03/06/2020, 11.17
CHINA
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Coronavirus, Beijing's dilemma: saving lives or the economy?

by Wei Jingsheng

Bringing workers back to factories will encourage the spread of the virus. The drama of the countryside, the hidden outbreak of the epidemic. Beijing covers the truth to restart production. Local leaders must choose whether to please their superiors or protect citizens. A reflection of the "father of democracy" in China, now exiled to the United States.

Washington (AsiaNews) -  Recently, the most frequently discussed issue by the media and friends is that Xi Jinping decided not to hold the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (in March) because he was worried that the concentration of personnel would cause the disease to spread to them.  But why does he force the factories to resume work without worrying about the spread of the disease?  Most people immediately think that Xi Jinping and the senior officials of the Chinese Communist regime are afraid of getting sick themselves, but they don't care about the average Chinese.  This judgment is correct, but it is not the whole story.

The Chinese economy has been hit hard by the rapid spread of the Wuhan pneumonia epidemic.  Perhaps the Chinese authorities' attention was focused on covering up the epidemic and accidentally let the National Bureau of Statistics tell a few truths.  In January and February of 2020, industrial production dropped by more than 30%, and the business and service industries declined even more.  Only the financial industry of speculations have not changed much.

In other words, the severe recession of the real economy is precisely the opportunity for the speculative industry to obtain more investment.  Under the influence of the epidemic, the economic pattern that was seriously distorted has distorted even further to extremes, that is, it has entered a vicious circle.  On the one hand, many Chinese companies are facing bankruptcy due to lack of workers and markets, thus their inability to repay loans.  On the other hand, industrial and commercial activities have fallen sharply, and consumption will also fall sharply.  The vicious circle of the two is a typical phenomenon of economic crisis.

Thus, the measures taken by the Communist regime are to force factories to resume work.  It is claimed that 80% of state-owned enterprises have resumed work.  But as usual, this number is very inflated.  Local governments have well adopted traditional strategies with countermeasures against the policies set by the central government.  There is no evidence but it can be estimated that this 80% resumption of work figure is double the reality.  It is estimated the result would be good if the production in the first two quarters can maintain the level of January and February without falling.

But is the situation really as optimistic as scholars and officials in China estimate?  I don't think so.  The optimistic estimates have their basis, that is, the pneumonia epidemic will gradually cool down and even disappear.  But is this based on reality?  It seems that more people disbelieve it.  The basis for disbelief is more realistic.  The most pessimistic estimate is that it will erupt globally, not just in China.

There are several pieces of evidence here.  The first evidence is that Wuhan pneumonia is contagious before it is in full bloom, and no one knows how many people with the virus have entered the communities.  Responsible medical experts also think that the outbreak will happen for sure, and is only a matter of time.  The second evidence is that China is once again covering up the epidemic on a large scale in order to resume work.  However, the epidemic situation in other countries is developing rapidly.  Why would China go the opposite direction?

Does China already have a way to identify hidden sources of infection, or does China already have special-effect medicines?  I haven't heard of it.  All I heard was shirk responsibility and cover up the facts.  To fool the people by using big propodanda to go against the epidemic is indeed a characteristic of the Communist regime's publicity for decades.  None of the existing facts can prove that the epidemic situation will be miraculously improved.  Continuing to hide the truth from the people will only cause more serious consequences.

Experts have repeatedly warned that the resumption of work will result in the gathering of people therefore will lead to the expansion of the epidemic.  In fact, there is a big loophole that has not been noticed by most people, which is about the vast rural areas in China.  These areas have poor medical conditions, and there will be a large number of unnoticed infections developing as rapidly as in the cities.  In terms of area, the rural population is more sparse than the city, but the living conditions in the countryside are as dense as in the cities.  In addition, poor medical conditions make it more difficult to control the development of the epidemic.  These two huge loopholes of resumption of work and rural areas in China, will ensure that the epidemic continues to develop on a large scale, if not more severely.

Analyzing from above: the epidemic prevention measures have been relaxed to ensure short-term economic benefits, which will for sure receive counterproductive results.  The consequence of the uncontrolled epidemic is that the economy will continue to be hit harder.  Many local governments in China resist the coercion of the central government and will focus on epidemic prevention rather than resuming work.  In the long run, it may be wise.

However, these local officials may bet their official positions for doing so, just like the county chief (who against the top order evacuated his people) during the Tangshan earthquake.  Is it more important to save hundreds of thousands of lives, or is it more important to keep their official positions?  These local officials must make a choice this time.

 

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