China

Changing Attitudes to Lockdown in Left-Wing Media

We know that public health authorities have done major U-turns on both lockdowns and face masks. These things were advised against in the pre-Covid era, but they’ve since become part of ‘The Science’ we’re all meant to follow.

What about left-wing media outlets, which have been so insistent on the need for restrictions? Have they always sung the same tune regarding lockdown, or has their stance shifted along with ‘The Science’?

In the Anglosphere, two of the most influential left-wing outlets are The Guardian and the New York Times. Let’s begin with the former.

On 2nd Februrary 2020, The Guardian ran an article titled ‘China’s reaction to the coronavirus outbreak violates human rights’. (Hat tip to Francois Balloux for bringing this piece to my attention.)

“That the Chinese government can lock millions of people into cities with almost no advance notice,” the author wrote, “should not be considered anything other than terrifying.” Although part of her objection was that residents “had no time to buy food, medicine, or other essentials”, the use of “terrifying” suggests a certain scepticism about the policy itself.

“International law,” she went on to note, “is clear that during a time of public health emergency, any restrictions on human rights should be based on legality, necessity, proportionality and grounded in evidence.” And as people like Francis Hoar have argued, it’s far from clear that lockdowns meet this standard.

On 3rd February, The Guardian published an article titled ‘More surveillance, tighter controls: China’s coronavirus crackdown’. The author noted: “Observers and human rights groups say authorities are going too far.”

Yet one month later, the paper seemed much more sanguine, running a piece that described China’s lockdown as “brutal but effective”. Based on reports that case numbers had been brought down dramatically, the authors wrote, “Beijing’s approach appears vindicated”.

The Guardian later editorialised in favour of both the first and second U.K. lockdowns. Neither of these editorials mentioned “human rights” (though the first did note that citizens are “willing to cede their liberties” once the state “takes responsibility”).

Now let’s look at the Gray Lady, America’s newspaper of record. On 22nd January 2020, the Times ran an article titled ‘Scale of China’s Wuhan Shutdown Is Believed to Be Without Precedent’.

“China,” the author wrote, “is engaging in a balancing act with a long and complicated history fraught with social, political and ethical concerns.”

The author quoted a legal expert, who said that “the shutdown would almost certainly lead to human rights violations and would be patently unconstitutional in the United States”. This expert said that selective quarantines “could be effective”, but that China’s response “goes much further than that”.

Fast forward to March, and the Times was out in force making the case for a national lockdown. “All Americans need to shelter in place,” the editorial thundered. Like in The Guardian’s pro-lockdown editorials, no mention was made of “human rights”.

However, the paper did find space to write that “the United States still has a chance to apply hard lessons learned by China”.

To be clear: I’m not claiming The Guardian or The Times did anything fundamentally wrong from a journalistic standpoint. It’s good for newspapers to air a variety of views. And they should be free to change their editorial stance as new information comes in.

What’s more, China’s lockdown – from what we can tell – was more draconian than the ones imposed in Europe and the U.S. So it’s not necessarily inconsistent to defend the latter while criticising the former.

However, the timing and wording of the relevant articles clearly raises questions about the intellectual basis for lockdowns. Reading the early pieces about China’s lockdown, followed by the later editorials, one is struck by the difference in emphasis: human rights and civil liberties versus case and death numbers.

It all adds to the impression that lockdowns were implemented frenetically, without sufficient regard for individual rights, let alone overall costs and benefits.

Beijing Has Brought Western Environmental Activism Under Its Control

At COP26 China refused to promise to phase out coal and last week the nation broke its own daily record for coal production at 12.05 million tonnes. Bizarrely, China is not perceived as a villain by many of the West’s environmental activists, who instead put the blame for global warming on nations closer to home. The reason for this is likely because Beijing has infiltrated and seized control of much of the West’s environmental institutions, creating an army of ‘useful idiots’ who turn a blind eye to the sins of the Communist regime. The Daily Mail has the story.

Yesterday, green campaigners hailed some modest successes, such as pledges to reduce methane. But back in the real world, China, whose President, Xi Jinping, did not even turn up, is still building coal-fired power stations at a rate of knots and the ‘agreement’ it reached with America to ‘co-operate’ on global warming lacked any substance.

Yet the campaigners in Glasgow barely mentioned, let alone criticised, China. A spokesman for Insulate Britain told me: “We mustn’t use China as a scapegoat.”

Some campaigners even heap praise on China. So why is there such an apparent lack of concern? One answer lies in a book called Hidden Hand: Exposing How The Chinese Communist Party Is Reshaping The World, by Clive Hamilton and Mareike Ohlberg. Serialised in the Mail last year, it argues that China has extended its influence over certain institutions in Britain and other democracies in order to blind them to Beijing’s drive for supremacy.

China, the book says, seduces politicians, business people, academics and campaigners into supporting its aims. It regards them as ‘useful idiots’, unwitting instruments of its goal of becoming the world’s only superpower.

Evidence unearthed by this newspaper, working with researchers fluent in Mandarin, shows Western environmentalists have indeed become a target. Documents suggest they are enmeshed with bodies subordinate to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and staffed by figures from its most ruthless departments.

They include Xie Zhenhua, China’s Chief Climate Envoy. Until 2012, he was a member of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, which enforces state orthodoxy. According to Human Rights Watch, it has been responsible for illegal detention, torture and forced confessions.

“I’m dismayed that some leading Western environmentalists are talking up the CCP as the saviour of the world,” Hamilton says. Take, for example, Professor Lord Stern, Chairman of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change at the London School of Economics, who advises the Government.

Having taught in China since 1998, in 2009 he told a Chinese magazine he had “close contacts” with CCP officials. In 2014, he wrote a paper for the World Economic Forum claiming China was “emerging as a global leader in climate policy”. In 2016 he claimed China’s emissions “may already have peaked”. They hadn’t. The following year, he insisted there was “compelling evidence” China’s coal use had also peaked.

Stern even praised President Jinping’s “personal commitment to driving climate action”, concluding: “The world is looking for a climate champion. In China, it has one.” But in March he sounded less optimistic, saying it is “crucial” China stops building new coal-fired power plants and stops increasing its emissions by 2025.

Nevertheless, Bob Ward, Stern’s Spokesman, told me China was taking “significant action” and the rate of increase in its emissions had slowed enormously. He said China was “keen to learn from the UK’s example of world-leading action on climate change”.

Worth reading in full.

China’s Extreme Zero-Covid Policies Have Not Shielded It From Its Largest Outbreak Since Wuhan

The Chinese Government has declared that the nation is going through a severe outbreak of the Delta variant, with the epidemic reaching 20 out of 31 provinces. This situation has developed in spite of China’s extreme zero-Covid measures, with the Government now telling members of the public to stock up on food supplies in preparation for further restrictions. The MailOnline has more.

Cases were concentrated in the country’s northern regions of Gansu, Heilongjiang and Inner Mongolia.  

The National Health Commission confirmed on Monday 65 new local symptomatic cases for Sunday, up from 50 a day earlier and the highest daily count since August 9th at the peak of China’s last major outbreak. 

Most of the local cases were found in Dalian, in the northeastern province of Liaoning, where nine infections were recorded on Wednesday. 

And reports from the Sichuan provincial capital said dozens of people had scaled fences and trekked through bushes to avoid being tested for Covid.

It came after the capital was sealed off by authorities for mandatory testing after a person who had visited the city became infected. Police said they had not yet verified the reports or arrested anyone and were investigating.  

The spread and rise in Covid infections comes despite the Chinese Government enforcing tighter curbs to contain the cases.

Henan province’s Communist Party Secretary Lou Yangsheng said on Monday the region would “contain and kill” its outbreak in one week. 

The vow came after Henan recorded the largest single-day rise in local infections of the present outbreak with three on Saturday and 18 on Sunday. 

Lou said officials would improve contact tracing systems and increase monitoring of close contacts and potential cases. He added lockdowns would be implemented and expanded as necessary.  

National authorities also said on Saturday the country would continue to pursue a zero-Covid strategy. 

One expert last week insisted the current outbreak will be contained “within a month”.

Zhong Nanshan, a leading expert in China’s respiratory disease research, told China Global Television Network that China will continue with its zero-transmission policy against Covid, because the global Covid fatality rate of 2% is too high.

Worth reading in full.

U.S. Intelligence Claims That Covid May Have Escaped from Chinese Lab

China.jpeg

According to a recent declassified report, U.S. intelligence have remarked that the lab leak theory, which claims that the global spread of Covid began when the virus escaped from a Chinese laboratory by accident, is a plausible explanation, but has stated that the disease was never intended to be a biological weapon. The Telegraph has the story.

The report, which China branded a “farce”, said agencies may never be able to identify the source of the global pandemic but dismissed accusations that Covid was developed as a bioweapon.

Those pushing that theory have been accused of disinformation and had “no direct access” to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, it said.

One intelligence agency said it had “moderate confidence” that the first infection was probably because of a laboratory accident involving experiments and animals at the Wuhan Institute.

The report updates a review ordered by President Joe Biden amid political infighting over how much to blame China rather than governments that may not have moved quickly enough to protect citizens.

Former Republican President Donald Trump – who lost his bid for re-election as the deadly pandemic ravaged the US economy – and many of his supporters referred to Covid as the “China virus.”

The Chinese embassy in Washington said, “The U.S. moves of relying on its intelligence apparatus instead of scientists to trace the origins of Covid is a complete political farce.

“We have been supporting science-based efforts on origins tracing, and will continue to stay actively engaged. That said, we firmly oppose attempts to politicise this issue.”

Worth reading in full.

China to Begin Vaccinating Three Year-Olds

Worried by the recent emergence of localised outbreaks, a growing number of local authorities in China have decreed that children between the ages of three and 11 must receive the vaccine. The decision has been made in light of China’s zero-tolerance policy towards any further outbreaks, coupled with the rapidly approaching Beijing Winter Olympics, set to take place in February next year. The South China Morning Post has the story.

The expansion of the vaccination campaign comes as parts of China take new clampdown measures to try to stamp out small outbreaks. Gansu, a north-western province heavily dependent on tourism, closed all tourist sites on Monday after finding new Covid cases. Residents in parts of Inner Mongolia have been ordered to stay indoors due to an outbreak there.

The National Health Commission reported 35 new cases of local transmission had been detected over the past 24 hours, four of them in Gansu. Another 19 cases were found in the Inner Mongolia region, with others scattered around the country.

China has employed lockdowns, quarantines and compulsory testing for the virus throughout the pandemic and has largely stamped out cases of local infection while fully vaccinating 1.07 billion people in its population of 1.4 billion.

In particular, the Government is concerned about the spread of the more contagious Delta variant by travellers and about having a largely vaccinated public ahead of the Beijing Winter Olympics in February. Overseas spectators have already been banned from the Games, and participants will have to stay in a bubble separating them from people outside.

Worth reading in full.

Lockdown: Where Did ‘The Science’ Come From?

In a previous post, I looked at where ‘The Science’ of community masking came from. Here I’ll do the same thing for lockdowns.

As many lockdown sceptics (including myself) have noted, lockdowns represent a radical departure from conventional forms of pandemic management. There is no evidence that, before 2020, they were considered an effective way to deal with influenza pandemics.

In a 2006 paper, four leading scientists (including Donald Henderson, who led the effort to eradicate smallpox) examined measures for controlling pandemic influenza. Regarding “large-scale quarantine”, they wrote, “The negative consequences… are so extreme” that this measure “should be eliminated from serious consideration”.

Likewise, a WHO report published mere months before the COVID-19 pandemic classified “quarantine of exposed individuals” as “not recommended under any circumstances”. The report noted that “there is no obvious rationale for this measure”.

And we all know what the U.K.’s own ‘Pandemic Preparedness Strategy’ said, namely: “It will not be possible to halt the spread of a new pandemic influenza virus, and it would be a waste of public health resources and capacity to attempt to do so.”

As an additional exercise, I searched the pandemic preparedness plans of all the English-speaking Western countries (U.K., Ireland, U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand) for mentions of ‘lockdown’, ‘lock-down’ ‘lock down’ or ‘curfew’.

Only ‘curfew’ was mentioned, and only once – in Ireland’s plan. The relevant sentence was: “Mandatory quarantine and curfews are not considered necessary.” None of the lockdown strings was mentioned in any of the countries’ plans.

So where did ‘The Science’ of controlling Covid using lockdowns come from? As everyone knows, China implemented the first lockdown (of Hubei province) in January of 2020. Yet it wasn’t until March that lockdowns became part of ‘The Science’.

“Notable, Significant and Abnormal” Purchases of PCR Lab Equipment in Wuhan, Summer 2019

Researchers have uncovered “notable, significant and abnormal” purchases of PCR lab equipment in Wuhan in the summer of 2019, suggesting that Covid was spreading “virulently” in the city far earlier than was previously believed. The Telegraph has the story.

Analysts trawled through PCR procurement contracts in Hubei Province, of which Wuhan is the capital, and found spending had almost doubled on the previous year.

The study by Internet 2.0, a cyber security consultancy that specialises in examining data from China, says: “We have come to the conclusion that, based on the data analysed, it suggests the virus was highly likely to be spreading virulently in Wuhan, China, as early as the summer of 2019 and definitely by the autumn.”

The data and findings have been passed to U.S. Government officials amid growing speculation that the virus escaped from a lab in Wuhan and its existence was covered up for months.

According to the more accepted version of events, Covid originated in a “wet market” selling live animals in Wuhan at the beginning of December.

But the new report claims spending on PCR equipment – standard kit in laboratories for amplifying small amounts of DNA and critical in tracking Covid – in Hubei Province increased to £7.8 million in 2019 from £4 million the year before and £3.3 million in 2017.

The total 2019 contract value, according to Internet 2.0, was higher than the previous two years put together. The report also found the number of PCR contracts increased from 89 in 2018 to 135.

The report’s authors claim the growth in spending was accounted for by contracts at four main institutions – the Chinese Centres for Disease Control (CDC) in Hubei province, the Wuhan Institute of Virology, the Wuhan University of Science and Technology and a military hospital in Wuhan. The report says this is of huge importance because of the bodies’ roles in disease control and prevention.

The report alleges that the “significant increase in spending” was noticed from the summer of 2019, beginning as early as May – seven months before public health officials in China notified the World Health Organisation (WHO) that a mysterious illness was spreading through Wuhan.

The report concludes: “We assess with high confidence that the pandemic began much earlier than China informed the WHO about Covid.”

Worth reading in full.

Ex-Chinese Communist Party Insider Claims China Spread Covid at Military Tournament in October 2019

A Chinese Communist Party (CCP) defector claims that the Chinese Government deliberately spread Covid at an international military tournament in Wuhan two months before the World Health Organisation was notified about the first case of the virus. He says that some athletes at the event came down with Covid-like symptoms but that those he approached with his concerns – including figures in the Trump administration – seemed uninterested. The Mail Australia has the story.

Ex-CCP insider Wei Jingsheng said the World Military Games in October 2019 could have acted as the virus’ first superspreader event. …

Mr. Jingsheng claimed it was no coincidence some of the 9,000 international athletes who gathered for the event reportedly became sick with a mystery illness.

“I thought the Chinese Government would take this opportunity to spread the virus during the Military Games, as many foreigners would show up there,” he told the new Sky News documentary What Really Happened in Wuhan.

The whistleblower claimed he had heard of the Chinese Government carrying out an “unusual exercise” during the games.

“[I knew] of the possibility of the Chinese Government using some strange weapons, including biological weapons, because I knew they were doing experiments of that sort,” he said.

His claims were supported by the former Principal China Adviser to the U.S. State Department Miles Yu.

He said French, German and American athletes were among those to fall ill at the tournament with Covid-like symptoms, but were never tested for the virus.

“We see some indications in our own data… that there was Covid circulating in the United States as early as early December, possibly earlier than that,’ ex-U.S. State Department Covid investigator David Asher said.

Mr. Jingsheng also claims he took his concerns about the unfolding situation to senior figures within the Trump administration in November 2019 but was ignored.

The long-time democracy campaigner, who has served time in prison for “counter-revolutionary activities”, said he made the approach as whispers of a “new SARS virus” began circulating on WeChat and other Chinese social media platforms.

“I felt they were not as concerned as I was, so I tried my best to provide more detail and information,” he said.

“They may not believe that a Government of a country would do something like that (cover up a virus), so I kept repeating myself in an effort … to persuade them.” …

The Chinese dissident would not disclose which political leaders he spoke to but insisted they were senior government figures and had the ear of then-President Donald Trump.

“I’m not sure if this politician wants me to talk about him right here,” he said.

“But I want to say he is a high enough politician, high enough to be able to reach the President of the United States.”

Worth reading in full.

Britain’s Top Universities Chartering Planes to Fly in 1,200 Chinese Students to Claw Back £1.3billion in Overseas Fees

Top U.K. universities are chartering flights to bring Chinese students into the country next month in an effort to overcome travel restrictions. Britain’s 220,000 Chinese students account for nearly a fifth of all tuition fee income and universities are terrified of losing it. MailOnline has more.

More than 50 universities, including Imperial College London, Bristol and Exeter, have already chartered four flights, bringing in some 1,200 Chinese students, the Times reported.

Mainland China has scrapped all direct commercial flights to the U.K. but students can travel to London via Hong Kong, which is on the U.K.’s green list for travel.

More flights are now being arranged in order to meet demand, the paper reported, citing Into HE, an international education organisation assisting in hiring the flights.

Preparations include airport transfers between Heathrow and the university campuses, along with accommodation and food for the students, who currently have to isolate for 10 days upon arrival in the U.K.

The charter flights come amid fears that income from overseas students – worth more than £1billion to U.K. universities – could dip amid ongoing coronavirus travel restrictions.

There are some 220,000 Chinese students studying in the U.K., the Times reported, with students from China providing nearly a fifth of all tuition fee income. Across the prestigious Russell Group, one in every 10 students is Chinese. After China, India is the country from which most overseas students at U.K. universities hail.

The availability of flights to the U.K. has been impacted by coronavirus, particularly over concerns about the Delta variant, prompting some universities to extend online learning and introduce multiple start dates in a bid to accommodate international students struggling to get to the U.K. in time for the beginning of term.

Experts have also warned that the focus on catering to international students risks overlooking the needs of British students, who pay nearly four times less in fees than international students.

Worth reading in full.

Fake Science: The Misinformation Pandemic in Scientific Journals

Another cluster of fake scientific papers has been discovered, this time primarily about electronic medical devices and software. A group of three researchers has published an exposé of papers in which ordinary terms like artificial intelligence and facial recognition are replaced with bizarre alternatives auto-generated from a thesaurus. This appears to be an attempt to hide plagiarism, AI-driven paper auto-generation and/or “paper mill” activity, in which companies generate forged research and sell it to (pseudo-)scientists who want to get promoted.

GENUINE TERMAUTO-GENERATED REPLACEMENT
Big dataColossal information
Facial recognitionFacial acknowledgement
Artificial intelligenceCounterfeit consciousness
Deep neural networkProfound neural organization
Cloud computingHaze figuring
Signal to noiseFlag commotion
Random valueIrregular esteem
Examples of machine generated substitutions

Often these papers originate in China, where the CCP has mandated that every single medical doctor must publish research papers to get promoted (i.e. in their non-existent spare time). If you’re new to this topic, my previous article on Photoshopped images and impossible numbers in scientific papers provides some background along with an entertaining begging letter from a Chinese doctor who got busted.

Most of the bad science covered on the Daily Sceptic is of the intellectually dishonest kind: an absurd assumption here, ignored evidence over there. Sometimes professors – like those at Imperial College London – turn out to be incapable of using computers correctly and are presenting internal data corruption in their models as ‘evidence’, a problem I wrote about in my first article for this site. While these papers are extremely serious for public trust in science, especially given the huge impact they have had, there are even worse problems lurking in the depths of the literature. The biggest is probably 100% fake papers that report on non-existent experiments, often in obscure areas of Alzheimer’s research or oncology.