Have the Chinese lockdown measures been a tool for more surveillance and control? And are the antigenic tests on Tibetans connected with organ harvesting?
by Marco Respinti*
*A paper presented at the webinar “Consequences of Xi Jinping’s failure on COVID-19 front,” hosted by the Centre for Himalayan Asia Studies and Engagement (CHASE) and the Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC) on January 15, 2022.
While the whole story of COVID-19 is a mystery, the story of COVID-19 in China is a mystery within this mystery. I would approach this Chinese mystery by highlighting two main points.
The first is about the origin and the dissemination of the virus. Avoiding easy conspiracy theories, after years of disease, lockdowns, and millions of deaths the world doesn’t know much yet about the new coronavirus. Chiefly, its origins remain obscure. This is true of several diseases, but what is most disturbing in the case of COVID-19 is that this obscurity has always gone hand in hand with consistent opacity on the possible role played by Chinese laboratories.
Many factors indicate at least that (a) the contagion began in China; (b) the contagion started in China months before the world came to know of the new coronavirus; (c) deaths and the dangers of the virus were largely a reality in China before, probably months before, the Chinese regime revealed them; (d) the Chinese Communist regime covered all up, repressing doctors (some of whom died) and citizen-reporters who tried to alert the world; (e) the Chinese regime was successful in compelling the World Health Organization to delay its alarm to the world and its actions; (f) the Chinese regime told the world a huge number of lies regarding its management of the pandemic; (g) the real number of Chinese people killed by the virus is still unknown (as well as the general number of victims killed by the Communist regime); (h) the so-called anti-COVID help offered and provided by the Chinese regime to the world was grossly based on fake news on the supposed defeat of the virus by the Chinese regime in 2020; and (i) the Chinese vaccines against the new coronavirus are largely ineffective, despite Chinese authorities’ claims to the contrary.
These points have been established beyond any doubt. It would even be appropriate to give to the new coronavirus the name “CCP virus.” The reluctance of the Chinese Communist Party, or CCP, to honestly collaborate with the world, its policy of systematically altering information and faking news, its strategy in alternating denials and half-admissions, while the repression of dissidents, religious groups, and ethnic minorities, along with a staggering rise of President Xi Jinping to unprecedented and unmatched power, continues, largely justify the definition of COVID-19 as the “CCP virus.” We can at least say that the CCP is responsible for delays and mismanagement of the pandemic in China, leading to disaster in the whole world.
This brings us to the second point in the mysterious story of the CCP virus: the regime’s policy on COVID-19 since the summer and fall of 2022.
In the second half of September 2022, the number of infections in the world was the lowest since March 2020, when virtually the whole globe was locked down. The World Health Organization (WHO), heavily influenced by Xi Jinping’s China, announced that the pandemic was virtually over. Yet, China was still closed in a new lockdown since early August. If what the WHO said at that time was correct, this new massive and strict Chinese lockdown had no reason to exist.
The situation continued for weeks, exacerbating Chinese citizens, impoverishing businesses, and destroying families. Finally, in late November protests burst out in the streets of unprecedented magnitude since the 1989 massacre in Tiananmen square. Demonstrations were held in the nation’s capital Beijing, in the country’s financial capital Shanghai, in the trade and manufacturing center of Guangzhou, as well as in many other cities across the country. It was the consequence of the “Zero COVID” policy of Xi Jinping: harsh, severe, and also unmotivated if the Chinese-friendly WHO was not lying.
On November 24, 2022, a fire broke out in a residential building in Urumchi, the capital of Xinjiang, that its non-Han inhabitants call East Turkestan, or the region where the CCP’s repressions against religions and ethnic groups escalated to cultural genocide of Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples, paralleled by similar cultural genocides in other regions of the People’s Republic of China such as Tibet and Southern Mongolia. Officially, ten Uyghurs died and an additional nine were injured, while independent and more believable sources assess the casualties at 44: they were victims of the CCP virus. In fact, the strict “Zero COVID” policy of the government prevented residents from leaving the building and interfered with the efforts of firefighters. This ignited more popular demonstrations, protesting the infamous and murderous lockdown.
In front of the huge protests throughout the country, the regime seemed not to know what to do: either continue with the lockdown, risking deadly incidents reminiscent of Tiananmen, or lose its face in front of the protesters and the world. We all know what happened. All of a sudden, China ended the lockdown, just like nothing had happened for months, a few hours after saying that the lockdown was indispensable and will continue. Chinese citizens began to move freely around the country and reportedly the infection sky-rocketed again. While the whole world begs the Chinese regime to tell the truth, at least once, and release true data on the infections, no one yet knows the real figures. But we are all left wondering.
We wonder why the Chinese regime imposed a strict lockdown when there was no obvious reason for it, and what happened to cause the regime to lift that lockdown so rapidly. In fact, if so strict a containment measure was necessary for months against all odds, how could the regime suspend it so quickly?
We also wonder whether what it is now being said on the large new infection and death wave in China is true. If it is, it means that the regime had good reasons for its lockdown. But this would create problems with the assessments by the China-friendly WHO and question the wisdom of reopening so rapidly.
I suspect it will take years to know the truth, while some aspects of this mystery will never be solved. Thought the most interesting question here is “why.” Why did Beijing implement so contradictory, or seemingly contradictory, policies? Let me underline a few elements before reaching a first conclusion.
The “Zero COVID” policy of Xi has been a great tool for repression. Lockdowns and similar measures greatly helped the regime to implement its gigantic and hyper-technological system of control and surveillance of its citizens, under the pretext of protecting their health. Maybe Xi’s policy also partially counteracted the infections by COVID 19, but for sure it brought repression to its zenith.
The victims of the COVID-age repression have been again religious groups, ethnic minorities, and all sort of dissenters and dissidents. Let us look at Tibet.
“Voice of America (VoA),” in an article on September 22, brilliantly summarized the situation, stating that “Tibetans are monitored more heavily and face harsher repercussions than people elsewhere because of the political sensitivity of the region.” Especially in the historic capital Lhasa, people were “quarantined in empty stadiums, schools, warehouses and unfinished buildings.”
The situation in Tibet was unbearable and protests began first on social media in September to go then to the streets on October 27 against a lockdown imposed since August 8.
Tibetans were even arrested for daring to share online COVID-related photos and videos. Media reported the case of a nomad, Rinchen Dhondup, and other six fellow Tibetans who were arrested on September 14 for this reason. Other Tibetans were arrested in Lhasa, Nagqhu, and other counties for similar crimes.
Of all this repressive policy against Tibetans using the supposedly anti-COVID measures, one key point is especially alarming. First, to ascertain infections, Tibetans were massively compelled to undertake antigen tests. Social media showed pictures and footage of Tibetans standing in huge lines on some rocky paths under icy rain. Many were women with their little children: all had to wait in harsh conditions for being tested. Secondly, even some people who tested negative were separated from others, quarantined, and monitored again and again.
As reported by VoA, a Tibetan man and his three young children were taken to the Lhasa Beijing Middle School Quarantine Center after the man’s wife’s anti-COVID test was inconclusive. “Authorities,” reports VoA, “required the entire family to quarantine with 800 people.” Two of those young kids “developed fevers in the school facility where there were no doctors, medicine or medical treatments.” It is quite difficult to describe this as a measure to protect the health of Tibetans.
Again, “[i]n a viral audio recording, a Tibetan father pleads with a government official at one of the Lhasa quarantine centers to not separate him from his year-old child” even though they had all tested negative for COVID. “Now we have tested positive,” the Tibetan father lamented, “and you want to take away our child.” Once more, it is rather difficult to describe this as a measure to protect the health of Tibetans.
During the lockdown, tests on Tibetans were taken once a day and in certain areas even twice a day. Was this evidence of a special care for the health of Tibetans?
I am concluding. But let me recapitulate the situation of Tibet through the words of former Ambassador and former minister for Foreign Affairs of the Italian government, Giulio Terzi di Sant’Agata, a keen observer of all thing Chinese, who also graciously quoted “Bitter Winter” in this analysis. Calling Xi Jinping’s Communist China the “most genocidal regime of this 21st Century,” Terzi indicted the “horrendous exploitation made by Beijing of a virus that originated in China, that was denied by China, but that spread due to the proven, documented, and irrefutable responsibility of Xi Jinping’s government.”
So, Terzi noted, “the genocide that the Chinese Communist regime has been waging for decades in Tibet and for several years in Xinjiang has intensified and accelerated with the pandemic. For Beijing, the coronavirus was the perfect opportunity and weapon; not only for its aims of geopolitical domination in the world, but also to try to make even more deadly its disinformation, propaganda, and eradication of every language, culture, religion, and ethnicity on Chinese land that does not match the characteristics of the Han race.” “The pandemic,” Terzi concluded, “increased the repugnant falsehoods of the Communist regime that portrays Tibet as a new paradise on earth. It is not heaven on earth, but its exact opposite, it is hell.”
Now, former minister Terzi wrote these words as early as mid-December 2020. The new lockdown of 2022 worsened a situation that in Tibet was already staggering.
My fundamental question remains: why? Why the useless lockdowns or alternatively the opposite: why the surprisingly rapid end of the supposedly highly effective “Zero COVID” policy? Why so many antigenic tests, if there was no real danger, or alternatively the opposite: why let Tibetans and others free to move within the country or even abroad, if the new coronavirus was a serious threat?
I have no answer, and I would like the CCP to give a full answer. As usual, I fear a totalitarian regime that manages the health of highly controlled and repressed people such as the Tibetans. In a totalitarian country such as the CCP-led China, the horrendous practice of organ harvesting whose victims are those the CCP target as enemies is a huge and prosperous industry. DNA profiling and the strict monitoring of the health conditions of the designated victims is of course strategic for organ harvesting. Have the Chinese lockdown measures been a tool to control the citizens even more strictly? And are the antigenic tests on Tibetans a tool in the hands of the organ harvesters?