As the Western media’s criticism of the PRC’s persistent zero-tolerance of domestic coronavirus spread continues unabated, China’s ability to bring cases down has begun to undermine Western rhetorical claims that Omicron was uncontainable, despite the large social costs in much of China.

The economic costs faced by those cities when shutting down are small compared to those faced by the United States which lost a half a percent of their entire population prematurely, exacerbated by mass early retirements, sick leaves, and chronic understaffing in front line occupations out of fear.

The misunderstanding of many in the West, including think tanks such as the CFR, has been that the legitimacy of the Chinese Communist Party was built on sustained economic growth, but this remains an incomplete explanation. CCP legitimacy is tied in with the very value that stands at the core of their party, stability, of which economic growth remains not only a part, but also a consequence of that very stability. The costs of a temporary lockdown pale in comparison to the long-term economic, social, and even political unrest that would occur should the state simply gave up on maintaining public health.

As cases in Taiwan have exploded, after the DPP government deliberately refused to exercise increased controls after rising case numbers resulted from the government’s rush to shorten quarantine times, just as the West has gloated over rising case numbers in Shanghai, so too has the PRC gloated over Taiwan’s predicament.

To China, the loss of control symbolizes not only that the Taiwanese government lacks the will and determination to curb short term interests to prevent calamity, but that Taiwan’s electorate is willing to tolerate a state that needlessly acts against public interests when it suits the elites.

The fact that only one of the small minority parties, the TPP, has found the space to effectively criticize the DPP’s actions have meant that the PRC has used this face to capitalize off of the tragedy and delegitimize the Taiwanese state, not only in the eyes of their own people who contrast this with the PRC, but for Taiwanese elites who observe Chinese content.

This criticism has built on previous efforts to highlight the DPP’s lack of preparedness for their forced “opening,” including the critical shortages of test kits across the North, the center of the spread. The scale of the outbreak was essentially deliberate in that it was promulgated through the colossal inaction of the CECC, and highlights the poor planning and unscientific basis of their choice to allow the spread of the virus. This opening remains a choice the state had more than two years to prepare for, and one which clearly contravenes Taiwanese public opinion.

With elections just about six months away, the incumbent DPP may find that its choices may cost the party dearly, to say nothing of the economic and social unrest, or the 40,000 lives who Taipei Mayor Ke Wen-che has estimated will be sacrificed by year end.


Note: All images are screen captures from 觀察者, a Chinese media source which, like all media in China, must follow censor rules and is representative of state opinion