Introductory comment and documentation
by Ole Döring, Berlin Institute of Global Health & Hunan Normal University, School for International Studies, Changsha, China
This is a rare and real-time insight into the domestic Chinese debate on Covid-policies. It comes a few weeks before the great political reshuffle, the date of which is not publicized. This is the time to prepare society for the new directions of policies that are expected to be springing from the Party Congress and spread messages of optimism.
Here, a Classic strategy is employed, that includes: testing the waters for the new narrative. To start with limited but significant target group outlets, initially behind a paywall1. New aspects and levels of argument are entering the discussion. Criticism is softened by being presented as observations and suggestions for a learning process. In particular the comparative data that indicate a very low medical risk of Covid-19 (omicron) is prone to become a quotable source of reference in support of a drastic revision of course. The timing is significant, in that patience is dwindling on all social and political levels.
The authors argue that the numbers of other infectious diseases under prevention policies are much higher than that of Covid. They express confidence of China’s cultural ability to adjust prevention and control policies according to reason.
It also points at a semantic distinction that should be seen for its strategic import. „社会面清零”政策，即在政府划定的疫情监控范围之外，要实现“零感染”目标“, implies that the purpose of a „clean social zero“ is targeted „outside the scope of epidemic surveillance defined by the government“. This disconnect of health from policy introduces new leeways and leverage for policy discussions that aim to continuity and change, helping the proponent of the outdated policies keep „face“. The course can change towards basic Public Health, health literacy, health behaviour and preventive strategies.
You can find the full article here: IGGB Exclusive China Revises Zero Covid