(LifeSiteNews) — The screams of the dying could be heard a mile away.
An apartment building in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang in the far west, was on fire, and the residents were trapped inside. Escape was impossible, because the doors to their apartments had been wired shut – from the outside.
The officials put the death toll at ten, but posts on social media put the number of those burned alive as high as 44.
Urumqi, you see, was under lockdown. For months the authorities there have fruitlessly sought to stamp out every last case of Covid among the population of 4 million by barring residents from leaving their homes.
Lockdowns have been part of daily life in China since early 2020, when Communist leader Xi Jinping ordered that the COVID virus be completely eradicated from China. “The virus is a demon and we can’t let it hide,” Xi declared.
And with Xi’s declaration the annihilation of the “demonic virus” took on all the overtones of a religious war. Overnight, “zero COVID” became kind of holy grail, as local officials vied with each other to impress Xi with their drive for viral purity.
Officials publicly vowed to wipe out any infestations that occurred within the cities they controlled, and locked down entire neighborhoods after a single person tested positive. Even now, with relatively few cases and even fewer deaths, officials continue with their mystical COVID incantations and exorcisms. Some 70 cities, including parts of Shanghai and most of Beijing, remain in lockdown.
Anthony Fauci initially fell for China’s claim that its “zero COVID” policy worked (although he now says it “doesn’t make sense”), but the Chinese people were not fooled. They quickly figured out that the policy had nothing to do with “the science,” and everything to do with politics. Ask them now and they will tell you that the lockdowns are more deadly than the virus that these were supposed to eliminate.
After three years of on-again, off-again lockdowns, they’ve had enough. People are taking to the streets of major cities by the tens of thousands. Even as China’s censors are spamming Twitter with porn to block news about the protests from spreading – Elon Musk, are you on this? – more and more people seem to be joining the demonstrations.
The lockdowns were the trigger, but China’s first nationwide demonstrations in 33 years are about more than this. It is about the economic disruptions of the past three years and rising rates of unemployment and declining prospects, especially for the young. It is about the Communist Chinese version of the Great Reset, where a social credit system and now COVID passports dictate what you can buy and where you can go.
Above all, it is about fears that China is about to descend into another disastrous Cultural Revolution. For the first time since Mao, another power-hungry leader has successfully packed the Central Committee with his minions, who like so many bots unanimously elected him to a third term.
Despite the unrest, Xi Jinping has not backed off his “zero COVID” policy, nor is he likely to. While minor revisions to the policy have been announced – the doors of the infectious are no longer to be welded shut, for example – the policy itself continues. Its abandonment would mark a huge loss of face for Great Helmsman 2.0, as some now call Xi, using a title formerly reserved for Chairman Mao.
At this point, news of the demonstrations is managing to find its way through the Great Firewall and out of China. But I predict that, if the demonstrations continue to spread, the authorities will simply shut down the internet altogether. When that blackout happens, you can be sure that the troops and tanks will not be far behind.
Xi leads a regime that is more than willing to shed blood to stay in power. It proved that on June 4, 1989, when, in the heart of its capital city on Tiananmen Square, it massacred thousands.
President Biden should make it clear now, before there is any violence, that there will be serious consequences for opening fire on unarmed protesters. The officials responsible, he should say, including Xi Jinping himself, will be sanctioned, and any U.S. assets they or their family members hold will be confiscated. He might also promise that any such action will be followed by a speedy decoupling of our economies, and a demand, in concert with our allies, for reparations for unleashing COVID upon the world.
To date, however, all we have is a brief statement from the National Security Council suggesting that China ditch “zero COVID” in favor of a policy of vaxxing and boosting.
Instead of trying to give public health advice to China’s Communist regime, we should be worried about the health of the Chinese public in the event of a crackdown.
Steven W. Mosher is the President of the Population Research Institute and the author of Bully of Asia: Why China’s Dream is the New Threat to World Order.