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.