The great fear of the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) that it will suffer the fate of the Soviet Union was on full display with the abrupt decision to abandon the country’s COVID-zero policy.
The unrelenting policy, which had been strictly applied month after month for almost three years, was the personal decision of Chinese leader Xi Jinping who described it in ideological terms.
Writing in the Study Times last year, Ma Xiaowei, head of the National Health Commission, stated, “We must take a clear stand against the current wrong ideas such as the so-called ‘coexistence with the virus’ and maintain the zero-COVID strategy.”
The reason, according to the chief of the country’s health authority, was that although he consulted medical and scientific experts, “The Central Committee with Xi Jinping at the core” decides, based on an “ideological understanding” or an “ideological problem.”
There was a “Xi Jinping Thought” on COVID, he said.
There was no confusion about the issue. Xi was applying his commitment to Marxism.
Epidemics are caused by capitalism according to Marx and Engels.
A consequence of this ideological analysis was the virus must have been introduced to China from a capitalist country. Hence the unsubstantiated claims that American participants in the 2019 Military World Games at Wuhan were responsible.
It was another reason why the CCP would not agree to an independent international investigation of the cause of COVID.
Why then the sudden change when Xi has repeatedly proclaimed the historic correctness of the CCP’s policies?
The Incident That Sparked Wider Dissent
The most obvious explanation was the uprisings in China against Xi’s zero-COVID lockdowns of millions of people. The spark for the protests was a fire in an apartment building that had been boarded up under zero-COVID restrictions in Urumqi, the capital city of the westernmost Xinjiang province. It resulted in the deaths of 44 people.
News of the event quickly spread via social media, leading to protests in many Chinese cities.