The Plague Of Deceit

The situation in China seems to be much, much worse than the all-powerful Communist Party is willing to let on.

From an American doctor with a Chinese wife:

My mother-in-law lives in a smaller city – far on the western fringe of China – If Wuhan were Atlanta – she would be in a place like Boise. She had a fever about 8 days ago. Please note – official statistics note that there are 9 people in her province confirmed to have the virus. This belies the fact that she (never known to me to be a liar or fabulist ) has been telling my wife for days that there are hundreds upon hundreds of people all over the sidewalks and streets outside the hospital – and that the hospital is completely filled with patients. And apparently the crematorium has been very busy. Of most grave concern to her – is Beijing nationalized all of their small province’s health care workers and sent them to Shanghai or Beijing – leaving their city of a million with only a handful of doctors. When she had her fever – a nurse looked at her for 10 minutes. They found out she had a runny nose – and because of the runny nose told her she did NOT have the virus. NO TEST WAS EVER DONE – WHY? they simply do not have enough kits – and are having to go by their gut instinct. She was sent back to her own home – and placed in quarantine there – never having been tested. She is unable to leave – and this is being violently enforced in her city. They bring her food 3 times a week. All this to say – any and all numbers coming from China are highly suspect – and basically worthless. And thankfully my mother-in-law is getting much better.
Her younger brother and his young family live in Nanjing. I cannot tell you the grief expressed by my wife the other night – when he called her the last time – and said all international calls have been stopped effective at midnight that day. Nanjing is now under martial law – for the first time since the Japanese occupation before World War II. He told her about the tanks going down the streets and all the main streets being guarded by men with sub-machine guns. All exits out of the city are now being blocked with layers of concrete blocks. Each family has to designate one person who can go outside 2 times a week – to the nearest store for food and supplies. Anyone caught on the streets without appropriate permission – or not wearing a mask is immediately arrested – and placed in quarantine camps themselves. Anyone who thinks this is all being done just because of a “flu” or “a little virus” really needs to have their head examined.
Her father is in Beijing – and has not been heard from in two weeks.

Traditionally, one “advantage” of totalitarian government is their ability to enforce public health restrictions – see also Cuba’s crackdown on HIV, using old-fashioned public health methods reinforced by thugs with guns. But this plague seems to have circumvented even China’s totalitarian reach.

Which – maybe, possibly – is causing “reform”, perhaps even collapse of the central Communist government, to cross peoples’ minds:

Li Wenliang is the doctor thought to be the first person to sound the alarm over the coronavirus. The Chinese government responded by detaining and silencing him for spreading “false rumors.” The authorities’ lockdown on information about the virus undoubtedly increased significantly the magnitude of the epidemic that now plagues China and threatens other countries.
On Friday, Dr. Li died from the virus. According to the Washington Post, within hours of his death millions of Chinese tried to bypass censors to post the hashtag #WeWantFreedomOfSpeech. The censors eventually prevailed, but deleted sentiments are still real sentiments.
The link between the government’s suppression of speech — the lack of freedom — and the public health disaster in China could not be more clear. Li has become the symbol of that link.
This Washington Post editorial tells us that the cononavirus outbreak “is shaking the foundations of a political system built on President Xi Jinping’s assurance that the party knows best for all.” I don’t know if the epidemic actually is shaking the system’s foundations, but it should.
Speaking of Xi, he was scarcely seen in the days following the outbreak. When he finally appeared, after days of speculation as to his whereabouts, it was at an event with Cambodia’s dictator, a stooge of China.
In free nations, leaders can’t get away with going into hiding during times of disaster. Dictators can. However, doing so erodes confidence in their leadership.

Random tangential thought: if the Chinese government is anywhere close to spiralling out of control, I’m happy that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are out of power.

9 thoughts on “The Plague Of Deceit

  1. I think Berg’s 18th Law needs a Chinese (or any other authoritarian country) amendment to the effect that 48 hours is extended to 48 days. Or something. In the linked post, the third update is from an Alec who reports that all is well in Shanghai. Or for example, I recall reading more than once that 4 UK tourists are reported to have caught the corona virus in Switzerland at a ski chalet where the previous guests were Chinese. This story may well be true, but it sounds more like something cooked up by the boys at 4chan.

    PJ Media, in particular Instapundit, and now Vodkapundit have done (and are doing) yeoman’s work collecting and presenting the myriad threads being reported. The former does this daily or sometimes more than that.

  2. Well, yes, technically speaking, I did have several weeks’ advance notice of the pandemic that wiped out most of the humans on the planet. But I didn’t bother to stock up on food or supplies, because why would I? The government will take care of me. Or at least they would, if that rotten scoundrel Trump wasn’t in charge.

  3. Something no one has been talking about and I did mention to my Mom this weekend in a call is that I really think that this could bring down the communist government. Information cannot be censored in the 21st century with smartphones.

  4. JD;

    Your are correct. Just like the government of Puerto Rico took care of their citizens after hurricane Maria by stashing most of the supplies in warehouses and lining their pockets with the aid money, THEN blaming Trump for not sending any aid.

  5. JD and boss, another example going back a bit further is part of the reason people werent leaving New Orleans when Katrina was bearing down on them was because welfare checks were due out in the next few days.

  6. Knowing some Chinese residents, I have heard similar horror stories about how bad things are there. And when we see things like this, it should give us pause about how we handle everything. Socialized medicine can limit the resources needed for adequate treatment. Leaders who are afraid of criticism can limit the important information the public needs to know in times of crisis.

  7. Old timers will recall that Obama Care was not the first comprehensive health care reform proposal, Hillary Care was. Lots of doctors complained her proposed reimbursement rates were too low so the solution was to draft doctors into the National Health Corps and assign them where needed and pay them all the same. Don’t like it? Give up your medical license.

    Too many plastic surgeons in California, not enough OB/GYN in North Dakota, no problem, you’ve been reassigned. Enjoy.

    That’s how we’d fight the epidemic, too. Strip doctors from rural America to go to the big cities where people are dying. If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor, unless we need your doctor somewhere else. In that case, you’re SOL.

    Hey, you know what? It sounds like the Chinese are using that plan to fight this virus. I wonder who stole whose idea?

  8. One thing that strikes me as very unhelpful is that many/most states have boards that tell when a medical facility can, and cannot, be built, and there seems to be an inherent bias towards larger, more remote facilities–Mayo has gotten huge pushback as they respond to these incentives by closing outstate facilities.

    Now if you’ve got an epidemic going, one thing that strikes me is that the last thing you want is big facilities where it’s easy to transmit the disease to new victims. So our systems may be creating situations where we could end up getting a degree of what China is suffering.

    And on another note, if this is the straw on the camel’s back for Beijing’s Communist overlords that pushes it over the edge (like the Czech refusal to require border passes doomed East Germany), praise God. I’m not holding my breath, but at a certain point, people are going to start taking action, and the Politburo can either choose the East German route or the Romanian route.

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