Politics, not public health

Reuters on how Hong Kong’s Covid cure is worse than the disease

Tracing, testing, treatment and quarantine resources still target every infection instead of prioritising high-risk groups, such as the elderly, causing widespread frustration. 

(Not to mention arbitrary and cruel punitive enforcement.) Oh and…

The government did not respond to a request for comment on whether its zero-covid policy had contributed to the current problem.

Instead, top officials must now perform Beijing’s ancient ‘Several Somethings’ Ritual, and broadcast it through press releases. During a recent cross-border Covid cooperation teleconference…

[Chief Secretary John] Lee expressed gratitude towards President Xi Jinping for his important instruction on anti-epidemic work of the HKSAR. He added that the HKSAR Government would assume the main responsibility in accordance with the instruction, make every effort with staunch determination to achieve the target of “dynamic zero infection”, and fulfill the three “all-s” and two “guarantees” as instructed by President Xi.

(Editor’s note: CCP house style is ‘the “Three Alls” and the “Two Guarantees”’.)

Public health as political performance. Top officials know (presumably) they cannot successfully implement Xi’s orders because suppressing the spread of the virus in Hong Kong is no longer practically feasible. Yet they must overtly praise his wisdom and proclaim their eagerness to obey – with ‘staunch determination’.

So Hong Kong must pretend to embark on a futile attempt to suppress the pandemic through mass-testing and hospitalizing/quarantining barely symptomatic cases. Maybe this would/does work in the Mainland, where a city can go through this while the other 99% of the country absorbs the extra demand for personnel and overall economic shock. This won’t be the case in far more self-contained Hong Kong, give or take some token medics.

And there’s public acceptance. Thanks to official propaganda, Mainlanders believe that the rest of the world is in pre-vax Delta-era chaos, suffering millions of deaths (even Mainlanders in Hong Kong are susceptible – hence recent reports that some are fleeing illegally across the border). The CCP reinforces this narrative through high-profile but pointless measures like examining imports of frozen food. 

Most Hongkongers, on the other hand, are aware that other countries are opening up and increasingly ‘living with Covid’. They will know, when they are forced to stand in line in the cold for weekly tests, that the whole thing is a charade. Or, to the extent it has a purpose, it’s a pretext for a longer-term tightening of social controls. 

And preparation for further rectification of local elites and strengthening of rule by patriots. From the Economist (paywalled)…

With overt opposition crushed, attention is turning to “soft resistance” among Hong Kong’s administrators. Civil servants stand accused of nostalgia for British rule, and of secretly envying Western countries that choose to live with covid in the name of individual freedoms…

…Ren Yi, a Beijing-based blogger read by many of China’s media and political elites, thinks that pro-establishment Hong Kong politicians are reluctant to tell national leaders that they cannot enforce full, mainland-style controls. Mr Ren, whose pen-name is Chairman Rabbit, does not welcome this reality. But he felt a duty to write a much-cited recent post about the power of Hong Kong’s “deep state”, in order to “try to lower Beijing’s expectations”.

…Mainland scholars urge Hong Kong to accept pandemic help from the central government to boost national pride. They charge those seeking access to the outside world with elitism: opening to the mainland, they say, is what the masses want. China’s top official in Hong Kong, Luo Huining, last month warned the city against “self-pity” over its role as an adjunct to China’s overall development. Behind debates about public health, arguments about loyalty lurk.

William Nee in the Diplomat sees possible parallels between Beijing’s imposition of Zero-Covid on Hong Kong and repression in Xinjiang…

For powerful figures in Beijing it is not the infectious nature of the variant, but rather the corrupt Western sympathies of the Hong Kong elite.

…whatever the scientific and policy merits, it will be harder for the Chinese government to back down from a zero COVID policy now that it has been given a strong ideological dimension. 

…Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing elite may find that they are next on the chopping block.

And now on your knees to worship the ‘Chinese traditional medicine’ shipments.

Studies of HK government officials show…
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14 Responses to Politics, not public health

  1. Ho Ma Fan says:

    The hamster scrotum experiments led by professor Yuen Kwok-yung of HKU would suggest that not all hamsters rounded up and euthanized in the recent purge, were dispatched immediately. Are we witnessing the start of some sort of pet Unit 731? They say that psychopaths start off by killing small animals before moving on to larger prey.

  2. Load Toad says:

    ‘Must Try Harder!’
    ‘Piss In The Wind!’
    ‘Join Hands!’
    ‘Endless Struggle!’
    ‘Dolce Vita!’
    ‘Constant Piffle!
    ‘Endless Diarrhea!’
    ‘Determined Statement!’
    ‘Pointless Policy!’
    ‘Expensive Waste!’

    – with Chinese characteristics…

  3. Chinese Netizen says:

    Bill Maher was especially scathing (and coherent) this past weekend…


  4. donkey says:

    “Mainland scholars urge Hong Kong to accept pandemic help from the central government to boost national pride

    My mother always said, “Feed a fever, launch invectives and pointless ideological wars against colds.”

    It’s worked for me for several years, and I’ve rarely missed a day of important work to uplift the people and shore up the pride of our national endowments.

  5. Joe Blow says:

    Regarding the gigantic clusterfuck that is the Government’s mismanagement of the pandemic so far, if anyone needs proof that Hong Kong’s arrogant, pampered and absurdly overpaid civil service are a bunch of useless cunts, than this is it.

  6. Quentin Quarantino says:

    In a move likely to anger China, I hereby announce that I will resolutely refuse to be tested for the virus not once, not twice, but three times. Stick that in your opium pipe and smoke it, Shit Jumping.

  7. justsayin says:

    @donkey – one word too many there in the quote

    “Mainland scholars urge Hong Kong to accept pandemic from the central government to boost national pride”

    There, fixed it

  8. steve says:

    There’s learning to “live with” Covid and then there’s the US, where the situation is still chaotic and dangerous, which I know first hand because I am in exile in this benighted place. State after state is abandoning the pathetically weak “mask mandates” and restrictions that have so enraged the right wing 8-year-olds who take up all the oxygen in the room. This latest wave of reopenings is in response to the pent-up demand to get back to a normal that, we will learn yet again, no longer exists. As a well-informed medical professional put it, this is like abandoning a ten-day prescription of antibiotics after the third day because the fever’s gone down.

    Meanwhile, I have not dined out, gone to a movie or a club or a concert or a bar, or done anything more than quick hits for groceries and take-out for two full years and counting. But we have it easy. An unvaccinated work friend of my wife died last week after lingering for a month, all alone, in isolation from her family, with a tube down her throat and time to ponder whatever regrets she may have had.

  9. Frances Gumm says:

    My double-vaccinated relative from Hong Kong arrived in London in September, caught Covid (Delta) in October, isolated at home, was sick with flu-like symptoms for several days, recovered her sense of taste and smell two weeks later, and has been working and socialising normally, and flying all over Europe, ever since.

    Why can’t we do that?

  10. Chinese Netizen says:

    @steve: I think Americans have reached the “Wizard of Oz” phase of the WuFlu pandemic: Clicking heels together and wishing for normality.

  11. Ignant American says:


    Sorry to hear about your friend’s wife. That sounds like a truly terrible way to go, and one that seems all too common for those suffering bad reactions to the virus.

    However, I gotta say that it is a breath of fresh air to be in a place like the United States as compared to present day Hong Kong. This is coming from a newly returned American-refugee-of-sorts, who saw the inevitable pandemic’s writing on the wall back in late December 2019 / early January 2020. Back then and even nearly two years later, it was so, so frustrating to see how lackadaisical the Hong Kong government and so many large-scale employers were in their response, and it incredibly heartening to see so many Hong Kongers pulling together to take the basic measures necessary to protect themselves and their comrades, particularly by strict adherence to mask wearing.

    Here in the States, masks are more or less a thing of the past. You can get whatever vaccine you want at any time from any grocery store or pharmacy. Hell, I even got my fourth jab the same day that I touched down in the States, with no appointment, registration, or money required.

    Things essentially seem back to normal. Or, at least, barring reverberations from the earlier economic and social issues that combined into things like a labor shortage in many industries, and some persistent supply chain troubles that have left barren store shelves at places like electronic shops.

    Maybe there’s an ideal middle ground somewhere, but if having to choose between the two extremes of pandemic response of the United States and Hong Kong, I much prefer the former than the latter. My opinion was different when the Alpha and Delta variants were dominant, but Omicron has proven itself a different beast.

    In short, my opinion is that people predisposed to getting serious infections still need to exercise caution. But it should not be expected that everyone else begin or continue extended isolation or mask wearing because of this minority. It is nothing short of madness what the Hong Kong government is currently doing to the city, and it bodes ill — to say the least — for the future of governance in the city as a whole.

  12. donkey says:

    @chinese netizen

    with respect, covid is the least of the world’s concerns. the real issue is asset repricing and recessionary inflation that is brought on by overly aggressive authoritarian governments pushing global / regional conflicts in order to suppress dollar dominance and drive up oil prices. two clues who those two countries are. It’s not the US.

  13. steve says:

    @ Ignant American

    However, the “less dangerous” Omicron has now killed more people than Delta. My point is that the pursuit of “normal” is a perverse, misguided fantasy. People are attempting to will the virus out of their lives, but the virus has other plans.

    Seems that the US and Hong Kong have perfected two distinctly different ways to completely mismanage the virus, resulting in maximum death, disability, and misery for ordinary citizens.

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