‘Shift to sanity’ shock

The Hong Kong government announces a gradual but nonetheless unmistakable retreat from zero-Covid. Flight suspensions are…

…“no longer timely,” as the pandemic situation in the listed countries [is] often “no worse than Hong Kong.”

Social distancing will be relaxed, schools will go back to normal, and the mass-testing idea looks deader than ever. The authorities are also (separately) putting more effort into getting the elderly vaccinated.

The introduction of common sense will be dragged out in phases over months so it looks like an orderly plan enabled by the astounding success of existing policy, rather than an embarrassing admission that the latter was a disaster. Of course, in theory officials could always do another U-turn. But it looks serious this time (spin-doctors even had the gumption to manage expectations over the last few days). And it is surely not a coincidence that there are more signs of a cautious, tentative, maybe-sort of rethink about zero-Covid in the Mainland.

Every silver lining has a cloud. The parasite lobby looks forward to cramming Hong Kong with millions of tourists by year-end. After the last face-mask has been dumped in the trash, the last children’s playground reopened and the coffin supply restored, Hong Kong will still be left with fumbling government-by-patriots and a NatSec regime obsessed with sedition, fake news and terrorism. 

If Beijing can extricate itself from zero-Covid – a trap created by the leadership’s need to craft a narrative of CCP infallibility – could it also back away from siding with Vladimir Putin? Some mid-week links (I’m ironing the cat tomorrow)…

George Magnus on how Ukraine, Covid and reliance on the private sector could undermine Xi Jinping’s ‘common prosperity’ vision. 

From GMF, the consequences for Beijing of backing Putin…

Walking away from Putin now is unlikely to gain China much credit and would only leave it more exposed. It has stuck by far less useful partners in the past. 

The Daily Beast on the possibility of a Putin assassination…

…poisoning Putin wouldn’t be an easy task. According to a source who works in the upper echelons of a Russian ministry, Putin in February allegedly sacked the some 1,000 people—from cooks to launderers to secretaries to bodyguards—who catered to his daily personal and professional needs, and replaced them with a new group of attendants.

A lengthy Octavian Report interview on what goes on in Putin’s mind.

An LRB review of The Economic Weapon: The Rise of Sanctions as a Tool of Modern War by Nicholas Mulder.

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40 Responses to ‘Shift to sanity’ shock

  1. donkey says:

    On the flight suspensions, someone has pointed out that while they seemed to signal the bans on flights in will stop on April 1, nothing was done to stop the ridiculous banning of airlines flying into Hong Kong for two weeks if more than one person has covid on the flight in.
    So what happens to people who surrender to fate and decide that it’s okay to travel again and then end up booking on a flight in May or June that still has this horrendously stupid and punitive flight cessation policy enacted on it.
    If I was an airline, I would sue the Hong Kong government for outsourcing health policy to a commercial enterprise that has no capability to be their vetting and security apparatus.
    Why hasn’t any of them sued Hong Kong government yet? It’s abysmal what they are doing to these airlines.

  2. Jackme Hoff says:

    There’s a lot to grumble out to be sure and a lot of you wankers seems to get off on it.

    Out of genuine curiosity though if you were in 2020, 2021, and beginning of 2022 respectively, knowing only what you knew at the time and given the limitations of political office (not like the US or the UK did a bang up job either handling CoVid if you measure by # of deaths), what would you do differently if you were the CE?

    E.g. if you upped the pressure to get the elderly vaccinated, some SJW chirpers would say you’re not respecting human rights. And inevitably some tiny % of those elderly would die or experience serious side effects. That would lead to more bleating and hand wringing and condemnations of a heartless government etc.

    No one doubts HKSARG has made mistakes and the PR is an absolute disaster but between the edicts of BJ and a population that has an almost pathological desire to complain about everything, could you administrative keyboard geniuses really have done any better?

  3. Stanley Lieber says:

    @Jackme Hoff

    Just as William F. Buckley, Jr. observed,“I would rather be governed by the first 2,000 people in the Boston telephone directory than by the Harvard University faculty,” I would rather be governed by any random assortment of the administrative keyboard geniuses who visit these pages than the Lam administration.

    And if Hong Kong people had a vote on the subject, I think they would, too.

  4. Low Profile says:

    @Jackme Hoff – granted, there are things the government should do but cannot because it would anger Beijing, such as admit that the Sinovac vaccine is inferior to BionTech, But one thing they could definitely do is persuade the elderly to get vaccinated the same way the DAB gets them out to vote: with material incentives. Making the government’s latest consumption voucher handout conditional on either being vaccinated or having a genuine medical exemption would be one way to achieve this.

  5. Mark Bradley says:

    “could you administrative keyboard geniuses really have done any better?”

    All it takes to do better than this zero brains muppet show of a government would be to:

    1. Require a vaccine pass LAST YEAR to enter restaurants and bars
    2. Attach vaccine requirements to the voucher hand out
    3. Door to door vaxing for homebound elderly and to nursing homes; can be voluntary rather than compulsary

    Elected governments managed to pull this off better than HK could. HK utterly failed and has the worst death rate per million in the world even when you factor how badly the USA and other western countries messed up in 2020.

    So are you the new reactor # 4 or what? Can you blame the HK public from grumbling when they are denied a right to elect their own government and have to instead put up with these complete idiots?

  6. Vic Hislop - shark hunter and man of mystery. says:

    He is not the new reactor#4, he is the old reactor#4. Hey Simon, the pubs close at 6 PM today. Shouldn’t you be on your way by now?

  7. Chinese Netizen says:

    Mark Bradley, Stanley Lieber and Low Profile: Thanks for taking the time to respond to obvious ‘Mr Holier Than Thou But Without A Viable Alternative Rectum #4 Wanna Be’.

    The fact that you three easily came up with doable, logical, and similar options that COULD have been done by the chickens-sans-heads nullifies Mr Hoff’s smug attempt at trying to seem more intelligent than he likely is.

    To answer his final question: YES…the keyboard geniuses could have done better. A LOT better.

    Because they, unlike the geniuses tasked with “running” the city, actually KNOW the citizenry. Unlike Ms Mission Impossible Purchasing TP.

  8. reductio says:

    @JackmeHoff

    I might not win any friends saying this, but it is refreshing to have a different view of things BTL on TBL (ha ha!). But, since you asked, thinking it over, I honestly think I could have done better over the last year than the CE. The elite need to get down to plebland more frequently to get a clearer, rounded perspective on the situation rather than relying 100% on self proclaimed experts, sycophants, pork barrellers and Vicars of Bray.

  9. Paul says:

    As one of the many millions of people around the world who has been happy to turst his immune system to deal with this year’s respiratory virus as effectively as it has for the previous 50+ years (and having had the same cough for a few days as all those stuffed full of experimental drugs), I strongly disagree with enforced medication.

    And the whole vaccine pass thing is a mess. I’ve now had Covid, I’ve demonstrated that my immune system can deal with it (any repeat infection will almost certainly be even milder or asymptomatic). The vaccines make no great difference against the transmissibilty of the virus. I’m no danger to anyone (and at no danger myself). And yet it will be May before the government manages to update the Vaccine Pass system to allow me back into restuarants, and I will be sent back into purgatory in September when my 6 months free pass runs out. In the meantime, if I leave HK for a saner place I will not (ever?) be allowed back in.

    I don’t think this week’s plan is much of an improvement. What the powers that be should be doing is telling all the vulnerable people (i.e. 75+ year old, immune-suppressed etc) that they are responsible for making decisions about their health, that they have x weeks to get vaccinated (as if the last 18 months hasn’t been enough) and after that we will go back to a normal life.

  10. Hamantha says:

    @Jackoff

    Yes.

    /Next question.
    //The username is fitting.

  11. Chef Wonton says:

    To be fair, up to the Omicron sledgehammer of Q1 2022, the Hong Kong government managed to keep COVID infections steady at 12k total for the best part of two years, a world beating low infection rate.

    At the price of knobbling Asia’s once upon a time best-ever city, economically and socially and every other possible way, I know, but let’s not split hairs.

  12. Din Dan Che says:

    I thank my fellow keyboard administrators on this thread for their time in trying to enlighten Jackme; only to add that the only Social Justice Wanker around here seems to be him.

  13. Penny says:

    Allowing residents to fly back from the nine countries facing a flight ban is “not a relaxation but a smoothing out of policy,” Lam said.
    https://hongkongfp.com/2022/03/21/breaking-hong-kong-to-scrap-covid-flight-bans-from-april-1-in-person-classes-to-resume-april-19-earliest/

    Yet another classic Carrie (“I could not stand seeing a lot of old people dying in my hospitals.”) Lam quote to add to the list.

  14. A Poor Man says:

    Gyms can open on April 21, but swimming pools and beaches will remain closed. Is this a slap at Vagina Yip Yau Suck Yee and her desire to have golf courses reopened?

  15. Stanley Lieber says:

    @Jackme Hoff

    BTW, the Great Barrington Declaration was published in October 2020, before the vaccines had even been released, and Mrs. Lam had the same opportunity as I did to read it and sign it.

    The Declaration read in part, “The most compassionate approach that balances the risks and benefits of reaching herd immunity is to allow those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection, while better protecting those who are at highest risk. We call this Focused Protection.”

    They were right then and they’re still right today. So, yeah, I think any one of us could have done a better job than the hapless, stubborn, blinkered and malevolent Lam administration.

  16. Matthew says:

    TBL is an important part of my sanity regime. And the comments section is a vital element. Today was a classic: good debate and lively humour. Thanks to all the participants!

    PS. I hope one day to learn who is/was Reactor #4. I am guessing somebody called Simon who likes a drink?

  17. Reader says:

    #Jackme

    Like #reductio, I welcome your challenge to go beyond groupthink.

    But this comments column, and much other public discourse, has for months been promoting the specific policy changes that Lam is finally introducing, after so many of her trusted health and other advisors got tired of being ignored and went public with advocating those very same positions.

    For sure, actual government is harder than armchair criticism. But in this case, the evidence favours the furniture.

  18. Backbiter says:

    “Hong Kong will still be left with fumbling government-by-patriots and a NatSec regime obsessed with sedition, fake news and terrorism.”

    You forgot to add:

    “ Observed by a sad collection of Colonial relics too hapless, intellectually immobile and/or drunk to get on a plane and discover Life.”

    Pip, pip!

  19. Joe Blow says:

    Is there any chance that Fitness First may continue under a new corporate umbrella?

  20. justsayin says:

    I would have made Broom Head CE and mandated Pfizer instead of Sinovac.

    Is that a net positive over what Carrie did?

  21. WolfLikeMe says:

    Hong Kong is indeed full of whiney bitches, let’s silence them.

  22. donkey says:

    Well, looks like the pro-CCP camp found Hemlock’s blog.

    All I can say about some of the rather asinine anti-liberal sentiments by some here is that these things they are saying are tiresome, have been around for years and like themselves, have gathered quite a stink about them.

    I don’t even bother to swat them away anymore. I have transcended.

  23. steve says:

    Hey Paul,

    Congratulations on demonstrating the superiority of your precious bodily fluids over some sissy girly man virus that’s killed only 6 million people and disabled millions more. You’ve more than qualified for this year’s Nietzsche-Rand Award for the most libertarian demonstration of purifying iron will, selfishness, and scientific ignorance.

  24. Jackme Hoff says:

    Seems like I’ve struck a nerve amongst a few trigger happy onanists.

    Appreciate the few brave and measured souls who took a minute from reflexive frothing at the mouth against anything HKSARG related.

    Too many comments to dive deeper into but again I’ll focus on the example I raised about vaccinating the elderly. Say they linked the consumption voucher (totally ridiculous to split it into 2 or 3 btw) to the vaccine. Can you imagine the uproar by the anti-vaxxers? Sadly this brand of low IQ science denialists lives not just in the US but in our very own fragrant harbor. And most shockingly of all, they are well represented even in our esteemed medical force.

    There were and are very real concerns about Biontech still today (which doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go get vaccinated, if you haven’t already, get off your rocker and go now!) And while Sinovac has clearly proven to be less effective it is the only option for young children for example (as approved by the Hospital Authority).

    But following this brilliant scheme of linkage, say 1 million elderly all sign up for Biontech (your favored vaccine of choice); a few hundred or say 0.05% (well within the range experienced from other countries) of elderly vaccinated develop severe side effects ranging from strokes, facial palsy, even death. Can you imagine the reaction by the more excitable of you lot in here? “HKSARG is a heartless beast!” “HKSARG is luring the indigent elderly with these evil cash handouts” “Where’s our personal choice?” “Didn’t they know vaccines were dangerous?” Etc etc ad naeseum.

    Lam’ed if you do, lam’ed if you don’t.

  25. Mark Bradley says:

    @Backbiter

    Holy shit are you full of yourself and oblivious of you own character flaws too it seems

  26. Toph says:

    Is it actually necessary to point out the asinine logic behind “Carrie Lam did the right thing by letting 5000 people die through complacency because if she’d done a proactive vaccine campaign some (possibly imaginary) SJWs would have complained about it”? Well, if that had happened, those complainers would have been wrong. And most of those 5000 people would be alive. Jesus H Christ.

  27. donkey says:

    I’d rather be an onanist and die happy than someone trapped into the metempsychosis that causes him to keep coming back to this blog, but reincarnating as a different identity each time, but still can’t get it right so that you have to repeat yourself and launch invectives and snark at everyone. For what? Nobody really gives a shit what you are saying.

  28. Penny says:

    ‘Hong Kong will claim victory over Covid soon’
    The chief of China’s foreign ministry office in Hong Kong says the SAR will triumph in its fight against Covid-19 with “robust support from Beijing”, adding that One Country, Two Systems will play a part in helping the city “claim victory soon”.
    https://news.rthk.hk/rthk/en/component/k2/1640412-20220323.htm

  29. Reactor #4 says:

    @Jackme Hoff – excellent job. I disagree with your sentiments, but if you can wind up the smug buggers who loiter around in this echo chamber, then I shall doff my cap to you.

  30. Paul says:

    @Steve
    Well I have a science degree from Cambridge and spent much of my career doing risk analysis, so I’m happy to take you on on those if you have any actual data to discuss rather than just launching into an ad hominem attack.

    I’m all for vaccinating and protecting the vulnerable to the greatest extent possible. (As Stanley Leiber pointed out, the Great Barrington Declaration is as good and valid now as it was 18 months ago.) But “the vulnerable” is a very small proportion of the population. More or less forcing the vaccination of healthy kids against a disease which poses a minuscule risk to them rather than letting it enhance their natural immune system is bordering on child abuse.

  31. reductio says:

    And here come the caveats:

    https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/health-environment/article/3171485/coronavirus-hong-kong-schools-must-have-90-cent

    Just waiting for a government minister to announce that when the CE stated that masks are no longer necessary for exercise this is valid only for those periods of inhalation, not exhalation.

  32. Reactor #4 says:

    @Paul. One of the amusing things about Cambridge graduates is that within the first five minute of you meeting them they have to let you in on where they studied for their first degrees. For quite a few years it irritated the heck out of me, but now I take it as a cue to have 10-15 minutes of quality pig-sticking, usually built around “Really” and “Oh, really”.

  33. Chef Wonton says:

    Update on Hong Kong mortality rate, for more context on why the hi-heejuns are back-peddling on Project Panic.

    Hong Kong COVID has a 99.8% survival rate (up to today March 23, 2022)

    Based on HKU’s concession (confession) that Hong Kong’s CORRECT infection number is now 4.4 million infected (with another couple of million due to be infected in the coming weeks). Among whom 6,400 have died. https://news.rthk.hk/rthk/en/component/k2/1640275-20220322.htm?

    Twice that amount die in road collisions than COVID, yet still no sign the government intend closing the roads.

  34. Mark Bradley says:

    @Paul

    “More or less forcing the vaccination of healthy kids against a disease which poses a minuscule risk to them rather than letting it enhance their natural immune system is bordering on child abuse.”

    Vaccines are normally given to healthy people too including children so why is this a problem? While I agree that children’s immune system can fight off covid, the risks associated with the vaccine are far lower than the risk associated with getting infected with covid including omicron while unvaxed.

    Vaccinated people also end up with a much more mild covid infection if they get infected so your claim that vaccinating kids is “child abuse” defies logic.

    And yes while kids probably can fight it off, they could still spread it to vulnerable groups.

    Let’s not forget that 90% of deaths are from unvaccinated people and just because you survived doesn’t mean you didn’t pass it on to someone else and eventually the infection chain leading to an 80 year old.

    So why did you choose to not vaccinate? Personally I don’t regret getting double vaxxed with Biontech last year, and plan on getting my third shot on April 8th.

  35. Mark Bradley says:

    “@Jackme Hoff – excellent job. I disagree with your sentiments, but if you can wind up the smug buggers who loiter around in this echo chamber, then I shall doff my cap to you.”

    The smug buggers who loiter around in this echo chamber managed to prove you wrong every single time. Your smug claims of a silent majority supporting the government during the district council election in 2019 to your persistent insistence that an authoritarian government offers the most competent governance during a pandemic have all been discredited.

    And indeed the only person acting smug is you; project much?

  36. Flogging a dead hamster says:

    So far, basically every other government in the world has done better than HKSARG and that’s despite the HKSARG lucking out somewhat to get two years to prepare for it (which were bought at the low low price of at least six years’ worth of economic growth).

    Being caught completely by surprise by the virus, two years into a global pandemic is just so pathetically inept, it would be risible if we weren’t talking about people dying.

    So never mind the commentators here, honestly at this point, I posit that a dead hamster would have done better than the HKSARG over COVID, if only because the population would know exactly where they stood with a dead hamster was in charge: no flip flopping, no uncertainty.

    Of course whilst that’s a bit of a gedankenexperiment, thanks to the retarded actions of the clown car that is the HKSARG, there is actually huge untapped resource of dead hamster candidates for better leadership in the territory.

    Here’s a most upvoted comment off the slavishly pro-HKSARG SCMP comments on reductio’s link to illustrate the fiasco that is the HKSARG leadership on COVID:

    The nerve of this administration! First they don’t allow children to get vaccinated. Then they say we have to close the schools, because children are not vaccinated. Now they allow vaccination for children, but with only 8 weeks between the 2 doses. It hasn’t been 8 weeks since the start of children’s vaccination, but how come you’re not all 90% vaccinated already? The cheek of it all… And I didn’t mention: closure of the schools for a mass-testing that’s not going to happen.

    With friends like that, eh? Just imagine what the popular majority of anti-HKSARG crowd think.

  37. dimuendo says:

    Paul

    Please see comment somehow mis posted on Hints of Fading Tolerance …

  38. steve says:

    Paul,

    See Mark, above. And on your credentialism, god help us, Reactionary #4.

    The idea that you would refer to actuarial tables to parse out who gets PERFECTLY SAFE vaccines in a pandemic is chilling. My father was in the insurance business, but he had a sense of proportion.

  39. Henry says:

    Hmm… the “Great Barrington Declaration” – for those of you who think this valid and rooted in science – it isn’t. It’s a bunch of libertarian wing-nuts who will never be satisfied until complete freedom is afforded to everyone. So long as they are the freedoms they approve of. To see the “declaration” in (unintended) action, check Hong Kong over the past six weeks. Good job governments and real scientific advisors around the world had the sense to ignore that rubbish. 6m deaths would likely have been 60m or more.

  40. justsayin says:

    @flogging
    At least you’ve clarified why the hamsters were purged. Carrie didn’t want them getting into government and upstaging her ‘dynamic-zero’ management performance-

    Also, I think you mean ‘wisible’

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