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China’s Covid arrogance

Covid testers in Shanghai. Hector Retamal/AFP

When the number of Covid cases spiked in Shanghai this month, the Chinese government “trotted out its usual Covid-busting formula”, says Michael Schuman in The Atlantic. It locked residents in their homes, tested them repeatedly, and isolated each positive case. But this time it wasn’t such a success. The tactics failed to stem the surge of the virus and the sudden lockdown caused a city-wide food shortage. Worse still, the locals got cross. Protesters defiantly posted their confrontations with authorities on social media; some people resorted to simply screaming out of their windows.

The insistence on a zero-Covid policy is part of China’s perilous obsession with exceptionalism. “The Chinese have defined themselves as special people from the earliest days of their recorded history.” The emperors of imperial dynasties viewed the rulers of other countries as subordinates. Under Xi Jinping, and during the pandemic, this sense of superiority has increased. It’s why Xi insists on maintaining bonkers zero-Covid rules so he can boast about the country’s low death rates. And it’s also why Beijing chose to use only “homemade jabs”, despite the fact that Chinese Covid vaccines are less effective than Western competitors. China’s leaders should be wary. Exceptionalism has its pitfalls.

🎶❌ China’s strict lockdown measures have extended to censoring the country’s national anthem, says Business Insider. On the Chinese social media platform Weibo, all mentions of the song’s “rousing” first line – “Stand up! Those who refuse to be slaves!” – are being deleted.