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The Chinese Communist Party Has Surrendered to COVID-19

China's Xi Jinping
China's Xi Jinping

China’s Xi Jinping Capitulates on COVID-19: Henry Gao of Singapore Management University argues that Chinese ruler Xi Jinping suddenly reversed his “dynamic zero-Covid policy,” perhaps the world’s most draconian set of disease-control measures, because he believed his own propaganda and overestimated the ability of his regime to handle the aftermath. 

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The aftermath will be horrific. Scientists predict 800 million people in China will get the disease this winter. Some estimate 1.1 billion will be infected. As Charles Burton of the Ottawa-based Macdonald-Laurier Institute told 1945, “there is a massive wave of disease and miserable death spreading all over China.”

Did Xi Jinping make a policy mistake, as Gao believes?

More likely, Xi did not “decide” anything. A better explanation is that he simply capitulated to the disease.

How so?

As an initial matter, Xi’s policy had failed to contain the disease. The World Health Organization believes the current “explosion” of cases in China is not the result of the abandonment of zero-Covid, and leaked Chinese case figures tend to support the international body’s assertion.

Moreover, the Communist Party and Chinese central government were no longer able to administer their disease-control regime. First, the Chinese people, through extraordinary protests beginning at the end of October, made it clear that after three years, they would no longer accept Xi’s harsh measures.  

Second, municipalities bore most of the cost of implementing zero-Covid lockdowns and could no longer afford them. Even the capital of Beijing was running out of cash for this purpose.

Third, Xi’s policy was fast driving the Chinese economy deep—or deeper—into contraction. Zero-Covid, often implemented by extreme tactics, was also driving factories out of China because it had disrupted—in some cases, severely—both production and transportation.

Although it had been clear for a long time that Xi’s approach was disastrous, China’s willful leader stuck to it. He doubled down on the policy in his Work Report, a nearly two-hour speech that opened the Communist Party’s 20th National Congress on October 16.

The subsequent capitulation to the disease has eroded Xi’s support in senior Party circles. “His opponents have inflicted humiliation upon him,” Roger Garside, former British diplomat and author of China Coup: The Great Leap to Freedom,” told 19FortyFive.

There are other indications that Xi is not as powerful as he was just a few weeks ago. The Central Economic Work Conference, held this month, apparently junked his signature “Common Prosperity” program.

While Xi has been losing his grip over the Communist Party, the Communist Party has been losing its grip over its own officials. Case in point: On the 23rd of this month, American and British media outlets reported in detail on secret deliberations of China’s National Health Commission.

The revelations were shocking: commission minutes show that almost 37 million people contracted the disease on December 20. Some 248 million people got Covid in the first 20 days of this month. Bloomberg News called the outbreak “by far the world’s largest.” Documents were leaked and have now been published online. The stunning disclosures suggest officials were so disgusted that they decided to undermine their own party state.

The Communist Party is apparently in panic mode. Relentless propaganda is seeking to accomplish the impossible: portraying both the zero-Covid policy and its complete and sudden abandonment as wise. “For three years, China has waged a savage propaganda campaign to convince the world that its draconian ‘zero-Covid’ was the most effective way to combat the virus,” Kerry Gershaneck, author of the recent Political Warfare: Strategies for Combating China’s Plan to ‘Win Without Fighting,’ told 1945. “The narrative on zero-Covid has now shifted.”

So how does the Party escape the consequences of what people can see with their own eyes?

The regime’s strategy, Gershaneck points out, is to blame others for the disaster: “lower-level officials, vaccine makers, and ‘foreign forces.’ ” In late December, he noted, “China’s Foreign Ministry went into Wolf Warrior mode once again to attack ‘Western’ news media for ‘hype and distortion’ regarding the Party’s chaotic handling of the end of its zero-Covid policy.”

The Party, believing itself to represent the inevitable forces of history, cannot blame itself. It tells the Chinese people that it always has been infallible, “great, glorious, and correct.” This view has led to its absurd and obviously false propaganda narratives, “extreme dissembling” Burton points out. “The propaganda machinery is working overtime,” he told me.

“In any political system, whether democratic or autocratic, when a signature policy of the top leader is abandoned, it is crucial that the leader strive to maintain his or her authority by presenting the change as having been decided by him or her,” Garside observes. “Xi Jinping has failed to do this.”

So Xi did not make a mistake. He just failed. The consequence is that there is apparently intense infighting at the top of the Communist Party.

China, as a result, looks unstable.

A 19FortyFive Contributing Editor, Gordon G. Chang is the author of The Coming Collapse of China. Follow him on Twitter @GordonGChang.

Written By

Gordon G. Chang is the author of The Great U.S.-China Tech War and Losing South Korea, booklets released by Encounter Books. His previous books are Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes On the World and The Coming Collapse of China, both from Random House. Chang lived and worked in China and Hong Kong for almost two decades, most recently in Shanghai, as Counsel to the American law firm Paul Weiss and earlier in Hong Kong as Partner in the international law firm Baker & McKenzie.



  1. Anybody

    December 31, 2022 at 8:50 am

    Surrendered is the right word. Surrendered overnight without even one single effort made to vaccinate its elders with a good vaccine, so much for Zero ‘no efforts must be spared to protect our citizens’ Covid.

  2. The Rational Thinker

    December 31, 2022 at 10:22 am

    So let me get this straight: first Zero Covid was a tool used to control the Chinese people and it needed to be done away with because, well, freedom. Now they have done exactly what the author wanted and now they’re evil because, well, China.

    But closer to the heart of the matter, when China engages in any sort of policy change, we tend to gloat and sneer and call it a “surrender.” Why? Should they have a democracy like us where, according to a Harvard study, the electorate is only listened to 30% of the time regardless of how much support a bill or policy has? That’s correct: in the US, 100% of the people could support a bill and there is only a 30% chance it will be passed by Congress.

    But at least Congress didn’t surrender! That’s showing us who’s boss!

    Most significant of all, however, is Mr. Chang’s pretty poor record of reading the tea leaves. The coming collapse of China, which he predicted would occur in 2011, didn’t occur. Then his prediction that it would occur in 2012 didn’t occur… he also claimed China deliberately infected people and lauded Trump’s miserable response to the pandemic as rapid and effective.

    A million dead Americans might disagree, but he’s not pandering to them.

    Like Peter Zeihan, Mr. Chang is less of an analyst and more of a marketing guy. In this instance, he’s promoting the narrative that China is about to collapse because, well, it’s China.

    And if China had a nickel for every time Mr. Chang predicted it would collapse, they would be the world’s second largest economy and growing…

  3. David Chang

    December 31, 2022 at 11:43 am

    God bless people in the world.

    People in America should obey Ten Commandments and persuade people in the world to obey Ten Commandments. If Democratic and Republican parties want to win socialism warfare by democracy, Karl Marx will be the winner.

    God bless America.

  4. Bill

    December 31, 2022 at 11:44 am

    First and foremost. Stop calling Covid a disease. It’s just another strain of flu. It’s not the Black Death. Not a plague. Just the flu.

    And the problem in China is simple. By forcing the people to get jab after jab of the “vaccine”, he’s destroyed the immunity system of his people. Now they’re all susceptible to catching the flu. Their bodies can’t fight it. And the vaccine does nothing to help it.

    Whatever the purpose of the Covid “vaccine”, it had nothing to do with the health of the people.

  5. Stubbs

    December 31, 2022 at 12:23 pm

    Funny how this comment shows up first.

  6. 403Forbidden

    December 31, 2022 at 1:11 pm

    Xi jinping is a nincompoop who must be taken down and exiled to the west.

    Xi is like joe biden who likes to be wishy-washy and highly insipid while pretending to be above everyone else.

    Xi allowed covid to be surreptiously introduced into wuhan in oct 2019 with his obsession for endless sports events and international meets.

    Then he betrayed his country and whole world by allowing people to leave even though AFP was screaming ‘SARS in wuham, SARS outbreak in wuhan.’

    In 2019, approximately 155 million chinese tourists went abroad, with many willingly or unwillingly snared into scams, drug cases, gambling, counterfeiting and vice.

    All for sake of travellers’ freedom that’s a damnef totally devastating bane on fragile global climate.

    Joe biden and family received millions from xi’s sidekicks while joe was out of office, which explains why he hasn’t issued any arrest warrant for xi.

    Xi needs to face a court of law for failing to stem covid transmission in the early days of jan 2020 and for exporting opioids to US while trump was raging at chinese trade.

    Xi has also failed to take the bull by the horns as he avoided fighting the foreign press in china that actively spearheaded the country’s anti-zero covid policy.

    Instead, he was more concerned with successfully seeking a third term as predident.

    It is time for china to pull xi down from his high horse and send him abroad, like to NYC, Rikers island or attica.

  7. LanceR

    December 31, 2022 at 2:07 pm

    Surrender or not, this sounds like a Jim Jones case of a leader who is drinking his own Kool-Aid.

  8. earth citizen

    December 31, 2022 at 3:10 pm

    The Western vaccines are effective.
    When COVID19 started in the US, Democrats and Republicans were dying in about equal numbers. After the vaccine became available, in the US, the Republican death rate became TWICE as many as the Democratic death rate, due mostly to the fact that many more Republicans refused to get the vaccine. That is one key reason why the 2022 elections were are disaster for the Republicans. Many more Republicans, compared to Democrats, died from COVID19.

  9. Robert S

    December 31, 2022 at 3:19 pm

    I suspect the writing is on the wall for Xi; that writing being “Mene mene tekel upharsin.”

  10. Commentar

    December 31, 2022 at 8:14 pm

    Biden has failed to take the bull by the horns in this whole covid business that’s has direct or indirect connections with xi jinping of china.

    More people died in the US during biden’s first year as president (2021) than during trump’s final year.

    And biden has done nothing to address the 1.1 million covid deaths in america as xi tries to re-infect world with masses of outbound covid tourists.

    Biden needs to ask Congress to issue an international arrest warrant for xi.

    Alternatively, biden could demand china remove him from office and put him on trial.

    Failing which, US would expel all PRC diplomats and seize all inbound goods from china.

    Biden, however, has done nothing except foment a proxy war against a nuclear power right on its front doorstep.

    Thus both biden and xi are the biggest sob leaders on this planet.

  11. jb

    January 1, 2023 at 1:19 am

    So, what happens now with the Bat Lady, Wuhan Virology, the other Research DR. from Vancouver, Peter Daszak, The Fauc, etc.?
    I there an outing?

  12. Solano Jones

    January 1, 2023 at 6:57 am

    This sounds a lot like a certain US narrative: “Patriots are in control.”

    Is ANYBODY in f***ing control?

    Is control even a thing anymore?

    Can we be transitioning to global anarchy?

    What a world.

  13. David E Hurkett

    January 2, 2023 at 1:30 pm

    It seem likely that Xi’s advisors told him that the zero
    covid policy was a complete failure and that cases were growing quickly. He decided to use the protests as an excuse to stop the policy. In this way the current infections can be blamed on dropping the zero covid policy instead of because of it. He can save face.

  14. TheDon

    January 3, 2023 at 12:26 am

    Sorry folks, that ship sailed.

    The chinese use covid as an excuse to not sell goods to try to hurt out economy, a quiet support of Russia.

    Companies ate buying outside of china and Putins fast endeavor has become a nightmare without an end in sight
    So the Chinese are opening production or they will lose many products.

    Mr Obvious.

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