It was the worst way to start a year for China. On the New Year’s eve of 2020, Chinese social media were full of rumors about re-emergence of SARS virus from 2003. Chinese New Year was about to begin in three weeks, which would involve hundreds of millions of people traveling all over the country. Xi Jinping had already warned officials a month earlier that the US-China trade war and sanctions would make 2020 a very challenging year. Now an unknown virus was about to decimate the economy and shred the China dream into pieces.
Worse, as time went on, China was not only left alone to fend for itself, but the anti-China forces piled on with Psy-ops. Social media attacked the Chinese people and blamed them for “eating bats” — a popular video of a Chinese blogger drinking bat soup went viral, although it turned out that she had the soup three years earlier in an island (Palau) thousands of miles away from China. Pundits and politicians gloated on TV that the pandemic would bring China to its knees. Trump bragged that the U.S. was the best prepared country in the world to face a pandemic.
US media, filled with Shadenfreude, kept saying “deadly coronavirus” (until it spread to Europe and the US) and shouted out malevolent things to mock and frighten China:
- “CCP has lost its heavenly mandate”
- “Novel coronavirus is China’s Chernobyl“
- “China is Asia’s sick man” (referring to a racist trope from the Century of Humiliation)
- “Coronavirus will end China’s role as global manufacturing hub“
China was accused of lying and hiding everything — origin and nature of the virus, its prevalence, how many people were dying, and so on. Even though China had warned the WHO on Dec 31, 2019 and released the full genome of the novel coronavirus by Jan 11, western media keeps repeating that China hid some truths about the virus. (Never mind that the SARS-Cov-2 virus was spreading in the U.S., as well as in France, Italy, Spain etc. all through December).
Twitter and Facebook in January and February were full of fake videos showing Chinese people collapsing and dying on Wuhan streets. When Chinese mobile companies lost 21 million customers in March, Americans shouted that all those people had died from COVID. Western journalists who were allowed to visit Wuhan wrote only gloom-and-doom stories. Later, even US politicians were spreading conspiracy theories about the virus escaping from a Wuhan lab. In a highly cynical move, American media and politicians tried to turn a Wuhan eye doctor, Li Wenliang, into a whistleblower and an anti-CCP martyr — he was neither. And Chinese people living in the West were being physically assaulted by xenophobic and ignorant idiots.
It was a lonely, heart-wrenching, and an incredibly frightening moment for China. But the country ignored the judgmental, cruel world and came together as a family. That’s what Confucianism and collectivism (a core principle of socialism/communism) are all about.
China’s Incredible Response
China did the only rational and scientific thing possible: completely shut down Wuhan and even Hubei province (with 57 million people). Tens of thousands of doctors, nurses, volunteers, and even PLA soldiers were sent to Wuhan. People were restricted from leaving their homes; and communist party members volunteered to deliver food for millions of people. Doctors wore diapers and worked 14 hours a day, while sweating inside the suffocating PPE; nurses cut their hair to reduce cross-infection; and healthcare workers stayed in hotels for many weeks to protect their families. Hi-tech corporations came to the rescue with drones to deliver food, robots to deliver medicines, big data to detect clusters, and AI to read CAT scans. The inimitable construction workers of China built two new hospitals in two weeks. People with mild symptoms were put in stadiums and college dormitories to stop the spread of the virus.
Everyone in China did their part. Corporations built mask and PPE factories in a week; and workers slept in those factories for weeks to ramp up production. Within a couple of weeks, Chinese scientists built huge labs that could do hundreds of thousands of COVID tests per day. Doctors worked meticulously, exploring different drugs — including Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) — to treat the new virus; and scientists were racing to develop vaccines. When big cities like Shanghai and Beijing had to shut down for 2-3 weeks, everybody cooperated and followed the guidelines. Later, when there were mini-outbreaks — like in Qingdao and Xinjiang — China tested millions of people in less than a week. Test, trace, treat — China diligently followed the principles of science.
After 76 days of incredible human drama, Wuhan came out of lockdown. Thanks to China’s “authoritarian”, “draconian” and “human rights-violating” measures, China had contained the pandemic and was ready to roar.
Meanwhile, the world was just coming out of its delusion. Having wasted precious three months gloating about China’s suffering, America started plunging into COVID19 lockdowns in April. The rest is history. By the end of the year, the USA had 20 million confirmed cases and 350,000 deaths.
Looking at COVID-19 deaths per million population, China was 3 and the U.S. was more than 1,000.
This is how China ended 2020 — with celebrations and large parties of Merry Christmas and Happy New Year:
China’s other impressive achievements in 2020
Xi Jinping and Beijing officials must have spines made of steel. In spite of the horrifying events of the year, Chinese officials kept working on their individual objectives. Here are some commendable and unbelievable achievements of China in other areas:
- China’s GDP grew 2.3% in 2020 and reached ¥102 trillion. (link)
- Had record exports and trade surplus.
- In 2020, China’s international trade (exports + imports) was eye-popping $4.8 trillion; and the trade surplus was $530 billion. (link) China maintained its status as the world’s largest trading nation. For more than 120 countries and regions, China was their #1 trading partner. (link)
- China is the only major economy to have GDP growth in 2020 and the biggest growth in the next two years.
- Xi Jinping announced a new strategy for growth — “dual circulation.” It basically means that Chinese economy will depend more on domestic consumption (in addition to exports). This also fits perfectly with China’s plan to gradually become a developed nation over the next 30 years.
- China’s economy created about 12 million new jobs in 2020. Pretty darn impressive!
- Total retail sales of consumer goods down a bit from 2019, but was still more than ¥39 trillion in 2020 (that’s about $5.8 trillion).
- Opened up the financial services industry to Wall Street’s delight. Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, BlackRock, you-name-it all eagerly opened up numerous ventures in China.
- Signed two landmark trade deals — RCEP and CAI.
- RCEP is the world’s largest free trade agreement (FTA) — with 15 Asian countries accounting for 30% of world’s GDP. It’s also the first time that Japan and South Korea have signed FTA with China.
- CAI (“Comprehensive Agreement on Investment”) is a China-EU investment deal that was under negotiations for six years. While the incoming Biden team tried to stop the deal, Germany quickly wrapped it up just before the year-end.
- In both these treaties, notice that the U.S. is left out. Now, China is even ready to join TPP, which Trump quit.
- In 2021, China’s contribution to the growth of world economy/GDP will be more than 33%, according to OECD/IMF forecast.
- Eradicated extreme poverty for the first time in China’s history! Zero percent, including Xinjiang and Tibet. That’s real human rights.
- Donated countless number of masks, PPE, ventilators and diagnostic test kits to countries all over the world. Chinese experts traveled all over the world to train doctors and nurses. China donated and exported about 40 billion masks and 12,000 ventilators to the U.S. Some countries like Italy were very grateful.
- Stock market (CSI 300 Index) up 48%
- Mainland China’s stock markets reached a market capitalization of $10.6 trillion by the end of 2020.
- Yuan up almost 10% from pandemic lows (from ¥7.18 to ¥6.52 per $1)
- Record Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)
- World’s #1 in IPO’s
- Surpassed the U.S. in global Fortune 500 list (124 v. 121). (link)
- Surpassed the U.S. as the European Union’s largest trading partner.
- Also surpassed the EU in GDP (since the UK had left the EU).
- China became the #1 automobile market in the world (for total number of cars)
- Surpassed the U.S. to become the #1 box office in the world