From the American Enterprise Institute: In early April, headlines read that the global figure for COVID-19 cases had breached one million. At the same time, China rejected charges by US intelligence and others that it has lied about the extent of its outbreak. China and its defenders will reject any and all evidence, but their task can be made a bit harder. Begin with an article on January 27 from a party-vetted state media outlet (China Global Television Network, or CGTN, is an international media organization launched on December 31, 2016. It is the international division of CCTV, which – along with CNR and CRI – will collectively be known as the China Media Group. Headquartered in Beijing, CGTN has an international team of professionals based around the world with production centers located in Nairobi, Washington D.C. and London.)
The numbers from the article, even making the most important one much smaller, shows China lying on a huge scale about COVID-19 outside Hubei province. The article reports:
- Five million people left Wuhan in the three weeks before the lockdown;
- 30–40 percent, or 1.5–2 million people, left Hubei entirely; and
- About 465,000 people flew to the 10 listed cities outside Hubei.
The third item conforms to a 520,000-person monthly average in air travel from Hubei and is a direct count. China’s COVID-19 figures are not arithmetically sensible. The Communist Party has deliberately made estimation difficult, but, outside of Wuhan city and Hubei province, cases are low by a factor of 100 or more. In late January, Chinese media provided information about migrant outflow from Wuhan before quarantine. Using a lower number than theirs, the conservative figures for migrants’ infection rate and time in circulation before national lockdown, generates an estimate of 2.9 million cases. This is partly due to China’s huge population. That population can also hide COVID-19 among tens of millions of respiratory illnesses. Along with harshly enforced censorship, the population can hide tens of thousands of deaths.
That’s the bad new from China. Yeah, the CCP (if you don’t know what the initials stand for by now, turn off Netflix and Instagram, start reading something, but here’s a hint: Count 21 lines down from the beginning of this post…..) is bad. But many Chinese groups in America are good. Example: When Chinese groups in the US learned of the outbreak in China in January, they began collecting medical supplies for beleaguered relatives and friends in China; then in March when our shortages became more acute (than what China claimed they needed), they donated those supplies to fellow Americans. Most of my readers are intelligent enough to understand that I am condemning the CCP, not Chinese per se, though I will include the suppliers, purveyors and customers of the infamous wet markets in my condemnation.
Also bad are our own petty tyrants. Stephen Kruiser at PJMedia.com writes: One of the worst of the petty tyrants has been Eric Garcetti, the mayor of Los Angeles. It’s quite obvious that he’s relishing his authoritarian turn in the spotlight. He gave everything a Soviet flare last week when he encouraged the citizens of the City of Angels to snitch on neighbors who aren’t obeying lockdown rules. Not creepy at all.
The British love liberty, up to a point, but nowadays they love informing on their neighbors even more. So reads the subheadline of Coronavirus Has Exposed Britain’s Snitches and Police Tyrants, by Charlie Peters in National Review: Before our lives switched to lockdown and immobility, I was enjoying a few pints with a friend in a pub on Fulham’s bustling North End Road. We were discussing one of our favorite topics — Germany — and how we’ve both noticed that the country is infected with a rancid culture of snitching. By contrast, Britain, I said, can take great pride from our national attitude against tattletales, which starts in the school playground before fermenting into full-blown opposition to informing on neighbors when the police come knocking.
He told me I was wrong, and that we’re just as ripe for the Germanic grassing (informing) that we both lamented. He has been proven right. The coronavirus epidemic has revealed that vast swaths of our society need little incentive to transform into curtain-twitching, proto-Stasi informants. A little over two weeks ago, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced tougher restrictions on our liberty to prevent the spread of the virus. “Stay home and save lives” was his rallying cry. Unfortunately, many took this to mean “Stay home and make sure your neighbor does the same.”
Northamptonshire has reported a thriving snitching community, with its chief constable, Nick Adderly, recently revealing that the force has faced a surge in calls from people reporting their neighbors for “going out for a second run.” Not wanting to miss out on an opportunity to embarrass themselves in public, many of our overzealous police forces have launched online contact forms so people can grass on their neighbors. Some of these portals were launched because police control rooms were “inundated” with calls from nosy neighbors. It seems many are only too keen to fill them out when they spot someone sneaking out for a quick stroll. Cambridgeshire police tweeted: “We have now developed an online form allowing you to report individuals breaching Covid-19 restrictions via our website.” The account shared a webpage where people can give details about a person or organization ignoring the rules. And they’re not alone. A portal from Humberside police asks you to give details on people who are “not following social-distancing rules.” Police forces in the West Midlands, Greater Manchester, and Avon and Somerset have launched online forms and phone lines to clamp down on people gathering.
Derbyshire police have been using drones to keep the eye of the state on people wandering to beauty spots — an action I remember mocking the CCP for doing just a few months ago. One clip, which they gleefully shared on Twitter, showed two people pausing for an “unnecessary selfie” while taking a “non-essential walk.” How quickly we have lapsed into statism. Are you surprised? Haven’t you read 1984? The meta-tyrant Big Brother was not just some fictional boogeyman dreamed up by George Orwell, nor was the nation of Oceania (along with Eurasia and East Asia) strictly a fantasy. The evil philosophy which governed the dictatorship of Oceania was called IngSoc, for English Socialism. Did Orwell foresee England in 2020, or was he writing about things going on in 1948? Before any of us get too gleeful about merry olde England–“I knew it, those hooligans”–my next post will visit with the same kind of covidiots here, the Mindless Rule Followers.
James Lileks is one of my favorite satirists. Here’s a sample from his latest missive: “Of course, if I’d known this (CoVid-19) was coming, I would have liquidated all my assets and buried them in the backyard. The neighbor might have wondered: ‘What are you doing there, friend?’ ‘I cashed out of the market because a deadly virus is coming from China in six months and blood will run down Wall Street like a crimson tsunami of panic, so, you know, just planning ahead‘” ‘Does China know about this?’ ‘Good point. I should tell them. Also, if I were you, I’d get the variety pack of ramen.‘ I wrote a note, dated two weeks into the future. ‘Candles are gone, we ate the dog.‘ Put it in an envelope to be opened in a fortnight. If we’re doing better than that, it’s all good.