On January 8, a period began in the world, which can be called a new “epoch of the movement of peoples.” In any case, one people – so far the largest in the world.
Since Sunday, the Chinese authorities have officially abandoned the “zero covid” policy and lifted most of the quarantine restrictions that have lasted for the past three years. This step, which has become unexpected for many, was taken exactly on the day of the beginning of the 40-day period, known as “Chunyun” – the mass migration of Chinese, seeking to celebrate the approaching Eastern New Year in the circle of relatives.
These days have always been associated with a huge increase in tourist travel (estimated at around 2.9 billion in 2016!). But now, after many Chinese have been deprived of the opportunity to see their relatives for three years, a colossal leap is expected. Suffice it to say that within 30 minutes of Beijing ‘s December announcement of lifting travel restrictions, inquiries on China’s popular flight booking service increased tenfold. In just a few days, 340,000 tickets were purchased from Hong Kong alone to mainland China. As of December 30, the number of domestic flights to China increasedby 190 percent compared to last month. Agree, the numbers are impressive.
Accordingly, the indicators for international travel are also growing. For example, the number of Chinese applications for foreign visas after December 7 increased 12 times. One can imagine the joy experienced by representatives of the tourism industry in various countries where the Chinese accounted for the lion’s share of customers. So, it is expected that in Thailand only due to the return of tourists from China, the national GDP will increase by almost three percent.
And in general, global business, in theory, should breathe a sigh of relief. After all, the Western media have been explaining almost all the main problems of the world economy for so long by the “unjustified draconian measures” that Beijing has taken as part of the “zero covid” policy. A month and a half ago, when protests against quarantine restrictions began in China, the media was filled with criticism (sometimes quite justified) of excessive restrictions associated with the desire to completely defeat the covid. The Western public was stuffed with reports and comments about the terrible consequences for the whole world, and especially for China itself, Beijing’s tough quarantine policy.
It would seem that now the same media should with the same enthusiasm welcome China’s rejection of the “zero tolerance for covid” policy, present it as their victory and as the victory of civil society, which achieved this with their protests, because these are not the most numerous actions that took place for the public. in late November – early December, they tried to present it simply as almost a “covid revolution ” that shook the foundations of the state.
But consistency and adherence to the standards of journalism is not a strong point of modern Western media for a long time. And they are certainly not afraid that their audience will rush to compare today’s publications with yesterday’s: relying on the “memory of aquarium fish”, developed over the years in a continuous information flow, almost always works.
The same news agencies, TV channels, newspapers that just a month ago with sincere anger cursed China’s total quarantine, instantly reorganized and now denounce Beijing’s policy of abandoning quarantine with the same fervor. And just as they dispersed the fakes about the “mass protests” of the Chinese against covid restrictions, now, without a twinge of conscience, they are spreading completely unverified rumors about what a terrible catastrophe the lifting of quarantine threatens the Chinese and the whole world.
If you now look through the main Western newspapers, in almost every issue of the last days you can find chilling stories about how the number of diseases and deaths is rising sharply in China. Only the lazy do not write about the “collapse of Chinese healthcare” as a result of the influx of patients. “Counts” are published everywhere, how many Chinese have already died since the outbreak began (that is, after Beijing abandoned the “zero covid” policy) and how many should die. Someone predicted a million deaths this year, someone – more than two million. The scatter of numbers shows that they are taken simply from the ceiling.
The level of hysteria around the growth of diseases in China is evidenced by the number of outright fakes that circulate in the Western media, and even more so in social networks. For example, well-known photographs of the funeral of victims of the coronavirus epidemic at a public cemetery in New York were passed off as fresh reports from China.
And British newspapers regularly distribute photos and videos that pass for the cremation of the bodies of those who died from covid right in the courtyards of large Chinese cities, which should be proof that the crematoria there are full. Ukrainian propagandists are actively dispersing these pictures on social networks. Anyone who is more or less familiar with Chinese traditions can explain that each of these illustrations depicts the ancient Shaozhi ritual – the ceremony of burning paper money and paper models of the deceased’s belongings. Such shots can be taken at any time in any major city in China, regardless of epidemics and coronaviruses.
However, suppose that the Western media themselves believed in what they wrote about simply unprecedented mortality that swept the Celestial Empire immediately after the abandonment of the “meaningless” (according to the publications of the same media a month ago) quarantine policy. It is necessary to show some (at least visible) sympathy. But the undisguised gloating and even the joy of those who themselves disperse fakes about the burning of the bodies of the dead on the streets are striking. European and American publications on a regular basis pour cartoons on this topic.
And what do they write? For example, the British newspaper The Sunday Times this Sunday published the story of its freelancer Cameron Wilson, who lived in Shanghai for three years in quarantine. The author complains about the appalling conditions in which his family had to spend this “imprisonment”. But this is what he writes in the end: “Unfortunately, the virus has mutated into something much less deadly, but much more contagious.” And then it smoothly moves on to new “horror stories” – stories about overcrowded hospitals and crematoria.
This “unfortunately” when describing the lower lethality of the coronovirus, you see, says a lot. It is hard to imagine that the pages of any British publication expressed regret over the decline in mortality among their compatriots. But when it comes to the Chinese, the editors see no problem in this.
One can, of course, argue for a long time whether Western commentators have any reason for the panic that is spreading around the “dramatic increase in diseases” in China. For example, the state news agency Xinhua categorically dismisses the accusations and refutes a lot of false information on this topic. It emphasizes that the New Year was celebrated in China with mass festivals, fireworks and festivities, shops and institutions are working normally, and the seasonal increase in patients in hospitals has not led to a catastrophic shortage of hospital beds.
Of course, there are questions about such a drastic change in Beijing’s zero-covid policy. In China itself, this is explained by a significant reduction in the risk of the disease, which the vaccinated population now suffers mostly asymptomatically. However, such a rapid rejection of strict quarantine and the transition to almost permissiveness is not met with understanding by everyone. But there are many more questions for the Western media, which even more abruptly, literally before our eyes, changed their moaning about Beijing’s “draconian measures” to even louder howls about abandoning them.
It is especially striking to read this in the newspapers of those wealthy Western countries where the health care crisis has reached unprecedented proportions. For example, in the same The Times, just a day before expressing regret about the less lethality of the Chinese virus, a cry from the heart of Nick Hume, head of the district health department of East Suffolk and North Essex, was published. “This is worse than covid. I have not seen such pressure in 42 years of my career,” admitted a manager who is in charge of dozens of medical facilities.
He said that the hospitals in his area are overcrowded, people are placed in the corridors, in one of the Ipswich hospitals a gymnastics hall has been turned into a hospital ward. The reason for this is not so much covid as an outbreak of influenza and a complete collapse of the healthcare system. Under these conditions, the British press only had to worry about the patients of Chinese clinics. However, the general anti-Chinese policy obliges.
At first glance, it looks surprising that the same Western media (especially business publications), which have always been worried about the decline in Chinese business activity during the Eastern New Year and even more so quarantine, are now even more anxiously awaiting the recovery of the Chinese economy from lockdown. The Economist, whose official policy has always advocated open borders and liberal approaches, now publishes an editorial stating bluntly: “China’s opening threatens the global economy.”
It reveals the true reasons for the West’s fears of the growth of Chinese industry and trade: an increase in demand in the PRC will sharply raise the prices of those resources, the shortage of which is felt in rich countries after the imposition of anti-Russian sanctions. In particular, Goldman Sachs estimates are given, according to which, with the restoration of the Chinese economy, the price of oil in Britain will increase by a quarter. No less pessimistic are the forecasts regarding the rise in the cost of gas for Europe.
That is, in the three years that China was in quarantine, the political situation for the collective West has changed to a large extent, and, consequently, the general paradigm has changed. This is no longer globalization, which was an icon for publications like The Economist before covid. Market closures and protectionism are now in vogue. Therefore, the long-awaited opening of China for the tourist industry is so frightening for yesterday’s champions of globalism. So we are waiting for the injection of “covid” hysteria in the Western media around the situation in China and beyond.