.
The ChiComs have mounted a highly aggressive PR campaign attempting to blame the USA for spreading the virus to China through troops that visited the Middle Kingdom back in October of last year.
If you read through that last link, you'll come to these particularly ridiculous head-slapping paragraphs:
Local medical authorities have said the true extent of the Wuhan coronavirus is unclear, and the early official figures may have been an underestimation since the mild symptoms and delayed onset meant infections may have been undetected.
All the evidence suggests the Chinese authorities acted effectively as soon as they realized the danger they might be facing.
Medical authorities immediately declared the outbreak, and within a week they had identified the pathogen and also determined and shared the genome sequence with the WHO and other parties, a sufficiently speedy response that earned praise from the WHO and scientists around the world.
Yeah, the Chinese were so SUPER AMAZEBALLS EFFECTIVE in their response that they straight-up arrested doctors who tried to sound the alert back in November and imprisoned them for engaging in activities harmful to the health of the state.
I mean, you have to take what you read on Unz.com with a BIG grain of salt even on good days, but this is just downright sloppy thinking.
Think through the logical consequences of trying to engineer a bio-weapon for use against China, and you'll quickly realise that the scenario makes no sense.
Consider: how do you destroy a country's productive capabilities with bio-weapons? You attack the most productive parts of its economy and infrastructure. In China, that means people between the ages of 20 and 50 in good health - not the Olde Phartes with their leaky body parts and "get off my damn lawn!" bad tempers. Yet the virus and its various sub-strains clearly attack the elderly and afflicted most readily, and Corona-chan has proven to be largely (though not entirely) harmless to people under the age of about 50 if they are in good health.
If this is a bio-weapon created by the West for use against the Red Chinese, it's an incredibly incompetent one. It makes you think of the days when people actually understood how to use bio-weapons - like when Ottoman Turks would fling the rotting bodies of plague victims over city walls to infect and devastate a besieged populace, or when American troops would send blankets used by smallpox victims to Indian settlements to ravage them before moving in and taking over.
That is what real bio-weaponry looks like - highly lethal to large swathes of the populace, that also burn out pretty quickly.
In reality, the more details that emerge out of the whole thing, the worse it all looks for China.
It was Chinese hygiene, or lack thereof, that allowed this slippery little bastard to spread in the first place; what evidence we have right now indicates that it likely jumped from bats to pangolins to humans via a Wuhan wet-market, though that is merely a likely scenario and not a confirmed one.
It was Chinese incompetence that allowed the virus to spread throughout a large population when the local officials in Wuhan insisted on going ahead with the Chinese New Year public feasts and gatherings, despite the fact that the virus was known to be a problem at that time, and at exactly the time when 300 MILLION Chinese were traveling all around their country.
And it was Chinese secrecy and insistence on face-saving measures that prevented the rest of the world from finding out about the catastrophe until far too late.
Now we have damn near 500,000 people around the world infected - and that is without a doubt a huge underestimate, because even under absolutely perfect conditions, the virus itself only infects roughly 20% or so of a population, so whatever numbers we are seeing right now are between four and five times too small. And more than 20,000 people have died around the world from this disease - though, again, those numbers are almost certainly fudged, because the true mortality rate from this thing is probably less than 1%.
Even for the Chinese, whose government's reputation for bureaucratic rigidity, inefficiency, stupidity, and malfeasance is well-deserved, this was an epic cock-up.
And a goof of that magnitude can only reflect extremely poorly upon the man who believes himself to be a successor to the emperors who once ruled China with a "mandate from Heaven".
Xi Jinping is effectively ruler for life right now. He is, without question, an extremely intelligent man who has risen through the ranks of the CCP through grit, tenacity, skill, hard work - and no small amount of exceptional politicking. You do not become the leader of the CCP without leaving a lot of bodies in your wake and even more skeletons in your closet.
But that very "mandate from Heaven" is a double-edged sword, as many Chinese emperors discovered over the previous 3,000 or so years to their great cost.
The entire mandate depends on the people believing that the Emperor has some sort of divine right to rule over them, and that he has the favour of the gods. But if that favour is removed, the results are always and everywhere the same: losing and extremely expensive wars, disease and plague ravaging the land, high unemployment, misery, discontent, and starvation for the people.
China is already in the midst of a trade war that it is losing, badly, against its biggest client, the United States of America. And that is because His Most Illustrious, Noble, August, Benevolent, and Legendary Celestial Majesty, the God-Emperor of Mankind, Donaldus Triumphus Magnus Astra, the First of His Name, is the first President in nearly thirty years to use economics and trade as a weapon of war against a strategic rival.
Now, with a plague unleashed that has unhinged large parts of the Chinese economy, the CCP's leadership is under unprecedented attack, and it is clear that their regime is weakened:
However, I do not subscribe to the theory - more of a fever dream, really - that the Chinese government will suddenly be toppled and replaced with a vibrant and transparent democracy that wants to play nice with the West. That idea is absolutely laughable and those who espouse it have absolutely no clue what Chinese culture is like, how Chinese people think, and what they want from their leaders.
Instead, there is simply a growing realisation both within and outside China that the Chinese government and people cannot be trusted to keep their word or do the right thing:
Regardless of how much some governments and global voices praise China, Xi and the Communist Party care about dominating the propaganda war because the Wuhan virus has stood their nation on a razor’s edge. Xi’s own legitimacy is not merely at stake. His government is ferociously fighting to divert blame and attention, fearing that the world rightfully may utterly reassess modern China, from its technocratic prowess to its safety. Decades of a carefully curated global image may crumble if nations around the globe start paying attention to China’s lax public health care, incompetent and intrusive government, and generally less developed domestic conditions.
That recalibration of opinion about China and the Chinese government is not only necessary, it is greatly overdue.