Commentary

 By Abby Liebing  November 2, 2021 at 1:23pm

It should come as no surprise that, as the rest of the world is starting to function more normally, China is still wielding the pandemic as a powerful tool against its own people.

The latest evidence of China’s ability to leverage COVID-19 against the masses happened, ironically, at the “happiest place on earth.”

On Sunday, one measly case of the coronavirus at Shanghai Disneyland prompted government officials to shut down the theme park and lock in more than 33,000 people until they could be tested for the virus.

It started with a woman from the Jiangxi province who took a train to visit Shanghai Disney on Saturday, The Wall Street Journal reported. On her way home the next day, she was alerted by authorities that she had been in contact with a COVID case. At her next train stop she was put in the hospital, where she tested positive.

Shanghai Disneyland then shut its gates and forced everyone in the park to be tested for the virus.

The clash of Halloween costumes with hazmat suits, along with the fireworks going off overhead while visitors waited for testing, was a bizarre display of what it means to live under China’s communist rule.

Even though all the park guests tested negative, they were still ordered to self-isolate for 24 hours and then get another test. Meanwhile, authorities closed the park down until at least Wednesday.

Where was Disney in all of this? Surely the company wouldn’t want to lose revenue by closing one of its largest parks. But Disney is just a minority shareholder in Shanghai Disneyland and thus “had to comply with China’s local protocols,” a company spokesman said, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Western influences, even from sprawling and powerful empires like Disney, don’t have any say in China.

Would Americans tolerate being forced to stay at a theme park until they tested negative for COVID-19?

While many from outside China saw this measure — locking tens of thousands of people inside a park — as extreme, it is relatively lenient for the communist country. Guests were allowed to return home if they tested negative rather than being forced into centralized quarantine.

“The requirements are actually quite mild when compared to some of the more stringent measures taken by other local authorities, as they rush to contain a rapidly spreading Covid-19 outbreak across China,” CNN reported.

It’s no secret that even before the COVID pandemic, the Chinese Communist Party was completely authoritarian. But then the pandemic gave the government another powerful tool of control.

While nearly every other country on the planet has made strides to return to more normal life, China is bent on a zero-tolerance strategy to entirely eradicate the virus. The borders are closed. Quarantines are strictly enforced. Local authorities are intent on tracking all cases so that they can entirely stamp it out.

Of course, this has led to a drop in reported cases and deaths in China.

“China recorded 54 domestic Covid-19 cases on Monday across several provinces, a rate that is extremely low compared with other countries,” the Wall Street Journal reported.

But don’t be fooled into thinking that the Chinese authorities are trying to eradicate the coronavirus out of the goodness of their hearts. Nor are they doing it out of love and protection for the Chinese people. The Chinese government is simply using it for control.

However, COVID is here to stay, becoming endemic and not just a pandemic, according to many scientists.

“Eradicating this virus right now from the world is a lot like trying to plan the construction of a stepping-stone pathway to the Moon. It’s unrealistic,” Michael Osterholm, an epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, said in the journal Nature earlier this year.

So China’s intent on a zero-tolerance COVID strategy is just a play for more power and a semi-legitimate excuse to keep a grip on the Chinese population.

Abby Liebing is a Hillsdale College graduate with a degree in history. She has written for various outlets and enjoys covering foreign policy issues and culture.

Abby Liebing is a Hillsdale College graduate with a degree in history. She has written for various outlets and enjoys covering foreign policy issues and culture.

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