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World Socialist Website - March 13, 2022

Outbreaks of the highly transmissible Omicron BA.2 coronavirus subvariant surged across China over the weekend. According to the National Health Commission, there were 1,938 new confirmed cases of infection on Saturday across 31 provinces. The vast majority of cases, 1,421, were detected in the northeastern province of Jilin. Media reports indicate that the case count nearly doubled to just under 3,400 on Sunday.

In response, Chinese authorities have initiated emergency measures to contain the spread of the virus, including mass testing, contact tracing and lockdowns. Residents of Jilin City have undergone six rounds of testing, according to local officials. The neighboring city of Changchun, home to 9 million residents and China’s largest automobile producer, has been put into lockdown. The mayors of both Jilin City and Changchun have been fired in the wake of the virus’ spread, the largest outbreak in China since February 2020.

Lockdowns, including the closure of schools, workplaces and nonessential businesses, have also been implemented in Shanghai, home to 25 million people and one of the world’s largest ports, where 64 cases were detected in one day. In Shenzhen, located on China’s border with Hong Kong, its 18 million residents went into lockdown after 60 infections were detected.

These lockdowns, part of China’s “Zero COVID” public health policy, have been denounced by the Western media as “draconian” (the Associated Press). Other outlets have been more reserved, such as the Guardian, calling the effort “challenging.” All only acknowledge in passing that, in pursuing such a scientifically guided policy to fight the pandemic, China has only suffered 4,636 coronavirus deaths since December 2019, and only four deaths since April 2020.

Nor does the Western media note that previous lockdowns have proven successful. Outbreaks of Omicron earlier this year in Tianjin, population 14 million, and Xi’an, population 13 million, were successfully contained through such stringent measures. It does not require political agreement with the Stalinist government in Beijing to acknowledge these facts. ...
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