The CCP has clarified that Marxism, rather than medical science, is the reason why the current strategy cannot be changed.
by Hu Zimo
Many netizens in China are commenting the theoretical article published on April 18 in the “Study Times,” the organ of the Central Party School of the CCP by Ma Xiaowei, the head of the National Health Commission, China’s highest health authority, on COVID-19.
The article is indeed important, and answers a question frequently asked by foreigners: clearly, the cost of the Chinese “zero-COVID” strategy is too high, both in economic terms and in terms of consensus for the CCP—why is China insisting on it? After all, countries such as New Zealand and South Korea, who had adopted a similar strategy in the past and achieved good results, now have decided to change it. There are just too many cases, and locking down every area where the virus develops has unsustainable social and economic costs.
Not so in China. Ma tells us that “we must take a clear stand against the current wrong ideas such as the so-called ‘coexistence with the virus,’” and stick to the zero-COVID policy. Chinese would not need the “Study Times” for this, as the zero-COVID policy is promoted everywhere. But CCP members, and perhaps even foreign observers, need the “Study Times” to understand why alternatives are not even considered.
Ma explains that there is a “Xi Jinping thought on COVID-19,” which is again not surprising as there is a “Xi Jinping thought” for everything. However, Ma underlines two important points. First, that “the Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at the core” (the usual formula) is responsible for deciding the COVID-19 strategy, not doctors or health authorities. Second, that while consulting doctors and using the resources of Chinese science, Xi Jinping ultimately decides based on the “ideological understanding” of an “ideological problem”—because for a Marxist party all problems are primarily ideological.
Indeed, the starting point of Xi Jinping’s analysis of COVID-19 is what Marx and Engels wrote about epidemics. They established two principles, which are the basis of Xi Jinping’s thought for COVID-19. The first is that epidemics are normally caused by capitalism. In the future Communist society—a stage China, which is still in the preliminary Socialist period, has not achieved yet—there will be no epidemics. While further studies should be performed about the origins of the virus, Marxist ideology already indicates the road. The virus can only be a “foreign import” that came accidentally or maliciously to China from another country. The main reason is not the alleged evidence CCP media claim has been found in the United States or even in Ukraine. The most important argument for this conclusion is that Marx said that epidemics are a product of capitalist societies. They are non-existent in Communist societies and much more rare in those governed by a Socialist regime—unless they come from abroad.
The second point is that Marx said that, while Western-style capitalists confront epidemics by protecting first and sometimes only the bourgeoisie, Communists take care that proletarians are equally, or even more, protected. From this, the CCP ideologists have derived the principle of zero-COVID. They have criticized Western models of “coexistence with the virus” as unavoidably class-oriented. “Coexistence with the virus” means that the bourgeoisie, who has a better access to health care than the proletarians, has more chances to go through this coexistence without damages. The only egalitarian attitude before a virus is zero-virus.
Several netizens in China object that the zero-COVID lockdown strategies are not that egalitarian either, since the rich and the powerful find ways to move away from the quarantined areas and just go to their holiday residences, in parts of the country where there is no lockdown. This may or may not be frequent, but the essential point is that Marxist ideology is the compass governing the decisions of Xi Jinping and the Central Committee. Perhaps the zero-COVID strategy would soon become untenable, although so far it is reaffirmed. Changing it is difficult, because it is presented as a consequence of ideology. Those abroad who ignore how much grounded are Xi Jinping’s policies in old Marxist texts run the risk of not understanding them.