New York Times praises
China’s communist society as
‘freedom’ that Americans
China unleashed a deadly virus upon the world, told us to protect ourselves from it by destroying our economies, now redefines freedom without natural rights, and tells us to envy their servitude.
6 January, 2021
China unleashed a deadly virus upon the world, told us to protect ourselves from it by destroying our economies, now redefines freedom without natural rights, and tells us to envy their servitude. Li Yuan writes in that, in the aftermath of the pandemic, China is freer than the US, and Americans are right to envy that “freedom.” In short, The New York Times is printing bold-faced propaganda to boost the communist way of life over American and western liberty. It is a shameful lie.
In the latest New York Times op-ed to decry western values and culture, Li Yuan writes that China is in fact a more free nation than the US or her western allies. It is a ploy that, if effective, will make Americans more aligned with being enslaved to government than with the fight for natural rights and freedoms.
Li writes: “The pandemic has upended many perceptions, including ideas about freedom. Citizens of China don’t have freedom of speech, freedom of worship, or freedom from fear—three of the four freedoms articulated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt—but they have the freedom to move around and lead a normal day-to-day life. In a pandemic year, many of the world’s people would envy this most basic form of freedom.”
But these are not freedoms, they are the illusion of freedom. These are the kinds of freedoms granted by government, not originating with our free will. Freedoms that can be taken away with the stroke of a pen or the stomp of a boot are not freedoms. This freedom of movement that Li writes about only exists as long as the communist government allows it to exist. That’s not freedom.
During the early days of the pandemic, before the west foolishly took China’s advice and tanked our economies, societies, and nations, China was already implementing lockdown measures so extreme that, from the accounts available, people were locked into their homes where they waited to die. Their intensive lockdown strategy, which arguably led to their freedom of movement now, was a violation of human rights. The Chinese government, however, is comfortable violating human rights—they do it all the time.
The Uyghurs, which so many in the west seem to think are a fictional people conjured out of full cloth by China’s detractors, are a prime example of the CCP’s comfort at abandoning human rights in favour of order.
“While many countries are still reeling from Covid-19, China—where the pandemic originated—has become one of the safest places in the world,” Li writes. “The country reported fewer than 100,000 infections for all of 2020. The United States has been reporting more than that every day since early November.”
This is a drastic misunderstanding of what freedom is. Freedom is not freedom from danger, it is the freedom to assess danger and risks for one’s self and behave as you see fit, not simply as the government permits.
Li notes that “China’s freedom of movement comes at the expense of nearly every other kind. The country is about the most surveilled in the world. The government took extreme social-control measures at the beginning of the outbreak to keep people apart—approaches that are beyond the reach of democratic governments.”
But the message is that these things don’t impact the average person, the person who lives within the lines, accepts their small luxuries in exchange for their liberty and rights, and doesn’t worry their pretty little heads about surveillance or social-control. The compliant citizen is rewarded with trinkets, while those who fight back against the oppression are simply removed.
Li quotes a businessman who is overjoyed at spending time in China after a stint in the west, saying “China ‘feels a bit like the Epcot Center at Disney… It’s like the microcosm of the West is still here, but the West is shut down at the moment.'”
Apparently having a nation feel like an intentionally constructed amusement is a good thing. This should not be what any nation is striving for. Instead, nations that are founded on freedom and the right of every individual toward self-determination would not be closed, intentionally designed spaces, but places where a person can achieve, grow, and strive on their own terms, without the limits of the amusement park gates.
“It isn’t clear whether this shift in perception can be sustained after the pandemic ends,” Li writes. “But the West may find it has to work harder to sell its vision of freedom after China has made its model seem so attractive.”
The New York Times has been intent on publishing op-eds and articles that demean and belittle the American thirst for freedom, equality, and limited government interference. But this is a step too far. The New York Times has called communism freedom in an effort to undermine democracy and American values.
The question becomes why The New York Times is capitulating to the communist government, a government that commits human rights abuses against its own people, knowingly allowed a virus to spread around the world before altering international health organizations, and will only benefit from the decline of American liberty and power.
4 January, 2021
Duncan Clark’s flight was rolling down the runway in Paris in late October when President Emmanuel Macron announced a second national lockdown in France. The country had nearly 50,000 new Covid-19 infections that day. The United States had almost 100,000.
He sighed with relief. He was headed to China. That day, it had reported 25 new infections, all but one originating abroad.
Mr. Clark, a businessman and an author, returned to China after spending nine months in the United States and France, his longest time away from the country since he moved to Beijing in 1994. He had been spending more time outside China over the past few years to get away from air pollution, censored internet and an increasingly depressing political environment.
But when he returned in October, he felt something new: safe, energized and free.
“The ability to just live a normal life is pretty amazing,” he said.
While many countries are still reeling from Covid-19, China — where the pandemic originated — has become one of the safest places in the world. The country reported fewer than 100,000 infections for all of 2020. The United States has been reporting more than that every day since early November.
China resembles what “normal” was like in the pre-pandemic world. Restaurants are packed. Hotels are full. Long lines form outside luxury brands stores. Instead of Zoom calls, people are meeting face to face to talk business or celebrate the new year.
The country will be the only major economy to have grown this past year. While such forecasts are often more art than science, one outfit is forecasting that the Chinese economy will surpass that of the United States in 2028 — five years earlier than previously predicted.
The pandemic has upended many perceptions, including ideas about freedom. Citizens of China don’t have freedom of speech, freedom of worship or freedom from fear — three of the four freedoms articulated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt — but they have the freedom to move around and lead a normal day-to-day life. In a pandemic year, many of the world’s people would envy this most basic form of freedom.
The global crisis could plant doubts about other types of freedom. Nearly half of voting Americans supported a president who ignored science and failed to take basic precautions to protect their country. Some Americans assert that it is their individual right to ignore health experts’ recommendations to wear masks, putting themselves and others at increasing risk of infection. The internet, which was supposed to give a voice to the voiceless, became a useful tool for autocrats to control the masses and for political groups to spread misinformation.
China’s freedom of movement comes at the expense of nearly every other kind. The country is about the most surveilled in the world. The government took extreme social-control measures at the beginning of the outbreak to keep people apart — approaches that are beyond the reach of democratic governments.
“There are actually a lot of parallels between how the Chinese government treats a virus and how they treat other problems,” said Howard Chao, a retired lawyer in California who invests in start-ups on both sides of the Pacific.
“It’s kind of a one-size-fits-all approach: Just completely take care of the problem,” he said. “So when it comes to a virus, maybe that’s not too bad a thing. When it comes to certain other problems, maybe not such a good thing.”
That realization has not stopped Mr. Chao from enjoying his time in China. Since flying to Shanghai from San Francisco in mid-October, he has hosted business dinners attended by as many as 20 people, gone to a jazz bar, seen a movie, visited a seafood market and flown to Shenzhen, in southern China, to check out a self-driving car start-up.
“This is where I had lunch in Shanghai today,” he wrote on Facebook on Nov. 6, alongside a photo of people dining. “Starting to remember what normal life looks like.”
Mr. Chao said the people he met in China were “perplexed” and “incredulous” that the U.S. daily infections were so high. “They rolled their eyes and were like, ‘How was it even possible?’” he said.
Of course, the Chinese government is eager to help the world forget that it silenced those who tried to warn the world in the early days of the outbreak.
But there’s no denying that China’s success in containing the outbreak burnished Beijing’s image, especially when compared with the failures of the United States. It has given currency to the so-called China model — the Communist Party’s promise to the Chinese public that it will deliver prosperity and stability in exchange for its unrelenting grip on political power.
“In this year of pandemic, the Communist Party has provided the public a social good: stability,” said Dong Haitao, an investor who moved to Beijing from Hong Kong in August.
For Mr. Dong, China’s success gives him an opportunity to achieve financial independence.
Mr. Dong, who is setting up an asset management firm as well as a start-up devoted to pu’er tea, is bullish on the Chinese economy. He believes that after the pandemic, China will have even stronger supply chains and a vibrant consumer economy driven by a young generation that is more interested in China’s traditional culture, like tea, than his generation, which grew up in the era of globalization.
Mr. Dong, who moved to Hong Kong from New York in the middle of the 2008 financial crisis, decided to leave Hong Kong because the city has felt anemic during the pandemic, while many mainland cities seem to glow with energy and hope.
“I don’t think I can find the kind of freedom I want in Hong Kong,” he said.
It isn’t clear whether this shift in perception can be sustained after the pandemic ends. But the West may find it has to work harder to sell its vision of freedom after China has made its model seem so attractive.
Mr. Clark, the businessman and author, founded a technology consulting firm in Beijing in 1994 and was an adviser to Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant, in the company’s early days. Since leaving quarantine in mid-November, he has traveled to four cities and attended many events and conferences, including one with about 900 people.
“Normally, China was sort of an adventure,” he said. “But that has flipped. Something has changed in the world.”
Mr. Clark said he had made the acknowledgment with mixed feelings. “You kind of want it to be not true,” he said, “but it is kind of true.”
Beijing and Shanghai are increasingly cosmopolitan, and their consumers are growing more sophisticated, he said. Last month, he went to a Scottish ball in Beijing. The bagpiper was Chinese because the organizer couldn’t fly in anyone from Scotland.
China “feels a bit like the Epcot Center at Disney,” he said. “It’s like the microcosm of the West is still here, but the West is shut down at the moment.”
For Mr. Clark, being in crowds again has taken some getting used to. “If you’re talking to people at a party or something, you can’t just mute somebody if they’re annoying,” he said. At the first big event he attended, he said, he noticed somebody had really bad breath.
“I’m like, oh my God, I haven’t had to experience that for nine months because everyone was wearing masks, and you didn’t see anybody,” Mr. Clark said.
“I feel like I’m living in the future here,” even when he thinks about bad breath, he said. “I mean, it’s like, ‘Get ready.’”