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HomeWorldOpinion - Tatiana Prazeres: Mistakes about Covid zero in China

Opinion – Tatiana Prazeres: Mistakes about Covid zero in China


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“I was wrong about theme X🇧🇷 In July of this year, the New York Times published eight articles with a common focus: columnists wrote about opinions that turned out to be wrong, according to them.

In a difficult exercise in self-criticism, the title of Paul Krugman’s text was: “I was wrong about inflation”. By David Brooks, on capitalism. I thought about what I would write if the Sheet set me the same task.

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Following, now far from Beijing, the Covid-zero policy, I take advantage of my 150th text here to offer the answer. I was wrong about China’s zero Covid policy. I wrote that the Chinese were proud of the results of the policy — which was certainly true for a long time.

I wrote that the rest of the world underestimated the impact of the policy on the Chinese’s confidence in their political model — and that, today, I would not write like that, even having made, at that time, the caveat that history was still being written.

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I must say, however, that the external judgment of the country’s fight against the pandemic usually has an anti-China bias – it focuses on the photograph of the moment, not the film of the last three years. doesn’t seem right decree the absolute failure of the policy, as it certainly worked for a good period.

In 2020 and 2021, most of which I spent in Beijing, the feeling was that I was in a safe place. Much more controlled, but safe. Lockdowns, while tough, were very localized. The economy quickly recovered while virtually every country floundered.

Deaths from Covid were minimal compared to the rest of the world — and even in a controlled information environment, chaos in hospitals and crematoria would not escape social media. Authorities were unwilling to face a staggering death toll—possibly millions of people. And they acted to do so (in a way unthinkable elsewhere).

The error, more than in the hotly defined policy at the beginning of 2020, seems to lie in the enormous resistance to adapting it to the new circumstances. The issue is the need to build an exit door for Covid zero (which, in my favor, I wrote some time ago). Interestingly, the pandemic, which coincided with the CCP’s 100th anniversary, made the authorities pay attention to references to the party’s ability to adapt to the times. In a triumphalist tone, the fight against the pandemic was presented as proof of the party’s vitality.

Currently, in contrast to the rest of the world, the idea of ​​living with the virus is a sign of defeat for those who, for almost three years, defended that it was possible to control it by force. The Chinese watched the first World Cup games on television intrigued by the public in the stands without masks. And they watch isolated matches at home — almost a quarter of the population would be under lockdown.

The resistance to changing the logic of combating the pandemic makes past gains, significant, seem increasingly distant and present costs, too high. In the final balance of this story that, in fact, is still being written, it is quite possible that the zero Covid policy will not contribute to the Chinese’s confidence in the regime, unlike what happened at the beginning —and contrary to what I imagined .

My mistake was thinking that the country, which at the beginning was so effective in fighting the pandemic, could take so long to adjust its plans. The term of validity of the policy expires as the population’s patience approaches zero.

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