The Associated Press cheers ruthless authoritarianism

Ken Moritsugu, of the Associated Press, wrote an article that, while bemoaning China's initial secrecy about the Wuhan virus's origins within its borders, seemingly applauds the ruthless power it applied to bring the virus to an end.  It's almost as if Moritsugu is trying to set the table for a new administration to really crack down on lockdown and mask scofflaws in America.

Whether or not Moritsugu wrote the headline for the AP article, it certainly sums up the article's tone: "A pandemic atlas: China's state power crushes COVID-19."  The opening paragraph dives right in to let us know that China's back in business:

Workers have returned to factories, students are back in the classroom and once again long lines form outside popular hot pot restaurants. In major cities, wearing a surgical mask — though no longer required outside of subways and other crowded places — has become a habit.

The article explains that China is pulling back on the throttle a bit so that normal life can resume.  It never questions that, in China, normal life always means that the government is cracking down on individual liberty.  The article also accepts that, if the Wuhan virus dares appear again in China, it can only be an "imported case[.]"  Sounds like propaganda to me.

To its credit, the article acknowledges that China initially engaged in a cover-up and that, after "ravaging the city of Wuhan," the virus then "seep[ed] out to the rest of China and overseas."  While the authorities initially "squelched warnings about the outbreak," once the Communist Party figured out there was a problem, "it moved decisively."

Moritsugu reminds readers that the CCP locked down not just the city of Wuhan (population 11 million) but also the whole of Hubei province.  Since then, he says, the CCP says its one-party rule made possible its success in holding back the virus.  "And," he adds, "in a sense, the crisis illustrates the strength of the system, and its dark side."

Yet the article barely talks about the dark side.  It states only in conclusory language that "[t]he virus has been kept at bay — but only because of the government's power to dictate monumental changes, and its willingness to use surveillance and censorship to control its people."

Mostly, in what's really a muddled mess of writing that should embarrass anyone who calls himself a journalist, one of the few hard facts in the article is that almost everyone in China has a smartphone with apps that track everywhere he's been.  To enter buildings, shopping centers, or tourist sites, they have to show their app to prove they were not in an infected area.  Otherwise, we mostly learn about the return to normal life and China's gradually improving economy.

Frankly, aside from the not so subtle praise for the draconian policies in China, what's most interesting about the article, and should be touted far and wide, is how China reports the few cases it admits it's having.  It turns out that China's current low numbers (claimed to be just six cases per 100,000 people) have one specific cause: "China does not include people who test positive but show no symptoms in its confirmed case counts."  Imagine how different things would be in America if we too ignored asymptomatic cases (as we probably should).

Image: Xi Jinping while in Brazil by Palácio do Planalto.  CC BY 2.0.