High-ranking Chinese Politburo official Yang Jiechi — the hardline attack dog China unleashed against a stunned Biden administration back in March 2021 — penned an op-ed for Chinese state media on Monday in which he insisted, despite copious evidence to the contrary, that China’s economy is doing just fine despite the grueling coronavirus lockdowns imposed on Shanghai and other cities.
“Under the guidance of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, we have forged ahead on all fronts with unity and fortitude, fully implemented the decisions and plans of the CPC Central Committee, and advanced work in various fields in a deep-going way,” Yang declared at the beginning of his tedious screed, which ran into thousands of words and was broken into three chapters.
His argument bloated with constant hosannas for dictator Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party, Yang argued the Beijing Winter Olympics were proof that China fully recovered from the primary stage of the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic. He claimed the lockdowns imposed to control the outbreak of the current Omicron variant pose only minor inconveniences to China’s “steady” growth:
Since the beginning of this year, tested by rising complexity and uncertainty in the external environment, the CPC Central Committee, with strategic vision and sound decision-making, has introduced in a timely way a series of policies conducive to economic and social stability and development. The Chinese economy kicked off to a steady start this year. Production on the supply side and market on the demand side have generally remained stable. People’s livelihoods have been protected with robust and effective steps. New progress has been made in achieving high-quality development.
“Faced with a new wave of resurgence of COVID-19 cases worldwide, China has remained committed to putting the people and their lives first, to the prevention of both imported cases and domestic rebound, and to following a dynamic zero-COVID policy,” Yang insisted, using the currently favored political euphemism for lockdowns.
Yang sneered at Western nations for abandoning lockdowns and harsh restrictions to live with the contagious but considerably less dangerous omicron variant, a strategy many of the Chinese subjects trapped in deranged “dynamic zero-Covid” lockdowns fervently wish Beijing would embrace:
China has both adopted solid, vigorous, successful and responsible measures in its COVID-19 response to safeguard the people’s lives, and made tangible and sustained input to honor its solemn commitment to building a global community of health for all. China’s approach stands in stark contrast with the practice of some people in the West who have no regard for facts and confound black with white on COVID-related issues. We have every confidence in winning the tough battle against COVID-19, and will make an even greater contribution to the global solidarity and fight against the pandemic.
Much of the remainder of Yang’s screed was devoted to assuring the free world that Communist China has not been weakened by the pandemic, retaining both the will and means to aggressively push its interests in Taiwan, East Turkistan, Hong Kong, and the South China Sea. He insisted China’s ambitions to become the new leading global power remain undeterred, and in fact, have been enhanced by Beijing’s alleged leadership during the pandemic.
Yang promised the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), China’s debt-trap colonial project, remains full steam ahead despite speculation the weakening Chinese economy would require cutbacks to BRI spending.
“In response to the new challenges facing multilateralism and global governance, General Secretary Xi Jinping has pointed out that attempts to single-mindedly build ‘small yards with high walls’ or ‘parallel systems’, to form exclusive small circles or blocs that polarize the world, and to decouple, disrupt supply or exert maximum pressure will seriously undercut international efforts to tackle common challenges,” Yang growled in response to people around the world who wish to decouple their political systems and economies from China’s malevolent influence in the wake of the pandemic.
Yang’s manifesto, which seems crafted for domestic critics as much as foreign observers, arrived amid growing signs of a power struggle in the Communist tyranny ahead of the upcoming Party Congress.
As one might glean by reverse-engineering the constant worshipful praise for Xi in Yang’s op-ed, Communist Party critics are increasingly disenchanted with Xi’s leadership, muttering that he has squandered economic advantages handed to him by more talented predecessors. Skeptics accuse Xi of constructing an arrogant cult of personality to elevate himself to Mao Zedong’s stature in Party iconography, making criticism of his policies unthinkable.
Last winter brought a few political purges as Xi and his allies contended with several rival factions headed by disgruntled former allies. One of those factions was based out of Shanghai and is probably even more disgruntled after the manic lockdown imposed on the city seven weeks ago.
Contrary to Yang’s boasts, the Chinese economy fell sharply in April due to the coronavirus lockdowns, including major contractions in retail sales and factory production. Foreign analysts fear it will take longer for China to fully recover from the Omicron slowdown than from the original 2020 coronavirus pandemic.
“China’s economy was already under pressure from a liquidity crisis across its highly leveraged real estate developers and a wider property slowdown as home sales collapsed,” the Financial Times noted on Monday.
“The impact of Shanghai’s lockdown is far-reaching. Economic and technological linkage with the rest of the world is at risk,” analysts at Australia’s ANZ bank warned.