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Nelson McCausland

We should stop treating China as if it was a benign partner... it is a dictatorship with global ambitions

Nelson McCausland


Beijing was slow to alert the rest of the world to the deadly threat posed by coronavirus, writes Nelson McCausland

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Chinese president Xi Jinping visits port workers during the lockdown

Chinese president Xi Jinping visits port workers during the lockdown

AP

Chinese president Xi Jinping visits port workers during the lockdown

Covid-19 made its first appearance in humans in Wuhan, China, although the date is uncertain. In a totalitarian country such as the People's Republic of China, information is tightly controlled, but it was probably in November last year.

Since then, the virus has spread around the world, bringing sickness, death and fear wherever it goes.

The global toll now stands at 1.4 million infections and more than 82,000 deaths.

On Monday, after more than 10 weeks of total and absolute lockdown in Wuhan, China was able to say that there had been a day with no domestic transmissions of the disease.

It is almost as if China is setting itself up as a model of good practice.

In truth, it merely highlights the totalitarian nature of the state.

China was slow to act and slow to alert other countries, but eventually the city of Wuhan was locked down and 11 million people were put in quarantine, with all the brutality one might expect from an authoritarian regime.

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The lockdown was then extended to tens of millions of people in the surrounding areas.

Transport in and out of Wuhan was closed, with no exceptions, even for personal, or medical, emergencies. Private vehicles were banned from the roads, without special permission, and some areas barred residents from leaving their homes, requiring them to order in food and medicine.

Meanwhile, government officials made door-to-door health checks, forcing anyone who was ill into isolation.

There was no question of even going out for exercise.

In spite of all the changes of recent years, China remains a communist dictatorship. The country is controlled by the Communist Party of China, and the party is increasingly dominated by one man, president Xi Jinping, who is more powerful than any Chinese leader since Mao Zedong.

President Xi came to power in 2012 and, in 2018, the Chinese People's Congress changed the constitution, abolishing presidential term limits and permitting Xi to rule indefinitely.

He is acquiring the demi-god status of the notorious Mao.

Only a totalitarian state such as China would be able to enforce a three-month lockdown of the type witnessed there.

As far as communist regimes go, it is not quite as bad as North Korea, but it comes close, persecuting religious minorities and controlling daily life.

Christians do not enjoy religious freedom in China.

After a church in Beijing rejected the local government's demand to install surveillance equipment at places of worship, the members of the church were subjected to harassment and threats.

Eventually, the Beijing government closed the church down.

Such persecution is not new, but China Aid has said the persecution of Christians under Xi is the worst in the country since Mao's Cultural Revolution ended in 1976.

In fact, Xi has declared war against all religions. Leaked government documents reveal that he was personally responsible for formulating the policy that incarcerated three million Uighur Muslims in so-called re-education camps.

According to the reports, they were forced to renounce their faith and pledge loyalty to the Communist Party of China.

The callousness of the state is also demonstrated in the harvesting of human organs from religious and political dissenters.

That could only happen in a state that places little value on human dignity or human rights.

The issue has been monitored and highlighted by the International Coalition to End Transplant Abuse in China but, unfortunately, it has received limited international attention.

Today, China is challenging the US as the world's largest economy, but it is also building its military strength, in accordance with Mao's statement that "political power grows out of the barrel of a gun". Yet, China is treated by many as a benign partner, probably because of its immense economic power, with Britain about to partner with the Chinese tech giant Huawei in the provision of next-generation 5G technology.

Is it not time, when we get past the current pandemic, for Britain and others to stop and think again about Huawei and about our other relationships with what is a communist dictatorship with global ambitions?


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