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Analysis
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Coronavirus

China Ends up Holding Four Aces

VIRAL SURPRISE: One of many ways the pandemic made us rethink our assumptions. A Tyee series.

Crawford Kilian 4 Jan 2021 | TheTyee.ca

Tyee contributing editor Crawford Kilian blogs about the pandemic here.

In my first Tyee story on COVID-19, in late January, I wondered if the lockdown of Wuhan was the action of a confident government, or a terrified one.

Xi Jinping had been throwing his weight around for several years, with what Mark Twain once called “the calm confidence of a Christian with four aces.” Was the lockdown a sign of panic, or a decisiveness few western leaders could display?

Trump knew early on that COVID-19 was a serious threat but chose to downplay it rather than panic Americans. Other leaders, including Justin Trudeau, treated the threat more seriously, but their responses were fatally slow. We are now living the consequences.

China’s lockdown looked like an Orwellian update, with drones telling grannies to go home and get their masks. Trump enjoyed calling COVID-19 the “China virus.” But while western economies shed millions of workers, China has returned to a sort-of normal. Caixin, a major Chinese business journal, reports on an economy rapidly finding its feet after the smothering of COVID-19. China’s official news agency Xinhua says Chinese GDP will grow by 10 per cent in 2021, driven by fiscal stimulus and growing consumer demand.

And an old Chinese pen pal, who was locked down in Melbourne earlier this year, is now home and happily teaching her university students face to face.

So an unexpected lesson of this pandemic is that China really is holding four aces, and looking like a country under adult supervision. But it’s not because Xi is a dictator; democratic Taiwan on Jan. 4 reported just 815 confirmed cases and 7 deaths.

Still, China’s reviving economic clout makes it look a lot more competent than the doofus-run democracies of the West. We are in no position to present ourselves as leaders of the world when our own rulers still think COVID-19 is at worst an annoying inconvenience.  [Tyee]

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