Stability, stability, stability.
We've heard it for decades from both internal and external messaging of the Chinese regime: stability is essential to Chinese interests.
Following China's opening up to the West and domestic reforms undertaken by the People's Republic of China (PRC)'s second leader Deng Xiaoping in the early 1980s, China began its journey towards rapid and uninhibited economic growth, culminating in China's "gray period" of the 2000s.
Carrying the memories of the disastrous domestic campaigns pioneered by the PRC's first leader Mao Zedong (who's policies killed more people than Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin combined), Zemin and the leadership of the CCP decided to pivot in strategy following Mao's death.
With a series of major market-oriented reforms from the 1970s to 1990s, climaxing in China's joining of the WTO in 2001, the CCP significantly diverted from its command-economy model of the Mao era. The Party began to champion itself as the harbinger of the Chinese economic explosion -yearly economic growth targets and domestic stability became the party's obsession.
Fast forward to 2022 and the CCP is imposing some of the harshest lockdown measures on the city of Shanghai since the Covid-19 pandemic began in October of 2019.
In early 2020 we witnessed first hand the full extent of the Chinese government's capabilities to control their population. Following their failed early efforts to cover-up the pandemic, the CCP pivoted to a hard domestic shutdown in an effort to stop the spread of the virus.
Deploying the full capabilities of their technological apparatus to monitor, surveil and control the movement of the Chinese people, the Chinese government used every tool in their arsenal to bring back domestic stability and to show the world that "socialism with Chinese characteristics" is the best model of governance.
Coupled with the CCP's vast propaganda apparatus, the Chinese regime did woo many foreign minds into believing the Chinese state "was the best guy for the job" when it came to pandemic response.
However, following the collapse of the world's supply chains, collapsing Chinese GDP figures, falling foreign investment into China and the tell-tale signs of serious domestic economic problems, it has become clear the regime was willing to impose serious harm on the Chinese people and domestic economy to carry out their dystopian pandemic response.
That brings us to the lockdown of Shanghai in late March. As the Chinese people just began to enjoy a return of normalcy with lockdowns lifted and with workers returning to their jobs, Shanghai was hit with a hard lockdown and 26 million residents were impacted.
It has become abundantly clear that lockdowns, masking, social distancing, and other policies of social control have little effect on the spread of Covid-19.
Additionally, considering the technocratic nature of CCP governance, the Chinese regime is well aware of the damage caused by these pandemic response policies. The question that remains is -- after all the CCP learned over these two plus years, why did the regime impose such a tyrannical, irrational and damaging lockdown to Shanghai, the financial capital of China and the wealthiest city in the nation?
In a YouTube video authored by Matthew Tye (Laowhy86), an American human rights activist who spent over a decade living in China, Tye spells out three possible reasons as to why the CCP has imposed such a stringent pandemic regime on Shanghai.
The first reason, Tye explains, is the CCP cannot allow for Chairman Xi Jinping to "lose face" (丢面子) over the failure of his Zero Covid policy or "Dynamic Zero Covid" as the regime is now calling it. Championed by Xi as one of the major campaigns of his career, "Zero Covid" is being implemented by the highest authority in the country -the chairman himself.
Following similar behaviors as witnessed in the Soviet Union, when a policy fails in Communist China, the policy is either covered up or doubled down on. Considering that in this situation the Zero Covid policy is coming from the highest in the government, the policy cannot fail.
Subsequently, Tye elaborates, the Shanghai lockdown could very well be the manifestation of "doubling down" on the policy; Shanghai authorities could be over-exaggerating to please the central authorities.
A more sinister reason Tye outlines is that Chairman Xi could be punishing the leadership and people of Shanghai. Going into great detail on the factional infighting within the CCP, Tye explains that while leading the provinces and territories of China, Xi could never gain full control over Shanghai due to competition with a rival CCP faction known as the "Shanghai Gang" led by former PRC leader Jiang Zemin.
Although Xi had largely wiped out the former central leadership power-sharing arrangement between Zemin's "Shanghai Gang" and former PRC leader Hu Jintao's "Youth League" faction and consolidated power under his own leadership, Tye explains that Xi has been challenged by remnants of the group.
Following Xi's crackdown on Hong Kong in 2020 and the passing of the infamous National Security Law on June 30, 2020, the international community watched as the Chairman unleashed an iron fist over the free, independent and democratic city.
A city administered by the long-standing "one country, two systems" policy (一国两制) following the return of Hong Kong to the PRC by the British Crown in 1997, the people of Hong Kong enjoyed democratic government and democratic rights largely up until the 2020 crackdown.
Chairman Xi could not allow the independence of the Hong Kong people and their democratic and unique identity, Comparatively, Xi extended the CCP's iron fist to Shanghai. A similarly cosmopolitan city, Tye explains that if Xi can gain control over Shanghai, he gains control over the entire nation.
The third reason, one which impacts not just China but the globe, is that China may be stress testing the nation for an extreme event such as war, specifically an invasion of Taiwan.
"We’ve seen all of the elements of micro displays of military conflict all over the place to basically test the country, because if it can survive all of these micro disasters it might be able to survive something devastating like a full-scale invasion of Taiwan," Tye explains.
“When you can lockdown millions of people in a population, you can stress test the food supply chain, the road network, military implementation," he continues.
Subscribe to our evening newsletter to stay informed during these challenging times!!