Brutal and oppressive lockdowns continue in Shanghai, the latest in a weeks-long effort by the Chinese Communist Party to contain a devastating outbreak of the Omicron variant. Reports from earlier in April estimated that as many as 400 million Chinese citizens were under some form of lockdown. In Shanghai, 25 million citizens today find themselves under a severe lockdown, unable to leave their fenced in, designated districts and, in many cases, unable even to leave their own homes.
China’s authoritarian actions, taken against their own citizens, should alarm the world. Residents in Shanghai who tested positive for the coronavirus – roughly 300,000 by mid-April – were forcefully crammed into temporary, makeshift field hospitals, little more than mass quarantine centers often lacking basic necessities.
People wearing face masks walk across an intersection during the evening rush hour in Beijing, Wednesday, April 20, 2022. Shanghai allowed 4 million more people out of their homes Wednesday as anti-virus controls that shut down China’s biggest city eased, while the International Monetary Fund cut its forecast of Chinese economic growth and warned the global flow of industrial goods might be disrupted. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
The other millions of residents in the city have been confined to their homes. These residents are dependent on CCP officials delivering medical and food rations. Often it is not enough: for weeks, many civilians have struggled to feed themselves or get medical help for sick family members. The CCP is literally starving its own people to death in order to contain the virus.
Residents who complain are met with impersonal, authoritarian measures. One recent video showed a Shanghai man screaming from his balcony, imploring government officials to deliver more food and supplies. He was met by a drone playing a recorded message, to keep quiet and comply with restrictions. Robots patrol Shanghai’s streets, ordering residents to disinfect their homes, avoid gatherings, and “remain civilized.”
Mothers and fathers are forcibly separated from their children under the current rules. Children who test positive are being placed in separate facilities, away from their parents, and forced to wait out their quarantine in cramped conditions surrounded by other sick children. Parents can only communicate with their children through CCP officials and doctors, who are often too busy to tell them how whether their children are still healthy and alive. The CCP apparently feels that child abuse and destroying families is permissible in the name of containing the virus.
General Secretary Xi Jinping’s “Zero COVID” policy is likely to continue to for months. His claim that the CCP had a magic solution to the Wuhan virus is a lie, and he must now defend it. With no mRna vaccines and a tiny fraction of the population having immunity from having been infected, his folly is now apparent to us all. He has built a box from which there is no immediate escape. The Chinese people and the world will suffer.
It is just the latest effort by the Chinese Communist Party to cover up its enormous – and dangerous – incompetence with brute force. This incompetence likely played a large part in the original outbreak of the virus in Wuhan, and it continues to put the entire world, and certainly the Chinese people, at risk.
The CCP’s brutality and utter disregard for human rights should not surprise us. This malfeasance is exactly in line with the Chinese Communist Party’s long record of human rights abuses. The CCP is committing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang against its Uyghur Muslim population. It has crushed the freedom of Tibet and persecuted millions of Christians within its borders. It crushed the rights of freedom loving people in Hong Kong. The Biden administration should be doing more, right now, to address these latest human rights abuses, but it is doing nothing. Every American should be outraged and should call on the administration to take action to stop the CCP from abusing its own citizens.
These lockdowns are also having serious economic consequences for the American people. Shanghai is home to the world’s busiest container port, and the total lockdown of the city will have effects felt by the American people and our economy for months. A backlog of cargo ships at the city’s ports will drive inflation to ever higher levels, hurting the American working and middle class especially. Beijing may well be next, with massive global economic impact. These real, immediate costs on the American people are directly attributable to the CCP’s incompetence and brutality. It is yet another reason why we need to decrease the dependency of our supply chains on China’s economy, and why we need to hold China accountable for its human rights abuses.
What we are watching unfold in China should also be a reminder to all Americans that we should never treat individual freedoms as expendable in the face of disasters like COVID-19. Some policies here at home at the outset of the pandemic certainly trended in this direction – churches and synagogues were forced to shut their doors and congregants were denied entry. Intrusive lockdowns and mandates were enforced, many of them well past the point where they were at all useful, reasonable, or supported by science. Fortunately, the American people ultimately resisted these attempts to infringe our fundamental liberties – such things should never happen. But even as we watch what is happening in China, the Biden Administration’s Department of Justice is suing to reinstate the mask mandate while seeking to end the pandemic restriction of Title 42 at the southern border, allowing an even greater flood of illegal immigrants, but attempting to keep American families masked on public transportation.
In the Trump administration, we recognized that the Chinese Communist Party actively seeks to remake the world in its own authoritarian image. We should take note of the brutality and cruelty it is currently visiting upon its own people, and pray for the Chinese people, who are suffering both from the scourge of COVID and the scourge of the CCP’s tyranny. Most importantly, we must ensure that the Chinese Communist Party is never able to export or impose its wicked system on any freedom-loving people.
Mike Pompeo is a Fox News contributor, former U.S. secretary of State, and former director of the Central Intelligence Agency. He is a distinguished fellow at the Hudson Institute.